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Alice in Chains. Headphones. Loud. Drown.

A new beginning
time, time to start living
like just before we died
there is no going back
to the place we started from

dirt falling through fingers
trust, trust in the feeling
there is something left inside

there is no going back to the place
we started from….

It’s the end of the year. Maryam said: “lets get together and sum up 2013 and make plans for 2014…”

Plans…

hmm. I dunno if I have plans. And the sum of 2013… dunno either, there is nothing to ad up, there is no graph, no direction. Live the moment and the moments, oh the moments there has been so many.

But right now, right, right now as I hear Jerry’s guitars I would give anything to jump on Arkadaş, lean down on the tank and go as fast as I could possibly go, feeling the machine, the vibrations, the engine sound, the wind, seeing that white line blur out tick, tick, tick faster and faster, seeing the geometric lines between the cars take the risk and go for it.

It’s been an emotionally jarring week in ways I could not quite have predicted. First, it was a Christmas kind of blues I thought I had all wrapped up with a couple of realizations, then an unexpected blast of more emotions came to hit me when my friend Kimberly from California arrived here. I was looking forward to see her and was happy about it but when I found myself face to face with her, something angular from deep inside rose up, something I totally did not know was there, a kind of longing, sadness, immensity… an overwhelming bulk of emotions that sat right there that I didn’t know existed. I wiped the tears and moved on.

But hen the week brought more in the form of having to cut out a budding relationship with someone I liked as I realized it was pointless.

Sometimes, it seems the that long garland of life, this past of mine swirls and plunges in a sort of vortex where it’s shiny feathers shiver and reflect a gray metallic sort of dead glow, twirling towards an infinite dark well. And there I see pictures burst by, like my marriage, the view in the kitchen in Richmond as I howled in loneliness after he was gone, then the light in that same kitchen when I realized some deep truth, yin-yang, bitter sweet process of learning. I see the last lover I had, the gray winter look of Ottawa where I allowed the complete crush of what I used to call my heart into a messy pulp that made me take a very serious look at ending everything terminally to finally take almost exactly a year to mend. I see my face in a computer screen, I see miles of road, the sounds of my songs, the pains in my body, faces of friends scattered across continents… at this point, the tide rises and right there I build a quick dam. Shut the fuck up. Always, time and time again what is left in my hands is that guitar. Yesterday it fell down on the ground and that was too freaky.

In between worlds is where I stand now. At the center of a flux, a back and forth that takes place from the known to the new, from acts coming out of reflex to acts of faith. From the habits, the unthought, the unconscious to the self-determined and thought through actions. These days if I don’t meditate, I find myself dangerously pulled and flung around by the chaos of the unconsciously lived life. At this point I am observing, studying all this.

So this is where my journey has taken me; to an “in between worlds place” right now where the goals and achievements of the physical world mean nothing.

So this guy I had met said to me: “ I will protect you”
I said: “ I don’t need protection”

He generalized: “Women…”
I said: “first we are human beings… ”
He replied: “well you’re different… ”
I thought: “Fuck. Us, them, men-women, separation, materiality”

He asked me if I knew the difference between humans and animals. I pondered for a few moments and thought of how vast the question is. One could say there is none as we are all carbon and electrons and… One could say: they have more hair than we do… It’s a trick questions. Whatever I answer he says “No.” then goes on with the “right” answer.

He brought up the story of an experiment done by some psychologist who put a monkey and its baby in a burning place… the mother monkey protected the baby until it was untenable then stood on the baby to protect it’s own life. In contrast to that, he mentioned the human mother in some hell hole during Nazi time who had protected her baby with her life… “Humans have honor.” He declared.

I said “ Some humans have honor, others don’t.”

“No.” he said.

But I thought some more about it and thought that the same applies to animals. I spent 20 years of my life very close to animals, long enough to see that some would give their life for you and some don’t give a crap. Just like humans. Then I thought that generalizations suck. They just separate us. Again. But he had stopped listening. He’s never interested in my answers. I sighed. He pulled me into a taxi. It’s past 4 AM and the traffic heading to Taksim is unbelievable. A sea of yellow as taxis scramble like in a stampede. Towards Pera museum they are piled up 3,4 wide, jammed, honking and steaming.

“I’m sorry… I’m not listening…” he said

“No you’re not.”

I got off the taxi. Sighed again. The night feels wild. More taxis are parked all along the road, more stream down Tarlabasi speeding away. I press the button for the pedestrian light. Cross. I Walked up the short hill to Chillout. I’m in a strange state of frustration. The wasted time, the long useless waste of that night, the games… Then I wonder… Am I not feeling anything anymore? I am going to break this thing up with him. I know. It’s pointless. It’s a dead end. I believe more and more that this “love” thing is just that. Pointless. A make believe. Be my Prince, I’ll be your Cinderella. Can we be honest. Could we be? Really actually just say what we want. I’m learning this here.

I am dancing clumsily. A tango. Between the flesh and the “City of Placelessness” (Rumi) I dream of. Between the un-thinking reflexes and the conscious. What is it? The sand shifts under my bare feet as the waves pound the coast, yet there is stil a perceptible ground, but nothing is the same, the sand particles, shifted, exchanged. Like a river.

So these emotions… what to make of them? Illusion? Game?

You need… he said.

I don’t need anything… I replied.

And when I think about it, yes, of most things, I have no need besides what makes my body stay functional. Needs? I need to feel useful. Integrate into something that gives my life purpose. and that is, I see more and more others. Ah! the Western Me, Myself and I here collapses into uselessness. The only worthy purpose I see is to make another smile. But things? Nah, don’t need them. Sometimes I crave, but like chocolate cravings there is nothing good about that. It’s just a reflex and like chocolate cravings, if you ignore them they go away.

Emotions… Oh yeah, there is also X who is doing what he does because his wants are to be met and as I try to be zen about it all but I still feel the knife cutting into the flesh so smoothly. Small blade, but blade all the same. I am letting this happen, I’m still playing along…

To be or not to be … roped in. To not imagine the rope at all, or the horse for that matter.

I’m playing a concert tonight at Karakedi with Eren and Joris, tomorrow night at Atolye Kuladibi. That guitar, once more. I’ll pour it all in there.

Happy new months to come. Happy hearts. Happy visions. Happy formlessness.

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It’s warm, 12 degrees Celsius. I sit at Kahve Dunyasi outside for my espresso… It feels like spring is already on the way. Yes I know I’m sorry for you Eastern North Americans, but this is new stuff for me. I was warned about the “hard” Istanbul winters and was bracing for it. I was about to buy boots, gloves, hat and wool scarf but I may not need it…

Last Monday I had an amazing show at Karakedi, with Eren and Joris… I decided to play the Alien Suite in its entirety. For once I decided to sit down to play. take the time… not be rushed, play the slow songs. It was really a good night, everything fluid. I am so incredibly grateful for these two musicians. They bring so much to the songs…

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On Christmas eve, we put up the decorations, we made a psychedelic tree with one of the plants in the cafe. They had given me the job of buying decorations then decorating because I am a westerner… I was trying to say that I might be the worst person to do this since I’ve been pretty much been boycotting Xmas and its insanity for quite a few years now but to no avail.

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Last week we went to the bazar, yes I bought Christmas decorations in the Grand Bazar… well the “locals” part of it and I was with a local so I wasn’t gouged with massive yabanci inflation! At first I was quite at a loss; what do I get? Light always work for me, and I like to see Christmas as the celebration of the return of the longer days and light… then it took some coaxing from Yuksel… “get something!” I got garlands, some mini Santas, some balls, ribbon; I always remember my mom had these hand made red bows with an elastic that we’d put on the tree so I got some red, gold and silver ribbon.

So we started to work on the decorations but Yuksel would not really let me do anything except give him pieces of tape and such non-decisional tasks and I let him go at it.

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Later friends arrived, Roman who used to work at Chillout while I was doing reception showed up and his smile always light up the room. He had a plan to go to the church and hear the choir at Christmas eve mass. We were joined by Vladimir a french tourist and we headed out on crowded Istiklal.

I realized on the street how un-Christmas things were, I mean anywhere in North America at that time of night most have arrived where they’re going, the shops are closed and the merriment is about to start. But here it’s Istiklal as usual except for some random Santas populating the street.

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We get to the church, an amazing building, sorry I don’t know which one it is, but it’s glorious. The courtyard is full of people, throngs coming for a shot of Christian Christmas.

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Roman pushes ahead, we soon lose him in the crowd. Then the choir started.

…..

hmm…

First thing was a weak snare drum flap immedately followed by a wimpy keyboard sound going through a poorly EQ’ed PA system… then, the singing started… I’m sorry to say but it was terrible…

In Quebec we have this “strong” tradition of choirs, and Christmas eve concert is the ultimate achievement, goal, honor… even the smallest villages have a choir that sounds at the very least, very keen, motivated, elevated… this here was, well, bad.

Imagine the untight, out of tune chorus singing “Rejoice!” it had a slight thing of reminiscent of a horror movie. In hell, if it existed, they would play that kind of music. Torture on a very slow, never ending pace… I took photos… everyone was taking photos… the Turkish people in the audience seem to really wonder what the hoopla was all about and many people were just filing out as fast as they had come in… I listened to 2 ½ songs trying to be polite but I can only take so many bad notes and I exited out along with a lot of people, in the middle of the mass… unimaginable!!!

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We went back to Chillout, and I had to laugh out loud when I saw that Roman had already escaped the torture and had gotten here ahead of us! We broke out some food and drinks and guitars. Sang, had a good time with old and new friends, drank raki and ate bread, olives, cucumbers, radish and cheese, then topped this with lokum and baklava… too much sugar there was.. but we had a good time, I was feeling nicely festive.

A guy from Georgia told us about a place called Ganja, yes like the weed, he showed us a special coin and gave us, in true holiday spirit a bottle of Russian vodka, which I did not touch… (vodka is deadly to me… )

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I tried to take photos of the guys next to the gifted bottle but somehow all I got were blurs… photos of denial but I can tell you the bottle did not survive past the night…

guy 1:

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guy 2:

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guy 3:

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Strange phenomenon…

but we did enjoy the night…

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Here is my two new Greek friends Nico and Georges

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Next day, well, later that day on Christmas day for some reason I started to feel slightly blue. Not sure why but I decided to go back to room 10 and work on the murale I had in progress in there. I started around 5 PM and stopped at around 4 AM, yeah, did it again.

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Meron showed up as I was setting up, he helped me with painting little dots all over the wall. I love my friends

Maybe it was the talk of plans by different people that I was hearing around me: “In May I’ll do this, in July I’ll do that…” it got me seeing that I have no plans… well, I have ideas of things I would like to do but what I realize is that I feel somewhat paralyzed because I don’t have the money to make these things happen. Right now I live from concert to concert. 60 to 100 lira take me to the next week’s show (30 to 50 dollars). But travel costs money.

I have ideas of going to India maybe, traveling through Turkey either on foot, motorbike or horseback (!) I have this class paid for in Greece and I am told I should totally see Greece, I have my friends in the South of France I really want to go see at some point. Asbjorn and Lynn will be in Morocco in May I think… So this morning I was thinking that I need to conjure up some kind of work in the next few months that would allow me to do these things while I am on this continent.

My friend Sarah leaving Istanbul in a few weeks made me aware of all the things I wished to do and did not do… I am afraid that the moment I go back to North America, coming back would be difficult. I find very difficult to make any sort of decision right now, my feeling is that I have to wait for the answers to come.

In the mean time, it is gorgeous here. Life is good to me. I am safe, fed, among friends, able to be creative and share whatever talents and energies with the people around me.

Merry everything to you all.

I wrote the blog this morning… well, OK, OK, mid-afternoon… then ate, then went to play some guitar… thinking of doing an Alien Suite night next Monday at Karakedi so I need to review some songs…

then, I decided to do a night photo excursion, it’s later that I realized it… 12 21, December 21, winter solstice.. here are some of them:

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Then I ran out of memory for the camera so I had to quit… Happy Solstice!

Ponderings on simplicity

December 21, 2013

Tired.
Good.
Sun.

There are gigs to come for the next Mondays except for new year’s eve, that has never been my gig(!) there are paintings to make, probably as many as I can bear. There are winter months to come but already, the weather has been gentle these last few days. I have a feeling the winter is not going to be that difficult, at least not difficult from a North American standpoint.

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(photo by Meron)

I live. Live slowly. Live without having an intense pursuit. I was thinking this morning that my productive life started for me with a dream to ride in the equestrian discipline of three day eventing at the Olympics… then it was a dream to be a rock star, have this big music career… then it was about making many thousands of dollars so I could do the Scientology stuff (Yeah I did that) … then I tried to become a star cyclist… There has never been much of any kind of slow living in my past. There was even a 10 year stint where I took zero vacation. Sleeping in in the morning was my only revenge.

The sculpture, that was for just for me. That was the one thing I didn’t let myself mess up with competitive insecurity.

The motorcycle trip, that too was obsessive, but it was OK. It meant progress. I sat on this bike, there was no goal, no assigned purpose, no final target to reach. I rode because I wanted to.

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(photo by Bartin)

Now? Well, I am taking it completely differently, I do feel guilty for it at times, recovery takes a long time… I only feel good when I am working. I love working, creating…

I was talking to a friend and mentioned something about being out of the system. He said we’re never out of the system… yeah, right. We can be slightly under the radar but never really out. And I thought of all the borders, all the laws, the passports, the ties that make us this or that, something or other. I thought of the rules that say you can live 3 months here, 6 months there. I thought of the time I was at the Canadian border and realized that I was losing my rights as a citizen by not having an address, to the authorities, I was de facto, a suspicious particle in the flow of life. Things immediately were more difficult. I had to prove innocence.

What is going on in the world? Last night we were talking about the dimming down of the citizenry all over the world, the quality of the education everywhere is diminishing. Here in Turkey a friend told me that they just passed a law that would make it legal to only send kids to school until the 4th grade… In Canada and the USA people at university level cannot spell. Not a big deal you say? it’s a huge deal! it means they do not understand the words they use. … It looks as if there is a common agreement universally to dumb down the people. Uneducated people are easier to control, to funnel down into prescribed ways. They can be manipulated more easily via fear and propaganda.

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(photo by Maryam)

And this is where the ‘God’ Television comes in, sitting on its precious altar in every home, the center of attention. Suggesting, promulgating, propagandizing, teasing, hypnotizing the watcher into behaviors, into emotional states, into states of desire that shape the civilization, pulling the attention, the minds into meaningless puzzles and swirls of emotional waves away from what actually is. Argue this with anyone hooked on watching TV and they will tell you that they are in control, that they are aware of the manipulation and that they are able to circumvent it. Yet, what is obvious is how the “culture” shifts and changes with the shifts and changes taking place inside the ideologies proposed by the shows on the screens. The language, the expressions, the way we talk, dress, walk, love, hate, all a reflection of what goes on in TV land.

I know, I was there. I remember the night when I realized the massive hold that the TV had over me. I was watching ER. Last episode of the year, big drama. I am sitting there completely absorbed, I feel everything as if it was me…. I am the girl on the screen, the show ended leaving this big question mark in the air: What is going to happen!?!?? and that is when I saw it. I saw how real this was to me and it shocked me. I was vicariously living every speck of emotion, every event that was taking place on the screen, crying, laughing, getting angry… all that, sitting in the basement all the while letting this beautiful life drift by unattended. I was absent, gone into a world that did not even exist.

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That night, I got up, unplugged the TV that sat on a wheeled stand and rolled it in the other room of the basement. I put the screen against the brick wall and never touched it again. My life started to change. I started to do creative things, writing music, playing guitar and doing all the stuff I really wished to do.

I have been “off” the TV for years now. The other thing that followed was to wean myself off of the buying habit. Believe me, it is a habit, a way of life for us North Americans and I would dare to say, for most Westerners. When I traveled on the bike, I was forced to look at this behavior. I had the longings to buy but I could not buy anything because there actually was nowhere to put anything I would acquire. The saddlebags already full with the necessities and I didn’t have a home to ship things to if I bought something. This gradually brought on the awareness of this constant desire, this illogical impulse to just walk in a store and buy something, anything… a magazine, candy, anything…

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Now, I buy so very little, I live with very little. and it feels good. I also gave up the “private” life. I share a room, the bathroom, the kitchen, and for all of this, my life feels richer. I don’t feel “alone” anymore. And this to me is another thing our modern civilization has done: it has isolated millions of us into private loneliness. And here again, the TV is the friend, the balm that brings into the living rooms all over the world,company, oblivion, preprocessed lives to live, adventures to feel, outrage, joy, emotions…

Now here I sit pondering the hold my laptop has over me. How would it be if I only looked at it once of week or so? Or at least only once a day? What would I discover? What would I find?

I also wondered how my life would change if I stopped writing this blog? I’ve been writing this since May 2010. I started this as a way to keep anyone who needed to know, informed about my whereabouts and my wellness. but soon it developed into a sort of entertainment thing. It had to be interesting… my stats were going up, there were more and more readers… and the deformation from being an entertainer took over. I had to make this interesting.

I’m starting to wonder if a better energy flow might be to be interested as opposed to interesting. It’s a completely different mind set. That is one thing about having a music career… it is a constant contest to be popular and interesting, everything you do needs to surpass the last thing you did. You gotta have that up swinging graph, have a shtick, a thang, show some leg (!)… as if a corporate board of directors was about to evaluate your performance; is this a good investment?

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To be invisible, to be unimportant. Not to have to be the performer performing a perma-smile pasted on your pretty face. To just be. A friend challenged me to say what I actually think, express what I actually feel. That made me realize how much of the things I do are “other motivated”. I always try to please. What would it be like to not be worried about my performance? about the graph? To just be? To just really truly be honest. It seems there is a world to discover in there…

Where is that line? Do birds worry about what we think of their singing? What is it like to not worry? What is it like to just live a simple life? To think independently? And so, I am back to where I started; to live slowly. There is so much beauty around, so much to fill my heart. There is much that can be quietly contributed to. Simply.

I’m still exploring. It’s quite fascinating. In the end, again, all that matters is the intentions in your heart. The oneness with each other. The realization that nothing is that important except for the love. I’m loving life, I’m loving my brothers and sisters. What an amazing world to look at, to learn from, to appreciate.

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graduation

December 10, 2013

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Last night I was challenged in many ways. Eren wasn’t there for the show, Eren is my drummer. I love playing with him because there is such magic, twists and turns in his playing and he is such a sensitive listener, just a gorgeous musician. But he could not be there so I had invited a few new faces to join me. I wasn’t sure who would show up but they actually all did, Can on trumpet (pronounced Djan) Savaş on vocals (pronounced Savash) Cabbar Cabbar on percussion.

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I can’t really get into it here, but some things really ticked me off, those were immediately tempered by the amazing playing from Erkan, I dunno what it is but he nails everything in my music. I really enjoyed Savaş ‘ vocals and the trumpet playing as well, the room was pretty full which was great for a Monday night, there was a vibe, something building. Nice.

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At break I met with members of the audience.

You know when you “know”? You meet people and you “know” it’s either good or bad, you know whether the person “wants” something from you or is just being real. When I play sometimes people get taken by the energy, they are moved. Some will be very shy about it, some are just open and excited, some try to hang on to you.

I met with Mr X. I will not say more about this. Immediately, I feel a strong desire to escape. There is nothing fundamentally bad or wrong it’s just that I know this is not honest, or real. Within seconds there are talks of recordings and too much honey. I have the perfect excuse that I need to tune my baglama to escape the slide in the funnel.

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We played the second set, things degrade some on stage, when one member of the band obviously is not in the game anymore and is simply rude. The show ends, Mister X wants to go eat, and would I come along? Hmgn…. come to the rescue my friends Maryam, Felix, Meron, Hakan. We will all go eat soup together, that is ok with me.

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We eat, it’s a long narrow table, Maryam sits next to me, Meron across from me. I really love those guys… people start to leave. I end up talking with Mr X. I realize that he’s already “producing” a project with me in it. It is not sounding right to me. They’re talking about mixing this and that style of music, get arrangers to arrange things and so on, they’re talking as if we already are some sort of band, of unit… as if this was something… I spoke up:

“This “project”, is a baby! Actually, it’s not even born, it’s not even a “thing” yet. Tonight was an experiment… We played together for the first time and I’m not even sure I’m OK with what happened.

Protestations came: “no, no, it was great…”

“it wasn’t great. There were some very nice moments, but this is not what I want to do…”

“We can get “people” to work… make an album, the producer’s role is to take all these elements and make a product out of it.” he says.

Hmgnnnn…. this is so far away from what I envision…

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The conversation went on. Blah, blah, blah… I see the hungry look in the eyes of the musician sitting across from me, I see the calculating mind of the man sitting next to me. I sit here and I realize that this guy has no idea of who I am, what I know, if I’ve done anything or not. It is really interesting sometimes to see how a person will disregard completely what is in front of them while they make massive constructions in their minds as to what is needed and wanted. In essence: zero communication.

They talk about constructing something and finally I said:

“I tried to be a classical guitarist and I couldn’t be that. I tried to be a jazz guitarist and I couldn’t be that. I tried to play music in bars and be an entertainer and I couldn’t be that. With music all I can do, the only thing I can do really well, is to be me. I came to Turkey to learn, not to make a generic pop album of some kind…. or looking for some sort of fame… I do not want this sort of thing. I am not ready for the studio. I am learning now. The songs will come, but they are not here yet.

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To that, the response to my words was first a “No you are great” as if what I said was demeaning to myself. to that I replied that it’s not about being good or not it is about being on a path, on a journey. Then came the kicker:

“Well, you are beautiful… but where you come from there are lots of people like you (a dime a dozen would have been the north American equivalent) … You are good on stage, you move well but you need to have something that separates you from the rest. Lady Gaga…” that sentence ended in a chorus of other meaningless words…

“You could show some leg….”

Show some leg… Dude… really?

I see it all. I am very calm if not a little bit bored… But something magnificent is happening here for me. I am finally in full knowing of what I am, what I want, what is real to me and in full possession of my self determinism.

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In the past I would have felt obligated to say yes, to bend, to try to please. Wondering, should I hope? Questionning. I would have felt a doubt as to my own choices, a kind of “maybe this man knows better… maybe it is something I must hang on to… maybe, maybe, maybe…” I got myself into so many situations where I had to live with the consequences of having doubted… Now, my position is very clear to me.

“I’ve become very strong.” is what came to me a few hours lying in bed as I was thinking about the night. I felt a burst of incredible energy in my heart.

A few days ago I had had a very intense conversation with Bartin, yeah, Bartin again… it was about honesty, about not zig zagging your way in and out of situations trying to please whoever is in front of you… It had shocked me as he did expose something I had done. I had done it without even realizing it. First I denied, then I went “holy shit…” I had thought and thought about it. Honesty. Beautiful, ugly, lame or stupid you owe it to yourself to tell it like it is. To say no. To say what you think, do what you want and believe in.

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Standing for myself, without getting angry or scared or without playing the victim, with clarity and without doubts. Standing in peace.

I am on a learning journey where I am fine with having nothing, living with little possessions. I am on a journey where truth is the goal. Where the beauty of a day is shaped by the faces of my brothers and sisters around me. Where the beauty of the life, the seasons, the colors, the shapes of the places I am in touch me deeply. I do not believe in lack, in need, in loneliness, all is there right within. There is no owning, there is no protecting, there is no conquering. There is this beautiful maze of paths that we criss and cross, the beings we meet who gift their essence to us.

Last night was revelatory. I felt almost as if I was detaching from everything rising, flying gently, in a moment nothing had any hold on me. I understand Mr X. What he does, what he imagines. I know his world. I understand the musician who was rude. It is all truly OK. It does not matter. Nothing does actually, there are no stakes, no odds.

Last night was a graduation of sorts. I was able to be. I was truly an electron. Life is incredible.

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Zipping through

December 5, 2013

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Lights, nights, colors, faces, smiles
rhythms, smells, cigarette smoke
all the textures in stone, bricks, cement
metal, wood

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Istanbul

Zeytin the cat with the olive green eyes
My dog with the golden eyes
playing with a tiny toy dog
People smiling on the street

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the politics that rake the heart
craze the brain

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the call of the muezzin
climbing the hills, echoing from one mosque to the other at 5:30 AM
on the other side of the night

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Starting to slide into the life,
Smiles, hugs
a home of sorts

The cold wind, the Istanbul winter I was told about has arrived
all the black coats moving against the ancient walls
Yellow taxis… taksi… taksi they almost whistle in the night

who am I in this tapestry, but another black dot
“You are not like the other Canadians we met”
said the American and Australian girls.
Who am I?

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Sometimes I am weak
Sometimes I am wise
Sometimes I am completely crazy
Sometimes I am thoughtful and quiet

The music is starting to impregnate itself
on the cells of my brain.

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I discover about the Kurds, the Alevi, the Armenians
Governments, the burning need those who are awake have to denounce this mad system
to change things.
We cannot sleep in the West,
We cannot be so arrogant

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We must all come together,
Like when the musicians gather and
join in a jam session and play everything
from the blues to old Kurdish songs

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