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Born in Turkey and grew up in New York, currently living in Florida with the other alligators, trying to make the most of swamp life.
With a degree in engineering, and a retail background, I am now an online medical interpreter, but my true calling has always been writing.
I started writing in the margins of my college textbooks, and moved on to the sides of cigarette packs and cereal boxes. I then moved on to writing on the backs of late notice envelopes from credit card companies and cut-off notices from utility companies.
I would generously describe my writing as a profound mesh of otherwise unrelated words pulled together by sheer disregard for literature, language and common sense.
Driven by a pure hatred for success, and with the help of a healthy dose of subconscious desire to shield humanity from my silly scribblings, I have kept these gems to myself.
Some fifty years into my life , I developed this sudden urge to share my gift with the world, so I could transfer the burden of shame to others.
In other words, I decided to take the plunge into the literary waters, mostly for vanity.
I am just a loyal fan of the written word, and a huge sucker for words wisely written.
I only wish I could do that kind of writing.
I was lucky enough to have two ears that still function reasonably well, despite years of auditory abuse in the form of screaming parents, screaming teachers and blasting classic rock, sometimes all three at once. I was also blessed with dual language capabilities in both ears. My blessings in the talent department pretty much ended there. So, in the absence of any other gifts, like filthy-rich parents, drop-dead-handsome good looks, or just steady dumb luck, I felt compelled to use this gift to help others who were less fortunate in linguistics, and, also, to pay bills. I started working as a medical interpreter on line. The job involves all kinds of patients in all kids of medical settings. I help the medical personnel communicate with the language-deficient patients or parents of minor patients, when universal hand gestures, amateur pantomime, and loudly repeating the same words won't suffice. Sometimes, all I do is stand by throughout most of an interpreting session, waiting for my time to shine by injecting some coherent understanding to one party or the other, mostly in the form of a "yes" or a "no", or, the occasional "Your appointment is not today, it's next week. And it's not with us, it's with the dentist. We're a proctologist practice. The other end!" Other times, just silence or the beeping and buzzing of medical equipment in the background. Or music. On a good day, the music would be a happy nurse humming a joyous song from happier times while beating on a comatose patient's scull with various medical hand tools for percussion. On a bad day, which technically means almost always, there is only music, or something that remotely resembles music, when the patient is a minor and has been pre-programmed by the parents to sit or lie still only when facing a small screen making loud sounds that someone has apparently mistaken for musical tones. This morning, I've been listening to the infamous Baby Shark song during a procedure for a two-year-old. Non-stop, for nearly three hours now. I had never listened to the song in its entirety before. For those of you new or foreign to the modern infant-rearing techniques or to the whole internet thing, this song is more catchy than your average COVID variant. To achieve this feat of musical engineering, the composers have used an ingenious formula. Their hook is a simple melody and an incomprehensible jingle of sorts about a baby shark. They then repeat the same jingle for each member of the shark household. We're up to third cousins on mom's side. One of the nurses, who proudly declared that she minored in marine biology, informed us that shark family trees go back thousands of years. That's a lot of relatives, living and dead. I'm thinking we'll be here way past lunch. Well into next shark season. Thank you for the heads up, nurse! Maybe I will gnaw on my pencil for nutrition, since I don't have to take notes other than note which relative has just been honored with a series of letters set to music. Mostly d's, o's and t's, the best I can figure. A continuous loop of shark genealogy. Musical mayhem with no guitar solos with creaky riffs. Just one simple beat and one marine lifeform. Kind of a seafood festival for the ears. By the two-hour mark, I could feel a fin-like growth on my spine in my back. At two and a half hours, I had the sudden urge to eat some raw seafood. Or any shiny object fluttering within my eyesight. It occurred to me that this song could be used in modern warfare to break the enemy's will. I googled it, and, it turns out, it is banned as a weapon of mass destruction by international treaty, an addendum to the Geneva Convention. So, too inhumane for warring armies tasked with destruction and death, but perfectly fine for innocent bystanders, medical staff, and interpreters alike. I also looked up "snacking on lead pencils". Not a very good source of vitamins and nutrients, it turns out. Most nutritionists are not big fans of heavy metals, if the posts are to be believed. I kept chewing on the wood part of the pencil, hoping the esteemed nutritionists at least liked classic rock. We're finally at the paternal branch of the family tree. And the procedure is far from over. It will be time for dinner by the time this song ends. I'm thinking sushi. In the bath tub. I don't even know why.
Some days things go wrong, some days everything goes right Some days are silky smooth, some days put up a fight When things go haywire, and the day goes you know where It's not a curse or your fate; nothing so unfair It's not the day's fault, either, it's how the dice rolled So, no need to get bent out of shape, and appalled Take it with a grain of salt, as the saying goes Ride the waves with a smile, through the highs and the lows Call me naïve, but I feel each day's a blessing I'm a stubborn, hopeful fool, since we're confessing Follow my lead, lean on love and hope, you'll be fine If you need divine guidance, look up, there's your sign Clouds or not, the sun's up, aglow, and full of grace Choose your path, stand tall, walk proud, grateful for each pace
Anyway, one time, weather and wildlife got together to form the perfect storm of sorts, when I went inside to use the restroom. An armadillo whispered into my headset that I had so delicately and professionally placed on his back, mistaking him for a pillow. The client mistook his whisper, further garbled by the wind and rain, as my voice. Fortunately, I returned just in time to stop the emergency appendectomy on the patient with poor English skills, as it turned out she just came by to donate some PPE. The selfless, totally professional interpreter that I am, I prevented an awful disaster and another huge lawsuit. All thanks to quick zipping, hand-wash-skipping and pure dumb luck. That's the kind of heroics that, my colleagues and I, and other non-linguist, and therefore not as important, on-line laborers, have had to demonstrate in these tumultuous times. Sadly, it has gone mostly unnoticed. Thankfully, unnoticed just enough for me to keep my job. As much as I enjoy the freedom of working from home in my backyard, I still mourn the loss of dignity of workspace. No crying babies, barking dogs or whistling armadillos. No weather or wildlife in the form of family members, or other random animals adding their own soundtrack to the workday. Just an angry supervisor breathing notes of garlic, convenience store wine, and disapproval on my neck. I especially miss looking out my office window at the park across the street and thinking how cool it would be to work from a bench at the park. Nothing like a pandemic to knock some sense into my feeble psyche.
I have stacked copies of our company's guidelines for working from home where the missing leg of the cheap plastic chair once proudly stood, but the chair is still shaky. I have been telling my video clients that my Florida office is located right on top of a fault line in the neighboring state of California where such tremors are a common, daily occurrence this time of year, meaning year-round. It is a testament to the strength of our K-12 education and endurance of culturally inflicted geographical unawareness in this country that no one has questioned the validity of that statement. Florida borders California on the left, Canada to the north, and Mexico to the south. You never know when our prestigious high school education is going to play a crucial role in someone's career. Being outdoors have caused many technical issues. Especially on Thursdays, when we hang our laundry on the ethernet cable. It was a company requirement to have a hard wire connection. Otherwise, I'd be stealing Wi-Fi from the county jail down the street like everyone else. The county does change the password weekly, but one of the fine overgrown teenagers in the neighborhood is sure to go to jail every other day. So, the whole community has the updated password all the time. Because I was having issues constantly, with or without wet laundry hanging, and because the wired internet connection idea was theirs, my company set up a satellite IT office in my front yard, staffed by a technician around the clock to address my issues. I don't call tech support anymore. I just yell "help!" and the technician runs right over with the neighbor's two pit-bull dogs in hot pursuit. The technician is not only a well-trained network engineer, but he is also a very good runner. The company must train these guys extensively or hire only Olympic athletes. Even so, he had to get a few stitches last week when one of the dogs was able to catch up with him, but only because he tripped on our high-tech irrigation system which consists of a garden hose running from the kitchen window to the backyard. Having the technician camp out front has given my whole family such a renewed sense of security that I cancelled my security monitoring service agreement with my neighbor where we tied a long trigger wire rope to one of his dogs' tail at nights. We alternated nights with each dog. On Sundays when my neighbor drives his mother to church, they need both dogs to secure their own house to protect his extensive collection of vintage garbage bags, in case one of our many unscrupulous, sketchy neighbors was tempted. So, on Sundays, both dogs were on garbage detail. And they detailed the heck out of those garbage bags full of vintage garbage. And there were plenty of yelling and re-bagging of priceless garbage going on every Sunday afternoon when the neighbors came home from church. The good news was, because the dogs needed Sundays off, a raccoon, well known in the neighborhood for his mischievous escapades, got gainful employment, albeit part time, as our weekend security guard. The cancellation of the dog-powered alarm system saves me money because now I don't have to buy their owner a generic six pack of beer every week. The raccoon only worked for food, which he would have stolen anyway, so that is a net gain of zero dollars. He is still well-fed. While mostly a good thing, working outdoors does come with unique challenges in the form of wildlife and weather. Apparently, a raccoon perched on your shoulders is not a "professional look" for our company. The same goes for bird poop on our company shirt. Even when it lands smack in the middle of the company logo where color was sorely lacked. I personally thought it added an old-worldly charm and said, in vividly bright colors that only genuine bird poop can bring out: "we are one with nature", or "we are not a fashion, nor a fashionable company", depending on the bird dialect. I am an on-line medical interpreter, and as a professional linguist, I can appreciate these little nuances better than anyone. The weather is a harder pill to swallow. The constant howling of the wind and rain is sometimes perceived as words that no one uttered, causing many anecdotal issues, some leading to lawsuits which I am not allowed to talk about due to a 'gag order' as some cases are still under litigation. For those of you who are not professional linguists, or are not otherwise well-versed in legal jargon because they're not lawyers, judges or criminal entrepreneurs from the other side of the fence, I will pause here while you go and look up the words 'gag order' and 'litigation' in your favorite dictionary app. Or if you live in a different time zone, say 1970's, you can use an actual print dictionary. You know, like a book.
I was one of the few “lucky” ones. I worked from home. I enjoyed very much the quiet solitude that came from dramatically reduced human encounters. And the complete lack of traffic on my way to the spare back room. I complemented my insincerely professional look of company-issued, increasingly cardboard-crisp shirt with an even crisper Manchester United tie. The tie, totally unsanctioned by my employer, is a conscious nod to my repressed middle-school-aged inner child, and my proud contribution to internet fashion. It is also the second adrenaline-pumping risk I take on the job after the laptop radiation. Below the waist, I went weekend casual, as per the Florida state-mandated indoor dress code, with sun-starved chicken legs crowned with boyfriend boxers the last girlfriend purposefully left behind eons ago. I had already become a poor imitation of Howard Hughes. The same hygienic fortitude and social finesse, but with much less financial gusto. Then the pandemic hit. Suddenly, everybody started working from home. I was no longer a lone soulless internet grazer. I was joined by countless others. As a side order with this god-awful new reality, came the fact that now everybody was doing everything from home, not just their jobs. With all this widespread home-schooling, home-quarantining, and general home-hoarding, not to mention all this working-from-home, working from home became a challenge. Before all this, my family was never home together at the same time other than at bedtime when everyone went to their separate slumber pods, thus minimizing any risk of togetherness. We now found ourselves having to make some grand adjustments to survive our newly congested hallways, bathrooms, and the overall airspace. According to a certain individual I do not wish to identify for fear of retribution, whom I will refer to as “a household member of opposite gender with veto powers”, our normally quite roomy house stopped being roomy. We started losing square footage and air volume for no apparent reason. We were experiencing a severe shortage of breathable air and quiet serenity. Somehow, we popped a leak somewhere, and apparently it was not where three children whined annoyingly, two dogs barked loudly, and a certain female yelled lovingly. It turns out, the leakage concentrated around my little corner of the house where I had set up shop for quietly working from home, away from all the disruptive elements. Just like all other mysterious phenomena at our house such as missing items, broken toys, unexplained smells and unprovoked smirks, this, too, was deemed my fault. Something had to change. They had the numbers. I had the neatly nested red circles on the back of anything I might wear. As any self-respecting hunter knows well, by moving, a target can avoid getting hit in vital organs. But with that comes the risk of debilitating wounds with life-long disability implications. Faced with equally rewarding choices, I decided a coin toss is the prudent thing to do. The coin was shot in the air with a perfectly symmetrical hole right in the middle. She may not be able to tell a ladle from a spatula, but she sure can handle a firearm. Another reason well-justifying my decision to marry local. So, I had to move. Thus changed my ‘working from home' situation. Technically, I am no longer working from home, but rather, working from behind home. Age of internet, meet the great outdoors! I hung my blue backdrop from a tree in the back yard. I placed my laptop on an old, rusty barbecue grill dumped in my backyard by a recycle-weary environmentalist neighbor that has not grilled anything since colonial times. The grill disintegrated into dust immediately, so a nearby tree log dating back only to my childhood became my new workstation. Unlike cheap metal and social conscience, some trees just don't decay, I guess. My throne is a plastic lawn chair that is missing a leg, compliments of a wayward alligator who obviously mistook it for a four-legged white bird. We either have strangely mutated birds, or alligators with severe eyesight issues. Those obese lizards can spot a mischievous cat, small child or a clueless tourist hooking bait in shallow water from a mile away. So, my money is on the foul-smelling tint on the lake, causing mutations, compliments of the nuclear power plant down the river. Freaky creatures are such commonplace occurrences here that at the maternity ward shop they sell balloons that say, “it's a baby with all four, and only four limbs”. That gator is just fine. He's got better than 20/20 on all three eyes.