The Big Move

As I type this blog, my brother is in his car, somewhere in Illinois, making the big drive to Seattle. In the car is his girlfriend and puppy (OK, big puppy who’s a full-grown, 7 year old husky). A few hours ago, I picked up the keys to their new apartment and did the move-in inspection.

“You guys must be close,” the leasing agent told me.

We are. My brother is my whole world. Being on the other side of the country from him for the past 3 years have been the most difficult part of being in Seattle. When they visited me last June, all I wanted was for him to fall in love with Seattle the way I did.

He did. They did. The conversation about their move began. Just like there was a part of that feared that I would never actually get to leave DC, there’s always been a part of me that feared they wouldn’t actually move.

BUT HERE THEY ARE. Read more The Big Move

The Memory Keeper’s Burden

Friends passing the volleyball around in the sun.

Families having picnics, as the kids run around chasing bubbles.

A friendly baseball game between families.

Daisies peeking out in the sunshine.

One of the girls running trips and falls, ripping her white tights. Her dad immediately swoops her up as her mom strips off the tights to clean her wound. Her brother still running after bubbles with bare feet.

These are all portraits of my past that I’ve kept locked away for so long, because with the positive memories come the nostalgia, the reminder that somewhere, something was broken, and those memories are now just a distant reminder of my childhood. I sat on a bench, unable to hold back my tears as all of these memories unexpectedly flooded my heart and soul this past Sunday. I couldn’t hold it back. It all seems so lost – the memories seem to be fading, and I fear that because I don’t talk about it, my brother might not remember it all. Read more The Memory Keeper’s Burden

If We Keep This Up, We’ll Feel Guilty for Being Alive

I want to talk to you about this thing we do.

We all do it. I’ve been doing it an awful lot lately, and I think that over the last few years, it’s really had an impact on how I approach life.

So, this thing that we do – the way we feel guilty about feeling happy because there are shitty things happening to people in our lives. It’s not that we’re going around bragging and that’s why we feel guilty.

We have guilt for feeling happy. We feel guilty because something good has happened in our life, and in that exact moment, something negative happens to be happening in the lives of many people that we love.

A few months ago, a good friend of mine called me. This friend is one of the few people whose call I actually take even though I hate talking on the phone. She called me to tell me something but she didn’t want to make me feel upset.

I knew what the news was. I knew exactly why she called.

“He proposed?” I asked, with a huge smile on my face.

You may be wondering why she thought the news might make me upset. Because she’d spent a good part of the last year being my support for my own relationship coming to an end.

I’m glad she called me. I was flattered that she called me, because in this day and age, there are only a handful of people we call and tell individually before announcing to the world that we’re engaged with a relationship update on Facebook or an Instagram of our ring.

Her happiness gave me hope. Her happiness made me happy.

This is one of the scenarios when it was OK. She wasn’t bragging. She wanted to share her happiness, and guys, that’s a good thing. We shouldn’t feel guilty for being happy. We shouldn’t feel guilty that something is going right in our lives. We shouldn’t feel guilty for the little things that make us happy.

Should we share every single tiny thing that makes us happy with the world ALL THE TIME? Probably not. Especially if you’re me and are easily entertained by little things.

We should cherish and appreciate the good.

On the flip side…

Can we stop feeling guilty for being upset because something went wrong in our lives because we somehow feel the need to compare it to something that may seem worse in another life?

Shit happens. People in our lives get hurt. Our loved ones hurt.  Our loved ones lose their loved ones unexpectedly.

World keeps turning.

Your world doesn’t stop turning because someone you love is having something really awful in his/her life. We sympathize. We empathize. We let them know we are there but sometimes, there isn’t anything else we can do.

In the meantime, your life keeps moving forward.

You know what happens during your day? Good things, bad things and sometimes, unfortunately shitty things.

We have a tendency to feel guilt because we’re upset about something that happened in our lives. Why? Because if you compare it to something that is relatively worse in a friend/loved one’s life, we really shouldn’t complain because it could be worse.

As long as you are breathing, it could always be worse. 

I’m not saying complain about every little thing, but if you are upset because an event you were looking forward to got canceled, you shouldn’t feel guilty. Maybe that event was the one good thing you were looking forward to for weeks.

If we continue to constantly compare our feelings to everyone’s else, how are we supposed to feel? How are we supposed to process happiness, sadness, anger, and fear if we experience guilt for simply feeling? How can we process guilt as a pure emotion if we are constantly plagued by it due to this never ending comparison?

You guys, if we keep this up, pretty soon, we’re all going to start feeling guilty for being alive.

If we keep this up, we'll feel guilty for being alive

***

 

How I Became A Cat Lady

Growing up, I didn’t have any pets. Unless you count parakeets, and let’s face it: Those suckers are only good for annoying you.

I’ve always been a dog person. I knew that my first pet would be a dog. I just knew it. In Turkey, we had a lot of stray cats on the streets and my impression of them wasn’t always so loving.

They hissed at me, a lot. I mean, not that I can blame them. Those streets be rough, yo.

Actual alley cats from my grandma's neighborhood in Turkey

 

The internet brought some cat appreciation into my life. Sure, you can haz cheeseburger!

I still wasn’t sold on having a cat for a pet.

Fast-forward to June of 2009, after I moved in with my new roommates. I went from growing up in a house of NO pets to a house full of a dog, and 3 cats.

That’s a lot of fur, you guys.

To make matters more interesting, my room wasn’t ready the first night I stayed at the house so I was to sleep on the couch in the living room.  This was before the two boy cats moved in so it was just Dori, the cute girl cat. I had gone out that night, and when I got home, everyone had gone to bed. I changed into my PJs, grabbed my laptop to do some writing and figured I’d have a decent night’s sleep.

Dori had other plans.

So, there I am, exhausted from the day of moving (not the mention the car accident from the day before) and all I want to do is lie down on the couch and pass out. Not 30 seconds goes by before Dori jumps up on the couch RIGHT NEXT TO MY FACE.

I managed to not scream. I took the nice kitty off the couch, put her on the floor and said “No!”

Oh, how foolish I was.

I closed my eyes again, and this time, had a mini-heart attack as she was even closer to my face.

I tried this two more times until I decided that there was no way I was falling asleep with this cat around, and the next time, I would scream so loud, I’d wake the whole house up.

So I stayed up the entire night and watched in horror as Dori ran back & forth between the kitchen and living room. Sometimes, she jumped on me. That was fun.  When my roommate came downstairs at 7, and said “Wow, you’re up early,” I really had no words to convey the night I had.

So, all of this and spending a year with 3 cats would certainly make me be completely against cats, right? I mean, all the fur, and the running away (Dori loved to escape) and not to mention Andrew’s allergies when we first started dating…

All signs pointed to “No Cats EVER”

But, something happened. Between losing my job, deciding to be a full-time freelancer and completely losing my mind, I decided I wanted a cat.

Andrew’s allergies? PFFT, HE CAN DEAL.

He didn’t think I would do it, but then I fell in love with a little kitten named Mitzy. I first laid eyes on Mitzy while scrolling through the Humane Society site on a hot, DC summer day. I looked at her. The stuffed octopus on her head looked at me.

It was love at first sight.

“Andrew, we’re getting this cat.”

“Aw, she’s cute.”

“No, seriously, I’m going over there tomorrow to fill out the paperwork.”

“Wait. What?

“I mean it.”

“…”

“…”

Just a few days later, we took Layla, formerly known as Mitzy, home.

I wasn’t the only one who fell in love with her

Allergies? Pft. The cute conquers all.

Though she has her slutty moments

And drives me crazy

She’s pretty much the best reason to become a cat lady.

My Role Model Hasn’t Been Born Yet

Marilyn Monroe. Grace Kelly. Audrey Hepburn. Meryl Streep.

These are a few of the women I admire, but I’ve never really had a role model. I’m at that age when I’ve started thinking about having kids, and what kind of mother I want to be.

I came to the realization that I want to be the kind of woman I want my daughter to become when she grows up.

So my role model hasn’t been born yet.

I want my daughter to be the kind of girl who’s full of life growing up.  I want her to be passionate and I want her to have passions.  Being my daughter, she’ll probably be a little a stubborn. She’ll want too many things at once, and sometimes, she’ll overwhelm herself.

She’ll understand that I have expectations of her but she’ll draw her own path regardless.

She’ll know that it’s OK for her to make mistakes, as long as she learns her lesson. Sometimes, the lesson won’t take the first time, and maybe, she’ll make similar mistakes. She won’t be embarrassed about them.

I want my daughter to be the kind of woman full of love in her heart, which means that she’ll be heartbroken.  She’ll pick the wrong friends, and of course, the wrong boys (maybe the wrong girls). She’ll embrace the pain but she won’t be jaded by it like I was. She’ll continue to give to others around her, but she’ll also be a little selfish when she needs to be.

She’ll take care of herself and her body. Sure, she’ll like junk food, and she’ll sometimes drink too much. At times, she’ll compare herself to others and get stuck in that destructive rut.

But she’ll have friends who love her who’ll talk her out of that rut. Through all the bullshit, she’ll surround herself with people who love her unconditionally and want the best for her, no matter the distance. Her mind will be just as accepting as her soul is.

She’ll be patient (sometimes). Maybe she’ll be frustrated with me, but growing up, she’ll understand that all I wanted in the world was her happiness. If she sees me making a mistake, she won’t bite her tongue. She’ll point it out and talk to me about it.

She won’t bottle things up. She’ll find an outlet, even if she can’t confront the situation right away.

She’ll love to laugh and she’ll have the most beautiful laugh. Maybe she’ll snort like her mama. She’ll have eclectic tastes and won’t fit into one box. She’ll be a little bit of nerd, a little bit of a smart-ass, and a little bit of a geek. She’ll love to read as much as I do (There’s no way I’m budging on that one.)

She’ll write. Or maybe she won’t. She might get my dad’s artistic skills (hopefully it skips a generation). Whatever it is she loves to do, she will follow her heart.

If she stumbles, she’ll pick up the pieces and move forward.

No matter what, she will always be true to herself. 

I want to be the kind of woman that my daughter will be proud to call her Mom.

So I guess I should keep working on that.

***

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Sleepover, A Runaway Dog & Spongebob

“Would you have thought this moment would happen 2 years ago?”

As we stood in my room at my parents’ new place Saturday night, my insightful fiance asked me that question.

The answer is “No.”

Because we were staying the night at my parents’ for Father’s Day weekend. If you’ve known me for even 6 months, you know what a big deal this is.  Hell, if you’ve had an overnight trip with your significant other for the first time with your/his/her parents, you know what a big deal this is.

So this was a big deal. (In case you missed it).

We drove up after Andrew got off work Saturday night & were up there around 11 pm. The surprise of the weekend wasn’t how awkward it was but how much Andrew fit in with my family. We sat around the table, teaching Andrew how to play Rummikub (Which is kind of a big deal in Turkey) and it was a  peaceful sight.

Andrew fit in with my family*. In his own goofy way.

When I went to bed that night (In my own room while Andrew slept in my brother’s room because whoa, one step at  a time people), I was at peace.

The next day, the dog ran away.

The little bugger figured out how to get out of her collar and ran away when she was supposed to be peeing. WHOOPS. If you’ve never seen a young Siberian Husky run, they run FAST.  My bro & Dad looked for her on foot, and after a couple of minutes, Andrew & I decided to look for her with the car. It was my dad that found her but whoo, that was quite an adventure.

What? I'm not planning anything.

Never a dull moment with my family!

Then I found my old Spongebob visor from middle/high school, which I had to wear in the pictures we took at the end of the day before Andrew & I headed back. Those were the only pictures we took all weekend, which a shame because the Godfather card Andrew gave my dad for Father’s Day was epic.

Just like this first weekend with my family.

Maybe next time Andrew & I can sleep in the same room when we visit my parents.

Not the same bed of course, until after we get married.

 

My boys.
With my boys. (And Spongebob)

How was your Father’s Day weekend?

 

Not the actual card but you get the idea.

 

*I did have a moment and thought about whether or not any of the men in my past would’ve fit in with my family like Andrew does. The answer is “No.”

 

[Family] Land of No Secrets

It was completely unplanned.  She asked me if I had anyone in my life and a smile took over my face. I couldn’t stop. So I said yes.

It began with me telling her I was just seeing someone.

For over a year.

Oh, and my dad & bro have met him.

In between these little factoids, we went on tangents.

About my feelings, about our relationship and how much I wish it was better.

It just kept unfolding. Words kept flowing and eventually, I told her that I was engaged.

Oh and that we’ve been living together for a year.

I couldn’t stop gushing, and at the same time, I was so worried about her reaction. The reason we hadn’t told her was because we didn’t know how she would react.

I don’t know how I would’ve reacted 6 months ago,” she told me the next day.

I didn’t plan to have this heart-to-heart with my Mom. The truth is, it’s been hard not being able to share my happiness with her. It’s been hard keeping secrets, and not being able to call her whenever I had something share.

The conversation got awkward at times. We’ve never been that close. My mom doesn’t really know me, hasn’t known anything about my life for the past 6 years.

The secrecy wasn’t because I wanted to keep her out. It was so I could find myself. I needed to make my own mistakes, find my own footing, and embrace my own feelings.

I know I’ve broken her heart at times when I lashed out. I lashed out because she had no idea what I was going through, and she may have thought I was being overdramatic when I got frustrated over work. In reality, I was probably frustrated over work, a broken heart & hurtful friends all at the same time on that day.

She didn’t know.

Saturday, as we sat in the living room of their new house, something was in the air. It was as if everything that I’ve been holding in my heart got released and was hanging above us, waiting for her to absorb it.

And she did.

I gushed over my life. I gushed over the man who would become her son-in-law.

I told her about how he makes me laugh when I need it the most.

I told her about the way he took care of me when I was sick.

I told her about how much I love him.

I showed her pictures of us, even the silly ones.

I just kept talking about him. I couldn’t stop.

When my dad came home from work, and she said “I guess our daughter is getting married,” he told her that Andrew was made for me.

This is a new chapter in our lives, as Mother & Daughter and as a family.

I think we’re all in shock.

Every time I talk to her, I’m afraid the magic will disappear.

There will still be times she frustrates me. She will say things, like all mothers do, that will make me want to hang up the phone. She’ll make me feel defensive. We’ll probably have a fight or two [or10].

I welcome those moments. I welcome them, because at the end of the day, we’re growing closer. I welcome them because we are now in a land of no secrets.

I welcome them because they’ll be far and few in between the conversations about how much men are alike and they never grow up.

I didn’t plan it but I think this may have been the best Mother’s Day present I could’ve ever given my mom.

Me.

Unfiltered.

###

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I Got Approved to Become a U.S. Citizen. Would you?

On December 18, 2005, my plane landed at Dulles International Airport.

On February 23, 2011, I became a U.S. Citizen.

When we moved to this country, it was because my parents wanted me and my brother to have better opportunities for education.  They wanted us to succeed and my dad worked 18 hour days to make sure that we had everything we needed. A roof over our heads, food on our table and the ability to go after the opportunities as we choose. For me, at first, it was law school. And then, I decided to move forward with Journalism.

Because of our move to the U.S., I was able to choose my own path, make my own mistakes and redefine the path as I needed.

Ironically, as much as we wanted to get our U.S. Citizenship a few years ago, the application fee was the only thing that delayed the process.

It was this past year when my dad and I decided we would save up, and send in our application to become U.S. Citizens after being greencard-holders over the past decade.

We were fortunate enough to have our interview on the same day, though our Oath ceremonies were a couple of hours apart.

The actual day was long and grueling, simply because of the wait for our interviews & the ceremony once we were approved.  Once our interview was over, we were given an envelope & told to go to the waiting room for the ceremony.

In our envelope:

During the Oath ceremony, the officers conducting the ceremony first reviewed the rules, and then asked us to stand up as our country of birth was called.  Once we were all standing, we represented the ‘many’, and after the ceremony was over, we were all ‘one’ as U.S. Citizens.

Following the pledges (First the Oath of Citizenship & then the Pledge of Allegiance), we stood for the national anthem, followed by a message from President Obama.

I may have shed a tear or two. Turkey will always be home to me and I am very proud to be a Turkish-American.

The final step was actually receiving my Certificate of Naturalization.

Oh hai, I'm a Citizen

If you had to take the U.S. Citizenship test today, could you pass? Take the quiz to find out.  Remember that you have to get 6 out of 10 correct, and it is not multiple choice during the actual interview.

[QUIZZIN 1]

If you are in DC, come celebrate my Citizenship/Birfday with me on March 26!

Thanksgiving & All That Jazz

Confession:  I hate this time of year on Social Media. The reason? The word “turkey” shows up on every other update and I’m wired to react to that word automatically because of the fact that I’m FROM Turkey. So everytime I see the word, even if I’m paying half attention, my brain goes on full alert, ready to see what’s going on and then I see “Turkey blood tastes like chicken” and bang my head against the table.

Yeah, I’m a little nuts.

As always, I do have a lot to be thankful for this year but I give thanks everyday to the people in my life who make it worth getting up in the morning with their love, loyalty and faith in me.

This has been a pretty big year for me, because I’ve gotten everything I want out of life so far.  Even though I had a few heartbreaks, at the end of the day, I’m fulfilled.

I have

…an amazing boyfriend who is there for me unconditionally

…friends who love me even from miles away

…a fantastic network of professionals who inspire me everyday

…a chance to do my dream job

…an undying passion for life

…a family who drives me crazy at times but has my back no matter what.

I live in Washington, D.C. which is one of the best cities in the world (Right after Istanbul & NYC).  I’m making a home for myself, and taking my life in a direction that will challenge and fulfill me for years to come.

I’m taking chances and I’m grateful for the fact that I have the luxury to take those chances.

I’m grateful for the friends who are standing by me even when they don’t agree with some of my decisions because that’s what real friends do.

I have my health, my sense of humor and a positive outlook on life.

I have the ability to help those less fortunate than me and the compassion to do everything I can to do so.

I’m grateful for my life and everything in it – the good, the bad & the ugly.

I’m grateful for you – every one of you who read & comment on my blogs, whether it’s on here, via Twitter/Facebook or in an email.  You guys are awesome & I love you.

I hope that all of you will have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving.

I Live For…

…my mom’s ‘good’ days.

…chilling with my brother, playing Street Fighter 2 on XBox and giggling like mad when he tells me to stop beating him.

…Playing catch with the pup.

…Waking up with the man I love, who will put up with pretty much all of my annoying, cranky, stubborn moments.

…nights with my C-Pants that end with beer up the nose and laughing hysterically until our abs hurt, catching our breath and then laughing again just from looking at each other.

…Warm spring days.

…the first sip of the perfect cup of coffee on a Monday morning.

…being surrounded by the most amazing people in the world.

…Remembering that I only live once so what’s the point of not being ridiculous?  So I get up and dance on bars if I feel like it.

…Meeting friends I’ve known for years for the first time.

…My bestie understanding exactly what I’m feeling even if I can’t pin it down with words and knowing the right questions to ask.

…Knowing that even when everything is spiraling out of control, it is always worth it in the end.