Update

August 18, 2019

I have been in Romania since July. I left Istanbul heartbroken on July 4th, I left not really wanting to but feeling that there was no other way around the dilemmas I was facing.

I wanted Love to win. I wanted Love. I fought hard for this one, sometimes valiantly, sometimes pitifully, sometimes desperately. A divine intention wrapped in the quagmire of my insecurities. In the end, if you don’t love yourself unconditionally, love is denied. Life seems made that way. it’s the ultimate test; if you do not totally embrace yourself,  the cracks of self loathing become precipices into which you tumble.

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I sit facing the garden, in a little building adjacent to the main house. The sun shines brightly, the birds sing. At the end of the garden is a big wall and beyond that wall (erected to protect from floods) lays a river. I hear the bells from the sheep… they pass daily, this place is idyllic. A little piece of Eden, hidden away,.

There are all sorts of fruit trees and I’ve been enjoying my fruits freshly picked, directly from the branches, apples, pears, peaches, nectarines… What a wonder. It feels like taking a bite of sun… My friends here have been angels to me. So kind, so welcoming.

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I am staying here until September 4th, when I will head to Spain for a 10 day silent meditation retreat. I am looking forward to go through the process, I did it once before, it’s not easy, it’s actually a kind of torture at first, trying to silence the mind while the body and the ego scream at you in all possible ways. But if I can just gain a bit more calmness that would be a win.

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Magic

June 25, 2019

Magic

I stepped out of hiding, stepped away from working. I stepped into Istanbul, a happy Istanbul that just celebrated an important political victory; unseating the party that had controlled the city for 24 years.

It’s brilliantly sunny, 30 degrees, the skies are deep blue, coming out of the metro, I head for the trees at Gezi park, I am going to meet a friend, something I don’t do often. For one, I don’t have that many friends, secondly the ones I have are impossibly busy usually, and thirdly I also have been working so much , since March I have shunned any distraction that would take me away from the work I was doing and from the 7 days a week 8 hour plus days, there was a deadline to meet, insecurity regarding my ability to meet that deadline and sub-stressors such as the possible demise of my laptop, it is showing signs of wanting to give up its duties and the fact that own personal life is being highly unpredictable these days. Plus, with meeting the deadline, it means that the job is ending and with it so is the income, which means that I will have to hit the road, want it or not.

But today, these thoughts are not really crowding my neurons. I am taken by the poetry of the moments and they succeeded one another at a high rate of speed. There are few trees in this city. Fascists don’t like trees, they cut them, I was thinking about how thankful I am for the Gezi Park protests, which despite all the ugliness that followed, permitted the park to survive  (the plan had been to tear it down and to build yet another shopping mall and the people said no.) On my way over the pedestrian walkway, there is lavender, a lot of it, and guiltily I cut a couple of twigs with my nails, I don’t like cutting plants… hurting them for my own selfish desires.  I am going to give my friend a Reiki session and I thought that the scent of lavender would be appropriate, and for that maybe the plants would forgive my crime.

The pathway continues between Old Money properties that are surrounded by big trees, almost a forest there. Istanbul at one time was so incredibly lush, these hills that are now Taksim were home to the wealthy and some last remnants of that era can still be found in rare forgotten corners. My mind travels… back in time, Oh Istanbul, why do I love you so?

I connect with my friend and we sit on a park bench, a blue spruce sprinkles us with it’s old needles, it’s almost like a gentle snow fall of light blue sparkles, a cat in the distance furls and unfurls his tail in a question mark, people of all stripes walk by with kids, with dogs… it’s so relaxing, parks are so important in the city… a dog walker with a minimum of 8 dogs masterfully controls the herd, they run free, they are of all colors and breeds, 2 street kids come offering us packages of kleenex, a business model common here for the poor, the kids think we are yabanci, (tourists) they ask for 5 euros for a small pack,

“Abla… Lutfen… alin” Sister, please, buy, he pleads,“Where are you from” my friend asks in Turkish
“Adana” he answers

“why are you here in Istanbul?” she asks

“It’s too hot there…”
The two of them must be around 10 years old, so street smart, so alive, so tuned in. They are incredibly beautiful, their dark eyes like pools of shiny ink.

Later we walk into another park, we are now in Nisantasi, a posh neighborhood. I call the park Kedi park (cat park) as there are hundreds of strays in there. A tiny kitten is stuck in a tree and cries to all of us for help. Someone mentions the firemen, everyone is standing there craning their necks empathizing with this little white and red kitten.

We decided to go try a new cafe, the brew is magnificent. After that we part ways. I now walk by myself, my eyes catching all sorts of small moments of extreme beauty. A cat a the door of a fancy boutique, a smile on a face, the flowers in the gypsies stalls. I feel at home, I love this place, I know it’s too crowded, dirty, the air is too polluted and the water quality more often than not pretty iffy… but Istanbul… its hills, its freedom, it’s absence of constant control and rules and must dos. You can just be you. Poor or posh. It will let itself be admired and loved.

as I cross the park the most beautiful cat appears in front of me, his color is a rare type of tabby, he is a few months old and just so beautiful.  we spend some time together.  I fall in love constantly with these strays… he purrs, climbs on and off and on again, what a gift, the love and trust of a city cat.

In the park, I find a pine cone that just fell, sticky with pine honey, opening it’s arms to let go of its seeds. I have a cone fetish… I collect them all, especially if they appear before me like this. Walking by a children’s play ground, a little girl comes running, oblivious to my presence, so focused on her play, she is so beautiful. The kids laugh, slide, run, play and all seems so well in this very moment. A man on a blanket takes a nap in the shade, as I get back on the walkway, I can see the Bosphorus in the distance, and I start to cry. Oh Istanbul…. Why am I here? What is this pull? I’ve been in love since the moment I arrived. There has been ups and downs, even hate at times. But now I see you at your best and with this electoral victory a new hope has infused the very oxygen.

As I get to Taksim, two street musicians are playing, I stop, listen, they are Syrians, a crowd has formed, they are Arabic people, singing in their language… Music… I watch the faces and the smiles on those faces and it moves me to my bones. Then a couple of blind people stop. One is very tall, he has a white cane, his friend, is obviously severely visually impaired but he seems to be able to see a bit more as he stares at his phone for a moment with the phone practically stuck to his eyes. Their faces light up, they start to sing along, tears again run down my face, the beauty fo the moment is so profound. I am a human with my brothers and sisters, flags float in the wind above us, dancing such a graceful dance, a butterfly comes to me and stops… then I cry.. and at that moment a black gigantic street dog comes to me, lets me touch him, comforts me, then walk away.

I reel of joy and gratefulness and wonder for this life, this life we forget to really see most of the time, as we drown in worries that are pointless. Almost as if we make the most effort to not see, to be unaware, disconnected from this amazing life, bond, conduit,

magic. Just magic.

And there was silence.

March 28, 2019

 

 

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There was suddenly silence in my world. All the chatter, clatter, the never-ending maddening buzz stopped. It had started buzzing in November 2017. I was in an intense, blissful relationship. In September 2017 we had just traveled for a few weeks down along the Aegean sea, backpacking, a kind of trip of a lifetime, eating wild figs off of the trees and walking among olive trees and mystical places. I had just given up the room I rented; there were changes with the building’s landlord and I felt so on top of the world that I figured that I could just let it go, not pay rent for the next 6 weeks as I would be traveling, and that everything would be even better when we’d come back as I would certainly find an even better flat and that maybe we’d even move in together… I never felt such a love, felt I never was so loved by anyone. Despite the 24 years age difference that separated us we were, it seemed, indestructible, pure, completely merged into this bonheur total.

We made a plan; he would finish his studies in Istanbul in December while I would live a few months in Ayvalik on the Aegean then we’d go together to Poland where his last semester would be. I had a huge translation to do so I’d do that while in Ayvalik and scope the area for when he would join me. It was simple, full of promise, there was a forever feel in the air. But a month into my stay in Ayvalik, I received a first of a series of angry calls, that became angrier and angrier, he even called me a traitor. I was completely confused and so upset I could not eat, sleep or think, I was barely breathing.

So a frantic sort of desperate period started, I went back and forth between Istanbul and Ayvalik, the money was running out with all this unexpected travel and expenses, finally in December I came back to Istanbul, to at least try to figure what happened, I did not expect much. I came in loaded like a donkey, with way too much luggage, as returning was not part of the original plan. I was roaming all over Istanbul with this heavy burden of things were meant to serve for the new life in Ayvalik. Lamps, sleeping stuff, clay, art supplies, things you don’t carry around when you travel. I started to live in fear and pain. What had I done? Why was he so angry? What could I do? How was I to go on without him? How could I fix this? And also: Who was this angry guy?
I had no place to stay, I was spending money that was to sustain me for the next few months but it got burned on fligths, bus rides, hotel rooms, restaurants. When I finally found a flat, they asked for way too much money but they were artists and since it was only for two months, I thought it would be OK, and still be much cheaper than the shittiest hostel.

But a few days in I realized that this was going to be challenging, the art students were on school break and that meant that there were parties every night, I barely was able to sleep these two months. Then they started asking for more money when they got the utility bills, and there was cigarette smoke all over the place, almost every night. It was a quiet sort of torture on top of the personal turmoil already going on

Two months. Two month until what? The plan for Poland changed, he wanted space, he wanted time and I understood that and said yes, you do, go without me. When I said “go alone” he’d say “come with me” when I would think of going with him he’d say “I need space.” On an incredibly emotionally charged morning, he left, I stood there at the top of the stairwell barely keeping it together.

Soon after that,I realized that my finances were going into an unstoppable fall towards oblivion. In September I had thrown all cares to the wind and had gone to Canada to see my mom that I had not visited for 4 years, then I also went to Vancouver to see my friends, those expenses added up, income that was supposed to come did not and the the precarious balance I was juggling between the line of credit, the credit cards and my unpredictable income was irremediably disturbed.

It became clear that I did not have money for the next rent, that I was on the brink of bankruptcy. The numbers were flashing on the page like neon lights on a dark night. The first few days following this realization, I was in a total panic.

This meant that I had to find a way to have a roof without paying for it, so I started to search into the Workaway website. (volunteer work website) . I found hosts for the next 3 months and it looked like a good adventure with nothing to lose, so on January 18 2018 I left Istanbul with a backpack to go to France where I was to stay for a month on the first project. That is how the next 6 months went by. In July I was officially bankrupt, in September I was officially divorced, (something I had been seeking for 9 years).
We saw each other through the spring and summer, I kept hope. Upon my return to Istanbul I was dreaming of a home, of us being together of things to smoothly calm themselves. But no.
From January to now, we went through a little hell, and finally I received the terminal email. “jamais deux sans trois” all good things come in threes they say, I now can add to the divorce and the bankruptcy, this breakup with the man I spent most of the last 5 years with.

Silence.
I am not good at breaking up. Logically, any self-preserving person would have called it quits in November 2017. If someone calls you a traitor, you should take their word for it, true or not, because that is where their mind is at. Things were never the same after. But what we we had lived was so extraordinary to me that I could not give up, I thought we’d find the magic again…

Silence.

My body , after all this pain and struggles, I see, is gradually letting go, it is stopping to desperately grasp at hope, at anything. It feels like floating in dead air, the abruptness of the silence shocking. As if you stopped an arena rock concert mid-song. Just the ringing in the ears keeps going. The last few months, were punctuated with so much upheavals, the appearance of break ups and make ups, confusion, pain, loss, anger, fear, even madness for me, then hope, and way too much thinking. Now this silence is maybe the only possible remedy. The only viable course.

I am so tired, that I am going to accept that I have been dumped. I am done with it all. One can only take so much disrespect. Looking back at my life I see a line of people leaving me, dumping me, kicking me to the curb, or simply choosing not to communicate and even dying… there is a big emotional booby trap laying there that could explain the obvious fact that if everyone leaves me, there has to be something majorly faulty with me. And there is.
With him, I could not be strong enough with self love and self confidence not to let thoughts of our age difference interfere on a regular basis. From the beginning I thought he’d leave because of my age. But we went on and I usually was the only one worrying. So in a way I created this cul-de-sac. I made this a big issue for myself instead of just living life as it came. It became incredibly exhausting. Especially this last year. Since I don’t love myself, not seeing the love in the eyes of the lover made me certain that this was the proof that something was indeed wrong with me, and the cycle of self destruction would start. I would see my face in the mirror and wonder how anyone could want this ugly old woman. Yeah I know. Not healthy at all. But the mirror has always been my enemy, my nemesis. The one ‘putting me in my place’ The one who could defeat me with one look. And I guess it won the battle, yet again. I think it’s a kind of madness. I now see photos of me at 20, 30, 40 and I think: she is so beautiful. How did she not know that? But I didn’t see it, I saw a monster, I saw a disgraceful mound of flesh undeserving of love and life. And this ruined a lot of my life and still does. I still see the monster. Who is this ghoul in the mirror ?

So for a third time, Ground Zero. Big decisions are looming. Up until just before 1 PM today when I saw his terminal email, I still deeply felt Istanbul was home. Now, I am not so sure. It will take some time to figure this all out. The only thing that I know I must do at this very moment is work. I am going to just work really hard on every project that I have committed to. Pour all my energy and will and creativity into work. That would not be a waste and, this new silence will help.

I will also do all the things that I stopped doing while with him. I realized this recently… I stopped blogging, taking photos, playing music, dancing, seeing friends…. a ton of stuff…

Better to have loved… yes, I agree, I would not give up one single moment that we had together. Even the bad ones, it now feels kind of legendary, mythical. How blessed I was… I do hope that I will learn from this. I am so empty hearted right now. Two mornings ago I could not get up because my heart was hurting and hurting and hurting so deeply. I will have to make me my best friend, my strongest supporter and my most clever friend.

His eyes… Oh.

I have a few more days in the Hungarian country side, among a bunch of cats, 3 dogs, the forest in the spring, 3 goats 2 pigs, 2 chickens, our 400 newly planted trees and two outstanding human beings, to ground myself on this earth before returning to the mega city of 20 million. But despite all the city noise, this silence, that is now with me will come along. We’ll get acquainted. I’ve done well solo, actually I always do better solo… I’ve done well just being an electron coursing the universe, maybe this electron can finally learn to love itself in the new found silence.

At 6:20 AM

February 26, 2019

Marti and Ami were leaving.  We headed down the hill to Karakoy to catch the ferry for Kadikoy.  Marti is pulling a beat up suitcase whose wheels are frozen.  A taxi driver tried to convince us with much tenacity to get into his car “for cheap” but we marched on. One last time we reloaded the transit card, we hugged a final time, they crossed the tourniquet but I didn’t.  This is where our roads split for now.  They embarked on the ferry while I looked on.  About 3 minutes later the boat was leaving, I tried to catch of glimpse of them one last time, but could not.  It was 6:20 AM it looked like the middle of the night, rain was gently coming down in the crisp cold air. I tried to leave, walked a few steps to return home but I could not. The simit man asked me politely if I’d like a simit, that they were hot, it was tempting but I declined. I returned by the water and stood there the waves clapping against the concrete wall and the ferry terminal, which is like a giant deck, bobbing gently up and down made the chains clink lightly.

I watched the boat until it disappeared around the bend, past Topkapı palace, and listened until the sound of its engine melded  into the other sounds of the early hour and I could not distinguish it anymore.

In the distance, the ezan rose, piercingly clear… Istanbul. Oh dear Istanbul. I’m still in love with you. You are magical, dark and bright, generous and savage, unpredictable but always fascinating. I stood there some more, to absorb the smells, sounds, the cold air on my face contrasting with the warmth I felt under my black wool poncho.

The last week’s events were running in my mind. The good times spent with Ami and Marti, how good it had been to share food, talk, walks, laughs and tears with good friends. It made me realize that I don’t do that as often as I should, it made me really thankful for the gift of friendship. Marti and Ami stopped in Istanbul for a week after a 3 month journey in South East Asia. They had so many stories of the faraway lands.

When I finally turned back, a new seller had appeared, the poaçaci (poaca man, the poaça is a kind of small bread) My resolve not to buy anything failed and I got one, it was crispy, hot and so delicious!

Up the hill I went, as the neighborhood started to wake up and take ownership of the streets. As I reached the top, the Galata Tower was standing there, still wearing it’s night dress of orange and blue lights, so beautiful. A cat was there, looking philosophical, I peered in her eyes, wondering is she’d like to be petted and she miawed that yes, she would like that. Another joy added to this morning.

These little things, they accumulate in a sort of cushion of quiet joy. Create a filter of magic through which I make abstraction of all the possibly annoying things to only focus on the grace of being alive right now.

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February 9, 2019

 

I sat in the cafe, became really still. Everything started to penetrate my being; the music, the voices, the temperature of my body, the feeling of my clothes and the warmth between the many layers I need to wear these days. My eyes coursed along the contours of the cafe, the white ceiling marbled with many shadows, green patches from plastic plants. The hand gestures of a woman sitting one table down from me. The energy radiating from the young lovers hugging each other while looking at a phone.

Calm inside.

A moment of stillness amid the rolling conversations and the Latin rhythms of the music on the speakers.

I just came through a week of intense turmoil that required a second week just to feel human again.  It was all so tortuous I thought I’d lost my mind, lost my heart in a kind of typhoon of the psyche, a storm at sea so fierce, I could not see sky or sea. Yet, here I am, on the sideline observing and telling my mind to shut up.

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Faced with the demons of attachment and unable to detach with any sort of grace.  I see it now.  I went and read about brokenheartedness.  They say that the physiological process of a broken heart put the person into the same physical and mental distress experienced by heavy drug users going through the withdrawal process. Physical pain, mental anguish, restlessness, depression.

It was a relief in a way to learn this, I had a massively bad time in 2011 getting over a breakup that I only understood about 2 years later.   I can be slow.

Now, all is calm.  It was a lesson, it pushed me to look into my own psyche instead of blaming someone or something. We create it all, we are the creators, always, of all that happens to us.  All.  The good and the bad.  This creative responsibility is hard to face when the ugly side of us pops up and when the deeply buried emotional pains from deep unhealed wounds appear on the surface.  I’m here, up to my waist in this dark soil, and however painful, I am digging.  Digging to be free and set all others in my circle, in my universe free to be.

Digging to bring into the light of love and acceptance and understanding all these shadows I refused to see, hated, rejected.

And the journey continues.

Much love to you all

Journeying

January 6, 2019

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A new year. Yes, another one. I find that they go by but they don’t pile up, become burdensome. On December 7th I turned 55. 55… and it hit me as a kind of wondrous thing, all these experiences, all this living, so, so, so much living.  Some so intense and focused you could call them lifetimes.

My life, a funny zig zag of creative endeavors, road and adventures… I delved deeply in the horse world, the bicycle world, the motorcycle world… I am a rider.

I delved deeply into the songwriting, singing world, into the computer world, creating graphic images, I delved into sculpting stone, clay… drawing, painting…

I was married, been divorced, been in love, been a wife, been a lover, been a friend.

I have been a rocker, a singer songwriter, a composer, a guitar player, a performer.

I have been a gardener, an animal caretaker.

I have been a housewife and a vagabond, a nomad with no address, no money, no job.

I have been fed to satiation and been hungry without a crust to eat.

I have been injured, ill, concussed to the point where I would just fall down losing consciousness, I have been so strong I had a 110% lung capacity and physiology that was 20 years younger than my age at the time and could win time trials on a bicycle.

I worked with corporate dudes and with hippies.

I spend my life exploring.

At times now I wonder if I wasn’t a jack of all trades master of none.  My urge to create, to exist fully is what drives me to constantly experience more. This life is a wonder, at times I am blown away by the breadth of variety, experiences, avenues, environments, realities that exist side by side.  Just go to Pinterest and enter “birds” and you will be astounded by the endlessness of types of birds… things right out of the wildest imaginations…

At this point I am finding though that my quest is turning more and more towards the inside. Know thyself… it’s always been part of my search but as it deepens, I am drawn more and more towards the essence of what we are. I find that maybe I don’t know how to love… because of how much I can not love myself at times. Learn to love myself. As I learn to do that, layers of false data reveals itself. Mind blowing.

So the journey continues.

Much love.

The coffee’s magic is starting to permeate at cellular level. I just went through re-checking one more time my papers for the residence permit application, my appointment is tomorrow, in Pendik, which is almost out of Istanbul, it will take about two hours to get there, one hour alone sitting on the metro from Kadikoy all the way to the Pendik.

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This will be a significant moment. If it is a ‘no’, I’ll have ten days to leave Turkey. The residence permit process was yet again changed last May and I heard that there are thousands upon thousands of applications awaiting response. Rumors are going wild, like 30 thousand plus applications coming every week and piling up in a room as there are not enough people to handle the inflow. People are waiting 3 to 5 months for an appointment, people stuck in limbo as they are not getting their responses and then are not able to leave the country, lest they pay an “overstay” fee and find themselves in an illegal situation.

Surprisingly, and against all expectations, I got my appointment immediately after putting in my online application and got it in a reasonable time (10 days).  Pendik, the rumor is,  is the only office that still more or less functions properly. Westerners dealing with Turkish bureaucracy always get really nervous and upset because here it operates on a different paradigm. In Canada or Germany for example, if you did not provide the exact, required, expected data, papers, at best you get back to the back of the line, at worst, you missed your chance and it’s over. Here, there is dither, leeway, detours and a kind of ‘cross your fingers, Inshallah, give it a moment’ kind of thing that means that if, for example, you are missing a document, you can come back with it later, and if you have discrepancies on your paperwork, you can just explain it, and who you talk to has a huge influence on the outcome of your query.

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So tomorrow is a bit of a fateful day. I will go, give my papers, talk to someone and then go back home wondering what will happen, and when.  In the past I have waited for 3 months for an answer, so if it is a ‘no’, and I wait two, three months to learn about it, it gives me two, three more months to spend in my beautiful flat. If I am denied the permit, the question will be: where do I go for 3 months? I do have a few Workaway host requests in Denmark, Ireland, France. So there are options.  I am ready for anything, but  I really wish to stay put a little while longer in Galata, it seems I am just starting to really settling, to relax more deeply into a non-nomadic reality.

One of the question marks with this application, is the financial picture, in the past I would move a bunch of money from the line of credit, take a screen shot and there would be the $5000 annual  financial requirement to stay, then I would move it back whence it came. This year I cannot do this as I don’t have a line of credit anymore, so it’s up to the person I will talk to.  The last time I applied they didn’t even look at the banking papers, so we will see this time

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So lets see what happens. In the mean time, every day I still am in awe with my surroundings, Galata tower, in all its beauty, the Bosphorus, the poetry of this place that is everywhere, the cats, the old buildings, the faces, and the light… I am living in a fairy tale decor. I draw every day, I am working with the art course tutor on some basic skills right now, like hatching… I am putting thousands of lines on paper, I am going through the steps a beginning art student would go through and I can see the value of that. My first pages of hatching look freaked out, I was panicking at “how am I going to fill this page? (A2 size) I was freaking out at the ugliness of what I was doing. Ugliness freaks me out… then it started to show, the lines straightened and the mind became quiet and it started to have unity. Not quite beauty yet but getting there. The pleasure of seeing the extra crisp and straight lines appearing from my hand and onto the page is very rewarding.

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Last week I met with a friend from Canada. He is Turkish but has been living in Canada for 35 years. It was a very interesting connection, like me he is between two worlds, feeling a stranger in both, yet enjoying both also. He helped me decipher the internet provider’s packages, and on that note, I still don’t have internet at home, he also gave me some plates and utensils, I have to say, I had been eating in plastic yogurt containers and the plate felt gloriously good! Our conversations felt so good to me, that is when I realize how a person’s culture is so deeply ingrained, there are so many points of agreement in reality, it makes communication flow much easily even if you don’t know each other so well. Plus of course, the common language, I still struggle a lot with Turkish, I am improving but to speak my mind clearly and express myself in this language is not quite available to me yet.

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Well, I must go… gotta get a few more photocopies for tomorrow’s appointment. If I have the gumption, I will go to the Fatih pazar to buy fresh food. And… I will draw some more.

Much love.

w-lemur