Where are you?

June 21, 2015

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I stir restless.

Where are you?
Where are you my passion, my anima?
Where are you my boldness?

Sunsets on endless highways. Full moons over Istanbul.
Bursting senses and complete abandon?

Is it night now or are the curtains shut? I cannot see.
Maybe it’s my eyes, flailing a little more daily
abandoning me.

This world goes, far and wide
Single men and mothers and aggressive teenagers.
There is no milk in the store, the cat climbed up the stairs
while the ants conquer the kitchen.

Where are you?
Where are you my well of emotions?
Where are you my determination?

To burn in the 100 degree heat, sweat and not quite faint.
Conquer the pain and breathe like a Ninja.

Cars and clothes and things and sparkle
Monster cameras around the necks of sweaty, confused middle-aged tourists
Fat asses bound in bursting, expensive fabric, swishing.
I stare and wait for the light to change to green.

Where are you?
Where are you my brash disregard, my defiance?
Where are you my free spirit?

An open pot of oily white rice left to dry
Cheesy pop music, wafting in, soiling my contemplation at 4 AM

Endless nights absorbed, danced, shared, until the sun re-enters on the other side
Deep breaths that would swallow the whole sky and all of its clouds
Sweet exhaustion, when the mitochondria gave all it had
to love all until absolute osmosis

Where are you?
I want to feel laughter roll out of my throat like a torrent
To be dauntless. Again.
These purple walls, are they closing in?
Or maybe I have not opened my eyes, yet.

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Fleetingness

June 15, 2015

A12

We’re on the other side of the night. The Earth ship continues its journey. Most sleep now, I witness the progress towards daylight, as the gulls cry, with two tiny candles on. I am tired but good, I played tonight and it was a good night. This week gave me hope; 4 gigs, one of them in a new venue, another one with Simo, so different music, a new thing where I just played guitar accompanying him. I paid the rent, insuring myself another month of stability. I submitted the paperwork for the residence permit. Then, I saw a friend fall down, Yeah, right in front of my eyes inside a cafe, where no one could ever expect to fall like this: He fell 3 meters deep in a hole of at least 2 meters in diameter this, in the middle of the floor of a cafe, no barrier or any device, to prevent a fall. No words of warning either… I screamed in alarm, my mind not understanding at all what I was seeing, then heard the sickening noise of his body crashing into things. I rushed down, there was a ladder on the other side… at first I thought he was severely injured as he lied there on the wet stinky floor, unresponsive, his face as white as snow and his hips and legs and head laying on the floor in such a wrong, odd angle… and he wouldn’t not talk at first, his eyes closed, those black eyebrows now too black next to the paleness his face now bore. It put me in a state of shock. I stayed calm but it was a deeply traumatic experience. I can’t imagine how it was for him, to fall in there. The cafe owner criticized the slowness of the ambulance’s coming saying “Turkey!” in my mind I criticized the stupidity of not implementing any safety protocol when you have a hole the size of an elephant on the floor of a dark cafe, which is such a Turkish thing to do… My friend, in the end was OK, hurt, bruised, traumatized but nothing to the spine or head, he was lucky.

This incident clearly highlighted how ludicrous most of my concerns are. Life so precious, fleeting.. EVERYTHING can be gone in the blink of an eye. Pft! Gone. Nothing is so serious as to stain the gift of relationships between people, they are all we really have in the end. Life happens fast and when someone goes, there is no turning back. So the laughter and talks with a friend, the taste of cheese, the good coffee, the smiles, a butcher giving me for free a whole friggin’ cow femur to make soup, the sunsets, cats, the wild dog who at 2 AM comes to me to greet me on the street, the laughter, the gift of a meal, the blessing of a job, the warmth of a blanket, the poetry of the trees, the strength of the poor, all… all… all this wonder… the gift of living, should be what we dwell upon, the rest, the fear, the pressure, we should let that go the way we too easily forget the gifts of life.

This week I also learned that I am not going to be the recipient of the study-composition grant I had applied for back in March. On Wednesday I had the thought that, no, it wasn’t going to happen. On Friday the words came via email confirming that, no it isn’t happening. I read the letters on the screen and paused. First, a disappointment, a distance, a loss. A few more breaths… then a freedom.

Forget the lessons, the studies.

And… Maybe it is time to forget this whole idea, you know, the shiny goal that inspired me to come here to Turkey in the first place. To have teachers and go to classes, this whole neatly wrapped up concept of scholarly achievement. I keep trying to give meaning to my life, you know, creating goals to reach, targets to attain, this study plan looked good, felt good, made me hopeful in a very Western sort of way, but I am not in the West anymore, and maybe I need to shed these considerations and dive deeper in what is right here in front of me.

Now I can do whatever, I am no more bound by an idea, a concept of how I was to do this. As I travel this life I keep dropping useless baggage. When I think there is nothing left to drop, still I find more useless crap to unload. All these reflexes stemming from cultural upbringing, societal, like blankets hiding the real being. They keep you warm and safe but they also hide the world from your eyes.

We must be wary of the conditioning, societal, religious, cultural. A conditioning so strong it will allows us to overlook who we love, what we care about, what is really meaningful for quick jolts of pleasure, for the illusion of control, duty and security, for the short lived relief of conforming to the rules, to be good boys and girls.

In 2 weeks I should know if the residence permit application is successful. In the mean time, I try to walk slower, not rush everywhere. Sometimes it works.

All my love

Elections,

Today I realize the extent of the amount of tension that was in the air in regards to this Turkish election. The ruling party, the AKP, and more exactly, its leader, the actual president Erdogan had been using a poisoned and iron fist repeatedly on all who dared raising their voices or simply, existing. None has been safe; doctors, journalists, lawyers, even a kid of 16 had been sentenced to prison for “disrespecting” the president. The goal of the AKP for this election was to garner a supermajority that would allow them to change the constitution and make the political system a presidential one, which in all intents and purposes would make him the sole leader, and if his leadership style was to continue, make him a dictator.

In the last few weeks the city has been covered in banners, flags, posters. The blistering loud election minivans spewing propaganda and party songs, the billboards, the events where flowers were thrown, the promise of new tablets to all students, the promises of mega projects… There is a glaring inequality in terms of budgets, the AKP, the party in power has the deepest wallet by far. I cannot find the numbers now but they spend something like 10 times the budget of all the opposition parties put together… in places one could see a pathetically lonesome string of CHP banners floating next to a sea of AKP banners. This all over my neigborhood. The AKP had building size banners, 10 stories high, with the face of the president or prime minister. Some days gifts flew extravagantly from the skies at Galata tower to a crowd of scarved, fervent women. Everywhere billboards showing Erdogan deeply photohopped facia announcing some celebration or declaring some great feat to come in the “new Turkey”. We saw the great opening of the newly refurbished Şişhane city hall, an extravagant affair when they closed the whole neighborhood and covered the streets with flags. To counteract this onslaught, the other parties had some stickers here and there, small poorly attended booths, it looked hopeless. I wondered how such inequality could be legal in a democratic system. It seemed to me like matching the American olympic basketball “Dream Team” pros against a crew of blind dwarves in armor on the court. Hopeless.

But somehow, people spoke and things changed yesterday. The ruling party, last night, lost their absolute majority, the HDP, a Kurdish party from the east which never had a seat in the parliament, with at its helm a charismatic human rights lawyer ( who campaigned for Kurdish, women, gay rights among other things) managed to break the absolute rule of power. The sultan, defeated.

All day, Sunday, we were quiet, it seemed all of Istanbul was quiet. Yes Sundays are normally quiet but it seemed everyone was hushed. There had been a bombing on Saturday, there had been power outtages on Sunday morning (a tactic that had been used in the past to hinder the electoral process) There were complaints of violence in some areas, of cheatings in others, the word of the removal of international observers in a case where there was obvious interference with a voter. I was thinking how both Canada and the USA had fraudulent elections lately, (the last one in Canada) and no one seemed to care… so here… how far would it go? Would there be so much cheating that the the ruling party would just steal it all?

So here we are It’s night now and the votes are being counted. We watch the computer screen. The wish, the necessity, is to see the HDP get the 10% required for them to get into parliament. As the hours go by and the numbers firm up, we start hearing fireworks, car horns and horrays coming from Tarlabasi, definitely not an AKP stronghold, we decide to head out. The first thing that hits us very clearly is the sense of relief, peace in the air. It is quite unbelivable, it is so strong, undeniable. At the boulevard, cars go by with people hanging out the windows screaming and sporting victory signs, horns honking wildly as the careen down the road. I feel so relieved. I want to walk slowly to feel this fully.

We get to Tophane, a definitely conservative neighborhood, it’s dead quiet. The banners are gone. As if nothing every took place. The çiğ köfte guy is not so happy. He says this result is not good for him. We politely acknowledge his words. Up into Taksim, it’s suprisingly quiet. People carry shopping bags… many foreigners out. Yeah, as long as the capitalism lives, people are happy to quench their thirst for buying, spending all the money and plastic burning their pockets.

“Lets go to Gezi Park.” Gezi… remember the protests? The police violence? Erdogan’s police… a year ago I was so depressed as it seemed that the protests had been all for nothing, then a little while back I realized that those protests had indeed been successful as there I was walking in the park enjoying the trees and the grass. Gezi, my introduction to Turkey, to its people, to their spirit, I was fresh off the plane… my intro to Turkish politics,. There we sit to eat our çiğ köfte. It’s peaceful and so quiet, it makes me feel like I am in Europe or something. In the distance we hear horns, celebrations. But here, the air seems clean and so much lighter.

We walk back towards home, on Istiklal. Then at Mis Sokak, we see them: people with the HDP banners, dancing the Halay, smiling, singing, celebrating. This street was a hot one during Gezi, always people fighting the police here, I remember dodging the gas cannisters and water cannons coming here to play gigs at Karakedi.

I feel that the country dodged a heavy, deadly bullet. The People of Turkey spoke. There will not be a presidential dictator in Turkey. There is hope. It is in the air. I feel so relieved, so happy. I realize how much we were all existing under this dark tarp of madness, oppression, destruction, hopelessness to change. Now I understand a few things a bit better. Turks are patient, they have seen many a mad man leading them. They know to wait and when to strike.

As I turn the corner to head to my house, one of the too many billboards has been ripped to shreds, all that is left is some tatters of the president’s right eye and hairdo and a bit of his ugly gray suit. The 4,5 billboards all in that hand made, redesigned condition. Yay.

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can you spot the evil eye on this 😉

I was stressed, the machine had pulled me in, I wanted to fix everything, I wanted all to be as it was: working without issues, I wanted to be doing something else. I didn’t want problems with ones and zeroes. At the same time the fight with the machine gave me purpose, a situation to use knowledge, ingenuity, an obstacle to surmount. I can win this. I will conquer this, which meant at the same time; I cannot lose this I cannot be conquered. Labyrinth of ways to the heart of it, dark halls, things done over and over, the machine starting to un-machine itself and starting to do things it cannot do, like willing itself not to shut down when I attempted it. How brash it was, insolent automaton who should know its place. Finally I went barbaric, rebooted and F9’ned it into Safe Mode and in a egregious gesture set the annihilation process in motion to eradicate this antagonistic minded machine, raze its mind, its ill will, its fuckedupedness back to the blandness of its factory presets. Zero it. I’ll show it what it costs to think on its own…

ERROR. In red big screen sized letters. What? This is supposed to be a given, the program running itself, no interference, just loading itself into actualization. A digital DNA of sorts, the fail proof code. PROGRAM X,Y,Z IS CONFLICTING WITH PROGRAM B,C,D…. A third note popped up, on the screen then a fourth which was the second red on white ERROR screen. They all sat there one on top of another with the superimposed message in black with the three dots, dots, dots repeating themselves ad infinitum. DO NOT OPERATE MACHINE. Dot. Dot. Dot. DO NOT OPERATE MACHINE. Dot. Dot. Dot. DO NOT OPERATE MACHINE. Dot. Dot. Dot. …

Fuck.

Thankfully I had backed up the whole past impersonation of the machine, the OS in full on another drive. But still. What do I do now? Do not operate it says. I waited a tiny bit then I did, I operated it and I turned it off. It restarted itself. Again and again. Finally it offered its new personality to me. Holy shit. Everything is gone. It’s a sleek, blank face, with a slick becoming smile but with no personality. Got to start all over. Meet, chat and discuss our preferences. Then I realized, Photoshop is gone. Illustrator is gone and I don’t have the discs, this is a problem along with all sorts of other things now gone; programs, files, things on the desktop… but I got the OS right? Hmm but I mindlessly renamed the machine… Messed that one up too. There will be messed up paths between the old name and the new name. I’ve been sitting there for hours at this point, how many, 8, 9? maybe 10. The sound of the hard drive gives me angst. Anxiety. But I carried on and I started moving all the files from the old operating system to this new one. And on it went. Then the phone rang: “I made bread! Come and taste it!” it’s now somewhere around 2 AM.

“OK, I’m coming.” Leave the damned machine to its own self-importance.

I walk up the street next to the stadium. Up to Istiklal. Most are drunk, wobbly and stupid and it irritates my existing state of annoyance more. At one corner a taxi driver stands outside his bright yellow car.

“Taksi!”

“Do I look like I want a fucking taxi!” I threw at him. He was all smiles… I regretted my outburst all of this is my own issue. But it’s not just the machine, it’s my own self generated self hell of doubt, fear and loathing. It has been around, waiting for me, hiding behind the corner, like a gang, like a cloud of bugs on the roadway that smears itself as an icky goop on your face shield reducing your ability to see as well as creating a deep disgust. Urgh.

I’ve been battling with myself; I found this new home, then lost my work, then I start to fear the future. The possible lack. The out of controlness that is going on. I’m trying to hold it all in and I cannot grasp, hold or control anything.

I get to my friend and the fresh bread and I start ranting about the calamity of losing Photoshop and Illustrator. As I talk I start hearing myself, I hear the voice that wants to hear itself whine, wants to be right, wants to have a problem. I start to see that the actuality is not what I rant about.

We talk, then we walk, then we talk more. In North America we have this concept: Rock bottom. How bad can it get? Well you go down until you hit rock bottom and then the only thing left to do is to push yourself out of the depths of the waters and emerge a grown person. He says to me: There is no bottom to worseness. Here things do keep getting “worser and worser”. Wow, ultra hell. That is a new way of thinking and I am not sure it’s a good one. So on one hand a culture says that it can only get so bad, on the other hand the second culture says there is no bottom to the potential of worsening of a life-situation.

“What about becoming a better person?”

“There is no such thing. If you are good, you are good, good is good, there is no improving on that. It just is.”

“Wow.” Here is yet another twist. So things can worsen indefinitely, but if you do your best, it’s good enough. So again, in one culture there is a bottom to how bad it can get, and the ceiling of self improvement is limitless. In the other there is bottomless badness but you are good enough as you are if you do good. It’s a bit dizzying a thought. It changes the whole perspective one would have on life and possibilities. wow.

I was sitting down on the floor looking at the ceiling of the room trying to define what I wanted, what I needed, what was wrong, what would be great… and finding that all these are convoluted dirt trails leading back to the starting point, a meaningless voyage back to the fact that by looking into a void; the unknown future, that trying to asses and organize it into a understandable, controllable whole, is pointless. The nullity of this processing so clear; What do I know really? Shut up. This is just the whole ensemble of my mind, my ego, my restless fears, and restless reach to achieve God knows what and trying to pretend that I know something. Phew… Sigh.

“You have to just enjoy what is.” he said. And I thought. And I saw the inumerability of good moments that occur, keep occurring. Yes, I have no financial means, but then, a large amount of people here are in exactly the same position, and they don’t cry about it. They still live, go on. They have nothing and they live and tomorrow comes, and the next day, and the meal times and somehow everyone lives on. Then he said: “ I am happy that I can give up. Hmm, not give up.. but… what’s the English word… continue on. Not hold on. I gave up my literacy, now I make food. Later I can return to literacy, or do something else.

“How did you get to be so wise?” I asked.

The next day I gave up. I slept an enormous amount of time. When I woke up I realize the depth of my sleep as it felt like heavy rocks had covered my eyes. My body too was heavy, it had given up, abandoned itself to slumber. That day, I did not look ahead. I was calm. I enjoyed my home. Made breakfast, used my new shiny espresso machine, sat down and breathed. Wow. How special is this? Really, honestly? Since… well since last July I’ve been pretty much houseless, this now is immensely luxurious. My home. My room. Quietness. I give up worrying about rent. Doesn’t something always happen? Yes. And it could be that I would get really busy, who knows? If so,then I would not have enjoyed this gift of quiet times and gentle mornings and days without pressure. And the same if, God forbid, if I was to find myself unable to pay the rent and back to houselessness, then I would have stressed all the time I could have used to enjoy, rest and recover.

I went out. As the door closes heavily with a clang, I step out. The birds. They sing and the air is cool and the sun is there, here I am in Turkey, I walk towards the little mini park, cats, women in scarves. I walk slowly, I realize that my body is tired, that I have not felt it, or given it any attention so much my head was lost ahead. I have been pushing and pushing it now it needs to breathe. Up the steps and under the canopy of the trees. I feel the ground under my feet. I give up, let go. What’s the word?.. Surrender, that is the word. It’s good. It is right. My Westerner’s head if full of this bullshit of achievement and production. Of this necessity to reach, or die trying. Of this necessity to have something to overcome, conquer, so that your life has value. A few days ago I chided myself: “when is the last time I created anything? A song, a poem, a nice piece of writing, a drawing? And I was shamed and worried; who am I then? Nothing.. What will I do with my life? Why do I exist? Life as a thing. A raw stone to carve. A blank page to write on. But today I read this:

“La vie est là qui vous anime, laissez vous porter, sentez vous vivante, la plus vivante possible, vivante veut dire unifiée. Ici et maintenant je suis ce que je suis. …Pas «ma vie et moi, moi et la vie» vous êtes la vie à quoi se surajoutent, venant nous compromettre et limiter cette vie, toutes les préoccupations, tous les soucis, tous les esporis que vous projetez dans le futur.

Life is there, animating you, let yourself be carried, feel it, be as alive as possible, alive meaning unified. Here and now I am what I am. … not `my life and I or me and the life`, you are life, onto which, the following come superimposing themselves on us, compromising us and limiting life, those being all the preoccupations, the worries, all the hopes that you project into the future.

Real peace is reconciliation. To welcome all without taking, without holding on, without maintaining, without conserving.

From the big bang onwards, at every moment, the whole of all chains of cause and effect that constitute the weave of this universe … results in… the production of a circumstance…

Reading this, I saw the unfolding in my mind of the whole universe, my own space expanding into this immensity. I am life. I am. I don’t own anything, I cannot hold anything, control anything as I am formless in all this. This weave… to think of all the cause and effect. To think of the scope and its plasticity; all-nothing.

So today I walked slowly, again. I did not carry my backpack with all the knick knacks stored in it that I might or might not need. This computer war thing made me realize many things, one of them being how within not so many years, these machines have become part and parcel of human functioning. “Who cares about the internet, they just made this up so they can use you and make money.” “You don’t need this, you should go out in the world and face it that way.” All the great promises of success and communication of social media; Yes, now I can send 200 invitations for my gig and no one shows up. They click the « join » button having done their part in showing me they care. I want to free myself. I need to interface with the world, not a screen.

The candles burn. Fuck the rules we said. So I am writing at 2:25 AM and he left to go make bread for in the morning. Real bread. It’s a beautiful night. How do I feel right now? A little tiredness in the shoulders, my head is thinking a lot about mom these days, about Canada, strangely, and also about Seraphim in the California sun, about Crystal who is about to embark on a big life journey and about my bike sitting there. I have been thinking how much i would love to have a cat on my lap… don’t ask why, it is just a thought. At this very moment, all is well. Beautiful. Peaceful. Life is.

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