a day or three

January 19, 2014

They were getting drunk all around me.

“Come on, 5 more minutes then we go to Karakedi, I wanna dance this is boring.” He said.

The planned jam session did not really turn out as the drummer didn’t show up. So much goes on. The place filled up. It’s Saturday night. There was protests, police, gas, fire crackers earlier, people running on the street down below, I could observe out of harm’s way up on the third floor balcony while I paint in the room. I was thinking how a few months ago I was amazed at the capacity the locals had to just keep on living their lives as mayhem hits the streets. Here I am. A girl is painting graffiti on the metal fence across, it’s a strange viewpoint to see her from up here. A photographer tells her something, it looks like some sort of movie or cartoon scene.

Now the protests are over and the party vibe is in the air. I’m not sure how I feel. I’m tired. But I’m always tired, so I ignore that. I get in the cafe downstairs after painting.

“Hey! Where’s the jam session?”

Actually I know how I feel. I want to go play downstairs, quietly. Go over the stuff I learned at my last baglama lesson. But I won’t get to. I got to do this.

Earlier today, she came to me, she mentioned the confusion she feels about her duties..

“they want me to have schedule… I don’t really have a schedule.”

I can relate. For her it’s about telling the truth. Not what her interlocutor wants to hear. I realized that we, Westerners, are professional bullshitters. We mostly tell people what they want to hear. I have had my honesty lessons since I’ve been here. She is getting hers now.

“When I used to talk to my manager, I used to try to think about what I thought she wanted to hear.”

She is 21 and she is learning these lessons. I am humbled by her. She sees that some see her as a privileged kid, an American. We can’t change who we are, where we came from. We can only be honest, true to our own realities, beliefs and truth. And we can only do the best we can and that is all that is needed.

Tonight the cleaning lady’s sister died. And it hit me. We were in the middle of playing and the news came on the phone. He pointed to the phone, made a gesture with his right hand across his neck. I thought he meant that we had to stop the music. No, it wasn’t the music that had to stop. It was a life. I didn’t know the sister. But I had been seeing the cleaning woman upset.

“Life is hard.” she had said.

In my world, I strive to not create a hard world. In my world I want to see all this as an option. Pick the viewpoint and that is what will materialize. But in most people’s lives, it seems the materiality of it all is just all too strong. Too real.

It’s January 19th 2014. What’s the plan man?

I am an energy junkie. An adrenaline junkie I said to Forrest a year ago. Sometimes I catch my reflexion and I cringe, who’s that old woman?

“He found a girl. She is beautiful, his energy has changed, he’s happy.” I told my friend about this other friend.

“That would be great… Love.” he responds with a look between pain and longing.

“Well, it depends…” I replied then walked up the stairs to the 6th floor thinking of all the failed love things I know. About the immense momentous joy and the bottomless pit of pain this love has inflicted to me. To believe in love. I remember such days.

Now it’s quiet. Finally. 3:33 AM. I looked at my phone at 2:22. The angels are watching over me. I’ve just been handed a green tea and a Tadelle (chocolate bar) while I am writing this. Yes, the angels are around for sure. I get a few minutes to spill out some words, speak my mind. Exist with you my friends for a few lines of text. The weather has been warm, like spring. Talks of water shortage in the summer if this goes on. I don’t want to imagine Istanbul with a water shortage. But then again people talk so much.

So, yeah, quiet. I’ve been watching moments. I’ve been leaving Facebook aside this last week. I’ve been weak to the point of scaring myself into a blood test. I am dramatically anemic. I was anemic in 2011 and now I’m even lower. OK.

“I’ve been just running from thing to thing, I cannot stop, I don’t wanna stop, I am an energy junkie and this place is my pusher.”

“Yes, I know. I’ve been watching you.” he said. I wonder how much he saw that I need to know about. I’m as hard to read as a billboard on an American freeway. I wonder if I am a kind of joke. This old woman living this strange life. Excited about learning a new instrument. Playing concerts in bars and clubs. Last night it was a private party at an actress’s house. She was every bit what you would expect an actress to be. Dramatic, over the top, gorgeous and crazy. The apartment had a glorious view of the Bosphorus, the mosques, the palace across… the moon was full. As the night progressed, very swanky guys and girls came in. I had been told I was to play my songs all night quietly in a corner. Not what happened.

“jazz! Play jazz!” She flew to us afflutter.

Hmm. Yeah OK. Girl from Ipanema.. Tall and tanned and young and lovely… We stretched that for a good 11 minutes or so. Summertime…

“Blues! Play Blues!!”

Ah, yeah… I started with one of my songs but Can corrected the trajectory with one of his songs. It is one of the more disorganized gigs I’ve done in a long time. A guy comes on the microphone and recitates something in Turkish. No one listens. We sit there. Can turns to me and says:

“It’s the same money anyways.”

“Yep.” It is indeed.

There is amazing food. Barbeque.

“Play Turkish songs!”

“…Uzun ince bir yoldayim…” Wow, who could have known a few years ago I could have done requests in Turkish.

“Play French songs!”

“Quand il me prend dans ses bras…”

The crowd gets thicker and drunker, a rapper comes and wants to do a number, he tells me:

“Run on the guitar!” Run? Hmm. Ah, uh…

“What is the tempo?”

“Around 80 bpm.”

He starts singing and its more like 200 bpm.

“Run, run!!”

“OK…” I am not quite versed in high speed rap music. But it kind of works but no one listens. He’s actually amazing. A girl takes the microphone. I don’t have a clue to what these songs are… I sit there. It’s humbling. It’s OK.

While this takes place, Kimberly has been zoomed in by a young Turk. I look at her from time to time, after a while I can see that she has had enough… She said he told her he loved her and drew a heart with two stick figures in it, a girl and a guy…

We play from 6 to almost midnight, it was supposed to be 6 to 10.

After we stop, one guy gets me a glass of raki, nice. I get drunk within 3 sips. I don’t finish it. There is birthday cake. I go over there to get some but we’re handed forks and told to just go in directly, there are no plates left. I do. It’s good. A swanky guy sitting there goes:

“You are eating a lot of cake.”

“I am. I didn’t eat all day.”

He keeps going on about it. What is it to you I think. But this is an actor’s party. Weight is everything. They invite us to go to a club. I can’t quite imagine. Me and Kimberly with these Turkish Hollywood types. They’re too keen. I know the look. I’m tired. I’m thinking that I want to see Maryam, I miss her. Have not seen her for a few days. She is working tonight at Karakedi… but this was all yesterday.

Today I sit here, well in all truth, this is tomorrow now. So yesterday someone close to us died. Time went. The sun coursed above us. Riots happened in the streets. We sang, some got very drunk, some danced. I painted a bit more of that Day of The Dead room. I’ll be done soon with this one. I’m dreaming about the other one… the Ottoman riders I want to paint.

The phone rings…

“Chillout Hostel.. Kaç kişi… yüz lira…

I should go sleep. They will wake me at 8 am to go to the wake.

I wish to stay here all night. See the sun rise. Do all that I shouldn’t do. Pull out the baglama and play until I cry my head off. Who cares? Maybe it’s just because it’s so quiet at this time. Because it’s as if the clock stopped ticking, the expectations died with all the souls who went to sleep, leaving me here free. They will be reborn tomorrow. I’ll have to make some things… fulfill some of these expectations. Or else, not have a gig, a few liras to buy me a morning simit and an espresso… oh and also some iron and B12 that I need to ingest now if I am to stop being so tired. 6 months the doctor said. I have to take supplements for 6 months. At least the iron is affordable, in Ottawa it was 35 dollars for a 6 day supply, here it’s $4.50 for 15 days.

Cold Play on the sound system. Green tea is down to a third. Chocolate bar in my stomach. I’m thinking that I might want to stay here for another year. I’m just getting started… This whole thing is deep, profound, crazy, pushing me to test the ceiling again.

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One Response to “a day or three”

  1. Charlotte Says:

    I had been exhausted for two months also. And my iron was too low to give blood. But things have turned around and I am feeling better. I hope you feel better soon too! I love reading your adventures!

    Charlotte


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