I know it’s a great time of year when my two favorite pastimes – spending an afternoon strolling around the city with a constant supply of overpriced artisan coffee, and staying in bed, under the covers, for the entirety of the day – are totally socially acceptable. Especially the latter.
Take today, for example: I woke up at noon, threw off old pjs, took a hot shower (which consisted of equal parts Broadway singing and equal parts leaning against the tile wall and falling asleep), changed into a fresh pair of pjs, and sat on the couch watching chick flicks and bemoaning the difficulties of adulthood with Roods.
Now, I’m sprawled on the bed (and let me tell you, it took considerable effort to move from the living room to my bedroom), typing this up, and feeling so lazy that I’m not even sure I’ll muster up the strength to cook dinner. I may, in fact, just meld into the mattress and die here.
You might notice that my laziness has also extended to my food photography, though this is mostly because there is no natural light in my English basement, and I’m not sure I’m really about placing dessert on the stoop outside as passersby watch me hunch over in a pair of gloves and scarf to snap some shots of friggin’ cookies.
“Ah, but remember that the city is a funny place
Something like a circus or a sewer
And just remember, different people have peculiar tastes
And the glory of love might see you through”
-Coney Island Baby, Lou Reed
I hate taking hiatuses from baking and blogging, because they tend to stretch on for eons. Time escapes me and days get lost among the neat boxes of calendar pages. What I’m left with is a slew of photos and nothing to say. Nothing that I could fathom into any sense of coherence, anyway.
(That’s the problem with time. Each moment holds a horizon of infinity that no words can adequately paint.)
I’ve come to realize that my two favorite things about the city are the train and my shower. The former because long train rides — never long enough, really — are the ideal time to read a book. The latter because, living in an English basement, I find standing under the cascade of hot water to be a rather cozy experience.
Also because the acoustics in my bathroom are particularly excellent if you’re pretending to be a Tony award-winning broadway singer. Which I do a little too often to be considered adorable.
Apparently, it is October. I say ‘apparently’ because I have little recollection of what happened in September, and because chillier afternoons have given way to 80-degree sunshine. I am not particularly fond of this.
I’m the type of person that prides herself on having her shit together, so to speak. Typically level-headed, rarely emotional, a stoic wall of realism and rationality. So the last few weeks have been a rather unwelcome change in my routine.
It’s as though the world is resting on a different plane; a mirror of reality tilted a few degrees past the point of comfort.
Turkey was a month ago, but it feels a lifetime away. I haven’t had as much time to dwell on the loss as I feared, though, since my days following arrival back in the States were spent flying from city to city; transporting crates of furniture and boxes of a life haphazardly printed on coffee mugs and pages of unread books; catching up with family and old friends; trying to assemble a picture of the upcoming months from puzzle pieces cut like shards of broken glass. It has been exciting and nerve-wracking and utterly overwhelming.
I’m the type of person that needs a routine; a list of things to check off as they get done throughout the day; a sense of accomplishment to feel as though time doesn’t pass by wasted. After I graduated from uni, I went straight back into work at Digital Services full-time, taking care of the apartment in the evenings with a vacuum cleaner and a background of Hannibal and Arrested Development on Netflix. I left work a few days before flying abroad, a bridal henna order dispersed in between and a few drives up north for interviews to keep me focused.
Then, I was in Turkey: two months of 20 hours of class per week, homework in the evenings after afternoons spent exploring Bursa, each weekend spent in a different city, familiarizing myself with the sights and people alongside the language. I felt as though there was never a free moment, and I loved every second of it.
I’m back home now, free of obligations for a few short weeks before moving to the city for a while, a new position at a research institute and fresh anxieties about graduate school to look forward to. But that’s for later. For now, I have nothing on my plate but unpacking suitcases full of clothes mum and dad brought back from Cville a few weeks ago and sorting through boxes of knickknacks collected over the years. There’s no deadline, no order, no feeling of necessity, no routine.
Sometimes, there will be days that can only be survived through indulging in every form of carbohydrate imaginable. Today has been one such day.
It hasn’t been bad, mind you — no more barely-contained emotional breakdowns looming like storm clouds at the moment — but I’ve definitely taken solace in the serotonin that has accompanied my gluttonous gastronomic scrounging (evidenced by the fact that I’m currently lying at a diagonal on my bed, laptop on the floor and upper body slumped over the side of the mattress to ensure that my entire self is in direct line of the fan’s trajectory).
It has, however, been a bit stressful, seeing as how today marked the first of three days of language assessment. Today was also the more significant of the three, as it will result in my score for US language assessment purposes. I spent my four hours of free time after
going to the cinema and watching a dubbed version of Wolverine which, by the way, I highly do not recommend class alternating between reading very important news articles about Turkish current events in a hasty, half-arsed attempt to seem globally aware just in case I needed to be and eating my bodyweight in lahmacun and dondurma. And then a second lahmacun. And also cookies at some point.
The past few days have been strange. A sort of whirlwind of internal spiritual discord, an exhaustion that doesn’t seem to abate no matter how many snatches of sleep are stolen, a bone-deep discontentedness that casts a shadow over every moment. It’s not just me, either; it seems that almost everyone is victim to this emotional drainage that has swept through the program like some cruel, supernatural force. I’m not quite sure why.
Well, no, that’s a lie. I’ve spent enough time in pensive introversion these days that I could offer a laundry list of reasons. But that’s not something I want to expand upon in great detail here.
(I’m more of a think-too-much-right-before-bed-and-suffer-the-consequences-with-crippling-insomnia type of gal.)
I just finished up dinner with Çisil and Seyhan Anne on the balcony — a sauté of eggplant and tomato atop a bed of pilav, side of stewed greens and yogurt and leftover grilled chicken from the weekend — and we went through my final days in the country. It hit me then that this was going to be my last real meal at home with the two of them (tomorrow’s another evening spent cooking with sınıf 16 and M Bey, Wednesday’s a trip up to the coast for rakı-balık, Thursday’s a group dinner with the program, Friday’s a bus ride to Bandırma for the night, and Saturday is off for Atatürk Airport), and I promptly almost had a mental breakdown.
So much for keeping it contained to late-night insomniac musings.
This may be the first time in recent memory that I’ve not been with family for Eid. Or at least, in the same country as family. Not that I mind; I gave them a call last night while taking advantage of in-home WIFI access and wished them Eid Mubarak. (I am a good daughter on the odd rare occasion.)
Instead, this is the first time in recent memory that I’ve been in a Muslim country for Eid. Or Bayram, rather. The conclusion of Ramazan, the celebration of togetherness and food and receiving money from older family members. A Muslim child’s Christmas. (And mine, incidentally, since I somehow racked up a decent amount of TL.)
I spent my morning at Merve’s, stuffing my face with traditional Turkish breakfast before visiting the neighbors along with her family, which consisted mostly of me sitting in different living rooms, giggling stupidly to any conversation directed my way (which seems to be the equivalent of fluency, in this country), and being force-fed diabetes-inducing quantities of baklava and kadaif. I’m back at home for the moment, sitting on the couch in PJs, indulging in Türk kahvesi and lokum for the next few hours before accompanying Çisil and Seyhan Anne to family’s homes, anticipating a second trip to the ER later tonight in a hyperglycemic diabetic coma. (I will keep you posted.)
I hate the term “self-discovery.” I feel as though it’s been co-opted by recent-grads and television writers in the hopes of adding depth to what they dub the ‘defining characteristic of the millennial generation.’ The me, me, me generation; the generation blaming their parents for frustrations with social, environmental, and political issues, unemployment; the generation using ‘self-discovery’ as justification for traveling, for exploring, for internships, for idleness. Ten minutes’ worth of Girls, a few pages clicking through Thought Catalog, an existential journey à la Eat, Pray, Love.
Some similar bullshit along those lines.
A phase that seems to inflict only liberal-minded 20-somethings, worn with pride by some but thrown in scorn by most. I just think it’s all bullshit. Saying that 20-somethings are going through a period of “self-discovery” implies that there’s some sort of revelation to look forward to, some sort of discovery to be had.
What discovery? The acceptance that the first 29 years of my life were spent in a haze of immaturity and no direction? Like I’m going to wake up the day I turn 30 with a terribly jaded, concrete notion of who I am?
Ah, yes. Single, spinster, eighth year of graduate school, fifteenth Battlestar Galactica marathon of the month, and a burnt-orange Kitchen Aid. This is Sabeen.
Really, I’m not quite sure when this “discovery” is supposed to happen. I’m also not quite sure why it exists solely in this Twilight-zone-esque decade of one’s life. As if I’m only allowed to change and travel and grow for the next 9 years. As if I’m going to one day stop doing any of those things.
I am notoriously terrible at packing for trips. I am also consistently and unfoundedly shocked by this fact, since usually my luggage is a good 10 to 15 pounds under the max limit.
Take this summer, for example. I packed three pairs of shoes (I wear two), three pairs of pants (I wear one), two dresses (I wear neither), a handful of shirts (of which I wear three), the heaviest purse/camera bag/backpack ever created, and no overnight bag. It’s like I both underpacked and overpacked in one of the biggest shows of idiocy imaginable for someone who is spending 1/6 of her year in a foreign country.
(This is, of course, second only to the fact that I have since purchased nine scarves, eleven shirts, four skirts, two pairs of pants, and am trying to smuggle an antique Ottoman gramophone back to the States, so I actually have to go out and buy another suitcase next week.)
This all became very apparent to me when I was in Ankara last weekend, carrying a too-small bag (no overnight bag, but I did have the good fortune of remembering to pack a totally useless cloth gym bag), buying too-many things and having to lug it all around the city, slowly watching the straps on my bag fall apart and mentally berating myself for putting myself in this same freaking situation no matter which city you travel to do you remember Italy at all?!
(Obviously, I do not. But at least I will get to throw a bag away to lighten the load a bit.)