September 20th, an update

September 20, 2014

Warm sun rays, gold stripes of light on the floor, the wonder of how many shades of white a wall can take when caressed by light and shadows. It is Saturday, I will play tonight. There is no one else around me in this cafe, everyone downstairs, the beige and brown chairs also display all shades of color pixels, the traces of the last occupant printed temporarily on the fabric. Horns blow outside and the usual particular hush of voices around the tower as the tourists line up to get inside.

Whadup? Much guitar playing. Joan inspired me and I keep his passionate musician’s words spur the fire of the love of the instrument. He spoke to me of the love for the guitar and it reminded me of the love I have… like a lover you must spend time together and discover each other… So I spend hours with the guitar in my hands going through everything I know and everything I don’t know. Trying, experimenting, creating little things…

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“You changed instruments? Where’s your bağlama?” Ahmet asked me as I was sitting outside playing. I’m sad about the bağlma, but here is not the place to play it. I am still waiting to hear about an apartment… If I get it, I will be able to start taking lessons and practice… here it’s kind of impossible as everyone starts talking to you asking what it is, wanting to try it, or jam or… with the guitar I can sort of vanish in full sight, playing quietly. That is a thing… People want you to perform for them. Show off… What I am doing is exploring, practicing, discovering, it’s a whole other world.

“I play tomorrow night at Atölye if you want to see me perform!” I say. Is it snob? It’s the thing about living in a public space. One must preserve one’s boundaries or be depleted.

***

a couple of weeks ago I was messaging a friend. I blurted out: “ j’ai plus peur de rien” I am not scared of anything anymore.

It surprised me. Am I boasting? High on some energy that makes me over confident? Nah. I’m not. I pondered the happenstance and I saw that something has clicked, grown, evolved following my Dalyan adventure and the ensuing hitchhiking on the Turkish roads, sweating in the sun carrying much more than possibly feasible over many kilometers, having no money, then the Yalova bath of Sufi energy and then the emotional rat’s nest I had enturbulated myself into. After all that, I was suddenly free of fear. I felt freshly sanded. Standing up, on this earth with nothing but the knowing that all is well. All is fine. All is actually incredibly beautiful.

***

Mesut had told me that he had twinned me with this cello player, Barış Güvenler.

“Oh I love cello, my sister is a cellist.” following that we had a first gig. Wow. Then a second. Oha… then a third. Oh My God! I was sitting on my chair, Barış to my right, we’re playing and in front of us the usual brouhaha of the bar was gone to be replaced by completely engaged faces, ears, peoples. A French woman started to speak loudly and a couple of faces turned, annoyed, then shushed her into silence. Wow.

The way I write music, there is ample space for other instruments, I tend to think music vertically, with parts and interplay and harmony, so when I meet people who have either orchestral or ensemble playing skills things get really lush and start to fly. I am so grateful for Barış, for this unexpected pairing. So tonight we play again. I am so very much looking forward to it.

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***

December. Uh? What? Danielle speaking of something more than a day or so ahead? Yes, December there is a plan in place. I unexpectedly booked a flight on December 23 to Amsterdam, Holland. I will meet a friend there and we will hitchhike together from The Hague to Porto, Portugal. We have two weeks. I plan to go to Carcassonne to see my friend Serge Andre, musician, composer, then the rest will be what happens. I am very excited by that. I will need to get some winter stuff. Boots, hat, coat. I’ll bring the guitar, hopefully I will find places to play… musicians to share the music with. From Porto, I am not sure what I will do, I have friends all over Europe now… it could be something to do, to go visit them. I also will need to go to California at some point… to handle some of my stuff there, it is unclear yet how I will do this or when but this ticket to Amsterdam it is bought. I am going.

***

Oh and it looks like my phone was located 🙂 I am very happy about that… we just have to be reunited. So that is about it my friends. All is well. Evolving, deploying, alive.

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3rd phone

September 10, 2014

Well, hard to believe but it looks like I’ve lost a third phone… first two stolen. One ended up in Iran, the other one stolen in Tarlabaşi likely ended in the black market pazar… Nothing I could do. This one, I don’t understand, it was in my bag. I looked at it at Atoyle when I played Sunday night. Then never touched it again and when I got home, it was nowhere to be found. Stolen again? or just lost? I had just bought minutes on the SIM card. It is a bit bewildering. It feels impossible that I lost it. My bag was zipped… What happened?

Last week I had drawn a small calendar for the next 2 weeks, it showed that I was to leave Istanbul mid week. Well, we are mid-week now and the plans have dramatically changed. After I made that plan, two friends asked that I stay. Friends being what they are, I said OK. I will stay a bit longer.

“Isn’t that going to make it too cold for hitchhiking if you wait that long?” Asked another friend. Possibly. I cannot see that far into the future. I can hardly plan tomorrow without some changes happening between the moment of my decision and the next day. I must roll with it. I looked up to the skies and said: “All right! I get it! We’ll do it your way!!!”

There has been some great moments lately though. Mesut at Atölye Kuledibi is a bit of a prospector with musicians. He goes out on the street and recruits, then he’ll make some matches with musicians he knows and invite them to play. Last week he matched me with Barış Güvenler, a cellist. I was excited at the prospect. First, i love to experience playing with someone new, is always a thrill and second I really love cello. Sunday night we played. He had never heard any of my songs. So for him the gig is an intense night of figuring out my songs, playing with conviction and meshing with me. He did just that. It was an amazing night. He is a very gifted musician and he made the night magical. I was smiling, listening, enjoying so much. It was so good to have someone playing along with me, let alone someone so talented.

At the break he asked me about recording these songs. My first reaction was “I’d love to but I have no money.” I need to change this reaction to “Lets do it!.” And maybe that is the purpose of my staying longer in Istanbul, make this kind of connection and make musical things happen. I really would like to have recordings of these new songs, with these amazing players. When there is a will… When I think of all the recording equipment I have sitting in a dark trunk, how useful they could be over here now..

Maybe that is what I should commit to. Get this done. Everything else is but details. Work on the songs, meet the musicians, make it happen; new songs, new recordings, musical explorations, new musicians, new musical horizons.

In the mean time, I have contacted tons of friends via Facebook, I am looking for a place to stay semi-permanently, the house sitting will come to an end soon. I will see two places in the next two days. I also wish to find at least another gig… If I had three, that would be really solidifying my ability to support myself financially for a bit. Last week I was even able to save some liras as I played three nights at Atölye. İ am incredibly thrifty but some things do loom like new glasses, the little nose things broke as if on a timer last week, one after the other and I am needing a new prescription. I also started to really worry about backing up the data on my laptop… I used to have this online back up system but I don’t anymore and the laptop has had some hiccups… I would be so sad if I lost these photos.. writings… music.. oh too much to lose! Some sort of backing up system that doesn’t cost me a monthly fee is what I am looking for. Amazing how most of the things now have to be gotten on a monthly fee basis… rope around the neck…

Well, it’s time to head out in this sunny day. I have just sipped my Illy espresso for today. who knows what surprises will greet me. I meet a friend to see a room to rent, then tonight Orçun is playing at Sek Sek his Bukowski play, and I will likely have to find a place to stay for the night. but I have no worries. All is well. I am listening, peacefully.

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Grow, grow little one

September 5, 2014

Sitting at No 41, my new haunt. I found the best espresso in Istanbul to date right here, right behind the building where I stay. Double espresso.. ahhh…

I was up early this morning, had a breakfast date at 10 AM with my friend Morgan, I met her a little over a year ago at a Turkish class. She is a writer journalist, American, witty, funny. She invited me. I yawn now as I write this, as it was early for me. I quickly reverted to the night life after the discipline of getting up to make breakfasts all summer.. Chassez le naturel… il revient au galop.  (once a night own always a night owl!…this is not litteral translation by the way!)

It is muggy, hot in the Istanbul way, stiffling humidity, unwavering sun, if it is like last year, it will be hot until October.

Been back in Istanbul from Dalyan for 13 days now… What stands out in my mind is how warmly and happily I was welcomed back by the people here; at Chillout, at Atolye, in the cafes, stores, by the acquaintances… and even by strangers. I have been house sitting in Besiktas for 5 days now. The plants are no problem, the cats ableit neurotic are OK too. 

Last night was a great night at Atolye Kuledibi. Many friends showed up, some unexpectedly, seems I am getting back into my game bit by bit. I’m still trying to understand what happened to me that got me so disturbed with playing… Walking back last night I thought that maybe it is the fact that all these cover songs I was learning-performing were not synthesised into my beingness so I feel a complete separation (I feel fake)  when I sing those and when I sing my songs and feel like I’m split in two, not knowing who I am in front of that microphone. Some of the songs I’ve played enough now to have integrated them and I don’t feel this dissociation when I play them. Interesting thing: songs as personalities…  But last night, I looked out to the faces there and it was such a gift.  There was magic.  I was so grateful.  I could feel the love.  My existence justified. 

Mesut invited me back Sunday night to play with a cellist. It’s not certain yet but I would love to do this, I miss having a partner playing with me. I have  developed an expectation of interplay with someone else bringing the songs to another place.  The solo thing is a whole other animal.

My guitar though is not up to the job. Not sure if it is those new strings? I got what I could and the tension is obviously different, I got new buzzing… it’s hard to tune, the intonation is out… I was told when I got this guitar that it required 12 gauge  strings to function properly… and, remember the guitar was soaked in a downpour in my Tarlabasi room as the roof leaked buckets? Could be after effet. But it’s not feeling good.

But I guess the big news, is that I want to go hitchhike, soon. Head into Bulgaria.

Part of me goes: “Wow, people are so great, things are working themselves out, I still have no place to call home but I’m not roofless… Why leave now?” Istanbul has truly become a home for me…  But most of me says : Go for a few months and come back.  Refresh. I spent the whole summer working, staying in the city, if I don’t go, I imagine how by the month of January, I would be burnt out.  I’ve never seen the Balkans, or much of Europe for that matter. The hitchhiking from Dalyan was like tasting that chocolate bar and wanting more.  Right now it’s easy to leave: no home, no job, no responsibilities, and the desire to feel the wind, be open to the world, like a chlorophyll cell is open to receive the sun’s rays, this way fulfilling its native purpose. 

I need to find some hiking boots, that seems to be my weakest link: footwear. With the weight of the bags, my feet are first to hurt. Then I need to tidy up my belongings sitting in storage, reduce what I have to the essentials. I have found a place on Workaway, a web site with volunteer jobs all over the world, in Bulgaria with horses, yoga trees, and a whole new world. Then I want to see Sophia. I am doing all this without money. Couchsurfing, volunteering, hitchhiking will be my way. I will play too.

When I was a child, there was a word: ménestrel. Minstrel in English. A traveling poet-musician. That always fascinated me. I remember a drawing, there was a person with a cape and a `baluchon’ (which losely and unpoetically translates to “bundle” in English) hanging on a stick over his shoulder.  (baluchon: is a small quantity of clothes wrapped into a piece of cloth)  All together, the traveling musician with the bundle over his shoulder wearing a brown cloak…  I have many times tried to write a song with these images… I have many poems where I started out and never finished.  So, maybe I am going to make this childhood vision reality.  

Ah those childhood dreams… I do believe they hold truth.  They hold hints of our purposes as who we really are, before our heads got filled with the must do and the must be, and the cannot do…  

I surprised myself the other night, messaging with a friend in Ottawa in the wee morning hours, I said :
“Je n’ai plus peur de rien.” I am not afraid of anything anymore.” it wasn’t something I had prepared to say, or even mulled or pondered, it just came out. Surprising me in the process.  I wondered if it was some sort of bragging on my part, but questioning it I thought no, I feel this way…  

These last few weeks  I have been observing the source of my decision to go to Dalyan and the ensuing consequences.  My decision to go was a response to fear.  I was utterly disappointed in myself for not having had more Faith. But it allowed me some serious learning opportunities and despite the explosive consequences, it was a good thing, maybe even the best thing that could happen.  To be allowed feel the sharp cuts of the chisel of life, then accept the pain, breathe it in, see its place along the joy.  Oh I am not serene about it.  I feel.  Deeply.  It tears me apart at times.  But I managed to go back into trusting the dance of life.  


The greatest pain, regrets come from betraying yourself, your ethics, your knowingness.  So stay true.  No matter what.  

This last round of experiences showed me quite a few things:  For one, I saw so clearly that “experience” is useless. Experience is a past judgement used in the present and very likely inappropriate as it keeps you from really seeing what’s in front of you.  

It showed me my fears.  I saw them.  I obeyed.  Blindly hoping with crossed fingers and not really looking at what was in front of me.  


It gave me the opportunity to accept pain.  Let it carve my face and what I saw carved was a more graceful me.  Oh there is still a ways to go… but this is good.  
It allowed me to open new doors into trusting, sending me back into the wonder of life.  

I am grateful. 

It is a process.. from the day I decided to take off on that motorcycle 4 years ago and asking to be shown the way. It continues. I am fine with any outcome. I have a faith. Faith that all is as it should be. All is perfect. And that all that happens is what must. Even if I scream sometimes.  I have a knowing now that fighting any of it leads to intense unhappiness.  I have a suspicion that all the “wants” are misleading. The “wants” are the ego’s cries as I see that the needs, the real needs are fulfilled beyond all expectations with more magic and wondrousness than one could ever imagine or dream..

Every day brings surprises, gifts.  Yesterday was incredible.  I’m so thankful for the humans around me sharing their love and lives and hopes and fears and pains.  I am thankful for being in this place that challenges me, hugs me, pushes me, shows me wonders.   

All my love.

After Anais Nin

September 3, 2014

I am restless, things are calling me away.

My hair is being pulled by the stars again.

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The earth, the metals, the stones and the plastics are agglutinating around my core. My wings flattened. I consider my options, think too much, get hit by tsunami waves over my nervous system, all underlying structures wiped out.

I long for the wild spirits, the moon and the winds to come and get me now. This is too earthly. While Istanbul shouts its discontent in the background. It seems magic has left me. I cannot believe or make-believe. It is all too clear. Graphic. Unavoidable.

To walk.

Shed all pretense. The constructions. Stop this co-conspiracy with everyone acting s if there was redemption to be found, it is all here right now or it isn’t, there is no Grail. There is just now. Even the reflections in the mirror are delayed present, late, past. I should be in the sea now, envelopped by its un-capturable beingness. Let her lift off most of my weight, carry me, cool me.

This morning, Alan watts told me to stop thinking. That we are in a state of madness because of it, because all that thinking makes us believe in an illusion, a waterfall of words, disconnected. I listened to his voice. Meditate… he says. I have not meditated in a long time, I must confess that I have been wary to let go of all that I am hanging on to…. which I shouldn’t.

Oh… they said as they read the cryptic blog… Is she OK? Yeah, yeah, yeah… OK I am. I played last night, started to get inside my own game, still recovering from the shock that Dalyan was on my centeredness. Slowly tracing the thread back into the music. Then at some point in the night thinking to myself: “Don’t worry so much, it’s only songs” as the clatter of sharp cutting shards of drunken voices kept rising and rising. It’s only songs.

Chillout had a delegation and it was nice to see familiar faces.

After the show we headed back to Chillout together, chatted a bit outside the cafe, then I headed out on my own, towards Taksim Square, thinking I will stop on Ms Sokak. Maybe Arsene Lupen, maybe Leyla Teras, maybe Jurnal… as I turned down on the street, I looked up. Saw the blue glow of Leyla Teras, I was thinking about Eren.  I put out my radar in action.  Where is my Magic Drummer I haven’t seen in months?   I think he’s up there. Towards the blue light I go. Up and up. And up, 6, 7 stories high… I get to the top. Look around, and there he is. Joy. He’s brown from being in the sun all summer long, Hugging him I notice that his body is possibly twice as dense as it was  before he left in May, from working, swimming … his smile. So good to see a friend. Like me, he is house-less, penny-less and position-less. But it’s all good. It’s not really important. There is a genuine joy in seeing each other. 

In the club a jam session is in progress. I see the Pulitzer winning photographer I had met a year ago, I didn’t talk to him. Let things be. I saw Senol and a few others.

“Where have you been?” they ask. Yeah, since June I had been gone from this world, gone into a bubble of my own.

This will always be there it seems, the Istanbul nights with its musicians, and its over-keen tourist, Erasmus students and night revelers.  I always stand slightly on the outside.  Un-drunk, clear headed, I dip a toe here and there… then go back into orbit. Eren said he wanted us to play but the stoned-out, drunken flow of music and its musicians didn’t seem to have an opening for us… After a while I left. Walked all the way back to Besiktas, looking at photos of Ataturk on the walls of the military compound. The taxis keep honking as they go by, hoping for a fare. It must be 3, 4 AM, I climb up Barbaros Boulevard. Get to the house. The neurotic cats are in, I feed them. Against good sense I turn on the computer. I got an email back from a place I could volunteer in Bulgaria, it sounds really good. I got emails from hostels in Istanbul where I could work.. ah this dual thing again.  

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Beşiktaş musings

September 1, 2014

What does it take to spark the creative-playing desires and energies and need? I observed many different things over time. Sometimes it’s absolute isolation, quiet. Well it used to be, as I would “mad-science” the process on the computer, multi-tracking, effects, use different instruments, pile up vocals and make mini-self-symphonies. Other times, it’s necessity, deadlines. Other times it’s whimsy, sitting with the instrument and a thread of magic would weave from the ether into the instrument and between the hands… I also found that some homes make you drip creation like sweat on an Istanbul summer day and others completely shut you up.

I moved yesterday. It was unexpected but wished for. I had been so generously given a bed and food by Chillout when I came from Dalyan. They took care of me. For a week I was there, I was offered to resume my job there, but somehow I know that this is not ideal for me at all. This job offers a safe circle but a loop nonetheless where my music, mind, habits, turn me into a non-creating entity, just slugging from morning to morning.

Yesterday I was drinking my daily espresso when the messaging thingy on FB blinked. It was a friend of a friend to whom I had written a message to over a year ago and never heard back from. His ex-girlfriend has a flat in Beşiktaş with two cats and a terrasse garden, cats need feeding, garden needs watering. She is away writing on a deadline for a week, maybe 2.

Besiktas is not a place I would pick… it’s very nice, really nice. And it makes me claustrophobic. It’s too nice. The feeling of being settled, of having a life that plays like a skipping vinyl. Sameness, daily, in a oh so quiet neighborhood, it tightens around my neck like a rope. I’m not sure what this is all about. Since the moto journey, I need the doors and windows to be open, the wind to come in, even the ghetto that was Tarlabasi seems like a form of liberty. Maybe it’s the fact that the conventions are broken down, that people improvise, that it’s all real in real time.

In Beyoglu, there is the wildness, the unpredictability,that is like not having walls or nets. I like to navigate these waters. It’s not so wild so you fear for your life, but wild enough to have the deck of cards disturbed and re-shuffled.

So I sit in this house. Listen to the quiet. One of the cats come in the kitchen, I can actually hear the clicking of his claws on the parquet. Oha… I sat in one spot with the laptop not knowing what to do. I spent hours on Facebook, something I had not done for about 3 months… not good.

I have grown to need so little. In here there is so much… space, things, appliances, stuff everywhere. I still am feeling the motion and emotion of my hitchhiking to Istanbul. I had been longing to do this for months: have my life on my back and just get into forward motion. I had two days of it and now I want more.

The absurdity of life makes this make sense. The things we run after, meaningless, self-centered, rooted into a fear of losing anything could possibly be lost; money, health, possessions, status, home, people, one’s own life. (I know, I know, you care and you want me to be safe, but his is for me, I don’t pretend to tell anyone that they must live like this, if I look honestly, I don’t anything, or very little.. it is my road) Every time I hang onto something or someone, I am being reminded of the uselessness, the illusory nature of doing this. Oh the thing I would really like to keep in my life is closeness, the home of an embrace from someone I love, but that is a gift given by Love and Love has a will that cannot be manipulated or bent by human will.

It comes, you breathe it all in, taking every molecule of joy, then it leaves. Immense gratefulness for the gift. Immense wistfulness for its vanishing. opposite poles. But you cannot just have the one end of the magnet, you cannot have only the “good”. You must have it “All”. “All” encompassing both opposite poles, inseparable, the joy and ecstasy, the lone longing ache.

I feel the chisel.
The nerves respond,
the heart quivers.
Close your eyes,
This too shall pass.

The road calls me… is it the need to erase all feelings, all wishes, all impulses to fight and demand by putting oneself through a long and narrow passage that will grind and erode all the acute extremities,the sharpness of feeling, the sharp toothed bites of life? To walk away from the walls and let the rain and the elements do their work and cleanse the emotional clutter. Or is it the way to get back to the lowest common denominator of self and let go of all the considerations, needs, seemingly so important but which in the end will be lost and anihilated anyways.

I wrote to the Oracle a few days ago, mentioning these two choices of staying or taking the road. Mentioning the realities of mine, the houseless-ness and all the other stuff and he said this:

“Believe it or not – I think you are doing rather well.
You get to choose and are choosing.”

How wise. How perceptive. How correct.

Last night I Skyped a very good friend of mine, the kind of friend with whom you can spend whole nights talking about universal realities, quantum, life and humanity without ever tire… I was talking about finding meaning in my life, in my actions, in my existence. He said:

“I would be very unhappy If I had to have the moment have purpose.”

Friends, the ones who “know” you, see so much more clearly than we ever can.

Clouds over Istanbul. Little rain though. Reminders that “Winter is coming”

I went to dance to nights ago. First everyone backed out then this traveler who was at the hostel said: “Lets go”

We went into this place three streets away from Chillout. We started to dance. To really dance, I was smiling, he would twirl me with much skill. To dance… He lifted me up and we twirled some more. Everyone around was well dressed, honing poses of half-disdain, cigarettes loosely held. The girls, glass princesses with daggers in their eyes, one guy gave us the high five for dancing. Soon a bouncer with a red wire coming out of his ear approached us. I asked if there was a problem, couldn’t hear the answer, “follow me” he gestured, follow him we did. Then, we were kicked out.

“Really???”

“Islam.” said Matheous.

Kicked out for dancing in a dance club. We went to two more places, but they are not fun. Everyone is uptight, giving us dirty insulted looks, a girl elbowed me with her bony arms and indignant stare because we had dared bumping into “her”. How dare we have fun? On the walk back, we took the Balık passag, all the restaurants are closed or closing. Matheous sees a bottle of rakı on a table that a waiter was cleaning, there was about 8 ounces of liquid left in there. He asked the waiter, who just kind of grimaced, and he took it. A few steps later, near Galata Saray, a man approached us, eyeing the bottle. He said some words in Polish, his wife is Polish, and swallowed half of what was in the bottle. Matheous looks at me and says:

“Here, drink some…”

“We should put water in the… OK, I slung the bottle back, took a good sip then a big sip of water and it was actually quite good that way. He did the same.

“Thank you for a beautiful night.” He said.

“Thank you.” I said.

I feel I have a friend here but I sense also that I’ll never see him again. We walk back to Balyoz Sokak, attempt to go to the Marmara Hotel to see the view, but we’re denied. It’s closed they say.

Back to Chillout, all sorts of people hanging out, it’s 4 something AM. I’m up until the Ezan. I go to bed, room 22. Good ol’ room 22, with too many memories in it, some delicious, some horrendous. I climb to the top bunk in the dark, I just take my jeans off. Put earplugs in, it will be crashes and jack hammer rhythms in the morning as they are demolishing the building next door. The pillow is too big, the bed not much wider than my shoulders. I try not to move so the rattley bunk beds won’t squeak and wake up the girls in the room. Tomorrow I need to find a home I thought with much purpose. This is choking me.

And we loop back to the top of this post….

The road… My other choice? Stay in Istanbul. Dig into the music. I want a new guitar… I have no money to get one. I want to be held tight, feel communion and give everything I have, everything I am. I want to feel the wind and see the moon, I want open doors. I want, I want… A settled life is about wants and needs. A life on the road is about the next step and the gifts life drops in front of me and breathing through pain and letting it carve you.

Tomorrow I play. I wish to make the night be like a road, cover the minutes like covering the miles, standing tall, honest, eyes open, with nothing to prove, nothing to need. Just be.