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.
May 18, 2016
The day was waning, the streets are busy with rush hour traffic, harried faces, horns honking, aggressive taxi drivers. I had just walked by Pera Palace, when I heard this booming voice hollering. I looked back, an old man with a hat and a suit jacket, gesticulating, he’s mad, in another reality. I continued. Red light, I press the button and wait for the light to change to green. Pedestrians jaywalk to the middle section of the road. I used to do that but realize that you are a target there for any runaway car, scooter, motorcycle, bus or truck, so I wait for the green. Loud voice, I jump. The old man with the hat and the suit jacket is right next to me. His blue eyes are focused on an intense inner world, his face framed in gray stubble, his skin deeply etched by a demanding life. Green light, we cross. Three quarter of the way through the 6 lanes I see a street dog on the other side estimating traffic, looking nervous, he is big, brown and black, dirty. I wonder if I should help him but before I can do anything the old man hollers again, goes to the dog and talks to him, they understand each other instantly. Now I know the dog is safe from those rabid Istanbul drivers…
Maybe it’s an overdose of world news but it seems we’re going to hell in a hand basket in an accelerated rate of speed. I hurt for the earth, the animals. I cannot grasp the amount of spite, anger, violence. How easy it is for humans to just do that: be violent, vengeful, hateful, shortsighted, greedy and completely stupid.
The human is the most despicable, destructive, stupid form of life on the earth. I’m sorry if that offends you but really… look around. The pettiness, the greed, the self interest, the intolerance, the violence… I mean the concept alone of making arms… to blow each other up… don’t give me any reasons. There are none. Because if you changed shoes for 3 seconds and the ones blown up were your kin, then it would be atrociously unacceptable.
Then see the way we feed each other poisonous things, we have human companies, manufacturing foods and medication that make people ill, that kills them, human companies that knowingly send all their garbage in the environment. Like Flint!!! poisoning your people with local water and giving good water to GM Motors… As a species it comes down to living, sleeping eating, in your own shit. No animal does that.
Good people create for themselves the best justifications to manufacture, sell arms and poisons and not be responsible for their actions, because, well, there’s good money in it and the crowds clap in agreement: Money is good.
The lack of empathy, of feeling, of thinking… The human thought process is deranged, a diseased thing, unable to grasp simple survival (clean air, water, food). I am not sure at all we will survive what is coming, or should I say has already arrived (climate change) Mother nature has hit Canada where Canada hurts her the most: Fort Mac Murray. Now she’s burning the workers camps. Good riddance. “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!” they all cry like babies. ECONOMY! ECONOMY! What the fuck is that? Money is not even a representation of gold stores anymore, money, the banks and their moron bankers have the system rigged. It makes me sick to see all their advertising, clean crisp corporate image of winners, I spit on those lies… The elections : Rigged. ALL OVER THE WORLD! All the while we are with all our might and conviction hanging on to our unsustainable lives, dreams of fame, fake lips, boobs and asses, obsessed with porn and bodies and utterly insignificant, idiotic celebrities while raining 40 000 dollars bombs on cotton tents…. This is madness. Madness. Madness. Oh mother nature… I cry.
I headed out to Taksim on foot, destination: Junior bar. The old “Jurnal” now has a new name and a new owner. He had contacted me regarding the possibility of playing. The sun is setting and it’s absolutely gorgeous out. I walk through the fish market, the restaurant hosts harass you on the way, trying to get you to engage and come to their tables, I walk on. Ms Sokak, I turn, I go downstairs, there is a cat on the steps whom I must carefully step around. Inside, empty but for 1 person. The owner. It’s too clean, too orderly, too empty.
I sit with him, he’s a young guy, he tells me he used to have a terasse with an open ceiling, lots of customers, music, it was beautiful, but the Zabita came in and since he didn’t have a license they shut him down. Now he’s here, it’s underground, small, low ceiling, no windows and there is no one around.
“Since the bomb, every week there is less and less people. Everyone hangs out in Beşiktas or Kadiköy. 4 years ago.. 3 years ago even, it was great…” Three years ago is when I arrived, and yes it was incredible. People from all over the world, artists, musicians, students, the young Turks happy and creative, inventing futures for themselves. That was what I saw. Now I see the fast decline of Beyoğlu, there aren’t thousands of people to hide the cracks and the decaying surroundings. There aren’t laughing tourists to make you disregard the shady characters hanging around and trying to rip you off. There isn’t hope anymore. Now it’s patience.
“One day, like everyone, he will go away…” Said he about the dictatorial leader. The Turkish patience through hardships. We will organize a concert when I am done at the school. I will invite many but I’m not sure we can overcome what is going on here. I feel I am on a slowly sinking ship. The fate is such. Turkey is going down, by its own politics, by way of geopolitics, by way of intolerance. They are isolating themselves. We will see. I walked back home on Istiklal, shoppers abound, the darkness is coming in. I think of Maryam, Eren, and the crew of people who used to make this place magical. I remember Eren telling me in 2014 outside Karakedi version 2 that things were going downhill, the good days were ending… he was right. I also remember Moosa telling me right after Gezi that this was exactly what happened in Iran, and to watch and see how darkness would set on this wondrous city.
I cleaned my room. Istanbul is so polluted (20 million people make a lot of pollution) everyday you can sweep a good quantity of dust and sand (yeah I don’t know how that happens) things get covered in a layer of greasy dust within a day. I had neglected the room for over a week so it felt like a purification to wash floors and dust everything. It feels peaceful. Tonight I had an awesome dinner of taze fasulye and then we walked to Karaköy and got yes… baklava. We sat by the Bosphorus. This area last year was bustling with fish sandwich impromptu restaurants, tables, all sorts of festive temporary eating spots. In the fall last year, bulldozers came and flattened all of it. Overnight. Now they have planted trees and put down grass, gentrifying the whole thing, I think soon this whole area will be fancified into hotel-shopping row. That is what is going on everywhere. Big fucking corporate money. So we sat by the Haliç opened up our box of Güllüoğlü baklava, unbelievably tasty! one piece each, the sun is warm and beautiful, it’s peaceful, we watch the boat traffic on the Haliç, a father and his fat little son walk by.
“Now it’s good to be in Istanbul!” He says ironically, yes right now it feels incredibly sweet.
May 11, 2016
So I did it. Wrote a resignation letter. Then handed it in. Freedom from this craziness is coming. I am counting the days, the week ends. I will return into the uncertainty of unemployment but I realized that nothing in my life, energy, situation would change unless I quit and make room for new things and don’t just hang on to the fear of not being able to pay rent. I have been trying to look for other opportunities, but this roller coaster of energy makes it impossible. I need to become whole again and that is not going to happen if I have to go there.
I worked over the week end, I was so exhausted. It is undescribable the exhaustion I feel after a week end with 18 to 20 classes. My body hurt, my mind is blank, I get dizzy and I am so tired, so, so, so tired. I could really see the impact of that week end as I had had 4 days off before and when I came to the first classes on Saturday I had energy and something to say… by Monday I was dragging myself painfully around, feeling faint and feeling an emptiness in my chest in my solar plexus that is like a black hole… just drained. Nothing. Now I have had two days off and I am barely back up to resting RPMs… it’s like being on a steep hill in too high a gear, you know the feeling, you’ll either fall or go backwards… I have been debating this whole thing for months now… why do I feel that way? and it’s not the students and it’s not the teachers and it’s not the staff… it is this eat and spit them out system that sucks everything out of you for all that you are worth. It’s the realisation of the impossibility of surviving, it’s just enough to keep you going. It is the unpredictability, it is the fact that I talked about everything and no one gives a shit, they need you they say, but you can go home with 50 dollars to live on for a month as your hours were cut without you knowing they were going to be cut. Yes, they offered to “help” by giving me an advance on next month’s salary…. Oh yeah? so what happens next month? You are short again… then you are indebted, then …. you are royally fucked.
So Liberation Day: May 30th. They asked me to stay until mid June but the thought alone feels like climbing the Kilimanjaro without gear: Impossible. So I said no. finally.
Time for the residence permit is also coming up. I will need money. I had some but since my pay was so low for a couple of months because of my unpredictably fluctuating schedule I have none ahead of me. Part of me doesn’t want to renew… part of me thinks I must do 1 more year; go see the lands of the Amazons, see the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. There are also personal things that keep me here, like things of the heart… To leave would be criminal. So I must find my way around this mad country…. don’t get me wrong though, I think it’s mad everywhere on this planet, I think that the only thing that has value here is love. So I stay.
In the mean time I went to another museum. The Archeology museum. Saw the Asian exhibit; Egypt, Mesopotamia… I found myself completely overwhelmed when faced with an Egyptian artifact, there, so close I could touch it, but I didn’t… out of respect. All these cultures that came before us… Power, money.. Some now claim that Egypt failed because of climate change: a volcano changed the climate and mayhem ensued which then produced the collapse of that society.
Go back as far as you can, it’s always the same, idiots warring for power and greed, regular people caught in the middle.
I could go on… I did, but deleted it all. We all know we are in knee deep if not, up to our eyeballs in shit, pollution, degradation, abuse, lies… the human is now required to use his “intelligence” and “superior intellect” and stop reacting like absolute, self absorbed, blind and dumb morons. More caring, more vision and action. We might not survive what will come if we don’t change our evil, selfish ways.
Imagine what they would find, 2000 years or 10 000 years later… garbage, phones, TV’s, cars and so much plastic junk everywhere… they could do this thing where they drill and find all sorts of impossible pollutants in the earth, layers of gunk, upon gunk, grocery bags galore… I think we should clean up for the next generations, kind of like getting clean underwear before heading out to the doctor’s office.
Sorry for my tone I may be reading too many news these days… but I care for this amazing, beautiful, unique earth, for the animals the air, the water, the people with all the dreams in their eyes, their wishes for peace and love. Lets start by being kind to each other and forgive, then be kind to the earth, the animals… and ourselves.
For right now: Over and out.
May 5, 2016
It’s approaching midnight, five minutes to, to be exact. I had a strange day. It started by being awakened around 3 by mosquitoes buzzing at my ears and since the power was out, a frequent thing in Istanbul, I could not hunt them. I could only wait for them to come close to my ears and attempt to kill them, hitting my own head in the process. At one point I heard one buzzing distressingly in my hair, I used the blanket to smother it, I knew I had killed one. But after all this I could not sleep. I got up, did a search for torn ankle ligaments on Google.
Yeah, When I was a teen I destroyed my right ankle’s ligaments with a bad fall in a badminton tournament. I had managed to rip the bone along with tearing them all. I remember the doctor being so angry at me telling me that I was going to be an old woman with thick ankles… He was really angry at me, it had been an accident, a fall, I hadn’t done this on purpose… Anyways… I used to love to run. I’d pretend to be a horse and run, run, run, letting my mind drift into imaginary worlds. I would breathe like a horse and “feel” my long horse back and hind legs move in perfect harmony with my “front” legs. This ankle issue pretty much followed me all my life but I always kept going.
Since September I have been having foot issues. Immense pain that would move around the heel, the sole of the foot, the inside, the outside… It can be excruciating at times to the point where it seems both my legs are like wood and it’s difficult to walk. I kept going hoping for natural healing, but it didn’t come. For me, who used to walk, and walk and walk… it has been a real setback, trapping me into inactivity. I Finally went to a doctor last Friday. After the X ray and MRI I was told I have a heel spur and torn ligaments. Some knowledge is good, I could now scour the internet for information. I found massages, healing exercises, scar tissue dissolving methods. The doc gave me some collagen pills and pain killers, he said to come back in a month to see if there is progress, if it is not better he was suggesting a medical escalation.
Then this morning, I was walking home with a friend (thankfully) I fainted for an instant and crashed to the ground. It was as if watching a TV, the image went woozy and the power went out, for just an instant. I was scary to lose control like this on a street. We slowly walked home, I had scared both my friend and myself… then I had this unclear yet strong thought: “Things are re-aligning” I told my friend but he said: “you were hungry…” Then I wondered if maybe I was being too dramatic. I can do that my my body lets me down… I get scared, my imagination runs.
We made food, I ate and I had to go for a job interview, my head remained unfocused, like with static, my breath short and I was dizzy. The interview? Another language school teaching job. That is another thing I have taken to read about.. not a good scene anywhere in Istanbul. It’s a racket. The guy doing the interview was American, from Vermont, he gave it to me like it is. No sugar coating. With these stupid jobs the truth is that you are a cog, they need you and they don’t give a shit about you. So you work for shitty pay, crazy schedule with no support until you cave in and collapse and they quickly get another bright eyed foreigner. I thanked him and walked out, proceeding slowly, my head swimming in thoughts, sensations, bits and pieces of the interview floating in my mind when suddenly I realized that my body was taller, that my stride was different, more me, not this struggling protective gait. Hmm? What is this? Realignment?
I came home and then felt such dread I wrote a will. Who knows? I was scheduled to go to another job interview but I cancelled it. I am supposed to go teach my first private student tomorrow but I will cancel that too. It was around 4 PM and I directly went to bed, feeling fragile, scared from all those weird body sensations and I wrapped myself in blankets and slept.
This last week in various stores I was ripped off 4,5 times, as if the dishonesty rises with life’s insecurity. I start to resent people. The way they lie to you with a smile. The way they knowingly abuse you. I also resent this work, these jobs immensely as it is the same thing “You are family” bullshit when they turn around and use you like cattle… It’s been a struggle. I am not a teacher… I love the students, I love if I can help them grow and learn, but when it comes down to it, I don’t know how to teach clauses and reported speech and I feel just bad. I want to quit. Leave all this idiocy behind, but how will I pay the rent?
So I did yoga again. Maybe I am re-aligning. Maybe I’m just falling apart. Maybe some forces are trying to get my attention. Maybe I should fucking quit this circus and see what presents itself because as long as I stay in it, I can’t see beyond the walls and just repeat the same moves like the automaton they want me to be.
I need to feel the earth. Heal.
April 23, 2016
Up! Lets get up! Prepare some food, very light bags, we’re heading to Kabatas to hop on a ferry. Stop for simits on the way, rush down the hill, catch the tram and we made it with 15 minutes to spare (luxury!) onto the “Baris Manco” vessel on its way to the Islands.
We eat our breakfast on the boat and then watch the multitude of birds racing along the ferry, passengers feed them, they are amazing, executing all sorts of aerial acrobatics for a bite of food thrown at them by the passengers.
We go to Buyuk Ada, the largest island, its my first time there. Right off the ferry it is a tourist mad trap and I am not sure I like it… but a few steps in and the beauty conquers me already.
We climb a very steep hill. There are flowers… real flowers, not planted ones, flowers that just decided to grow there and there are millions of bees, oh, the sound of bees… I look down and see cute red and black bugs, kind of like lady bugs but without the hard shell… I am dizzied by this life, I am not assimilating all this right there and then. My heart is pumping hard and I am sweating up this hill, and I am out of Istanbul with a backpack on my back and a friend at my side.
Trees. They are grey bodied, hard bodied, sturdy, heat bearing pine trees. What are they doing in the ground like this, they should be ambulating, they look like they should ambulate…
we meet horses, flowers, hedge hogs (I had never seen a real one) dogs and cats, cows, ancient buildings, abandoned orphanage, the sea, boats, carriages (there are no gas propelled cars or vehicles on the islands) We saw the remains of mortal dreams and the eternity of the cycles of the sun and every moment was a blessing, and I kept realizing how much I needed this and how much I had forgotten what earth is like… as opposed to planet Istanbul…
I got to lay on the earth, feel its energy fill my cells, I got to breathe clean air, and see almost no one, I am so very thankful.
Fairy tale images
These “bags” are actually hardened cement or plaster… someone had them piled up and whatever job they were intended for, they never got used.. so they hardened on the spot, someone’s dream or project that never materialized.
Horses appear out of nowhere, they walk in the streets, eat where they may, follow their whims through the city. The horses on the carriages work hard. Some in very, very poor condition, my ex-horsewoman’s eye cannot avoid seeing the whitened hair of scars, the unfit bits and harnesses, the protruding bones and the smell of poorly kept animals. I wonder who supervises this?