Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover

This morning as I lay in bed zoning out to music on my iPod, I felt a tremor that lasted about a minute. Later, I looked up “Earthquakes in Istanbul” on my phone, only to discover there was no earthquake. Now I’m wondering if what I felt was some type of inner earthquake, something that occurs when unpleasant emotions piggyback on each other all week until it becomes too much. Then the negative energy purges itself, not in crying and condemning people who’ve done me wrong, but in a peaceful ceremony, one that feels like an emotionally-healing yoga pose: my own private earthquake.

A friend told me yesterday that living in Istanbul is like being in an abusive relationship. “He beats you up. You swear you’re going to leave him. He comes back all sweet and apologetic. You remember how much you love him and you agree to stay. The cycle repeats itself.” Trying on this analogy, I admitted that I’ve just suffered a week full of abuse. If all weeks were as bad as this past one, I wouldn’t and couldn’t stay in this city. I would go home to the land of banjos and used books, challah bread and movie theaters with beer on tap.

Luckily, I have my own disaster response team. Its members are red wine, sketchbook and drawing pencils. I also have lovely friends. While talking on the phone today, a friend insisted we go on a long walk and get some fresh air. We walked to Kuzguncuk and stared out at the water and breathed in the Bosphorus air. Then we walked to an outdoor café with a lovely view. I drank apple tea and she had green tea. We felt relaxed but then a man in a navy blue suit who was presumably the manager of the café slapped a waiter, who appeared to have a mental handicap. The waiter walked away, rubbing his sore cheek. My friend glared at the manager, but to no effect. We left and I pondered how this act of aggression fits into the culture and how it relates to my crappy week.

Without going into too much detail, I’ll just say that someone lied to me. This was the sort of lie that could be forgiven by Turks because its purpose was to spare my feelings. The end result was much worse than hurt feelings. It was humiliation. When I sought the truth, the lie was never addressed. I can’t call it a lie. It’s a “misunderstanding,” and thus the damage it caused doesn’t need to be addressed either. I suppose it’s tantamount to Turks giving bad directions because they don’t want to admit they don’t know the way. This isn’t a lie either. This is just saving face and making the person asking for directions more lost.

The final blow came when someone I often describe as “the nicest guy in the world” told me he was going to kill me. He said this with a smile on his face, but that made no difference to me. I wondered if I had sung his praises too early. I live in a city where a young woman riding a bus was recently beaten up by a man, who yelled, “You’re the devil!” and “You should die!” Why? Because she was wearing shorts. I don’t take a man saying he’s going to kill me lightly. I don’t take any aggression lightly.

At least I can say that this kind of aggression and disrespect is so uncharacteristic of my day-to-day life that when it does come along and ruin a whole week, I have the self-respect to reject it. Some people, like the waiter at the café my friend and I visited, are probably used to getting slapped. They just rub their sore faces and get back to work. And the cycle repeats itself.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Very Cool Romanian Art

During World War 1, when Bucharest was occupied by Germany, a lot of Romanian art was sent away to Russia for safekeeping and never returned. Nonetheless, the museums in Bucharest are still worth checking out. I visited the Zambaccian Museum, which was by far my favorite. There's something so intimate about private collections. I feel a connection not only with the art but with the collector. The Theodor Pallady Museum was also nice, located in the Armenian neighborhood of Bucharest and named after one of Romania's most famous artists. His paintings can be found in both the Theodor Pallady Museum and the Zambaccian. The National Museum of Art is worth checking out, but the more interesting contemporary art is located on the top floors. I've seen enough religious art and people with gold halos to last me for the rest of my life, so I sailed quickly through that section. Romanian museums have funny rules about taking photos. It's either not allowed or you can pay extra to take pictures. I chose to just search for these images on Google. 

Refugee by Cornel Medrea
Strada Pe Ploaie by Emilian Lazarescu
The Lovers by Leon Alex
Leon Biju
Carnival La Nice by Magdalena Rădulescu
Magdalena Rădulescu
Magdalena Rădulescu
Margareta Sterian
Margareta Sterian
Sava Henţia
Toujours du Baudelaire by Theodor Pallady

Femeie pe ganduri by Theodor Pallady
Theodor Pallady
Catrina by Nicolae Tonitza
Nicolae Tonitza
Nicolae Tonitza
Woman in Green by Kimon Loghi

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Transylvania-ah-ah-ah!

Now that I have toured Transylvania and I know a thing or two, let me dispel some Transylvania myths. Firstly, Vlad the Impaler was not a vampire and there are no vampires currently living in Transylvania. So leave your cloves of garlic and crucifixes at home.

Secondly, there are no bats flying around, or at least none that I could see, (I was there in the daytime) but there are plenty of bees. In fact, I have never seen so many bees in my life. My guide Vali explained to me that Brasov, the town where Bran Castle is located, is a prime spot for beekeeping.

Lastly, and to my disappointment, people do not laugh like the Count on Sesame Street. Ah ah ah! I laughed this way with Vali a couple times and he indulged me by doing the same, but it was not his natural laugh.

Vali my guide was hilarious so there was a laugh a minute with him. I knew the walking would wear me out, but by the end of the day, a day full of driving, walking, taking photos, hearing about history, sharing stories, and laughing, I was nearly depleted. Even on the drive home, I was tired enough to sleep in the car, but I wanted to stay awake and enjoy Vali’s company for as long as I could.


I realized how very gullible and naïve I am as we approached a room in Bran Castle and he announced, “This is the friendship room.” I honestly expected to see a cluster of cozy chairs, maybe some pictures of adorable puppies on the walls. The image in my mind was heartwarming. Then I saw the iron collars and chains, and spiky chairs, and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. When I saw some knight armor on display, one wearing pants and the other one a kilt, my first response was, “They had lady knights!” Vali patiently informed me that the kilts just made it easier for knights to go to the bathroom.

șnov Castle was the oldest castle we visited, built between 1211 and 1225. Vali told me there was a surprise awaiting me when we got closer to the castle. The surprise was a ride on a tractor with a dinosaur on the front. He must have pegged me for the type of person who gets excited about riding on dinosaur tractors, and he was absolutely right. I enjoy the simple pleasures in life, if riding on dinosaur tractors fits into the category of simple pleasures. Unfortunately, on the ride up to the castle, the dinosaur tractor got a flat tire and we had to walk the rest of the way. Still, the walk was pleasant, and exercise is good.
Most of Râșnov Castle has crumbled to the ground and what’s left of the church near the castle is just outlined in stone. The view from the top was spectacular and I even got to stop at a booth and throw axes on the way down. I sometimes imagine having an axe when I need it in a desperate moment of self-defense against a serial killer or some other kind of deranged psychopath. I saw this as my opportunity to put my imaginary axe-throwing skills into practice. The guy working there was a pro. He could throw five axes at once and they’d all hit the target with deadly speed and accuracy. The first axe I threw seemed so slow in arriving at the vicinity of the target that if I’d been aiming at a person, they would have had plenty of time to get out of the way.
I had to surrender to the reality that I’m not a natural killer. Vali told me that if I ever need to kill someone, it would be easy; I just shouldn’t aim at him. I threw a total of five axes and four of them went flying way over the target and one of them hit, but it was the blunt end of the axe. “You put him in the hospital,” the guy working at the booth said encouragingly. Vali and I left and the guy working there went back to reading his book. I asked him what he was reading and he showed me. “The Pope Must Die,” was the title. I thought that was fitting for a man working in an axe-throwing booth.


The final stop on our tour was the Peleș Castle in the Carpathian Mountains. I think this was the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited in my life. The castle is surrounded by mountains and trees and stands by a river, so the sound of water flowing can be heard while you’re walking around the huge grounds. It’s considered one of the must-see castles in all of Europe, so it was busy. In order to keep the flow of tourists under control, the castle employs their own tour guides who take big groups through the rooms and make sure nobody dilly dallies. This is smart, because there is so much intricate detail in every painting and piece of furniture, I can imagine some people would just stand there dumbstruck, trying to process all the abundant decorations. Vali waited for me at a café outside and when I returned, I told him what I’d enjoyed seeing the most: King Carol’s movie theater, his Arabic room, and his secret door in the library. It was just like the one in the movie Young Frankenstein. A book can be pulled out, which electronically opens a door to a spiral staircase leading to the King’s bedroom. I thought the whole point of the secret door was so the king could have affairs. I’m naïve about knights, and friendship rooms, and axe-throwing, but I know what a secret door to a bedroom is for. Vali said, “Yes, and if he wanted to be really really bad, he could sneak out of bed in the middle of the night, go down the stairs to the library and read a book!” Ah ah ah!

I love meeting new people in my travels, even if we’re like two passing ships in the night. It’s still better to meet briefly and share some vampire laughs than to never meet at all.  

I realized later that the puppeteer who dresses up as Big Bird on Sesame Street is named Caroll, so now Transylvania has one more Sesame Street connection in my mind. And on that note, here's a lovely song from the Count. Ah ah ah! 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bucharest, A Taste of Honey



I bet Bucharest will be a celebrated hotspot for artists and writers, maybe in the 2020s--the same way Paris was in the 1920s. In just one day of hanging around this city, I’m impressed by the intellectual vibe. It’s as if all the artists and intellectuals are still thawing after the 42 years of Communist rule. People here seem cultured, well-educated, and authentic. Cool neighborhoods with galleries, bookstores, cafes, and bars are being developed and it will be interesting to check back and see what Bucharest is like ten years from now. That’s how long I think it might take for the rest of the world to catch on.

I just returned to my hotel room from an outdoor concert by Maria Răducanu, a soulful Romanian musician and songstress. She sat alone on a stage, accompanied only by her acoustic guitar. I could not understand any Romanian apart from her saying, “Good evening,” at the start of the concert (Bună seara), and “That’s all,” at the end (Asta e tot). But understanding wasn’t the aim. She conveys so much feeling in her music, which is similar to Fado, a type of Portuguese music I listen to frequently. Her voice fluttered and crescendoed, and did all kinds of tricks that her audience found delightful and sometimes amusing. Every time we expected a certain note to come out of her mouth, she defied the pattern and surprised us. She would emit a strange sound or exhale loudly or end the song abruptly. She also sang songs that were sweet and took listeners down a winding road, rather than an exhilarating zigzag.
She sang in Romanian mostly, a language that sounds like Italian mixed with Russian. A few songs were in French and a few words I was able to catch. Then she sang an emotional rendition of “A Taste of Honey,” one of my favorite songs. It was comforting to hear a song I knew so well. I always liked listening to Sarah Vaughan or Patricia Barber sing this song because their voices sound like honey dripping, but Maria Răducanu’s version sounded so . . . so fado. She sounded romantic and crazed, out of control, the opposite of what Americans singing that song tend to sound like.

At the end, she bowed and moved from the stage to an empty seat in the front row. She sat there until the persistent clapping persuaded her to do one more song. I approached her after the concert to thank her for her music. She held a large bouquet of lilies in one arm and took drags from her cigarette with her free hand. She was surprised that I was not Romanian and wondered if I had come to the concert by mistake. Not at all! The concert was unforgettable. I’m glad I came to Romania for several reasons: for the awesome bookstores and friendly bookstore staffs, for the coffee, for the rare books I found, but mostly for this beautiful outdoor concert with the full moon shining above. It was a perfect evening.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The End of Your Life Book Club

I recently finished reading The End of Your Life Book Club, a memoir about a man’s relationship with his mother and the book club they formed after learning the mother had terminal pancreatic cancer. The mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe, died seven years ago on this day. She came across in her son’s writing as such a remarkable woman. She was ambitious, adventurous, kind, and giving. She traveled to 27 different countries, working with refugees, sometimes risking her life to help others. Through the strong relationships she’d built with people who were in a position to give, she raised the funds to build traveling libraries in Afghanistan and help further girls’ education. An advocate for human rights, she dismissed praise for her work, rejected compliments of being “brave,” and said the real bravery resided in the refugees she’d helped. Although I never knew her, today I’m taking some time to celebrate her remarkable life. About three hours ago I arrived in Bucharest, Romania. I thought of going out and having a drink in her honor, but I’m tired after a long day, so instead I’ll write this review and drink a Sprite. I’m sure her family is thinking of ways to honor her on this day and I want to do the same from this part of the world.

Some criticism I’ve heard from other readers is that the author, Will Schwalbe, seems too supercilious and pretentious. There were times when I agreed and thought some of the name dropping and the details about so-and-so’s Ivy League education were just a distraction from the marrow of this memoir, that is the mother-son relationship and the stories about Mary Anne Schwalbe’s fascinating life. One of the author’s observations bothered me because it seemed shallow in this particular context. He wrote that he and his mother were standing in a line at the hospital behind a woman who was “in her thirties, smartly but not expensively dressed.” The woman was crying because she couldn’t afford her medication. I understand the connection he was trying to make between her clothes and her financial dilemma, but the author failed to provide a compassionate picture of this woman. Luckily, his mother noticed the woman was crying about the cost of her medication and generously paid the bill. I think Mary Anne realized that it’s not fair for the cost of anything to be an anxiety attack for one person and a drop in the bucket for another. Mary Anne was such a remarkable woman that most people writing about her life, including her own son, would seem only average in comparison.

The author, her son, has lived a very privileged life. He worked in publishing and his mother urged him to quit because he wasn’t happy. I’ve often given friends the advice that if they’re unhappy at work, or in their relationships, they should just quit. This advice is not always so easy to follow, but the author’s life, the way it’s presented in this book, really did seem that easy. He never made clear what was at stake or made his problems relatable. The biggest problem he faces, apart from losing his mother, is insomnia.

Overall, I enjoyed this book because I love books about books. When I first looked at the table of contents and saw that each chapter was named after a different book, I knew I would end up adding most of them to my reading list. The books Will and Mary Anne read together are diverse and their discussions made me want to be there with them. Apparently, they were both such fast readers that each chapter contains multiple books they read together. A couple times one of them would say they loved a book so much they read it in one sitting. I’m such a slow reader that I don’t think I’ve ever read a book in one sitting in my life.

When they read ContinentalDrift by Russell Banks, Will grew worried that the book was too depressing for his mom to handle in her fragile state. Although it was sad, she had witnessed enough in her lifetime to grapple with even the saddest book. I recently heard a woman in her 70s say that because her time on this earth is limited, she’s not going to read any sad books. At the time, I thought that was one of the most foolish declarations anyone could make. That’s like saying, “I’m only going to watch Fred Astaire tap dancing movies, because tap dancing makes me happy.” I’m a big Russell Banks fan, although I haven’t yet read Continental Drift. I can’t imagine refusing to read a beautiful book simply because it’s sad. On the other hand, Mary Anne did choose a different version of Romeo and Juliet to be the last performance she would see, one in which the lovers both live happily ever after.

What’s next? A happy version of Hamlet? (Good morning, sweet prince! It’s time to party.) As terrible as that sounds, maybe there is a tendency for people in their old age to turn to things that make them happy and to wish for happy endings to all stories.

On the subject of grieving, I found A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis, and The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion, to be much more insightful. However, The End of Your Life Book Club isn’t really about grieving. It’s about celebrating his mother’s life and celebrating a shared love of reading. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Appointment in Samarra



A childhood friend of mine was the lucky owner of a dollhouse, which she regarded as some cumbersome, musty antique and not an endless source of fascination and a lush garden for the imagination, as I did. She said it was an heirloom thrust upon her by her doll-crazy mother. It took up too much space in her bedroom. She would give it to me if she could. If only! But there was no way I could pull off such a brilliant dollhouse heist, even with my friend’s help. Her mother would notice it was missing, and I would be identified as the prime suspect.

I remember staring, mesmerized at the furniture that looked so realistic, it seemed impossible that people and not elves had built it. My childhood friend must have wondered if the only reason I came over was so I could peer into all the rooms and spy on the dolls, which had stayed put since the last time I visited and rearranged them in different rooms of the house.

If built to scale, that dollhouse would have been the Palace of Versailles. The dolls were too numerous to all belong to the same family, I figured, so the setup was more like the old MTV show, The Real World: This is the true story . . . of fifty dolls . . . picked to live in a house . . . work together and have their lives spied on by a little girl . . . to find out what happens . . . when dolls stop being polite . . . and start getting real . . . The Real World.

John O’Hara’s debut novel, Appointment in Samarra, reminded me of my old dollhouse obsession. Just like the antique dolls, the characters are from another time. This novel came out in 1934, during the slow recovery period of the Great Depression. The characters are a reflection of their precarious time, uncertain how much power and influence they have, the stability of their social rank, and what they have to lose if disaster strikes. The novel opens with a bedroom scene in the hoity-toity fictional town of Gibbsville. A man is lying in bed next to his sleeping wife, unsure if he should wake her to make love to her. Following the wife’s hospitable reaction and in her post love-making condition, the wife’s thoughts are revealed, and through her thoughts, the main characters, Julian and Caroline English, are introduced.

Julian English is a man at the top of his game. He’s married to Caroline, a woman he can’t imagine losing. He hobnobs in an elite social class where college-educated, successful men drink and dance with beautiful, sometimes scantily-clad, ladies. In the beginning of the book, there’s a clear understanding of societal rules Julian must follow. He and other men must entertain desirable and less desirable women at parties by taking turns dancing with all of them to avoid hurt feelings. (The less desirable women were called sad birds, just to give a small sampling of the fun 1930s slang from this book.)

In the chapter about Julian’s childhood, O’Hara gives readers a glimpse into the organized world of kids growing up in Gibbsville, where it seemed everything has a cause and effect. If neighbors refused candy on Halloween, there were consequences. Kids worked together to create a mini-society with a clear hierarchy and a way of playing together so that everyone knew their place. They knew there weren’t enough rich kids in the neighborhood to fill teams for baseball, so they had to recruit the boys of a lower status to play games and reach the necessary number of players. The fact that baseball was a part of Julian's life at all indicates that he once knew how to play by the rules.

As the book progresses and Julian reaches the age of thirty, his ego snuffs out all rules, societal and baseball alike. He acts like a king, believing himself to be heavenly anointed and incapable of falling. He makes the inexcusable error one night of getting drunk and throwing a drink in the face of Harry O’Reilly, an old chum and investor in his Cadillac dealership. The ice in the drink gives Harry a black eye, but the more serious injury befalls Julian. His reckless behavior causes his life to spin out of control. The prizes he once held in the palm of his hand: a beautiful, loving wife, a successful career, friends, a good reputation, now seem to be slipping through his fingers.

The title of the book comes from a W. Somerset Maugham retelling of an old Iraqi story, about a man who cannot run from his fate.


I loved peering into the lives of different characters. O’Hara takes the time to develop all of them and show how everyone is connected in a fascinating small town web. The swaggering protagonist is one of the most enchanting, yet unlikeable characters I’ve ever encountered in a work of fiction. In what little I know about John O’Hara’s life (that he wrote his own tombstone engraving before he died and wasn’t regarded as being the nicest fellow), I’d speculate that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as far as character invention went. Ernest Hemingway was a fan of this book, which makes perfect sense. I can just imagine Papa Hemingway poring over this book and feeling envious with every word of O’Hara’s undeniable talent.

This is a book with subject matter so relevant to situations all over the world. I know it will stay with me for a long time. Julian English reminded me of my maternal grandfather, a conceited man who thought he could do no wrong and even wrote his own glowing obituary before he died. Julian English reminded me of a lot of people who think they can carry on not caring about anybody but themselves and acting as if there are no consequences in life.

I couldn’t help but contrast Julian English with someone I spent some time with this summer. When hanging out with a very nice guy, who happens to be named Guy, I asked, “How do you think your life would be different if you weren’t such a nice guy?” He answered, “I think I would have more money and I would be more successful.” I appreciated that answer. He acknowledged that he had less of what he could have had, yet he wanted to continue being a nice guy. After reading about Julian English, I definitely think Guy made the right decision.  






















Telling John O'Hara stories can make you the life of the party! It also helps if you're a natural storyteller, like Judy Blume. And if your listeners are drinking martinis. 

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Waiting for Ripeness

Pomegranates aren't in season yet. I keep gazing up at the pomegranate tree in the back of my building with the hope that the little green globes with their pointed crowns will be a lovely shade of red. I'll come along and the branches will bow to me with the weight of this delectable fruit. "For you, Meriwether!" the tree will declare. Then I will take the pomegranates home, slice them open and dine on the ruby treasure inside, that juicy deliciousness that demands to be appreciated with every delicate taste.

For now, I will have to make do with pomegranate lokum, a treat that pairs nicely with watching the Daily Show in my apartment. Tonight I bought a box of Turkish delight at a new store my friend showed me. The store, Vestanbul, is located close to Istiklal Caddessi and it just might be a regular stopover for me when I am in that neighborhood. 

I have a feeling that when pomegranates are ripe, everything else in life will prosper with ripeness. Hillary Clinton will be president. Turkish friends will stop saying the C.I.A. was behind the recent botched military coup. (And while they're at it, crazy people can stop telling me 9/11 was an inside job. I find this very offensive. So please stop. Thank you!) Next, and on a much smaller scale, my apartment walls will be painted light purple, which will improve my mood immensely. I can just imagine sitting in my lovely purple apartment, savoring the seeds of a delicious pomegranate, and watching Hillary Clinton give her acceptance speech. 

But the world isn't ripe yet. I have to wait and be patient. 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's The Conservative Clothing Police!


My flip flops are a dead giveaway that I’m foreign. I’m considering tossing them in the trash because of what happened this evening, maybe shipping all my fashionable knee-length dresses home and implementing a stricter dress-code.

Tonight I wore what might be classified as a cocktail dress with my flip flops to the mall to meet my Turkish conversation partner. I sat in the same place we met last time, the food court. I really just wanted to finish my sandwich and enjoy my Kindle book until he arrived. The mall overwhelms me in a way that only Kindle or conversation partners can calm. In between bites of my dinner and watching a fully-cloaked woman beat her daughter and yank her braids as punishment for putting her feet on the table, a conservatively-clothed woman approached me.

This woman’s face came aggressively close to mine. She pointed to my slight cleavage rising from my neckline and to my legs. She spoke Turkish the whole time in a tone that indicated she felt nothing but disapproval and disgust for the way I presented myself in public. Then she pointed to her little boy sitting at another table. The boy looked to be about ten years old. His eyes were curious. Maybe he wondered where I was from or why I had lipstick on my chin. (Sandwiches have a way of distributing my Mac Chili-colored lipstick all around my face.)

This woman must have thought I was corrupting her little boy with the flashiness of my flesh. In her eyes, me eating a sandwich in the mall and getting lipstick on my chin was akin to some tawdry Carl’s Jr commercial starring some bikini-clad, cheeseburger-chomping, juice-dripping, carwash-performing woman.

I slammed my phone down on the table in fury. I picked up my things. I was too angry to stay seated and too hurt to stay silent. “There is nothing inappropriate about the way I am dressed!” I yelled. “I am doing nothing wrong! If you don’t want your son looking at women, don’t take him to the mall!”

I stormed away, just as my conversation partner was rounding the corner. “Don’t apply lipstick to your chin,” he advised me teasingly. I wiped it off with one hand and he saw that I was shaking. I told him what happened and he listened attentively. Normally, I don’t blow my stack at anything that aggravates me, but this woman gave me a horrific flashback to my time living in Qatar, back where women dressed like ravens would hand out cards to foreigners like me, telling us we were inappropriately dressed and reminding us to be respectful of Muslim society.

I said I didn’t feel comfortable in the mall anymore and that I’d like to have our lesson in my apartment. On the way there, I ranted about bans or proposed bans on burqas and niqabs across Europe, how hypocritical it is that women who would object to being ordered to remove Islamic dress in one country would shame another woman for showing “too much” skin in their own county.

This has never happened to me in Turkey before.

I tried to see this woman’s perspective to understand why she was upset with me. I presume she wants to make Turkey into a country more like Saudi Arabia, and if she’s Shia, Iran. In Saudi Arabia or Iran, I would have been arrested for wearing my cocktail dress and flip flops out in public, and probably charged with lewd and lascivious conduct. If the dress didn’t prove my depravity, then inviting my male conversation partner over to my apartment surely would have.

In my apartment, I lit incense and candles and poured myself a glass of wine to relax. My conversation partner assured me that my experience at the mall was just a weird fluke. Most Turks are not like that, he said. But I have only been back for two weeks and already, I’m being singled out. It’s only a small comfort that most Turks are not in the habit of condemning Western clothing styles. But some of them are being carried away in an avalanche of anti-Americanism and that “some” is far too many. 

I will pack my nice dresses away and wear them only when I go to Europe or when I return to the States. I hate giving up any freedoms to which I’m accustomed, but the truth is, I live in a conservative neighborhood and I have to be careful. Still, I can’t help but wonder: Where is Ataturk when we need him?!