A Delicate Situation

At the moment hubby and myself are in a very delicate situation related to his studies.  I hope to inform everyone of the details at a later time, but for now we need to keep this balancing act private.  However, if there’s one thing certain, things are going to be changing soon, and in a BIG way.  Inshallah I will be graduating in July without a hitch.

Stay tuned for more comic strips until things settle down!

When In Turkey: A comic!

I’ve always enjoyed drawing and stories, so what’s better than putting them together? I’ve doodled strips of things that happen in my daily life since I was in high school, even developed a few fiction comics that I never actually finished…

Everyone says to write/draw what you know. What is more interesting than drawing my own life? Well, maybe I’m being a little boastful, but moving to a new country opens up a world of stories that other people may enjoy! Introducing a comic based solely on my life, featuring my hubby and I- and those who appear along the way!

All art is done by hand using pens, spectrum noir markers, and colored pencils

WTCover

When in turkey…do as the turks do!

Every time is a good time for POGACA!

Pogaca (turkish: poğaça/poh-ach-ah) is one of my favorite things to make and to eat!  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, you name it, pogaca is appropriate.  Along with being versatile, it is very simple to make!  Known by other names in other countries, pogaca is a bready pocket filled with anything you can think of.  Try out this recipe next time you get a craving for a little “I dont know what”!

Pogaca with spinach and feta filling

Ingredients:
  • Dough
    • 3c all purpose flour (approx.)salt to taste
    • 1/2tsp baking powder
    • 1/2c canola oil (or olive oil)
    • 1/2c yogurt
    • 7tbsp butter (softened)
    • 1 egg (white only)
  • Filling
    • feta and spinach
    • potato and onion
  • Top (wash)
    • 1 egg yolk, brushed
    • sesame or nigella seeds
Preparation
  1. Put butter in a bowl to soften. Once soft, cut in the oil, yogurt, and egg white
  2. Put flour, salt,  and baking powder into a large bowl, blending well
  3. Forming a well in the center, mix wet and dry ingredients until a smooth, non-sticky dough is formed.  (you may add a little more flour if needed)
  4. pinch egg sized pieces from the dough, shape into a ball, then flatten with your palm. Do not make the dough too thin or it wont bake right (about 1/4″ thick).
  5. Place a dollop of filling in one side of the flattened circle. Fold two sides of the dough together, pinching it to seal, forming a half moon shape.
  6. brush the egg yolks on the top of the balls, sprinkling seeds to finish.
  7. Bake at 350F for about 20 minutes in a convection oven, 30 minutes in standard.

Spinach Filling (pictured):

  1. Cover the bottom of a pot with a little water, dissolving a chicken buillion cube in it (or use a little homemade stock)
  2. Wash and chop spinach/onion/ and garlic. Put all vegetables into the pot and steam on medium until the spinach is very wilted and the onions are cooked.
  3. Drain off the juice and cook until dry, patting with a paper towel as needed.  Add salt, pepper, and cumin to taste.
  4. Before applying filling, mix in feta cheese

Potato and Onion Filling:

  1. Peel and grate potato and onion, saute in olive oil until soft and translucent.
  2. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, parsley, and dill.

Yet another TMJ update!

How long has it been now since my athrocentesis? I don’t even remember…it was in October, and my final check-up was in January so…a while!  On my final doctors visit they stated that my opening was still restricted and prescribed muscle relaxers (flexaril 5mg) to be taken before bed, thinking that the limited opening was self-inflicted and due to muscle tension.  I took the muscle relaxers every night for about a week or two, but wasn’t seeing any improvement.

But, ya know, it wasn’t worse nor hurting so…who cares?

I decided to stop taking the muscle relaxers (I really hate taking medication unnecessarily), and limit myself to using them only when my jaw is popping badly or I’m having some pain.  Allah shukur, I’ve been well thus far.  I still feel my opening is limited, but I can eat, chew, and talk without pain the majority of the time- and even the popping has decreased in the right joint (my surgery was on the left and it doesn’t pop at all anymore- only very very rarely).  I still don’t gnaw on handfuls of gummy bears, but I do treat myself to some chewy goodness now and then that I enjoy in moderation- and very carefully!

In case anyone was following my progress and wondering how it went- there you have it!  I probably won’t be updating this topic unless something dramatic happens after this.

Mocking Others and Arrogance

Ten years ago, five years ago, yesterday… This is a problem I really struggle with.  Being American, we have a culture of joking that often involves mocking others, and I am one of the guiltiest people for using this style of humor. Additionally, I have a terrible habit of enjoying the blessings Allah has given me as far as skills and whatnot, and being arrogant about it, even if I don’t voice it.  I hope this video is a good reminder to those like me that all Muslims are equal in the eyes of Allah, be you revert, born muslim, hijabi, non-hijabi, black, white, asian….the only thing that separates us is fear of Allah (Taqwa). Inshallah we are all blessed with a great fear of Allah and live our lives accordingly.

Being neutral does not mean supporting…a word on Turkish gov’t

Today I was watching a video on The Young Turks youtube channel, one of my favorite places to get my news (the anchors are hilarious).  I watched a segment on some events going on in Turkey, and I made the grave mistake of looking at the comments.

Just for a little background if you don’t already know:  Turkey is a majority Muslim country with a secular approach to government.  It has been as such since WWI when the Ottoman Empire was ousted and Ataturk, “father of the Turks”, took fledgling Turkey in a more westwardly direction, culturally.

Anyway, in the comments I witnessed some viewers commenting on the current governing party in Turkey.  I couldn’t tell if these folks were Turkish, living in Turkey, or whatnot, but their handles/usernames were not Turkish sounding.  I digress. The comments were expressing a grave concern about Turkey being made more religious/islamized/ whatever wonky word you would like to use, because of the religious agenda of the president/PM. Now, I only know a bit about the current president/PM, and politics being what they are, I don’t feel comfortable giving my own opinion on the governing group because I just don’t know enough.

Personally, I believe that religion belongs in the home/community, and not in the government.  I don’t think anyone has any business telling me to abide by their moral code, and the same applies to me.

Everyone can have their own opinion on the Turkish government, and that’s ok, but what REALLY infuriated me was commentary on a recent law that was passed (early 2014 I believe).  Previously, it was illegal to wear hijab at public universities and federal buildings.  Now, thanks to the current governing party, it is not illegal. I know, this seems crazy considering Turkey is a secular country with soooo many Muslim citizens (around 98%), but it’s the truth. No, not all Muslimahs cover their hair, but when I was in Turkey I saw plenty.  That is a lot of women to bar from higher education and involvement in federal affairs (be it as support staff or political careers).  This brings us to the comments from the unfortunately narrow-minded peanut gallery.

According to them, Turkey was being made more Islamic, and religion is being forced on the citizens because covered women are allowed to enter these locations.

I CAN’T EVEN

  How can anyone draw the conclusion that giving freedom of religion equates supporting, nay, pushing any religion on the populace.  How ignorant can you be?!  So if you aren’t oppressing the people, you are glorifying them? What happened to neutrality? Non-discrimination?

  My heart rate just sky-rocketed and my brows are furrowed as I assault my keyboard.

  If you want the right to live your life the way you want to, and be given every opportunity to succeed in it, you should do the same for me and others.  I honestly cannot understand people who think it is right to shove their way of life in the face of others, and expect the receiver of this behavior to be happier for it.  Just stop. Stop it now.  You will see me be the first to stand up for the rights of others who don’t live by my rules, do the same for me.

I’m sorry you have to do that…

Lately I’ve noticed a new face around the building (a small building consisting of four laboratories and a few professors’ offices).  Maybe in her mid to late thirties, I had never met this woman nor been introduced, but heard she is working in one of the neighboring labs down the hall from ours.  Today she stopped me in the hall to compliment my henna/kina that I had done on my hand yesterday, just for fun.  I smiled and thanked her, and she also complimented my scarf and how I always look so nice. I smiled and thanked her again, and then she said-

I’m sorry you have to do that, but it really does look nice.

Uh, what? Hold on. What did you just say? The earnest smile dropped from my face and was replaced with an incredulous smirk. “What are you  sorry for?” I asked with a bit of cattiness in my voice.

You know, I’m sorry you have to cover your pretty hair.

At this moment a divine wave of patience washed over me and I paused.  If you know me, you know that this is incredible. I am the first person to shoot off my mouth when someone offends me or someone I care about. But this time, I waited a moment before responding with a smile, “I’m not sorry. I spent 23 years being a regular old American girl, and I am very happy with how I am now.”  This elicited a sympathetic (or perhaps embarrassed?) smile from the woman and she proceeded to ask me about my family, if they are religious, etc. She validated her point of view by telling me about a world philosophy class she took once, and that she isn’t trying to be rude but she has a lot of questions.  I encouraged her questions, saying it is better to get the facts from the source. She even asked me how I deal with people approaching me about terrorism in the name of my faith (at least she asked first if I was muslim) and that all religions have weird and disturbing parts (actually I’m very pleased with mine, thank you).  At this point my non-american, non-muslim friend who was going to eat lunch with me arrived and pointedly stated we had to go. Even she was offended for me. “She doesn’t even know you.” She exclaimed hotly after we left.

There are so many other ways it could have gone as soon as that unfortunately ignorant statement flew out of her mouth. First off, I know I’m fabulous, all day every day. Also,  I don’t have to do anything. I mean, religiously hijab is required (majority opinion), but no one is threatening my life if I don’t wear it (this is America, people.  I’m sure that it happens sometimes, in some places, but don’t assume you know all about my experiences based on my scarf.). To me, that statement is as ridiculous as “I’m sorry you have to put on clothes and not walk around butt naked in the street.” Maybe I don’t want to show my hair and skin? Is it not possible that this is a choice I made all by myself- between me and Allah?  It is my privilege and honor to don the hijab and be recognized as a Muslimah, even with the current climate of Islamophobia.  And asking about how I deal with other people’s questions about terrorism? Well- no one else really asks me, because they have enough sense in their head to know that 0.0019% of “Muslims” being terrorists (I quote Muslims because Islam is a peaceful religion, despite the many battles at its onset due to people trying to KILL THEM [Muslims] and CHASE THEM FROM THEIR HOMES) doesn’t mean the rest of us use our faith as a way to mask our political aspirations.  And the “not trying to be offensive” boat already left the harbor when you apologized for my life decision for me.

And here I was thinking that ignorance about Islam and Muslims was a thing of the past, despite all of the stories I’ve read, and that it wasn’t so bad everywhere. I have never been approached in a judgmental or apologetic way about how I dress or what I believe. I mean, colleagues have asked me politely about why I wear what I wear, and other Muslims have asked about my experiences that brought me to Islam since I was raised Christian in America… but I have never been approached by a perfect stranger.  I’m not sure if I should be flattered that I seem welcoming enough to speak to, or angry that someone tried to force their ideals on me.

Either way, I hope my responses and patience have given this woman some insight about Muslims and Islam.

#hijabiproblems

When is “enough, enough!”

  Dangling at the precipice of a looming graduation, we stare down the barrel of a big decision.  

While a May (Spring) graduation was not meant to be, I will most likely be graduating inshallah in August 2015.  Yes, that is only a few months away!  While I am very excited to take my degree, that leaves us in a precarious situation.  The time has come to make a decision about Turkey.

The hubster has shot his final bullet, attempted the last remaining problem that he could think to take on.  His adviser was very supportive of this topic and he has been working on it since November 2014.  Come to find out… it has been solved already, two years ago by a research team that he knows, in Turkey.  The day we found out was devastating.  I can’t even find a stronger word to describe the inner turmoil.  With only one year left on his visa/ scholarship and nothing to show, we are left with the soul-crushing decision of “is enough finally enough?”  When is staying in the US doing more harm than good?  For me? Well, I will be graduated in August inshallah and it makes no difference for me.  To be quite honest…this would be a good time for me to uproot and leave.  If we were to stay another year, I would have to find a job and a source of insurance due to the new “you must have insurance” law (at the moment, the school provides it for me). This would be the ideal time to make a clean break…well, as clean as it can be when you are leaving your home country to start a new life.

But for him. For him…no.  There is no clean break.  There cannot be a clean break until he obtains his PhD.  At this point…is it even feasible?  That is the question we are saddled with.  The psychological damage caused by our latest revelation, along with years of abuse from his adviser (see previous posts for those stories…some were not even mentioned), he can see no shining light at the end of the tunnel.  This leads us to ask- is staying in the US another year worth the time? We aren’t getting any younger.  True, if we stayed another year that is more money in our pocket to help start our lives in Turkey…but that is a year of “working debt” that he has to endure, regardless of what degree he returns with.  Even more, if he wants to continue pining for his PhD in Turkey, that is a year he could have been working on it there.  We are wondering if staying is just prolonging the inevitable defeat.  Of course, being the optimist, I am always encouraging him and telling him that his degree is still possible.  But it would take a miracle.  I’m constantly praying for one.

At the moment he is saying that going back to Turkey is the likely choice (we’ve given ourselves until April to decide).  But we both know that his heart is not in this decision, and it is still clinging to the chance at a PhD.  I can’t even describe my frustrations at this situation.  He isn’t lazy, he isn’t stupid.  He is one of the smartest people I’ve met in my life mashallah and if this life was fair, he would have his PhD in hand by now.

Please keep us in your prayers as this life-changing decision looms before us.

——-~———

As stated above, the time is coming for our departure (either now or a year from now), and we could use your help.  If you are looking for someone in need to donate your sadaqa (charity) to, look no further. In order to start a new life abroad, it costs money.  Beginning your life over with nothing but two suitcases is a challenge.  We have some funds, but two plane tickets would go a long way in helping us out.  Visit the link below to donate.  Even $5 can help us.

When in Turkey… we need a hand!

Life Isn’t Fair

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that almost nothing in this life is fair.  Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people…you try and try and try your hardest to achieve a goal that someone else cheats their way through.  No matter how hard you work to do the right thing, good things may not come to you.  This is a difficult struggle that anyone and everyone of faith has no doubt experienced at least once in their life.

I guess you just have to find the good in it… or believe that, when we are all called to account for our actions, that fairness will finally be shown. But how do you get through the days until then?