February 24, 2017
Coming back from a gig that didn’t happen.. I was booked to play Yerli Yabanci but there was no one. Taksim is dying a slow death, the bombs and the terrorists and the police have cumulatively slowly instilled their fear and abuse into the minds of the people so now on a Thursday night at midnight the pedestrian traffic is sparse, the percentage of tourists is almost zero. The street itself is torn apart in places, they are refurbishing the trams’ tracks. Which is I guess a good thing but it just gives an aura of destruction and brokenness as the patched and cracked pavement stare at us with painful twisted faces, while the work trucks elbow their way through the pedestrians and lift walls of dust as they go growling and strutting.
Last night I did a Chris Hedges marathon. I was transfixed. He’s an incredibly well spoken award-winning journalist. He sees it all. He spent many years as a war correspondent in Europe and in the middle east and, I’ll paraphrase here; “When you have seen these countries, you cannot unsee… When they announced the war on Iraq I could not help to think of my friends there, I had to oppose the war.. When we come from privilege, like most white American males, there are things you can never know and you must always work at understanding the people who have nothing, their pain…”
I could relate to a great many things he said, being here in Turkey, in what the west calls the middle east, in a Muslim country for 4 years now, my own understanding of life and purpose and time and place and politics has been bulldozed.
The Muslim thing for example, why are you guys scared of Muslims??? They are just people living life. That’s all there is to it. The amount of fear regarding this in North America is mind-boggling. I read comments of people in Northern BC fearing an ‘invasion’ of radical Islamists… I now live in a city where in the last few months we had bombs after bombs a failed coup d’etat (likely sparked by America) and yet, life goes on. Why are North Americans so scared? The statistics, (real numbers not Trumped numbers) all point to a diminishing of violence almost everywhere. There is a thousand percent more chances of being killed by some gun-toting white man than by any brown person.
By living here I came to realize the atrocious legacy of colonialism. As a French Quebecer, I always hated the history of colonialism. The historical British violence, their deep desire to annihilate the French-speaking people in my home country, just because they wanted to have it all. I felt first hand racism in BC, like being at Queen E Theater in Vancouver and have 2000 rednecks howl their hatred of French people when coaxed by Kenny Rogers… I had an out-of-body experience that day. That was also the day when I said “fuck them” as I had been trying to belong so hard to my beloved Vancouver’s community but never quite succeeding to get beyond the polite “tolerance” they so kindly bestowed on me. (I hate that word… tolerance…)
But here, working in a hostel I met people from Palestine, from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Syria and I saw first hand the horrors that the American, European colonialists distributed and still distribute to people who never did anything to them. Horrors in the name of the economy the dollar and the mighty corporatism. Horrors that steal the hope of the youth generation after generation.
Another blatant fact was how much we have in the west versus how little so many have here. In the hostel the young European and North American tourists come in with a wealth of electronics, technical clothing, shoes, they have good teeth, good hair, shiny faces and this innocence… They walk around with springy steps and with the “sky is the limit” motto. Hedges mentioned this point and it hit me so deeply because I had a first hand experience of realizing this: this “everything is possible if you work hard enough” rhetoric. I realized that this is not true. The possibilities at times here, just don’t exist. Period. In Canada it had a ring of truth.. There is so much more resources, money, will and wealth. Resources and wealth often coming from the labor of third world countries, so when you think of it, the stuff you bought so cheap, was cheap because someone worked for 20 cents a day in abject conditions for you to have it. So the spring in the steps of the westerner comes from the spines of the third world workers on which the oblivious consumer is stepping in all his shopping glee.
And War. It’s so close. Britain, France, America, Holland, Germany are gleefully selling their bombs and having them blown over here… and how many have their retirement investment packages based on the arms industry? The same ones who come here on holidays thanks to the dividends of these investments? I saw and still see first hand the Syrians who find themselves stuck here in Istanbul. Turkey took 3 million of them… Three million in a country a little bigger than the state of Texas. The wildness in their eyes, the kids begging on the street, the fact that they lost everything and sit here on the cold pavement hands out… heart breaking.
Here I have connected with a wide circle of humanity, not just my safe, white picketed neighborhoods where everyone has their “personal space” to be duly respected. People from Iran, (yes, they are just people like you and me.. not the enemy) Iraq, Palestine (oh how heart breaking…) Africa… I heard their stories, their struggles, their passions and desires… Beautiful humanity dealt a bad hand.
I don’t know how I can connect with my white, privileged upbringing. How could I and others around me complain all the time about what we didn’t have. (we had SO much) Yet, I will never belong truly here. I am a yabanci, a foreigner. People are generally accepting, I have never been openly berated or threatened for being here and being a foreigner. Not sure a Muslim woman wearing a hijab in Quebec could say the same… I feel a loss of direction, because I realize how much of what gave me direction was just part of the programming. How to be, what to want, how to think, the expectations of the group towards one in terms of income, social standing and of course the definition of success. The moment you sit in front of the TV, read a magazine, listen to the radio… you start absorbing the conditioning, what is good, what is bad, what you should be as a woman, a man… who to trust.
It’s as if I woke up from a long long dream that I thought was solid ground. The culture is just an indoctrination meant to keep everyone blind. Oh it’s Christmas: buy, buy, buy. Oh it’s Valentine’s day: buy, buy, buy. Oh I am a woman I need hairdos and 15 different types of outfits. Oh I must be successful and make money. And most insidious, the belief that you are never good enough in a million different subtle or less subtle ways, because if you were good enough, you wouldn’t need all this shit they are telling you to buy.
Hedges is merciless in his indictment of this capitalistic culture. A culture that has to conquer everything and own everything in order to monetize everything. And as blind followers, we have come to accept that food companies poison our food to make money. That our governments give away our land and water to corporate interests. Our governments spy on us and write laws to criminalize freedom of expression. Our doctors keep us sick in order to sell drugs. That we are factually polluting all our water sources with everything from lead, radiation, oil waste in the name of profits (those profits who actually never will profit you) We are allowing massive corporations to wreck natural resources as a matter of course. We have made the “economy” our driving raison d’etre, the fundamental element in our societies, as we can obviously see that our economy being infinite growth using finite resources is an equation that cannot work. But we are hell-bent on continuing this impossible math until the bitter end where one cannot drink water or breathe the air, where the ecosystems have collapsed terminally and where the majority goes hungry.
How do we knowingly create all the conditions that allow the systematic destruction of what keeps us alive?
How do we accept to be told by some plastic looking, self-important, corporate shill on the TV who to hate and who to trust?
I find myself in this place where I cannot move. I cannot go back to my blindness, once you learn to read, you can never unlearn. I followed the elections in both Canada and America and all it tells me is that this system is not working. it is inherently faulty. it is a lie, a fraud, a comedy. Everything I watch on the media speaks of madness. To give these madmen air time and to actually discuss afterwards the inanities that were spewed as if it was something worth anyone’s time is beyond me. Yet we are infighting each other over politics, they win, having successfully divided us to reign over us, and having hypnotized us into oblivion with the rest of the shit on TV and Internet.
We are human beings. We have human rights. The earth is free. The air, the water… the food, fruits, plants, don’t belong to anyone. We are here a short time to care for this earth for the future generations. But we fenced everything and put price tags on all that had form. We were told to conquer by religions (!) by great leaders (!) and conquer we did with an unparalleled violence. North America today stands oh so righteously tall on stolen land having created and still do create immense suffering in our doing so.
I feel too much pain sometimes… and shame. For being human.
When I can, I go look at the trees in the sparse islands of green in Istanbul, Gezi park and Matcka park, they gracefully elongate their fine limbs to the sky, pure beauty, pure magic of life and expression. The sea gulls spiraling in precise mathematical course, the sun dressing them with gold. To feel the earth… Oh mother earth. The shame of us humans, too self-absorbed to care.
We must find our softness again, our sensitivity, our caring, our consciousness, our capacity to be awed and humbled and the willingness to learn again, anew. Because it is a world of infinite beauty and power and expression of divine intelligence and we are one with it. I refuse to think humans are a virus. No, that is the easy way to sanction all destruction and remove responsibility and ethics. That rhetoric is a virus, it’s a duplicitous excuse to permit us to disengage, give up to separate us and leave us drifting in a sea of fear and abandonment. We are all, every atom, one.
What is my place in this world? These days I feel that I have been so blind, so manipulated by the culture, the accepted views. There is so much to discover, yet my need to please, be accepted sent me down a path of blindness where the size of my thighs mattered more than the wonders of the earth, than all that could be explored and understood. I never had regrets in my life… but now I do… and it is a very unsettling feeling. How could I be so limited? So controlled? So un-curious. Why was I not independent and brave and trailblazing? These days are days of awakening, world-wide. We contemplate servitude to the corporate masters and monsters in a degraded society and nature, we toy with the idea of acceptance of this dirty pact. Or the other choice is the difficult road of creating a new world. I don’t believe that the model we have had for the last 2000 years can work. We must own up our humanity with its rights and responsibilities and empowerment. Not be pawns of the state but full beings, aware, intelligent, caring and strong.
And love. Love more than you think possible. Everything, every animal, flower, blade of grass, sunset or wind… Love, unconditionally all that exists because it is as one that we will make it.
January 12, 2017
January 11 2017
Hello, hello, hello… Hello? Oh, hello 2017. Twenty seventeen. Two thousand and seventeen. All this time, time, time that races by. I have neglected all forms of writing; letters, emails, blogs, books, songs, poems, to do lists and new year’s resolutions. I’ve let time go undocumented. Free.
The mind never stops though I wish it would. It is especially monstrous when one lets the Matrix spell the rules. You must this, you must that…There is a trap there, where creation becomes a plea to be loved and accepted, to fit into something. Will I ever stop being a beggar?
New Year’s eve was beautiful, peaceful, child like with smiles and laughter from the eve itself to about mid-day when I compromised that peace by looking at Facebook where I found out that a massacre had taken place (again) in Istanbul. Horrific, meaningless deaths. The tone went out of my muscles, of my stance, of my enjoying the peaceful pleasure of this new fresh baby year. 2017’s Innocence gone, already.
Statistics say that we are experiencing much less violence than in the ‘70’s and past history yet we feel surrounded by madness. FEAR. TERROR. These two words… everywhere, all the time. So I felt dread, then I decided to refuse the feeling. Yes the Istanbul attack was-is awful, everyone here is affected, all the shoulders have sunk a little, the smiles are less readily given. People hurt and hurt deeply and the challenges keep slapping us violently one after another. There is no way to be oblivious… There are unspeakable things done all over the world every minute. But then we’re also over 7 billion and if we were as bad and polarized as the memes and the short films and the news and the internet comments make it appear, it seems that we’d be in a soup of blood every minute of the day. My belief is that the fear is wanted. The hatred is wanted. Divide and conquer, as old as the human race. What we are experiencing is a massive societal indoctrination in fear and hate now distributed constantly by the media, commercial or social… all is infiltrated, doctored, controlled to create this environment.
I turned off my TV twice in my life, first it was around 1990, then my ex bought one… which I hated but I got sucked back into it as it is so, so, so addictive… Then around 2006 I think, I was watching ER, final episode of the season, cliff hanger, and I was sitting in my chair with a pounding heart and frown on my face, my stomach in a knot when suddenly I thought : “ this is fiction, it isn’t real… why am I so worked up? Why is this shit going to occupy my mind more profoundly than my “real” life?” So I got up, rolled the TV on the other side of the basement, the screen side facing the wall and that was it. Freedom.
By grace, I don’t have a smart phone.
EVERYTHING promulgated on those devices is a lie. Every advertisement, every program, every medicine they sell you, every piece of advice… The idiocy of what we are all doing, consuming, believing all this bullshit about lifestyle, health, safety and on and on… And while we worry about things like “thigh gap” and Trump’s latest idiocy, they fill our drinking water and toothpaste with fluoride (a known poison) and we buy this shit, we smile, we act so cool. They give us drugs that make us sick. When you start to think about it… we look really stupid. Think about it. For money, we have come to accept slavery, destruction of our world, air, soil, water as a “matter of fact”. We are acting like absolute idiots. We buy poor quality crap, use them a little (or not at all) then throw them on a pile which ends up into the environment, and we don’t blink an eye. Did you know the impact of bleached jeans on the environment? the blue sludge goes into the water system and people, animals, ecosystems are destroyed somewhere down the line. Is that acceptable? Is it acceptable that some people work as slaves for your Nikes, Apple products? Is it acceptable that we are devastating whole ecosystems in Asia to make palm oil so you can eat Doritos? and it goes on and on… and yet, we still buy Nestle, Doritos, Apple, Gap, etc. We want to be told what is cool to wear, what car we should get, we are sold that tar sands are a good thing for us…
We are acting as if we were absolutely insane. Mad. Incapable of taking care of ourselves, let alone our environment, our earth. We have been trained to be consumers, and dumb ones at that. We have been trained to not ask questions and do what we’re told. We are constantly reinforcing the training by watching movies, news, TV shows, Oprah, CNN, CBC, BBC, and all those venerable institutions… They all lie to us.
We are, as a people, COMPLETELY HYPNOTIZED. 3, 2, 1… Open your eyes, you are now awake. This bad feeling in your stomach, it’s not your imagination. Listen to it. Listen to your heart. There is a reason why we all feel something’s not right. Every institution is perverted. Look at the outcomes, look at the results, the actions taken. Forget the words and the cunning discourses, that is the snake oil salesman.
For this new year, I want to drop down into my heart.
The only thing that makes any of us worth anything at all is love. The meritocracy we were trained into is a tool to separate us, make us work for the man and to betray ourselves. Once you have betrayed yourself life becomes quite empty and painful and the only way to redeem that betrayal is to make amends.
For this new year, I have decided to delve deeper and deeper in the heart, in the light. I’m not sure what will come at the other end, I’m not sure how to look at it because I can’t look at it with my “business as usual” eyes. I realize that to get out of the training, out of the deep indoctrination even the most “rebellious” media outlet, education process, films or images are all imbedded with the societal leash. That to really act and function in a way that truly recognizes what I am, a being of light, spirit and energy operating on a much wider band with than the one normally assigned to humans, I must break the chains, ie, the unconscious operation of daily life with its assigned reflexes and expected behaviors.
I miss the earth. The wind. I feel a deep pain for the animals, the forests, the oceans, for what we are doing to them. I feel ashamed of the humans who go on so blindly, never to worry about anything but their own preciousness. This culture of celebrity and stars and money has made us a group of self-centered assholes, always peering back in the mirror to see how good we look. A group of spoiled brats who always want more without even knowing why.
In this new year, I hope we can feel the need of Mother Earth and that we would spend some time to help heal her by way of energy, prayer or just plain old clean up and respect. I wish for elevation. Love. Peace. Freedom and the respect of life, human or else.
November 7, 2016
Yellow leaves gracefully falling down from high, a vine climbed all the way up this old building in the Yesil Cam street in Beyoğlu. I sit outside, a fire orange heater keeps us warm there, I drink soda water while listening to my friends. My Turkish is improving, I started an online course and if nothing else, it’s giving confidence to speak and take chances. We came from Kadiköy which is on the Asian side. We played a concert tonight, Alican, Alev, Stuart and myself at the Istanbul Improv theatre. It was beautiful, the sound, the room, the lights, the vibe. We were to play one set then be joined by the improv troupe but the “events” of the last few days have dampened the spirits in Istanbul so that part of the program was cancelled. Actually most of our audience were actors, we only sold 5 tickets, so yeah, we didn’t play for money tonight… but they loved us and we love them and it felt deeply, deeply satisfying to be in that place at that time.
The events I am referring to is the arrest of the political leaders of one of the opposition party who happens to be Kurdish. The totalitarianism is growing. There has been protests ever since the arrests and the militarized police is out with their usual tricks of tear gas, water cannon, etc. to muzzle the discontent. When I came out of the ferry in Kadiköy today, while the passengers were walking a 3-4 ,meter wide walkway between the ferry terminal and the water, about half way in, the people ahead of us suddenly turned back running fearfully back towards the boat we had just left, it was scary for a moment, I quickly looked for a place to go so not to be trampled and found next to me, a couple of wooden gangways with metal bars so no one could run across these.. I looked ahead, trying to figure out why this stampede… but there was a short lull, the running stopped, no one was talking, then people started to walk forward again. It was very fast, I felt my heart’s loud pumping recede. When we got to the open space I saw the riot police,protests were taking place up the street. This was why, people ran from the police…
But it had been relatively peaceful for a few months. Lately we all started to be happier, to make plans, to walk with a little more spring in our steps while still wondering what was to be next. With this sort of governance you can always expect one thing for sure, they don’t want people to be happy. It’s almost as if timed, or measured, as soon as you start feeling better something shitty happens, and that something shitty has to do with the leader feeling slighted and in need of defending his bruised ego.
I am telling you people, do not vote Trump. If you vote in a brute, a money minded, sexist, racist kind of a human, that will come back to haunt you. Freedoms like the freedom to dream, to raise your children with hope, freedom to travel when you wish to, to express your opinion, to be able to contradict your government can be lost in the blink of an eye. Put a fascist, nacissist in power and see how hard it will be to dislodge them. They will tear everyone and everything apart just to be right. I have witnessed this here. And I promise you, it is an incommensurable sadness to see the young generations lose their hope, to see them lose the opportunity to dream up and create their world.
Another point; Remember the hype about “The Secret” you know the book, movie and the countless dreams of wealth, mansions and fast cars that was awakened. Well it’s true. It works, it is the basis of how this universe works. Thoughts become things. What you put attention on, talk about, feel deeply and so genuinely will manifest. I’m sure some of you have dabbled in this “manifest your dreams” thing or at least have pondered it. Well, it works for the bad stuff too. It’s just natural. So as we go about our days nowadays all we see is destruction, the coming of WWIII, wars all over, sicknesses, animals dying all over the planet, and on and on… we are either on the news or on Facebook scrolling through devastation, immorality, violence, darkness, fear… Then it sits on our minds, it rolls and roils and stirs and it feels so real, and we keep thinking about it all the time. This is in fact a perfect application of the Secret or the Manifestation principles…. and guess what? They manifest.
So as hard as it may seem, we all need to focus on good things, no it’s not a Polly Anna thing, focus on anything good, make that as important as all the bad news. Shut off the TV. Refrain from scrolling endlessly your Facebook, Twitter, TYT or whatever you watch. Love your neighbor, find something cool about your co-workers, your ingrate son or the annoying driver on the road. Earth and humans need love right now and SO MUCH of it. Dare hoping, dare trying. In your mind, or out loud bless everyone, anyone you cross, wish them love and peace, Be in wonder at nature, the trees, the birds and the sun. Shift your focus onto beauty, strength. Meditate if it’s your thing. Make peace. The world is energy, and right now we’re stuck in an incredibly negative, aggressive, angry flow of it. Take responsibility, create the good stuff. These are troubled, challenging time and I am striving for beauty. I’ll make music and drawings and smile at the street cats and dogs. We must. It’s our job, we’re here to love and never before have we needed to do our job as we do now.
August 25, 2016
Lightning in the distance, thunder, it’s 2:04 I just took an after gig shower to remove the cigarette smell from my hair and body. I sit in front of my sunset-window, feeling the breeze coming in, I am slowly coming down from the high of the music played tonight, it is finally quiet in my neighborhood.
I have many times had scraps of words and sentences that I imagined sharing with all of you but writing the blog has not been a priority. There are so many words already out there, so many opinions, why add more to the noise and traffic? They say it’s all been said anyways.
Last I wrote was after a bombing in June, since that, we had an attempted coup d’etat in Turkey. Four hours that changed EVERYTHING. I never quite realized how fucking fast things can change in the political realm. I am used to the slow, feet in concrete, lets wait four more years ways of the Canadian political world… Those hours, that night were terrifying. The indecent violence of an F-16 breaking the sound barrier over the house made me reel because of the absolute horror of such war machines. The single purpose for these is murder. Somehow all of us humans have come to find these things (f-16s, tanks, machine guns, pipe bombs, rocket launchers) normal and necessary evil. But when one flies above your home and the sonic boom whips your walls and leave them trembling as if they were made of grass… then you hear bombs detonate in the distance while not knowing if your neighborhood is a target or not, you feel quite minuscule. Meaningless.
I will not attempt to describe the political situation here. In short, most of us don’t have a clue. We had a month of nationalistic fervor, excited by the powers in place, free bus, metro, ferries, free phones to encourage all to take to the streets. Every night the masses in cars, trucks, scooters, bicycles, on foot, even wheelchairs, what ever moved, held their flags up high while nationalist anthems blared out of anything that had a set of speakers and that, all night long. Public harangues were taking place down the hill in Kasimpasa, birth place of Erdogan, sometimes they would start as late as 1, 2, 3 AM, the people would again flood the streets, neighborhoods… the ezan (cal to prayer) would go on and on and on, (normally a few minutes and it is over) it was as if someone constantly had a finger prodding you in the chest; “hey, hey, hey, hey…” it was hard to sleep, hard to relax, hard to understand the excitement for this cry for Democracy while most of the free press was disabled, journalists thrown in jail, people sacked and fired and demoted and imprisoned and some say tortured without due process. what an irony… All in all I believe the number was 80 thousand people were part of the “cleansing” process and it still goes on.
As the political and religious right took to the streets, the left hunkered down, quietly, many, especially the young, educated people are planning escapes out of Turkey, many are mourning for the losses that seem to loom ahead. But mostly, we waited. I learned very early on in Turkey about this incredible patience, this ability to wait until the tide changes. Shit happens, OK, have a seat, have some tea and wait until a mistake is made, and it will be made. “He will die one day” was something I heard so often right after the events.
Something else was very unsettling. The Western media’s take on all this. The tone, the sudden shift in perception. Before this attempted coup, most didn’t even know where Turkey was. But suddenly everyone knew the president and his quirks, everyone judged him suddenly dangerous and unstable, Europe freaked out and plainly racist “news” came out everywhere… “the Turks will take over Europe!!!” There are millions of them!!! They are terrorists!!! Turkey suddenly became of “those” countries, you know, over there in the middle east… and the criticisms rose at high pitch and everything that could be finger pointed was and still is. But all this had been going on for a long time and no one mentioned it… Ah the fine balance of geo-politics, the short memory of the public and the general ignorance…
Turkey is now sold in the media as some demented place where maniacs rule. In some way it’s true. But it’s true of many places… did you see what happened in Britain? What is going on in America? Germany? France? and on and on…
Remember 9/11, the Patriot Act was enacted and thus millions of Americans were denied rights, they were wire tapped illegally… the situation was used by government to take away rights and liberties. Some deliberately some illegally. Here, an attempted coup happens, a martial law is installed and people lose rights and liberties… what is the difference? The difference is: We were immediately told that we were losing our rights. It was not a manipulation of words telling us that we were being protected… it was blunt and clear. Martial law. You can be detained for no apparent reason. Ah, OK. So in my view, it’s all the same “out of chaos, order gets installed with reduced rights to people and massively increased powers for the rulers”
Canada is actually about to make, (if that has not already happened) this loss of rights and liberties part of the law: Bill C-51, where you can be arrested, jailed, questioned, without due process. Where the simple act of protesting (like for Site C Dam for example) could land you a new moniker: Terrorist, enemy of the state. Is it so different from Turkey? No if only in the hypocritical way of doing it.
You know though…. what I felt through all this turmoil was a bit of a surprise, it wasn’t fear or anger or despair that hit me the strongest. What appeared in my heart was an immense love for all. To see the possibility of loss of all this wondrous, crazy humanity. The mothers, the workers, the children… How the too few could destroy, annihilate in the name of greed… the soldiers who were overpowered, all my friends here, wondering what was coming next and my friends overseas worrying for me.
There is this immense universe size well of love here among us, through us, inside and outside of us, all around, infused in our very fibers, and cells and electrons. As much as I can rage for the stupidity of the ruling class, the ineptitude of the emperors, in the billions of us, there is this potential for love, a strength that allows us survive the worst of the worst and the hardest of the hardships. The immense beauty and incomprehensible potential of the human.
I dream of a world that shines with this love, that rediscovers its moral compass, its ethics and its courage. I dream of a world where the grandeur of nature moves us to humility and respect. Where we listen, with hunger for understanding, as we really all know so little if not nothing at all. Where we show awe, reverence for the mystery of life and the possibility of magic.
I keep thinking that the ones fucking it all up are actually really few among the good men and women. And that if we just take responsibility for our own weakness and our own greatness we could make this place a world of justice, peace, respect and cooperation. Our challenges are so great. We have polluted and destroyed the very heart and arteries of this planet with unspeakable man made filth that threaten our very survival : water, air, soil. Lets forget the “us and them” Lets treat the politicians and corporate thieves and bankers like the criminals they are and make them accountable. Lets wake up, now, and do the the job we’re really here to do.
All my love. Always. Forever.
June 28, 2016
It’s Ramazan, people fast during the day, then after sunset they eat a meal called Iftar. Tonight like every night, there is a rise in noise, voices sounds, life on the street around 7 PM. People are hungry, thirsty, they have been fasting since about 4 AM and the knowledge of the meal coming makes everyone more vocal, noisy as they anticipate the relief to come. Then at about 8 when they eat, the street goes dead quiet. Everyone is inside eating, drinking, celebrating the gift of food. At around 10 they come out again, satiated and again the whole neighborhood comes to life until the wee hours. It’s kind of festive, it’s a good vibe.
Normally that is.
I realized that everything got quiet a few moments ago, not normal. Then I saw the news; bombings and shootings at Ataturk International airport, Turkey’s main airport, 3rd biggest in Europe, hub for the world between East and West. So instead of just enjoying their full stomachs, the Turks tonight are watching on TV or laptops, the reports of destruction. Photos with limbs and holes in walls and assault rifle on the ground.
I was just at an airport yesterday, the other one, I think of my friend Ibrahim who will fly back from London in a few days. I think how life is cheap sometimes, timing is everything.
Once again, at a moment where I was fully enjoying being here and enjoying the marvels and wonders and poetry of this place, some horrific act takes place.
I wonder if it can get worse, then I think of Syria and I know that can get much worse. My friend Sari last year was telling me that what was going on here in Turkey, somewhat paralleled what took place in Syria before the war broke. He was worried about staying here and living take two of a civil war. In this country right now there is a lot of unrest, religious things, racial things, war things, money things, people in power lie, cheat, kill, destroy (like everywhere in the world mind you) We vote these clowns in and then everything goes to hell. Here we have Erdogan, in Russia they have Putin, in Britain they have Cameron and the fat blond guy, in USA there is the specter or Trump or Clinton… all in it for special interests, bound on destroying the world while hoping for fortune and power. Sick, mentally handicapped demagogues and ego maniacal people with not a thread of sensitivity for the life, for the lives of the people of the earth, for the earth itself… If we could get above our own self interest and rally together for peace, for the future generations, for life itself.
I pray for the ones killed and wounded and terrorized, some will never erase what they saw and survived tonight. Can we have more love please? More patience, more kindness, more care and what we call humanity? Morals? Ethics? Respect? Life is strong but it’s also very fragile.
And much, much love.
June 21, 2016
Oh a breeze, gentle relief from this incredible heat we are getting here, over 30 with such humidity, it feels like we broil as soon as we step in the sun. It is hard on the people fasting during Ramazan. It’s been an interesting time since I quit the school. I took the first two weeks just to unwind, as I really was wound up. I realize now to what extent as the days go by and the stress washes off. I was reading past messages to a friend and saw how most of all I have been saying since October has been: “I’m so tired.” and how he was replying “I am worried about you…”
Barış means peace…
I slowly found myself visiting friends again, going to Chillout, or just going for a walk… going to the pazar on Sunday to get fresh inexpensive vegetables, interestingly, I find that I spend at least 50% less money by not going to work. Kind of insane this work world we have agreed to wholeheartedly as a society. There is always a choice to be made. There is the point where you abandon your ideals. Where you bow to fear and carry on down the slippery slope. Quitting my job was about refusing to let fear dictate my life.
One of my favorite kitties in her urban world.
I had stopped playing any music around January, the gig I had stopped but I felt absolutely no desire or will to do it in any shape or form. I would think about it here and there, feel all sorts of ways, bad, guilty, depressed, watching myself giving up something that always meant so much to me. Well last night I played my first gig in months, with two of my favorite people and musicians. It was a very wild experience. I stood there, feeling the notes, sounds, my voice, the guitar in my arms as an outsider. I was watching how I would hold up. I was singing a rock song standing up on that stage and it was a bit like feeling a dreamy reality… with a tad of doubt regarding my ability to carry it. I did, I had a great team with me. Eren my magic drummer… per chance, he was around, he was free and he came to play… and Alican who is such a good friend. So we just played. Wandered, jammed, everyone really enjoyed and it was kind of “wow.. cool” all is well, simple… After I sat with some of the friends who came down, it was so enjoyable, relaxed. Life. Good, simple and sweet.
I have been having some blessed moments, pure joy of absorbing the beauty around me. It all feels fragile and fleeting, as every time I look at the news another diabolical plot is on the way to get realized here in Turkey. In Three days I leave for Kabak Valley for a week, I’ll be by the sea, by nature, I have been appointed “music volunteer” for my stay. How interesting how music comes back into my world.
I will likely leave my room in the apartment, mainly because it would put too much strain to try to pay the rent right now, I have a few options for going back into a hostel and help against having a room. I will decide where when I come back. There is something about this communal life. As we all strain to have privacy, we end up in a lonely bubble… and nowadays a bubble that contains you and a computer or phone and Facebook. So I think I’ll do that for the summer, then comes September I might travel a bit, I am hoping to go home and see my mother, in November it will have been 2 years since I saw her and the family.
In the mean time, my plan is to live every moment, enjoy the city, the life. I saw a post a little while back and it said: “one day you will look at today with fondness” it really made me realize how special my experience here is. I am lucky.
June 6, 2016
06 06 16
I watch the sunset in front of me. My window is a sunset window. It is really hard to concentrate on anything when the sun sets, so majestically every night.
The last week has been momentous. Many changes and I believe more are to come. Today I accomplished a bureaucratic feat of respectable proportion… I managed to gather all the documents and papers for my residence permit application in a few hours. After much questioning I made the decision to stay one more year. It feels good. I need to go and do some of the things I promised myself to do and do things I didn’t expect to do. Live. To make a long story short, I realized that all the documents had to be gathered and sent between 9AM and 5PM Monday. I set out on my mission this morning and with the help of Pelin and a very cool and helpful insurance broker I managed it… So the documents are on their way to the immigration office. Hopefully all will be accepted and within 2 weeks I would have my new permit.
On Sunday June 29th around 7PM I hopped one more time on the 55T down the hill from Gaziosman Paşa, through Balat, across the Haliç. and into Beyoğlu. Free. I had just handed back the books, markers, stapler, filled in the last registrar sheets and last exam result sheets. Well I’ll have to go one more time to pick up the last pay cheque and I really hope they don’t give me grief with that as it seems to be regular practice in Turkey, I don’t think so but if they do I have a “get paid” strategy ready to be implemented.
I was never made for a job, could never keep a job, the most I ever did was 1.5 year I think. So at 8 months that is actually quite good for me. It was a great experience, it was incredibly enriching in so many ways. But in the end, to be polite, it was not going to go anywhere other than what it was; a big loop of class upon class thrown at me with shitty pay and no chance of improvement. I am thankful, I needed it when it came, I learned tons, met and discovered “real” people from an all too real rough neighborhood.
So I had a first week off this last week. A first week end off since September. I cleaned up my room, rearranged the furniture, threw out old stuff, and then I had this thought: Hmm… if I am cleaning everything, I’ll probably move out of here soon…”
What now? I don’t know for sure. I promised myself to take 2 weeks off, the first one is gone. I have enjoyed every moment of it. What I know is that I know I did the right thing for me. I feel a sense of freedom and renewal and eagerness to re-enter the “real” world, well, my “real world”. My life in Turkey, before this had been one of constant meetings, motion, friends, sharing… then I took my room and my world very quickly shrunk into a little bubble where I would spend too much time with the wifi. I am open to any and everything. I also want to go places this summer, I really hope I do it. See more than Beyoğlu, Istanbul…
But I feel good, alive, my eyes are bright and wide open, and I’m smiling a lot.