May 29, 2014


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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