Monthly Archives: March 2012

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone
.

Thomas Merton

bir zamanlar

You’ve been clamoring for an update, as well you might. I’ve been remiss for over a month and the pessimists among you feared the worst. Let me put your worries aside, and assure you that I’ve been happily occupied with an influx of friends and two–no, three!–new avenues by which to put my teaching certificate to good use.

There’s been so much hubbub lately that for the sake of space I think I’d better resort to an itemized list:

  • We have had company non-stop from February 5th until this afternoon. The friends and family I’ve seen during that time include, but are not limited to, Ryan, Brent, Stephanie, Tasha, Spencer, Natalie, Julie, and their friends. Stefie had company come visit, additionally. We both agree that while it would have been nice to space out the visits just so we could have something to look forward to come November, having dear ones here was delightful, and makes this place feel like home more than anything else could have.
  • I’ve snagged two fun, fulfilling (and relatively lucrative) tutoring positions, with a part-time kindergarten class in the offing. 17-year-old Mahmud and 2-year-old Toprak keep me on my toes. My commutes are long, but the ferry chugs along in the shadow the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, and last week there were pods of dolphins in the Bosphorus. I can think of worse things.
  • Getting a residency permit was a bureaucratic and financial nightmare, but had a happy ending. I’m legal here until Spring 2013, and I feel more well-rounded for having had a taste of what it must be like for refugees and immigrants to be raked over the coals.
  • At long last, the weather is SPECTACULAR.
  • Not all, however, has been roses. Stefie is home in Washington, DC indefinitely due to a family medical emergency. I hope to welcome her back some time in April, but nothing’s certain yet. Now that our guests are gone, I’m going to rattle around in this apartment an awful lot and be lonely.
  • This week, for the duration of Natalie, Caitlin and Andrea’s visit, I was sick in bed with the flopsies–a term my dad coined to describe a mystery illness I’ve had in the past, characterized by frequent fainting spells. This bout’s (only) blackout left me with three–count ’em!–THREE  chipped teeth. Hillbilly Hannah takes ‘Stanbul by storm.
  • We received our first gas bill this week, which was a whopping 600 Turkish Lira–more than rent costs for a month. It scratches my Spring Break plans, not to mention that if it wasn’t a fluke, the cost of living here is exponentially higher than I bargained for.
  • I’m also very homesick.

A dear friend with whom I Skyped recently put it neatly, when she heard of my latest joys and woes–she fretted (with her tongue in her cheek) that she was beginning to feel maladjusted in comparison with me and my blissfully seamless transition from one country and culture to another–and what a relief to find that I’m having problems, too, just like everybody else! She reminds me of an important point–while I am blessed and happy to have the opportunity to live somewhere that many others only dream of visiting, my dewy-eyed blog posts thus far haven’t reflected the truth that living in Turkey–and, I extrapolate, anywhere far from home–is hard. It’s been exhausting and difficult and (even with all the company) oftentimes very lonely. I’m learning that following a call, seeking out meaningful work, and being where you’re supposed to be isn’t necessarily cathartic, after all.

I entitled this post “Bir Zamanlar.” It’s a phrase I learned recently (thanks to the best hostess gift ever from Ryan: a Turkish copy of The Horse and His Boy) which is the equivalent of “Once upon a time…” Lately it helps me to remember that my time in Turkey is a season. It may be more of a trial by fire than I ever anticipated. It’s deeply unromantic and un-glamorous 95% of the time. But I think it may make for a beautiful story, if I let it–not despite, but because of, the plot twists.