The Good Ole South

If you didn’t receive one of the snapchats from my social media inclined friends, I’m back.

And after that I’m not entirely sure where to start.  The good, the bad, the really weird?  Red wine.  Red wine is always the place to start.  Be right back.

Wine has been acquired.

Some days its the kind words of friends, or a sudden wave of productivity (otherwise known as a miracle), that gets me motivated to write.  But most days, it’s wine you have to thank for my not so inspirational words.  So drink up in appreciation people.

The Journey Home:

We are not meant to sit still for eleven hours that is all I have to say.  After quite a few extra screenings (British and American Airways definitely thought I was an ISIS bride) and thoroughly annoying the woman next to me on the flight over I made it to US Soil.  The first thing we did after my parents picked me up from the airport was go to a very busy restaurant for dinner.  I thought I was doing good for the first few minutes, but then we got our menus and you know reading in english is hard and all so cue the anxiety.  I excused myself to the bathroom to breath very loudly, have a nervous giggling fit and cry a bit before looking in the mirror, laughing at myself and staring down the girl who had been staring at me the entire process.  I hope she is forever confused about that crazy girl in the water closet.

I don’t know how to explain reverse culture shock.  I would assume its the same as culture shock but I can’t say for sure because I don’t really get culture shock.  I don’t mean that in a “I’m so worldly and experienced that can’t happen to me” way; I think I’m just too overwhelmed with excitement for something new to feel anything else.

I won’t take you through the rough transitions in detail because those were waves of emotions I’d rather pretend didn’t happen.  Just know that if you have seen me/will see me in the past/coming weeks there is whole universe of feelings and confusing thoughts going on in my head so if I don’t seem myself, just know that I’m getting there.  But also, I am making no promises until March 2016.  So far, I think the best way to sum up what reverse culture shock is this:

Imagine feeling this when you leave,

“You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place, because you’ll never be this way ever again.”

-Azar Nafisi

…and then coming back to that same place, to the same people, nine months later and the only thing that seems to be really different is everything about you.  And no matter how much you want to be the person people were expecting to walk through the door you know that you can’t force that.  I do however feel lucky to have such understanding friends.

And as much as I will complain about reverse culture shock (I say “will” because trust me I am not done complaining), it has done some great things for me to come back for this month before heading off again. For one, I had no idea how much people read this thing.  I had so many people talking to me about things that I didn’t even remember writing or posting pictures of.  It definitely reaffirmed me doing this as a way for people to see what I get to see.
Once Home:

My calendar app is covered in dots for October.  There are currently six days without a dot.  Appointments galore, meeting up with friends and family, and all the yoga/reading/preparing I can cram in the middle of the madness.

Spending a couple of days in Boone was amazing and to everyone who was a part of that, thank you.  A special shout out to Jeff Verner who took a casual 105 party to a whole new extreme when he smashed over 100 eggs with his forehead in under a minute, breaking a world record.  In the fine words of Carson Bakker it was a “Welcome back to America” moment.  As was dancing to Beyonce, going to cookout, and all the other pleasantly “american” things we did.

On the way home I kidnapped another gap semesterer and convinced him that going to the coast with a hurricane right offshore was a good idea.  The rain let up long enough for us to explore the seafood festival (and by explore I mean mostly eat) for a bit, run around fort macon, walk on the beach IN THE SUN, and a few others.  Eventually the rain did take over Zach’s time here, but luckily it allowed him to see just what real southerners do in this weather – mudding.  My brother went to pull out a few trucks who had been stuck and in the process got himself stuck.  So two Boonies with very gas efficient, good for road tripping cars, jumped into a big white Chevy to save the day.  Somewhere off of nine mile or nine foot, back in the marshes my friend learned what a Carteret County accent really sounds like and what drop outs do in their free time.  And to think we were planning on playing card games before that happened.
Currently:

I’m drinking wine, but you knew that.  I’m still in little ole Morehead cramming in appointments and grocery store run-ins with every local I have ever known in this little town.  Shakori is in a few days and that will be a culture shock of its own; after almost a year of being “normal molly” I’m interested to see what this music festival brings out of me.

Until I have something else to write about, peace interwebers.

A not so crazy twenty-first

The year a difference can make.   And if I could focus long enough to form a coherent sentence you’d know what I meant.

Today I am bringing you two timelines. Both birthdays, both mine.

This year:

8:00 I am woken up by Selin’s “whisper”

8:15 Selin shows me the My Little Pony/Amanda Dollhouse party she has thrown me

8:30 Breakfast

8:31 Wishing I could eat all the nutella in the world

9:00 I open a package from my family – my favorite chocolate covered almonds, which were taste tested by the too kind customs officers

9:10 Selin sends me to my room not to come down until she gets me

9:20 How did I eat so many almonds already?!

9:45 Selin calls me downstairs to receive the card she made me, it was a big ceremony in front of everyone

10:00 Selin gets in my shirt and shorts and we walk/dance around merged

11:00 Yes ^ that really went on for an hour. Now we play Molly is a baby game. Selin is my mommy. It is scary. But I went from being 3 to 10 in one birthday so that was cool.

12:00 Selin runs around in circles yelling in her made up language while I hysterically laugh that this is my 21st.

12:10 Selin plays with my phone while I play her pink guitar. She yells at me when I stop singing.

12:20 We do acro, then Selin teaches me what she calls “Children’s yoga” which appears to be rolling around and being a spas

12:40 I make Selin play Candyland because it’s my favorite and it’s my birthday so she can’t say no or cheat. She was very conflicted and very frustrated knowing she couldn’t be mean to me for an entire day

12:45 Selin can’t handle not cheating so she says Candyland gives her a headache

12:50 I spend ten minutes relearning how to play a dvd in their system (this happens every time), only to watch the intro before lunch is ready

13:00 Lunch

13:30 Mommy is home and I get a few minutes to myself whilst Selin complains to her mom there’s no one to play with – feeling the love

14:15 Selin makes me sit at a table and vibrates in her seat trying not to tell me I’m getting a cake. She sings happy birthday under her breath and repeatedly tells me “there’s something coming but I can’t tell you what it is”

14:45 We go upstairs to play dollhouse

15:00 Mila & Melina (Selin’s cousins) and Jenny (cousins’ au pair) come to save the day. There’s dress up, a Frozen Let It Go dance routine – choreographed by yours truly, and only a few meltdowns. They ride bikes and watch two more minutes of the Barbie movie I started before

19:00 There is a catastrophe. The girls have to eat dinner at home. So many tears shed

20:00 I help Selin get her bag for her first day of school ready

20:30 In bed considering replying to birthday wishes but ultimately getting too overwhelmed because people are hard

22:00 Asleep. Newly 21 and asleep without a drop of alcohol in my system

 

Last Year:

8:00 Very, very asleep

8:15 Yep, still very asleep

9:00 Dreaming about something better than being awake at this ungodly hour

10:00 Likely checking my phone dreading the fact that I will eventually have to leave my bed

10:30 I think Emily came in to lay on me? Or I’m getting it mixed up with all the other mornings…

11:00 Sitting around trying to get plans started

11:30 A few friends show up and we cram our selves into two cars and pick up more along the way

13:00 Out at the river swimming, sitting, talking and having an all around wonderful day

14:00 Happily come upon two more friends walking up the river

14:20 Melise and I jump off a tall rock in honor of our friendaversary (We met at my 19th birthday party and have been girl-crushing ever since)

16:00 We run back to the cars in the poring rain

17:00 Dry clothes and tapestries go up to protect whatever secrets are going on in the kitchen

18:00 Emily reminds me for the seventh time to text anyone I want to come over for the party that night. I disregard, again, because I was set on a low-key birthday; happy with the river, food on the way and pj we were planning to make for the “few” people coming over. I was so naive.

20:00 Sitting on the front porch, eating all of the delicious food my roommates had made for our friends.

21:00 A few of the cheapest handles money can buy, sprite, and every fruit juice concentrate you can think of are mixed into a clean (enough) cooler.

21:15 I am gifted a large, purple, brimming margarita glass with lovely words from all the friends who had been orchestrating this amazing day

22:00 It was so calm for a bit, dancing with friends, hitting balloons around and playing with fuzzy, stick on mustaches (we would find these around the house well into the winter)

23:00 More people show up, but I still know them all

24:00 I have no clue who the new arrivals are, but they have a keg?

24:45 The house is packed. With strangers. I’m waiting for the cops. And another keg appears. And it’s sitting on our front porch facing the street that cops love to patrol. I not so kindly tell them to get it in the house.

1:00 I hear of people burning their buts with a cigarette in the front yard? I can’t imagine who would do that, until I see all of my friends out front.

1:15 I ultimately give in to the But Burn Club, because my margarita glass was big and my parents said no tattoos or face piercings, but never said anything about burning your but. I can’t wait until they read this.

2:00 At some point I stopped recognizing 70% of the people who wanted to repeatedly sing me happy birthday. The last event of my night was one guy telling me about how he heard three hot chicks lived in the house and it was one of their birthdays, did I know where he could find her. I was second person to go to sleep that night.

So there you have it. My twentieth birthday was a rager and my twenty-first, well it had ponies.  Is this what becoming an adult is like?

This Is The Title

Today is three months since my last glass of red wine. I might cry a little. I might have already.

(Update: I wrote this a week ago and have since had many glasses of red to make up for those poor bottles I could not attend to)

I’m laying in bed, one hand typing away, the other stretched across the nightstand being held by a little girl who refuses with every ounce of her 14.8 kilograms to give into sleep. So many things about this snoring, little monster amaze me, her ability to barely sleep and run all day being one of them. In case you’re worried, I can call her things like monster because her mom says things like “hello my evil little girl” – keep reading and you’ll get it.

So here’s the post where I ramble on attempting to paint you a picture of the family I live with, what I’ve been up to, and all the other irrelevant details in my life.

When: 19 May – 26 September
Where: Istanbul, Turkey. On the Asian continent side. In a super swanky neighborhood that makes every other golf course toting neighborhood I’ve ever seen to shame.
Who: The Kosif family. They’re super cool, and by that I don’t mean they’re nice and fun, I mean they’re cool. Hale and Cihan go to all the parties, in the trendiest clothes and have the Instagram followers to prove it. I watch their daughter Selin who deserves her own section so we’ll come back to her. Derin, their other daughter is 7 months old and freaking adorable. She makes me forget that I don’t want kids so I have a love/hate/love relationship with her. We have a crazy connection which has been really fun. For a while when she would start to cry they would make me come over to make her laugh (aka – proudest moment of my semi-adult life). That time has unfortunately come to an end thanks to Selin’s jealousy issues but I still sneak in a few moments here and there. I really mean sneak though. Derin’s nanny (yes, there is a nanny for each child) is Felis and she hates me so it’s really only hale who gives me Derin time anymore. We were great friends at first – aside from the part where she thought I was disgusting of course. She has severe OCD with germs. But then something happened, which like every other drama that has happened in my life I’m still not sure what started it and have made zero efforts to learn/end it. Anyways there are two other woman in the house – Aisha and Zamira who cook and clean – who like me so I’m at an 85.7% rate of being liked. I’m a senior, I’ll take a B.

Here’s the fun part, Selin:

If I made a list of adjectives to describe this girl you would think I was describing four different people. I have no clue where to even begin. I guess maybe the beginning is a good place…

My dad has taught me four important life lessons:
1. Save your money
2. Work ethic is everything
3. Wine
4. Marry rich and learn to love

The first three sunk in a little too well (especially #3 as you likely have witnessed). So for someone who feels guilty not working for the money they’re earning I was in hell. My job was to hang out with a little girl who wanted me dead – and I’m almost positive I mean that literally. She wouldn’t talk or look at me, and after two and half seconds of being left in a room with me she would run out crying. Hale kept telling me it would get better but after a couple of demoralizing weeks I started to give up hope. I probably checked flights home at least once a day. The small daily improvements kept me from going through with it… Along with the thought of going back to Morehead to work a minimum wage job in the middle of tourist season.

Selin is incredibly brilliant for a five year old but she acts like a two year old. She understands English perfectly and after three months she is nearly fluent, American accent and all. She is also the energizer bunny. We have to force her to eat and sleep, and even if we can’t get her to do either she continues to run and talk at a million miles per hour. I think the secret to immortality is in that girl somewhere, or at least a healthier energy drink formula. Her energy is exhausting but her mind is no better. I am by no means a psychiatrist but I would bet my life that she is ADHD. She only stays focused on a game as long as it is new and exciting – the second she remembers that we’ve done something mildly similar she’s done. Most kids her age have “drawing time” or “reading time”, Selin has “draw half a picture time” or “molly reads two words before she’s running to something else time”. Selin also has an incredibly vivid imagination even for a five year old so keeping up creatively can even be a struggle. I have to not only act like she is in class but that there are other students (who’s names, mommys names and backstories I have to know) in class/doctors office/ect that I am helping. So many times people have asked to join in on our games and looked at me two minutes in stressed out “what do I say”, “where should my pony go then?!”. I think it was a big turning point in our relationship when she realized I came up with fun stories and everyone else was like “um yes my pony is walking to the grocery for bananas then going to sleep…yes??” All the exhaustion aside she is hilarious and sweet and let’s me be just as weird as I want to be without recording it on a phone or in a quote book. Yes friends I’m cyber-looking at you.

More stories of the sweet Selin will come but for now I want to explain why I am so conflicted about this work/lifestyle.

Before I came she had a nanny who never told her no but hale said she wanted to change that and I was the lucky girl to do it! Saying no to Selin you might as well be dragging her to the electric chair. She sits down wherever she is and begins to kick and scream while you pick her up and carry her away from the large crowd of people she likely sat down in front of. And those are the nice tantrums. There was a time when I checked flights home three times a day because he was hitting and pinching so much. She is about the size of my right leg – being completely serious – but knows how to hurt you. Her favorites for a while were squeezing my throat, pinching bits of skin off of me while creepily smiling or pulling out my hair. I was getting paid to be a punching bag. Thankfully we have moved past that for the most part after her mom threatened to give all of her toys to the nice girls. After that she turned to emotional torture of constantly telling me how much she loved me then the second I wore the wrong t shirt telling me everything she hated about me and to go home. Turns out all it takes to (mostly) end that kind of behavior is act like a kid yourself. I tried for a long time to control my emotions and explain why what she was doing was wrong. But when she kept replying to my being sad with “haha I make you sad, I so so happy” I gave up on restraint. I was mean back – something I thought I was against – and she got it. I threatened to leave and never play with her again and now we are eight days without incident. It’s been interesting to say the least. Hard, excruciating, productive, rewarding, and exhausting are all also appropriate adjectives.

We’re a week away from going back to Istanbul, two weeks away from her starting school, and five weeks away from my departure. I like to think I am making a difference; she is fluent in a new language, much much more polite, mostly handles it well when doesn’t get everything she wants and has done things like hiking or playing in mud that the germaphobe princess I met three months ago would have never tried. So, yes for now I am absolutely making a difference in her life for the better. The problem is for how long will that last.

We were recently at one of her grandmothers who gives Selin whatever she wants. It immediately brought back all the bad behavior that hale and I had worked to get rid of all summer. And then I saw the future. I had forgotten that soon I would leave, meaning that her parents and the women in the house would be the ones who would have to say no – which they all hate doing. It made me feel like all the work I have put in was for nothing and the coming weeks were pointless. Even if they are I have since decided I can’t think like that even though I know that will most likely happen. I have decided instead, to lie to myself, and it’s going okay(ish) so far.

So here’s to lying to yourself and raising bottled water wishing there was a priest around because your just that deliriously tired.

Goodnight and good afternoon and good morning to wherever you are

Au pairs Attempt Clubbing

I know I had sworn on something slightly less sacred than Nutella to write about my family and life in more detail, and that is in the works, but at the moment it is much more important – so important that I am typing this entire post on a Turkish phone without spell check – to tell you interwebers about my experience going out last night.

Let me start by saying, Turkey is weird guys. It’s amazing but this super wealthy world that myself and a few other au pairs have found ourselves in is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. For one I now text things like “I’m waiting on my driver to pick me up” and “We’re on the yacht so we just had some caviar and champagne to celebrate”. I expect beaches to have wifi (what kind of monster have I become?!!) and to wait for flights in vip lounges. Puhlease someone slap me the second my foot hits US soil and remind me to be a person of the proletariat again.

So imagine this new world. Then imagine a lavish night club called ‘billionaire’. And now for the fun part, imagine the molly you know and love for her constantly inappropriate comments and outfit choices, going into that lavish club. I bet you imagined it wrong. I tried to accept this world and its clubbing scene – something I’m unfamiliar with in general – and went for it. I wore a dress that was actually appropriate for the occasion, thanks to Jenny bringing spares because my first attempt at dressing myself was admirable but didn’t really cut it. And. Jenny did my makeup. Had I not kept my hair the tangled, salty mess that it is I might not have recognized myself.

We got to the club and it was immediately weird. The music was upbeat, the lights were flashing and yet everyone was standing there looking over their shoulders all pouty. Not a soul was dancing. And of course a large portion of these pouters were facing their stank faces towards the blondes, I’m sure questioning who let in the uncivilized Americans who – gasp! – dared to dance.

A few of the faces seemed slightly less displeased with being there. And a few even got bonus points for pulling their faces aways from selfies and Facebook for a few minutes at a time. Have I mentioned social media/technology is evil? It is. You’re welcome. Anyways. We got to know three faces pretty well. So well in fact that I only know one’s name and that is only thanks to him putting himself in my phone with “lover” at the end. So smooth.

We had been standing around people watching people watching us. Jenny and Brooke said a table of three dudes kept making eye contact with them. I didn’t experience any of this across the club sexual tension but I figured if we didn’t start doing something soon I would get bored so I went over hoping they were right about these guys and figured the worst thing that could happen would be they were wrong and I’d look stupid. And thats a regular occurrence for me so really there was no reason not to. It also might have motivated me that my wine glass was empty and I didn’t want to pay 20 lira for another glass.

We joined there tables and the universe was very kind to us. They spoke great English, were our age, pretty attractive, and we’re drinking belvedere. If you are like me and don’t know what that means, it means they were drinking a stupidly expensive bottle of vodka in an already stupidly expensive club. Needless to say we never even paid for the first drinks we had. We danced so much I have the blisters to prove it and eventually some people started dancing around 2 am but that was only prompted by the four women in bedazzled bikinis that came out to dance on the table tops. Naturally that was followed by a giant light up robot coming out with sparklers multiple times to the Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Wars theme songs. Did I mention Turkey is weird?

The night really only got weirder but I loved every second of it. I danced, I yelled, I did cartwheels through the grass and even learned some Turkish words by the end of the night.

It was exactly what I needed – aside from the three and a half hours of sleep part, I definitely didn’t need that. I pretty much work 24/6, five year old sleeping in my bed and all, and it has made me forget what it’s like to just let loose and have fun. I was conflicted at first because I had taken the year off from drinking aside from wine here and there, but I’m starting to see cutting it out of my life entirely is unhealthy in its own way because of the experiences that I miss out on entirely or don’t fully participate in because I just become everyone’s mom for the night. I’m still going to stick with it for the most part because Bali is soon and that was a lot of what was motivating this year of cleaner/healthier living, but I will likely be a little more lax on the restrictions. Especially with the whole turning 21 thing. That was really terrible planning actually…

I would like to end by assuring all parents/parents friends/family that we got home safely, together and our night never resembled the plot of Taken. Although I very proudly told one of our new friends who asked what it’s like to be a girl meeting strangers that I wasn’t worried because I could beat him up if need be. North Carolinas finest debutant right here yall.

I’m Still Alive

This. Post. Is. Happening. I will finish it. I will post it. Cue the motivating music.

…I cued it. I now feel really intense about writing this so it will probably happen – no it will happen – but it will probably include some Beyonce lyrics since I have trouble separating what I’m hearing and thinking.  For my sudden writers un-block you can thank my super inspiring friends who manage to keep up with their blogs while they move across the country or have a kid, work, and go to school, for reminding me that I am a lazy bum who has only moved to the summerhouse and only pseudo has a kid.  And also, I ran out of excuses…

Prepare yourself for three months worth of rambling.

In March I left Jordan in search of the color green, clean streets, and the remnants of my loud, weird self – if there were any left. I can happily say I found the first two in Greece, and quickly realized I might not see the third for quite a while.   I’m slowly growing accustomed to the more ‘normal’ Molly, but also starting to look forward to my month home to get back to being a total spaz.  It is my calling in life after all. Looking back on my time in Jordan is slightly confusing.  The feels got real. Combining a new country and culture with me realizing I didn’t want to go into the field that I had devoted my first three years of college to was not the best thing ever.  Had I not had the rest of this year to look forward to my existential life crisis might have lasted three days instead of a whopping 1.47.  So thank god for choosing to spend my entire life savings.  2015, the year of the sheep, the apocalypse (for some preacher out there), and my simultaneously swimming in money while not being able to touch basically all of it.  Adult life is great guys!

So back to those feels.  Post existential life crisis I relaxed (even more so) on the study part of my study abroad – as everyone should do – and focused on the people on my life.  Since my verbal communication skills are even weaker than my bloggunication skills – which is truly saying something – I am sure I failed at letting those people know how great it was to meet them. Turns out, kids from international relations majors from intimidatingly well-known schools are pretty different from recreation management majors at little ole appstate. Betcha didn’t see that one coming. The break from the norm was good for me though… I think. I started checking my instagram more often than I approve of, but aside from that I think I made it out a better person because of them. I was out of my comfort-friend-zone for sure but everyone not having crazy tattoos, closets full of tie-dye, or plans to build a tiny home and move out west to climb didn’t mean we didn’t find tons in common with each other. I didn’t realize until after how much I needed a reminder that life exists outside of the strange little pocket of Boone that I had burrowed into. So for that aspect I will forever be grateful to Jordan.  Other aspects I’m still fifty-fifty on.  I had to be calmer and more conservative and after a while it became my new norm, which I am still fighting months later.  I feel much more aware of my actions which is probably good for functioning in society, but that was also never really on my bucket list.  The good news is after about three seconds into any FaceTime with the lovely emily schultz my word-vomiting, nonsensical self is back.  So aside from feeling like my fun level got knocked down a bit, Jordan was exactly what I needed it to be.  I got to travel to so many other beautiful places in the Middle East – with amazing company, live in the culture I’d been studying for years, and found out that arabic and non-profits were great for college, but maybe not for the rest of my life.  Better to know now than in my forties I guess.  My dad told me just go get a degree, any degree and you’ll be better off.  I might have taken that a bit too seriously since my current plan involves using my global studies degree never, but I wouldn’t take it back.

I hated to leave so many friends behind while they spent a few days being together but plane tickets to Athens, Santorini and Istanbul softened the blow.

I met up with my mom in the Athens airport and gave her an unsatisfactory hug (she claims I’m strange about emotions and touching, don’t know what she’s eluding to). We ran around the city doing touristy things and walking in circles hoping to burn enough calories to justify all the red wine. I was basically about to burst all day long. I really have a thing for ancient civilizations/art. I geek out way too hard. But my mom does an awesome job listening to me ramble on about the importance of the move from style x to y and how it influenced z. Or she’s a good actor. Also, we took loads of pictures that we were immediately scolded for in the museums so if you want some contraband photos of old stuff, I got you.

Its also important to not this is where my mom broke the news that until I am back on america soil I could not get hurt or sick.  If you don’t know me very well, thats the equivalent of asking someone not to eat for the next few months.  While I was daydreaming of taking buses to climb in Ankara my mom was imagining me falling off those mountains and the absurd debt my family would be in since I don’t have issuance while I’m here.  Apparently you have to be in the states to get travelers insurance?  I know I don’t focus well but I really am not following that logic.

After Athens we headed to Santorini, which I can some up in four words: wine (red – duh), relaxing, eating, sunsets.

After two nearly comatose days relaxing in Santorini we flew to Istanbul for a day so my mom could see it. When my employer found out that my mom was going to be in town she invited her to come over for tea before leaving, which I’m almost certain was my moms plan all along in this quick decision to come meet me halfway across the world. Before we arrived at the house she asked me “so, like, what do I do if we get there and it seems… bad?”. My reassuring answer was “you leave me there”. Daughter of the year award, where are you?

As all people are on the internet, the family was exactly who they said they were and are a great match for me. After tea and a day in Istanbul I can proudly say that my mom now probably only fears my kidnapping once or twice a day.

There is way too much to go over for the past almost three months, so here’s a quick summary and I’ll go into more detail in my next post.

The first two weeks: Selin, the five year old I am watching/teaching English to, wanted me dead. She refused to speak to me or be alone in a room with me. Her parents Hale and Cihan warned me she was painfully shy and would do this for the first week or so, so I wasn’t worried.

Week three: I got worried. She had warmed up to me; meaning she would occasionally try to speak to me and would play with me for a solid fifteen minutes before crying about being left with the evil English speaking girl.

Week four and five: She liked me more, but not really. Still pretty worried about the next three months. At this point I was checking to see what a flight change would cost one minute and almost in tears the next when she would draw me a picture.

The rest: At some point there was a major turn around. Her English drastically improved which helped our relationship so much. Her problem was mostly that she couldn’t voice what she thought so she would just start screaming. Luckily we’ve moved past that and now she only screams because I’m the evil English speaking girl who enforces bedtime.

At this point every day is a roller coaster. Selin has the strongest personality I have ever known, and that’s including adults. That coupled with her adjusting to having a baby sister means I came at the wrong time. When I’m not watching her throw a fit that someone smiled at her sister we play tons of imaginary games, draw/paint, go swimming and have occasional heart to heart talks that are solid reminders that I might actually have a positive effect on her life.

As for my life outside of Selin-world, I have been geeking out all over Istanbul’s “Old City” and trying to focus on my readings/practice for my upcoming trip to Bali. I’m feeling the writers un-block fading so I’m stopping here. I’ll post (hopefully soon(ish)) more about life in Turkey and the family I’m living with.

Hadebyebye.

I really have to stop waiting so long…

I swear to you all, I have written this post at least four times.  You would think at some point I would learn to type these drafts in a word doc so I wouldn’t loose the drafts, yet here I am trying for the fifth time to finish a post on wordpress and praying to Zeus and all his godly friends that this post isn’t lost to the depths of the world wide web.  I really hate technology.

Since the last post quite a bit has happened in and out of Jordan.  There were new countries and cities, diving and biking, many Skype calls, a summer job, and of course endless procrastination on my part.  So here comes the long winded, hopefully soon to be published account of my last… how long has it been?

Spring Break:

We landed in Dubai early morning and after a long night of travel we desperately needed the much fancier than expected Marriott hotel. We couldn’t actually afford hotel rooms in Dubai so we were always packing ten kids into two rooms.  Needless to say, we all got very close. Dubai was exactly what you would expect, except it also wasn’t at all.  Here are some thoughts I had while walking around the city that I hope will give you an idea of Dubai:

Am I in a life-size Legoland?

Nope, just kidding, I’m in the real world version of the Capitol from Hunger Games.

The skywalk has moving walkways, yet I cant take my eyes off the uneven pavement in Jordan for a second without face planting.

There is an aquarium and an ice skating rink in a mall?  Wait then where’s the indoor ski resort?  Oh, right in the other ginormous mall.

Can the front desk tell we’re cramming all these people in to the room after they made it clear there were only supposed to be two in each?

Oh, yep, that’s definitely a yes…

Why does their map look like an adventure park map?

We are surrounded by millions of dollars worth of gold yet we haven’t been able to find a place that sells food in two hours.

Oh here’s an ATM… Just kidding, that’s just your everyday twenty-four caret gold dog tag printer.

…And that was Dubai in a nutshell.  It was all the glitz and the glam I was expecting, except that between the sections of a few tall buildings there was absolutely nothing but desert sand.  A very over and under whelming city.

But more importantly, we went to Oman (aka, the greatest country ever – that’s right ‘murica, I said it).  Morgan and I started keeping count of all the things we liked about Oman.  We had six before we left the airport, although I don’t think our tally could be trusted since we started counting things like “Ooh look a pretty mural” or “hey our bags came out first” in Oman’s favor.  But regardless, I’m still in love with this country.  Its pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted.  A place where people are friendly, I can speak Arabic, climb, and not have to choose between the mountains or the sea.

They give refugees really nice housing and money so my new life plan is to become refugee and flee to Oman.

We stayed on a yacht for the first three days in Oman, which again was way out of our college kid budgets.  Luckily the guy who owned the boat helped us out a lot with the price (so much so I was almost worried we were paying for our kidnapping).  It was paradise.  If there is a heaven, it’s on that boat, anchored between the mountains, snorkeling, playing mafia and card games, eating way too much, and reading all day long with a great group of people.  And I haven’t even gotten to the best part.  I GOT TO CLIMB.  I basically became Alex Honnold over spring break.  National Geographic might not have been there to document my deep water soloing, but it was every bit as epic.  But not really because where we were all the rock was super flaky so I really only got to climb this one rock over and over.  NatGeo not being there also screwed up my logistics.  I didn’t have a dingy to take me up to these rocks so I was starting in the water – where all the oysters and barnacles reside.  I won’t go into gory detail, but I came out with quite a bit of blood trailing down my legs and feet – still totally worth it!

Off the boat (that will forever have my heart) and back in Muscat, Oman we explored downtown, the souk and a park.  I was so excited to see grass I laid down and started making grass angels.  I really, really miss grass guys.  And nature in general.  Amman needs to work on this whole no green thing.  Although they should probably fix the water crisis thing first.

On our last day in Oman we went to Paradise #2, otherwise known as Wadi Shab.  It’s a river running between these two mountains that is incredibly clear water.  It’s an easy but hot hike in to where everyone swims.  We didn’t have much time before we had to be back at the hotel to check out so we decided the possible water fall we thought might exist at the end of the trail would have to remain a mystery and we would just swim where we were.  Well some of our group was content with that – four of us went on the hunt.  When the mysterious waterfall was found it was like something out of a movie.  You swam through this small crack between two tall rocks, you could hear the water getting louder and louder but couldn’t see it until you made your way into the cave. It was my dream world. I would have resigned being a human if it meant I could grow some fins and stay in there forever. Actually I wouldn’t, but only because of the climbing available in the area. For some reason I don’t think I’d crush with a tail for feet. I climbed up the waterfall using a less than trustworthy rope, climbed through the opening of the cave and found the most peaceful pool of water I have ever seen. It was like a rock garden and a pond combined. I would just like to reiterate. I really, really did not want to leave Oman. But as the cliché goes, all good things come to an end. That end was the beginning of coming back to Amman a much tanner, much, much less pleased with city life version of myself.

After having such an amazing spring break we were not content to sit in the city the following weekend so we took a bus to Aqaba. It’s a pretty touristy town by the Red Sea. I knew I was diving that weekend so I honestly can’t remember much about the town because my brain was concentrating on, “What will we see? Will there be a lot of life? What are the conditions like here? Can I trust this company? What types of fish are in the Red Sea? OHMYGODIMGOINGDIVING”… Although I can tell you everyone freaked out when I said I’d never had gelato, so I got gelato – still partial to ice cream.

The diving was so much better than I was expecting. There weren’t as many fish as I’m used to but the corals made up for it. It wasn’t even that they were bigger/more colorful than usual; I was just so excited to see coral that wasn’t dying. We also got to see a tank that King Hussein had sunk to create an artificial reef which “just happened to be” pointed at Israel. I wish I had pictures to share. Got to see lots of clown fish, stone fish and a lionfish. Also the longest sea cucumber I’ve ever seen. It was very confusing to both Morgan and myself.

My next adventure was recently finalized and I am so excited to start it in just twenty days! Months before I even knew for sure that I was going to Jordan I had been looking at au pair jobs abroad. Unfortunately some pesky voice got in my head and said “Psst Molly you’re supposed to have an internship by this point in your life” and silly me, I listened. I ditched the family search and started looking at non-profits and planning out cover letters. But after the first month in Jordan I realized I was not ready to go into non-profit work this summer. With the amazing feeling of having a new life plan I decided hey I’m already out of the country for half of the year, why not make it most – much to my parents’ dismay. After fielding applications from 168 families from three different au pair websites I found the Kosif family in Istanbul, Turkey.

I start on the 19th of May and my final exam in Jordan is on the 13th so I decided I’d squeeze in a trip to Greece between school and work. I had a very packed five days planned when my mom asked me if she could meet me in Greece. I hesitated. Hesitated a lot. Which would have been fine had we been messaging, unfortunately my face was slightly panicking on her IPhone’s screen. It’s not that I didn’t want my mom intruding on my trip I was just imagining Jane Newbern – the woman who I clearly remember packing an entire suitcase just for shoes the first time we went to Mexico – being absolutely petrified by the hostels that I deem appropriate (and amazing/heavenly) housing or running from one ruin to the next trying to fit them in before catching a train out to the mountains, and then waking up at 4 to catch a train to get out to the islands. It was a great image but not one I thought she would be pleased with. I have since sent my itinerary to her and her exact words were “this is your trip”. We’ll see what happens there.

[Update since I wrote this: The mountains will have to wait until my return flight from Istanbul, but my mom has said she is packing very light – so probably only half a suitcase for shoes.]

Before I start again I would just like to reiterate: Blogging is difficult. This page has been sitting on my computer for weeks now, just judging me for not finishing it. I will finish it in this sitting. I swear.

Two weekends ago I went to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and almost didn’t come back. Jerusalem is clean, has even sidewalks, history, and people don’t follow you down the street making strange sounds at you. I realize that for many of you your ideal city might have a longer check list than that, but at the moment all I want is to walk down an even, open, and clean sidewalk. The old city is incredibly beautiful and I am hoping to go back before I leave so I can see more.

[Update: I lied. But this time for real]

Okay we’re going with the world’s most succinct summaries for the rest of this because there is no other way I will get through this before I leave Jordan.

Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were super cool and relaxing. We met some cool British dudes (BD). One of them was the male version of me, so I have been told. We went out dancing with the BD. There are many, many stories of how that night ended. All I know is, at some point I got carried away – actually carried – by a bouncer who wouldn’t let me go tell my friends I was leaving (sorry mom and dad) and Albo (male version of me) saying “What are you doing?! I can’t fight that dude!” The next morning went to the beach to play soccer with the BD. Left Tel Aviv with Sarah and Madison that night so we could spend more time in Jerusalem. We had to fight our way on to the last few seats on the last bus. I almost punched an old woman, and absolutely elbowed a young man. He deserved it. We got to Jerusalem. I ate a piece of pizza. We did stuff. We went back to Amman the next day. End of story.

I will get through this post. I can and I will and don’t mind me typing out my encouragement to myself.

Last weekend I went desert biking – two words I did not ever expect to put next to each other and thoroughly enjoy. Turns out biking over hot, dusty, rocky terrain is tons of fun. Only down side is you pretty much have no idea where you are at times because your entire field of vision is this:

BLUE
_________________________________________________________________________________________

TAN

I may have to get into mountain biking. Although that probably won’t happen – being impaled by handlebars has never been as appealing to me as falling off of rocks. They told us we were supposed to go about 20k? It didn’t feel that far in the moment but the next day my butt was pretty sure it was farther than that.

Whew. That is all the big events.

Actually, I don’t know why I wouldn’t consider this a big event because it definitely is… Starting this August I am officially no longer enrolled at Appalachian! Whoop whoop. Bali here I come! It’s made the “live in the moment” philosophy a bit more difficult for me this semester knowing that I am going to Bali in a few months. I’m working on it.

A friend of mine recently posted a caption with one of her pictures of a cookbook/brewing book that even though she’s not in school right now doesn’t mean she isn’t learning. It made me so happy to see this. I have so many friends who are taking time off now or next semester and I think it’s absolutely wonderful. We might not be learning in the traditional setting, but we’re not a traditional bunch. We need stimuli you can’t get from a textbook and I am so proud to live in a community of people that encourages everyone to get out there and learn from life. Hearing about all of their amazing experiences in the past year will definitely be some good incentive to go back to App in the Spring of 2016.

And with that slightly mushy gushy note – I am done.

See you interweb peoples in some unknown amount of time!

Also, sorry this is so long.

Also, also, I will be better about posting.  Maybe.

I Did Some Stuff

So after a few kind reminders from friend and family I remembered I have a blog and that the point of having a blog is to write on it. But in case you aren’t aware blogging is hard. These are the thoughts the go through my head during the posting process:

Isn’t this kind of narcissistic?

Who even wants to read about this stuff?

But maybe they do… I like to read my friends blogs.

But they’re cooler.

This is lame.

I’m not doing it.

It’s definitely narcissistic anyways.

*Receive a text or email from friend asking about life*

Ah. A message.

That makes three I haven’t responded to today.

Added to all the others I forgot about earlier this week.

  1. And then all the messages from au pair families.

And half of those are in freaking Spanish.

Keeping up with people is hard.

Mass communication it is.
So yeah. That’s where I’m at in this whole telling the world about my life for the next year thing.

Several big events happened in the past two weeks so I’ll talk about them and you can assume that in between those events there was more than adequate amounts of classes, putting off homework, wanting to punch creepy Jordanian men in the face, and the general weirdness you would expect out of my life – except toned down a lot (I’m not trying to loose the friends I just made that fast).

Wadi Rum/Petra:

I ROAD A CAMEL. My life is complete and I can die happy. This was in Wadi Rum and there were so many other amazing things that happened but I’m struggling to move past the I ROAD A FREAKING CAMEL part. (regrouping) I ROAD A CAMEL. (okay, really regrouping) There were so many rocks! While riding our CAMELS we were surrounded by the most amazing rock forms I have ever seen. I thought the routes at the Red were tall. I was very mistaken. I was freaking out trying to see every possible route you could make when one of the girls in my group commented on how I must be so happy to be around all these rocks. My response for four girls who all dress like they actually know what they are doing when they get dressed every morning: “For me this is what window shopping is probably like for you, when you really really want to buy everything you see, but you cant have any of it.” Had I not been riding a CAMEL I might have died. I really miss climbing. And my muscles. I even miss cramming my feet into tiny little shoes. And because I’m talking about things I miss here’s the list:

  1. Grooving

I haven’t found myself in a half flailing/half moshing crowd singing along to the band in far too long. Mentally I’m back in Asheville at the front of the stage with Cat staring up at the gods that are the allahlas.

  1. Gluten free options

I do this one to myself. I’m sure I could find ways around all that pita, but that sounds mentally taxing so I’ll let my intestines deal with the consequences for a while longer.

  1. Ladies Night

Honestly, who wouldn’t love sitting around watching nineties movies, eating things you probably shouldn’t, trading clothes and drinking all the wine the world has to offer?

  1. Boo

Those who know him totally understand my obsession with my snake. Those of you who don’t understand how you can love a snake so much – there’s a Facebook page devoted to him, do your research.

*A message to all you boonies who have been keeping my little man company, YOU ROCK

**I really hope boodini hasn’t gotten out again

  1. Art supplies

I only brought charcoal, conte and colored pencils. What was I thinking?!

Wadi Rum/Petra continued:

After our CAMEL ride we got into trucks to go see some rock carvings. Rocks + Art = Molly swooning.   Then to a ridiculously large sand dune. Like all mature adults we ran down it as fast as we could – I had a lovely tumble halfway down and consequently was shaking red sand out of my scalp for a week. After watching the sunset we made our way back to camp for dinner, debkah and sheesha. There was also an epic star gazing session in which I told everyone about the ghost in our house.

The next day we went to Petra. I would like to reaffirm my gratefulness for my father’s poor genetics. If I could have smelt half of the poop I saw I would have puked. Nice thought right? Aside from the smell this Petra was perfect. Rocks + Art + CAMELS/Donkeys + History + Hiking = Molly dying of happiness. I was a mix of entirely humbled and humiliated by the fact that thousands of years ago people built these beautiful monuments that have survived time and nature, and what are we doing with our time here? Making the IPhone bigger and filled with more and more pointless apps? After that minor existential crisis we hiked up to the monastery. It was a killer hike with an ever better view. I really need someone to teach me how to write so I can describe the things I see. Just imagine the Grand Canyon, but browner, with more mountains, so not actually a canyon at all. On the way out I had a weird moment when I looked back and saw a little sliver of the main attraction at Petra and realized I might never see it again. It shouldn’t be a weird moment because I treat many of the things I see and do like it’s the last time I ever will, but for some reason it hit me a bit harder that day.

The Dead Sea:

I have now heard three stories on why the Dead Sea is so salty. All involve death. I prefer the one that is one guy dying versus a whole town being punished for their choices. Lesson learned: people come up with some weird stuff.

Aside from the weird story thing the Dead Sea is really freaking cool. I didn’t really understand what people meant when they said you really float. I don’t think it’s the kind of thing you can imagine though. It feels insane and makes me so happy I can’t stop giggling. We took a break from floating to get rubbed down in mud. It makes you so smooth. If I could afford to spend hundreds of dollars on having that stuff shipped to me I absolutely would. I’m fairly certain the answer to immortality is somewhere in that mud.

A lot more happened in the last two weeks and I will (hopefully) write about it later but at the moment I am exhausted and I have a midterm paper to start and finish in the morning. Yay procrastination.