Tuesday, July 24, 2012


All day I long I pray for wind. The wind is the only thing that helps cool my 90 degree house. At night, the wind does come, and on one hand, I'm super thankful. When I'm chilling waiting for those sweet sweet zzz's to come, I'm relatively cool. But it has a downside. 

Mainly, when the wind blows, the curtain attacks me. Like flaps around and takes over my entire bed. Sometimes it's nice but other times it blocks my face and my computer. I can't see, and I feel trapped by purple fabric. Not a great feeling. 

So the short answer is yes, I'll probably always be able to find something to complain about. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

No Stop Sign

People say the Turks are crazy drivers, and while it's true they don't follow the rules all the time, I think they drive with a lot more common sense than American drivers. They pass when it's convenient, make a third lane when possible, and run red lights if needed. Americans, I think, need rules because they really aren't paying attention. For example, look at this intersection.

Each direction has two lanes for a total of eight lanes intersecting. There is no stop sign. People just cross the intersection when there's a gap in traffic. And it works out for the most part - I've never seen an accident or any evidence of one. I think that if you put a four-way intersection with no stop sign in America, everyone would just plow straight through. They wouldn't register that cars might be coming from a different direction, and they certainly wouldn't stop or slow down for a car passing across. 

This would never work in America. Really, I think we need rules so we can carelessly drive, and when we crash into someone, we know exactly who's to blame. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thin Mints

Sometimes I forget that I'm in Turkey - America and Turkey have a lot in common, the least of which is HIMYM. So I just go along my merry way. Sure, things are different but I sometimes forget how different Turkey is from America until I'm confronted with an unbelievable situation. For example, check out this plate of cookies at a party my friend Jenny threw for her boyfriend Berker:

Notice anything? Yeah, those are Girl Scout cookies. The sat on the table for a loooooong time (until I noticed them, of course). The Turks didn't know what they had there. They thought they were just cookies but I was like 'Um, are those Thin Mints?' When Jenny certified that they were, in fact, Thin Mints, I went nuts. Nuts, I tell you. 

Girl Scout cookies that sat undisturbed for a good 2/3 of the party? What? Where am I? Who are these people?

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Harvard Cafe

Tonight, Abby, Grace, and I went to the Harvard Cafe. Sacrilegious, I know. But I heard their quesadillas were good, and we wanted to try somewhere new anyway. Please try not to judge me any more than I'm already judging myself. 

The restaurant had a loooovely outdoor seating area with a secret garden-esque ambiance. Grace and I had already begun eating when Abby arrived so she quickly looked over the menu and called a waiter over to order. She asked this man walking by if she could go ahead and order. He responded by telling her that if he saw a waiter, he would let him know that she was ready. 

Yep. Abby tried to order food from this poor guy on his way to the bathroom. The best part was that he actually found a waiter for us and sent him over. She claims that because she got there late, she didn't know what the waiters looked like. I countered by pointing out that this guy was wearing cargo shorts. She came up with a couple more excuses to explain her hilarious mistake but we weren't buying it. 

The guy came over after we were finished eating and asked if we needed anything else. I tried to tell Abby to get his number - I think he liked her. And a funny guy in on the joke sounds like a catch to me. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012


A couple weeks ago, Abby and I went with a couple friends to the Fine Arts Festival at Robert College, generally accepted as the best high school in Istanbul and founded by an American (whatup!). Doesn't a "Fine Arts Festival" sound legit?

It was basically a lawnparties for high school kids. Food, music, alumni, and a mechanical bull. But I got to wander around campus. We looked at the library, and the second floor was definitely museum quality. 

Here is a copy of a telegram that Samuel Morse sent to Robert College in 1863. Except they faced the stupid thing towards the balcony so I couldn't read the insightful thing that Morse dot-dashed. 

This was just shelves of old stuff. The oldest thing was found was from 3000 BCE. Hey-oh. Old stuff warning. A lot of stone scrapers and tiles. 

You can see the actual library in the background of this photo. How cool would it be to study surrounded by all this old stuff? And what do you get for the school that has everything?

Neil Patrick Harris. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Winner Winner

Monday night Grace & Co. (that's what I call the massive crew that she rolls with) went to a concert in Taksim. After the concert, we went to another bar and had another round of drinks. As we were leaving, we ran across this street vendor. 

He was selling Turkish rice, which has a mystery ingredient that makes it the best rice in the world, with chicken on top. 

This stuff was so good. I'm not generally a street food kind of girl but for 2tl, the price was right. It was the first time I've seen chicken and rice being sold in a cart with wheels but I promise the next time I'm around Istiklal, I'm going to find this guy. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Blue Hair Saves The Day

Last night I was sleeping, dreaming of Dr. Pepper and Chick-fil-A, when I heard this huge CRASH. I woke up with my heart racing, and in the dark, I quickly assessed the situation.

We have a built-in ladder leading to the attic. It's pretty weird, I know, but whatever. The cover to this little opening fell. Abby came out to help me put it back up but we couldn't find the screw that was holding it up.

I thought I did a pretty good job of jamming it in there, hoping it would be secure until morning but my efforts failed. Some time after I fell back asleep, I heard another huge CRASH. 

This time the piece of wood bounced off the counter and rolled (moved three feet somehow?) towards me. Ahhhh!!! Luckily, the only one injured was the roll of paper towels.

This morning we looked for the missing screws to no avail and eventually secured the cover with our blender box. We'll buy new screws, we just haven't gotten that far yet. And you might be interested to know that while that opening was uncovered, I slept in bed with Abby. I am not sleeping anywhere near a creepy hole into a creepy attic. Plus, there are birds up there. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012


On Tuesday I bought a huge karpuz. Abby doesn't like watermelon (what?) so it's a one-girl mission. It's Thursday today, and this is how much progress I've made.

I just hit the heart tonight so I'm really excited for tomorrow. I've been averaging a little more than an inch a day. 

Yeah, I see the jagged lines. My knife is all wonky and cuts at an angle. I evened it up before putting it back in the fridge for the night. It's a marathon, not a sprint. And as an added bonus, for the first time in weeks, I feel hydrated.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Last night I met up with an old friend from Turkish class, Kemal, aka Simon, and his friend Angele. They were visiting from Greece and had been traveling around Turkey seeing old ruins. Angele mentioned that one of the reasons she wanted to come back to Istanbul was to see the seagulls flying over the mosques in Sultanahmet. I was like, "What? I have no idea what you're talking about."

Tonight, Abby, her friend Şükrü, and I went touring around Istanbul in the middle of the night. Şükrü took us to Sultanahmet, and I was able to see what Angele was talking about. She said that the birds and the lights create crazy shadows on the mosque. While I was skeptical last night, it seemed pretty cool tonight.  

It was a phenomenon that I didn't even know was a thing until last night. Thanks, Angele!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Party Bus

Tonight I had to get to Taksim to meet an old friend from Princeton/Turkish class. I was supposed to be there at 10:30 but I was running late. While I was waiting for the bus, a smaller van/bus thing pulled up and announced that it was going to Taksim. It seemed full-ish and a girl who had been waiting with me got on so I figured, what the hey?

This baby was like a party bus. For an extra .75 lira, I got to ride to Taksim in style. I'm not sure how legal/kosher this method of transportation is but it certainly did the trick. If I had taken the official bus, I would have still been waiting for it by the time the party bus dropped me off in Taksim. 

I'm going to chalk it up to a victory. A shady victory but a victory nonetheless. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Colonel

This is The Colonel. He keeps watch on our stoop at night.

Actually, he just sleeps on our stoop at night. He doesn't even move when we open the door, we have to step over him to pass by. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Life Lesson Learned

Today, I asserted myself. I stood up for myself and stopped being polite. It got real. 

There's this place I often stop at to get dinner (to go) on my way home, and the guys that work there are nice enough but I get creepy vibes from the boss. The first time I was there, I was standing by the register waiting for my food to finish, and he kept coming closer and closer to me. I kept backing up and backing up, and by the time my food was ready, I had to walk around him to get back to the register. Yeah. 

Turkish has a formal you ("siz") and an informal you ("sen"). About a week ago, Abby taught me this cool trick. If an older man that you don't know well uses "siz" while he's talking to you, he's being polite. If not, he's probably being creepy. Tonight, I took note: when I asked (using "siz"!) how he was, he used "sen" to ask in return. 

When my food was finished, he offered to drive me down the hill, saying that he was going that direction anyway.  I said 'no' but in a 'that's okay, thanks though!' kind of way. He didn't take my 'no' and went to get his car. Then I mentally deliberated. If he was being nice, I didn't want to be rude. I didn't want him to think that I thought he was creepy. Then I realized that I DO think he's creepy. I knew that I would feel uncomfortable and probably unsafe when I got into his car. Even though it would have been a 5-minute drive, I didn't want to go with him, and I didn't feel like being nice. 

When he came back with the car, I didn't move any closer, I used a much more forceful 'no', and I didn't apologize. I walked the rest of the way and watched as he drove halfway down the hill and turned around. He wasn't already heading that direction. 

I often complain that when I'm polite, people get the wrong idea about my intentions. I learned today that I have to do my part to not give the wrong idea, which is going to require that I not be polite sometimes. Them's the breaks. 

In addition to the life lesson that I learned on my way home, I also saw a family of snails, none of which I stepped on, thank the Lord. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


All these pictures are fuzzy, sorry. I've been strangely shaky all day so I'm going to blame that. Abby and I cooked a crazy awesome meal tonight. We cooked garlic cream chicken and pasta, and it only took us two hours and two trips to the grocery store! 

Our kitchen is a disaster. I really don't want to clean up so I'm waiting Abby out. First one to sleep has to start the kitchen cleaning.

Anyway, well-cooked chicken with pasta, cream sauce, and fresh tomatoes. Can't complain! Except about the messy kitchen. I'll continue to complain about that. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Crazy Weather

All weekend long, the weather report has said that it was going to rain. It was supposed to rain Saturday, Sunday, and Monday but Istanbul didn't see a drop. When I checked the weather last night before going to bed, it showed storm clouds with two red lightning bolts. Very foreboding. 

We had a sunny morning but in the afternoon, the wind picked up and the thunder and lightning began. At one point, the thunder was making car alarms go off. 

About 20 minutes into the storm, I could see the sun coming out in the southeast. 

A few minutes after that, the storm passed. In this last picture, you can see the last of the storm clouds on the left side and the blue sky on the right. We went from sunny to storm to sunny in less than an hour. That's some crazy weather. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

GS v. FB

Saturday night was a big night for Istanbul. It was a big night for football. And when I say "football", know that I mean soccer. This is my basic understanding of how this all works, so bear with me. There are 4 Turkish teams that compete for #1, and the #1 team also goes to play against Europe's best teams. So yeah, and there's a complicated point system, and the team with the most points wins the title. Something like that. 

Saturday was the final game. I guess that usually the winner is determined before the last game, and the competing teams usually aren't rivals. But Saturday's game was different, and it was for all the marbles. 

Istanbul is a huge city. It's so huge that it has 3 football teams. And two of them were competing for the championship. Imagine if the two teams playing in the Super Bowl were from the same city, and they were in that city playing. Things got crazy. 

Galatasaray (my team!) had to win or tie the game to win the championship. Fenerbahçe had to win the game, but they got home court advantage, and rumor is that Galatasaray hadn't won a game at the Fenerbahçe stadium in 12 years or something. The stakes were high, the teams were evenly matched, and everyone in Istanbul was watching. 

Galatasaray won (!!), and my side of Istanbul was full of fireworks and singing and general happiness that echoed across my little valley. 

Abby was in Fenerbahçe territory doing something completely unrelated to football when the Fenerbahçe fans began rioting. She walked down the street with shattered glass everywhere and fires burning in the middle of the road. She got tear-gased trying to get to the ferry to come back to our side. But even on the ferry, there were fans starting fires and a man covered in blood. Absolutely insane.

The moral of the story: Turks take their football very seriously. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Weekend

Where I spent my Friday:

Hey there, set of the new James Bond movie! How's it going?

Where I spent my Saturday:

I took the SAT in the nicest high school I've ever seen. 

Where I spent my Sunday:

Backyard grilling and watching the sunset over the Bosphorus. Life is good. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Last summer I went on a serious smoothie kick. Serious. And with the weather getting warm again, I knew that smoothie season was coming back. Abby and I have spent the last month or so scoping out prices for a blender to buy when we finally moved. Unfortunately, the immersion blender is more popular here than full-blown blenders so we were having trouble finding the perfect blender. Until we discovered this bad boy:

When Abby's mom was visiting last week, we were walking to get some of Istanbul's most famous baklava when we spotted a Turkish Swiffer. Abby's mom found that our cleaning habits left a little something to be desired (I'm sure my mother has absolutely no idea what she's talking about, she's has only ever praised my cleaning skills), so the Turkish Swiffer went into our metaphorical basket. 

THEN, on the top shelf, 6 feet above our heads, this blender was spotted. The box actually calls it a "smoothie maker". How lucky are we??? And check out that built-in spout on the side. Fancyy. Abby's mom bought that for us too.

So we spent last weekend smoothie-ing, and Abby spent a good amount of time whipping 'em up at our parties, which went very well by the way. No casualties to report. 

This blender is going to define Summer 2012. We should probably name it. 

And a huge thank you goes out to Tracy! Thank you so much!! You're the best!

Friday, April 27, 2012

More Art.

I know it's been all art, art, art, blah, blah, blah BUT I have one more thing to share with you. And a superfun little story.

We've been waiting on the new tenant to move the utilities out of Niko's name but for several reasons, the waiting turned out to be rather inconvenient so Niko and I went to all these utilities' headquarters on Tuesday morning to do it ourselves. It involved running across Istanbul, Amazing Race-style, and at one point in the day we got on the Metro and rode it from like Point E to Point A, left the Metro then got back on and went from Point A to Point B, got off again and then went from Point B to Point C. My akbil was so tired.

But during one of our Metro stops, I saw this pretty thing.

It's backlit and more than one of the bulbs is out, but I can see the potential. I would also like to say that I tried to find some sort of cultural "meaning" or "significance" to the burned out bulbs - something about "post-post-modern society" but I got nothing. Sorry. I still like it though. 

And I would also like to say that the whole Metro back and forth thing was not our fault. Every place we went told us to go to the next place down the street. But it's done now! And we got our deposit back yesterday!!! Everything is looking up! We're having a house-warming party tonight and Sunday, and we'll officially be leaving Bebek behind us! 

More exclamation points!!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Small Victories

This last week has been mostly a blur. I honestly couldn't remember what happened until I looked at my photos. Here's the recap:

Freakish windstorm made sand go crazy off in the distance.

Yeah, that's not rain or even smog. It's sand. Straight out of MI:4. I had to shut the window. THEN, I moved into my new apartment. This is our view. 

I can see Asia from my house! And I can see more Bosphorus than this picture indicates. Also featured, a loud camii and a loud church. THEN, I was able to ride the Elusive 59H, which I discovered was actually the Elusive 59C

This is me getting ready for my first ride! Small victories, baby! THEN, I decided to try walking to Etiler along the path from this post. It's not as long in the daylight when I know where I'm going. Also, I saw a rooster. 

Istanbul is a city of 15 million people, and there are roosters running around on the side of the road. 

I love this city.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Tulips are everywhere! Most people think of tulips as a Dutch thing - windmills, clogs, and tulips, but they were an Istanbul thing first. The Ottomans really loved their tulips, and they started "commercial cultivation" of the flower and gave the name to the flower, according to Wikipedia

The Lale Festival lasts the entire month of April. There are no official places to see the tulips: several parks around Istanbul are known for their great showings, and a lot of tulips are just chilling on the side of the road, like in the photo above. 

Abby, her mom, and I went up to Emirgan, the most popular park for tulips, yesterday to see the sights. Boy, these flowers are beautiful. 

Also, the Turkish flag in tulips. 

I would like to point out that the symbol/logo of Istanbul, which can be seen on my akbil here, is a tulip made out of domes and minarets. So the next time you hear someone talking about the Netherlands and their tulips, you set them straight.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dünya Sanat Günü

I'm a day behind! Here's what I did yesterday! It was World Art Day, and the Istanbul Modern was free! I hadn't been since 2008 so I decided that it was the perfect opportunity. Plus, my mom was the one who found out that it was Dünya Sanat Günü, and I knew it would make her happy if I went.

I just wanted to share a couple of paintings that I really liked. Since they didn't allow photography, these are taken from the Internet, not my iPhone. I'm breaking all the rules today! First up is a painting that I have loved since 2008 by Hikmet Onat.

It's not modern but I loved it so much when I first saw it in 2008 that I bought a postcard of it and mailed it to my mom explaining why I liked it. The next one I really like is by Ekrem Yalçındağ.

It was crazy looking in real life. The spacing was perfect and the texture of each red blob was uniform. The info card described it as an optical illusion. The space in between each blob was silver. It was beyond amazing to look at, both up close and far away.

Finally, there was a painting by Mehmet Güleryüz but I can't find an image online. I guess it's for the best. It was a huge canvas with brilliant colors and long brushstrokes. Like the Yalçindağ, a photograph would not do it justice.

Anyway, my celebration yesterday was less about the art and the museum and more about celebrating the love of art that my mom instilled in me from a very young age. Here's a photo from the last piece we experienced together:

I can't not love something that lets me play in a room full of balloons! 

Me + modern art = love 4 ever.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

And Art!

After I moved all my stuff up to Grace's this afternoon, I met up with Abby at her friend's mom's art exhibition. All I can say is that her water and skies are beautiful. This picture is Abby's favorite:

Sorry it's crooked, it was above my eye level. This one is my favorite:

So pretty! The artist's name is Fazilet Selamet, and this is her website with more of her paintings. Today was a long, rainy day and I was really not in the mood to leave my new bed, but I am so glad I got out of the house and saw something new! 

I also got to visit the bottom floor of the Nautical Museum but more on that laterz. Three cheers for leaving the house! And art!

Friday, April 13, 2012

One More Night!

The crowd was shouting "One more night! One more night!" I decided to give into my rowdy fans and stay one more night in Bebek.

I hope none of you are surprised by the last minute change of plans that seems pretty standard for my new home. "Planning" is so 2011. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

End of Freshman Year

Tonight is my last night in my first apartment! It's so sad to leave but it's time to go. This apartment was just a tiny foray into big-girl apartments: I didn't really do it on my own. I couldn't have done it without a bit of financing from my mom and Grammy, and I definitely couldn't have done it without Abby.

Bright and early this morning we had a lady come clean everything in our house. We also got our curtains and rugs back. Tonight, Abby and I took another taksi load to her friend's house. Another productive day!

Last night when we were hauling things in, Abby was upstairs when this lady came out to see what was going on.  She asked me if we were moving in. I said no. She asked if we were moving out. I said no. Then she paused and stared at all the boxes. It took a lot of terrible explanations before Abby came down and saved me with a concisely worded explanation that was beautifully understood. Jealous.

One more picture. This is the tree outside my window that just started to bloom.

It's like the end of real life's freshman year.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Good news! We're moving out on Friday! Bad news! We're moving in next Thursday. Oops. It's cool though. I'm going to stay at Grace's while she's out of town, and Abby (and her mom who's visiting next week!) is staying at her friend's house.

This is what our space looked like today.

Let's zoom in for a closer look.

YIKES! That's Chris' Vietnamese water buffalo puppet. I'm not going to lie. I'm pretty scared of it. But I'm also super protective of it. Luckily, it survived the first move unharmed. Yeah, so that's the plan. We're moving all of our stuff out over the next two days, chilling for a week, and then moving it all again for real. 

Today, we moved some of my stuff, some of Abby's stuff, and all of Chris' stuff to Abby's friend's apartment. AND we packed up the kitchen and the living room. We were very productive. 

I took a picture of the inside of one of Abby's suitcases. Homegirl is quite the reader. Can't wait to carry that thing up three flights of stairs!!

Busy busy busy. Tomorrow, a woman is coming to clean the apartment, and the people who took our rugs and curtains to have them cleaned are bringing them back. This place is going to be in tip-top shape by Friday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bad Decision Basket

So I've been busy. Not with work or something boring like that. No, I've been busy making Bad Decisions. As we get ready to move out of our apartment, I am constantly reminded what a Bad Decision renting this apartment was. I mean, it's great, and it all worked out. I have my health, blah blah blah. But it was still a Bad Decision. In this vein, I decided that Abby and I needed a Bad Decision Basket.

This is a basket in which we can place our Bad Decisions, have a Bad Decision Day at the end of the year, read our Bad Decisions, and decide if we still consider them Bad Decisions.

The basket actually resulted from a good decision. After a wonderful dinner, Abby and I were walking home when we passed a store that was selling eggs in baskets. It was the night before Easter but these things were not Easter-related. They were eggs being sold by the basket, non-Christianly and non-ironically. Abby told me to go ask how much a basket cost but I complained that I didn't know the Turkish word for basket. She told me ('sepet'), and I waltzed right in and asked the dude. He told me the eggs cost 3tl. I was like 'I don't want the eggs, just the basket' and he was like, 'they're free'. 

I was like, 'uhhh...Abby, why don't you come take a listen' (just to make sure I wasn't stealing his basket of eggs the night before Easter). She said the same thing, and he was like 'the eggs cost 3tl' and she was like 'we don't want the eggs, just the basket', and he told us the basket was free. 

So we got a free basket. A Bad Decision Basket.