Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cross-cultural Marriage Series Part 2: Pick a language, any language

"Dil" means "language" in Turkish
Moonpie was nice enough to contribute the picture to the left to this post. She's so advanced. She is already bilingual as evidenced by her agile switching between “Baba” and “Dada” (no “Mama”? Really?) In a funny twist, “mama” is Turkish baby talk for “food”, so that could function really well for her. But no “mama” yet.

Anyway, I love that we have more than one language in which to communicate. Probably the most common question that we get asked is “Which language do you speak at home?” The answer truly is both! We go back and forth and back again. Sometimes we have conversations where I speak English and he speaks Turkish, and sometimes we have conversations where I speak Turkish and he speaks English. Sometimes we both speak English, then switch to Turkish, and the other way around. Now, right about now some of you are probably feeling really sorry for Moonpie to be growing up in this muddled linguistic environment, but kids almost always figure it out and do just fine. “They” say (whoever “they” is) that bilingual kids generally talk later, but catch up and surpass their peers in three or so years. We’ll let you know how it goes.

Here is a typical phone conversation:
Me: Merhaba
Him: Merhaba, nasilsin?
Me: Oh, I’m fine. Sen?
Him: Iyiyim ben de. Ne var ne yok?
Me: Did you take the car today?
Him: Yeah, I did. Were you going to go somewhere?
Me: IKEA’ya gitmeye dusunuyordum but that’s ok. It’s not urgent.
Him: Ok, yeah, I’ll leave it tomorrow.
Me: Tamam. Optum.
Him: Love you

Yes, you see IKEA in there. I love IKEA here. It’s a bastion of normal products at normal prices, a stronghold of plain and simple in a wide open field with glitter and oversized and overpriced ready to attack you from every side.





Anyway, this was a post about language. We use both. I love it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Cross-cultural Marriage Series Part 1: Throwing our differences in the culture pile

When you have the extra layer of cultural difference in your marriage, it can be a great reason to give each other the benefit of the doubt that the difference (i.e. weirdness) you encounter is because of a cultural difference and not just because the other person is just weird. I suspect that some places where we differ might possibly be a matter of personal quirks, but since we have the cultural difference, if it doesn’t really matter we just throw it in that pile. Problem solved.

These are some examples of actual conversations:

You can't tell, but this is milk.

Me: “Do you want some milk with your cookies?”
Him: “No, of course not. I’m frying fish tonight.”
Me: *blink*
Him: “You shouldn’t have any either.”

Me: “Do you want some tea?”
Him: “Yeah, we’ll have tea.”
Me: “Now?”
Him: “Now?”
Me: “Now.”
Him: “But we’re eating dessert.”

Me: “Do you want some ice cream on your brownie?”
Him: “It’s winter.”
Me: “Yes. So, ice cream or plain?”
Him: “It’s winter.”

Me: “It’s soooooo hot. I’m turning on the a/c.”
Him: “Can you hand me a blanket?”
Me: “Aren’t you hot?”
Him: “Yes.”
Wouldn't only two pillows look boring?

Him: “Why do we have 6 pillows on our bed? I don’t use any.”
Me: “Well, I use two.”
Him: “So why six?”
Me: “It just looks nice.”
Him: “Who’s looking at our bed besides us?”
Me: “No one.”
Him. “Right, no one.”

Him: “Why do you use rags to clean the bathroom?”
Me: “Why don’t you use rags to clean the bathroom?”

I could give SOOOOOO many more examples. When situations like this come up, once we realize what’s going on, we just look at each other and say “cultural difference”. We literally say this out loud. Most of the time, if it’s not something of mountain-sized importance to us, we just shrug our shoulders and it stays there. I love this about our relationship.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Mail from America and a new series

Sad and unused mailboxes
Our mailman rang our doorbell today with a stack of cards from America. Always a fun day when cards arrive! Actually, he used to leave them downstairs with the rest of the mail. Funny thing – everyone has their own mailbox at the apartment entrance, but no one uses them. The mail is just left in a pile in a slot by the door, and you have to sift through it all to find out if any of it is for you. Usually someone (I don’t know who) would take my cards from America out and put them into our mailbox, presumably because they looked special and they didn’t want them to be stolen (I don’t know who goes around stealing cards, but that’s very nice of them). 

About 6 months ago I ran into the mailman while taking Moonpie out for a walk. He said, “Hey! Are you Marie? In Stitches?” And I was like, “Yes, yes I am.” He said he was so curious about this foreigner to whom he was delivering brightly colored envelopes from America, and I said, yes, it is I. Sending cards isn’t really a thing here, so I imagine those bright reds, purples, and blues stand out in his stacks and stacks of bills and bank statements. After he saw me that day he started hand delivering our American cards to our door instead of leaving them down by the main entrance. He also loves seeing Moonpie. Today she was munching on some cheese when I answered the door, and he really got a kick out of that. We also saw him on our walk today. He was sitting down resting a few blocks away, but he came over to pinch Moonpie’s cheeks when he saw us. People here really like babies, but that’s another post. I know what you’re thinking – everyone likes babies. But Turks are real, bonafide baby lovers.

Anyway, why all the cards, you might ask? This past week we just celebrated our third anniversary, and my family is just awesome like that to rain cards on us. 

In honor of our anniversary, I thought it might be the perfect time to reflect on the things I love about our cross-cultural marriage. I brainstormed with my husband (who I really need a blog pseudonym for), and I think I’ll do four posts over the next couple of weeks. There are lots of things I love, but these four just make life really fun.

 Pentalingual anniversary napkin (If you haven't noticed by now, I make up words)

Disclaimer: this isn’t meant to be a how-to or you should/you shouldn’t advice kind of thing. Every person and thus every couple is unique. That being said, I’ve found with other friends in cross-cultural relationships that there are definitely shared experiences.  Please chime in with your comments!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Scarves a plenty

I don't know why it never occurred to me before to let Moonpie play with my scarves. She loves watching me fold laundry. She also loves, loves, loves sitting on our bed while I make it. The child loves textiles.

I showed her my scarves today and she was thrilled to just lie in the pile and squirm around.

Then she sat up and we had a  very colorful game of peekaboo.

I think the green one was her favorite. I think that's my favorite, too. Fun!

Friday, May 16, 2014

We're back! Introducing our little Moonpie.

So my last post on here was December 14, 2012, I see. Hmm. I took quite a break there. Let me fill everyone in. On December 25, 2012, this happened.

Then this happened.

 And this!

And now we’re here.

I’ve thought about writing a blog post in the past few months, I really have. But I've been having so much fun hanging out with my little Moonpie. We talk about this, we talk about that. Just this morning she was telling me, “Bababa, ga, goo, DA!” and I was like, “That must have been quite the dream you had there!”

We also have this conversation a lot:
 (To understand this you’ll need to know that “Baba” means “Daddy” in Turkish.)

Moonpie: Baba baba baba baba
Me: Mommy? Can you say Mommy?
MP: Bababababa Dada
Me: Ma Ma
MP: Dada Bababababa
Me: Mama. Mama. Mama. Mama?
MP: (pauses) Baba.

So, that’s fun. Someday she'll look up at me with those brown/green eyes (depending on who you ask) and say "Mama" with her crooked little smile and dimpled cheeks. Someday.

Also, we have a board book club going. My favorite is “You are My Sunshine” because I can sing through the book, but she seems to prefer her giraffe book, more for its flavor than the literary contents, though, I think.

So, anyway, I’ve been a little busy, but figured this would be a good time to start writing again since I’ll be going back to work soon and I’ll have a lot more free time on my hands. As I type this I realize how ridiculous it sounds, but believe me, it is so, so true. So, I’m hoping to use some of my time to write more on here.