Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Side effects...

I forgot to mention that my sense of smell is unbelievable.
I'm pretty sure I could compete against my dog if, uh, we could uh, possibly compete... if you see what I mean.
But seriously, se-ri-ous-ly, you cannot imagine all the stuff I can smell and could really do without.
The weird thing is, my brain automatically tries to identify the smell and so when someone is talking to me I'm now wondering what they just ate/drank instead of listening to what they are saying. Agh, the mysterious ways of the brain; I guess instinct gets the priority route, whereas cognitive gets second place.

I'm sure it's great once you get used to it, but right now, I'm NOT enjoying: food shopping, going to the market, pollution, any kind of handy-work, smoke, the 7 day deodorants they sell here, public toilets (even from afar), picking up my dog's poop, newly-packaged-anything, the to-be-sold-and-sacrificed calves and lambs showing up on along the roads and in front of malls in preparation for the Big Bayram.**

What next?! (if you don't know what I'm on about but would like to, read this)

** Big Bayram or Eid-ul-Adha: the Festival of Sacrifice celebrated throughout the Muslim world, "in commemoration of the command given by Allah to Prophet Abraham (may Allah be pleased with him) to sacrifice his first born son Ishmael to Him. The fulfilment [sic] of this noble command of Allah by Abraham signifies his faith in Allah (...) In addition, like the pilgrims in Makkah (Mecca), the Muslims, who can afford to do so, offer domestic animals, usually sheep, as a symbol of Ibrahim's sacrifice. (...) Some of the meat is given to the poor -- often one third. The rest is shared among the family, relatives and friends." (source

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Bad blogger…
I’ve been so caught up in other stuff I have not written… and the longer I didn’t write, the longer I didn’t write… it’s one of those things it just gets worse.

Not that there’s nothing to write about…. Just that it’s maybe not your typical bloggin’ material. Or maybe, in fact, it is.

See, it involves something kind of big and terrifically tiny.

Something very normal, so normal in fact that it happens everywhere and all the time, and now days, age is less and less of an issue. Yet, it’s extraordinary and life changing.

Normal and life changing. Tiny and Huge. Common and Extraordinary. Unique yet as old as humanity itself.

… I’m growing a person. Currently it looks like a bean. Inside my belly. One centimeter big but it’s a revolution.


Well, physically; I have fever, my stomach feels like I’ve turned into Father Christmas and my intake of calories is impressive.

I can also tell you that some of those lady like manners, well, there are times, they just have to go. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do… what can I say? It’s nature. And I wouldn’t know what beer belching is like – not a beer person – but I’m all for making yourself feel better when you feel like you’re going to burst.

The funny thing is, you just know something is up. I felt it happen believe it or not, I don’t care, hubs can testify.
I knew something had happened, the moment it happened.

Then I knew for a few weeks.

Then, I knew as I waited the minute or two for the Clear Blue test to tell.

And I knew as I drove to the doctor’s (ha! The gyno! I do have to tell you about that… maybe in another post).

And then, once you really know, (the urine test, the blood test, the ultra sound and the doctor have told you and you’ve kind of began to understand what is happening), you tend to forget.

So much so, that while you’re in the middle of reading a book, or getting out of a car, you suddenly think: “Why the hell do I feel so damn tired, and like I weigh a ton and a half?” And then it hits you: you’ve got a baby bean inside your belly.

You wake up in the middle of the night, your bladder calling and hungry, thinking: “You've got to be kidding! I had pasta 4 formaggi a few hours ago!”

What can I say, you’re sharing your body, your food intake & your disposable energy. It takes some getting used to. I guess it’s all part of the training.

I’m the impatient type, but maybe the 9-month period is not a minute too long.

Oh, the BB? You decide. Here are a few options:


Big Belly

Baby Bean

Brigitte Bardot (ahem!)

Big Busted (did I mention that hormones do that to you?)

But(t) Babe (that's the food!)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Rainy London Town

Oh, and by the way.... our pre-Christmas trip to London was super!
Lots of decorations everywhere so it felt like Christmas is on its way
Loads of people bustling and walking and shopping and drinking in the open air huddled below gas lamps (beloved invention!)
Ok, London is definitely getting more expensive every year and the £ dwarfing every other currency is clearly not helping...
But everything looks so lovely and yummy and tempting. From the crisp Thomas Pink shirts on Jermyn Street, the scrumptious oeufs bénédicte at Richelieu's, the gorgeous tea tins, cheeses, charcuteries, Foie Gras and assorted Christmas hampers at Fortnum and Masons to the mixed nuts, crisps, cheddars and white chocolate covered strawberries at Marks and Sparks, it was a feast for the eyes and a thoroughly tempting shopping experience. You've got to hand it to them, the English do have wrapping & packaging (both literally and figuratively) down to a tee. I wanted to take all of it back with me.

So enjoyed the oysters and Muscat and the fish and chips too (I recommend Randall & Aubin on 16 Brewer Street, W1, Soho London)
Portobello market in the rain and running for shelter in a pub with a dripping but merry crowd!
The Christmas stalls at Covent Garden and the handy Metro Tesco's everywhere.

It's a funny feeling going back to a city you've lived in. You know your way around; some of your landmark spots are thankfully still there -although they might have changed the branding on their coffee cups and the staff is now Albanian.
While it feels familiar it also feels different; one of your favorite restaurants has given way to a whole new block of glass office buildings their escalators wrapped in sparkling lights, the formerly colorful and spicy Indian is now empty and depressing, the once scruffy mall with the dingy, but well stocked health food store, has turned into a modern complex with smart boutiques and cafés, its previously grey facade is now bright-white and garnished with trees and benches, and the student hall you lived in has been converted into something different and undefined.
Strangely, it is the informal dealers like flower vendors that have kept their habits and venues. High-street shops and cafés have come and gone. Big brands have taken over entire buildings turning them into museum-like showcases that have become weekend excursion venues for the dream-hungry consumers... Among them, many no doubt, are working poor.

Some things, happily, are the same, no matter how many years go by.
The thick air in the tube stations, whooshing upwards and outwards as yet another train moves on; the persistent emanation of rancid and over-used oil, common to most larger cities; the familiar chugging of a Black cab making a turn; the merry "good night luv" as you climb out of your cab or leave a pub...

London town... nearly a decade since I lived there, and I'm thinking it's true; time does go by more quickly as time goes by.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Smoking post

A while back, I subscribed to Google alerts for all things relative to Turkey. At this time of year, on top of all the EU/USA/Turkey/Cyprus articles, I was flooded with links to “how to pluck and stuff a Turkey”, “juicy and tender Turkey”, “allergen free Turkey”....

One link I received in November read: “To quit smoking cold turkey is really a fantasy in the mind of most smokers”. I thought; "here we go again, another one making a business out of the alleged near impossibility of quitting smoking..."

So I followed the link and read a former smoker's account on how he quit smoking. I have to admit, the man is honest and anything but patronizing. I was especially empathic to his recount of how emotionally attached a smoker gets to smoking.

As a non-smoker, smoker and ex-smoker, I’d like to say that:

  • there’s nothing rational about smoking (starting & stopping included). Most smokers and ex-smokers know and knew how bad is for them. Most smokers agree that it is unpleasant and stinky, hate the dependency and the social pressure. Nevertheless, many continue smoking. The pics on cigarette packs in some countries, showing cancerous lungs, rotten teeth and malformed babies, don't make smokers quit, in fact I hear they have become collectable items. Many adolescents swear they hate the fact their parents smoke but light up themselves a couple of years later. Most smoker-parents don't want their children to smoke.
  • smokers really do have an emotional tie to smoking so using rational arguments to convince them to quit is at best going to get you a superficial, short-lived conscious acknowledgement that you are right
  • to quit smoking you have to want to
  • but the emotional implications for most smokers go well beyond will power. Because smoking becomes an extension of your identity; a smoker will smoke when happy and celebrating or when sad and depressed, when concentrated or when taking a break, when bored and waiting, when chilling out or stressed, when alone and with a crowd. Smoking gradually becomes a companion to any circumstance, in fact every circumstance, success or failure, crisis or triumph- because of all this, quitting involves a re-think your self-image (I am a non-smoker vs I am a smoker/ex-smoker constantly craving a cigarette) and of the actual act of smoking (smoking is unnatural/ an effort vs it's cool/natural/part of me). In a nutshell, your belief system needs to change.
  • the following well-meaning statements are anything but helpful and only create unnecessary fear. “Smoking is…”:
    • more addictive than heroine
    • much worse for you than being a bit overweight
    • one of the most difficult addictions/habits to drop
    • like being on anti-depressants so we’re going to give you a Prozac-like prescription to help you quit
Hello?! Do you really think that the perspective of spending your saved-up not smoking money on a new wardrobe because you can’t fit into any of your clothes is motivating? What about the perspective of needing pills to feel normal again? I don’t think so.
Not only are these things so not encouraging they are also not true!

I’m pretty sure that –beyond the implications of rethinking your self-image- a lot of smokers would quit if they could magically just become non-smokers without any of the kickbacks. So telling them about how hard/ impossible/ horrible the stopping will be is really making sure they don’t quit.

How efficient can any undertaking be, when your mind fears the very thought of it? Not to mention the fear of failure.

Not smoking is natural, so your body will welcome it and it will be totally automatic. You don’t become a non-smoker. You return to being one. Hence, you will not loose a part of yourself – you were born this way.

I don’t want to make a case out of it, I know how annoying it was to me when people asked about my quitting. I know ex-smokers who never told anyone they quit and whose offices are smoking zones, because they did not want to become the annoying, pestering ex-smoker. I applaud this although I’m not sure I’d manage it.

All I’m saying is, if you’re a smoker, that’s ok. If you want to quit smoking, or even give yourself a break and say take it up again when you’re healthily retired, you can easily do it. Please don't believe that you'll necessarily go through hell, want to kill everyone around you, put on weight, or become depressed.
It’s easier than you expect and actually really empowering because after having heard how hard it is, you feel like a champ’ when you wing it.

And because it’s natural, you won’t put on weight if you don’t need to, because there is nothing to compensate.

If you want some support, you may want to try Quit Smoking Right Now.

(N.B. I am in no way linked to this person, I don't know him, and I am not benefiting from recommending him. I just found his "program" as easy as pie and inexpensive compared to all the outrageously priced systems out there which charge the equivalent of a year or two of smoking because they're helping you. Also, it's money back guaranteed.)