The last 3 days

July 31, 2014

YESTERDAY
Almost the last day of July 2014, I am intoxicated by an incredible amount of sleep, a flu bug and now caffeine. It is so hot, the body unstoppably covers itself of dew made of sweat. My head swirls a bit. I spent the 8 or 9 hours watching the last season of Game of Thrones yesterday, laptop lying on an art book on my thighs, while lying down into bed on this incredibly ugly cheap black red and yellow lame flame design printed polyester bed sheet, my head filled with gore, blood, armor, swords and magic. My throat is scratchy, my head swirling drunkenly. I feel I am on the edge of getting really sick or avoiding it. So that is why I will rest as much as I can.

I think the flu will pass me by, I think if I sleep enough to let the body fight its fight unimpeded by my willful self I will get out of it.

I feel asleep with the gray images of medieval castles and fierce warriors dancing around me…

TWO DAYS AGO.
Tarlabasi… The noise. The noise rolls and rushes and crashes against my ears, the walls, the furniture, the fake wood floors. It crashes against everything around me and reverberates continually, never ending, like the waves of the ocean. But it’s a mad ocean. I feel this madness in all these voices rising, perforating, attacking the very air. They scream. The babies wail insanely, the children yell hysterically, demanding, “ANNE! ANNE!”. In my flu afflicted mind, it is starting to feel like pure lunacy. It never stops. Rough, sand paper like voices, high pitched, full throated, persistent. One of them I had imagined belonging to an old woman who smoke a half a million cigarettes but yesterday I was astounded to see it belonged to a twenty something young woman in high heels and disco clothing.

From the street facing windows, a fire cracker explodes violently. There has been a non-stop blowing of firecrackers… something to do with Bayram I think. It seems all the kids have them and are firing them up with mad glee. There is the scraping of plastic as kids toboggan down the steep street, sitting on crushed water bottles. The smashing of a glass bottle. The women interpelling one another or admonishing the children from the second, third floor windows. The sound of loud scooters, the crash of the garbage bin as the city trucks come to empty them. Coming from the inner courtyard window, cats caterwauling, kids yelling at each other, a woman’s bitter voice, a motorcycle’s engine whining at hyper-revolutions in the distance, more firecrackers, adults’ voices, a dumbek. I had compared all this to air before, as if the noise was oxygen, surrounding all. But now it feels like waves of a humanity who will come and engulf you in madness and drown you. Yes, madness, that is what it feels like. Human madness. He told me that the kids were actually swearing, he said: “this kid is going to be a psychopath…” I have the advantage of not understanding 98% of what is being said. He understands everything.

But maybe it feels like this because of the flu that is building strength inside my head, throat, chest…

I went to the window, looked out. Next door, a little boy of maybe 7 holds a toy gun with a red laser nozzle smiling at me with an almost wicked expressing while aiming the gun at me shooting the imaginary bullet and laughing. I look at him in the eye, unsmiling, then go back in. Claustrophobia. This madness is wrapping itself around everything, inside and around my head.

I went out to get pide, there is a place down the street where they make it fresh and it is so delicious. They use real wood too. I saw another place where they use plywood, pressed wood, ancient painted boards (lead anyone?) or whatever material that will burn and I was thinking of the chemicals released by the fire seeping into the bread… but here it is real wood they use, you can smell it and the bread is so tasty. But I have to walk down this woman-less street, it’s past 7 PM and at that time, women have disappeared from the streets. The men occupy all the public places, drinking tea, hanging out on the street in small groups. I don’t look at anyone. I walk, my head held high but my stare is blind. I feel the eyes on me. Some make low “tsk” sounds sometimes when I walk by. It does not feel good. Where are the women? During the day you can see them at their doorstep. You can see them in the world but only between 8 AM and 6 PM but after… they disappear. So I walked there, bought the bread, came back under those stares.

It came to me in a huge bulky rush of emotion. after the boy pointed that fake gun at me… tears came to my eyes. I had the sense that all was about to change and that was a good feeling. I looked around. Yes, I am done with this. This poverty, this world that has no room for me but a tiny antechamber of tolerance. This women-less, sad, violent, hopelessness filled world. I hear it in the wailing of a toddler, as if he knows he fucked up landing here… There is nothing I can do about all of this and there is nothing it can do for me. A few moments later, my phone who had been silent for more than a week came to life. First, Mahir: someone is coming to live in his room for a month. Please meet him and hand him the key. OK, will do. Then a friend’s message: they just found a home in Izmit, near a lake, and I am welcome to come visit. I called him. Yes, come down, maybe we can even find work for me there… “Istanbul is not Turkey” she said. “We came back here and wondered how in hell can we actually stay here…” Yes, indeed… so true I answered.

Honestly, at that very moment I just want out. Out of this noise. Out of this segregation. out of the judgmental stares Out of this hopelessness. Thankfully I can retreat into my music. I grab my guitar and for the time I play it I am allowed to forget all of this as it clamors all around my body, my head, my ears, my consciousness. This heat too… is so constrictive. Then I think of winter and how cold it will feel. And I think that I have done my time here.

Change is coming. Yes, I know, it always is coming, really… but I was going to wait for September, I was going to wait so I could make some money, and not have to deal with this heat while traveling with everything I own on my back. Maybe I won’t wait. I don’t know… or maybe I do… or maybe it is this flu playing tricks with me.

The cats who live here have a way to avoid everything, living on rooftops and in abandoned basements. They walk along the walls, wearily watching for humans, slinking around, above, under, ever watchful. They come out at night, freer. Silently walking along the parapets and the high walls. I saw a mom and her kitten together on the rooftop two nights ago. I had been sitting by the kitchen window in the middle of the night as it is the coolest place in the house, I saw them, it looked like she was teaching a few things to her youngster, they were moving unstressed, freely, it was beautiful. I used to live at night too but now with this breakfast job, I need to be up so early, night living is not an option. I believe that living at night is a way to distance oneself from the madness of men. Less of them are out, so it feels saner, more tolerable.

THIS MORNING
I went out mid-day. I saw a friend on the way to the cafe.
“How are you?”
“Are you playing anywhere?” no I am not playing these days, two weeks going on three right now, and it doesn’t feel good… When I don’t play, it is like I start to forget who I am… I become what I do, and what I do is not really satisfying, and I start to become restless. Life makes little sense. Yeah. Who am I? We create and it seems so important. We create and it is just another breath being breathed in the world. Unremarkable. It just is. As everything just is. Maybe it is the heat? I seem to be incapable of going out and initiate anything. Conserving energy. Fighting the oppression of the humidity that makes the heart pound wildly and turns my will into white pudding.

Then I told him that I might go out of Istanbul for a while. In Izmit, if that works out.
“Oh! You don’t take the city really well, you always have to go.” He said. Hmmm.. yeah. He has a point. I always have to go. True, so true. This quasi stranger sees this as clear as a spring morning.

8:21 PM. This day off, spent in a daze is almost over. I believe the flu won’t take me down. I’ll be back at work in less than 12 hours. Maybe I’ll head to the Islands after the shift. Go into the sea. Swim until the sun goes down. I’m hoping everyday for a translation job to come to me but they don’t materialize. I hope for them as one hopes to win the lottery, the easy way out… I guess the actions will have to be taken before money appears. I will go back home and work on some music until sleepiness comes to get me.

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Breaking the silence

July 27, 2014

Yes, few words and no images these days…

Since the disappearance of both the Iphone and the camera things have changed. I have not been on the internet very much and that as mild as it may seem is kind of game changing. We do not see how much this internet thing has a hold on us… All is well though. All is well. My friend Kimberly suggested I start sketching instead of taking photos… I’m thinking about it. that too would change things…

Maryam and I made a pact: In the fall we will meet in Mersin when she comes back from Beirut, we then will go hiking the south coast. I know full well that life has a way to dismember my well meaning plans but I want to do this. I’ll need some camping supplies and a tiny bit of money. I think this is important. It feels as if something that was waiting to have its chance to manifest itself.

This last week as I was searching for files on my computer I found the video that I had made for the crowd funding project to come to Turkey. It was interesting to watch. As much as what I had planned did not happen as planned, much did happen and in the end I am definitely reaching the goals I was aiming for. this was cool to see. So going to hike the South in the fall to feel the Turkish earth under my feet is part of the initial impetus to come here. Another thing that is there for me to act upon is that I have been handed the names of two baglama teachers, one of them a woman, so I will call this week so I can learn some of the things I came here to learn.

I will say something that may end up being untrue, but it feels like my journey is winding down. I feel that the coming months must be used to the best of my abilities, to study, to write, to learn and to explore.

The kind of shadow lurking over me is that my finances are next to nil… I need to change this. It has been really difficult to get myself to “sell myself”. People keep telling me I should teach English conversation… I cannot get myself to do this for whatever reason… then the music gig at Atolye came to an end two weeks ago as there are not enough customers… the tourist season is not as good as it was last year in Istanbul. Troubles in the middle east I think keep westerners away. So everything around the tourism business is suffering. The breakfast work is just enough to feed me, pay for the phone minutes and some small bills… but not enough to allow me to travel or take many lessons. But in Istanbul fashion, things will evolve quickly… I can feel it.

the very good news for me is that I have started to work on new songs, music and it is going really well, so well it’s almost scary. I’ve been writing poems, bits of music since I’ve arrived here and have not done anything with them… Last week, every time I sat down, things came together easily. All this has been wanting to come out and be expressed for a while. I have 6 songs I am hoping I can get some of these songs demoed with local musicians. that will also require money, or really good friends! we’ll see what the Gods allow.

I’ll keep this short. I want to go work a little bit before going to sleep early since I have to be up at 7:30 for breakfast work. But I just wanted to let you know that all is well. Life has much sweetness. I just need to get some income happening… maybe an email for a translation job will come in. Oh what blessing that would be! Or maybe something else. it will come.

hugs all around

Burgaz Ada

July 18, 2014

I felt the need to escape. Get out of the city. Two choices, Kylios or Burgaz ada… a few people were interested in coming… there was this chance to maybe play at Karakedi on Wednesday night, that was soon cancelled because of the possibility of rain. Then they said maybe I’d play on Thursday, so I thought lets go either way, but I was told that maybe it would cost us to get in if we went there… 40 lira to enter… can’t afford that… so I teethered between the two choices… then the clouds came in…. people backed out… Should I stay or go… Go. I was determined to get out. After many texts and calls, the candidates were reduced to three of us, Mahir, Pery and myself.

Thursday morning, slow, slow going. we finally rush out, realizing we were about to miss the 1:30 ferry. I make a rendez vous point and met with Mehmet Can at the Ataturk monument at Taksim, where he handed me a tent. We get to the ferry, miss it, and there, realize there was a misunderstanding, Pery thought we were going to Kylios he doesn’t want to go to the Island, Mahir doesn’t want to go to Kylios… at this point I am set for the Island. So Pery went his way, we went ours. We now had to wait for the 3 PM ferry so we sat on the grass facing the Bosphorus and chatted while waiting.

It feels good to be going. To disconnect from the big mama city. I got an espresso and we let the minutes fly by. One very strange thing… this is the first time I carry no camera as I am going somewhere… I see things… and they will remain in my memory banks or falter away never to be remembered…

Some Syrian kids come and ask us for money. So many beggars… some seem quite professional looking very well fed. But that doesn’t mean anything… Lately the police picked up a man on Istiklal it made news in the local papers. I had seen the man a few times…. gray hair, balding, nearing 60’s, with a short sleeve shirt and tailored pants, like most men of a certain age wear here along with the leather shoes… on one knee, crying, begging with intense despair for money. His voice, high pitched into staccatto thin sobs. When I first saw him my immediate thought was “fake” then I admonished myself for being so harsh… a few days ago he was on the news, as the belediyesi police picked him up as a scammer.

The ferry comes, we get on. It is so very hot. The water is blue, blue. We can see fish all around the boat. People throw simit at them and they rush to eat. They are quite big. We leave the dock with a horn blast, stop at Kadikoy then head for the islands. I look at the water longingly… I could just jump in.

first Island, then the second.. off we are, we head towards the beach. A pack of three wild dogs adopt us. There is a long haired black and rust one with pointy ears and a light step. A gigantic beige Turkish sheep dog with a limp and one that is in between the size of the first two. As we walk, they seek trouble with all the “not free” dogs owned by humans and stuck behind fences, they know they can harass them and they do with glee. We walk by the horses and the carriages, there are no cars on the Islands, only horse carriages. Some, most of them are quite skinny, with various ailments… I cannot stop my professional horsewoman eye from seeing this.

Up we go. We see many cats, they have a different look than the Istanbul cats. Cleaner, more independent looking. We get to the camping spot… as we walk down the trail with our three dogs a fight erupts between our dogs and someone’s dog… people yell, rocks are thrown.. the dogs scatter in every direction down the hill. We head to the beach… one dog stuck with us. look a little bit for a place to set up the tent but abandon that soon and just head for the water. It feels shockingly cold at first. It takes me a while… then I jump in. Oh… so good.

After our swim Mahir and I sit on the beach and start looking at the composition of the beach itself; roof tiles, plastic, brick, demolition remnants of various sources. As if someone had dumped truckloads of demolished homes into the sea and it found its way to these shores. It is not the cleanest place in the world that is for sure. In a way I am amazed it’s not more dirty if you think of how many centuries of human presence and use there has been. There are places in Canada and America where you can go where very few humans have been… here there are centuries of history…

As we sit there, some sparrows appear, their beaks open, wanting food. Mahir calls them… one comes closer and closer… than hops on one of Mahir’s shoes… “awww…. urgh!!!” the cute little thing just shit inside Mahir’s shoe! “Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!” I laughed.

The dog who stayed with us is still there. He plays with us. He is huge a bit of a brute, but a good one. He is following us everywhere. One would think it is our dog. These wild dogs seem to long for affection and attention. I play with him and he grabs my arm with his big jaw and fangs.

Sitting on the beach we started to find some hidden treasures, a broken necklace with real fangs, shells, a special stone that looked like a monkey face. Mahir went to find a place to camp and I went back in the water. He found a nice spot facing the sea on top of a short hill. Beautiful. We set up the tent, ate simit and fruit that we had brought along. Life is good.

As we chat the sun slowly made it’s way down, turning orange then pink. I offered to go in town and eat something. We walked back towards the village oo and aw’ing over the sunset which was absolutely amazing, then the view of Istanbul from the Island… it is unbelieveable. The size, the madness of it, it’s whole hugeness sprawled over so much land, so dense… from this vantage point of a small island with no cars or visible corporate entities… two worlds…

As we walk we watch a seagull take shellfish from the water and drop it from their beaks in flight, so to break them and eat what is inside. Smart birds. In town, it’s this sprawl of restaurants… too expensive… not really looking great but we get a soup and meat balls that we share. Not so good… but it is food. A black cat with a crooked head comes to see us. Looks like he got in some sort of trouble and got his neck bent out of shape… there he is, begging. Mahir gives him a bit of meat. Later the cat moved to the next table and was violently kicked out by a customer. I can never understand that sort of meanness towards animals…

as we sit there the sky’s colors shift from deeper to deepest blue, the stars appear. Visually, there is gorgeousness everywhere. The contrast of a yellow lit window on a white building against the blue of the night as a red towels hangs on a clothesline. Again, no camera.

We head back. The stars shine above, Istanbul shines in the distance, its lights jewel like. The boats’ lights shining on the water in the night. “how lucky we are” I say. “Yeah…” Mahir answers… I am feeling a sort of overwhelm coming from this beauty.

We walk back to camp. Sit on the edge of our hill facing the sea. I get the guitar, play quietly. a plane flies in the distance laying a long reflection of its head light in the water. It is dream like, it seems impossible. as it approaches, the light in the water gets brighter and brighter, incredibly beautiful. “Do you see what I see?” asks Mahir as it seemed so unreal. We watch for a good while, I play with my head turned up looking at the stars

Then we go sleep. It’s a very hard ground and all I have is a yoga mat. It’s going to be a not so comfortable night… I wake up many times with either part of my body completely blood starved. At one point I ponder going to swim in the sea in the night… I hear some turkish songs in the distance, a party in another direction. Horses whinniying in the night… I stay in bed.

In the morning, first thing I do is head for the sea. No one is up. I have no idea what time it is. The sun rises on the other side of the Island so we are given a few more hours of coolness. There is a sort of commercial beach set up but no one seems to work there. I walk there, the water looks beautiful. I enter the water up to my knees. Stop. Oh that moment of hesitation… a man appears, tells me in Turkish something about not thinking about it and just jump in. I go in. It’s beautiful. I swim in there for a good 20 minutes… when I come out he invites me for tea. First question of course is “are you alone?” then “do you have a boyfriend” a question I learned to always answer in the positive. He tells me he’s retired and has no money problems. We chat a bit, he tries to get me to commit to teach English to him. I say I am not a teacher. I don’t want to commit to anything. After a bit I say goodbye. He says he’s always there, when I come back I can visit him.

At the tent, Mahir is up. We eat a bit more of the last simit and share it with the birds. It’s a beautiful morning. I tear down the tent, pack and go swim one more time before we head for the ferry. Our timing is perfect, we get on and make it to Istanbul in no time.

I feel changed, somewhat freer, and my mind is clearer. I wonder what 3 or 4 days would do? Maybe give me a sense of what should come next. I have a slight intuition that something is coming or should come. Some change. I took care of some business last week, banking stuff. When I checked my vancouver account I realized that someone attempted fraud by trying to cash a 50 thousand dollar cheque!!! 50 thousand! Must be kidding. I am actually grateful they didn’t try a thousand because I think I have a credit margin of a thousand dollars for NSF cheques… You never know… I need to call the bank and make sure no cheques are cashed. As long as I am here I will not write cheques…

I sit here now, in Galata, my skin is slightly burned, it is about 30 degrees and hot. It is beautiful. I ponder the fact of money. Maybe I should make more. If I am to take these baglama lessons I’ll need to pay for them. The man on the beach kept telling me he had no money problems… he worked in textile, I said para yok, problem yok. No money, no problems. Life takes care of you. But I didn’t know how to say the last bit. Hayat… (life) then Inshallah… (as God wills) How to explain this with my minute vocabulary?

But yeah, it seems I should start to work, focus on something. Musically I feel that I need to re-energize my space. I find that when I play a lot of gigs, my musical doingness starts to shrink into the limited space of the set list.. the songs people will enjoy listening to… and it is as if my fingers lose their dexterity and are only able to play that set list material, my mind has zero initiative to create and explore. Like being stuck in a box.

Mid July. Time escaping away. I need to challenge myself.

short update

July 14, 2014

Mid summer, how can it come by with such velocity? I think of plans and things to do. I am so involved with living the every minutes, the weeks disappear, the months blur by.

I was just reading a book from Paul Cohelo, at the end of the book they printed an interview he did. The interviewer asked him what he was up to at the moment. His answer was “Nothing.” to which the interviewer said: “that sounds nice.” He clarified that he was busy living, meeting people, dancing and that it was going to be another little bit before he was to write another book.

I thought of that, this “nothing” is a bit like what I am doing. Just living life, finding joy in the light, the food, the smiles, a sort of nothing in terms of goals, targets and progress charts. But an everything in terms of my sense of belonging to the world. Maybe it is the thing I appreciate the most in Istanbul. There is no need to be constantly, obsessively “achieving”, the value is put on living, enjoying friends, sharing a meal, just living.

In a very near future (this week) I am hoping to go to the Princes Island again and to Kylios with friends. Mahir is back from Germany and we plan to hit the Island on Wednesday. I’ll play Tuesday night then we’ll head out sometime during the day Wednesday. Then Thursday, if it all works out, I would head out with my friend Pery to Kylios to see Eren and the Karakedi gang and spend the day-night near the sea.

I need to make these trips… otherwise I’ll find myself here in October realizing I never went out of town. I am very capable of doing that…

Other than that, it`s hot, hot, hot. constant sweating. the other day the walls of my room felt like they were the inside of an oven, the furniture was hot to touch. I am not used to that. I can see my northern roots, DNA, not quite able to deal with this. I am gradually adapting but it is tough at times. Must keep drinking water!

Well, that is it for now. Just wanted to keep you updated. All is well, beautiful, amazing.

Hugs all around.

Oh… material things.

Suddenly I am without a smart phone (no photos, filming, recording, seeing the time, alarm in the morning, checking email, Facebook, staying in touch, etc…) No camera… (no photos!!!!! NO PHOTOS!!!)

The phone, was the first thing I noticed missing. For a day I hoped it would be at Chillout… that I had just left it there… but Tuesday I realized it was gone.

Then Wednesday I emptied my bag… and realized the camera was gone too.

And it hit me. This little thing is truly an extension of myself, a integral part of how I express myself. my night photos, capturing some moments… it’s gone.

I am too poor to go out and buy one… so I am waiting to see what sort of lesson I am to learn from this… yes, it is simplifying life, lightening the material possessions… we’ll see… but… Oh my little red Sony marvel.. I miss you.

***

Speaking of material things… I bought strings for the guitar. It had been since January I think since I changed them… the strings were so worn out, they were gauged at every fret and kind of thickened, so dull and lifeless….

I put the new ones on and it was like having a new instrument! I played, ooooohhhh! so very nice.

***

it is so hot in Istanbul right now… in the thirties with much humidity… take a shower and then go out and you are immediately soaked in sweat. Thankfully the nights bring a cool breeze… the windows wide open, the air flows… ahhhh….

It is now Ramazan. The Muslim fasting period. People do not eat from the moment the sun appears until it sets. They cannot drink either…. imagine with this heat. There is a massive difference in the atmosphere day and night. In my neighborhood, its been dramatic. You know the feeling when you are so hungry you get aggressive… well between 8 pm and sunset since this Ramazan started, there is an anger in the air that is incredible. The kids scream, the parents fight, yell, there is a franticness that is impossible to describe.

Then the sun sets… smells of food, sounds of cutlery tickling, then it is a roar of talk, conversations, children playing all the way until 2, 3 in the morning. Around two, drummers walk the streets and beat the coolest rhythm calling all to remember to eat before sunrise. In my sleep the sounds of the drums meld with the pictures of my dreams… fratatatat, fratatatat… I am in another world… instruments joined in… I fly in the sound…

****

7:30 AM
Argh.. I must wake up, get up, go out, go work…. Oh I am NOT a morning person…. no, no, no…. I am not… But the morning is beautiful… the sun, the gold in the light…. I walk up Kurdela street, slowly, I start to sweat immediately… Up to Beyoglu, looking at the worn buildings, looking at the stone pavement, the birds flying, the view in the distance, gauging the thickness of the smog or clarity of the air. The man who works down the street from Chillout feeds the wild cats living in the abandoned construction site. Every morning we say a polite Merhaba. He brings them red raw meat. There are two kittens from the last batch, They are so beautiful, their coats of dark gray shining. The mama is pregnant again. Her big yellow eyes looking for the man. On Sundays she calls for him… because he doesn’t come early…

The little hidden joys of the life of this neighborhood. A magic weave created as the tourists rush by with their shopping bags, cameras and crisp clothing.

****

I wrote this two nights ago… will hopefully write music to it…

LETS ROAM THE WILD EARTH

Lets roam the wild earth
bold in the sunshine
for
My spirit is freed
All senses alight

Lets roam the wild earth
skin ruslting ashivered
for
here’s the rain’s cool hand
gliding down my neck

Lets roam the wild earth
the wind now my guide
into
the territories
of Fate and of Love

Lets roam the wild earth
worry no longer
for
there is no answer,
there is no question

Wondrous universe
Oh my wild, black, earth
you carry my feet
as I so wander,
as I push off to dance
as I lay down to sleep
Our very forces
perfectly opposed
equilibrium
we connect
into all that is
all that will ever be
all that ever was
We are, unified.

Lets roam the wild earth
questioning no longer
for
I can be electron,
or the whole cosmos,
defined and unknown
brimming and empty
be all nothingness
and be the allness

for
this is who I am
for
this is who you are
so
Lets roam the wild earth
you and I
Lets roam the wild earth

***