Postponing

May 29, 2014

a07

Well, the heat is here, sweating we are. The color of the light; golden. My head is like a narrow dim hallway today. Not enough sleep and suddenly it’s just about the very next lift of the hip and the foot and the weight of your shoes. There is fuzz in my brain, as if I had partied too long, too late, but I did not.

It is just that I have been unable to sleep regular nights for the last while. The combined facts that I now get up at 7:30 AM for the breakfast making at Chillout and that sleeping at home has become horrible makes for the frying neurons, frayed nerves and a sort of quiet despair. One roommate smokes continually all night long. the place fills up with second hand smoke, it reeks and at 2, 3, or 4 in the morning I wake up water on my lungs and coughing like an old horse that was fed dusty hay for 20 years. I’ve had to get up, get dressed and leave the house. The whole rigmarole is so ridiculous I want to cry.

What the heck? You ask. Well he is supposed to leave soon. I fervently await that day and that first smoke free night.

I now think of breathing as a human right. A necessity. Stupid isn’t it.

But I sense you have this question for me. You’ll ask: so what about the residence permit? Well that didn’t happen. I had been trying to find information about the insurance parameters, about the required documents for a couple of weeks. I finally got the needed information two days before the appointment when I went for the second time to the police station and was finally given the goods. It was great to finally know what to get, but I was in dismay as I was seeing that I may not have enough time to get the physical world in motion in time to materialize all the paperwork and money transfers. I ushed like mad all over Beyoglu for two days to get the needed documents to finally see that it wasn’t going to happen. With a sigh and almost a tear my head dropped as the bank’s door silently behind us. Us is Mahir and me. Mahir has been tremendous. Helping me with the process, being my translator, spokesperson and morale booster.

I told myself : “I failed.” then I thought, no, not failed, just delayed. We then went to the police department with the idea of canceling the appointment. There the policeman told us we’d better postpone, come back within 10 days with the necessary documents. OK, doable… I think. Assuming that I put all the stuff together there is still the possibility that they refuse to extend the permit. If they do I have to leave by June 9th. Yeehaw.

This morning, Usta bey told me in Turkish:

“Just stay, change your name to Ayşe or Fatma, cover yourself with a scarf and get a false kimlik kartı (identity card) and if the police stops you, you just don’t say a word.” he said that making the gesture from left to right with his right hand in front of the mouth. Imagine the mute, tattoed fake muslim woman. He was smiling such a good smile. The Turks don’t sweat paperwork like we do. I guess because the system is a little be more unpredictable than say the Canadian bureaucracy and it’s unbending self importance. It made me laugh.

I am exploring another option with a friend but I worry a bit that there may be strings attached. There are moments where I feel ready to have all of this just stop. Sometimes I get a glimpse of something that feels like I am doing a puppet dance, strings swinging and all. I wonder about it all. Am I fooling myself so thoroughly? Then when I am rested I am ready to conquer the world. But that too can be a puppet dance. This inability to just chill and ride this wave worry free could very well be because I’m so tired right now.

Maybe it’s this city, it buzzes through you like race grade caffeine and you can fly so high you don’t know anymore what you are, you just know, want the exhilarating feeling with your throat wide open caught in an unstoppable burst of giddiness induced laughter. The city charms you and there you stand so puzzled: “What was I about to say?…”

Tarlabaşı. Cats screaming in the night in eternal heat and horniness, breeding relentlessly maybe because life is so hard. They are skeletal and filthy, they don’t trust humans, darting around warily and avoiding the mean kick of a resentful child or man for that matter. One of the nights I had to leave the house because of the smoke, walking up the street leading to the boulevard I saw a rat scurrying downhill, drug dealers waiting in a car, a dog on the street his back rounded, legs in an awkward triangle, the shit falling next to all the endless garbage lining the pavement,the seedy club with the brown door where the music pumps used tired beats as the trannies adjust their lycra micro skirts. Inhaling the strong draft of human piss, my nose revolted then I jumped over the stinky garbage pile by the bakery, a few more turns and I get into the fancy tourist area where the drunk well do do locals are believing their own stories, decked in the latest fashion, carrying cocktails and laughing too loudly. The women in Louboutins, ankles quivering click clacking on the worn cobbles. The next day a tinerci (the name of those who sniff paint thinner many here don’t have money for fancy drugs) was passed out on the street staring at the blue sky, his blue shirt filthy, his body loose, abandoned, his mind a long long ways away from this ghetto. The Syrian moms with children hanging off her skirts, human clusters of need and sadness their hands extended their voices in a low supplicant’s mutter… “Maalesef…” Fuck.

No, I’m not from ’round here” I stick out sorely with my western garb, tattoo, and pale skin and hair, I stare at the pavement as I sweat in the morning light… I feel like an obtrusive voyeur looking at all this.

Ah but I get lost in the images that have scorched my brain.

What I should do. What will I do. Each day yielding a different color of will and want. When I could not produce the required items for the residency permit rendez vous yesterday for a moment the thought of just quitting the whole rigmarole right now and buying a ticket to cross the Atlantic Westbound with my last dollars was OK with me. At the very same time, my friend Hooman tells me we could make it work for me to visit Iran… I could go see Mariam in Beirut, I could go back to Houdetsi, I have no money… maybe I can make it if I stay here, if I leave I am a hobo with my bag on my back. I sit at different tables through the day with the same question mark above my head. What should I do?

Maybe if I could just get some good sleep for a few nights Everything would look much simpler and I would just shrug and smile.

Inşallah, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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14 days to

May 16, 2014

Two days of warmth. After all the rain this feels good. It is nice at around 20 degrees, but we know that the real heat is coming. It will come, sweltering and the sweat will pour off of all the bodies walking on the street dreaming and yearning for shade until October.

Tic toc, time travels its forward course. 13 days to my residency permit extension appointment. I’ve been teeter tottering on that one, worrying, thinking, pondering way too much. 4 days ago I almost bought a ticket back to Los Angeles, 5 days ago there was a ticket for Montreal for $450…. my finger was up in the air above the keyboard, I just could not commit. Cannot still. Something holds me back from doing it. Like there is still more to do here… I cannot seem to be able to find the logical thread to the next move. The “throw everything up in the air, get in motion, just for the sake of it” option is not making sense at this time.

Yesterday Mahir, my roommate mentioned this thing of how much more we could see, do, explore while here. We settle into a small circle of habits that become our lives when this place has so much to offer at every turn… He is also wondering about his next move. Stay or go. This place takes a hold of your heart. There is something unique in this city. He did go home after spending a year here, he experienced a total cultural shock upon returning “home” (home being Germany for him) I can somehow imagine the magnitude of the shock. I did experience that a bit going to Crete and Crete is nowhere near what the cultural about-face that landing in Los Angeles would cause.

in the mean time,

Thursday was perfect. As I walked to the venue for my show it was the perfect Istiklal moment; running into multiple friends, basking in the end of day glow of gold light and enjoying a rush of late caffeine. Then to Atölye where I was greeted with such warmth, hugs, kisses on the cheek, laughter and mercimek corbası, Turkish hospitality. Eren was already there we had our soup together, then set up and started to play

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Eren leaves Beyoglu in two weeks… I am going to miss him so, so much… we played two sets to a very appreciative audience. At midnight Eren left, I was asked me to play more, I did. A group of 4 men from the Netherlands came in, they were hilarious. There was a couple from Brittany, Özgür a Turkish motorcyclist and painter, and the rest of the crew there. I played my heart out. My strange little guitar responding perfectly.

I played the new song I wrote the night before.. it’s a political song. if you have heard about the mining accident in Soma… well that night there had been protests and of course the police tear gassed and water cannoned the people… that day had started with learning about the accident and then hearing about the idiotic response of the government. later that night I witnessed an incredible amount of police with busses, toma, armed vehicles piling up at the TRT building parking lot. I saw the crowd of protesters filling Istiklal with flags, shouting slogans. Minutes later, tear gas filled the air. The usually quiet Balyoz Street was filled with people escaping from gas and police. the same old scenario again.

When I arrived home, Tarlabası’s night was sliced by screams, cries, the smashing of bottles, loud noises.. I wish I could have understood what they were screaming about. Men and women shouting, loud with intense anger at about 1:30 AM, it went on for a good hour. Tarlabası is like a thermometer of discontent… the poorest live here and the resentment to pain and unfairness is expressed with anguished immediacy. When there is unrest, you will feel it here with tremendous force. The social veneer is so thin, there is no artificial taming of the impact of events on the souls of people. No social analgesic to mask the pain. At that moment, I had been sitting with my guitar, I grabbed a pen and started to write. The whole song was given to me in way of sounds and voices. I was recording each event as it came, like painting a tableau: the rising voices, the anger, the smashing of a bottle, the voice of a baby starting to cry… Then I was running with it. I wrote it in french which is a bit ironic… political Turkish song written in French…

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Murs décrépits
Perles de pluie sur le gris
des mots qui s’envolent
Pigeons voyageurs

Un panier monte et descend
L’argent s’évapore
Les hommes comme les matous
ils crient leur rage dans la nuit

Sur le pavé
bouteille fracassée
Mais ce sont les éclats de voix
qui font pleurer bébé

Un voile qui dévoile
Une femme au dos brisé
La vie qui taille à coups de hache
les visages et les rêves

Les médias muselés
nous servent des pingouins
Pendant ce temps sur la rue
ce sont les enfants que l’on tue

Et sous la terre à Soma
Plus de 700 hommes ensevelis
sous la glaise noire des mensonges
et de l’indifférence

Un vote contre un crouton de charbon
Pivoine à la boutonnière
Les politiciens se pavanent
Ils mentent, fermentent, fomentent

Klaxons, cris de rage
impatience et trop de cigarettes
La fumée nous enveloppe
d’une fausse cécité

Et que coule le thé
Les chansons à se couper les veines
Les heures trop longues a tenter
de reconstituer

Et que coule le raki
Pendant l’appel à la prière
Avec les gaz lacrymogènes
La révolte est dans l’air

Y`a une rage
qui ronge
comme la rouille

Y`a une rage
qui ronge
les infortunés

Y`a une rage
qui ronge
les abandonnés

Y`a une rage
qui ronge
ceux à qui on a menti

Y`a une rage
qui ronge
ceux que nous avons trahis

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I’ll have to work out a translation… actually I want to translate some of it in Turkish, the meter of the song is 10\4 which is kind of cool as it happened by itself (the local rhythms becoming internalized)

So… what will I do? I am getting together the required papers for the residency appointment. That will determine much of what happens next.

One day at a time, said the life addict… one day at a time.

I am just happy that I wrote some cool things lately. maybe that is all I should worry about. And speaking of writing I have been finally reading the edited version of my book, my friend Danielle Liard had painstakingly revised for me. Maybe I will finally put it out in some sort of format.

Game changer

May 7, 2014

a74

Sunny morning.

Istanbul.

There are all these choices. But choices don’t matter. Truth does, but the question rises:

What is truth?

Because at any moment, how I feel, what I know, what I think can be upended by an event, a cognition, a word. What we consider true is either a fickle thing or an unmovable, unbending opinion, judgment.

It can be so very hard to see clearly.
We make veils with feelings that we wrap around ourselves and then start to dance fancy tangos with our pride.

Is it then that all of our arrogance, conceit, disbelief, fears, quirks, ugliness, beauty, failures, victories and flaws all that we are, like it or not, has to be accepted by our own selves first, exactly as we are?

That nothing is there to be conquered, bettered or changed but just there to be experienced as gifted to us?

Is it that in this acceptance we can stop fighting and start enjoying this wondrous world through our senses, bodies, minds, perspectives?

Is it that we’ve all been made wrong from the get go and that we all live a lie that we’ve internalized so totally from so early it has become a hall of mirrors, of hallucinations of unconscious reactivity that are kept vivid by our unquestioning agreement with with mass media with social mores and perceived societal-cultural expectations? But what is this “society” anyways but the mental constructions we’ve made with the training we were given?

Oh and that one… the one we all long to find with such determination… Love with a big “L”, “the one” who would accept us completely, with all our arrogance, conceit, disbelief, fears, quirks, ugliness, beauty, failures, victories and flaws… when at the very core of it, this acceptance that we want to assign to the Lover is inescapably our own job.

Some days bring enlightenment, some days force us to see that we have to be flexible, some days bring a sobering of the mighty ego who so much wants to be right at all times and at any cost. That light if humbling, is freeing.

Every morning the choice lays there. What voice will you listen to?

The noise from the machine is loud.

The noise from fear is loud.

I’ve been looking at things from all sorts of angles. Life, culture, philosophy. I put myself “out there” outside the numbing and dulling this Matrix so I could untangle the bounds I had wrapped around myself. One moment I think I have attained some sort of blissful understanding the next I realize that I am just the same fallible human, I realize that the idea that one has reached a spiritual high-ground is just as ego driven as the materialist’s hunger. The thickness of the lies we will use to be right and righteous is wondrously creative.

Oh lover, lover do you love me? Oh how selfish I am!

Oh mother, mother won’t you hold me to your breast? Oh how selfish I am!

Oh world, world, won’t you give me the key to the kingdom? Oh how selfish I am!

And it’s probably OK.

The selfishness of the heart cells to remain as they were created allow the heart to pump blood and in the same line, the selfishness of all the organ’s cells make the body function. They are necessary to each other. And so they complete the work of art of this human body or any body or organism and then we have this world. One.

and it comes back to accepting, embracing, celebrating all our arrogance, conceit, disbelief, fears, quirks, ugliness, beauty, failures, victories and flaws…

Now imagine that: how and what you are being completely acceptable as is.

It’s a game changer.

It means you don’t need your existence to be justified by anything or anyone.

You just go on and “is”.

yea, just go on and be.

Period.

A21

May first, Istiklal

May 1, 2014

Things are eerily quiet around Istiklal. It’s May first, the international workers day, a holiday in Turkey, but one with history of clashes, shootings and protests.

For a week, we have seen police barriers readied along the full length of Istiklal, the goal being making it impossible for protesters to reach Taksim, a historically charged place regarding this holiday. Yesterday we were all discussing what we thought could happen, when the street would be blocked and how to be ready for it.

the government shut off all ferries coming from the East side of Istanbul, again to limit the amount of people coming to Taksim to protest. Last night in Tarlabasi, a place and people the government is not fond of, the street lights went out around 10 PM. I had to work at Chillout this morning and I elected to spend the night there so I would not have problems trying to get there in the morning. I left Tarlabasi around 11, the streets looking mysterious and dangerous with shadows back lit by moving cars headlights danced on the worn and decrepit walls. I followed a man up the street, walking right in his steps as if with him, I got to Istiklal without a problem.

There, it was a surprise to see that none of the beggars that have been lining the streets lately this is kind of new, Last year you’d see one or two but lately the streets have been occupied by them. (many are Syrian refugees) they sit with their whole families, babies at the breast, little kids extending their hands, older ones aggressively running after tourists for money and mothers with painful expressions and stretched out hands pleading for money. Somehow the police cleaned up the streets. there was zero begging after 10 PM.

This morning, Istiklal is eerily quiet. I saw online, that it is not the case everywhere, there has been gas and confrontations all over, but right here, right now it is quiet.

So I worked my half day and now as I sit here at Galata, there is a police presence, no gates but they stand there, relaxed for now. Never a dull moment.

if you are interested, here is a bit of information
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Apr-30/254962-thousands-to-defy-may-day-ban-on-turkeys-taksim-square.ashx#axzz30Sl4Btz6

So all is well. I will head home and rest a bit, there hasn’t been much sleep these last two days.

hugs all around