in the zone living the life...

Istanbul comfort zone (home)

curiosity and the cat
Another epic weekend accomplished!

As I've been saying, spring fever is in full blossom, along with all my houseplants! I've got the coolest flower-shop guy right down the street from me.  He is always smiling and I absolutely LOVE walking by the shop. Flowers are everywhere, and their price points are great and he gives me red roses!

I walk by every day and some days my knees just go weak as I soak up all the amazement. This weekend was a weak-knee weekend indeed! The girls came up from Cihangir to hang with me since May Day (May 1st) is typically a day filled with tear-gas and radical demonstrations here in Istanbul. The metro is closed coming/going into Taksim and just all hell breaks loose. So... L-Fezz & Viagra came up to Büyükdere to chill in the village.

We did a great walk-about yesterday in my hood and nearby surroundings, ending up in Sariyer after walking through some woodsy environs. We met up with the boys at the çay meyhane and admired the Bosphorus and kitties. Afterwards we cruised through the park and admired all the May Day workers party propaganda that they had displayed out for all to peruse. We ended up in Sariyer and were walking back to my place when we decided that we needed some beers for our walk. I had brought a bottle opener on our hike- anticipating this inevitable moment in our near future! This is one thing I love about Turkey- no open container laws! So we were cruising the Bosphorus after an adventure-filled afternoon and drinking beer. People were looking, but that was about it.  Admittedly, I don't see many people (like hardly ever) cruising with beer bottles in hand.  Whatever. We're yabanci (foreigners) so we get a break, I suppose, for our faux pas...

We hoofed it all afternoon on our walkabout so I felt like we needed some interesting food, and drink, to compliment out extraordinary day. I threw the mondo artichokes I've been purchasing from "Dr. Artichoke" (I shit you not) at his little make-shift stand next to my veterinarian into my pressure cooker and then topped them off in the broiler with some smoked Gouda, Reggiano and typical Turkish cheese and served it with some homemade sauce consisting of horseradish, lemon, Worcester sauce and yogurt.

All the while we were downing some tasty gin/tonics. As a main course I continued on with my famous nachos. The girls didn't think we could chow down that effortlessly, but I knew better.  Soon enough there was nothing left! At some point Viagra decided to cruise back to Cihangir so we parted ways. L-Fezz and I, from what I recall, spent the remainder of our waking moments researching anything and everything from our iPhones... haha.

Today, after a long morning of resting up to make it out of the apartment... I returned to my favorite flower shop guy to further indulge my spring fever feelings. My apartment looks/smells/feels so good now- just how I like it. L-Fezz had been admiring my artichokes (Dr. Artichoke sells 5 for 10TL) from the night before so we decided to hoof it, along with EdVice, to Sariyer and beyond to try to buy up all of Dr. Artichoke's artichokes... I found some amber and sandalwood incense along the way, as well as a cute muffin baking thing, which I will use for ice cubes. EdVice dropped out from our walking frenzy after we hit up Vegas Pizza (OMG my life here is nearly complete now that a Vegas Pizza just opened up in Sariyer- a mere 15 minute walk from my house, AND starting next week they will deliver).

L-Fezz and I continued on our journey to artichoke heaven, yet I was a bit unsure of our route.  All I really knew is that is would be a continuous uphill climb.  The weather was complicit and we managed to find our way to Maden Mahallesi and my vet, pet store, and Dr. Artichoke.  Now, this is the 3rd time in 2 weeks that I've visited Dr. Artichoke so I'm nearly a regular at this point. As well, prolly considered 'weird' in Dr. Artichoke's eyes since most people (Turks) don't buy the entire artichoke.  I usually just see artichoke hearts in water bags in supermarkets here.  Anyway, we both bought 5 and made our merry way downhill, back through Sariyer town center and along the Bosphorus back to my place.

L-Fezz checked her oracle (iPhone) and oracle told her the metro was still closed and only one person had died in the chaos and demonstrations- so all hell hadn't broke loose, so far. Yes, this careless attitude is quite the norm here these days with so much shit happening here all the time as of late that the absence of massive destruction is seen as a relatively 'safe' thing... Unfortunately this is not necessarily a good way to determine one's events and planning/coordination, but when in Rome... So, off she went on a dolmus to Besiktas or Kabatas or however she is getting home...

I'm up in bed with the kitties now, who are lazing in the remaining sun. They had quite the entertaining weekend with so many house guests.  They are sacked out. I'm thinking about the upcoming work week, and upcoming weekend! Life seems pretty good these daze.  I can't complain about anything, really. The economy is shit here.  The country is increasingly becoming Islamicized. It's an expensive city to live in. The Turkish Lira has devalued SO much that it's nearly a joke to try to save any money. BUT, you gotta love Istanbul.  It gets in your veins.  It infects you.  You overdose on her loveliness again and again.  You can't quit Istanbul. 

So, that's my story for today :)

Below are some pictures from last Thursday. L-Fezz and I trekked to Tophane to the Istanbul Modern Museum (Thursdays are free!) 


All in a Hollyday's realization, OR meditations on being frivolus with words

Bosphorus Basking

Saturday morning in bed with kitties and (french press) coffee. Spring fever is in full effect, yet today I have some nostalgia for cooler weather- temporary I assure you. As temporary as the overcast weather I see outside my window this morning. You know already though, I do love me some overcast mornings...

After a drunken evening, as a result from an afternoon spent drinking (malt) beer, after a mid-morning açik çay (tea) at the çay meyhane, after a cool 9 kilometer run- in a brand-spanking new pair of shoes, after a morning of teaching… I know, it’s complicated, as well as unexpected…

Yea, when EdVice suggested an afternoon beer chilling up on his lanai (deck) overlooking sweet Büyükdere’s ‘main drag’, I thought to myself, why yes. Yes indeed! I’ve never had Amsterdam beer before… Two tall 50s… I’m assuming it’s a malt beer. At some point EdVice’s words floated through my head with the faint sound of 12%…

So, as the story goes, I get back to my apartment, around the corner, about 5:30 pm and, according to the dirty dishes in the kitchen, made some pasta! Happy to discover this evidence of being smart enough to realize that I should eat food, rather than attack the 5 chocolate bars I brought back from Sicily (meant as presents for peeps and here’s to hoping that that stays the case).

The kitties seemed extra rambunctious too.  They seemed extra agitated that I wasn't, or couldn't, play with them. There are some hidden mysteries still, in terms of my chain of events. Here’s some more clues I have remembered.

The big news on Friday was, of course that Prince, his Purple Majesty, passed away on Thursday back at his Minnesota residence.  Many big names have been passing in 2016 and most have had an impact on my life, in terms of songs bringing me right back in time to moments. 

There’s something about Prince, his persona and his music, that really got me- even more so than Bowie- still a fresh wound for all us mortals who still dwell in this realm of existence, or dream-time, of alternate reality; whatever your persuasion or perversion, etc.

I see that I made a short vid paying homage to Prince while grooving to ‘Cream.’ It makes me think back to times on Maui living and growing. Dancing was such a HUGE part of my life. We worked hard to dance in the jungle, on the beach, under a full moon, etc. Preparations and carrying equipment down to The Cave backside Maui, out to Pauwela Lighthouse, into a dilapidated cannery in a cane-field, etc.

Dancing to mourn seems so natural for me I can even say. Anyway, it was just a sweet way to honor all that I loved about how this music FELT in my lifetime; The feelings of songs growing and evolving along with me throughout life. Yes, a nice feeling of aliveness. Hard to express while tapping on a keyboard, but I’m definitely in that groove as I type.

BTW, the rendition of “While my Guitar Gently Weeps” for a George Harrison tribute by Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, etc. that’s going around… dreamy. I spent the remainder of my waking hours experiencing Prince, and Chaka Khan, and Lenny Kravitz, etc. Man, good times. I guess it was my way of expressing A Dove’s Cry and realizing that we can be affected by so many things in our lifetimes.

A hui hou a hiki i ka la a`ae Prince…


So yesterday was a full day, and I’m pretty happy about that because this morning… well, it’s a bit slow. I recall having a fairly sleepless, or restless, sleep. Ah, another clue just came to me: the electricity was out, as it keeps going out now for the past hour or so.  We’ll see what happens with that as the day unfolds.

Rolling along, I’m not sure exactly why I woke up at 7:45 am… Perhaps the kitties were in cahoots together; such tricksters they can be when they rally together. I suppose I was meant to write this blog.  I know I had pretty much decided that I won’t be going on a run this morning. BUT, in hindsight, that could change. 

Yesterday’s run was pure groove.  I was wearing a new pair of running shoes, so was surprised I ran 9 kilometers- to Tarabya Iskele and back. After months of researching running shoes, I decided on a pair of Pearl Izumi EM Road M3s. I think you all know the story if you read this, past, blog entry concerning the level of research that I put into this endeavor.

After a quick adjustment halfway through my run (the forefoot was a little too tight, so I loosened it), my feet felt much better- especially the right foot, where there is this, small, bunion that has developed- and bugs me to no end… I hate the idea that I had never developed a ‘bunion’ in my life, due to living in slippers year-round, but as soon as I started moving to environments that include for winters, hence wearing boots/snow boots/rain boots for months, I develop this shit… Unbelievable for me- especially as a yogi.  I am a bit freaked at the idea that my big toe is trying to move closer to my other toes because of some ‘bunion’ I got because I don’t know the routine for choosing comfortable, warm winter shoes… Pfft. I mean, in yoga the big toe IS stability.

living the high life :)

 So, I am working to correct this- in a weird way possible, that is not backed by hard science, but Holly Science… I believe! There are these things called ‘Yoga Toes’ (refer to picture) that I purchased many years ago.  It took me a few years to actually start using them, but not for yoga.  I really got into doing my own pedicures years back. Truth be known, I’ve never actually HAD a professional pedicure, or manicure for that matter. But, I like doing detail-oriented things (must come from the archaeology career) and thought that my Yoga Toes are the perfect toe separators for when painting toes!  I have seen the typical ones that spas use, or you can buy in a store, but they look so flimsy.  I realized I already had THE supreme pair to use. 

As you can see, they really spread your toes well.  After I noticed that I had developed a ‘bunion’, I started to use them semi-regularly. Meaning that when I thought of it, I would put them on- which isn’t exactly steady but I’m working on being conscious of it.

I realize that most of today’s blog entry can be filed under ‘stuff no one really needs to know about or will find particularly interesting’, but that is the glory of having your own blog- it just doesn’t matter.  I just like to write and when things come to my mind, side-tracking me, I just have learned to go with it and see where it takes me. And that’s about it- that’s the secret to my blog; I generally have an idea of sorts in mind when I decide to write an entry, but from there where it takes me, I can’t pinpoint.  I just go with it. 

 Sometimes when I actually re-read entries I wonder what you all must be thinking. That wondrous moment is brief I will divulge…I especially take notice of the grammar though- and feel I want to edit. Sometimes I do.  Others I figure just keep because it was expressing my mood at the time- which obviously wasn’t feeling overly concerned about editing. It makes me smile. Smile that I can be so grammatically frivolous and not care about the consequences. Heh heh.

For example, today’s entry was supposed to be about my sojourn to Sicily for spring break.



A little dab'll do ya...

 Sami Bey and Shaika Spot, faithful companions and avid travelers... My Middle East Beasts turned-to Turkish Kediler :)

As of late, I've reached into my Tiger Balm stashes, among others. It seems that the combination of yoga, running and African dance is turning my body into one big network of nerves. It actually feels a bit like growing pains.  Maybe it's just because there are so many different muscle groups being activated at various different times that no one group can find the time to relax as they're either in the spot light or guiding the other group on in some helpful way.  I just don't remember this in my previous life where I did all this, and more... lol

Fast forward to today, Easter Sunday for Christians, 9:30 am and ACTION.  It seemed like a rude interruption from my brief slumber. Brief, yes. I ended up on the party bus at 1am back to Büyükdere coming from Taksim.  Uneventful enough, but it did take some time.  Eye-spied, I think, my mysterious next-door-neighbor hopping on the bus in shi-shi-la-la Bebek (ritzy hood here in Ist where the see-and-be-seen like to dwell about and... well, see-and-be-seen).  Just adding more information to the mystery that is him, if it was him.  He is a sport coach, I think, for a campus sports team at work that shall remain unnamed to protect the innocent (me)... Anyway, American guy, I've heard.  I only know of his voice- through the walls talking on Skype... I can only assume that he wears cement blocks for shoes because that is what I hear when he is just walking up the stairs in his apartment up to his loft; I hear concrete block earth-moving tremors... So does Da Jel, who lives downstairs from this American WMD... lol. One day I'm going to run into him and we'll end up shooting the shit. I'll introduce my self as , "the purple note gal"- yes he did get a purple note slipped underneath his door once many fortnights ago... 

Coming out of the metro station, a very sparsely populated Taksim Square yesterday evening, due to the suicide bombing last weekend here...

Onward. So the reason I was on the party bus at 1am was because 4-gra had a wee/wii extravaganza at Da Kine's residence. Admittedly, the 100-pin bowling was good fun. I have birthed the 'slow mo/slow bowl form, to rave reviews from the tribe.  Slow and steady wins the race, although I didn't win.

Da Jel in an action shot

Onward. early on in the evening we all commented how we had just received the latest US embassy notice (warning) about a possible ISIL threat to places of worship today- especially churches, synagogues and diplomatic missions... Have I mentioned that I live above an Orthodox church, in an old schoolhouse?  Beautiful stone building that it is, it will become my self-exiled prison of sorts today.

Yea, it's a good day to just lay low I suppose. After running. And yoga. And a Brownie Walkabout with The Büyükdere Club Kids, our intrepid trio consisting of Ed Vice, Steve-O and myself. On our last Brownie Walkabout we ventured into an old Armenian Church further down in the hood, before trotting on to Yeniköy to down a few Teddy Beers.  Good fun.

The Büyükdere Club Kids

INTERRUPTION:  Ahhh the first sip of freshly brewed french press coffee... 

Yet I digress yet again... we all decided that 'it' (the embassy email) must concern the sites of religious worship and missions on Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal street) mainly, as that was the site of last weekend's suicide bombing here in the latest antics (from a lame group of thugs). At any rate, I won't be cutting through the church grounds today en route to my (running) route.  WOW, at this very moment the church bells are ringing, and all the neighborhood canines are yowling... I've always been so curious on what goes on with an orthodox mass... Today is not the day to check it out.

Back to running as it's on my mind a lot these days.  Recently I broke out my old Timex GPS Run Trainer- mostly to check out my heart rate activity during my run.  I'm not sure why it's taken so long to break it out, but I suspect it's because the numbers were always so depressing while living/running in Bahrain the past 2 years... It was so damn hot running there- no matter what time of day.  I mean, it was laboriously hot trying to run into a full-on furnace coming at you...

Besides that, I'm really concentrating on working on some specific things. Specifically, my gait, as well as mind/body movement control.  What I mean to say is that I am really concentrating on focusing on experimenting with 2 different leg styles while I run: firstly, I visualize my feet.  While one is striking the ground (mid-foot strike I am also working on- coming from a (not overly severe) heel-strike background)), the other leg is close to a 90º angle with my foot trying to hit my butt. VISUALIZING I say, so that the goal is really just to get that leg high, while still projecting forward.

Running-style-wise, my second task is to try to bring free leg as close forward and near knee-level of the leg on the ground- all within an aerodynamic forward motion, so not a 90º angle here but maybe 45º. With this movement, I'm thinking that the less time my one foot is on the ground, the easier it is to transform into a mid-foot striker.  I've come to realize that my heel-strike, even though it isn't pronounced, makes me take a longer time to recover and get that foot back off the ground, as well as gives more time for my body to sink into that foot on the ground or compress my spine.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it"; I know, I know.  But, I'm having fun with it.  What I know is that when I'm running, I'm feeling that high, and it's so good that I don't want it to stop. So, if I want to continue this running-high into the years, I need to be logical. Prevention is the key, and I've done a pretty good job so far.

Yesterday's excursion into the world of running in Istanbul brought me to a new route, I think. I've been wanting to start training on hill sprints.  But I need a hill. Going up the Haciosman Hill I notice, while on the bus, that there is a forested area in a neighborhood just off the highway.  Bingo.  I ran up to this spot and just started walking into this village neighborhood.  There are 3 successive, steep hills to traverse, and probably more as I started to see people movement at the top of the 3rd and didn't feel like trekking further into this unfamiliar neighborhood/village. Let the people get familiar with me I think is a good plan.  After all, it doesn't look like any yabancī get up into this hood... What I mean to say is seeing a yabanci, and a yabanci runner, in this hood looks like an unfamiliar thing.  Baby steps... Happy baby steps that I found this new practice session to throw into the mix!

The hill sprints should build some more muscle, which should, in theory, propel me faster!  At this point, my Bosphorus Runs need a little kick.  I've been running up to 10k at a time now (on a great day), but I feel a bit sluggish.  I feel that I don't need to run farther, but faster.  Simply just to change it up.  The weather is getting warmer as it's now spring so why not? I have Spring Fever, and it's excellent.

An always great cross-training choice is yoga, of course. Even though I do miss the relaxed style of yoga on Maui, and Bahrain ( BaYoga ) I have found a sorta sweet spot here in Istanbul. What I typically find here, though, is that most all teachers have the same classes; the same poses, too much partner work (which, to me, means too much down time and time spent in the hands of someone who is going to possibly help one to injure themselves), and too much talking.

The last one is okay though as my comprehension of Turkish isn't too great so it is more like background noise.  I can just get into my poses and concentrate on my breath and turn out the talking. Not that I'm used to a disciplined class (well, except for House of Yoga and Zen in Makawao where I practiced ashtanga), but I guess I'm used to a more intuitive class where the body talks and the mind listens. Man, I need quiet time for this :)

African dance classes started up this week! Our drummer is from Guinea and teacher is Senagalese. High energy for sure.  Perhaps it is this newest addition to my regime that is making my body ache- good ache- since there is a lot of jumping and flinging of body party involved.  Nevertheless, it feels so good.  Drums beating my body into submission while rhythmically putting me into a trance state of higher awareness... Higher consciousness... Higher frequencies being adjusted to, thus allowing me to be me... THIS. This is the Da Kine medicine...

INTERRUPTION: more coffee downstairs...

The day is already sizing up to be a tall drink of water: the sun is breaking through the clouds and I can hear the horns on the Bosphorus ships. Birds are chirping, and there is an unmistakable quietness in the TomCat antics this morning.  As spring has sprung, so have the TomCats from near and far to the doorstep of the building nearly.  They hang out in a dude-gang and battle for unassuming females, all of which are in heat collectively.  An odd-sounding symphony plays nearly 24/7 here consisting of unnerving treble (females kitties getting raped) to all about the melodious bass sounds when it's feeding time for the extensive tribe by one of the neighborhood moms who so graciously and consistently bring food to the feeding trough of the sidewalks to the baritone sounds of male dominance behavior played out as 'let's see who will fall off the garage across the street while fighting). A true cacophany of feline life in the hood captured in a mid-spring fever tribute to life in Istanbul.

COUNTDOWN: less than 2 weeks to Sicily!

In summary, "a little dab'll do ya" serves me right.  Here a dab (neck). There a dab (right outer hip socket). Everywhere a dab dab (you get the picture). I dug into my (well stocked) Tigers Balm reserves in the past week to facilitate the healing powers of (analgesic balm on) sore muscles. I started to put some on my knee caps BEFORE going out on my run... I decided this not the greatest idea even though it feels awesome.  I'm on the preventative bandwagon, but is this preventative, or masking inevitable pain without solving the problem?  It's a fine line, and it's got me wondering.  So much in fact that I started researching effects of pavement running (who doesn't know the results of this tough). I guess I'm just looking for some solid research/data to counter the obvious (pounding your kneecaps and vertebra into eventual decay). I did manage to order a new pair of running shoes though, which faithful friend JonEe will send with his otherwise awesome care packages.

As any research endeavor with me, I spent so much time on this. Days, even weeks!  It came down to 3 brands: Pearl Izumi, Hoka One One and Altra.  After much (A LOT OF) deliberation, I ordered the Pearl Izumi's.  I decided to try this 'rocker' style out after assessing my needs (stability, wide toe box, and cushioning).  The Hoka One One was my wildcard as I've never worn a 'rocker' type shoe before and they seem to be extreme.  Altra had an option or two as well, but Pearl Izumi won out.  The sizing, of course, is touchy- especially in terms of not wanting to send shit back to America so really needing the size to be correct. Not having ever tried on these 3 brands before, it's a crapshoot, but I did do indepth research and read SO many comments.  I'm feeling pretty confident about my choice and excited for arrival time!  Until then though, my Saucony Kinvara 7s are doing me just fine.  These are definitely my GO TO shoes of the decade (3 years strong with this Kinvara series and happy).



Just Hop on the Party Bus

I'm becoming more and more familiar with the 'Party Bus' as it is so affectionately called here in the `bul.  After midnight the metro stops so you are limited in how you will get back home after your weekend shenanigans in Taksim, etc.  You have taxis, of course, the dolmuş, for a limited route to Beşiktaş- until you need to take a taxi, and then you have the Party Bus.

Take last week for example. Da Jel and I plotted to take the 3 am Party Bus from Taksim back to Büyükdere.  She had found a Party Bus that left from a different stop than the Party Bus that I discovered last month with Kate.

Anyway, we had it all planned out and were chilling and keeping warm, and dry, in a pub until it was time to hit up the Party Bus. Oh yea, it was pissing rain so bad.  I mean SO BAD...

Granted, we left a bit late, but figured we were on track to make the bus- I was at least since I didn't really know where the bus stop was.  It is pissing rain and we are soaking wet and nearly breaking out in a sprint the last 100 meters and there we saw it- the Party Bus... en route already without us on it and way too far away to try to catch its attention... Sadly we had to alter our plans.  It sucked. Sucked as in like 35 Turkish Lira sucked... Yea, we had to take a taxi after our short dolmuş ride to Beşiktaş...

Last night I was on a mission to catch the Party Bus. As my lungs couldn't take the smoke-filled, stagnant air any longer, I left our party HQ for the evening, Peyote:

#sickboyorganization with #‎artdiktatör‬ and #Robotat

Checking the time, I saw that I was going to have to wait a while as I was navigating down the narrow, winding staircase. As I got to the bottom I heard some progressive house and saw DJ Caner.  Immediately I joined in- especially as it involved (mostly) fresh air. Man the memories start to flood back of all the fun dance parties on Maui over the years. Nothing like spinning into that trance state and just f*cking grooving in a pure state of bliss. Yea, you know what I'm talking about- most of you anyway :)

I got to the coveted bus stop with ten minutes to spare.  The line was HUGE. It was a total after-party scene and hilarious at that. All the different tribes of people present each had their own scenario going on.  Most were in a state of slight dysfunction due to inebriation. 

Finally the bus came and there were already a lot of people on it... WTF I'm thinking, as this is the beginning of the line.  Obviously some people discovered it is much easier to wait where the bus comes out of the secret hole so that they can get a seat.  I could tell that I would have to fight my way onto the Party Bus because I just knew that some wouldn't make it on. 

Our  journey starts on the sardine-packed Party Bus.  Everyone is laughing.  I am standing in a fairly mellow spot with my (requisite) head phones on. There are about 4 different conversations going on that I am privy to as well because, somehow sharp hearing is my superpower for the journey. Again, hilarious.

I was just hoping that everybody would get off at Osmanbey, Şişli, or Mecidiyeköy- where most of the cities denizens seem to live... But they didn't.  The Party Bus was packed all the way to past Levent4. I finally got a seat and tuned out for the last stretch. 

Büyükdere was a ghost town at 3:30 am.  The air was cool and crisp, but a hint of spring hung thick hovering over me. The Bosphorus was sparkling as the stars were falling into the water. I could see the vibrations or pulse of the atmosphere as the lights danced atop the water in dreamscape formations. 

The çai meyhanes that line the Bosphorus were devoid of most of their regulars.  There were still a few good old boys hanging, talking and doing their typical boy-club thing that they do.  They always look up at me strangely, as this short-cut is popular in my wanderings.  Usually I'm coming there around 10 pm after yoga class, or after my runs in the morning, so usually I'm wearing my workout gear.  They always look up and study me quizzically, which I don't mind, or have just gotten used to. The only time I am actually a patron of this particular çai meyhane is when I'm in the company of the Büyükdere Club Kids, aka Steve-0 and Ed Shread.  

So I always instinctively scrutinize the mehane whenever I walk by in case I see da kine so I would then go and chat them up.  Of course, at 3:30 am it looks strange if you are looking over all the patrons because all the patrons, basically, are watching you, if you remember, in a weird way, that just gets to feel 'normal' after a while and then you kinda forget about it- the weird way they are looking at you...

So, the story ends here with me getting home without a hitch, really. What really surprised me, though, was how I absolutely STUNK of cigarettes.  No wonder my lungs wouldn't, couldn't, take it any longer at the club. Of course, the club, Peyote, is tragically cool so one tolerates the low ceiling and relatively small venue space because their lineups are usually alternative and interesting and artsy. 

Stripping off my cigarette-infused fabric and seeing (smelling) the pile on the floor was nearly suffocating... I honestly felt bad about putting the heap into my dirty laundry basket- it's like the other dirty clothes inside didn't deserve having to tolerate this batch... In they went and in I went into the waiting hot shower.  Man a hot shower feels good after a night of party/dance/walk-in-rain (oh yea, it was raining again too, but not like last week), etc. 

I slipped underneath the crisp cotton sheets and slid the goose-down comforter over me and grabbed my computer while the kitties adjusted themselves onto me now. A little bit of da kine and an episode of Freaks and Geeks and I went into lounge mode, only to be interrupted by the not-so-subtle hint of sunrise... 

Crisis-mode starts up instinctively and immediately.  It flushed over me and BAM, less than a minute later I am hoping to go into deep slumber.

In other mundane news:

school is cool
yoga is becoming sexy again
running is a high
da kine will always be da kine
the Kovan  bakery in Osmanbey ROCKS
popcorn Jelly Bellies aren't so bad after all

And on an ending note, I'm absolutely DYING to look through all my spring/summer clothing that has been stored away for the past few months. This. THIS consumes me.  I am trying to hold out, but I'm just so damn excited about wearing slinky clothing once again and seeing my body after a winter of hibernation... It's been a long time since I've looked at all my bikinis and I can't wait to be in them ALL again soon.  Damn I miss the f*cking beach lifestyle.  I realize every day that I live without the beach that that is what I'm all about really. I guess missing that lifestyle is the challenge for me now.  I have willingly severed ties.  It is an interesting experiment. I know that a beach is my destiny. I know so deep down that it's not even a problem I guess is what I mean to say. 

Okay, It's now 12:15 pm and I'm still in bed.  Earlier I pulled open the curtains when I went downstairs to make my brew and saw a brilliant, sunny winter day unfolding- a bit windy it seems though. This has been a pretty mild winter here so there isn't much to fuss over.  I think I'm doing pretty good for experiencing my first winter in a few years.  I could even deal with a snowfall or two again.  

I feel like I am getting the clothing and layering thing down to some degree lately.  It seems that in the past 2 weeks, or since the semester began, that I am finally getting it down. I mostly notice this on my runs.  On Friday's run, it was still pretty early so I moved onto my light long-sleeve running jacket and beanie.  It worked well and my entire run was just sweet.  Yesterday it seemed a bit colder so I switched to my new running jacket- with the puffy chest part. That also worked well, although I had to alternate with taking off/putting on my beanie.  That run was super sweet too.  What will today bring?  It does seem windy, but I can tell already that sunscreen is a must :)



What Doesn't f*ck you up will make you stronger

at GarajIstanbul after the Ringo Jets set

First, respect to  Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire for rocking my world at a very young age. Blessings for that and giving me the lowdown on what IS hip. RIP dude. You blew up the groove scene for me.

...And who can resist Kool and the Gang's 'Celebration'?

On that note, I've also been thinking about Rochelle-da-belle, another of the "Chicks that Rock Hard Hats" Hawaiian archaeology tribe  and her mother.  Ro has these hilarious stories about her mother dragging her to Earth, Wind and Fire concerts and I'm sure she's been thinking about those stories these past few days. 

... who can resist a little Kool and the Gang and 'Celebration'?

Moving along, another Sunday morning brings us to my loft, in my bed, a cup of coffee in hand (thanks L-feZz for turning me onto Tchibo's Blue (insert other word of coffee bean name Here), da kine, kitties wrecking havoc downstairs, and this blog update... I realize I haven't written about my Georgian (as in The Republic of...) adventures.  It's on the list. Speaking of 'list', the idiomatic expression 'kick the bucket' was on my students' vocabulary list this past week. I had a good time explaining that with pictures and the requisite 'Bucket List' that should precede 'kicking the bucket'.  And a good time was had by all... Nuff said about work...

Time waits for no one. Mick Jagger sings it (co-written along with Richards and Taylor) and I see evidence of it as life rolls along at a pace that parallels the vibrational rhythms of eARTh. It's funny to think of also seeing family and friends growing through social media and other advanced technologies such as instant messengers, etc.  I can keep up with someone that I haven't seen since elementary school! This is mind-blowing really. 

I think on Friday I looked at my facebook messages and there was one from an acquaintance from 4 years ago while traveling through the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt with dear Azadeh.  We were camped out at RockSea Camp. We became FB friends and that was that- or so it was thought... He has been following my blog these past years and knows I'm from Hawai`i and is going there for a vj gig and wanted some inside information.  I guess I just think about the impact of that; meet someone in Egypt who is from Germany and never been to Polynesia and BAM, one text and information flows through your fingertips!  Love it.


The other night 4Gra went out on the town on Istiklal. Our venue was GarajIstanbul to catch the Ringo Jets- just back to town after a French tour! It was my first time to check them live and I'm stoked.  I will also add in the we got the party started... and that we rocked the party.


 Man it's good to get out and dance. It's been a while. I have this ideal- which I've already encountered- with dancing.  I've had the good fortune to spend YEARS dancing on Maui to some of the best grooves EVER.  Dancing in the jungle all night.  Still going as the sun rises from the ocean in Kaupo. Dancing in cane fields. Dancing Dancing on old runways. Getting caught dancing in cane fields and old airport runways... Dancing atop mountains so high that you can see other islands, and things. Last but not least, dancing in clubs- which is my least favorite of all... so yea, it's hard to live in a place where the only venue on my list is a club.  Nevertheless, it is amazing.  I'll stop complaining...

We started out in a lounge where some vinyl was going to be thrown down; lounge vinyl. That was our pre-party, or the post pre-party party before the party party... One has to think logically about hitting up the Istiklal-town on party nights as adult beverages are quite expensive (I'm only talking beer here; everything else is unimaginable to purchase for reasons of said pocket-book strain). We ended up leaving viaGRA there.  At last look, she was pleasantly sinking into the couch with her white wine and looking totally space-lounge ready!  Beautiful sight really.  I was secretly wanting to stay- for more space lounge and more of that feeling, but I knew I was moving on to higher-order priorities with some much needed Rock 'n Roll.

We succeeded at being interesting spectacles to partake.  We seem to have succeeded in having the 3 huge security guys eyeing us all evening... Like wtf, have they never seen people dancing before??? Anyway, they looked dour and like we were messing up their auras-of-bore... I felt like they were going to come up to us at any minute and tell us we were doing something wrong. We had a good laugh about it. Afterwards we were taken behind the black curtain to the main bar area. It was like a de-throning.  We wondered why they would shoo-away the only people dancing like we didn't give a shit (which we didn't). Turns out they were only cleaning... haha. We decided to stay and mess with the security guards auras-of-bore some more and danced around the bar area to all the old skool tunes.  Heehee. Da Jel and I needed to catch the late-night party bus back to our hood, which only runs once an hour on the hour late nights. 
psychedelic Istiklal side street scene

We roamed the rain-soaked streets and back alleys of Istiklal looking for our perfect match; cheap, funky dive bar.  We found our happy spot and the girls indulged in more libations and döner. I sat there grinning and wanting more of da kine.
a sea of umbrella exoskeleton carcasses strewn along Istiklal

Now here the story takes a spin that goes outta control... Da Jel looks at her watch and it's 1:45 and the bus leaves at 2 am. We have a trek and start off on our journey that was full on pissing rain.  Full on.  I mean, full on... We miscalculate a few things; location and timing... We watch the bus go by a bit further in front of us.  It's like the ending of a B-grade movie: There we are standing alone in the dark, in the cold rain which is pouring onto/into every thread of our beings.  We looked at each other in that desperate kinda way where we are both, independently, thinking, "how much more of this cold rain can our bodies take before it affects us?"

(Morning call-to-prayer right now so I know the church bells are coming up soon afterwards).

We think about a dolmus (great idea and the only one to consider at this point).  One magically appears right in front of us.  Of course it is outta service, but the guy obviously feels sorry for us drown rats and lets us in and takes us back up to Gümüşsuyu where we started out at  so we can hop in one to Beşiktaş- where we would figure out the next step...

Unfortunately it was a super short ride... And then no (cheap) ride as soon we realized that the dolmus service was finished for the night.  There was no way we could wait around for the 3 am bus at this point because we were freezing and just soaking wet.  Yep, hop in the taxi that we just shunned moments before when we thought we knew what was going on...

And the night finishes there. From there it was a hot shower and jumping underneath the goose-down comforter, which is always way too hot except for this moment...

What doesn't f*ck you up will make you stronger.  Case in point; I got up the next morning thinking I was destined to be sick with the flu, but I wasn't!  I do recall gobbling down some tinctures (that I procured from the Dragon's Den up in Makawao, Hawai`i before taking off for Istanbul last summer) before falling asleep.  So, good as new I decide and from there I managed to get in a kick-ass run in, once again, super cold weather.  At least it wasn't raining. Anyway, I do strongly believe that attitude is everything.  My psyche even tried to f*ck with my body rhythms and tell my body that it was sick.  My body knew better.  My body knew that it wanted to go on a kick-ass run.  I love it when my body rules over my mind. I try to train hard every day for this exact thing- to repeat itself throughout life.

pre kick-ass Saturday morning run.  Shaika Spot giving me the high-5 on my decision to brave the cold and just do it...

In other mundane news:

Nachos are back IN
Ice-cream (from a box) is OUT
long cashmere ankle-grazing sweater is IN
research on Sicaly CONTINUES
the Ringo Jets are IN
the beach is UPCOMING

This... THIS is definitely one of my top 5 anthems in my life... Yes, this... Been a while since I've heard it.  


the science of my brain on the science of my running, and other nonsensical ponderings...

So I've been doing quite a bit of running lately.  It feels like the 'old me' is back.  That being the 'me' that ran before I moved to the Middle East... I tried really, really hard to enjoy running in Bahrain, but you know what... I hated it. I hated it with such passion.

I tried to not think about how fucking hot it was.  I waited until 10 pm sometimes to go out for a run at the neighborhood brick track in A`ali thinking that I would have a better run, and I did... but I still didn't love it.  Not like I love running during 'normal' times...

I did love the shit out of the A`ali running track though.  When I managed to make it there, which was quite often, I loved just being a part of that community.  So yea, I was still running quite a bit but I just wasn't loving it.

It also reminded me of running in Gaziantep at the University of Gaziantep track.  There as well I was 'forced' to run at a track due to just not wanting to stand out as something unusual. I learned to love running on that track.  I enjoyed walking up to the security entrance and them waving me through.  I enjoyed going through the chain link fence and then just taking off onto that red...stuff... or whatever the track was made of.

Sometimes I ran when the Uni track team was practicing.  Sometimes it was the soccer team, etc.  I used to run when our gang would play frisbee too.  It was a good time running in Gaziantep.  It was also bloody hot, but not desert hot...

I do love to think of places I've lived by the running routes I took. With this, I'm taking you all to where I currently run here in Istanbul.  The bonus is that I don't have to run on a running track!  I can, and I do sometimes at the university's gym.  There is a running track-kinda thing upstairs.  When you run, you look down at the basketball court.  You can also see into the weight room, dance rooms, ping pong tables, etc.  The rock climbing club has set up their climbing wall at one of the sides of the track so that is interesting...

My usual run, though, is along the Bosphrous.  This is an incredible running route and I feel so fucking fortunate to finally be running somewhere incredibly motivating- in terms of scenery and weather conditions. Even now, in winter, I enjoy my runs.  I haven't run in a lot of really winter-y conditions before so this is big. I do have a small arsenal of tech clothing that makes running all the more enjoyable, I think.  My newest addition to the quiver is a long sleeve running vest-type thing.  It has light padding on chest and back, but sleeves are just a microfiber.  It zips down the front and has zip pockets and thumb holes.  Another bonus is really long sleeves.  I can just wrap up my fingers in the extra length instead of using the thumb holes.  It does have a hood, which I wasn't crazy about as I think that is a waste of running attire. I do use my Portillo (ski area in Chile) beanie that I bought in a different life while snowboarding throughout the region with EdVice. It makes me happy to put on that beanie as those travels were most excellent. Hah, I'll never forget going into that local market and him buying way too many olives...

Anyway, back to running... My mom just sent off a box for me here so I'm hoping that there is a pair of running gloves in it, like I hinted at :)  The weather for the past week has been excellent running weather though and it has warmed up quite a bit from 2-3 weeks ago.  I haven't needed gloves again so this is good.  My best purchase while home in Hawaii last summer was a pair of Addidas cold weather running tights.  They are still lightweight, I think, but I can really feel that they keep the top of my thighs warm.  I mean, they are absolutely delightful to wear.  I have to say that I am thrilled to have knowledge and access to this technical wear stuff.  It does make running life more comfortable and smart.  It is just icing on the cake that my current running shoes (Saucony) are my most favorite all-timers.  It has taken me over 25 years of running to find that ultimate bliss running shoe.  Winning, again.

So, yea.  Running is a pleasure here in Istanbul.  Not only do I have the tech wear down for cold weather, but the scenery is dynamic.  Running along the Bosphrous is always fresh and interesting.  Even with all the familiar landmarks, it's always dynamic.  All the funny street dogs that sometimes trot along with me for a ways before tiring or losing interest.  The locals fishing, or couples walking along and enjoying the fresh, crisp sea breezes, catching glimpses of the 3rd bridge under construction up at the entrance to the Black Sea. I love running by the fishmongers that have little set-ups along the corniche as I start to head into Tarabya. All the healthy-looking cats that are at their feet waiting for scraps. Weathered-looking men selling simit in their rolling carts, or çai, or whatever.

Yea, smelling fresh air is another highlight. And there is space! Sure it's urban, but I'm not exactly in the downtown mix.  At least up here in Sariyer, it does feel like village living- big village living :)

It is still fishing season, although winding down I believe.  Today, as with many days, there are large boats docked and all the fishermen are seated in a line and working on their nets making all their necessary repairs.  I love running by this scene especially.  They always look over at me non-nonchalantly, and then go back to their work.  A momentary diversion where they likely wonder why I'm running...

Running is big here though, for sure.  Even on the coldest days, there are always a few other runners I encounter.  Running is a high, and runners want to get high every day because we are addicted to that high.  It's that simple. 

I've been playing around with my gait these past few months as well so I feel like I'm bringing a whole new sport to my game... I've always had back problems, which I always associated with archaeology and all the strange, crazy positions that I held my body in during that time in my life as well as just the back-breaking nature in general of the discipline. I think I was always a heel-striker.  I also used to wear, religiously, New Balance 996s, which in retrospect was probably much too much of a shoe for me to be wearig.  Who knows.

Anyway, I move on to minimalist running shoes right before moving to Bahrain- likely a mistake... As well as a bad back, I was running on a... wait for it... yes, you remember- a brick running track.  Very unforgiving indeed.  And then add on oppressive heat and you have the trifecta of bad times running... lol

Lucky for me that didn't go on for too long (running in Bahrain or the minimalist running shoes). I wised up and was shown the way; my first pair of Saucony's starts a new love affair. Also the improved inserts in them heightens the experience. 

Back to my gait... Yea, I concentrate sometimes on mid-foot striking, and then I try to run striking on the ball of my food first.  I usually can't go too long with this foot-strike pattern, and my breathing increases.  It definitely works something out which isn't worked out a lot, because I tire quickly here.  I go back to my mid-foot srike and everything is just so fine.  When I try to heel-strike first, like I always used to do, it feels so foreign, and it hurts my back... I can really feel the sink-in of my lower spine. It's hard to spring ahead when you are sabotaging yourself. Aha... over 20 years to figure this out!  Heh heh.

I'm also coaching myself to use my arm strength more, and I see noticeable results. I have always underestimated what arm movement can do to propel one's running into that next level.  I had always thought that I didn't want my arms to help my legs out.  I wanted my legs to do all the work.  I was tough, or so I thought.  I was just making things much more difficult, but I still loved running in spite of it. 

Yea, this is my love story. Running.  Then one day, early on, my running was introduced to yoga.  This was a young, passionate love indeed.  Suddenly all my time was being spent with yoga.  Running was put on the back burner, but not for too long.  I was soon to realize that both were needed to make me truly happy.  Also a beach.  Yes, a beach is also totally necessary.  And blended margaritas and nachos at Polli's Mexican Cantina in Makawao.  And cats. And da kine. And and and...

Okay, this is getting absurd.  I'm out.


ps- I will say that I had a whole lotta love for that A`ali brick running track...


Remember remember the 13th of January... Is that Jasmine I smell, or just a revolution blooming?

 Is that Jasmine I smell, or just a revolution blooming?

To those readers who don't know the history, here's a little more context that will lead into today's blog:

Remember remember the 13th of January... 2011... Tunisia...

Yesterday was a pretty significant day in my current life; it was the last day of work before our winter break. The day was a beauty (most days are here in Istanbul, this city that needs me to dwell in it like an addict's vein needs heroin). Yes, I can't stop this city, as much as I would like to not be victim to its beauty, I am. As I ran away fast from work (no no, don't look back- you didn't forget anything in the office. Just go Go GO) I thought I'd go for a run, as it wasn't yet raining, and then head to yoga class. As a celebration.  As a cleanse. As a ritual purification I guess (not that I don't run/have a dedicated yoga practice as purification all the time, because I still do. Yes, there's something to be said for traditions and spiritualism).

I got home and everything vanished that I had planned in my mind to occur. I had even held off on going out for drinks later on (Plan B- that other style of ritual purification) because I knew that I would be in "that mood" after Plan A.

Yea, well Plan C took place and that was it for this world citizen. steve-O and 'Lil Eddy da rascal stopped by for gin/tonics and to check out my apartment; they will be taking care of the felines while I trot off to the Republic of Georgia- land-0-1st wine production EVER (widely believed anyway). For those of you that don't know, Georgia has an 8,000 year-old tradition of wine making. Remember, I AM a traditional girl at heart...


But I digress... So, that is how the early evening played out; drinking gin/tonics and randomly remembering things about the cats while trying to find where I placed the "list" that I had lost...

So, that is my lead-up to today's rather somber post. Here I go. It might not be easy to follow along as I just have some brief notes in my head of what I want to convey. Sorry for that, but I need to get it out.  Ritual purification kinda thing that I'd like to share.

Yesterday was even more significant because of a certain event in my life that happened 5 years ago.  Yesterday was my 5-year anniversary of being in downtown Tunis on that fateful day that fueled the "Arab Spring", or "Jasmine Revolution".

The 'Spring had already manifested a few weeks earlier down in Sidi Bouzid when Mohamed Bouazizi, a name that I should not ever forget, felt, in all his human-ness, his last resort was to self-immolate in front of a municipal office in his village in protest of corruption.


The day is significant enough solely with this background of events, but it hit me on a personal level because I became involved- in my own way. I was at work earlier in the day and our country director had advised all of us to get home because shit was hitting the fan in downtown Tunis later in the day, and that 'things' were already started in some areas.  It was advised that we go food shopping first and hunker down for a few days- until things would get better.

Well, they didn't get better for a very long time we would soon find out.  I walked back to Lafayette neighborhood, where I lived, rather quickly. Not really knowing what to do, I made my way over to Solo_ojo's flat right around the corner from mine and across the street from the Synagogue- which was always a sort of mystery for us because it was heavily guarded (at least 2 officers were there every time I walked by) with special forces of the Tunisian police, etc.

I excitedly told him the events.  We decided to check things out (the journalist with the big-ass camera lens and the inquisitive anthropologist doing a reconnaissance survey, of course). It just so happened a lot of shit was going down in our neighborhood.

We spent a few hours with the demonstrators, hangers-on, curious locals and locals just trying to get their kids home from school and to safety (those last ones- they knew something that we either didn't know, or didn't want to follow their lead on).

photo credit: solo_ojo

The days events came in waves- the ebb and flow of what I would soon find out are the tides of 'revolution', and the sets were escalating.  At some point (no idea of a time frame) Cyrus-the-Virus and I were in the downstairs vestibule of an apartment building whose door wasn't locked.  Many others were taking refuge in there as well.  I clearly remember a France24 photographer in there and having a brief conversation with him.

We were here because, at this point, the area was infiltrated with police forces.  We were all running whenever shots were heard- you could see the people in front running towards you so you always turned around and ran ahead. I ran fast. I wanted to win the race...every time...

What I want to convey here is that this is just what I was feeling. This was an 'unknown high' for me- this revolution thing.  I mean, sure, I wanted GMOs to become illegal and banned from Hawaii and Hawaiian agriculture.  Sure I wanted equal rights between sexes, races (I hate that term), etc. This, THIS though was a strange thing that I was feeling: angst, adrenaline, frustration, wonder, danger, etc. There was an element that was both gross and fantastically beautiful at the same time.  It's complicated...

During 'quiet' times, we would peak our heads outside to see what was happening and carefully go outside because... I don't know.  It was simply compulsion that made me to do- all of it.  There was a certain excitment to it because solo_ojo and myself would discuss these things (Tunisian politics) all the time and actually predicted this: One day we were lamenting about how some of our students' were so paranoid about their government.  We asked each other what would the country do if Ben Ali got kicked out.  This was about two months before these events started.  I could chalk it all up to just sitting around our apartments drinking beer and da kine and having small talk, but...

Solo_ojo wasn't with me at this point. He and Big-Ass Camera (BAC) were in with the demonstrators.  We were keeping in communication at times with our cell phones.  Of course everybody was.  At some point though batteries were dying.
There was a lot of this activity for a while. It was like waiting around at a concert for the next group to come out.  Time to go to the beer line and look for the bathroom queue... Again, I'm coming from zero experience with 'this kinda stuff'. I remember being in Puerto Rico (15 years ago?) and think I saw a dead body in the street. So, context...

We all heard a lot of activity and went outside again.  There were a wave of demonstrators running towards us from about 100 meters away ( we were on a short side street flanked by longer avenues on each side- Rue de`Tatouine to be exact). I remember this because days after I was walking with a friend (who had a HUGE role in saving the day, along with his wife, for us) by the street and I had my phone and suddenly had an urge to take a picture of the street sign because there was a bullet hole right next to the sign.  "What a perfect picture to capture a huge moment in my life that I will never forget", I thought.. Well, it is illegal to take photos within a certain number of meters from a synagogue - especially while it is guarded with special forces.  They swooped down on us in no time and my friend, an Algerian national, had to get us out of the situation and explain calmly my stupidity.


But I digress... I saw a small boy running in front of the men (he was clearly the ''winner''). He was holding up his hand.  I think it was shot? I can't remember because I was looking out for solo_ojo, who was wearing a bright red jacket and carrying BAC. I caught sight of him in the chaos and was following his movements.  They were all turning the corner onto the side street.  Then something caught my eye. He stumbled (not so unlikely in that situation). Then other guys running with him were picking up his arms like.  As they are nearing us (seemed like eons), I noticed something wrong. He had blood coming down his pant legs.  I wanted to run out to him (will replay this image in my mind all my life I think). They were really close to us now, but so were the bullets. I stayed put just outside the door FREAKING THE FUCK OUT. I had no idea...

Now everything is spinning.  Everyone is huddled around solo_ojo and pulling his pants down (full monty folks). Something 'hit' him.  It was a tear gas canister. Was it a tear gas canister? It was a bullet... shot from a sniper atop a roof somewhere. It entered through the backside of one thigh, exited, and embedded itself into the other thigh. I don't know how to deal with this. I'm spinning and about ready to pass out.  Solo_ojo is trying to remain coherent and not go unconscious. He is ordering the guys to take his belt off and use it as a tourniquet to stop the blood flow.  The belt is too loose.  I remember at some point he berated the guys with something like, 'come on your pussies, tie it tighter.' That could be made up in my mind though... I do recall though that it wasn't tight enough...

Next thing I know (only to find out much later that Cyrys-the-Virus, the Gambian DJ, had managed to get some shit done), there is a van that screeches up and stops in front of our increasing gathering and stops.  Solo_ojo, Cyrus-the-Virus and myself are thrown into the back of the van.  There is another man in the back I notice.  The van speeds away- into tear gas, gun shots and the unknown... I'm lying down, practically atop Stephen, who is still conscious, and suddenly realize I have his blood on me.  That was a surreal moment.  It was nothing though.  I kept thinking about the little window in the back that I was lying under and wondering if bullets were going to come through it.

The van was rocking.  I remember it backing up- at least once and taking an alternative route.  I really don't know what was happening in the front with the driver(s). I looked around. Cyrus-the-Virus was sitting. The unknown man was standing and holding himself up by having both arms stretched out to each side of the van, to steady himself.  He is standing. Why is he standing I am wondering. Is he chanting something?  I hear something coming from his mouth.  It was like an acid trip.  He is chanting quietly.  I decide that he must be reciting something from the Quran and is protecting Stephen. I'm not sure, but this is my belief- to this day.

I think to myself that this is so painfully, fucking beautiful and might be the monumental moment of my life. It is so fucking beautiful that it hurts- still. It hurts so good actually.  I'm not sure why.  I can't explain it. I'm also wondering what you all are thinking right now as you read my words, my story. This is so intensely personal, exposing myself like this. But I want to. I guess I need to. If you've been reading my blog for all these years, you know that this is my yearly tradition. My annual spiritual purification. Spiritual vomit is you like. I have to get it out.  I have to re-live it. It is necessary to keep me humble I think. Yes, when I feel I am whining too much about life, I try to think about this. This defining moment when I try to remember that I am a different person after this experience.

We get to Charles De Gaulle Hospital.  It seems kinda quiet, at this point.  We are ushered in (no memory of this) and whisked by any sort of check-in I guess. My next memory is in the emergency room and solo_ojo is on a bed-thing. Someone has a pair of scissors and is cutting his pant legs. They are talking Arabic and French.  Cyrus-the-Virus is talking to them and solo_ojo is still conscious.  Someone he gives me his camera and says to take care of it.  The hospital staff is curious to know what is on the camera.  There is a sudden shift now.  Things temporarily stop and now Stephen is showing the staff the pictures from Lafayette.  People are telling us that we need to get these pictures outta the country and let the world know what is happening in Tunisia.

Cyrus-the-Virus and I are rushed out of the room because they need to remove the bullet from solo_ojo's leg... I'm carrying a small, cardboard box.  How did I get this box? We are wandering around the hospital and I am carrying a box that contains solo_ojo's (bloody) shoes, (bloody) belt and personal items.  I have an intense job, holding this box.  I will not let go of it...

We are outside in front of the hospital now, trying to find a place to just deal with things. Lots of sirens- far and near. Lots of vehicles approaching, in a fairly steady steam.  Lots of men getting out of lots of vehicles; some limping and some in stretchers.  I turn my head away.  Lots of women come into view. Their faces... Their faces are so distorted.  I wondered if that is what mine looked like. If that is what my face still looks like as I soak up this scene.

I call people.   I called David first I think. I told him to call Amideast, where we worked. I was screamming. I don't know.  I called friends.  Now people were calling me. Numbers I didn't recognize. The embassy in Tunis is calling me wondering what has happened.  Another unknown number.  It's David Kirkpatrick from the Cairo bureau of the New York Times... He wants to interview solo_ojo.  I tell him that he can't right now because he's in the operating room... It is surreal. 

We are back in the hospital.  We are in a recovery room talking to solo_ojo.  He will be staying there the night. I take a picture of him and, inadvertently,  of another guy on a bed next to him who has a bandaged-up leg.  There are bloody rags all over the floor of this room.

Now we are to take solo_ojo outta the hospital.  There is not enough room at the hospital anymore with all the incoming wounded coming in. HOW THE FUCK DO WE DO THAT, I'm thinking.  I had called Djamel and Claire. Apparently Dja made his way to the hospital, which was a pretty dangerous thing to do considering the shit happening in our area and the imposed curfew...

Now Dja was standing in front of me. I had sent in for the reinforcements and he was dealing with shit.  I had a handful of prescriptions that someone, at some point in time, handed me. Were they in the box too? Who knows.  It was all in Arabic. The hospital wouldn't allow their ambulance to take us back to our neighborhood, as it had been closed off and just general security for the ambulance perhaps, or they were just too busy going to get injured more likely.

It was a while but Dja came back and had gotten ahold of a private ambulance or health van.  They could bring us to Dja and Claire's place since Lafayette had to be avoided. We all got in and off we went. Dja was up front with the driver and we three were in the back with a paramedic.

I felt relief. I felt safe... The van is stopping. There is a police road block in Claire and Dja's neighborhood. There are police with guns talking to the driver the paramedic woman tells us. She is looking through the window to the front. Djamel is told to get outta the van. He is showing his papers.  I'm thinking that he will have problems with his Algerian citizenship.  I'm hoping the police don't come open up the door in the back of the van.  They are coming to the back of the van.  I think I put solo_ojo's camera underneath him and the stretcher he was on.  They wouldn't life him I am assuming.  The paramedic looks worried. The door opens.  Not sure what happened, but now the door is closing. The van's engine starts.  We are driving off. Phew. FUCK FUCK FUCK

It is late now. The streets are deserted. It seems calm in their neighborhood (uhm, they live right next to the Ministry of Interior)... For the moment though, everything is good. We help solo_ojo up their precarious spiral stairway. It seems to take forever to get him up there. We are in the apartment. It feels good. Solo_ojo doesn't feel good. The morphine is going to wear off soon.  There are no pharmacies open to fill prescriptions due to curfew, we all realize. Okay, what's the plan? We need a plan.

Cyrus-the-Virus are now running through the streets to get to Sam's Place; an apartment a few blocks away that he and other co-workers lived in. There were others there too. It seemed bizarre. There was a bottle of booze, with very little booze left in it I recall.  Some food was made. We all sat there for a long time and talked. We laughed at times.  We managed to sleep a bit.

Okay, time to stop here.  I'll finish up later with day 2.  I need to go for a run now...


Closing in on 2016. Wrapping up 2015 here in Istanbul

Closing in on 2016. Wrapping up 2015.

Moody Wednesday morning 9 am and all is well.  I'm lying in bed drinking Frangelico & coffee and the kitties are nearby playing chase. This scene takes me back to my time in Bahrain as it's this very position that I normally blogged in...

I woke up at 7 and did my normal weekday routine and trotted off to the university. Because I don't believe in checking work emails after work, and sometimes leave work early... I didn't get the message about the cancelled meeting...

Now, normally I would be bummed that this happened, BUT as the university is uphill, it was snowing up there!!! It's not snowing here in Büyükdere... It was so exciting to see snow flurries.  Ed-vice, a Canadian, laughed out loud when I exclaimed that it was ''snowing hard'' while we were walking on campus.

So, after a quick romp in the snow, I hopped on a dolmus and here I am in bed moments later to tell the story...

In other news, Mr. J.S. sent me a care package and it arrived Monday- just in time for inclement weather. I must say, I was feeling so toasty walking to the service stop this morning :) I've definitely decided that if you dress warm, and comfortably, you can live in a place where it snows. Took me a long time to get to this conclusion though.  I wonder what's next; Central Asia possibly?

Well, Georgia is what's next in the travel log in a week or so. We are getting a great deal flying into Tbilisi and plan to trek through the mountains too. I assume the great deal is due to winter, but I'm so excited- especially since I have my inclement weather clothing now!

 I'm pretty excited for mountains, hotsprings, fascinating old city, purchasing pork products AND stocking up on booze! I think most of you realize that I'm not a proper drinker and certainly can't hold my liquor, and get tipsy way too fast (haha) but when you live in a country where liquor is prohibitively expensive to purchase, you tend to relish every duty free store in any airport... On the list is gin (newish discovery for me that's currently been trending for 2 years now), wine and... I don't know- perhaps some sort of 'grab bag' new discovery in the making awaits me.

So yea, life is rolling along here in this city that I dwell in. I do dwell too- in happiness and wonder and da kine. Work and play balancing with sport and chill. I think I have it down. 

I feel pretty local in terms of public transportation, which I think I've mentioned before.  I had my first "FUCK THIS CITY FUCKING TRAFFIC" moment on Sunday... lol. I was heading in to Örtaköy to meet up with a friend from Gaziantep and got stuck in this huge clusterfuck on the Sahil Yolu (coast road). Total cf traffic in Yeniköy, Istinye, Emirgan, Bebek and Kuruçesme, where I finally heard 2 ambulances racing behind me for an accident that was up ahead.

But I digress, the original traffic cf was right in my very own neighborhood. I was at the bus stop waiting for the bus and I finally realized it was 1/2 hour late (getting to Örtaköy with ease, I figured, only involved on form of public transport; I should have known better it's a bad idea of the weekend- even a weekend in winter). So I head towards the previous stop- which is at the Y-intersection with my street.  At that bus stop there had been a SMALL accident; a fenderbender type situation where 2 cars were going and one slowed or whatever and the other one piled into it. It wasn't a 'bad' accident at all. In fact, hardly a dent on the backside of car #1. So, there are a few people about- but the car owners are nowhere to be found... They had their accident and got out and LEFT THEIR FUCKING CARS blocking the way to the thru-street. So, obviously no buses could come through, but the dolmus could.

That seriously hurt... lucky for da kine good vibes I had going. Farahnaz & I ended up having a great reunion while eating Vegas Pizza and then Kumpir :) Hilarious moments spend walking along with Bosphrous with da kine and going into MacroCenter so she could buy some bacon for friends back in Gaziantep. So funny.

Speaking of reunions, I love that you can meet up with someone again and step right back into that zone with them- no matter how long it had been since last seeing them. We quickly fell into that pattern of walking and shooting the shit.

Today I'm meeting up with Karin, one of the Fulbrighter's I knew during my 1st year in Bahrain.  Looking forward to catching up with her and see what incredible deeds she is doing around the world. It would be difficult to fall back into pattern with Karin, as we met at the beach last time we were together :) Today it's supposed to rain or snow down here. Looking out my window now though it's still just moody.

Well, it's still not snowing... I'm so excited for the kitties to experience snow for the first time! The desert-dwellers are surely in for a treat. I feel like I am the same way each time I experience snow. Snow hasn't really been much of a part of my life ever- outside of visiting snowy places and skiing and snowboarding at various times throughout life.

Christmas was a good time. We were at Da Kine's house in Cihangir having a bake and bake session; we made cookies (both gingerbread and cut-out sugar cookies), awesome nachos, pumpkin lasagna.  and had a proper par-tay with some friends.

As we are all fans of Drunk History on YouTube (I didn't even know that it had expanded into a series), we realized there was a hole in the market so we did a dry-run of a forthcoming Drunk History episode- which will remain a secret until its unveiling. So Christmas was a 2-day extravaganza with good friends and good cheer. 

New Year's plans you ask about? Well, just another low-key gathering in Cihangir. I think a re-do of Nachos is on the menu. Perhaps Vegas Pizza too.  I absolutely love Vegas Pizza.  Now there is one in Örtaköy too so a reason to put Örtaköy back on the 'frequently visit' list, along with Osmanbey metro stop to stop by my favorite bakery for those Portakals and Acībadems... Yum.

So, that's it.  I'll check in again in 2016! HAU`OLI MAKAHIKI HOU!!!


Dream City

Darkness envelops. Rain prying open the emerging daylight- still refusing to come out.  Not long now though.  The early morning call to prayer surely will determine. Da kine.

Laying on my bed still half asleep, raindrops falling thrills me.  The glorious cacophony (that word is for you Stephen) silences all my other thoughts.  In the distance, though, I hear the kitties running around downstairs- engaged in their dramatic calisthenics, which includes flying off the staircase.

...and BINGO. Loudspeakers go off. I rarely hear the call to prayer in this 'hood. I'm distracted by the sudden thought that this is normal and so I sleep right through it every morning.  What I don't sleep through, though, are the church bells ringing every Sunday morning at 9:30 & 10:30 am... Call to prayer; normal.  Church bells; abnormal :)

Just something I noticed.  That is all.

On another topic, I feel totally normal in my new habitat.  Istanbul is no longer that mysterious lover that I can't quit. That lover that I need to continuously overdose on because I need the fix so badly. 

Istanbul is my constant companion who divulges stories freely now. Secrets for stories,  evoking continuous attention.

A recent outing this week after work to Eminönü, I became acquainted with a few of the city's gems; the terzi street with lush fabrics that I am now drooling about purchasing to make my first HollyCouture item of clothing I've been envisioning in my mind for quite a long time.  Yes, finally something is materializing from some incredible material I bought in Oman earlier this year... or last year. Can't quite remember as Oman is quite charming in the fabric store area- as well as just natural beauty overall.  Damn, that country keeps speaking to me too... but the weather... the desert heat... I'd have to be pretty motivated to move back to the Middle East think.

Also I found among the narrow alleys the Mehmet Effendi coffee line... L-Fezz took me years ago & I knew where in the general area it was, but now I know... I too will wait in that coffee line one day for some fresh beans.

Kitchen supply hot deals are to be found in Eminönü as well.  A baker's wet dream of a street.  Certainly in this city where one can find a baking rack to the tune of 70TL... Çok pahala...

Art supply stores galore! I was introduced to one in particular.  The story goes something like this.  The owners don't charge the usual astronomical Turkey taxes to customers.  I walked out with a set of basic watercolors, etc.

THAT was a fun outing. Even the part where we got lost after getting off at 2 wrong metro exits.  Who knew that you had to take Yeniköy exit & get on the Marmary line to get off at Sirkeci. No matter. Twas interesting to walk around the Istanbul University neighborhood for a bit.  We had a ball.  You know, da kine.

But before playing out that scenario, I have more to divulge; more secrets to share from stories passed on down to me by the city. Pinking shears. Yes, pinking shears are on my mental list now.  Now that I spied that fabric... This idea I envision: the skirt originally face from the Saturday Alfama flea market.  Lisbon is another great city that felt good to be in.  Felt like I could hang for a while in (a while being a 2-year time frame, more or less).

Solo_ojo & I made our way there a few years back on a real estate-seeking 'business' trip.  Think of it as r&r from Gaziantep if you wish... Anyway, I wore the shit outta that skirt, and still want to.  Problem is that, due to the design, there is pressure that comes together at this precarious seam continuously when wearing it that it tears.  It's in a very focal point of the design- the ass.  It's kinda like a long shaped diamond (on its n/s axis) where 4 seams come together.  Anyway, time to re-create it.

I knew there was a reason for buying 3 different kinds of material on that Oman trip with Sher-bear.  I've been sitting on it for a year maybe and finally the light bulb went on.  It shocked me as it went on as I was walking by a terzi (tailor shop) and
fabrık mağâzası

I see some sort of lightweight dark, fine twill. A more conservative 
dark blue/gray/green color, yet with a funky twill design twist.  It 
should contrast most interestingly with the brighter colored Islamic 
geometric print from the Omani fabrik. Perhaps a contrasting thread too-
 in a larger length stitch.  maybe that yellow fabric... Oh the ideas!  
The decisions!  The excitement of an idea morphing into a design into an
 eventual article of clothing!!!

 I'm back to sleep.
The birds have started their freaking out about the impending sunrise... Not long now. Now long now until I fall back into a deep slumber.  Upon waking I'll wonder if this was all just a dream; Dream City.