Well this post is a day late and a dollar short.
This expression is difficult to convey in this culture. The concept of being both late and/or short on cash doesn’t have the same negative connotations that we’d ascribe. Speaking of idioms- I knew, cognitively, that idioms comprise a large part of our culturally bound communication. But I had no idea how difficult it would be, in practice, to try to speak without them. Now, for language learners, its vital to pick up idioms eventually. But, most of my students are at an A-1 level (creeping up, inshallah) and introducing idioms needs to be a gradual process. So, for the most part, I shoot for 1 new idiom a week (we write it on the board, act it out, etc.) and then I attempt to avoid them the rest of the time. This is hard! I feel like Archer (but without the king-fights and Island parties, obvs)…
Anyway, this week was a blur (idiom). We were supposed to have Thanksgiving off, but I teach two courses on Thursday that only occur on Thursday so I didn’t want to miss them. I ended up giving a short lecture on Thanksgiving and American history. I shifted focus from our holidays to their holidays which inevitably lead to some conversations about how I would make a very good Muslim. It also brought up perhaps the most interesting fight about prepositions I’ve ever been in (and, lets admit, I fight about prepositions more often than most people). I asked my group of Doctors what they were thankful for and they insisted they were only thankful for God. I pointed out the difference between “to God” and “for God” but the distinction is tricky. We all agreed you could be both thankful for and to God, but, as Muslims and non-native speakers, they were unsure i they could admit to being thankful “for” anything else. The conversation ended on pins and needles (idiom) but I promised we could continue it next week.
Another idiomatic anecdote from the week: I play tennis with my tennis club Saturday and Sunday mornings. On Saturday, I played terribly and the coach jokingly told me that I’m not allowed to come to tennis anymore if I can’t concentrate on the ball. He said he knew the Prime Minister was coming to town, but that I needed to get my head in the game (idiom that apparently works on both sides of the Atlantic). I thought he was joking about the Prime Minister, some sort of localized expression that meant to make fun of political self-importance while reinforcing focus on the present. But, later that afternoon I was sitting in a coffee shop, talking with a friend and we watched as a huge bus passed with the Prime Minister waving from a window. I should have realized earlier why the streets were filled with armed soldiers and hundreds of policemen.
Final story: my office-mate and I took the train to Hasankale last night. We had been talking about taking the Doğu Ekspresi since I got here. Its the same train line that used to run the Orient Express and it runs along the route of the ancient Silk Road. The landscape is stark and lonely, beautiful in its rugged emptiness.
We took the train to the tiny town of Pasinler where the Hasankale fortress is located. We had planned to go see the castle, but the buses had all stopped running once we got there. Here is a photo of the place in summer:
So instead, we headed towards a famous fish restaurant in the center of the town. On the way, we asked two different men for directions. They each gave the same apologetic expression and said they didn’t know. We asked a third man and he invited us into his grocery shop to get warm by the wood stove while he called his friend to find out. After talking to his friend, he confirmed that the fish restaurant is not open during the winter and had in fact had enacted closing ceremonies the previous day. We laughed it off and asked for the next best place to eat. “Yok” he said, “yok.” There is not. There is not. There are no other restaurants in town. It was such a Turkish exchange, with all the apologies and thanking and general good humor. We ended up calling friends in Erzurum and asking them to pick us up and bring us back to town. We holed up in the grocer for while as it was far below freezing outside. Adventure time on the Silk Road.
So, for a few things to read/think about from the week:
1.) I made an advent tree for my office. I’ll put up some sort of ornamet or picture of leaf everyday until Christmas. I also joined this global advent calendar creation, just to feel a bit more connected: http://www.aco.org/adventword.cfm
2.) Unrelated to advent, but also a daily type of activity:
3.) Poems (thanks to Megan and Shavawn and David Wright)