4.10.2018

armchair traveling


Sargalau, Iraqi Kurdistan region


Just another morning of pondering…

Dazzling sunlight streams onto my lanai (balcony) as I sip coffee and greet the day. It’s the last day of the semester and all is well in my world. Another milestone achieved in another country, I’m anticipating my upcoming adventure traveling through northern Iraq to Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey next week.

I drift off into the past, seeking insights into the stories from these ancient paths. The caravanserai (resting spots for weary travelers and business people) where peoples from all over the ancient world would find themselves together for a night or two and tell their tales, eat, rest: Where they are from; what they are transporting; their destinations, etc.

In my mind I contribute to this ritual. I seek solace in the past, perhaps running away from the present confusions from a global world and all the ensuing difficulties. What has really changed though? From oral histories to cuneiform tablets to papyrus to paper to computer, humanity desires to create some sort way to immortalize their actions as their physical bodies decay. How do I weave my story into something finite?

I also desire to share ideas, stories, coffee with people. These brief moments of time shared, how to etch these soliloquies into a timeline that endures the shifting sands of time where I can return to at my will- whatever the physical coordinates I dwell in at any given time?

Sirens ring out in the distance. My coffee needs refilling, yet I can’t be bothered in this moment to shift into ‘that’ reality. Birds are chirping, palm trees are swaying, clouds are marching, and I am pondering. I stick around in THIS reality, waiting to intercept another story that surely will materialize through this diaphanous portal.

But, coffee…Time to disturb the past and enter the present. A sudden downpour! Perfect timing.
-->

3.29.2018

And the dark night will give you the day. (that Special Feeling-March 30: My most favorite bewitching hour- the storm commenced)





Tonight Suli opened up to me

(I love Airdrop; sometimes technology really gets it right. It's so fucking useful)

Anyway, Still washed aglow with that feeling one can get when they think they must have been the only earthling to witness an event. That feeling.

It was a crazy night *yawn* The day started trotting off to the bank. Yay! I finally was approved *yawn* for a bank account. I hadn't ridden in that direction since last week so knew about the civil servants strike, but hadn't seen it. There are tents set up, the road is closed so everyone has to circumvent. This region is so interesting, fragile yet with a core strength that inspires.

A few hours spent at the uni, and let the weekend commence. Oh yea, then I ended up back at said bank again- just joyriding this time though. My next super-exciting mundane stunt? I pulled off another Carrefour journey. I actually got to check one thing off my "to buy" list- a fan. I predict this next week to be the week that weather dictates I will need a fan...

There is just come comfort in knowing there is 1 grocery store with exactly 1 aisle that is dedicated to 'health food'. I know. It's not Mana Foods, or Ashland Co-op, but it's there. Another small victory is knowing that I already this was going to be the case, so faithfully every new move to new country I pack exactly 1 suitcase FULL of potions. It's like Christmas all the time for me; looking in my bathroom cabinet and see all those Dr. Bronner Organic Soap bottles awaiting...

PICK ME, PICK ME, they silently scream out at me when I peruse. Just last week I finished my Almond soap. I opened up that treasure chest of delight *squeal* and lustfully mulled over my choices: Peppermint (old #1), Almond (new #1 for 3 years running), Eucalyptus (unexpected pleasure), and Lavender (kinda going on the outs- yes, you can tell I chose this one).  And then there is the Skin Trip Mountain High Coconut body lotion, you fans know- that same one that hasn't changed in 20+ years. I love potions from home for sure.

Steering back on course now...

As you can tell, I'm still in that 'honeymoon' phase of a new area... Everyone seemed to (somewhat reluctantly) agree to hang low and we'd all resurface tomorrow evening, so I followed suit. I ate the entire box of bonbons (as I do) that my friend turned me onto that night at Carrefour when we were supplying for another's tequilla-themed birfday soiree. It has evolved into monthly tradition: Carrefour means payday means box of bonbons to devour in less than an hour. It works. Also, the chocolate soy milk, and the bubble water...

Continuing on...

The night was spent binge-listening to My Favorite Murder podcast and knitting my-totally-awesome-still-in-formation-pencil-skirt. I've come to an impass though, and need some critical consultations from friends in the know.

Eating. Yes, eating also played an important role. Spiritual binge-eating I call it. All week at work I only eat a (huge) salad, so that 1st night of weekend it's a grabbag. I dozed-off staring at the skyline as My Favorite Murder droned on in the background fuzz- something about their live show in Anaheim...

On a side note, I've LOVED watching these Murderino ladies evolve the past few years. I'm not even sure how I first found their podcast. I think it was Katie or Diana? I've turned quite a few friends onto this podcast. Istanbul, with the kitties, and the KnitWits (our group of wayward drinkers with a knitting problem during Snowpocalypse 2017. Yosemite, high in the Sierra Nevadas on the Merced River at the rock, by the Trailer Girlz pad. That was suck a fucking awesome headquarters. Twas also a great run. I did always think I was going to run into a bear- every day. Or a mountain lion. Heehee. Flying to Hawaii on 5 episodes. In Ashland at The Kitts groove pad listening to them outside on the lanai staring into raw SoOr landscape that can only be southern Oregon. Every trip I take, My Favorite Murder comes along for the ride (No Agenda, Snoop Dogg's GGN, Lore and Two Dope Queens podcasts too).

MFMs content- it's  just interesting, and funny in an organic kinda way- from the beginning. Random. Love it.
https://www.myfavoritemurder.com/

Back in bed later, I slumbered. Something woke me up. Thinking it was much earlier in the Bewitching Hour, I got up. I love roaming the halls at this hour. Always. All ways. It's that da kine abstract daze, my nocturne. Its arrangement of line, form and color leave my breathless and eager to indulge in its texture. Mood. Moulding. Nocturne. It's on.

What a fucking amazing display of nature follows. Darkness interrupted with horizontal streaks of lightning. I realized this grumble was rolling thunder. What a delightfully agitated scene I am witness to. I sensed rain to follow. This land knows. I know.  Just waiting.

My lanai is so inviting. Settling in, here comes the rain. A brief appearance and once again all is quiet (well, it is a city and all but it's still relatively 'quiet' as far as cities go). Thinking the show was over I debated going back to sleep, grabbing my computer to write...It was already 5 am. My internal rhythm's ego injured (thought it was 3 amish), I sat in disbelief. Get over it. Boom.

Light has broken through the greydation sky and suddenly a hugh 'crack' and the sky lets looks little balls of hail. The size of a Cocoa-Puff, they hardly stuck yet hail nevertheless. The moment was soon over. What a moment though. How fantastic to witness this event up in the foothills I imagine. Time to explore the hills. Perhaps that should be tonight's get together. Yes. I'll offer it up to the local local branch of the general council of weekenders' KRG shenanigans.

I realize I'm supposed to go hiking these very hills today, but that will likely be cancelled by this eternal downpour. I guess I'll just chill and watch the show from the couch unless I can wrangle anyone into some explorations. Oh, just realized this likely means no Nepalese food sellers down in the park today, or a run today.

It's nearly 8 am. Time to make coffee...


3.22.2018

I spy



Friday morning; stillness. 

On my lanai listening to the birds. Only birds. Birds and Chinese Fan Palms. Two ghost apartment buildings standing like skeletal monoliths standing guard. Pigeons, squatters, take refuge there. Twenty four floors I count in each. I wonder what their story is. 

I spy street kitties. One is darting underneath parked cars, traversing its hunting grounds perhaps. I wonder what they hunt. Finally a meow!  A woman that lives in the building walking her dog passes by said kitty. 

I spy a car parallel parking. A five-minute endeavor. Fascinating. Going on month three here in KRD, I've made some observations. There are a lot of SUVs here. Gas must be cheap here... Certainly a hella lot cheaper than in Turkey. I didn't see a lot of SUVs there. The SUVs here aren't as massive as they are in the Gulf, but they do exist in abundance here. That is all, on pondering automobiles anyway.

I hear music off in the distance. If it's the cami, then the loudspeaker isn't working properly. This city, it's interesting. I wander the streets, almost feeling as if I'm cloaked, as I go about my business- whatever it might be. It feels normal, natural even. 

Coffee. French roast with a hint of pecan wafts through the air. That first strong sip feels warm and supple against my lips. It's comforting. I'm not that person that needs it to function though. I am my father's daughter, in that I'm compelled to activate upon waking. Coffee helps to slow this process down. It gives me the time to simply chill for a while as I connect with my other characteristics that many times take a back seat because, well that's life. You gotta go to work, and in order to do that, you gotta plan your day, etc. Coffee serves as my 'just chill the fuck out for a few minutes and let your intuition sort out some things semi-consciously, so things will be pono (in balance)".  

So, Suli here in the NW of the country lies in the foothills of the Zagros mountains. I'm currently re-reading The Epic of Gilgamish (I first read it when living in Bahrain), and Suli was the land of Zamua. The area dates back to The Flood and plays a prominent role, but in this (Sumerian) version Utnapishtim rids himself of all his possessions and builds The Preserver of Life, which lands atop Mount Nisir (thought today to be Pir Omar Gudrun here). After releasing all the animals, he and his wife are granted immortality. 

As I understand it, The Lullutu lived in Zamua, predating Assyrian and Sassanian invasions (dating from 880 BC to the end of the 3rd century). Zaman became known as Sharizor. Under Ottoman control (17th century), it became Baban, named after its 'founding fathers'. There is some connection here to a family of Georgian Mameluks- but I haven't researched this, yet. This seems to be the starting point for Slemani's 'modern era'.

*why doesn't coffee stay warm forever*

There is some sort of walking tour of the historic houses of Slemani- which is next up on my list of sites to see. 

The 'hood is starting to show signs of movement, it's now 9 am. I still hear music in the distance, along with the white noise of traffic. The birds do not accept taking back seat to the cacophony of sounds though. 

Looking up, I spy the pigeons roosting onside their austere-grey skeletal alcoves spying down across the land just doing their thing. In this moment I feel the sun warming up the land of Zamua. Taking off my hoodie, I'm ready to soak up the stories that might offer up in whispers.

Peace

3.21.2018

...and in that instant, everything changed



stories from da `hood

...(l)and in that instant, everything changed. Something shifted alright.
transported back to El Portal and the seductive Merced (river). Further back I travel- back to any of those days, any of those lands- but the song remains the same; lying on a beach, some grass, the floor of my apartment, whatever. I am always looking up into the sun, as it warms my body.

You can take da wakine (girl) out of the beach, but never the beach outta da wahine. Hawaii, so many days staring into space and watching my thoughts, psyche, march by in steady rhythm- until something alters. Yea, these moments are exquisite. I covet them. So much thinking occurs on my lanai, while relaxing out in the sun. So.much.primal.pondering. The elixir. I found my dose, and apply it at every chance.

One of my favorite 'early-move' moves (~ 1-3 months) into a new living situation is to secure a beach chair, outside lounging furniture, and ambient lighting (still to come that one- outside of candles). Spirits help! All da kine fixings shape my reality. Every place different, yet every place connected- geographically, yet also spiritually. Spirituality, whatever it is, there is familiarity. Deep down in some powerful rhythm, worked by some powerful wizards (beings to tangible objects), whatever it is, wells up and needs to express itself. I guess this is my addiction that cultivated. It is me. 

So yes, here I am in KRD, connecting to my internally-wired hard drive looking at my photo stream from last summer: The Yosemite Chapter. The SoOr. Chapter. The Kas Chapter. The Laguna Beach Chapter. The Hawaii Chapter. The Gaziantep Chapter, etc... All are an inner-connected web. Not linear (the work of science). The work of nature (rhythm). For this knowledge I am sane.

I guess that's about all. I wasn't really thinking to post, but while sitting here on my lanai, knitting my pencil skirt (side 1), listening to Suli Sounds. Earlier I thought I heard an accordion. I haven't heard the sax in over a week. I hear children every day playing outside at the playground. Squeals of delight I tell you.

Then there are the two street kitties that faithfully come to the common area. WhitePaw, as some kid named kitty, is quite affectionate, very dirty, and reins as co-regent. The other co-regent is a tiger kitty. I can never understand what its name is. The two work you together as 1 entity, even though they aren't friendly with each other, at all really. They are felines. They are smart. We bond.

That kitty bond, though... The Kitts have my heart. Sometimes I'll be watching Brittania (new on my radar along with The Plebs and Altered Carbon coming up), or whenever and The Kitts are right there with me. We are cruising around the kitchen, I fret while they consider the balcony-which is open and so a scary option for any cat caretaker, we all hang out together doing our 'mundane' routine called life... All that, I miss.

But The Kitts are evolving splendidly. Warms my heart while making me forget how dastardly Sami Bey could be- with his ability to annihilate favorite fabrics   Every person that has catsat has a story that will unravel, such as a favorite item of clothing would when Sami Bey would masticate it into a black hole of death. Fortunately, he is LOVED so dearly and we cat-proof all fabric we covet...

Sami haze

hypnopompic Shaika


Shaika Spot; rabble-rouser extraordinaire. She knows how to satisfy her political agenda. She can shred, with her eyes all the while she is watching you stealthily. Wanting a reaction, she fidgits when I finally catch onto her vibe, that she's been vibing for likely minutes previously, slowly weaving her web until I fall victim. She is an adorable Svengali, and Sami Bey is duped into it. Always falls for it. He's onto her now, so now he indulges for a higher purpose. This is how they roll. I know...

So yea, that about wraps it up. I don't think I have any other tangents to stray off on. If I do, I'll save them up for the next communique. Haha, I just realized that I left off with my knitting mid-row (150-stitch long row) to write up this post.

I guess the thing to walk away with after reading this is that you understand how much I enjoy lounging in the sun.



                                                                       As always, no proofing

3.18.2018

Somber Sunday

Newroz! Spring has spring here in the K.R.D


My staycation here in Sulaymaniyah continues. I woke up yesterday with an ever-so-mildly-annoying headache *hangover?*. It certainly wasn't a 'wild' evening; I had some friends over and we just chilled talking story(ies) about Hawaii, Lebanon, and Australia respectively. We covered the world- the universe actually- right here from 35.5570° N, 45.4359° E,  Iraqi Kurdistan- affectionately known as 'Slemani.'

I had been wanting to visit various museums here in the city so staycation offers a perfect opportunity to finally chill out and check out the city (most days I'm skooling myself about 3 books deep into grammar tagging- yes you know, breaking down sentences into its most basic parts... *le gran sigh*).

So, here's the breakdown of my day:

First off is the bank. It's taking a long time to get * be approved for * a bank account here. What place does one have to be approved to give an institution money? First I needed my Kurdish Residency card to apply. That done, it's been over 2 weeks, and...

Walking into the bank, after a light frisking- either physically or with just a 'you good' nod, depending on who's standing guard at the entry. Banks are serious biz here folks. I stared at the machine for a few moments- it clearly offers English directions as well, but I still stare. Every time. I sit and wait for that number to be called and pass my time people-watching.

Not much happens as I relay my story to the bank lady. I'm just wondering if my account opening has been approved. It has been 15 days after all. Phone calls made, information received (takes 18 days), feel I have made a major accomplishment in this task in that I have had confirmation on what I had previously suspected to know... A secondary tidbit was that as I was sitting there with the teller (yes, civilized- we sit here and transact), two colleagues walked in! I already know people out and about in the city! Major score for sure. I'm surely becoming localized.

I have finally succumbed to the quite normal ritual of having phone credits with internet access. Yea, I know. Why did it take so long. It certainly makes navigating around much easier... This means that I have to carry around my phone in my hand. Feels weird, but I finally get to where I'm headed anyway- after a slight detour (I didn't believe the GPS). Or, it was just a difficult building to locate. After all, I had just arrived at the Amna Sukara...

The Amna Sukara is the old HQ building of the Iraqi intelligence agency, the Mukhabarat. Under Saddam's (Hussein) rule, it was a most dark chapter.

Here's an article with a decent explanation of what happened inside its walls. I don't really want to even talk about my feelings experienced there. It's darkness and this vibe washes over you as you walk about, your mind simply blown while reading the words- words from the brochure, words written on the cell walls from detainees there... Fuck, it's fucking heavy. Then, you see some sort of beauty in some pictures, in the refugee camps or something. Something catches your eyes, the surrounding hills, the camps, the close-up shots of the people, and you sense a beauty within, and there's just this feeling of... I don't know. You have a sense of guilt for finding something beautiful from this capture of dark history. Art. Art is healing, bittersweet, ugly, beautiful- all at the same time and so there is this arrangement of fucked up emotions that consume... That's the best articulation of words that I can muster up in this moment. Yea, read the article.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/4w7dv9/sulaymaniyahs-main-tourist-attraction-is-a-torture-museum

Okay, now with some background, here is my eyefull:

the Hall of mirrors
selfie




notice.the.walls... 








something about irony and shit, coming out of the ammunition hall and all...
nothing like some fabric to put a smile back on my face though

I want...

So I'm deep in the beginning phase of my pencil skirt I'm knitting now so...


'Chemical Ali'; his desk...


After the darkness, heading out into the light

 Well, that certainly made for Somber Sunday. Wanting to readjust my kaleidoscope, I headed out on foot down to the Slemani Archaeology Museum.

https://slemanimuseum.org/

http://etc.ancient.eu/exhibitions/sulaymaniyah-museum-iraq/

Babylonian, Assyrian, Hurrian, Sassanian, Sumerian, Akkadian... Essentially it's a timeline extending back from pre-history up to the Abbasid Islamic Period. It's a sweet little museum packed full of history, and herstory. A volunteer came up to me, a local woman, and went around with me. She was clearly excited to talk about each piece. We had a great time, trying to negotiate words in both English and Kurdish. Heart swelling!

This was the perfect closure for my day of explorations! Yes, a successful Explorer's Club kinda day hitting up 2 museums. Satiated, I trotted off towards my favorite park, Bakhi Gshty. No sign of the South Indian and Nepali families that are there every Friday selling their homemade food, I trotted off towards the bazaar. I had one last item on my agenda- fabric cushions for my lanai (deck). I already knew where to go. BOOM. Fifteen minutes later, I'm cruising out with 2 sets of cushions in hand. I flop into a taxi and away we go.

Here's a little snippet of information on Sulaymaniyah, in case you're curious.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulaymaniyah

In other relevant news, spring is here. My 2 indicators went into high alert this past week: First, my coconut oil is at its most PERFECT consistency right now. Not solid yet not oil, it's just right... Last, no more comforter for sleeping. Yep, just a sheet and a smallish blanket- my new favorite from Yosemite!

Last, sound vibes this morning provided by Gabrielle. Ah memories flood from back on Maui in the day when the group pumping out beats and dancing in the jungle until sunrise. Good shit.

https://www.mixcloud.com/djgabrielle/

Peace from Iraqi Kurdistan,

HollyMissBerry






























3.15.2018

giving thanks to the birth of Spring: Newroz

Newroz spiritual cleanse

Newroz: 2018 Spring Fling

statement of disinterest: I am totally disinterested in proof-reading this... Beware if you are a non-believer... (what does that even mean? lol) 

Listening to that sound; a few actually. Hyperaware, my ears tune into the drowning background rhythmic real noise we call rain. Rain is most fascinating. Living on the north shore of Maui, I was lulled to sleep with rain. No need this white noise shit to tune out of this mass vibration of a world where nothing quite shuts down- ever... Yea, that's the kinda moody mood I'm in this morning here in (Iraqi) Kurdistan.

Boom: Tosca Suzuki in Dub is my go-to foreground thunder.  The joint-harmony of today's moving picture show greatly amuses my soul.  Soul food literally.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSg0mZjWLDU


Speaking of soul food... I've been indulging it since about 3 pm yesterday.  Yes, the return of the one-woman show ensued; a development in accompaniment to the official onset of Spring Equinox holidaze.

This annual renewal of spring, this Newroz, is my initiation into KRD life, I think...

Yesterday afternoon I blurted out that it was like a big, spiritual dump. She laughed a laugh that came from deep within. A welling up on feeling that upon release was satisfying- unexpectedly. Perhaps it was my out-of-nowhere exhalation of words that caught them off-guard. Whatever, it was a grand moment of cultural exchange.

Spring renewal: Newroz. With my spring renewal comes the first sips this morning of a new coffee cup! As today was initiation/activation, a wide smile creeps across my face, enjoying the slow traverse across the roadmap of my lips as if the setting sun was thoroughly enjoying the journey across the western sky so much that it was trying to hold off time, just a little bit longer...

Now, I'm a fan of ritual, and making room in life for ritual. It's the little things- truly. Take face-timing family & friends. This world is crazy tech, but often times I'm in awe of it. To express the heart-felt warmth of seeing people that are in your life so very far away and being able to share minutes exchanging with them from all corners of the world- precious indeed.

Newroz. New country. New coffee cup. New (old) tunes playing, messing with my mind- the good way. The way you thirst for in times of drought where you're so caught up with that 'other' (work) life, that you push aside what is innate inside yourself. Yes, body rebels after such a while. Always a good shake-up and recombining of the cells. Yea, I dig it.

I dig it so much that the one-woman party made an appearance last night. Now I know I'm 'home'.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dpy-MOkZ1o


No. No no.  This. THIS is the one...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e27qEo4y2_s

This is how you purge. This is my initiation into spring rite of passage. Science! How to alter the chemical combination into a frequency that grooves through life. Yea. Spring Equinox Skooling I call it: music, food, yoga, running, mind enhancing- you know, da kine. all.of.it.

Some interesting stuff I'm finding along the way:

http://www.kurdishacademy.org/?q=node/37


So, waking up to rain this morning; my heart sings. What a perfect omen, IMHO, that the goddesses/gods treat us with rain. Renewal and massive vibrational energy to clear away the vibrations of winter and make way for new experiences. The ultimate spiritual dump!!!

Yea, water is the gift of life.

In other purging news, I want to thank Miss MeGra for turning me onto yet another use for Oil of Oregano. Yes, mixed with white vinegar and water it makes a fantastic counter-top cleaner. Magic. I'm adding that to today's spring cleaning purge.

Here's an interesting interpretation of (Kawa and the story of)vNewroz from the Nederlands:

http://www.kurdishinstitute.be/kawa-and-the-story-of-newroz/

 So yea, this morning can be described as a Nowruz//trip-hop//Chinese medicine//yoga//spiritual dump-kinda round.

Unfortunately, I fear it's too late to get fabric and get to a tailor for a jili kurdi... alas.  Shame on me! How could I let this slip? Well, I have been crazy-busy for the past 2 months (lame excuse). Next time! Perhaps I'll check out the fabric section of the bazaar though and find some hidden gems.

I must say, there is NOTHING quite like walking by a fabric store around these parts! Bahrain was exceptionally amazing for textile discoveries. Oh I've got so many ideas for designs. This is the week to get cracking on my projects (spring renewal). Projects up on deck:

knitting pencil skirt
reading
fabric
     window shading needed soon- and fan, and lamp (2), and beach chair (comfy)          (preferably 2), and the low shisha mats for seating on lanais (decks)
 Kurdish lessons
hikes into the mountains

Here's an interesting website for a viewpoint on Kurdish (language) origins.

http://www.kurdishacademy.org/?q=node/37

NOTE: I would whole-heartedly welcome any other interesting links that y'all have about the region here. I am a sponge ready to soak it all up and try to comprehend the nuances. 

I've fallen down a few rabbit holes this morning! Here are some results:

https://thekurdishproject.org/history-and-culture/kurdish-culture/kurdish-folklore/

Newroz: special flowers to focus on, special foods, special clothes, pottery to smash, mountains to climb, fires to alight, nature to 'worship', phamily to visit- I'm in!

 ...and a little something-something on the 13-days of Newroz:

https://thekurdishproject.org/history-and-culture/kurdish-culture/kurdish-newroz/
pussy willows, pussy hat b/c rain!

And...

http://www.everyculture.com/wc/Tajikistan-to-Zimbabwe/Kurds.html#ixzz59t9OCgUL

This morning's blogposting vibes brought to you by:

 tosca (my musical accompanyment)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBPAjwQymm4
the spirit of da kine


Today: A perfect day to hit up the bazaar; moody and fiercely gentle the rain falls. Gotta find some pottery to smash next week!

In conclusion:





2.23.2018

street life, downtown walkabout (after a Nepalese food run at the Park...mmmmmm)


Listening to Erykah Badu jam while in bed drinking some dark French Roast here in Suli. She's badass. It's a live stream from a link on FB, and some dude just finished singing Happy Birthday to her, and crowd is going wild, and he shouts out "Wakanda!"

On all matters Wakanda, I checked out Black Panther this weekend with our crew. I'm not sure if all the showings are 3-D, but ours was. 3-D; imagine that it seems so 'old skool' now. Just the cinematic experience in general seems ancient, yet it's still a pleasure every time.

I love the cool, dark vibe of theaters. Popcorn is a staple; I'm usually so hesitant to get some, but thankful after when I'm munching away I've sunk into my chair arriving at that sweet spot and prepare myself to be taken away on a journey. In a journey really.

Black Panther delivers, as anticipated. Killmonger, the antagonist - or not? That's my question. Great job delivering the conflicting identity of Killmonger. As the storyline goes, "Killmonger is not a product of the ghetto, so much as he is a product of the American military-industrial complex."

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/02/black-panther-erik-killmonger/553805/

Onward. Satiated after filling up the reservoir with some cinematic wellness, we headed to Lalazar for a victory (birthday-- no, not mine) gathering. It's a really nice view of the city from there. I find myself mesmerized looking out the windows at active twilight. Sky ablaze with golden warmth fading... The last vestiges of sunset well below the horizon, I watch for the hills to stop glistening as the warm, yellowish lights of the city turn on. The changing of the guard here in Suli, Iraqi Kurdistan. 

There is some drink there A-Gra introduced me to; I like it. From what I can remember, it's a beer with a shot of tequilla in it and salt around rim. There seems to be one more ingredient perhaps, but I cannot recall. I think we called it a Ladino. As an afterthought at the end of the evening, I'm glad I ate dinner there...

As the story continues, we continued on to the Irish pub to meet up w/our larger tribe. Already in full swing, the NGO peeps were holding court. A few of their folk were finishing up their contracts and moving on to their next gig. There's not a lot of expats in Suli, so all our various tribes come to the neighboring watering hole to commune for a few hours along with the kind-hearted residents. That's one thing I love about the Pub, and living in Suli; all our tribes are together for peace and enjoyment. This is the kinda ethnography that a PhD could be made from, IMHO. 

A good evening for all. 

So yea, a shout out to Iraqi Kurdistan here. I am thankful to come to this place and call it home in this chapter. Let's see how the story unfolds! I'm stoked.

Things I've just learned about here that I will be checking out soon:

There is a Chinatown here! Yummmmm Dim Sum? We shall see.
There is a (new) Zoroastrian Fire Temple here. I'm intrigued.

Today, in part, was brought to you with contributions from:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nk3Bh1Tl6Ww

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04yCea2HOhY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz6kptgBtz8

2.15.2018

ALOHA FRIDAY Kurdistan-style... and then this old, unfinished post: Hau`oli Makahiki Hou 2018 (Happy New Year)




Hau`oli Makahiki Hou 2018

The lost entry: Back in America, back on January 1st, 2018, back in yet another bed, with another cup of coffee, from another french press, I typed...

It's a fine, brisk, foggy, crisp winter morning here in So.Or. It's a new year, and I'm ready for it. Right now, as I sit here with the kitties and drink my coffee, I'm in preparation mode. A new year equals a new job, and with that new job comes a new country; Iraq- Kurdistan to be more specific. 

The kitties came to America ('Merica F*ck Yea!) and conquered the hearts of friends and family- much to my delight. They can't continue on in this next chapter with me, nor would they want to. The Middle East Beasts are deep in the honeymoon phase of their So.Or. HQ. 

What a journey, this ending of 2017; coming to America from Istanbul and temporarily setting up shop- first in Yosemite working for the NPS. The Yosemite Chapter captivated me. It lured me back into the beauty of America's wilderness. I got to live out that 'mountain high girl' fantasy. 

Integrating back into American life was somewhat challenging, I suppose. I think all expats feel a bit 'weird' at first going back 'home'. It helped to go immediately into a new job (NPS archaeologist) and community so as not to dwell on what I had left behind. A fantastic voyage back into archaeology and the realm of scientific methods were a welcome respite from language teaching; just what the holistic doctor ordered. The heroes and heroines of the Yosemite Chapter are far too numerous, but are etched deep into my heart. I wonder who will be the first to visit me in Sulaymaniyah!!! I have some ideas.

It had been eight years since I left America. What I realize is that 'home' is everywhere. My new 'home' is once again in the Cradle of Civilization. I'm so stoked. I'm so ready. I'm so fortunate that I have love and support from family and friends in these processes.  
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FAST FWD 6 weeks and here I am in my bed, drinking my (french press) coffee, burning Nag Champa incense w/da kine on a moody Friday morning here in Iraqi Kurdistan. All I can eek out so far this morning is... oh what a night... We were all on point last night, our theatre troupe. That is all.

It's a moody morning. Solid waves of graydation interrupts the apartment buildings interrupting the Suli skyline. Luscious cashmere cocoons me in this perceived 'chill' my body is experiencing. Still, I stand strong; bare feet explore the wood floors- always.

Bare naked feet shuffling to and fro the hallway, into my living spaces. Oh the luxury. Toes spreading flat, walking my yoga-walk- trying to spread every toe up, down and out with each step- with some sort of consciousness. The toes knows; freedom. FREEDOM.

They pull on my body to enter THAT room. Yea, the one with the yoga mats; La Stanza nota come Studio di FORMolo. Funny, true story about Studio di FORMolo. Two evenings ago, after a long, successful week of work my feet bring me home. Seeking out the yoga mats, they set about into action. Unfortunately I stopped them from attaining total FREEDOM by first diverting them into the kitchen for a low ball glass of ice, tonic water, and a fresh lime. At this point said feet knew exactly where to trot off next; you guessed it- the bar, which also happens to be part of the open-air (of sorts) floor plan of Studio di FORMolo, which also moonlights as both a workspace and living room. Yea, give me some of that Sapphire gin (secretly pining for Hendricks). 

A friend calls & joins me for  pau hana cocktails (finish workweek). With da kine and Nag Champa incense wafting, slowly seeping through layers of skin, fighting its way inside cells to cleanse away the filth from the work week, I start to sink into the reality that I have 3 days off! I don't have to work at home  tonight. I don't have to pick up any work whatsoever tomorrow, you get the picture.

Said feet are quietly rebelling the entire conversation. Revolution. Time to draw Holly to the mat. To the mat; a welcome barge of familiar graphemes that always hits me like a mega-namaste-kinda-bomb. A phrase dear to my essence; all this shit that the universe constructed (chaos) and subsequently spit out to deposit into my star matter, back before 'it' mattered... Kinda like spiritual vomit, and I constantly seek out ways to express gratitude for the deposition, and the chance to walk this magical eARTh.

But I digress. Feet float me over and upside down. I'm in Sirsasana (headstand) pose. Headstand Pose, for me, is in the top five- with Trikonasana (Side Triangle Pose) being absolutely number one. One of my first yoga teachers back in Santa Cruz told me Sirsasana was the 'beauty' pose, because you never get the chance in life to maintain proper blood circulation to the head (brain) as you do when in a headstand. Any inversion in general is going to do this, but Sirsasana was my initiation into this school of thought. I love being educated, and am a dedicated student. As well, it's always hard to part ways with your first (yoga pose nirvana) love, isn't it? 

Moving forward, Sirsasana... it was beautiful. Blissed out, I returned to the couch, and my empty drink. Alone again and on the mat. Endorphins = addiction. Sweet addiction. 

I'm honestly not one to drink that much- I honestly think I'm too vain. Or realistic- I get that from my father. Perhaps it just comes down to I'm just too mortal. I likely won't be having a drink and doing yoga again... Something went awry, and I cannot say for sure what it was. There was no (distantly familiar) cacophony of listening to yourself pull a muscle and immediately know you fucked up. Having that happen once in life creates awareness of wanting to be really conscious of never experiencing that sound ever again. 

I recall going to sleep a bit freaked out. I hate fucking up my body. It was all so innocent; Marichyasana D (Sage Pose), which is always thrilling every time I nail it. And, by nailing it, I'm referring to relaxing in it with slow concentration and long exhales every time that mind tries to fuck up the body by trying to convince body that body can't do it. With each exhale body tells mind to shut the fuck up. 

Back to the main point of the story... even the tiniest bit of alcohol is going to favor mind over body.

Yesterday was spent babying the right side of my sacrum. I persevered, because I'm a Formolo foremost, yet I have allowed myself the ability to give in to a softer form of withstanding a sorta dull-yet-constant pain. Yes, I'm talking about taking a prescription anti-inflammatory. A very wise person turned me onto them a few years back. I hardly like to take them, but when shit hits the fan, you already know you have to deal with it, so may as well try to centralize where the fuck the pain is coming from so you can work on it.

Active work included (successfully I might add) liberal amounts of Tiger Balm slathered on lower back, 2 anti-inflammatories, loads of water throughout the day, and a cloth napkin wrapped around the head of a knife strategically placed in pain HQ. I used the 'attack from the hinterlands' method; slowly I worked from outside the enemy territory to the inner sanctum, where all the unrest was aflutter.

As I rest upon my acupressure pillow (this hard plastic square thing with about 500 pokey points sticking outta it- truly a nirvana once you get past the concept of the visual pain and sink into it and let it open up circulation in your blood vessels so oxygen can flow again and start circulating through the body, pumping it full of nutrients) and think I'm pretty fortunate.

Fortunate not just because I didn't really hurt myself, but fortunate for every thing.

It's Aloha Friday everybody!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTfIGSnApD0








1.11.2018

Kurdish soil: S1E1

scenes from the hood


Touched down onto my new HQ earlier this week. Hitting the ground running, I arrived in the evening and was at work the next morning. Memory-bank auto-activation floods my present moment and steers me back to Tunisia; that first impression. Walking atop Tunisian soil. Eyes wide open. Reflecting on that chapter... ah Tunis, you have my heart. So does Istanbul, though. *all the journeys*

Back to present day... I'm in bed. It's 6:30 am. I've been up since 3:30. It's the start of the weekend after my first week living and working in Suli. I'm unpacked. I'm slightly familiarized with my surroundings. I've checked out some neighborhood cats, one of which was hovering dangerously close to the entrance to my apartment building.

I came upon it again this evening coming in after work. Security was playing with it as I approched the building. We exchanged some niceties, and couldn't really understand each other after that, so I left.  When I got to the grocery store I went up and down every aisle, because I just like to. It's strangely soothing. This supermarket is just okay; this is my first impression, and cats are usually involved in neighborhood first impressions. Fact.

got sidetracked with this:  :)

  1. Semicolon. ————-
Meaning: You're trying too hard.
No one uses semicolons in day-to-day casual writing; it's a literary piece of punctuation, not a colloquial one. So using a semicolon in a text shows you've thought out, revised, and overedited your message. That means you're trying too hard, and there's nothing worse than trying too hard. A semicolon in a text message is the equivalent of putting on makeup to go to the gym

https://www.wired.com/2011/06/secret-meanings-text-message-punctuation/


So, yea. I've landed and am taking care of biz. It's best to be logical and just try to keep your shit together and remember to do all the little, unexpected, expected, etc. things you have to do so you can relax and not stress too much while doing them.  Phew.

'The' jetlag hit about 2 nights ago. During the first, I passed out at 8 pm, and woke up at two. Sat and intermittently played on my computer or just sat and listened in the dark to whatever was happening on the outside of my (shut) window- it is quite chilly here right now after all.

The curtains are a bit challenging to navigate. Those cloth-blind thingys... It's frustrating if they don't all turn in unison, and so entanglement ensues. It did give me things to do though during some moments of awake-ness the first night. Somehow I managed to consume 4.5 hours of this heightened activity. Daylight approached- yes it actually did. I saw that sliver of glittering sun peek in thru the window, and through that dangerous crack of cloth-curtain thingy that attempts to destroy my weekend sleep-in mornings.  Must. find. solution. to. this. crisis. IMMEDIATELY. 

Perhaps black-out blinds? A very smart person passed this little nugget on to me on that very first evening. Might be the 1st thing to save up $ for, but my heart was already set on a pressure-cooker. But, a pressure-cooker is a necessity, so this can go to another 'list' of lists I've been constructing since arrival. I simply walk around all day every day with my growing list through the halls, feverously adding to it. It's almost unmanageable at this point, yet I must also include that it's already saved me many times over. I'm really working on my organizational skills in this mutation :)

In conclusion: eyes wide open, with a dreamy-sorta hypno-pompic haze (my scientific mind considers this jetlag(?), whereas my da-kine mind thinks it's just me being me :) Yeah...

Food. I haven't delved into creativity here yet. A colleague walked in the other day and saw my table covered with Cliff Bars and just gave me that look... In that moment I knew I had to start feeding myself properly. Happily, I trotted off to the neighborhood supermarket tonight, after work. I just finished up my culinary survival skills phase to keep afloat during the pre '1-week start of classes' rush to etch into memory banks all the IT stuff with new computers/programs, passwords, etc. Yea THAT phase; it's a large learning curve for my mac-user brain. I did manage to sort through most perceived and real challenged that temporarily distracted me from my goal to just fly-like-an-eagle-to-be-free...

currently listening to:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQJ2_T24JqY


My first odyssey to the supermarket let me out of our HQ. It was my first solo odyssey taking the 'alley', which is a completely properly-sized side road honestly. I felt so cool slipping thru there. Alleys are always fascinating, side roads not so much... I met two new kittis on this odyssey. One was coy, and the other rather brash. We'll see what develops.

currently listening to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNG4xKYiLrA

say what you will, but genius, imho

More distractions:
  1. Apostrophe. ————–
Meaning: You pay attention to the little things.
In text land, apostrophes have become endangered species. Youd is just as acceptable at you'd. Id is just as acceptable as I'd. Youre is just as acceptable as you're. (Or, on the Internet, your.)
So when you actually take the time to use an apostrophe, it means something. I like to think it sends a subconscious message that you take the extra time to do things right. And that effort hints that you'd be a real hard-working giver in a relationship – or at least into one extremely memorable sexual escapade.

So, it's 7:30 am, and I'm in a pickle: What to do? Do I suck it up and just get outta bed and make some coffee!!! Yay for blog posts and beds and (new) french press coffee! Seems like old times, just different beds...

or

do I hunker-down and try to catch some more Zzzsssss

What I do know is that I'm concluding now, and I haven't proofed it... And...SEND!

Decision made: I'm opting for coffee!


12.06.2017

Yooper runs & other such niceties...

I'm compelled to write about my running regime up here in the U.P- otherwise known as Yooper Territory in upper Michigan. Yesterday morning was the first snow on the ground since I arrived. It was just a light dusting, but the temperature had dropped steeply from the balmy upper 40s we'd been experiencing since early last week.

I suited up, as usual in my SmartWool garb, but with the addition of my sweet hot pink (cotton) gloves. I've been wearing my Norwegian wool beanie that Nancy-Girl knitted for me 2 years ago. Left without my beloved, magical Hoka One One runners, I found my trusty old Saucony Kinavara 6s. I was ready to go. Brother Tim would follow behind, and Brother Curt would hoof it in a walking gait.

Just getting down the steep-ish road to the main road was precarious enough; the snow wasn't sticking as it fell, but some spots had already iced over and were glistening, revealing their icy secrets underneath. The first near-miss fall and I was over on the edge in the snowy grasses- dangerously close to 'bear territory' as I know it to be (without seeing a single bear there for all the years that I've been visiting the 'rents up here in their original homeland).

Only last winter did I ever start running in snowy conditions, when I was living in Istanbul. I ventured out there in snowy conditions, and it wasn't as bad as I had originally thought it to be. Usually I don't run down to Merriman Road because I think about bears, and there aren't many cars that go to/from that direction- so no one will hear me when I'm screaming bloody murder as a black bear snacks on me... Yes, these are my thoughts as I run up here...

As I descended, I came out of my stupor and drifted from bear mauling to an internal weather update. Thanks to SmartWool, I was toasty; this made me smile. Off I trotted heading south onto U.S. 607. The 607 was ice-free, fortunately. Right away my nose inhaled a healthy dose of cold air. It tickled. It wasn't unpleasant. The woods all around were alive and talking; snow falling from cedars and other flora, water from the plethora of groundwater drainages/swamps, etc. were freezing and cracking- from expanding/condensing when sunlight hits the water/ice. Steady winds whipped up leaves all around me, as if dancing. Delightful, all of it.

I adore looking at all the long driveways, full of unfamiliar things to my eyes; Green Bay Packers memorabilia adorning many mailboxes, large, life-sized bucks used for (what I think) target practice, winter recreation vehicles, etc. People here in these parts sure know how to make the most of winter conditions. Christmas decorations have sprung up in the past 10 days as well so a grand light display is still visible during daylight hours when skies are overcast and agitated, such as the day was shaping out to be.

There is this one part of the run where there are no houses and just open land. This part freaks me out- because, bears. This was a solemn stretch, giving me time to take in the surrounding beauty. Everything seemed so  clear, clean, crisp and exposed to these elements that somehow cleansed my soul- and who doesn't need a soul-cleansing? A large cleaning afforded me a view of a perfectly shaped natural ice-skating rink. I wonder if anyone else thought so. I saw my destination- the treeline at the house of my dads friend. He has since passed as well. As I ran by I thought about how much they both loved their radio-controlled airplanes and flying time. Soon enough I came upon Merriman Road West, my turn-around 2-mile mark.

I was feeling fierce though so continued on to the east. I got a little spooked soon enough as the trees were closing in on me, hiding carnivorous bears... so I gave in and turned around. I was still luxuriating in what seemed to be ideal running conditions and saw one of my brother's trotting towards me. I high-fived as we passed. Further ahead I ran into my other brother, who was walking. I wasn't wanting this time outdoors to end so soon so I decided to walk with him- in the opposite direction, where I had just come from. We headed back towards Merriman Road. When rounding the bend after about a mile, the air became fierce, spitting on us with cold, venomous air that stopped us in our tracks. Knowing better, we turned around after spotting Brother Tim, figuring he'd catch up to us. Headed back, we solved the world's problems, and felt good about it.

Back home and inside the sweat box (mom liked it to be 70º indoors), we delighted in all the cookie dough that needed to turn into fresh baked cookies. It has been a 2-day cookie baking marathon. What I realized was that I was thoroughly insulated, and never did the cold air affect me negatively during my run. It is so nice to run and not be baking hot and sweating- which is my future again when I move to Kurdistan...

I'm excited to have a few more weeks in Oregon, before departure, to continue to cold-weather run. Also, my beloved Hoka One Ones are there, waiting for me. Today is flight day. Curt and I are packed up and loaded with this a cumbersome- sized tote bag of Christmas cookies... Mom and Tim are also burdened with bucket-loads of cookies left behind. It's been a great visit this year. Every day has been filled with wonder, laughing, crossword puzzles, puzzles, MaJong, food, more food, merriment with neighbors, etc.

It's weird 'coming home' when a place has never been your home, but it feels like home- or at least one of your homes... Everywhere seems like 'home' to me. Every home has also been a great run for me. Yea, running is like going home- every time.

12.03.2017

'Cember Second


Be the Alpaca

following in brother's footsteps...
ice-cracking on the Menomonee River

llamas llamas llamas!

backyard excursions

prepping for the ski slide stairmaster

shiny, happy people

gobble gobble, the Thanksgiving survivors club in the backyard...

typical day

mom takes on the Christmas Tree

"Holly, when's your birthday"?  " 'Cember second". Apparently that was my answer when asked, which was, apparently, all the time. As the story goes, it's the only other birthday all my other siblings remember except for their own as well as our mother and father...

So today, 'Cember second, I'm in the U.P. of Michigan; Headquarters of the matriarch of the Formolo clan- my mum. It's surreal first because this is only the 2nd time I've ever been in Michigan at this time of year (I've never lived here) so there is so much newness to experience here. For example, the weather. It's actually pretty 'balmy' here at a steady 43º average since we arrived, my big brother and I. I've been running and/or climbing the steps at the infamous Pine Mountain Ski Jump daily in only running tights, a base layer and outer shell- which all happen to be SmartWool clothing.

Okay I'm getting side-tracked, but SmartWool is AMAZEBALLS. As you all know, I've just finished a stint working as an archaeologist at Yosemite National Park here in America. That was lovely, BTW. Part of that loveliness was being able to use my Park email address to apply for all these 'pro' deal accounts with big label sports outfitters like Outdoor Research, Patagonia, Hoke One One, SmartWool, etc. Man I did go a bit crazy with it all, but I'm stocked up- and so is my family (once a year they allow you to give your 1/2 off discounts to your family for the holidays).

I'm discovering here just how amazing SmartWool is to wear when exercising in cold weather. It breathes people! It keeps you warm, seals in the heat, while wicking out the sweat/moisture. I've read about this concept for forever and a few years, but never experienced it. I'm a believer.

It's also surreal to be here because, as I've said before, I never lived in Michigan. All my siblings grew up here together for a time. They all share this collective experience here that I'm not neessarily privy to. It's just interesting.

Last night we all went out to dinner for my birthday- something that we all never did as kids. Anyway, we're at El Capitan Supper Club and reading up on the story of the place, which is over the Menominee River and in Wisconsin. As the story goes, the North Woods were one of Al Capone's trusty hideouts during Prohibition and the Great Depression of the 1920s and '30s. He used to run liquor from Canada through Michigan and Wisconsin and so commonly came through the area. 

So we're reading the local lore, and the waitress is filling in the gaps for us and suddenly mom busts out a little snippet about our long-departed Uncle Ducky and some friend/relative(?) who was of an unsavory sort. I love it when she gets in these moods where she rehashes these sweet anecdotes, recollecting the past. There were two dancehalls right in this neck of the woods, and loads of bars. The Great Depression and Prohibition were lucrative times after all, right? Ahhh I love hearing about 'herstory' of the area!

This is the first 'Cember second that I've been in America in a long time, and likely the only one where I've been here in the U.P. Our days are filled with chatting, knitting, working on puzzles, watching the news, arguing about the news, and eating. My morning runs have been on point. I squeal with glee in terms of my running game. I'm not even wearing my trusty Hoka One Ones... I feel like I'm gliding these days. I continue to experience this 'honeymoon' phase of running- throughout life. I am definitely on a runner's high these days- especially here in late autumn temperatures. 

The Pine Mountain Ski Area stairs are a favorite activity of my family. Every summer we dutifully go up them- all 500. I either do them twice, or after the 1st 500 steps, which takes one to the base of the ski jump, continue to climb up to the top of the ski jump itself. This affords one with an incredible 360º view of Iron Mountain and its environs. Yea, the 'Steps' as they are called are top-tier fun for us.

On Friday we went out for a leisurely drive. Our destination was Norway, and the Alpaca farm there. We've all been here before, except for Curt. It's a house with a huge fenced enclosure for the animals and a store in back where the back porch goes out and you can watch the animals and then walk around and pet them. The store is full of eye-candy: yarn... I get all googly-eyed in there since I've taken up knitting. Mom does too. So did Curt, and Tim. We all walked out with a bag... Family. 

Today I'm on cooking duty. We've all been taking turns making dinners this past week. Today I'm making my famous French omelette for breakfast. It's also Christmas cookie day, and then I'm ending it with a complete Turkish kebab dinner. It's going to be a grand day in terms of cuisine... The weather is even supposed to hold out! Actually, it's going to be in the mid-40s until we depart later in the week. On deck for tonight is a sauna and cold plunge bathtub over at my mom's neighbors. The moon was just full last night- a super-moon on my birthday- so it should be epic.

Okay, it's time to get up from the couch here in the den- my HQ while here.