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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