Thursday, March 28, 2013

Who ate all the pie? (me I hid it so I wouldn't have to share and gobbled it when you weren't looking.)

Today I had one of those very girly gossips with some friends where we all confessed how much fatter we are. And let me say I really am - I rarely weigh myself, knowing how much I weigh does nothing for my self esteem so it is on my list of things to avoid, along with horror movies, and reading books about people who've had miserable childhoods. Anyway, the other day I got on the scales for the first time in at least a year and discovered to my surprise I had put on fifteen kilos (if you work in pounds, lets just pretend they are the same.) That's a lot. I had kind of vaguely noticed I was fatter. My breasts have been leaping out my bra on a more regular basis, and some of my trousers have been harder to do up than they used to be, but I didn't have a clue I was so very much more.

My first reaction was to panic, you know that heart beating fast "Oh my goodness I'm so ugly, I have to lose this now, yesterday, this can't continue." Then I took a deep breath and looked at myself in the mirror for a while. I didn't hate what I saw. I'm not massively keen on my figure naked, but in clothes I like how I look. I like having a fuller figure, I have a very defined waist, big hips and big breasts. My extra weight is in proportion. If I cover up in baggy stuff I look shapeless and fat. If I celebrate how I'm shaped I look a bit on the sexy-glamorous scale. At least I think I do, and as that is the main battle I don't really need anyone else to verify it.

I've bought some new clothes recently. A-line skirts, long sleeved t-shirts, and cute cardigans. They flatter me. I tried to get some new jeans, as my two pairs (I'm not a clothes person, I really do just have two pairs) have somehow ended up on two different continents, neither of which I am on. Not entirely to my surprise I was unsuccessful - I need at least a 36 inch leg and the longest length here in Turkey appears to be 34. I can wait until I am next on holiday. I feel really good in the stuff I bought, like I am celebrating me, a thing I sometimes find very hard to do.

One of the women I was chatting to has just reached the same place, she's bigger than me, though I guess we weigh the same, she doesn't have the six foot tall frame to re-distribute it so well. But she looks great, amazing actually - a real life yummy mummy. We reminisced about how we didn't appreciate what we had back in the day, the day being our respective teens and twenties (I'm twenty nine, so I can claim the end of my twenties as a victory for self esteem.) I had the startling revelation the other day, that right now at this moment I am the youngest I am ever going to look. This is it, every day is my best and I'm at peace with it.

But then here's the weird thing, twice in the last couple of weeks I've been asked if I'm pregnant and both times I've found it funny. I've assured the askers that no, I've just spent the last winter eating pies, lemon meringue pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate pie, all with extra butter and all with cream on top. It didn't bother me. Then today my eight year old asked me why I was fatter and followed it up by telling me my "tummy looks pregnant." And I was pissed. I mean really irrationally angry. I hid it as much as I could and explained to him that saying that kind of thing was rude, but I really hated it. When my husband squeezes my fat, as he tends to do if ever we snuggle together, I physically recoil. It feels like a judgement. I don't think he means it that way. Turks have an odd relationship with weight - they very openly comment on it. Without being asked, without knowing you well, when they are accepting your hospitality, they will tell you you are fat. It is rarely said as an attempt to injure you, it's done with about as much interest as a Brit might have in commenting on the weather - it's just kind of part of what you say. But I don't get why their very innocent behavious upset me.

I get that being thin is an international standard of beauty. Models and Hollywood and all that shebang. But I feel like in the real world full of people who don't have personal trainers, or simply aren't motivated to go to the gym, who don't have the money for plastic surgery, or botox or whatever people do to make themselves real life photoshopped, there should be a different standard. One where we see the beauty in exactly what the person is right at this moment. I can do it for myself, I can do it for other people, but am I the only one? Sometimes I think I am, I don't want to hear people apologise for how they look, I don't want them to make excuses for their waist lines, I don't want them to tell me they are unhappy with how they are. I want them to buy some better clothes and have a look in the mirror and love what they see, because I am yet to meet someone who if you look at them for just a second or two longer than normal, isn't just a little bit beautiful.

For many years I had a very up and down relationship with dieting if you would like to read about that you can do so here it is a longish, fairly amusing tale.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The sound of violence

We have a family living in the apartment above us. Husband, wife, and a baby about 3 months old. Last night I sat in my living room and listened to the husband try to kill his wife. There was a lot of deep voiced yelling, a lot of high-pitched wailing and shouting, and every so often a frantic baby cry.

I was surprised how little the baby cried.

A lot of ornaments were smashed on the floor above my head.

There was a lot of bashing and thumping. I'm reasonably sure he was slamming her against the wall.

The police arrived about ten minutes after we called them - they went up the stairs, spoke to the guy, and left five minutes later after giving him a warning for disturbing the peace.

The wife didn't want to report him. She did not want to be taken to the refuge.

I went to bed. Today their has been a lot of vacuuming.

I don't know what to think about this. I hate the guy. Hate him. How can he live with himself? How can he do this? I don't get it. I mean in a way I can imagine a couple getting in a huge fight and one of them going for the other - but this sounded more along the lines of a systematic beating. What the fuck - how does anyone have the mindset, the complete lack of control to do this? I know it happens a lot, but I don't think it's normal, and I don't see why it happens. It just shouldn't.

I feel like I should comment on why the woman didn't leave, what that means in respect to Turkey. First Turkey is big, what happens on one side of the country may be dealt with completely differently on the other side. So in my small corner of the country, oftentimes if the woman does report it, a common phenomenon seems to be the husband is arrested, gets out the next day, comes home and beats his wife worse.  I've seen two local news stories recently, one about a foreign woman killed by her boyfriend, the other a father scared for his daughter's life begging the police to protect her. These stories and the 'One billion rising' movement which was well represented in my town, has been increasing pressure on the police to do something about domestic violence.

It's not like the laws in Turkey are that bad this well researched report answers a lot of questions (if you have them,) and it's nice to know a rapist can no longer get out of his conviction by marrying his victim. But here's the thing, woman are still second class here. It is an insult to say someone is "like a woman." People are surprised when women do well. Technically they can become anything they want, but mostly they don't. There is sexism everywhere, and you know what? it's infectious. I feel like I need protecting here. Like I am vulnerable. I didn't in London, I did what I wanted, when I wanted. But here where the population is about 100th of London - I am scared. I don't go out by myself at night. Even during the day I don't answer the door when I am alone. In truth I have allowed myself to become more helpless. My husband and I have split the chores we do and none of mine are outside the house - I can live in a bubble if I want.

How did I get here... why do women allow themselves to be controlled, to stay when things are bad. If my husband turned suddenly violent I would leave him, and I would call his parents and they would be on my side. But I have options, I am financially independent. If he 'came back the next day' there are places I could run and hide, I could go to a completely different continent to him and never be heard from again if I wanted. Most of the other women, the one in three who experience domestic violence don't have these options. There is no nanny state to fall back on. Destitute is a real thing, and a mighty frightening thing to choose not just for yourself but yourself and your children. I guess in the end maybe a lot of times it is easier to choose to stay than to walk away and try and make a life alone.

UPDATE : the neighbours have moved out - their landlord didn't appreciate having his furniture smashed. Before they left the wife angrily confronted my husband wanting to know why he had called the police - "to stop you being killed" didn't seem to satisfy her as an answer.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Adventure in the village no. 1

Today was a landmark day for me... finally, after six months living here, I walked into the village and had a look at the shops by myself. It's not a long walk. I have done it with the kids, I have driven through repeatedly. I have occasionally been pulled into one store or another by my husband, whose style of shopping is to hustle me into a place as fast as he can, show me what he has found, half listen to my opinion on it, and then hustle me out again. I have only been in the village grocery store once, and that was with both boys and my husband, all hell-bent on running in different directions and all wanting to hold my hand as they did so - if only I had three hands, detachable ones would be perfect.

I have actually been putting this experience off for a long while. Empty shops intimidate me. Overly helpful shop assistants intimidate me. People looking, staring, and whispering about me makes me cringe. And they do, point and whisper that is. I am the foreignist foreigner around - six feet tall, blonde, lacking in a headscarf, lacking baggy floral trousers, I'm not from round here!

Whatever, that's the back story, the point is I did it, and I was mightily rewarded - turns out that because there are a high number of foreigners in our area (at least in the summer months) there are also lots of foreign goodies in the very rural looking shops. I found vicks vapour rub! For the uninitiated vicks is a weird menthol concoction that you rub on your chest when you have a cold. I actually can't remember missing vicks vapour rub even once over the last decade, but now I have a pot, and if I get a cold I can clean my sinuses in no time. Go me! I also found safety pins, which I never have enough of, elastic bands, birthday cake candles (you can get them anywhere, but these were really really cheap and came with a 'happy birthday' cake sign,) not-crazily-expensive roll on deodorant named after various random states of being - I really wanted 'Crazy' but the smell was such that you would have to be crazy to buy it, so in the end settled for 'Pretty' and 'Happy,' the second of which I was definitely feeling and the first I think my armpits will appreciate.

However, all these fabulous items paled into significance once I got to the DIY shop. Man that place is awesome. It doesn't have a great range of stock, but to make up for that they have made a shop window mannequin out of pipe and dressed it in their uniform (t-shirt, baseball cap.) The shop assistant is totally unconcerned, he offers to help you, then if you say no, he makes himself vanish. I don't know how he did that. The guy in the "cheap" (yes I mean those inverted commas, with spades on) shop was insane, he just never stopped talking, I don't know what he was saying. I can speak Turkish, I just can't speak speeding blur. Anyway, awesome-DIY-guy was there at the checkout but somehow he wasn't. He didn't seem to be watching me, or doing any kind of activity, or anything, but he was miraculously present when I wanted to know the price of my one fabulous purchase, which was.... wait for it...

In case this is not common vernacular where you are from, in the UK a muff is how teenage boys might refer to the hair between a woman's legs. Or at least they used to. No idea now, I don't know any teenage boys. As mine are both at school in Turkey I guess they'll learn some random Turkish word to describe in, check back in 5 years time and I'll let you know.

More exciting than the name alone, are the 'using places...

...that's right this little baby will keep lobster from coming out your drains. I cant tell you the number of lobsters we've had in our bathroom. And I hate those bastard, snappy, blue, crustaceans bleugh, never again, the muff matic and I will take you down. Ha. Best three lira I've ever spent.