Expat.com

I recently did an interview with Expat.com about our life living as an expat here in Mersin.  Of course the interview gives my *cough cough* unique spin on life here.  I am certain that the interviewer thought I was quite mad.   You can have a read of the interview here.

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For those of you who don’t know about Expat.com, they are an exchange network dedicated to providing free information and advice to those expats living or wishing to live overseas.  With forums, handy hints and interviews with other expats it’s a great way of finding someone in your neck of the woods.

Anyway I would love to hear your feedback on the interview.  At least let me know if I sound batshit crazy.  The Turk has been discussing buying me a straightjacket.  I have explained that they probably won’t be able to get one in my size.  Winning!

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But Did You Die?

Daughter has gone back to school this week.  She is in Year 8 and, as she will have her TEOG this year (the TEOG exam which will decide which high school they can attend), there are extra lessons to help them prepare.  She is, of course, spitting a rather large dummy in every direction because it’s a daily onslaught of 4 lessons of science and 4 lessons of math.  Her two worst subjects (except for din (religion) but we have had her removed from that class).

So with Daughter back at school it means I am doing the daily drop off and pick up again and I’ve got to tell you these fecking Turkish driver’s are doing my fecking head in.  I have decided that Turkish driver’s are so full of their own self-importance that they believe they are the only fecking drivers on the road.  Get out of their fecking way.  They are like a fecking bulldozer and they are coming through!  Of course they know how to drive and I know shit!  You know shit too but don’t take it personally.

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Look, my friend — there are two kinds of drivers in Turkey.  First there’s the stupid ones — and then there’s the crazy ones

I am over driving defensively.  I am over giving way, using my indicators, stopping at red lights and keeping to the speed limit.  I have my kimlik damn it!!  I’m Turkish I say and so I will start to drive like a lunatic … so I will fit right in with the rest of them!

And like probably 90% of the driver’s on a Turkish road I don’t actually have a Turkish driver’s licence.  I have my Australian driver’s licence but from 1 January 2016 an Australian must obtain a Turkish driver’s licence as Australia is one of the few countries that have not signed the international treaty (we are governed by our States).  If you’re an Aussie and have not got a Turkish driver’s licence your only option (right now) is to leave the country every six months to get a new stamp in your passport.  I’m all over that idea and, despite the fact that I only just got back from Down Under, I’m already online checking out my options for a weekend in Europe in January.  I’m thinking snow covered mountains, cozy fires, mulled wine, Brad Pitt. Oh right.  Okay.

Did you know that in Australia you need 100 hours of practice driving and lessons.  Getting your driver’s licence in Australia takes years.  FECKING YEARS!  Here I dunno but what I do know that if a Turkish driver sees a red light it inspires insanity in them.  It’s a red flag and bull situation and no one ever really wins that do they?

And while I’m on my high horse – feck my life – the fecking pedestrians!!  I swear they step out right in front of you, obviously with big old blinders on their eyes and waddle through six lanes of traffic without a fecking care in the world while you slam on your brakes, smelling the burning rubber of your tyres as you slide sideways, your airbag exploding in your face and you nearly having a freaking heart attack while they throw you the evil eye for honking at them!  And no teşekkür ederim or sağol.  No fecking way!  Just the evil side-eye.

And seeing as I have already climbed into that big saddle one more thing!  There is a small home decoration shop at the end of our street and there is a woman that ‘works’ there.  I use the term loosely because, let’s be honest, despite the fact that everybody in the village may need a home decorator there are few in the village who could actually afford one.  Anyway Little Miss Home Decorator has a lot of freaking attitude.  She spends her day sitting on a chair on the small terrace chatting with all the neighbours (including Vito’s wife whom I still haven’t spoken to since this incident back in May) but if the sun gets a little too intense she has taken to putting her chair on the road under the shade of the building and so, when I (or anyone else for that matter) turn right onto our street there she is sitting in the middle of the road enjoying her çay without a fecking care in the world while you slide sideways on the gravel to miss her sorry ass.  Get out of the way biatch!  And God forbid if you ask her to move she stares at you with that blank death stare that all these crazies around here have although no doubt she gives me that look because Vito’s wife would have told her all about ‘the incident’ and what a bloody awful yabancı I am and do you know what?  I’m really okay about that.  I really am.

Meanwhile The Turk thinks that if you survive driving on a Turkish road any day then it is a good day.  If you survived any near miss while dodging pedestrians, bike riders, cars, trucks, horses, dogs, cats, goats, chickens or anything else then buy yourself a lottery ticket ‘cause you are having a fecking great day!

 

Burası Türkiye!

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Next Stop Masterchef

Since returning from Oz I have found that whatever Turkish that I did have seems to have all but disappeared, even my “Ben kırmızı bir kadeh sarap alabilir miyim” seems to be coming out wrong (haters don’t hate.  That is self taught Turkish right there folks).  In an attempt to throw myself back into the deep end of the Turkish language I have been watching nothing but Turkish television in the hope that by engrossing myself in the shows will help me pick up some words or retrieve the words that I have lost.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It seems I’m never going to get a glass of red wine again am I?

broken wine glass 2

For the past week I have been watching the Olympics on TRT Sport.  I’ve seen the Aussies being annihilated in the swimming pool.  I’ve seen the Aussies crash and burn on the field.  Basically I’ve seen them feck up all over Rio.  Sorry?  You’re wondering how many Olympic medals I’ve won?  Fecking none OK!  I am a couch potato but I am couch potato in Turkish.

Anyway I’ve also watched the diving and the gymnastics and right now am engrossed in track.  Honestly that Usain Bolt is a fast feck isn’t he?  How’s this photo of him smiling at the camera as he ‘bolts’ to the finish line (see what I did there?).  And what about that poor Japanese pole vaulter whose Olympic dream was crushed by his peen.  Poor buggar. Never before has a member of the male species wished for a smaller manhood. Until now.  Turkey has won two silver so far in wrestling and weightlifting, and today Turkey’s women’s basketball are playing against Spain in the quarterfinals.

Usain bolt

But I haven’t really learned any Turkish so I turned it over to a Turkish cooking show.

Who doesn’t love the Turkish cooking shows?  They cook.  They chat.  They yell.  Dance.  Sing.  Masterchef is as boring as feck compared to a Turkish cooking show.  Today I made patetesli sigara börek and even though I already knew how to make them this time I made them in Turkish following a Turkish recipe!   Yah me!

potato pieI mean just look at these bad boys.  What did you say???  I can’t hear you over the deafening sound of my own awesomeness!

So if you need me I will again be in the kitchen attempting a Croquembouche.  I mean it’s obvious that I am an undiscovered culinary genius.  Seriously if I can chef it up in Turkish then nothing is impossible!

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#First World Problems

Daughter and I have been in Sydney for the past 6 weeks as well as a sneaky side trip to Bali with a few of my girlfriends so I have been MIA in case you hadn’t noticed (what do you mean you didn’t notice???).

While Down Under I got to spend desperately needed time with many, but not all, of my most beloved peeps (and purchased some desperately needed bras – my boobs are back in the Northern Hemisphere again) and Daughter also got to have a few catch ups, again stalked members of 5SOS and even went to see The 1975 in concert.  Sydney was definitely a win/win sitch for both of us (although Calum from 5SOS is still playing hard to get).

Bali 1Now we are back in my Türkiye and back in the Village I find that things haven’t changed.  At all.

Of course I am aware that Türkiye was on the news while I was away.  As an early riser I had the news on and was watching the ‘incident’ as it happened.  (I will call it an incident however I won’t make any further reference to it due to the current political climate here).

“Holy Shit!” said I.

“Don’t go back!” said most, if not all, of my acquaintances back in Sydney.

Coming back home I admit was a little nervous but now that I am here and have been out and about I can say that in the Village and in the city of Mersin nothing has changed.  The sun is still shining, people are going about their business and life goes on oh and The Turk actually didn’t know that the ‘incident’ had taken place.  Slept through the whole thing.  And before you Negative Nelly’s start banging on at me yes I know that Mersin is not Istanbul and that there are continued protests there as well as other cities including Ankara but, just in case you didn’t realise, this is a blog about living in Mersin.

Anyway after staring at the television for hours I realised that something that was so huge in Türkiye and that held such huge ramifications for this country as well as the rest of the world it was merely a ripple in the pond in Australia (and possibly other countries) and was only getting about 7 minutes of airtime with the Australian media.   I should just stress at this point that the home that I was staying at only had free to air television – in fact I didn’t even get to see the finale to Game of Thrones until I got home!  #FirstWorldProblems

Everybody-Loses-Their-Mind-GoTAustralia had a general election during my time Down Under and so I did my civic duty and cast my vote.  I actually received a fine for not voting in the last election although on checking with the Consulate here in Türkiye I found out there was in fact nowhere to cast your vote unless you did it by post.  Have you ever tried to send mail from Türkiye?  Has it ever arrived or did it take 6 months?  I betcha that if I had done the postal vote in the last election my solitary postal vote would have been crucial in stopping that tosser Abbott getting elected!  And did you know that this is like the 50th freaking election since 2010 – not really – but it sure seems like it.  I mean Australia change leaders like others change their undies!  #FirstWorldProblems

I took Daughter to the hairdresser in Sydney.  Now, back in Mersin a trip to the hairdresser including a wash and blow dry will set you back 9TL or AU$5 (the price has gone up in our absence).  In Sydney a wash and blow dry at a suburban hairdresser set us back AU$60 or approximately 120TL!!!  #FirstWorldProblems

I made potato kofte for dinner for a friend and after a quick trip to the local supermarket I realised that Türkiye beats Australia hands down on the cost and the quality of the fresh produce available.  Of course here in Türkiye fruit and vegetables are seasonal but after I paid AU$3 or 6TL for one (rather crummy) bunch of maydanoz (parsley) I realised just how great I really have it here.  I couldn’t even get my hands on any nane (mint) either!  I mean WTF??  It’s mint for feck sake.  Here it’s growing on every freaking street corner.  I think back to when we lived in Sydney and we always had mint on hand.  Of course The Turk would grow his own.  Duh! #FirstWorldProblems

Although Australia did win hand over fist time and time again.  Electricity is abundant as is fresh drinking water.  I had only been home in Mersin a few days when the electricity was cut and the water disappeared from our pipes.  It took 2 days for the water to come back but the electricity did crank up again pretty quickly (and a good thing too with the current temperatures here in Mersin hitting mid-40’s (that’s Celsius to you freaking Americans) on a regular basis.  Sidenote – Daughter just stuck her head out the door and asked me “When’s it winter?”  LMAO! #SydneyoverMersin

The traffic back in Sydney is as always a dream to navigate although peak hour did my head in on more than one occasion.  I love that the speed limit isn’t just a suggestion and I seriously don’t think I heard a car horn during our whole time there!  #SydneyoverMersin

Of course the biggest drawcard and the one thing that I can’t replicate in Mersin is bacon.  Sydney has bacon.  A lot of bacon.  And I ate it all!  #SydneyoverFECKINGMersin

bacon 1So now that I’m back I will probably be back to whinging about all and sundry and hating this and that again but right now I will just say that I’m glad to be home.

Oh and yes I was playing with hashtags.  They are stupid and I hate them.  I vow this day to never use them again!

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You Can’t Choose Family

On occasion I write about something other than Turkiye and today is one of those times.  In many ways my blog is a journal allowing me to clear my head and cleanse my soul (if you believe in all that loopy stuff).  Writing down the words that I am feeling takes away some of the pain and hardship that surrounds the events and, well, I just feel better for it.

Family collageMany of you will recall that I am adopted.  I am not emotionally scarred from being adopted nor have I ever wished my life to be anything other than what I have been gifted.  I love my adopted family.  I may not always love their decisions or their choices but I will stand by my family because that is what they are – my family.

My Dad was the master of all things good and my mum, who may not have always been the best mother, was the best that she could be.  I also have my brother who, I will admit, has not always been my best friend or my biggest supporter nor I his but we have forged a relationship that (I think) is strong and everlasting.  I have lost both my Dad and my Mum now but I still have my brother who has a wonderful and extended family that I am blessed to call my own.

While I do not want to go into the details of this post (for fear of no doubt long retribution and probable legal action by the party involved) I will say that today I am closing the book on one part of my life.  This part of my life was ugly and full of anger, jealousy and hatred.  This person was a devious creation and she and her awful family have caused nothing but angst and sadness for me and my brother but today, finally, I can say hele şükür! (Good riddance!).  I hope to never cross their path again in this lifetime.

Now I plan to move forward and build an even stronger relationship with my remaining family because we are strong and we don’t take no shit from nobody!

#yeahIwentthere

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No one is left behind

Those of you who are long time readers of my little blog may recall my post about Carl Frederiksen.  He was one of the old gentlemen that I would often meet in the village.  He was a kind old fella who unfortunately could not speak but he was always smiling and always so generous.

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I hadn’t seen Carl for a little while, in fact I wondered if he had moved away.

This morning while yelling at Daughter to “hurry the hell up or you’ll be late for school” I saw an ambulance drive past.  Now I’m not proud but I rolled my eyes – another funeral.  Five minutes later the mosque made the announcement – it was Carl.

Tears filled my eyes.  He was near to 90 years old – so he had had a good wicket – but he was one of the most genuine people I had ever met.  I wondered what would happen to him as he had no family but when The Turk and I arrived at his home I was so happy to see that there were hundreds of people there to see him off.  His neighbours washed his body and shrouded him while the village men carried flowers and followed in procession to the mezarlık (cemetery) for him to be buried.  Early tomorrow I will make the trip with the ladies to the mezarlık for the prayer.

I was so proud to be a part of this village today.  Whether you are young or old, with a family or very much alone, no one is left behind.

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A White Flag

Well yesterday was certainly eventful wasn’t it?  My scrap with Mrs Vito was the talk of the town.  After our initial blow up she continued to yell and complain to anyone who would listen to her and I continued to flush my toilet so that water came down the pipe and onto her precious granite below, even splashing her workers a few times.

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But as you can no doubt guess from my GIF – I won.  I won this particular battle.  Thanks to The Turk.  Always The Turk.

While Mrs Vito continued to carry on outside and I continued to flush my toilet inside The Turk did what The Turk always does and stepped in behind the scenes.  After a discreet chat with Prince’s William and Harry (Mrs Vito’s boys) a hush fell over the battleground, shovels were downed and all was quiet.  It was an eerie quiet too.  An uneasy quiet before the battle resumes.  So I flushed … again.

Yes thanks to The Turk a white flag appears to have been raised by Mrs Vito (albeit by William and Harry) when their plumber arrived on the scene and immediately got started on re-routing our pipes (at no cost to us).  So how did The Turk manage to fix this family debacle?  Was the threat of a horse head in someone’s bed necessary?  No, not really.  The Turk merely pointed out that Vito and Harry (who sell maydanoz and nane to restaurants throughout the city) needs water from MY water pump to keep their produce fresh.  The Turk suggested that should our pipes not be returned to their former glory or an appropriate facsimile sorted before dark then MY pump would no longer be available to them.  Within twenty minutes the plumber arrived and within two hours I was able to poop and flush.

I won!

I told The Turk that I wanted an apology from her.  He said I was dreaming but I’m holding out.  There is officially a grudge and officially I get now why my MIL and both of my SIL hate Mrs Vito with a passion.  Last night was spent on my SIL’s terrace drinking vino and listening to them both bitch about the bitch meanwhile Mrs Vito closed all her curtains and slammed her front door a good few times.  We giggled.  I am no longer Switzerland, well maybe I am still Switzerland but this is a darker, edgier Switzerland.  This is the Switzerland of Mrs Vito’s nightmares!  Beware of Switzerland baby.

You have been warned!

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Bad Neighbours

Mrs Vito is a bit of a bitch.  The Turk hates her.  My mother in law hated her and Justin Bieber said it best when he said “my mother doesn’t like you and she likes everyone”.  Never has a truer statement been made.

mymindUp until today I have been relatively laid back when it comes to Mrs Vito.  I have spent the last 3 years (hell that’s not true it’s been the last 15 years) as Switzerland.  Switzerland never took sides.  Switzerland kept a smile on her dial and was always nice and friendly.  Always with a ‘Merhaba’ or a ‘G’day’.  But no more.  It is done.

Those of you who are long time readers will recall that Vito built a house that is literally attached to our house.  Right on the boundary.  But that’s okay because family is family right?  Well it seems that it was us who originally built right on the boundary but when we built there didn’t seem to be any major problem but, of course, when Mrs Vito built her new house she was pissed about the boundary issue.  Of course, that’s okay because family is family.  But today family ceased to exist and Mrs Vito crossed the line with me.

We have a drainage pipe that runs down the side of our house and into a drainage pit on her land.  There is no easement but, like I have said – over and over – family is family.  No problem.  Well today there is a problem and I lost my shit.

Mrs Vito is putting down some granite in what will be the parking area of her new home (and shop) and she instructed her builder to remove our pipe.  Didn’t ask mind you, just did it.  I went very nicely to her door and asked her (in my limited rubbish Turkish) why she instructed her builder to do it and she said that it was her land.  OMFG it’s been there now for 4 years!  4 fecking years!  She knew it was there.  Everyone knew it was there but she has had it removed.  I asked her “Are we family?”  She replied, “Yes.”  I said “well then it shouldn’t be any problem, it’s a small pipe.”  She then turned to the builder and told him to pour the concrete.  In front of me!  OMFG!!!!!

I did what any good Turkish Housewife would do and rang The Turk who immediately jumped in the car and arrived for the battle.  She told him that we had no right to build on her land (it was in fact the family’s land) and that we are definitely in the wrong.  Before I knew what was happening The Turk was wielding the piece of pipe like a club and was ready to thump her with it.  In the meantime she continued to call him names and that was it.  Usually I don’t need to involve myself in The Turk’s battles.  Usually I sit back to enjoy the show but today I had had enough.  I informed her (again in my usual crappy Turkish) that we were no longer family.  She then called me a name that I will not repeat which starts with an “O” and ends with a “U” but for those of you who do not speak Turkish you would call that person a “lady of the night”.

beyonce-wagging-her-finger-no

Oh no she didn’t! Oh yes she did!  YES SHE DID!!!  I flew at her.  Literally.  Jumped the small concrete fence between our two properties and wound my arm back ready to punch her in the face when The Turk grabbed me and held on tight.  Didn’t stop me though.  I become incredibly strong when I am angry.  I could flip a frigging car if I had to.  Anyway I’m still ready for a smack down so Vito had to grab my other arm and together they hauled me away kicking and screaming.

The neighbours were watching, in fact they had never seen me lose my shit so a few of them came down to watch. Brought popcorn.  And folding chairs.

I then grabbed my garbage bin and threw it on her.  Told her to wear it with pride.  Like the princess that she is.  And I walked away.

Mike drop.  BOOM!

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Lemon of Troy

“And, with that, a mighty cheer went up from the heroes of Shelbyville. They had banished the awful lemon tree forever…because it was haunted. Now, let’s all celebrate with a cool glass of turnip juice.”

Strong words from the Shelbyville elder but here in Turkiye a cool glass of şalgam suyu really is just the thing to fix what ails ya!

Simpsons turnip

Let me tell you last night I visited a neighbour’s house and, after some discussion about my recent illness, I found myself being served rakı along with a large glass of şalgam suyu (turnip juice).  The look on The Turk’s face was priceless.  He knew I was going to have difficulty chugging both of these drinks down but chug them down I did because it would be considered rude to not do so.  I can see why they are served together.  The strong anise flavour of the rakı very much complimented the overly salty salgam but for me together or separate both drinks are very much hard for me to swallow.

Turnip Juice?  Seriously?

Yes indeed folks, although it is called şalgam suyu this little concoction is more correctly made with fermented carrots (yes I said that) as well as water, salt and bulgur flour.  Don’t get me wrong there is also turnip in the mix but it is only a very small amount.  During summer there are vendor’s all over Çarşı selling this famous concoction (which actually originates from the Mersin/Adana/Hatay region) and you know they are there before you see them by his unique music made by tapping the ladles to his own beat and singing at the top of his lungs.

In fact Adana even goes so far as to have a festival in honour of the wonderous şalgam.  The Adana Kebap ve Şalgam Festival, emerged from the tradition of enjoying kebab, with liver, şalgam and rakı. Originally it was called the Adana Rakı Festival but organisers had to change the name because of pressure from conservative anti-alcohol groups who wanted the Festival cancelled.

You can practically insert Mrs Lovejoy’s shrieks here, “But what about the children?!”

Oh and for those who want to know.  It is apparently good for you with vitamin B, potassium, calcium and iron.  It will help you lose weight, relieve stress and is an aphrodisiac.

turnip juice

I’m not sure if I will partake in a rakışalgam suyu throwdown again anytime soon but methinks this might be more to the stellar hangover than the freaky taste sensation.

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My Father In Law

My FIL told me recently that I am not a very good daughter.  I agreed with him wholeheartedly, I mean sheesh my father could have told him that year’s ago and I’m pretty sure my mum used to tell me the same thing every single day.

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Why am I not a very good daughter (this time) you wonder?  Well I totally get it.  I am a bloody disgrace.  I had the audacity to go down to the bakery and buy him some piping hot pide.  I mean this bread is straight out of the oven and it is so soft that it will melt in your mouth and put centimetres onto your ass.  Anyway he didn’t want pide.  Why did I buy him pide?  What a bloody awful DIL I am indeed.

I also do not feed him enough although when I do feed him he declares to all and sundry that my food is not good.  I also do not make Turkish quality cay and I do not bathe him.  I’m just going to make a very public statement here – I will never, ever bathe him!  Never ever!  I bathe myself.  That is it.  I did pull his pants up the other day when he was shuffling down the street and they fell down around his knees – but that is where I draw the line.

My FIL is a stubborn old man.  He is nice enough but only as long as he gets what he wants.  God forbid if shit doesn’t go his way then everyone suffers.  I suspect that The Turk will morph into him when he gets older which worries me a lot.  I don’t want to have to bathe The Turk either.

My FIL likes to sit on the street and yell at people as they go past, in fact in my recent post about Google maps there is a photo of him no doubt yelling at the Google car.  He likes to sit at my front door and yell at me when I go past.  He can often be seen sidling up to a neighbour and complaining about this and that.  “I need a haircut”.  “Nobody feeds me”.   “My family hates me”.  These are a few of his most favoured rants but there are many others that he throws around at all of us and no one is safe from his rages either.

Dede on the street Google maps

He doesn’t, however, yell at people who steal The Turk’s Batman undies off the line.  Something a little off kilter there I think.

Why does a lot of his ranting fall on me you wonder?  Well I am the only one at home.  Everyone else works.  Which shits him too.  Why do the women have to work?  Don’t get me started on that!  Last weekend I went to a picnic in Limonlu and God forbid I did not get home until after 7.30pm.  My FIL informed The Turk that he cannot control me.  The Turk’s reply?  “I wouldn’t even try!”

When I think of my own excellent father I could never imagine him raising his voice or calling me (or The Turk) names but then I guess that this is the way that my FIL has always lived his life.  If one is never told that the behaviour is unwarranted or unacceptable in today’s society then one will never change their ways I guess.

I could take it personally.  I could raise my voice or blow my stack at The Turk but I wonder if I would be wasting my energy.  I have realised that I honestly don’t really care what he thinks of me.  I cannot change him but as long as I am true to myself then all is well.  I continue to be respectful.  I was taught that as a child – respect your elders.  I ignore his blabbing and his sulking.  I ignore the fact that my food sucks balls and my cay is weak and tasteless.  Between you and me I totally understand now why my MIL was constantly screaming at him.  I used to think it was cute.  I used to think that she was a feisty old lady and when he would laugh at her it was like how I imagine a couple married for 50+ years would act.  Now I realise that she actually wanted to kill him.  All the time.

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*Deep breaths*

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