Welcome to the Fishbowl

The apartments where teachers, principals, and some students live, are a 3-minute walk to the school’s buildings. They have a sort of freshman dorm feel, mixed with Melrose Place (maybe that’s just because of the building’s outdoor pool), although without so much drama (yet). Like in college, I could roll out of bed 10 minutes before school starts and still make it before roll call (the theme from Saved by the Bell as my personal soundtrack). The only difference is that now wearing PJs would be unacceptable. As one of several people, who thought they would be living on the Asian side of Istanbul- a 45 minute commute when the traffic is smooth, I am eternally grateful to have been placed in these apartments so close to school.

Still, the apartments do have their downsides. For one, they erase the illusion of anonymity that a city offers. At each of my windows are several staring back. To top it off, my apartment is on the first floor and anyone who enters the building must walk past my living room window. When the lights are on, my living room looks like a stage and peeking in is practically irresistible. A true reality show. More than once, I have looked up from my book and locked eyes with someone casually staring in as they wander past, only to see them look away in embarrassment when we make eye contact.

The other thing about these apartments is that they feel like they are run by a terrible slumlord, who tries to get away with having to do the least amount of work possible, while maintaining the illusion that the apartment runs smoothly. The last few nights, for example, Jeremy and I have been treated to the steady plinking sound made by the leak in our ceiling hitting the sauce pan we've placed underneath- a slower and less entertaining version of STOMP. There is a huge water stain on our ceiling and the paint there is starting to buckle. The people in charge of maintenance claim they've turned the water off, even if water continues to drip, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't come home to a chunk of ceiling on the floor.

The list of dysfunctional quirks in the apartment is a mile long. A few more quick examples: the oven can only be turned on with a can opener to squeeze the metal bar, where the knob once sat and the shower head comes to life with only the right combination of hot and cold water and turns into an angry writhing dragon when the pressure is too high, attacking the innocent shower-taker below and spewing water all over the bathroom, while she clears the soap from her eyes and tries to regain control of the situation. The sink drains at the pace it would take a slug to crawl a mile. Other apartments are plagued with similar ailments- fridges that don't cool, water that won't heat, roach infestation, even flooding. As Jeremy says, "It could be worse." That phrase has the power to make any seemingly dire circumstance turn trivial as your mind starts to brainstorm all the worst case scenarios out there and make you finally feel lucky to just have a leak in the ceiling. It could be leaking raw sewage, for example, and it's just leaking water. I'll be thankful for that!

Over Bayrami, many people have gone out of town and has made the place feel a lot more desolate- like an American college campus over Thanksgiving. I have felt less observed, freer in a sense, like my apartment isn't a giant petri dish. Slowly though, people are trickling back in, and I'm still adjusting to living in suck a tight community.

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