August heat, roommate roulette

7/30/2015
I’m doing OK, just VERY busy, We are short on teachers, so I’m working 40 TEACHING hours a week right now, not counting office hours, prep time or commuting. I do little else but work. The cause of the teacher’s shortage is poor communication, as always. During the month of Ramazan (mid-June to mid-July), plus a week or two on either side of that, there were few classes and no new classes. Some of the teachers were surprised by this and suddenly had no income. I knew about the month of holy fasting and had specifically asked about its timing and effect on classes, so I knew before I came. They didn’t. I simply planned other things to do during that month (I took the train to Bucharest, Romania. Then I flew to Paris!). But many of the younger teachers didn’t know about the break, nor did they have financial resources to afford it. So they quit–went back home or took another position. So now we are short teachers and I’m working too much. I hope it will even out in a month or so. Fingers crossed (which is an expression none of my students know, so I got to teach it to them).
I’ve checked the weather forecast in the USA and it is boiling there, so I hesitate to complain about the heat here. The advantage of The States over Turkey, however, is more air conditioning. I have none in my apartment, and only a few of the classrooms have working AC. I have taught all my students the Present Continuous phrase: “I am melting.” They also know a few new vocabulary words like: boiling, sweat, cool off, humid, air conditioning and miserable.

I was asked repeatedly by Robert, the Sirinevler head teacher, to consider taking his place when he leaves in October. I love to teach and I hate paperwork and politics, so I feel I’m better off remaining a simple teacher. I almost caved, but fortunately, Kate has stepped up to take the job. She is in her mid-to-late 20’s, very mature and organized, and this is her second teaching assignment (she was in Korea before). I think she will do great, plus it’s a good first management position for her and will look good on her resume. Being a head teacher is all about diplomacy and organization, so it won’t be easy, but she will do well and learn what she needs to. I hope it isn’t too frustrating for her and I will be as supportive as I can.

Upper management has decided that no one can take ANY time off–even one day–without their expressed permission. The teachers are protesting this and we will likely get a more reasonable ruling but not sure how long that will take. In the meantime, this will make it more challenging see my friend Kathy in October. I’m still confident that I can work this out, but I’m still not sure of where and when. I will work this out as soon as I can since I know this is important for good priced airfare. If I were SURE that my days off would not change, that would make it easier, but I have no control over my schedule and I am lucky to even get the week’s schedule starting Monday before I go to bed Saturday night. Makes it impossible to plan, huh?

I won’t go into details, but the new roommate situation is not working out and I’m going to have to move on. I’m still sleeping on a couch and I don’t have anywhere to hang my clothes. The roommate promised to buy furniture for my room before I agreed to move in. That was two months ago. She also promised to put the apartment in her name as well as the cable bill. She hasn’t followed through with any of these promises. Shortly after she returned from Copenhagen, she stopped speaking to me, so I don’t actually know what’s going on in her mind, but I can watch her behavior. She’s staying out all night, drinking heavily (I can’t even keep wine in the house because she drinks it) and she’s often late for work (based on the time she leaves the apartment she can’t possibly make it to school on time). She also rarely cleans, eats my food and didn’t pay the cable bill as promised. Now past due. I’ve also got concerns about the landlord, since he didn’t fix the water heater in a timely fashion and refuses to fix the shower.

Time to move on.

I’ve contacted Katt and Ali, who have several flats, and will see if they can arrange something for me that is walking distance to my school branch. This would have the added affect of keeping down my transportation costs and keeping off the over-crowded Metro, which is often the worst part of my day.

August 2, 2015
I have my first class that I truly dislike. They are mostly teen-aged, Level 1 students and their English is pretty poor. To be fair to them I am at least the third teacher they have seen, so it’s not like they expect me to stick around. I had to split up one couple because they were making out in class—that’s a first. (they later each sent me a FaceBook request. How odd?) They reluctantly moved, but spent the rest of the class on their phones and didn’t participate. My best English speaker can’t seem to shut up–short attention span theater! One young man is so far behind he should start again. But the worst is the oldest woman, E. She complains constantly, “Teacher, very difficult.” She is occasionally hostile and rolls her eyes a LOT. She influences the other girls negatively. Today I gave a 15 minute break (they are supposed to get 10 minutes) and she and 2 others took 20 additional minutes. So I decided to do the Writing Exam review while they were out, just for spite.

I have just a few more weeks of them. So I will try to remain as positive as I can and simply endure. (How very British of me!) But the class I feel most badly about is the new Level 1 class in Avcilar. I started the class last week and they are lovely, patient people. But they simply aren’t ready for an English speaker who knows almost no Turkish. I told the office manager that they needed our standard prep class—something all students are supposed to get before Level 1. These folks are struggling with the alphabet, numbers and know so few words that we could not communicate. Last week I abandoned the book. After the alphabet, we identified every noun in the room, plus most body parts. Then I taught them “This is a/an …” since I know the Turkish. We struggled with a few adjectives that I knew the Turkish for or they knew the English for. Then he/she/it/I/you/we/they and the “be” verb that goes with them. Then I acted out every verb I could think of: run, walk, sleep, snore……It was fun, but EXHAUSTING. I hate working without a plan like that. I wasn’t prepared at all, so I think it went well despite the problems—but it was successful to some extent because the class members are so positive and patient. This simply would not have worked with all students.

The office manager emailed me that she would get them some help and that their prep classes would be the next weekend. She hoped the class would be ready “in a few hours.” (I doubted that!) Fortunately, I forwarded the email to my head teacher, Robert, and the scheduler, Philip, with a note saying that I was now free on weekend afternoons. That’s the only reason I didn’t get into trouble when Avcilar’s office manager emailed Philip and asked why I wasn’t there to teach my class on Saturday! I was stunned. Apparently they were given 2 hours of tutoring Saturday and that’s supposed be enough to get them ready for Level 1?? I feel like I’m being set up to fail and taking my class down with me. But I will show up tomorrow and do my best. I can teach them some English, but I don’t see how they can pass Level 1.

August 4, 2015
I finished a Level 3 class today. It’s a group that I really like, so I’m disappointed to lose them. Classes wrap up quickly—weekday classes are just 5-6 weeks depending on if they are morning (4 hours a day) or evening (3 hours a day), so I’ve learned that it’s best to be slightly over-scheduled. Some class won’t work out. Another will finish before something new starts up.

If I understand it correctly, things at the Avcilar branch with the Level 1 class weren’t exactly as I was told. It’s partly a communication/translation issue (there’s no head teacher and the branch manager has only Level 1 English). IF I understand, the class had a bi-lingual teacher on Saturday. They didn’t want her. I know this teacher and have every reason to believe she’s good, so I don’t know what the issue is. But they wanted me back! I hope they know what they are doing. I figure I’ll learn Turkish or die trying while teaching this class. I don’t really believe they will do well on the exams. Possibly they won’t even finish the material. But I will try. It will take me twice as long to prepare classes for them. I decided I’ll have to do much more careful lesson planning and give them a vocabulary sheet with translated words each and every class.

Overnight, Katt emailed me and asked if I wanted to see the Sirinevler flats during my days off (Thur/Fri). I replied that I did. Maybe something will work out in that area. I don’t think living with Trudy can work out well. I can’t sleep on that couch much longer—my back hurts every morning. Our only form of communication now seems to be email. And the cable bill remains unpaid. Today she emailed she couldn’t find the cable contract and that since it was in my name it was my problem. I don’t think she’s going to like how I’m going to deal with the problem.

But the worst for me is that I’ve lost faith in people. Or at least my ability to judge people. I believed her. I trusted her from the word go. I was wrong. Trying to see the best in people doesn’t work out every time. IF she comes home, it’s usually after 3am—turning on lights and waking me up. Last night she and some male came in about 2:30a. I don’t know who it was or what they were doing. I don’t want to know. Sunday morning I met her coming home as I left the flat to go to work. She was wearing the clothes she had on Friday. And she was scheduled to teach, so she was late. Again.

Time for me to leave. I’ll be as fair as possible by paying my share of the next month’s rent (minus money she owes me). Let’s just hope that one of the rooms in Sirinevler is acceptable and I can secure it immediately.

I’m in the canteen now. It’s Trudy’s day off and so I don’t want to go home. Also, it is simply too hot to go home. There isn’t enough of a breeze at the apartment and I just sweat. At least here at the office, I can get in some AC. Let’s hope it cools off soon as none of the flats have AC. September should be better.

8/7/2015
Yesterday I met Katt and secured a room in Sirinevler, just three blocks from my school.

Just moved the last bag to the new place. Emailed my departure to the EX-roomie. I can’t believe she will be surprised. The internet is in my name (something she was supposed to do) so I took the equipment and am canceling that today. (I had to pay for the modem and a huge early cancellation fee) I’ve given her until Thursday to put the apartment in her name–something the owner knew was supposed to happen immediately, so I expect no issue for her. If not, Ali, who knows the landlord, has agreed to go with me to explain the situation, since the landlord speaks no English. I can’t have my name on her lease.

It’s messy. I’m exhausted, but I hope the worst is over.

Unfortunately we are both teaching at the same branch in Avcilar on weekends. And I was asked to teach M-W morning (this week only) for a level 2 class in her regular branch, Beylikduzu. Let’s hope I can just teach my class and go each day.

Right now, I’m just terribly sad about the entire situation and exhausted from carting all my stuff on the Metro. Not the best way to move.

I’m teaching double classes for five days straight. At least I have over half the lesson plans already done.

Moving. Again.

The fancy part of Istanbul has boats and money.
The fancy part of Istanbul has boats and money.

5/25/2015
Seen today on the internet:

There is a humble dignity in peeling paint
Wrinkled skin
Greying hair
and old worn shoes

5/27/2015
Trudy’s weight loss is pretty phenomenal and inspiring. She credits all the walking in Turkey (there are stairs everywhere) and the lack of junk food. The snack items are pretty healthy, mostly dried fruit, nuts and seats. Also lamacun (pronounced LA MAH JUNE) which is Turkey’s answer to fast food. It’s basically a flat-bread pizza. You add spices, fresh veggies and spritz of lemon juice then roll it up to eat. Pretty healthy compared to McDonald’s. I also think Trudy isn’t comfort eating. Of course, I’ve not dropped a pound.

The E5 is the major highway in my area. The MetroBuses run in the middle--where the median would be in the states. It is very busy 24 hours a day. Originally this road was part of the Silk Road.
The E5 is the major highway in my area. The MetroBuses run in the middle–where the median would be in the states. It is very busy 24 hours a day. Originally this road was part of the Silk Road.

Istanbul’s traffic is pretty bad. It’s not CAIRO bad, but very busy. The roads are in good shape and I’m grateful for the extensive public transportation system, which they continue to expand–half the system was built since my 2008 visit, so it’s new, too. However, the stated population of Istanbul (17-20 million, depending on who you ask) is a low-ball estimate. There may be 30 million people here. No system can keep up! The metro buses and trams are standing room only, at best and sardine cans, at worst. Yet, the buses and trams come every few minutes. The constant road noise outside my window is beginning to grate on my nerves–another reason to move. And because there is no air conditioning in Istanbul, I must have my windows open in the summer. The new apartment is a few blocks off the highway, while the current one is right above it. The view of the new place isn’t much, but it will be quieter. Everything is a trade-off.

English Time isn’t perfect–in fact we are getting regular emails and verbal admonishments about how we must not say negative things about the curriculum to the students, nor mention that our pay was late. I was called into the office this week and questioned by the business manager (Through an interpreter since the staff doesn’t speak English. Go figure.) He asked about what I had said to my students on these matters. I simply told him that my students sat me down and complained about the book and asked if I could use more supplemental materials, similar to what I’ve used in their last hour each day. Or was there another book we could use? They also asked me if I had been paid on time. I told the students the truth about my pay and that the problem with using alternate materials was that 1. the school wanted me to use the English Time curriculum 2. I wasn’t paid for preparation time and 3. I was very limited in the number of copies I could make each day. The manager was appalled! WHY would I say that copies were limited? Because they are. Why would I admit that I had been paid late? Because that‘s the truth. Should I lie? And I suggested that if the school did not want to be known as a place that paid late, then they should pay on time. Then he said that I should have told my Head Teacher (Robert) about this conversation with the students. He was in the room and he agreed that I had discussed it with him, as well as the Training Manager (Max) and the ET Head Business manager (Richard) in Taksim.

I had told the correct people. I reminded the business manager that I did not get paid for time I spent reporting issues or for finding supplemental materials to keep my students happy, so I felt that I had gone above and beyond what I had to do.

I don’t actually know what caused this line of questioning–the business manager has lied on other occasions and the translator isn’t so trustworthy either. BUT they told me that one of my students had posted to social media that the curriculum was poor, teachers could not easily supplement with copied materials, and that pay was slow in coming. I said that it sounded like the student had given his opinion and that since this was a free country that was his right. The business manager said that recently there had been other posts like this to social media. I suggested that it sounded like the school had a problem and it would be a good idea to improve. The business manager said that there were improvements in progress in the curriculum. I said that I had just asked this of the training manager and head office and they had already told me that no improvements were in progress. That’s when I was summarily thanked for my (wasted and unpaid for) time and let me go to my class.

So, no, ET isn’t perfect. Suspect it is run by 3rd graders. But it’s still better than Vietnam. And I don’t think that it’s better in another Turkey school. Or anywhere else in the world. THIS IS THE WAY IT IS.

The reason I can stay fairly cool and calm in a meeting like the above is because I have a legal resident card, money in the bank and the support of amazing friends. You can’t imagine what confidence it gives a person. But it’s great!

In front of Metro stops is a good place for street sellers. Lately, there have been lots of baby chicks and ducks for sale. Even some rabbits. I'm pretty sure they are not pets.
In front of Metro stops is a good place for street sellers. Lately, there have been lots of baby chicks and ducks for sale. Even some rabbits. I’m pretty sure they are not pets.
Another thing sold in front of Metro gates is mussels. They are stuffed with rice and baked, People usually buy two at a time and eat them standing right there. You open one and the seller squeezes fresh lemon on top and you use the top of the shell as a scoop to put it in your mouth. Tasty.
Another thing sold in front of Metro gates is mussels. They are stuffed with rice and baked, People usually buy two at a time and eat them standing right there. You open one and the seller squeezes fresh lemon on top and you use the top of the shell as a scoop to put it in your mouth. Tasty.

I’m thrilled that my dear friend Kathy from NY will consider hiking the Camino with me! I’d love a companion for a change and spring 2016 is great for us both. I want to do the French Way which is about 500 miles, though we plan to skip the first three days or so and the mountains of the Pyrenees. I’ve probably hiked enough mountains for a lifetime! Besides, spring in the mountains means unreliable weather. I have just finished reading two books on the Camino, but they are not exactly guidebooks. I bought them because I could get ebooks. I need to get a guidebook, and prefer a printed one, but delivery here in Turkey is very iffy. Not quite figured this part out yet. You ONLY need to do the last 100km to get the compostela.

5/29/2015
The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.   ~Hans Hofmann

FINALLY we were able to get cable internet into the new apartment. The installation crew missed TWO appointments and were supposed to come back Friday, but on Thursday I get a call from Serkan and he asked me to drop everything and run to the apartment right then. I’m sure he would have preferred to call Trudy, but she doesn’t have a phone and I do. While I hate last minute things like this, I really need internet, so I ran. It was an hour before they actually came, but I had bought several items for the kitchen earlier in the day (obviously “furnished” didn’t include a single kitchen item, nor a bed in my room. grrrrrrr) and I spent the time washing dishes and cleaning.

The crew arrived and Serkan followed shortly after. But the apartment wasn’t internet/phone/cable ready. They told me to hire an electrician to take the cable from the street to the apartment. They absolutely couldn’t do this. But of course, after some negotiations (which required lots of translation) it was clear they could do it: for a price. I ended up paying 100TL, money the landlords should have paid since we were assured it was internet ready. THEN we had to walk 25 minutes to the Turk Telecom office for the router, wait almost an hour for the guy to hand it to us but was on a break, walk 25 minutes back and install the router ourselves. Fortunately, I got a Turkish lesson also, so it wasn’t a total loss. So glad to have this done but it took up my entire day, mostly just waiting around.

This is the Turkish version of Home Depot. Trudy and I needed to do some shopping for kitchen items so I met her after her class.
This is the Turkish version of Home Depot. Trudy and I needed to do some shopping for kitchen items so I met her after her class.
This is inside the Turkish Home Depot. They wear the orange aprons and everything! Trudy and I bought a large toaster oven. We had no oven and no microwave, so really needed it. Not fun getting it home on the Metro, tho!
This is inside the Turkish Home Depot. They wear the orange aprons and everything! Trudy and I bought a large toaster oven. We had no oven and no microwave, so really needed it. Not fun getting it home on the Metro, tho!

Trudy hasn’t moved into the apartment. It’s Friday morning. We’ve had a key to the place since Monday and I know she wants to leave the flat she is in.  The apartment has a bed (in her room, not mine), running water, electricity, working gas burners (called cookers here. Not an oven, though) and refrigerator. As of last night it had internet. Because no one has no one been there, the landlords haven’t fixed the door to the washer and a few other small items. In Turkey, it’s illegal for the landlord to have a key to your apartment! That’s pretty shocking to me and I didn’t realize it until yesterday.

Of course my paranoia is kicking in: Has she changed her mind about moving? Does she want to move but not with me? I’ve not known her long, so I can’t know her habits.

As an aside: I’m beginning to think my cleanliness standards are simply too high. Unreasonable, even. I end up cleaning after every single roommate I have. You’d think someone who could live in a tent for 4.5 months wouldn’t have high standards at all. But maybe I need to loosen up. Other people don’t seem to get sick and die from dirty dishes, un-swept floors and mold in the shower. Going to try not to clean up after this roomie.

Shelley took me on the speed ferry to do some shopping. Every neighborhood has its own personality, but they all have places to stop and have tea. Notice the tulip shaped glass on a saucer. That's how all tea is served here.
Shelley took me on the speed ferry to do some shopping. Every neighborhood has its own personality, but they all have places to stop and have tea. Notice the tulip shaped glass on a saucer. That’s how all tea is served here.
Waiting for the speed ferry.
Waiting for the speed ferry.

Technically I have about three weeks to move out of the current apartment. There’s plenty of time (despite the email from the landlord asking WHEN I was leaving). But I agreed to live in this apartment with Trudy before I’d actually seen it. Yes, I know, I should not have done this. I know better and take full responsibility for my actions. Because of this. I didn’t realize that I’d need a bed and that there were no kitchen items. And other items have cropped up. When we went to go see the apartment the first time, I though we were just going to pick up the keys. But Trudy hadn’t signed the lease. So we waited an hour for our interpreter and the landlord to fill out forms just to find out that Trudy couldn’t sign it. She doesn’t have a residence card yet and she didn’t have her passport with her. So my name is on the lease. And then the landlords backed out of installing the internet. So my name is on that, too. I’m not comfortable with this.

We are both buying kitchen things, roughly splitting costs, but it really adds up. Trudy has agreed to buy the bed. I’m getting anxious because it’s not the situation I agreed to and it’s more expensive than I’d believed. But I also want to get out of the place I’m in–it’s just too dirty and too difficult to live with children. Trudy is more fluid with time than I am and is more relaxed about the move. Frankly, I think it would serve me better to be able to let go of time commitments and ridged appointment schedules. To me, “I’ll meet you at 9” really means “I will be there at 8:45.” With the rest of the world, it means “I may or may not show up. I probably won’t call you to cancel, and if I come, I will not be there before 9. If you are silly enough to wait for me, it’s probably OK for you to stop waiting by 10.” I hate it, but this is the way the world is and unless I want high blood pressure, I’ve got to learn how to deal with it.

I seriously need to get settled somewhere—too much moving, too much of a temporary life. Have I said before that living in another country is more about learning about yourself than learning a new culture? I’m not liking everything I’ve learned.

The side streets have chickens! These look much healthier than the ones in Vietnam.
The side streets have chickens! These look much healthier than the ones in Vietnam.

Istanbul, May 2015, 35/31/2015
FROM THE INERNET: Beau Biden, son of the Vice President, died yesterday. President Obama, writing in a statement, quoted Irish poet William Butler Yeats — a favorite of the vice president’s — in honoring Beau Biden’s life. Yeats wrote, “I have believed the best of every man. And find that to believe it is enough to make a bad man show him at his best or even a good man swing his lantern higher.” “Beau Biden believed the best of us all,” Obama said. “For him, and for his family, we swing our lanterns higher.”

LATER
I’ve talked with Trudy. We are to move her tomorrow morning. Then she is supposed to shop for a bed for me and have it installed ….soon.

A few students have asked me to do some private tutoring classes. I am probably not getting enough hours at school this summer, so it sounds good. I asked Albert what I should charge. He suggested between 80 and 100 TL per hour! That’s 4-5 times what I get at school! Not that I’m quitting the school—they give me a rent subsidy, pay taxes, take care of work visa and residence card, I have insurance through them……and if I complete my contract, there’s some big cash bonuses. But a couple hundred TL a week could make a big difference.

One of my students drew a picture of me!
One of my students drew a picture of me!

6/2/2015
We got Trudy mostly moved in yesterday.  Finding it painful to buy kitchen things–a financial loss for me since I can’t transport them to my next location. Trudy is on a shopping trip today for bed, but I still must buy bedding–again a total waste of money for me. AND I’m not sure of how to buy sheets–sizes aren’t standard, aren’t in a language I can understand, I have no measuring devices and it’s tough to return anything here if I make a mistake. Adventures in living in another country!

This is how it is when you move and when you live in a different country–not complaining, just facing up to the hard work of it all. Suffice to say that the honeymoon period of living Turkey is over–now I’m in the “Culture shock” mode of adjustment. I give the worst of the process 6 months and I’m only half way through that. It doesn’t help that I was so run down before I moved to Vietnam and then never got all the way through the adjustment period there before moving again. That’s another reason I need to finish my contract here. I need some stability–BUT my health is so much better here than in Vietnam. My hair (which had gotten quite thin) is growing in again and my energy level is much better. I don’t think I’ve fully realized how very difficult the AT was on my body. I simply can’t finish that trail. There are still 800 miles I’ve not hiked and I must face the fact that I never will. But the Camino will be easier, better nutrition, less weight to carry and FAR fewer rocks and mountains.

The good news with moving is that I have until June 20 to get out of this apartment. (Remember that English Time pays for my first 3 months rent (but in exchange you have no input into where you live). So there is plenty of time, though I hope there’s a bed this week and I can move in right away. Trudy has to be out of her room by June 3.

It will all work out, I just need to stop worrying about it, stop pushing, stop SPINNING. “Time” is a very fluid thing in most of the world. Appointments are not solid. At all. My students think nothing of showing up 20 minutes late for class. Or an hour late. People don’t call before they come over to visit. For me, “time” is the most difficult aspect of adjustment. But I must adjust. This is how almost everyone OUTSIDE the USA works.

I keep reminding myself: I wanted an adventure. I wanted to experience other cultures. That’s what I’m doing. But it isn’t all historic places and exotic meals, folks.

I do love the big Turkish Breakfast.
I do love the big Turkish Breakfast.

6/8/2015
The elections were yesterday, Sunday, but I’m not yet sure about the results. Here’s what I know. Current president Erdoğan’s (pronounced Air doh wan) Justice and Development party, AKP, did not get a majority. This means they will need a coalition partner to form a government. The Justice and Development party is religious-conservative and Erdoğan’s isn’t a nice guy, so I’m glad he didn’t get a strong victory. (Technically, he wasn’t on the ballot as he couldn’t by law run for a fourth term. Ahmet Davutoğlu ran) He doesn’t like foreigners At All, and he thinks women should be forced to wear headscarves (whether Muslim or not) and they should stay at home not work. The AKP wanted to re-write the constitution, making a far more conservative and less democratic country—effectively making Erdoğan a dictator. That’s very unlikely to happen now. The Kurdish Minority has suffered serious discrimination in the past (even recent past). Their party is new, the HDP or Peoples’ Democratic Party. They got above the 10% minimum which means they will finally have a voice in Parliament, which they’ve not have before. The HDP supports democracy, gay rights, women’s rights and non-Muslim minority rights. They don’t hate foreigners, either.

It’s a big improvement that the Turks have swung left after drifting right for the last decade and a half. Turnout was 86%, so it’s a clear statement of what people want. To be honest, one of the reasons I came to Turkey NOW and didn’t wait was because I could see the country was in flux. If it became as conservative as most Middle Eastern countries, say Saudi Arabia, I wouldn’t be able to be here. I wanted to see it before the doors closed on me. Fortunately, they seem to be swinging open again.

A pedestrian street in Avcilar, decorated for the election.
A pedestrian street in Avcilar, decorated for the election.

But I’m not quite sure what happens next. The AKP aren’t out of power, just weakened. News reports say things like:

  • “The poor result for Erdoğan is likely to embolden dissenters and could spark a power struggle.”
  • “Official results based on 99.9% of votes counted gave the AKP 41%, followed by the Republican People’s party (CHP) on 25%, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on 16.5% and the HDP in fourth place with 13%.”
  • “The fall coupled with an election triumph for a new pro-Kurdish party meant it was unlikely that the AKP would be able to form a majority government, forcing it to negotiate a coalition, probably with extreme nationalists, or to call a fresh election if no parliamentary majority can be secured within six weeks.”

<sigh> Trudy didn’t buy a bed. She said she shopped for beds but didn’t find anything she liked. Now we are in week three and by the look of her calendar, she won’t get it done this week either. I’m long past ready to get out of here.

6/11/2015
I moved yesterday—but it wasn’t exactly scheduled.

I’ve been living in an apartment with 7 other people. On my floor, I shared a bathroom and kitchen with 3 others. To say that they were NOT clean is the understatement of 2015. Also, A was unable to close drawers or flush. M was an amazing cook but didn’t see the need for soap or hot water when washing dishes. She didn’t think that hand towels or dish rags needed to be washed. (“They are self-cleaning, silly!”) I didn’t eat her cooking. Obviously, no one else ever took out trash or swept the carpet or washed the counters. It was so bad that I stopped cooking or even keeping food in the kitchen.

They were also odd things. Sunday morning I found all the sharp knives lined up on the kitchen floor. No idea why. Couldn’t bring myself to ask for fear of the answer. Yesterday, I found the refrigerator door wide open. Again. Third morning in a row. I had no perishable food in there, so what do I care? When I shut the door, I noticed A’s underwear on the floor, in a position that led me to believe he had simply stepped out of them and left them there. Can you say skid marks?

I packed up and left. I’ll sleep on the couch. I’m not living with that.

And while I was packing, I noticed 400TL missing from my room. Theft has been a big issue here in Istanbul. So far, I’ve lost 200TL and some teaching items from my hotel room—not that the hotel would even acknowledge that it could have possibly occurred! My phone was stolen, and I’d just put 100TL on the SIM card. Now more money. I’ve lost the equivalent of half a month’s pay.

While my roomies are slobs, I don’t think they are thieves. I keep my room locked all the time, except when I go to the bathroom. The only person who’s likely to have a key are the landlords. Another reason to move.

Istanbul, May 2015, 66/15/15
Got moved last week. Still sleeping on a futon couch, but it is much better than the other place. I miss my nice view, but that’s it. Trudy and I are getting along well.

I love teaching. I have a level 1 class on the weekends (4 hours each day) and they are doing so well. I had them do a simple speaking exercise yesterday–introducing themselves and telling about their family. It’s an extended exercise of one I did their first day. 6 weeks ago, when the class started, I had to write out a script for them to say with blanks for their name and age. This time they were talking for 4-5 minutes without notes–really communicating! I am so proud.

My classes change constantly, but I’ve been getting 22-30 hours a week of teaching–though a third of the work is filling in for someone who is on vacation or has been kicked out. And remember I spend about an hour preparing for every hour teaching, so it’s WORK. BUT next week I will only have the weekend class. It ends on the 28th and then I have nothing scheduled. No classes are starting until after Ramazan (Ramadan for the rest of the world, roughly June 18-July 18). Feast or Famine. But starting mid-July, we should suddenly have lots of classes beginning and I probably will have too much work. I have no classes in the first two weeks of July, so I’m going to try to figure out the trains and go to Budapest and Bucharest. I’m meeting a friend in Sofia in October, which is also a train ride away. From what I’ve read, the trains are clean and reasonably priced. I can get a direct train to Vienna!