Got the passport. Yeah, it took a short week for the photos, information, documents to go to Canada then come back in the form of a small blue book that will allow me to have an identity and travel around.

When you open it, under a bold CANADA title is written:
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada requests, in the name of Her Majesty the Queen, all those whom it may concertn to allow the bearer to pass freely, without delay or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.

I felt transported to a medieval time… you know, a forrest, bandits, enemies but this scroll would allow me safe passage… Countries, borders, rules…

My Canadian passport affords me the possibility to go pretty much everywhere in the world. Another born lets say, in the Middle East, does not have this possibility. Doors are closed to him. We don’t choose where we are born… the unfairness of it all. The lottery of life.

So I got passport, flight, baglama and I will go to Greece in a few days.

As I was walking to the metro this morning to go to the consulate, I went by a man stirring his tea, the sound of the spoon clinking on the glass. I felt a pang of emotion. Turkey. It does feel strange to leave. This place has become home in so many ways… and with these elections, it feels like anything could happen. There is a slight thought that I may not be able to come back… Since I left America I had a feeling that if I left Turkey I could not come back… There are no logical reasons for that.

It will be good to move, travel, maybe I am getting too comfortably ensconced in my little neighborhood, my little habits.

Oh and as I walked this morning, there was a gypsy family that had fallen asleep at the foot of a Garanti Bank bank machines spot. Lying on them was a ukulele… the same color ukulele as this girl… still don’t know her name… I first met her at one of my Karakedi performances, she was sitting right at the stage and emanating this fabulous energy… then we had met her on the street and walked along Istiklal one night… so there I saw the ukulele… laid on top of the blanket under which this family is sleeping… did she make a gift? Did they meet her?

DSC06516

“Be a lamp or a lifeboat or a ladder, help someone’s soul heal, walk out of your house like a sheperd” Rumi

This was a quote left by one of my friends on my Facebook page. This girl is like that, she shares her light with everyone, she truly is a light for the world. I need to continue shining myself…

What else? Not much. I am thinking of getting new shoes… my boots are inappropriate (translate to painful) for long walks, which I plan to have, and my Converse have holes in them now… wow… buying something… I’ll also treat my instruments to new strings… they both have strings that are 3,4 months old and that have been played extensively… luxury… but it will be quite a treat… so for Monday’s show at Karakedi I’ll have a sparkling sounding guitar…

OK, that is about it for today… hugs and love all around

night shift

March 26, 2014

It is 6:49 AM. I am on the tail end of the night shift. I just ran to the bakkal to get bread as someone asked for breakfast and we were out of bread. A French girl had gotten up early and wanted breakfast, so I obliged as the “breakfast girl” doesn’t come in before 8 AM.

Outside, the sun has been up for a while. The colors are gorgeous outside.

Inside I’ve been playing Arvo Part for the last 2 hours… how amazing… I had forgotten about Arvo Part.

Yesterday I finished the painting in room 12… talk about taking a long time. I had wanted to do this room in a week… It took over a month. Not of work but just of time. I varnished it and it came to life beautifully. I felt so rewarded. I’ve also been painting bits of walls and parts of Chillout. Orange, red and yellow. Yes. I came back. Last Thursday. I had dropped by, I had been thinking about coming back, I had been asked by everyone: “when are you coming back?” and on impulse I asked Pelin if there was a need for me. She said yes, so here I am.

the city's colors all came to life... I was soooo smiling when I varnished it

the city’s colors all came to life… I was soooo smiling when I varnished it

the rooms are small, so it is hard  to get good photos and yes, with the varnish now we get shine...

the rooms are small, so it is hard to get good photos and yes, with the varnish now we get shine…

my little guy playing...

my little guy playing…

It has been really good. Peaceful. It feels good to be useful. So this is why I ended up doing a night shift.

I have been thinking about Greece. About going to Crete and do this baglama workshop. I am going to learn so much. 7 days of learning. 3 sessions a day. I would like to go to the South coast after the workshop. I would like to walk. I saw photos of Crete and I was in wonder. After? Well, not sure. I want to come back but it feels that I have to get my life organized somewhat differently… or just… organized.

My residency permit will expire in June. I need to look at all this. I was told a couple nights ago that the rules will be changing, something about needing a Turkish bank account which I hear may be difficult to get for a foreigner. This could change things dramatically.

After much pondering, it seems that I don’t think it is time to leave Turkey yet. I only started with my baglama teacher in January, I’ve been learning tons… but there is much more to learn still. Another thing that has been floating in my mind is that I may be at a point where I am ready to start writing new music… that means I need space and time… and some kind of money or living arrangements that will allow me to dedicate myself to the work.

I’ve been writing poems… yeah, it had started in California, when I was last in San Dimas, I wrote a series of poems and the way they came had kind of surprised me. Then more came in June. I am still figuring out how to welcome them, it is a different kind of muse than writing songs or just writing. A thread showing itself and asks to be caught… they are playful things and I oblige.

There are 6 days before my flight to Crete, that is if I get my passport in time… yeah, my passport expires in June, I was planning to get it renewed soon, then I had the thought: “how much time do I need on this document in order to cross the border and go to Greece? After looking into it, I learned it’s three months. So I am short. I went to the Canadian Consulate and was told first it took 20 days to get a new passport, then 10 days, then really, 7. that was last Friday. Technically it can happen. But as I was warned, if things are delayed one way or another, I might not get it in time for my flight on the second of April… I’ll know what happens on the first, next Tuesday. Thankfully I got flight insurance when I bought my ticket, so I can move things around if need be.

Phew. 8:59 now. I’m very tired but I feel good. Mornings are really beautiful around here, it is still quiet in terms of tourists but the locals are busy living life in this metropolis. Delivery trucks all over Istiklal, while it is open for car traffic.

I will head back, climb the stairs to the 6th floor and sleep most of the day. Too bad as it looks like it will be a gorgeous day… Tonight, I am hoping to catch a concert at the Mekan. Over and out. All my love.

This morning’s thought

March 22, 2014

We have horses
we have names and titles
We are little potentates flying on lonely planets
at vertiginous speed through the universe.
We wonder where the servants have all gone
while we pound our fists
on the empty banquet table

We have wants
we have urges and needs
We are little potentates in cold castles perched on high cliffs
heads held too high to be able to see anything
We ask: why me?! Why me?!
while we stamp our feet imperiously
on the hard gray concrete we poured

If I can only look in your eyes
then I will see

If I can only silence fear
then I will see

If I can only love,
give all
open
then I will see

that all is
as it should be
Beautiful
Poetic
Perfect.

B26

Give up

March 21, 2014

GIVE UP

Swirls,
of all colors
Spellbinding
Ah…
you abandon yourself.
In these sparkling waters

You dance unrestrained.
Until currents come to trip you
from under
unseen
unheard
unexpected

This life
a distortion
perceived through the prism, kaleidoscope
of the idea that you `know`

But to think you know
Is to start to fall, to lose.
because the judgments made
are like the cage that caught the wind:
empty.

For all its wonders
For all its promises
This life is a trick of one’s imagination
A house of mirrors.
This life is all illusion

Give up.
Give up.
Give up.

Give up all pretense
Walk unhindered
freed
Cross to the other side
of this madness

And find the arms
the chest and the warmth
of your home
of your father

Leave this world to erase
in the early morning light
As nightmares do
when the eyes finally open

a99

another night

March 19, 2014

a60

a62

a63

a64

a65

a66

a67

a69

a70

a71

a72

a73

a74

a77

a78

a82

a84

a90

a95

b03

a75

a79

a81

a87

a92

a93

a95

a96

a99

b02

b03

b04

b07

b09

b11

b12

b15

b17

a85

b14

36 hours

March 17, 2014

b01

Out in the night, drifting
Between hope and inexorability
clinging then abandoning
Fighting then surrendering

The French man approached
Eying me, then trying his luck
by ways of provocation.

The lesbian put her head on my shoulder
her hands ran down my body
“I’m wet” she said longingly

The musician came smiling happily
“I feel like I am 18” he said
And he danced some more

The friend looked at me squarely
“Lets go have a beer after we close” He said
with a warm smile

Between continents
Between letting go and hoping
Between illusions
I drift

The lassoed wild horse rears,
pulling with the energy of life itself
until he tears the rope that kept him
and blindly gallops away from the fear of pain
unaware of the barb wire at the end of the field

Now amidst the filth, broken glass and broken lives
the heart slightly drunk
between the brothels, the bars
the cheap eateries, cheap hotels
and the cheap thrills, I walk.
Dirty inbred cats look up in terror.
A man dressed as a woman
approaches with a heavy metal stick in his hand
angry, ready to hit,
his deep disembodied voice
uttering threats.

a66

The kite’s rope broke.
It still flutters on the winds,
for a few last pure moments of lift
pretending all is good
but knowing full well
that gravity is about to take it down
and mercilessly smash it into the hard ground
and break its wooden skeleton
into useless little bits,

The sun now up, on the other side of the night
across from the bar
a very young bespectacled Syrian refugee
sells mussels all night long
to the drunks down on Mis Sokak
what a school of life for this child

As we stand there chatting stupidly
I watch a hunting cat’s deathly stare
as he is about to pounce on a dove
but, for a micro second, he is distracted
and decides to focus on another prey
the bird innocently, dumbly ambling around.
Unaware of the frailty of his life

b14

There is a sea of men in black coats
A beer bottle crashes onto the stone cobbles,
splits, spreads its contents
Like a wounded body spilling blood.
No one cares.

Always pay attention
to the first words a man tells you.
In these words his truth is revealed

Always know
that your power of creation
will make you believe in anything
That this power
will make you overlook the truths
now given you

That power will make you yell out intrepidly
while you bask in this glow
of creative wonder and ecstasy
It will make you blind,
a burning torch
that sears your eyes shut
to what is right there to be seen.

Words of wisdom
so easy to write after the fact
But utterly useless at that very point
As all is now cold

To believe that the odds can be beaten,
That walls can be torn down.
How noble.

Oh yes, walls can be torn down,
wars can be fought
but the dust that is lifted in the struggle
blinds us, infiltrating everything
with poison

So, give up.
Accept the fate, recognize the gifts
Refuse to strike back and
Live
Some
More
Sleep a peaceful sleep
The Gods hold you dear

b05

a58

I saw ‘him’.

Yeah, him, the one I wrote about for the last time on June 06 2013… I had written about one of the most awkward phone call I ever made in my life, I had written about finally being released from the madness, sadness that had been holding me in a steel grip. I spoke of chains and ropes sliding off of me, finally setting me free, finally understanding that there was nothing there to start with. Who is this? He was my love, my everything for a year… Yes, some of you know exactly who I’m talking about.

I saw him on Istiklal.

My heart still beats a bit squarely as I sit and write this.

I was on walking from Galata Saray, heading towards Chillout…

Oh, the timing of things. The vectoriality, the impossible coincidentality… How can things such as this be accidents? What is required to make this timing so perfect is just beyond me. I mean, what is required for these two vectors to connect is mind boggling. The precision of the course adjustments are astounding. From my standpoint, the first factor was about my waking up exactly when I did… then it was about realizing on my way out that I had forgotten to take the garbage bag out, my hesitation, then my climb back upstairs to pick it up and put it in the bin outside. This sequence added somewhere around 45 seconds to a minute to my journey out.

Then it was the decision I made on the fly to quickly stop at the Starbucks patio,in order to steal the WIFI and see if I had messages…. then I also decided to check my email, this way adding the precious extra 6 minutes or so. Once I left Starbucks, oh, about ten steps later, thinking of Meron I stopped to send him a text message, that adding another 2 minutes or so.

If I had just walked straight, I would have missed the whole thing. If I had just looked at a store window, I would have missed the connection. If I had written the text message 2 minutes later, I would have missed seeing him. This is very acrobatic timing in action.

That is when I saw him… No, actually, at first I didn’t really see him, I “knew” him to be there on an unconscious yet powerful level of knowingness. I don’t know how this works in terms of energy waves and ESP capabilities, but something, some energy inexorably called my eyes in his direction, about, 50 feet away. The walk, his gait, unmistakable. The build of the body. But truly, the visual clues were superfluous, I “knew” him before the eyes and the brain interpreted any of the information received.

I am stupefied. How can this be? Is it real??? Can it be??? As my eyes neared his face he started to look in my direction. His head slowly moving towards me as if guided by precise radar system. He sensed the eyes on him I guess.

“Oh shit.” I thought. I questioned… Should I go towards him and talk? Or should I hide? There is a woman holding his arm. Dressed up pretty, a bit thick in the waist, a “real” girl wearing girly clothes, she is nothing like me. She is fairly tall but that could be heels, Turkish girls love heels. She has long brown hair. Probably not a good idea to approach them… Remembering his deep coldness on our last phone contact, I really don’t see what I could possibly say to him. It seems that making contact would only cause certain malaise.

This computation all but takes a few micro-instants and while this takes place, when his gaze is about to lock up on mine, I thankfully slid behind the bodies of people walking close by, I cut off all energy emissions from going in his direction, my heart suddenly pounding.

Thank God for not letting me be exposed there in the open for him to see me with nothing to hide behind. I wait a few seconds, my stomach is in a knot. Then after what I calculate is enough time for them to walk passed my position, I turn around to greedily stare at his back as much as I can. Just to make sure I am really seeing what I am seeing. Yes, same long stride, legs, body, hair, head shape… And as I stare he slowly starts, too casually, to turn his head in my direction and look back. The carefulness I’m sure, is because he does not want to alert his companion to what is going on, hence the nonchalant way. That nonchalance gave me time to hurry off, to vanish in the crowd. But I know he saw me. I am certain.

Relief fills me as I get off of Istiklal onto Balyoz Sokak. I stopped for a second, my heart is pounding and sitting in a bath of acidic milk. “Holy shit.” I said out loud as I stop, shocked.

I had, for a time wondered what would happen if I was to ever run into him again. That last phone call was a definite termination. It was finished. Over. Since he could barely muster up 5 words on the phone back then, I imagined that meeting him would likely be a thoroughly awkward if not a painful and pointless exercise.

I hurried to Chillout, I was initially heading there to use the internet connection… but Pelin, Selin, Roman and Husseyin are there and so we talk. I tell them about this unexpected sight. Suddenly I realize how rubbery my legs are. Oh these emotions how they can run you. I don’t really understand why it is so intense. But it is. When the door opens I look up nervously half way expecting him to show up. That is not rational…

“Drink this.” Pelin says as she pushes towards me a brown half full bottle of Tuborg. I never drink beer, but this one I drank . It was cold, smooth and dulled everything nicely and quickly.

There are anywhere between 18 and 20 million people at any time in Istanbul. Istiklal hosts a wall to wall assortment of thousands of pedestrians per hour. How can this possibly happen? It makes Turkey seem very small all in a sudden. How could we possibly run into each other on a busy Saturday night in Beyoglu?

“I feel this was fate.” Says Roman. Fate? I guess we do not know the purposes of the Gods, they are beyond our understanding. For myself I cannot see the purpose in this encounter. It is just awkward, it cannot mean anything. Does it mean anything to him? Well, that, I really cannot answer and really cannot care about.

a59

***

The last 36 hours have been almost too much. From the undeserved harshness of Friday night to the crazy happenings that followed it into the mad early morning streets among the transsexuals, the drunk, the horny and the hopeless, walking through filth and broken glass, all of us fakirs of the broken soul. When I finally make it home the call to prayer rises on what has now become Sunday morning, I cannot sleep. I float disconnected driven by the lack of sleep, the nerves, the fatigue, feeling broken and empty. I wish for some sort of peaceful womb right now, somewhere I could lay trustfully, somewhere where I could let it all go for a moment. Where all the emotions, all the hurts, all the deceptions, all the questions, where the tiredness, the aches, the stupidity and non-nonsensicality of our human emotions and reactions could recede back behind the veils.

I will meditate in the morning. I will give up. Give up this fight with ghosts. Look towards the light, towards the Placelessness. Away from the desires, the fears and the self-deceptions. Only God’s love can really fill my heart.

Oh how tired I am… I just spent the last three days working on finishing room 12 at Chillout. I had promised I was going to finish it, but I got more to do than I what I had originally signed up for. Normally I would just paint the artwork and the rest of the room would be painted by someone else, but that someone else isn’t here anymore… so I had to do it…. I so thankfully had help from Pelin with the sanding. We had to sand those oil painted walls so that the water based paint would stick to the wall.

These walls have given me quite the education on the state of paint availability and usage in Turkey. It seems straightforward enough. Get water based paint, get the colors you need. Paint. Be done. It aint so.

First of all there are distinctions with the water based stuff, distinctions I am still not clear about to this day. But the result is very clear if you use one or the other: Shitty or great. We had gone to buy paint when Kimberly was here, we were uneducated and we got, well… shitty stuff.

Then the colors, I thought of something like going to my local hardware store and say: “can you make this blue?” or stare at endless shelves of paint colors and types… it ain’t so. You go down to the paint vendors area of Karakoy and realize that there are 4 colors available: black, white, Yellow and red. Blue: Yok. If you want blue, you have to get it made, and that is 35 lira for a small jar. Too much for hostel means.

OK then we’ll mix… we bought pigments… they look gorgeous in the bins. In the paint, well, it can get thick and it takes a lot…

and finally for the “paint and be done” segment… I really got to taste it… Paint and start over..

the original room with red lighting

the original room with red lighting

In practical terms that meant that I could not quite realize the “wash” I wanted to do with multiple layers of paint. I had a base wall that was bright orange with black stripes. It had it’s charms… anyways, next I sanded that, next I went for a sky blue base layer which I hoped would keep some of the hues, just for the sake of life… Then I was going to do a LIGHT wash of black to make it night… it has worked before.. but then… it just did not.

The black stuff was like charcoal and it embedded itself into the blue turning into a brownish hue complete with application strikes… I was … in a panic. So when I saw this… I freaked and decided to cover it all in black… with bad black paint.

The image I was to do had a black background with shiny high glow colors. At this point I had already spent three days on this disaster. I tried to paint some color over the black… well that black background acted as a sponge, sucking every pigment of color deep into its black depths… I was …. In a panic. It looked like absolute… shit.

the original idea chosen by Bartin

the original idea chosen by Bartin

That point was when everything went bonkers at Chillout, and exhausted I had taken time off, leaving this black hole of a painting in the room. I felt that this could be the time when the wall would defeat me.

Fast forward two weeks later. Sandpaper. I sanded the whole thing. It kind of worked. I now had texture from the orange, blue and double black layers. Same issue with the bad paint though. There is no way I could get the colors I wanted out of the paint.

the thing with hostel art work is that you work with very minimal means… what is there is what you use and if you can avoid buying, then don’t… I was working with a number of left overs, from different eras of painting being done. I still am not sure what kind of paint most of it is. I went on to paint the tree… I was still not convinced but proceeded. Then the leaves… then more sand paper… I guess once a sculptor always a sculptor, sand paper is second nature to me… so I sanded the tree, leaves, … and it worked. It came to life.

So these last 3 days, I spent most of my time laboring on the wall. As I said, I did not expect to have to paint high ceiling walls all round and now my shoulder is a painful mess… but I am just about done. A few more touchups. Some more leaves, a layer of varnish to cover and protect these various types of unpredictable paints and I will be done. My word kept. That was really important to me.

the room now

the room now

the room now

the room now

my little guy

my little guy

the muse

the muse

***

I wrote all this and realized that this whole week went by and I did not write anything about it and there was some really great moments… the most noteworthy thing besides the wall was an absolutely brilliant show with Eren at Karakedi on Monday night. I have a video of the new song… wrote a new song a few days before… but I cannot find an internet connection good enough to upload it to Youtube yet… it will come…

Yeah we had a great show that was topped with 2 encores, they would not let us off the stage. It made things really special. There is only one more show at Karakedi on March 30th then I go to Crete and I have no idea what will happen after. I have a feeling that trying to organize anything will be a waste of time and energy. My friend Mona from California is in Switzerland for a month, I could actually see her… but I am down on my last money… so If I start traveling around, my financial situation (that is actually funny to call it that…) will totally unravel… and maybe that is what I should do… What is a girl to do?

So I wait. I should be hunting for shows, money, jobs, I should be on some sort of high alert or something but I am not. I have to go to the embassy and get my passport renewed, been saying I’d go “this week” for 3 weeks now. I did not go to my baglama lesson because I was painting and because I don’t have the money. My friend Sam talked about the possibility of coaching English conversation for decent money and I cannot feel motivated to even try and since I leave in two and a half weeks anyways for I don’t know how long… nothing really makes any sort of sense. I should go see the doctor about a number of things, but I don’t. I feel I need to rest and relax and I can’t.

It is an in-betweeness.

It’s OK, no worries to be had. I think seeing the sun and feeling the sun will do me a world of good. Getting out of Beyoglu will do me another world of good. I remember in September, I was about to implode, then went to Konya and then Cappadoccia and when I came back I was so incredible excited, happy, full of joy because I was “back home”. Maybe I have to go so to come back.

In some ways it is as if major changes could be coming… or not. What will I choose… or not? I think of leaving this place sometimes and it feels utterly impossible.

I read something: “Your edge is where you stop short of where you compromise your fullest gift and instead cater to your fears.” it went on talking about one’s gifts, and how as a human, you have to honor the gift… After Monday’s show, where I made so many people happy, I wondered if I was staying on a safe edge with the music. Should I push? But I have tried… and it was really not my thing… this commerce, this glorification of the self… So wrong gift maybe.

In a book about Rumi, there were writings where he talked about his discomfort about being called a poet. He said he was “a lover of God” not a poet, as the poet writes to be recognized and Rumi writes to try to reach God, express God, the divine…

What is a girl to do?

Like in a game

March 10, 2014

a47

The vibe was one of nervousness. Rain falling, dark streets, too quiet yet not quiet enough so to let one relax. I keep my eyes down. Do not make eye contact. It simplifies things. It’s not really me, but it makes my life much easier on a Sunday night between Tarlabaşi and Beyoğlu. I tried to take photos but the camera abandoned the fight within seconds, battery dead. I take it as a sign that I better not do this now. Tarlabaşi has grown hostile somehow in the last two weeks. Is it me or is it a fact? From frowns to reprobate “tsks, tsks” as I walk by, head covered and eyes down.

The water runs down Ömer Hayyam in rushing brooks. Cracked pavements, broken stonework, worn steps to ancient rusted metal doors overlooked by caged dead windows, like lost teeth in the face of abandoned buildings. The sound of my steps slight splashes, rubber on the wet asphalt.

I had to go out. I always have to go out. Maybe it is a left over of the motorcycle life; go, go, go… or maybe it’s just that this night calls and I cannot suppress my attraction to it.

Under the overpass, it is dark, the street light not working on this Sunday night… a man is walking, approaching, a dark silhouette in a long overcoat, umbrella held overhead, this back-lit scene makes a stunning image against the rain drenched blackness, barely seen red ocher of the bricks that wall this passage. All these images I have seen, all these images I wish to keep alive in my memory. We pass each other, he raises his umbrella thoughtfully so not to hit me with it.

One more left turn, up the steps, another human, another thought of caution, the wet steps are filthy. All my senses are on, listening, looking, sensing the vibrations, the intimations, body language of those around at this hour. I cross a group of 3 yabanci occupying the whole sidewalk talking about residency permits.

A few steps ahead there is a fire, yes, right there next to the glamour of Istiklal, homeless men make fires on the side of the street to stay warm. Earlier today I had given a lira to one of these men. I don’t know why but I felt compelled to do so. Maybe it is him sitting there now, I cannot see, don’t want to stare. His face was strangely blackened, now I see why, they burn coal to stay warm.

It is just another walk like I’ve done so many times yet, it is still filled with an energy I am addicted to. Lately I have taken to imagine I am a character in a game. Challenges, obstacles, levels of difficulty, points gained through attaining goals unharmed. I walk hooded, black in the black streets, sometimes becoming invisible, progressing, advancing.

A few nights ago, for example I got to play this game fully. We were saying goodbyes, standing in a dismal alley, on one side a old man, looking like a beggar, on his face a large bandage in the shape of an X. He is making helpless gestures looking down the street, he is distressed. He wears a filthy long beige coat that has seen much better days, his face dirty except for that white X of a bandage on his forehead, his eyes panicked. To the left, where he stares the eyes course over piles of black garbage bags and strewn detritus before resting on an ambulance, its doors open and its personnel running back and forth. I looked at my friend and he told me:

“Looks like your part of the game will be harder than mine…”

“It does.”

He said this because I was heading towards the center of the downtrodden and he was walking away from it.

“I’m up to it. See you.” I said.

“See you.” We went our separate ways.

I turned away from him and started my journey back. As I approached the corner, a crew of battered characters appear form a quasi circle at the back of the ambulance. There is a woman sitting on the entrance steps of a building. I could not help but stare at her breasts practically completely exposed, long, huge big, despondent fleshy masses barely held-in by a shabby stretched-out shirt. When my eyes rose to meet her face, I was shocked by the blackness. On her features she carried two hundred years of misery. Her eyes set in blackness, deep holes cut at sharp angles with a dull knife, almost a caricature but too real not to scream its truth and experience out loud. A hard life. Harder than I can ever imagine. Her voice, ragged like a cat’s tongue was shouting back at someone, at the unfairness of the whole world. People stood around, bouncing comments back. Something had obviously happened here but I have no idea what. I continued across this scene, voices going back and forth, my feet, advancing one step, then another between the retorts, on the uneven, filth ridden cobblestones.

I turned the corner, a different scene. Music blares, taxi drivers, bellicose, force their way through the crowd of revelers, tourists, scammers and residents. I am hailed by a man at the entrance of a bar, I continue, turn into the fish market street, it is crowded, I am stuck behind two men with wide backs in black coats. Football on screens, music twirling, lights… more hailing, inviting gestures, I look up to see between the awnings, the sky with a big round street light interposed across the gray blanket of clouds over the infinity, it’s incredibly beautiful. Proceed… Balık Pasaj, then right again, in front of the restaurant that serves işkembe soup. A group of people are celebrating together… I remember sitting there with the Pullitzer prize winner one night at about 4 in the morning having danced all night.. I keep on walking… Istiklal.. broken glass, vomit. I advance in the night.

“Bayan!”

This stupid guy hangs out near the Russian consulate and yells “Bayan!” (woman!) to the females who walk by. A few night ago I had reacted to that. But tonight I glide by using my spell of dispassionability or “rolling the duck back’s spell”. his voice trails in the air… I don’t understand what he says, and sometimes this inability to understand is truly a blessing.

I make it to Karakedi. I made this first stage of tonight’s chapter of the game successfully.
“Maryam!” We hug. We talk. I love her so. I go inside…

“Ataman!” We greet each other. Talk a little..

“Ben gidiyorum.”

“Nerde?”

“Eve gidiyorum.” We say our goodbyes and I leave.

This was a stop to gather health points. Done. I resume the walk towards Tarlabaşi. I end up near Nizam. I decide to stop and get soup. I sit down. A few minutes later Christophe appears. Christophe is my roommate. Oh I really scored. I will now have protection to cover the last stretch of the journey home…

But that was last week. Tonight, I am heading to Karakedi because usually the Sunday nights are filled with Turkish folk music. I am not disappointed, I get to hear gorgeous songs; oud, kemence, percussion and a beautiful singer. I am mesmerized. People dance, arms up, the rhythms carrying their feet in lightness and grace. It feels like another time, place… almost medieval. I stand there motionless, just letting all these sounds, pulses permeate me. I had just been playing my bağlama before this little trip tonight and I wish I could internalize all this to my very molecular level.

I think of how far away I come from culturally… how long will it take to absorb these pulses? Can they be absorbed? Can they be translated in such a way that a beautiful, truthful music could be birthed out of this illicit union? Oh these tones…. I travel, revel on them.

Ibo comes to me, he is, as usual, inebriated.
“Seni çok seviyorum!!” He declares with passion. He keeps telling me how much he loves me. Every time he sees me, he never gets discouraged. He hugs me, won’t let go. He starts to dance, arms up, snapping fingers, big grin on his face motioning with his hands for me to join him. But I don’t feel any dance steps in me right now. I just want to absorb the music, it is the last song, so I slowly back off, then turn around, then leave, incognito, and quietly step back into the night.

It is cold, it is wet. It is Sunday night, the sad and unsuccessful stand out in last hopes of excitement. I walk, avoiding groups, eyes, and communication. At Galata Saray a guy tries half heartedly to block my way, I step right, he steps right I step left, he steps left, I frown, I move more to the left, avoid him. He says something, I don’t understand, I ignore him, again blessed by the absence of understanding and continue on my way down to be engulfed into the darkness of the sloping Tarlabaşi streets.

A32

Miscellaneous thougths

March 9, 2014

Elections.

Yesterday as I arrived at Galata there were two AKP minivans, blaring music that chanted the prime minister’s name as if he was a prophet, I heard this morning that one of these songs was stolen from the songwriter… it figures…

The representative for Beyoğlu gave a speech. He is one of these smiley faced fellows, constantly fisting up in victory, high fiving, grinning, showing a positive, widely spaced eyes face, wearing the fancy suits with the graying longish hair that speaks of liberalness, coolness and experience all at once… I was trying to just ignore it as he was doing his best to be charismatic and convincing. When he was done, he started to distribute red carnations to all attending in large generous motions, here! here! He ended up right in front of me, like, 10 feet away… All teeth and smiles he threw one flower at me… it landed on my laptop… everyone is smiling and jolly, “ha! ha! ha!” we are all blurting out like idiots. It was somewhat surreal. The fanfare was blasting in the background. The Great Election Circus. Yeehaw.

He wasn’t even gone yet that the cafe employees recycled the left behind flowers, cut the long stems and put them in the flower vases to embellish the cafe tables. Turkish practicality. They are still there today. Red stains, like blood. I think I can never look again at a red carnation with a neutral mind.

I felt grandly embarrassed to be handed these stupid gifts from a political party I do not endorse at all. All this smiling, all this patronizing, all this “generosity”… just a cheap shot at buying the affinity of voters. I can just imagine… “He’s such a “nice” fellow..” statements from the politically impaired. Please excuse my sarcasm… I just cannot help it.

What is even more grotesque is the difference of budgets between the parties. Seeing the output of pamphlets, ads, banners, flowers, trucks, gifts, staff, advertising, this one obviously has endless resources. Not such for the other parties, trust me. I have friends who were gifted fancy coffee grounds, goodies and more flowers, yes, red carnations… This morning I saw more of these red carnations littering Istiklal street all over. Pfff…

How much votes will these bribes purchase is a good question. If the population is as manipulated as the media is, it is a scary prospect.

***

night

night

Rain today. We need it, so I won’t complain. But I am cold and selfishly, I want the sun.

I played last night near my tower, at Atölye Kuledibi, it was a quiet night. I met a really great German couple. We chatted for a long time after the show. I love these meetings of like minds… such a joy.

And no, I did not play the new song. It didn’t feel that it was quite the right timing. I will likely play it Monday night as I am booked to play at Karakedi. Who knows, maybe I can get someone to video it… (this is for Danielle 😉 )

The third visual depiction of Eren and I while we play...  I love getting those...

The third visual depiction of Eren and I while we play… I love getting those…

I still have to get my guitar fixed, the intonation is way out.. my strings are two months old or more… but I hold back on buying a new set…

Oh and here’s an interesting one.. I got paid last night, the money was put in an envelope with a thank you on it and handed very nicely to me. Eren had left immediately after the gig because he had to get to Karakedi to work there some more. I stopped by to pay him, looked in the envelope, grabbed what I thought was one of two 100 lira bills. I was surprised at the amount and so glad, wow… a hundred each how nice! I found Eren by the door having a cigarette, I gave him the hundred… he said this was just fair, that he had talked to the guys there, asking for more money since it was Friday night…

I felt good to have this 100 lira I felt so, so rich! … Meron was at Karakedi and we decided to walk back home together On the way back we decided to get çorba, and there I was feeling so rich… I wanted to spend! Maybe I’ll get meat pide! Everything is possible! I thought…

As we sat there in the restaurant, I took the envelope from my bag and opened it to take that blue 100 lira bill. I looked in. It is not a 100 lira. It is 20 lira. What? How could I do this?? So we didn’t get 200, we got 120 for both which is 60 lira each which is what we normally have been getting… I stared at that 20 wondering how I could make such a mistake, the 20 is green, the 100 is blue… But after this initial surprise, a second surprise came: I didn’t care. At all. And that was the wildest one. Oh well, so be it I thought. That was a totally unexpected response since I myself have not made any money in the last ten days or so… But I truly, really didn’t care. I just shrugged. Felt maybe it was meant to be. Let it go.

And that takes me back to the conversation with the German couple. They were asking me about my plans, my career, what next? They did tell me they thought I was very talented and that means that I should be aiming for some sort of recognition in the pop or music world… And I told them that it is not something important to me. I told them about my path so far, about my spiritual journey, about the fact that I just enjoy playing to people who enjoy what I give. I told them that I cannot really play the “wanna be” game anymore and that seems to be the only option if you want to earn a living making music in the West. And I told them that my life was good as the God, Goddesses or the Universe, whatever you call it, has been providing. So I do not worry.

So, 100 lira, 20 lira… ($50 or $10) it’s currency. I’ll play Monday night, so I’ll have more then. It’s more than many have. It’s enough for my needs until then.

***

The dog keeps sauntering from people to people, it’s a young pup, maybe six months, all eager, all smiles. There is a guy grilling meat and making sandwiches, the dog stays close. People are grouped in circles of black overcoats topped by multiple umbrellas. Political banners fly overhead red, orange white, blue. Despite the rain the tourists still take photos of the tower in innumerable quantities.

Inside the cafe, the red cat weaves her way between human and table legs, charming, flirting with all customers and employees alike. She is a survivor. It is as if she knows to keep herself pretty and clean so she will get food and caresses. She was pregnant a couple of weeks ago… dunno where the babies are but she’s spending a lot of time here.

***

Today,I will practice I guess. I desperately need to do laundry. Maybe late tonight I’ll head to the hostel and do it. The mood there is one of relaxation. After all the craziness it is good. I am still debating what I should do. Go back or stay where I am until my trip to Greece. I need to go finish my painting. but that is just a day or two. In truth I would actually like to make more paintings but I’m not sure what’s the best decision health wise. I guess that if I wait long enough, it will decide itself out. What I really wish is to feel healed and strong, I think I need a whole week of sunshine to cleanse and nourish my body with sun electrons.

***

My new song… it’s good… I mean, sometimes you write them and then realize that they will stay in the thick book of the unsung glories. Last night after the gig, I played it to Meron, in the middle of the Istanbul night, quietly in the room there, sitting on the purple couch, I “performed” it for the first time to a set of human ears. It works, the song works. I woke up with it in my mind. I will adjust yet a few words. It always feels like such a gift to have a new song in my world.

***

dead building

dead building