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The day was waning, the streets are busy with rush hour traffic, harried faces, horns honking, aggressive taxi drivers. I had just walked by Pera Palace, when I heard this booming voice hollering. I looked back, an old man with a hat and a suit jacket, gesticulating, he’s mad, in another reality. I continued. Red light, I press the button and wait for the light to change to green. Pedestrians jaywalk to the middle section of the road. I used to do that but realize that you are a target there for any runaway car, scooter, motorcycle, bus or truck, so I wait for the green. Loud voice, I jump. The old man with the hat and the suit jacket is right next to me. His blue eyes are focused on an intense inner world, his face framed in gray stubble, his skin deeply etched by a demanding life. Green light, we cross. Three quarter of the way through the 6 lanes I see a street dog on the other side estimating traffic, looking nervous, he is big, brown and black, dirty. I wonder if I should help him but before I can do anything the old man hollers again, goes to the dog and talks to him, they understand each other instantly. Now I know the dog is safe from those rabid Istanbul drivers…

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Maybe it’s an overdose of world news but it seems we’re going to hell in a hand basket in an accelerated rate of speed. I hurt for the earth, the animals. I cannot grasp the amount of spite, anger, violence. How easy it is for humans to just do that: be violent, vengeful, hateful, shortsighted, greedy and completely stupid.

The human is the most despicable, destructive, stupid form of life on the earth. I’m sorry if that offends you but really… look around. The pettiness, the greed, the self interest, the intolerance, the violence… I mean the concept alone of making arms… to blow each other up… don’t give me any reasons. There are none. Because if you changed shoes for 3 seconds and the ones blown up were your kin, then it would be atrociously unacceptable.

Then see the way we feed each other poisonous things, we have human companies, manufacturing foods and medication that make people ill, that kills them, human companies that knowingly send all their garbage in the environment. Like Flint!!! poisoning your people with local water and giving good water to GM Motors… As a species it comes down to living, sleeping eating, in your own shit. No animal does that.

Good people create for themselves the best justifications to manufacture, sell arms and poisons and not be responsible for their actions, because, well, there’s good money in it and the crowds clap in agreement: Money is good.

The lack of empathy, of feeling, of thinking… The human thought process is deranged, a diseased thing, unable to grasp simple survival (clean air, water, food). I am not sure at all we will survive what is coming, or should I say has already arrived (climate change) Mother nature has hit Canada where Canada hurts her the most: Fort Mac Murray. Now she’s burning the workers camps. Good riddance. “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!” they all cry like babies. ECONOMY! ECONOMY! What the fuck is that? Money is not even a representation of gold stores anymore, money, the banks and their moron bankers have the system rigged. It makes me sick to see all their advertising, clean crisp corporate image of winners, I spit on those lies… The elections : Rigged. ALL OVER THE WORLD! All the while we are with all our might and conviction hanging on to our unsustainable lives, dreams of fame, fake lips, boobs and asses, obsessed with porn and bodies and utterly insignificant, idiotic celebrities while raining 40 000 dollars bombs on cotton tents…. This is madness. Madness. Madness. Oh mother nature… I cry.

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I headed out to Taksim on foot, destination: Junior bar. The old “Jurnal” now has a new name and a new owner. He had contacted me regarding the possibility of playing. The sun is setting and it’s absolutely gorgeous out. I walk through the fish market, the restaurant hosts harass you on the way, trying to get you to engage and come to their tables, I walk on. Ms Sokak, I turn, I go downstairs, there is a cat on the steps whom I must carefully step around. Inside, empty but for 1 person. The owner. It’s too clean, too orderly, too empty.

“Hello”

“Hello”

I sit with him, he’s a young guy, he tells me he used to have a terasse with an open ceiling, lots of customers, music, it was beautiful, but the Zabita came in and since he didn’t have a license they shut him down. Now he’s here, it’s underground, small, low ceiling, no windows and there is no one around.

“Since the bomb, every week there is less and less people. Everyone hangs out in Beşiktas or Kadiköy. 4 years ago.. 3 years ago even, it was great…” Three years ago is when I arrived, and yes it was incredible. People from all over the world, artists, musicians, students, the young Turks happy and creative, inventing futures for themselves. That was what I saw. Now I see the fast decline of Beyoğlu, there aren’t thousands of people to hide the cracks and the decaying surroundings. There aren’t laughing tourists to make you disregard the shady characters hanging around and trying to rip you off. There isn’t hope anymore. Now it’s patience.

“One day, like everyone, he will go away…” Said he about the dictatorial leader. The Turkish patience through hardships. We will organize a concert when I am done at the school. I will invite many but I’m not sure we can overcome what is going on here. I feel I am on a slowly sinking ship. The fate is such. Turkey is going down, by its own politics, by way of geopolitics, by way of intolerance. They are isolating themselves. We will see. I walked back home on Istiklal, shoppers abound, the darkness is coming in. I think of Maryam, Eren, and the crew of people who used to make this place magical. I remember Eren telling me in 2014 outside Karakedi version 2 that things were going downhill, the good days were ending… he was right. I also remember Moosa telling me right after Gezi that this was exactly what happened in Iran, and to watch and see how darkness would set on this wondrous city.
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I cleaned my room. Istanbul is so polluted (20 million people make a lot of pollution) everyday you can sweep a good quantity of dust and sand (yeah I don’t know how that happens) things get covered in a layer of greasy dust within a day. I had neglected the room for over a week so it felt like a purification to wash floors and dust everything. It feels peaceful. Tonight I had an awesome dinner of taze fasulye and then we walked to Karaköy and got yes… baklava. We sat by the Bosphorus. This area last year was bustling with fish sandwich impromptu restaurants, tables, all sorts of festive temporary eating spots. In the fall last year, bulldozers came and flattened all of it. Overnight. Now they have planted trees and put down grass, gentrifying the whole thing, I think soon this whole area will be fancified into hotel-shopping row. That is what is going on everywhere. Big fucking corporate money. So we sat by the Haliç opened up our box of Güllüoğlü baklava, unbelievably tasty! one piece each, the sun is warm and beautiful, it’s peaceful, we watch the boat traffic on the Haliç, a father and his fat little son walk by.

“Now it’s good to be in Istanbul!” He says ironically, yes right now it feels incredibly sweet.

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I resigned

May 11, 2016

 

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So I did it. Wrote a resignation letter. Then handed it in. Freedom from this craziness is coming. I am counting the days, the week ends. I will return into the uncertainty of unemployment but I realized that nothing in my life, energy, situation would change unless I quit and make room for new things and don’t just hang on to the fear of not being able to pay rent. I have been trying to look for other opportunities, but this roller coaster of energy makes it impossible. I need to become whole again and that is not going to happen if I have to go there.

I worked over the week end, I was so exhausted. It is undescribable the exhaustion I feel after a week end with 18 to 20 classes. My body hurt, my mind is blank, I get dizzy and I am so tired, so, so, so tired. I could really see the impact of that week end as I had had 4 days off before and when I came to the first classes on Saturday I had energy and something to say… by Monday I was dragging myself painfully around, feeling faint and feeling an emptiness in my chest in my solar plexus that is like a black hole… just drained. Nothing. Now I have had two days off and I am barely back up to resting RPMs… it’s like being on a steep hill in too high a gear, you know the feeling, you’ll either fall or go backwards…  I have been debating this whole thing for months now… why do I feel that way?  and it’s not the students and it’s not the teachers and it’s not the staff… it is this eat and spit them out system that sucks everything out of you for all that you are worth. It’s the realisation of the impossibility of surviving, it’s just enough to keep you going.  It is the unpredictability, it is the fact that I talked about everything and no one gives a shit, they need you they say, but you can go home with 50 dollars to live on for a month as your hours were cut without you knowing they were going to be cut.  Yes, they offered to “help” by giving me an advance on next month’s salary…. Oh yeah? so what happens next month?  You are short again… then you are indebted, then …. you are royally fucked.

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So Liberation Day: May 30th. They asked me to stay until mid June but the thought alone feels like climbing the Kilimanjaro without gear: Impossible. So I said no.  finally.

Time for the residence permit is also coming up. I will need money.  I had some but since my pay was so low for a couple of months because of my unpredictably fluctuating schedule I have none ahead of me. Part of me doesn’t want to renew… part of me thinks I must do 1 more year; go see the lands of the Amazons, see the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. There are also personal things that keep me here, like things of the heart… To leave would be criminal. So I must find my way around this mad country…. don’t get me wrong though, I think it’s mad everywhere on this planet, I think that the only thing that has value here is love.  So I stay.

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In the mean time I went to another museum. The Archeology museum. Saw the Asian exhibit; Egypt, Mesopotamia… I found myself completely overwhelmed when faced with an Egyptian artifact, there, so close I could touch it, but I didn’t… out of respect. All these cultures that came before us… Power, money.. Some now claim that Egypt failed because of climate change: a volcano changed the climate and mayhem ensued which then produced the collapse of that society.

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Go back as far as you can, it’s always the same, idiots warring for power and greed, regular people caught in the middle.

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I could go on… I did, but deleted it all. We all know we are in knee deep if not, up to our eyeballs in shit, pollution, degradation, abuse, lies… the human is now required to use his “intelligence” and “superior intellect” and stop reacting like absolute, self absorbed, blind and dumb morons. More caring, more vision and action. We might not survive what will come if we don’t change our evil, selfish ways.

Imagine what they would find, 2000 years or 10 000 years later… garbage, phones, TV’s, cars and so much plastic junk everywhere…   they could do this thing where they drill and find all sorts of impossible pollutants in the earth, layers of gunk, upon gunk, grocery bags galore… I think we should clean up for the next generations, kind of like getting clean underwear before heading out to the doctor’s office.

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Sorry for my tone I may be reading too many news these days…  but I care for this amazing, beautiful, unique earth, for the animals the air, the water, the people with all the dreams in their eyes, their wishes for peace and love.  Lets start by being kind to each other and forgive, then be kind to the earth, the animals… and ourselves.

For right now: Over and out.

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It’s approaching midnight, five minutes to, to be exact. I had a strange day. It started by being awakened around 3 by mosquitoes buzzing at my ears and since the power was out, a frequent thing in Istanbul, I could not hunt them. I could only wait for them to come close to my ears and attempt to kill them, hitting my own head in the process. At one point I heard one buzzing distressingly in my hair, I used the blanket to smother it, I knew I had killed one. But after all this I could not sleep. I got up, did a search for torn ankle ligaments on Google.

Yeah, When I was a teen I destroyed my right ankle’s ligaments with a bad fall in a badminton tournament. I had managed to rip the bone along with tearing them all. I remember the doctor being so angry at me telling me that I was going to be an old woman with thick ankles… He was really angry at me, it had been an accident, a fall, I hadn’t done this on purpose… Anyways… I used to love to run. I’d pretend to be a horse and run, run, run, letting my mind drift into imaginary worlds. I would breathe like a horse and “feel” my long horse back and hind legs move in perfect harmony with my “front” legs. This ankle issue pretty much followed me all my life but I always kept going.

Since September I have been having foot issues. Immense pain that would move around the heel, the sole of the foot, the inside, the outside… It can be excruciating at times to the point where it seems both my legs are like wood and it’s difficult to walk. I kept going hoping for natural healing, but it didn’t come. For me, who used to walk, and walk and walk… it has been a real setback, trapping me into inactivity. I Finally went to a doctor last Friday. After the X ray and MRI I was told I have a heel spur and torn ligaments. Some knowledge is good, I could now scour the internet for information. I found massages, healing exercises, scar tissue dissolving methods. The doc gave me some collagen pills and pain killers, he said to come back in a month to see if there is progress, if it is not better he was suggesting a medical escalation.

Then this morning, I was walking home with a friend (thankfully) I fainted for an instant and crashed to the ground. It was as if watching a TV, the image went woozy and the power went out, for just an instant. I was scary to lose control like this on a street. We slowly walked home, I had scared both my friend and myself… then I had this unclear yet strong thought: “Things are re-aligning” I told my friend but he said: “you were hungry…” Then I wondered if maybe I was being too dramatic. I can do that my my body lets me down… I get scared, my imagination runs.

We made food, I ate and I had to go for a job interview, my head remained unfocused, like with static, my breath short and I was dizzy. The interview? Another language school teaching job. That is another thing I have taken to read about.. not a good scene anywhere in Istanbul. It’s a racket. The guy doing the interview was American, from Vermont, he gave it to me like it is. No sugar coating. With these stupid jobs the truth is that you are a cog, they need you and they don’t give a shit about you. So you work for shitty pay, crazy schedule with no support until you cave in and collapse and they quickly get another bright eyed foreigner. I thanked him and walked out, proceeding slowly, my head swimming in thoughts, sensations, bits and pieces of the interview floating in my mind when suddenly I realized that my body was taller, that my stride was different, more me, not this struggling protective gait. Hmm? What is this? Realignment?

I came home and then felt such dread I wrote a will. Who knows? I was scheduled to go to another job interview but I cancelled it. I am supposed to go teach my first private student tomorrow but I will cancel that too. It was around 4 PM and I directly went to bed, feeling fragile, scared from all those weird body sensations and I wrapped myself in blankets and slept.

This last week in various stores I was ripped off 4,5 times, as if the dishonesty rises with life’s insecurity. I start to resent people. The way they lie to you with a smile. The way they knowingly abuse you. I also resent this work, these jobs immensely as it is the same thing “You are family” bullshit when they turn around and use you like cattle… It’s been a struggle. I am not a teacher… I love the students, I love if I can help them grow and learn, but when it comes down to it, I don’t know how to teach clauses and reported speech and I feel just bad. I want to quit. Leave all this idiocy behind, but how will I pay the rent?

So I did yoga again. Maybe I am re-aligning. Maybe I’m just falling apart. Maybe some forces are trying to get my attention. Maybe I should fucking quit this circus and see what presents itself because as long as I stay in it, I can’t see beyond the walls and just repeat the same moves like the automaton they want me to be.

I need to feel the earth. Heal.

Up! Lets get up! Prepare some food, very light bags, we’re heading to Kabatas to hop on a ferry. Stop for simits on the way, rush down the hill, catch the tram and we made it with 15 minutes to spare (luxury!) onto the “Baris Manco” vessel on its way to the Islands.

We eat our breakfast on the boat and then watch the multitude of birds racing along the ferry, passengers feed them, they are amazing, executing all sorts of aerial acrobatics for a bite of food thrown at them by the passengers.

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We go to Buyuk Ada, the largest island, its my first time there. Right off the ferry it is a tourist mad trap and I am not sure I like it… but a few steps in and the beauty conquers me already.

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We climb a very steep hill. There are flowers… real flowers, not planted ones, flowers that just decided to grow there and there are millions of bees, oh, the sound of bees… I look down and see cute red and black bugs, kind of like lady bugs but without the hard shell… I am dizzied by this life, I am not assimilating all this right there and then. My heart is pumping hard and I am sweating up this hill, and I am out of Istanbul with a backpack on my back and a friend at my side.

Trees. They are grey bodied, hard bodied, sturdy, heat bearing pine trees. What are they doing in the ground like this, they should be ambulating, they look like they should ambulate…

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we meet horses, flowers, hedge hogs (I had never seen a real one) dogs and cats, cows, ancient buildings, abandoned orphanage, the sea, boats, carriages (there are no gas propelled cars or vehicles on the islands) We saw the remains of mortal dreams and the eternity of the cycles of the sun and every moment was a blessing, and I kept realizing how much I needed this and how much I had forgotten what earth is like… as opposed to planet Istanbul…

I got to lay on the earth, feel its energy fill my cells, I got to breathe clean air, and see almost no one, I am so very thankful.

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Fairy tale images

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These “bags” are actually hardened cement or plaster… someone had them piled up and whatever job they were intended for, they never got used.. so they hardened on the spot, someone’s dream or project that never materialized.

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Horses appear out of nowhere, they walk in the streets, eat where they may, follow their whims through the city. The horses on the carriages work hard. Some in very, very poor condition, my ex-horsewoman’s eye cannot avoid seeing the whitened hair of scars, the unfit bits and harnesses, the protruding bones and the smell of poorly kept animals. I wonder who supervises this?

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Well I have been here pretty much 3 years now and I had never visited the tourist attractions.  Last week I splurged and bought a Muzekart.  That is for residents, good for a year, endless visits allowed museum card.  Last week I visited Topkapi Palace.  I never expected to be so taken away but I was.  Completely.  I have no photos as I forgot my camera… yeah I know.

Today it was Hagia Sophia.  Amazing.  This place has artifacts in it that date over 2000 years ago.  From Greeks to Byzantines to Ottomans.  They are renovating, so there are scaffolds inside, but the place is impossibly beautiful, despite the obvious passage of time.

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First we passed by the old train station which was the place where the Orient Express docked… gorgeous.

Then into the gigantic church-mosque

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this is a vessel from Greek times, over 2000 years old.  It had been purchased by one of the Sultans…

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some of the mosaics still existing on the second floor

These doors…

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They fascinate me… and talking of doors this one is made of bronze and was made by Greeks 2300 years ago.  the beauty of the details and the fact that they survived like this is a wonder.  It is called “the beautiful door”

and of course a cat…

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and after all the walking, coffee…

and some tahin sweets that we smuggled in.

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It was a great day.  The sun out and warm but it’s still very breezy and there is no heavy sweating yet.  The Old City is very quiet though.  There are very few tourists, the shadow of terrorist bombings still looms wide and dark.  Where there should be huge line ups, like at Galata Tower, mostly locals can be seen.   We all are very conscious of this fact as we walk around, noises, weird looking people, will make us jump a bit.

But we must live, enjoy, celebrate this gift of this life and this gift of so many wonders surrounding us.

Bombs.

March 22, 2016

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Saturday morning, around 10 AM, I am about to go teach a class when Berkay walks in the teachers’ room his head down staring at his phone, he starts reading out loud, in Turkish, the other teachers in the room stop in their tracks, I hear Taksim and patlama… bomb and Taksim which is pretty much my neighborhood. I wait until he finishes

“What was that?”

“There was a bomb in Taksim.”

“Where exactly?”

“I don’t know.”

My friends… I think.

I was sitting at the computer in the room so I immediately look for news, all the people I know pretty much live in Taksim, my stomach turns. I find something, 20 minutes ago, near Demiroren shopping mall… 5 dead maybe, many injured. The news go around like wild fire, there is a sense of dread and horror growing fast in the room, my feeling of unease turn into pain, tears roll down my cheeks. Goddamn it, it is so fucked up. All this violence, all this hate, all that madness spreading like molasses getting everything sticky and gross. I get my phone, call my friend. He is OK. Emotions run high. Everyone is upset.

I have to go teach. I walk in the room, the students look relaxed. I am so upset, they look at me, they ask what’s wrong. I tell them. There is a moment of shock. Then, the phones come out. Then the same shock on their faces. I stand in front of the class and I try to keep it together and I cannot, I excuse myself and go out for a to calm down. When I come back, I ask them what they want to do.

“Just sit down” One says.

I propose to look at how to prepare for next week’s speaking exam and I start to write and explain and smile stupidly then it all comes back up like sour milk and tears again come to my eyes. One girl gets me a glass of water another gets a kleenex. They are so kind. We decide to watch a movie. It’s an animation film, pretty thing with nice colors and happy faces. It pacifies us for 40 minutes.

I will never forget their faces. The imprint of grief, pain and sorrow. My day is a succession those faces, 9 more classes like this where I would confront 6 to 12 faces. It was even more heartbreaking with teenagers, as they look at the world we are giving them and the hopelessness they feel is palpable. It rips me apart.

At the end of the work day, the road back on the bus was eerie. 3 people on the bus to Taksim on a Saturday night. Normally the bus gets packed, people standing up, dressed up, ready to party, talking and laughing. This is a silent bus ride that we made with only one more passenger coming on board. When I get off at Sishane, its totally empty, no one, no cars, no sounds. Istanbul has gone silent. 20 million people silent. You cannot imagine.

I go home. Start looking at the news, it is really weird and somewhat unreal as there are very few notices about the bomb, if it had taken place in a Western city, FB would be filled with flags and messages of grief and sorrow. In the main news I saw that a plane had crashed in Russia, that stole the headlines I guess, who cares about another bomb going off in the Middle East? I leave a note on my page, so my friends and family know I am OK.

My head reels with the headlines filling the news world. All this death, all this hate and now, all this fear. The school will be closed tomorrow because of fear of new attacks, everyone stays home because of fear of attacks, everyone is so sad and shrinking into a trembling hope that no one they love will get hurt.

After a while doing this, I decide to go out. Fuck this, I am not staying inside as a hounded, wounded creature. I grabbe my camera and go out to feel the air. Outside, as I said, it is impossibly quiet. No one on the streets, only the corner store is opened but the owner is there with 4 big guys, as if there to help in case of troubles. Up the street a flag. The bright red, crescent moon and star Turkish flag. I’m sick of flags. I’m sick of nationalism. I’m sick of borders and all the intrinsincly unfair business of passports and who can go where. We need a flag for humanity, no, for Life, something to rally under no matter what color, creed, religion or sex or elemental compound it is made of. Something to remind us that if one hurts, we all hurt. If we destroy we all lose. If we abuse we all suffer. Something to remind us that this circle of empathy that we keep so small around our little precious world of posessions must grow to encompass the whole earth. All living things, plants and animals.

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Up on the boulevard I have a revelation. I suddenly remember that while riding my bike all over the North American continent I had this keen awareness that death could hit anytime and I was cool with it. I was cool with it because I was living every moment of my life as deeply and fully as I possibly could. I was cool with it because every moment blessed me with such beauty, gifts of communication or simply gifts of the coursing of the sun and moon in the heavens. I needed so little as everyday brought me more than I could ever imagine, wish for or create. Right here right now in Istanbul, I must live like this too. Not be scared that something might happen. Because one thing is clear for me: we all have a journey and a time to die. When it comes, it will be perfect, it will be ‘the’ time to make that transition, continue the journey into the unknown. It is a beautiful thing. I see it as a liberation. It is a surrender to the perfection of it all, it is faith in life, in the Universe.

It was a beautiful moment of clarity, it washed away the horror of the day, like clear crystal water running on the skin on a warm sunny day. I could breathe better. I walked on, taking in the sights, the feelings, the energy of this beloved city.

On such a day, I realize how fear subtly glides in your mind. A weird looking guy instantly becomes a live bomb in the overactive mind. I watched these thoughts go by. Absorbing them.

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Around Galata, there are maybe 10 people. A couple of tourists, young European girls trying to take selfies with the street dog who wasn’t sure if he should escape or stay. The usually bustling restaurants are completely empty of customers. Most shops are closed, their metal blinds boarding the places like small fortresses. Up Galip Dede, it is empty too. Up at Tunel Square: 2 people. You must realize that this is Saturday night, and this is one of the partiest cities in the world and this place is the partiest neighborhood in that partiest of cities… only a few and most of them Turkish and all of them men, there are no women out tonight. I saw maybe 3 foreign couples walking on the deserted street.

Tunel square: empty

Tunel square: empty

I continued all the way to the bombing site. There was a circle of men, all in black paying respects to a tiny memorial, a white tarp had been affixed in front of the blown door, the upstairs windows are blown apart too. Tiny votives shivering in the night breeze pay tribute to the gone souls. There are some flowers and stark black and white signs that say that we will not be scared, that we stand together facing terror. I feel tears, it is as if the area has held pain within itself for us to feel. I stand there and look, absorb. Send a prayer to those who died here today.

the memorial on Istiklal

the memorial on Istiklal

I am glad I came. I can breathe better. The situation is not better but I am, as if I had loosened some sort of bounds around my whole being. We must live, stand, face whatever it is that confronts us. There is always learning in that.

It has been two days now since the bomb exploded here. This morning it was in Bruxelles. FB was covered in notes and thoughts for Bruxelles… We must learn to love ALL our fellow human beings. We must refuse discrimination, separation of any kind. As long as we separate, we will kill each other, we will spread hate and destruction to others who are just like us. I don’t care what you say, there are no right and wrong sides. When you kill, you kill. We must aim for the good of all, not only for ‘our own’ people but for all people. I would actually extend this to all and everything. We must be the shepperds of this earth.

We need to make BIG changes. All of us. What will it take for us to understand what is at stake? What will it take for us to realize the possibilities? We could feed all, heal all, educate all of the billions living on this earth.

We need to stop making bombs, war machines, guns and weapons and profit from such business. It should be seen as despicable,unbearable, unacceptable acts, not unfortunate “that’s just the way it is” ones. Stop making arms and selling them and the scope of most wars would be reduced to disputes, yes I’m over simplifying but not really…

We need to recognize the mad drive for power, for greed and control is a disease and those suffering from it should be cared for. We are much quicker and willing to assert an artist’s mental malfunctions, when in the mean time we accept the murderous and illegal actions of our governments as if they were normal.

We need to revisit honor, ethics, and the values the ancient Greeks upheld as innate instead of accepting the idea that a human being is only the sum of his chemical reactions and following that, has no ability to uphold any responsibilities. And speaking of responsibilities, we need to stop blaming external factors and put our hands in the dirt. Do the work. At home, at work, on the roads, (you could start with checking that road rage and your sense of self-entitlement and forgive another instead of being that screaming, middle finger flipping, purple faced jerk? could you for example curb your judgments and try to have some empathy when someone is not like you,or doesn’t do what you expect? Can you abstain to spread hate, racism and any sort of fear based reactions? How about considering the possibility that in fact, you actually don’t understand what is going on? Have humility? Can you just be a tiny bit more patient? A tiny bit more tolerant? A tiny bit more loving? It is a step by step journey and it doesn’t involve uncontrollable elements like geopolitics and governments it involves opening one’s eyes and kindness.

That is a tiny something we can do to change this mad world.

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Impressions

January 20, 2016

Walking on Istiklal, got a heavy backpack with pedals and guitar cables, the guitar is heavy… stupid plywood case weights 40 lbs. Dreaming of a lightweight case for this baby one day. Twice, heavily made up Arab tourist girls run right into me. They are fat with bonbons. Americans are fat with grease, Arabs are fat with bonbons. They don’t apologize, they carry many shopping bags, their eyes scanning for opportunities, the mustard color pants stick in my memory.

It snowed for two days straight but it didn’t stick on the ground. The only thing that got stuck to the ground for those two days were 325 planes at Ataturk airport. f

I get to Jurnal but the gig isn’t going to happen. I didn’t want to go to tell you the truth… I had this really huge “Naaaaahhhhhh don’t wanna gooooooooooooooo” feeling. I almost messaged that I wasn’t coming but I kicked my but and went. Erkan is sick, the place is cold and empty and we just agreed that I could just go home. Yay. I actually wanted to take photos so…. I went.

I walk down the road, cars honk. Mostly taxi drivers. It’s aggravating. I am taking photos “honk!” “beep beep!” a constant flow of honking, greedy, taxi drivers, and it’s pretty damn obvious that I am not even looking for a cab, I’m not even paying any attention at the road. Then the driver of a regular car slows down, pulls over, he cranes his neck trying to look at me, rolls the window down. They do that. Men in cars, when you walk along the sidewalk, just stop and expect you are just going to smile and jump right into their cars…. Sometimes they follow you for a while, in case you change your mind. As if… I pay attention to their plates, 34 means Istanbul, other numbers; they’re from out of town and sometimes that means that they have some strange ideas about women.

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Karaköy. It’s dark and deserted. Tuesday night is a good night for empty streets. I don’t like taking photos when there are too many people. I don’t like sticking the camera in people’s faces… seems… rude. I walk down the deserted off ramp for the bridge, there is a fenced area, kind of open field. Puppies are eating, someone fed them. These someones are amazing. So generous and caring.

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Walking in the dark emptiness further on, 3 more dogs appear, one is quite young. They come close to me. The little one is very nervous, he looks like he’s had bad encounters with humans before, a kind of brown lab. An older one approaches me, big, brown with a white patch on the chest, a large square muzzle, noble looking. I gently touch him, talk to him, he looks so grave. A third one hangs off to the back. Suddenly the serious one launches full speed, barking and running, the other two follow him. The disappear in the night but I can hear them bark.

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My eyes get excited, angles, colors, unexpected things. It’s cool to be in an empty Istanbu. It’s cold tonight, for locals I mean, I think that might be the main reason why it’s so empty, it’s below zero, no one’s out but the crazy Canadian. My roommate rode his motorcycle today, “maniac” he called himself. He has a wool jacket, I hope his leather jacket is underneath… I know how cold it gets on a motorcycle when you get around zero C.

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Work at the school. Everyone is working so very hard. Everyone is doing too many hours. Everyone is paid a little too little. Everyone is given the short end of the stick by the management. It’s always about money. I wish people would get this… Money is not the goal. Money is an energy that happens and that should be shared. This week I’ve had reduced hours because of the end of some of the classes that started in October. Not good for finances but spirit-wise it’s good because it makes me feel free as the work load is not so damn heavy. I work 3 days a week now. 10 classes on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s too much for one day. Those days start at 7 AM, then ten lessons in a row with 10 different set of faces, 10 different programs, I still don’t know anyone’s names… I am a full on zombie when I get home after those days. Then I need two days to recover. But it’s not all bad, there have been days where some really great moments occur, human things, community things, it’s for real. I also learn to be more resilient and support my colleagues instead of whining. This week I was able to set aglow a few “light bulb moments” in my student’s faces and that was priceless.

I am dangerously addicted to this new coffee shop: Ministry of Coffee. Australian roasters… the rush is undescribable. I’m in trouble… I shouldn’t spend money in the coffee shop with reduced work hours… that is food money. But it’s sooooooo good….

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Shelley, my beautiful new friend left Istanbul yesterday. She is from China, she did a thing for me… how to describe… maybe what explains it is that because she is an artist she can create things… she made me see something in me I wasn’t able to see, and she did this with a sort of visual-apparition magic, holographic thing… images came to me. It was something I needed to see on this journey of mine. Then that vision allowed me to free some other considerations in my mind. One must always leave the door open for discoveries, for love, for connection. How amazing are all the meetings we make upon our road. All those are gifts. I am so thankful.

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I have a heater. I can eat. I can take photos, write and play. I have many streams of friendships that make my heart happy. I have a fuzzy blanket that Berna gave me, books to read, courses I take. Coffee. Hot showers. An incredible guitar and a camera. I have a love for the world and its wondrous creatures. All that is required at this point is to stop watching the news. All the news. Life then will be idyllic as it will be mine, as my spirit seeks and not the reflection of some other entity’s agenda.

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