2.06.2016

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.

http://www.rocksea.net/index.php/en/

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.

http://www.theringojets.com/

http://www.garajistanbul.org/
 
 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.  











1.31.2016

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.

Peace



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

1.13.2016

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...

http://georgianwinesociety.co.uk/about-georgian-wines/

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.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2010/dec/28/tunisia-ben-ali

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...





12.29.2015

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!!!




11.27.2015

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.

*kerplunk

9.05.2015

Istanbul’s Got My Digits S1 E3

Istanbul’s Got My Digits S1 E3

So last week’s cliffhanger left us all wondering how my IKEA experience was going to go… Here's how it went down. We all met on campus and our service bus driver, Ali, whisked us off to IKEA.  Along the way I was informally coached as to how the experience is.  Apparently it is the same everywhere: You get there.  You freak out. You forget you made a list. You develop low blood sugar. You have no concept of time. You leave.  You get home and have a field day putting stuff together…

That is basically what happened.  I ended up taking pictures of things there, but you are supposed to write down the big-list items so when you get to the end where you pick up the large stuff that needs assembling, etc. it will be easier for the IKEA peeps to find.  Unfortunately the 2 things I needed the most weren’t available or sold out: a dish drainer and a rolling kitchen island thingy to move around- as I have a small kitchen. 

In the end I feel that I chose well.  Everything was needed and nothing was superfluous. I got an unexpected set of 4 dishes large and small and bowls.  As well I got some stemless wine glasses.

As I’m settling down for a while here I’m almost certain, I don’t want to just buy crap.  I was at Mega Mart yesterday looking for a toaster.  Just a simple toaster, but I couldn’t find one that wasn’t made in China.  I’m not sure why I was driving to find a non-PRC made toaster, but I was so… I left empty-handed… I'm sure most all of what I've purchased for my home has been from China so I'm not sure why I was feeling so high and mighty yesterday...

Besides looking for a toaster, I went to Taksim to pick up another bag of my stuff from Gaziantep and Tunis that I’ve been storing in my friend’s basement.  This proved to be taxing for sure.  I decided to take 2 bags; one a shitty, small rolling duffel bag and the other a fairly flimsy plastic zipper bag for household storage.  Things started off good, although it was a super hot day so I already had that element working against me in terms of walking the stuff from Cihangir to the metro station in Taksim.

Mission accomplished and all went smoothly to the last exit- Haciosman.  As  departed the station and was at street level making my way across the road to where the dolmuşes are waiting, suddenly the handle of the rolling duffel bag broke… Annoying because I had the plastic bag neatly atop that so my scheme of things was ruined.  Now the duffel bag was seriously heavy with… yes you guessed it… books…

The handle was now only like 7’ long so I couldn’t use it to roll the bag as I would have to hunch over too much.  I had a decision to make: grab a taxi or just hunker down and make my way to the dolmuş. I opted for the latter because I’m tough like that, or cheap… It was only a short way to carry the bags.  I made it and made my way to Büyükdere.

Now came the difficult part of the journey; I had a 8 minute walk back to my apartment, yet not an easy one.  Of course a hill is involved- at the very end.  I made my way across the coast road but knew I wouldn’t be able to carry the rolling duffel much longer.  Then I got smart.  I reached into my bag and took out my re-usable grocery shopping bag and tied it the the remaining part of the handle of the rolling duffel.  Voile!  A new handle that I could grab and walk with.  I made it with much difficulty and the rest of the day I was completely exhausted.  I managed to make my way out for a durum (Turkish wrap) and bubble water, but nothing more. 

In other news, work went well last week.  I’m not one to talk about work in this blog, but I’ll just say that I’m happy in that department and look forward to a good year at the university.  There is an ice skating rink there as well as a pretty huge outdoor pool, and all the other nice things that add to the experience. As well, I’m surrounded by Turkish co-workers so can work on my Turkish!

It’s rather late today as I woke up at 9am.  Because I was down for the count last night, I passed out early, so woke up early- at 4am. I did a w&b and then played around on the computer a bit and then passed out about 6 am. That extra 3 hours of sleep helped.  I woke up just in time to gather my marbles a bit and listen to the church bells ringing at 9:30am.

I forgot to mention that yesterday morning I got up and went for a run at 7am.  It was already quite warm too.  I made my way to Tarabya along the coast.  At one point there were loads of men fishing in one specific area of the promenade.  The security dudes at my complex told me that fishing season had just opened last weekend so all were crazy with fish on their minds. 

There are benches in this area spaced apart so plenty of places to just hang out, but people seem to bring folding chairs as well.  They really make a day of it here. What I really enjoyed was to see some females there too.  Here’s some scenes that I took in:

  •     A man and woman on a bench that had 2 pieces of fabric they placed to sit on.  He was         baiting his line and she was watching on and gazing at the Bosphorus. She had this         amazing baby blue sparkling hijab on and it shone in the sunlight and dazzled my eyes.          On my return route she was standing up next to her man watching him just do his thing.   

  •     I think I saw the doctor at the university out power-walking.  At that point I was sitting on         a bench just watching the world go by.  I was ready to turn around because I knew I had         a long way to go back but thought I’d try to catch up to him.  Nope.  He was walking way         too fast and I wasn’t wanting to run to catch up with him.  It just felt good to already spot         someone in the community that I (barely) know outside of work.

As I’m still settling into my apartment, I’ve been enjoying nesting and such.  I unpacked my mystery luggage (I haven’t seen this stuff for up to 4 years) and it was like Christmas- a white, snowy Christmas… By this I mean that those 2 bags were full of (some of) my winter clothing that has been in storage.  One bag was dedicated entirely to books and tights!  All of this delighted me and now I’m really looking forward to the colder months here in Istanbul :)

Most of the books were books on Turkey: archaeology, literature (Nazim Hikmit, etc), and history so this was especially exciting for me.  I still really, really can’t believe that I am living here finally.  It’s been such a long journey to get to this point, and that 8-year journey has in fact been fantastic. 

Yesterday was so exhausting that I made no plans for today.  I’m out here in the courtyard with the cat tribe.  I have named two cats so far: Popolo and KeaPuka. Yes this tribe will all have Hawaiian names when I get through with this task… They all look pretty well taken care of.  They certainly all get fed by the neighbors here.  I’m not sure at this point if the females are getting fixed, etc but for as many cats as there are here I don’t notice any in heat.  I’ve only seen 1 adult male with (huge) balls.

There is a light breeze. The sun is blazing high up in a cloudless sky. I might just divert my ‘do nothing today’ plans and take the dolmus to Altınkum Beach (Elmaskum Plajı) to jump in the water. 

My coffee is finished and so is this post :)

8.30.2015

Istanbul’s Got My Digits: S1 E2

Istanbul’s Got My Digits: S1 E2

Yesterday was a fascinating array into the world of Istanbullu ‘Mall Rats’. I had bought an electric water kettle early last week so the coffee could keep flowing uninterrupted. I hated it as soon as I put it into action.  First, the metal element was exposed at the bottom of the kettle and I hate that old style function as you can start to visibly see the corrosion that will soon develop and then have nightmares about what that is in fact doing to the water… Secondly, which has been confirmed by Jelly as well, is that the lid doesn’t stay open.  Just an annoying feature to be sure.

I had it in my mind that I needed to return it ASAP. Of course it was Sunday yesterday and Cevahir was absolutely flooded with 'Mall Rats'. :)  Just for the record I knew it would be, but I decided to brave it anyway.  It was another beautiful day and there was some walking involved along with various forms of public transportation that I am managing to navigate through quite smoothly.

The exchange went without a hitch considering my basic Turkish skills. I happily trotted off to look for some other things on my treasure hunt list: goose-down comforter, toaster, high-pressure cooker, pot, pan, and another electric kettle.  The coveted goose-down comforter has been rather elusive and indeed difficult to procure… I was foiled yet again in my efforts. As well the cool toaster I wanted. All else I found, with great effort I might add.  Looking for heavy bottomed pans that are a reasonable price is a difficult quest, but I was determined to not walk out empty-handed.  In the end, I managed to get all in one store!  I was temporarily mesmerized by the cast-iron pans and started fantasizing about owning one, but they looked a little too ‘new age-y’ I guess is the word I’m looking for.  What has happened to the cast-iron pans of yore I wonder? 

The end result? I was a good consumer on a busy Sunday at Cevahir Mall.  I have some observations to share that I found interesting; overtime I saw a cluster of people, they were waiting for the elevator, couples tend to hold hands on the escalators and don’t let go when you are trying to enter into the area and chaos ensues briefly while navigating, the staircases were not the preferred method of movement and so were empty, many people like to stand like a zombie staring at their phones and tend to do so at the entrance of escalators, stair cases (that they don’t use) and at store entrances. I suppose this is typical mall behavior in any country.  I just don’t tend to see this back home in Hawaii. 

So it’s Monday morning and I’m back in the courtyard striking keys and amusing myself watching the kitties in their morning lounge patterns. An adult is goading a juvenile to climb up a tree and cheering it on.  It seems to be at an impasse and undecided if it should climb up further or abort mission. Popolo immediately ran up to me and shared the chaise lounge that I have commandeered. Two kittens down by Erin’s are scampering around and playing ‘Bat-Cat superhero training camp’ while their mother looks on cautiously. I’m going to make ‘kitty hotels’ with all my big boxes from kitchen stuff purchases! The trees are shimmering as the sun rises through the clouds. These huge crows are all atop the Armenian church and cackling away. All seems well in my world.

Today marks my one week arrival. Tomorrow marks my first day at work, thus tonight marks my first time to turn on an alarm clock in 2 months… So many achievements in a mere 24 hours!  To celebrate the last day of weekday freedom I’m going to walk up to Garipçe. I think there might be a beach there… On the way back I figured I’d hit up the Monday fruit/vegetable market in Sariyer.

Aha!  There is a house bordering the property here and something start jiggling and all the cats stopped immediately and ran to the house.  An old woman is putting out food and drink. I’ve also noticed that the church caretaker (?) was feeding the cats on the other side of the property.  I do love that about Turkey; all these cats are homeless, but taken care of by people.  Some obviously are more fortunate than others, but this is definitely a ‘thing’ here that I love to see.

On a domestic note, my apartment is slowly starting to come together.  It’s still too hot to actually sleep in my bed upstairs so I’m nesting on the couch instead.  The university is taking all the new teachers to IKEA on Wednesday I think.  This is a sweet gesture of a welcome wagon.  I’ve actually never been to an IKEA so I’m intrigued.  In fact, during my jet-lag phase I went onto their website and figured out what I need and then took measurements of my space. 

With that in mind I will leave you all with this titillating cliffhanger: what WILL Holly come home from IKEA with?  Will it be solely what is on her ‘need’ list, or will she find other non-essentials to purchase as well?  The suspense is already building in her mind…

some links:

Garipçe

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/garipce-a-little-village-untouched-by-istanbuls-third-bridge.aspx?pageID=238&nID=61399&NewsCatID=379

Sariyer





https://www.google.com.tr/search?q=Sariyer+Turkey&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0CBsQsARqFQoTCMflna3g0scCFUmQLAodMfkMug&biw=1440&bih=708

peace

8.29.2015

Istanbul's got my digits: S1, Episode 1

Istanbul’s got my digits… Season 1 of my new reality series:

So I begin my Istanbul journey.  I arrived, again, on August 24th. This time is different though.  I am an Istanbul’s got my digits…

So I begin my Istanbul journey.  I arrived, again, on August 24th. This time is different though.  I am an Istanbullu now. I am in awe that such a long-term goal has been achieved. Perseverance.

I first arrived to its shores in 2001, right after 9-11.  I came to visit L-fezz, who I went to University of Hawaii in Hilo with many moons ago.  I’ve often traveled back- especially since living in the region the past 6 years.  I even managed to live in Turkey during that time; Gaziantep to be specific.  That was a great achievement certainly, moving to Turkey, but it wasn’t Istanbul…

I’ve often wondered throughout the past 6 years about my collected belongings that have been housed in L-fezz’s various apartment basements.  My luggage has stories of their own to tell I’m sure.  Hanging out with rats and cats and other critters sharing their space.  They’ve weathered stormy winters, humid summers and idyllic spring and autumns certainly. 

In the courtyard of my new digs in Büyükdere this I contemplate.  It’s a splendid late summer morning and the garden kitties surround me. These kitties are a fortunate lot as they have a huge courtyard to laze about. There is no fear of foreign invaders I suppose- only other feral kitties wanting this to be their new address.

Popolo, as I call the sweet black kitty that purrs and follows me around begging for affection, has finally settled to the front of the chaise lounge I have made my headquarters (HQ) here.  One other cat I’ve names- boots/bootzie.  I’ve yet to figure out if male or female…Time will tell.  I foresee many coffee-infused mornings at my HQ.

I’ve been told the apartment building is an old schoolhouse for the Armenian Catholic church next door. Observing the brick/stonework of both exteriors it appears to be true.  The building feels like an old schoolhouse. Upon entering the top floor I always get the sense that I’m walking into a classroom as I unlock the door.  I see the other 9 classrooms on my floor as well… What I can’t figure out is why their ceilings were so large because they are all (small) 2-floor ‘loft’ apartments with the bedroom and bathroom being on the 2nd floor. More of this story to unravel as days pass for sure. I’ll have to improve my Turkish drastically so I can ask the security guards- all of whom are sweet and cheerful and eager to help regardless of linguistic persuasion. Google translate has been helpful as well as providing comic relief.

Istanbul , after all these years, has remained in my mind.  I never ventured too far off course, and always knew I would end up here one day.

    Oh wow!  The church bells just rang and all the dogs are singing an agitated chorus.  It is 9:30    am. I guess this will be my natural Sunday wake-up call…

For me, Istanbul was the lover I met that taught me so much about life, but had to walk out on.  Is wasn’t the right timing- for either of us… I kept coming back to Istanbul though, wanting more.  The feeling was reciprocal.  Istanbul kept luring me back with its secrets, its beauty, its debauchery. The feeling that I was straddling different worlds intrigued me. Istanbul was my drug of choice; I experimented with many drugs (Tunisia came close) but always stayed true to my preferred dose. Nope I never had a bad trip in Istanbul…

Living outside of the city center, so far, has been all I thought it would. Of course I’ve racked up a grand total of… seven days so far… I adore the Bosphorus and being right at its shores. I can walk maybe 500 meters and I’m at the water.  I love this.  I need this.  The Belgrade forest is my backyard. So far Büyükdere seems to be the perfect Bosphorus village, for me as my entire point to my Istanbullu experience.

Freedom.  I want to touch a bit on freedom. As I’m coming from a two-year stint living/working in the Middle East, I feel free with each step I take WALKING around the city.  I have missed ambulating certainly.  In the Middle East I was prisoner to my car, for many reasons; weather, no public transportation that was reliable, layout of the island(s) and proximity to places, etc. Mostly the place isn’t set up to walk, for most. I will say that the heat was oppressive. Never have I lived in a place where I hated the outdoors… Perhaps ‘hate’ is too harsh a word, but in retrospect I guess I safely hide behind this theory.

Yesterday is a great example of living out my freedom. Let me explain; I was on a quest to find Macrocenter in Yeniköy. Macrocenter is, I think, a gourmet-like grocery store that sells a lot of (expensive) organic produce/products. Google Maps told me it was 1.5 hours away from my current location.  There is a plethora of public transportation options here; water taxi, bus, dolmus, metro, taxi, etc. The route was to simply follow the Bosphorus, and it was a beautiful day.  So I set off and hoofed it until I met up with my destination.

It’s funny that the saying, “It’s not about the destination but rather the journey” proved to be true here.  While I did enjoy seeing organic yogurt and other such staples in my life, for a hefty price tag I might add, it was the journey there that delighted my senses.  The entire route is flanked by docks, marinas, parks and just open spaces with benches at nearly every hundred meters- sometimes even closer. 

Istanbullus take full advantage of the open spaces. I saw many a family just plopped down on the grass under a tree having a picnic.  Hoards of men and young boys dot the cornice with fishing poles ready for an entire day of adventure and food and family fun. Various places are swimming holes. Even with the swift currents there are pockets of calm. One thing I did notice was that it was mainly men swimming. I did see one old woman in a 1-piece partaking in the entertainment.  In one area of the corniche was a small community of sun worshipers that just set up shop right there on the pavement with beach chairs and laying out. This amused me to no end. I even noticed women sunbathing, albeit most didn’t have baiting suits on. Some surprised me though.

And THAT moon… Did you’ll get to see the Supermoon wherever you were at last night?  Trippy. Felt like a great omen for a great journey to a great city to settle into another new beginning!

NOTE: I have photos but don’t know if they will get posted with this post… I might surprise myself though and deal with the fuss :) 
 now. I am in awe that such a long-term goal has been achieved. Perseverance.

I first arrived to its shores in 2001, right after 9-11.  I came to visit L-fezz, who I went to University of Hawaii in Hilo with many moons ago.  I’ve often traveled back- especially since living in the region the past 6 years.  I even managed to live in Turkey during that time; Gaziantep to be specific.  That was a great achievement certainly, moving to Turkey, but it wasn’t Istanbul…

I’ve often wondered throughout the past 6 years about my collected belongings that have been housed in L-fezz’s various apartment basements.  My luggage has stories of their own to tell I’m sure.  Hanging out with rats and cats and other critters sharing their space.  They’ve weathered stormy winters, humid summers and idyllic spring and autumns certainly. 

In the courtyard of my new digs in Büyükdere this I contemplate.  It’s a splendid late summer morning and the garden kitties surround me. These kitties are a fortunate lot as they have a huge courtyard to laze about. There is no fear of foreign invaders I suppose- only other feral kitties wanting this to be their new address.

Popolo, as I call the sweet black kitty that purrs and follows me around begging for affection, has finally settled to the front of the chaise lounge I have made my headquarters (HQ) here.  One other cat I’ve names- Boots/Bootzie.  I’ve yet to figure out if male or female…Time will tell.  I foresee many coffee-infused mornings at my HQ.

I’ve been told the apartment building is an old schoolhouse for the Armenian Catholic church next door. Observing the brick/stonework of both exteriors it appears to be true.  The building feels like an old schoolhouse. Upon entering the top floor I always get the sense that I’m walking into a classroom as I unlock the door.  I see the other 9 classrooms on my floor as well… What I can’t figure out is why their ceilings were so large because they are all (small) 2-floor ‘loft’ apartments with the bedroom and bathroom being on the 2nd floor. More of this story to unravel as days pass for sure. I’ll have to improve my Turkish drastically so I can ask the security guards- all of whom are sweet and cheerful and eager to help regardless of linguistic persuasion. Google translate has been helpful as well as providing comic relief.

Istanbul , after all these years, has remained in my mind.  I never ventured too far off course, and always knew I would end up here one day.

    Oh wow!  The church bells just rang and all the dogs are singing an agitated         chorus.  It is 9:30 am.  I guess this will be my natural Sunday wake-up call…

For me, Istanbul was the lover I met that taught me so much about life, but had to walk out on.  Is wasn’t the right timing- for either of us… I kept coming back to Istanbul though, wanting more.  The feeling was reciprocal.  Istanbul kept luring me back with its secrets, its beauty, its debauchery. The feeling that I was straddling different worlds intrigued me. Istanbul was my drug of choice; I experimented with many drugs (Tunisia came close) but always stayed true to my preferred dose. Nope I never had a bad trip in Istanbul…

Living outside of the city center, so far, has been all I thought it would. Of course I’ve racked up a grand total of… seven days so far… I adore the Bosphorus and being right at its shores. I can walk maybe 500 meters and I’m at the water.  I love this.  I need this.  The Belgrade forest is my backyard. So far Büyükdere seems to be the perfect Bosphorus village, for me as my entire point to my Istanbullu experience.

Freedom.  I want to touch a bit on freedom. As I’m coming from a two-year stint living/working in the Middle East (Bahrain), I feel free with each step I take WALKING around the city.  I have missed ambulating certainly.  In the Middle East I was prisoner to my car, for many reasons; weather, no public transportation that was reliable, layout of the island(s) and proximity to places, etc. Mostly the place isn’t set up to walk, for most. I will say that the heat was oppressive. Never have I lived in a place where I hated the outdoors… Perhaps ‘hate’ is too harsh a word, but in retrospect I guess I safely hide behind this theory.

Yesterday is a great example of living out my freedom. Let me explain; I was on a quest to find Macrocenter in Yeniköy. Macro center is, I think, a gourmet-like grocery store that sells a lot of (expensive) organic produce/products. Google Maps told me it was 1.5 hours away from my current location.  There is a plethora of public transportation options here; water taxi, bus, dolmus, metro, taxi, etc. The route was to simply follow the Bosphorus, and it was a beautiful day.  So I set off and hoofed it until I met up with my destination.

It’s funny that the saying, “It’s not about the destination but rather the journey” proved to be true here.  While I did enjoy seeing organic yogurt and other such staples in my life, for a hefty price tag I might add, it was the journey there that delighted my senses.  The entire route is flanked by docks, marinas, parks and just open spaces with benches at nearly every hundred meters- sometimes even closer. 

Istanbullus take full advantage of the open spaces. I saw many a family just plopped down on the grass under a tree having a picnic.  Hoards of men and young boys dot the cornice with fishing poles ready for an entire day of adventure and food and family fun. Various places are swimming holes. Even with the swift currents there are pockets of calm. One thing I did notice was that it was mainly men swimming. I did see one old woman in a 1-piece partaking in the entertainment.  In one area of the cornice was a small community of sun worshipers that just set up shop right there on the pavement with beach chairs and laying out. This amused me to no end. I even noticed women sunbathing, albeit most didn’t have baiting suits on. Some surprised me though.

And THAT moon… Did you’ll get to see the Supermoon wherever you were at last night?  Trippy. Felt like a great omen for a great journey to a great city to settle into another new beginning!

NOTE: I have photos but don’t know if they will get posted with this post… I might surprise myself though and deal with the fuss :)



Well, church is over as the bells just rang again... Time to head inside and eat some breakfast :)

8.16.2015

waked and baked on the island of the House of the Rising Sun (Haleakala)

4:00 a.m. and all's well... I'm back on Maui after a few weeks on the Mainland.  I move to Istanbul in one week.  I'm in that zen space of embracing the future and anticipation of embracing the next stop on my magic bus. I'm in this weird 'move to a new country every 2 years' mode and you know what, I'm pretty cool with it.  I now have additions to my family of me; Master Sami Bey and Shaika Spot.  The felines will make the moving process a bit trickier as I've never traveled, let alone moved to a different country, with pets before.

I'm Upcountry right now and the sky is awash with this agitated hue of blackness that bruises so beautifully upon my psyche right now.  I think about rain.  I want to run amok in the rain.  (oh look at this site I found while spell-checking 'amuck', which is actually 'amok').

http://grammarist.com/spelling/amok-amuck/


I was recently flying from Portland to San Francisco and I was uncharacteristically looking out the window; I tend to never sit at the shitty window seats because I need the extra leg space that the shitty aisle seat offers. Such great satisfaction watching the world go by from 30,000 feet up. We flew right over the southern Oregon and northern California fires.  Strangely beautiful in an unsettling way wold be how I would describe the experience.  The force of nature is so strong and we humans always feel we want to conquer this; this something.  

I should have been flexing my eyeballs watching the world go by from Medford to Iron Mountain, Michigan as well, but that plan didn't materialize so Plan B was put into action and my brother and I drove.  We managed to do it in about 48 hours I believe.  Not that I was much help... The sugar-free Rockstar worked for me the first day... I diluted it with a lot of water and took over the wheel somewhere in Idaho in a narrow canyon on US 20; past Boise, near Mountain Home if I remember correctly.  Curt was sawing logs so there I was alone in my thoughts with the night sky cruising past Craters of the Moon and Atomic City (wow, what a unique history of "Atomic City" folks(see link below)).

Just a quickie back-line into this story:  We were supposed to fly his 2-seater experimental airplane he built.  Unfortunately there were too many forest fires burning in the southern Oregon region that we never had a 3-mile radius of visibility necessary to take-off.

But Plan B was pretty cool as well.  I fondled quite a few sage bushes out near eastern Oregon off of 395 before it meets up with US 20.  Curt was doing reconnaissance on some tiny, old airstrip so I got busy with my spiritual requirements and procured some sage for me.  I was thinking about Istanbul, of course and smoking the sic shit outta my new pad there with the stuff upon arrival. Sage kept wafting throughout the rest of the journey back east, as well as at our family home up in the U.P. Everybody was happy. 

I had many thoughts while driving through Klamath Falls.  I never went there much, but there is something about the area that just resonated with me.  I like the wildness of the earth there.

At West Yellowstone we turned north and headed up to Big Sky.  Awesome territory.  We pulled out off the road somewhere and slept for about 2 hours late in the night.  My leg of this part of the journey was from 7pm to 1 am.  Curt took over then for a few hours before pulling over. 

It was around 5:30 am when we took off again.  Big Sky was just waking up. We pulled into a gas station to fill up.  I filled up my eyes with all the interesting tchotchke inside (so that's how you spell that word). (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Tchotchke)

We drove out and just enjoyed the crisp, fresh air. Soon enough we came upon patches of snow.  Apparently it had snowed a bit the previous day.  We were hoping to see some local wildlife but alas...

Speaking of wildlife, the entire trip was spent with butt gripping seat because your eyes have to do double duty (scanning horizon for deer all the while driving, or co-piloting). My eyes were getting all spun out... which brings me back to an earlier thought that I didn't finish writing out...

So, back to the sugar-free Rockstar.  The first application went smooth enough.  Nit a hitch.  I drove my lame 6-hour stint without a hitch.  A coyote did run out in front of the car, and owls were eerily swooping down and nearly dive-bombing the front of the car near and around Atomic City in the eerie midnight hour.  I'd like to think they were trying to impart some information to me about the secret events of Atomic City residents back then...

The second application of my now-trusted sugar-free Rockstar energy drink didn't go down so well in history, or my lower intestines to be more exact... Curt put in another 10-hour segment. We were traveling on 94 through Billings; Custer (Yes! of the famous 'Custer's Last Stand '); Miles City; Bismark, North Dakota; and finally to Fargo.  Here in Fargo it was PISSING RAIN.  It was dropping from the sky so violently that it was thrilling- unless it was your turn to drive...

I mixed up my concoction and set off.  It was like an acid trip.  Let me explain; torrential downpour, thunder, lightning, road construction fluorescent-colored barrels all the way down for miles and miles and miles in the right-hand land of the 2-lane sometimes divided highway.  There was so much florescence reflected onto the road it was like a carnival. What should have been good-trippy was bad-trippy and I had to get off that trip.  The Rockstar made me drowsy for some reason so it was just double shit.  I could hardly find the exit to get off the highway and have Curt take over.

I did recover a bit later and drove a 4-hour stint (yea, I know I'm still a lame driving partner). We opted to bypass Duluth (smart move) and head into Minneapolis and catch some rest at a rest stop.  It was still raining hard as we kept up the same trajectory with the storm moving eastward. We took 35 to 8 to 2 into Iron Mountain and ended our journey in our mother's driveway- unannounced.

She had no idea we were coming. She thought we were the roofers coming to check out her roof!

Well folks, I hate to leave you all hanging now but I've waked and baked and it is 5:30 am now and I must catch some more beauty rest.

Peace


Links:

Atomic City:

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11360
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_City,_Idaho

Custer's Last Stand:

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

Miles City:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_City,_Montana




8.04.2015

Oregon communique

I'm here in Ashland, Oregon now. I arrived last week. Memories flood continuously. For those of you that don't know, I finished high school in Ashland. It's been about 5 years since I've been here. One of my brothers lives here still with his wife- who I went to high school with. They have come cool, tortoise kitties and one dog, who is much adored. They live along the rolling hills that litter the scenery from North Phoenix to South Medford.

My headquarters is located in their backyard, at the sweet cafe table with an open view to their bountiful garden. I've never seen such large tomato plants/vines. Loads of squash spill lazily over their perimeter. The Zucchini leaves shade their rather large treasures undneath. A good thing this season because the weather is uncharacteristically and unreasonably hot.

So yea, this is a nice perch to nest at and ponder the beauty of southern Oregon. Let me say that I really, really enjoy pondering the beauty of southern Oregon.

Along with the heatwave here is smoke. There are forest fires to the north and the Rogue Valley holds clean air hostage to smoke. I mean to say that it is hot here- like as hot as the Middle East was when I left last month for the first few days here. As well the smoke turns the sky to the color of cement- which is kind of what the sky looked like in Bahrain when I left... Yea, I was not a fan of the intense heat in Bahrain.

* NOTE: Bahrain had its charms. Wintertime was wonderful. For 5 months of the year one didn't have to turn the A/C on. I found 1 beach I frequented. This was my sweet spot. I know there is a lot I'll miss, but that's always the case when one moves from place to place. Already I dearly miss classes with Abelush at BaYoga. I miss incredible, cheap South Indian food. My remorse, though, loses itself in the rejoice of my next adventure-Istanbul!

But freedom I do feel- indeed. I'll just leave it at that  (hint:  Oregon. Da Kine is legal in Oregon). As I sit here and contemplate life in my Hawaiian pareo wrapped around me, covering the bare minimum, I embrace my freedom in the mid-afternoon sun. I would, of course, notice this 'oddity' because that scene doesn't happen in Bahrain for people- unless you are at a luxury hotel or private club, are wealthy and live in a luxurious compound, or aren't rich but live in a nice compound with enough privacy.

There is a reddish-brown dragonfly hovering over the sedge plants in their pond. Sounds of the waterfall intoxicate me and knocks me out of my 'senses.'  Project forward to the proper state of mind to experience THIS, and you know where I'm at...

So I met up with some old high school peeps too. It's funny you know, you can live all around e world and feel comfortable in every different environment, but there is something about going back home. There is something into staring into your ex-classmate's greenish-brown eyes and seeing that shining light that you have. We've been in such incredibly different trajectories in life, but one look at them and I melted. It was such a beautiful knowledge in knowing our history together from such a different TIME (not a different PLACE).  Maybe I simply feel that way because I realize southern Oregon is a place to hold onto.  It IS so important in my life- again. It's interesting because you disperse after high school and come back together just like that. I've forgotten faces, places and feelings, but that fire of knowledge re-ignites with your high school mates. What do you all think?

Now another. Reason I'm here is to catch a ride across the country in my brother's airplane. He'd been building it for at least 10 years, but completed the project last summer. We are to surprise our mother. Well, we have been surprised by all the socked-in smoke from the forest fires up north a bit. The Rogue Valley is engulfed in smoke. Not so much as a few days ago, but to the point that flying small aircraft is not legal (for take-off mainly). We're going to try to make a run for it  soon. If it's a no-go, we drive... It's a long ways to the UP...

Either way, it's a top- notch adventure in my book. That's what I wanted. That's what I needed. That's what I manifested. Yep. I am woman, hear me roar. Yea, it's like that.

I think that's enough for now. I'll up date later.

7.16.2015

Back to the past to prep for the future

So here I am on this dark, warm, rainy night.  Here I am on Maui. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  I arrived to its shores late last night. Instant relief.  Not to dwell on the fact that it took nearly 48 hours of air travel, but... well it took nearly 48 hours of air travel... 

 I was walking through Makawao town this morning heading down to Paia to take care of some things that I do once a year on this soujourn back home and thought about the scene that was taking place; the smells wafting through the air.  This was so incredible to try to decipher each individual scent; Plumerias, freshly cut grass in one yard, sweet grasses, etc. 

I moved on to just take pleasure in the visual array of local style homes I was passing by.  Pele's hair hanging from the fence of one house so thick that it covered the chain link fence.  I entertained the thought of taking a cutting or two for myself and L-fezz for our Istanbul apartments, and I might still take it upon myself to accomplish this task... The colors of the modest homes. The plants growing in haphazard mazes that are so happy because of the perfect weather Hawaii experiences all year long.  The various states of cars parked in the yards ranging from local style to local style beaters; some with plants growing in/around/on them as if the vines were taking prisoner these odd metal heaps.

Roosters crowing, or whatever it is called that they do. Dogs barking. One can almost hear the flower petals bursting forth in the rush to display such beauty and await the eventual falling of dewdrops atop. Trees rustling from light breezes.

Yes so anyway this is my reality here.  It's a really sweet reality that I thirst for when not around honestly.  I was thinking about this as I walked.  I looked up and saw a 'tweaker' (a rather endearing yet disturbing term for a drug user here having an apt description of their behavior) coming towards me.  I kind of chuckled a bit as, well, it just seems to Maui.  We both looked up at each other briefly and did the total Maui-style acknowledgment of one another by barely shaking our heads upwards.  Yes, I really felt home in that moment.

I continued on my journey.  Once I hit the intersection of Makawao and Baldwin Avenues, I turned downhill to head to Paia- my HQ for everything on this island really. I gently stuck out my left thumb in the requisite "hey, can you give me a lift" position and continued walking.  I walked in this manner for about 10 minutes.  Finally, as I passed the vetran's cemetery, a car stopped to pick me up. 

What I love about returning to Maui every year is this scene exactly; I am free!  I can throw on a tiny dress to cover up my bikini and have a destination in mind and just go.  Someone will pick me up.  We will have interesting conversations and make a connection for about 10-15 minutes and then BAM, I'm out of the car and we each go on about our lives as we see fit.  It is a beautiful thing, this type of freedom.  I never had this freedom the nearly 20 years I lived here because I had a car and worked, etc.  Now I get to see Maui in a different lens.  I have effectively adjusted THE kaleidoscope.  Man is it fun. 

She was a bit older than me.  She greeted me and moved the stuff off of her front seat- as all rides do.  Again, this is so Maui to me.  It makes me smile.  I plopped down and we were on our way.  She looks at me and says, "I didn't think you were going to smell of body odor so I decided to pick you up!"  I laughed. We both laughed.  She further offered, "I stopped picking up hitchhikers years ago because I got tired of the B.O." 

We then got into our oratory styles of offering little anecdotes of our current purposes in life, etc.  As she digested my story of just arriving back to Maui shores after living in the Middle East for 2 years, her eyes hungrily told me she wanted more.  I was happy to oblige.  I listened to her story as well.  We talked politics.  We talked about how we have both been on Maui for so long (her 30 years), and we just talked story.  Once in Paia town she was, of course, trying to find the ever elusive parking spot and I offered to just jump out there because that was going to take some time. 

Poof I was gone.  Poof she was gone.  Just like that.  In a Maui minute, we parted.  Hitchhiking is fun like that.  I meet the most interesting people, and I meet the most normal people.  But, you know what, everybody has a story and everybody like to be a storyteller as well as a listener.  So yes, this has become most interesting for me getting around Maui in summers now.

I did my business (taxes and banking for the previous and upcoming year) and then headed to Mana Foods, of course.  Mana Foods is an ethnographic study at any time of day/night.  I love this place so much.  It is THE coolest health food store on the planet.  It has had several metamorphoses throughout the years and it is a slightly different entity at my every return.  I simply LOVE to roam the aisles and soak in the sights; the different juices, health remedies, juices, hot foods, etc.  Just everything.  I could go crazy on a shopping spree here, and I do- every year.  Man did it feel good to buy my beloved Acai frozen packets so I can make the most incredible breakfast in the world.  I mean I am addicted to these Acai bowls.  I am addicted to Mana Foods. 

As I'm figuring out my food for the next few days I, of course, run into Big Bruce.  He is one of the first peeps I run into every year.  It is so refreshing to see him and reconnect.  We chatted amid all the chatty peeps in Mana and fought our way through the crowd vying for the prime spot in front of the salad bar fixings.  I asked him what he was doing.  He was just off work and getting ready to head up the hill back to Makawao.  I eagerly said I was too so I would join him in a hitchhiking festival! 

We headed out together and started walking to his 'spot'.  Now Big Bruce has been hitchhiking this route for nearly 30 years and has the 'wasta' like no other hitchhiker on island.  This I am sure of.  Within 30 seconds our ride stopped.  One of his regulars, Thomas.  We hopped in and I continued my current story about the Tajikistan job.  Other highlights were: Gobekli Tepe, Iran, Islam, Maui, etc. Again, another great encounter with a complete stranger sharing a few words among miles. 

That's all folks.  I feel a jet lag episode coming on!  Tomorrow (today) is here and there are more Maui roads to cover.  I'll give a preview for you all of my tomorrow (today) upcoming adventures: a ride into Wailuku town in the morning. A walk to Ka`ahumanu Center to get my Maui sim card in working order again.  A Maui Bus ride to Paia.  A visit with Guga at work and pick up my mail for the past year.  A walk to Baldwin Beach so I can sit still and read my current read, Shantaram. From there, who knows.  The world is my muse and my thumb is in working order.