Maui Calls...Nuturing the pleasure covenant, and other such sensible endeavors

Take Me Home, Country Road: Maui 2016

Hitting me hard this morning. Sounds of the rain soaking the earth, outside. Droplets, reflecting Hawaii, hit the ground and bomb me with stories, anecdotes of Island time. Island existence- nothing EVER so good as  moments out in the jungle, your jungle, listening, feeling, soaking up that speed-ball of sensation that knocks you outta this reality that we Homo sapiens tend to keep ourselves imprisoned within.

How can you not become and transform your chemical make-up into something so pliable and willing to submit to a greater cause than to ourselves. To shed our layers of security, to begin the process to shave off, such as an onion. Shed these layers that serve us no more. Let go. Release the tension that binds you to these useless reins. Why do Homo sapiens have this urge to hold onto such poisons? Why do we keep challenging ourselves- to the brink of dis-ease, and then fewer and fewer able to find their way back...

Sunday morning in Büyükdere. 9:30 AM. Rainy.

The Kitts are snoozing. Speaking of The Kitts, they snooze a lot lately. This is how they deal with their unease of the future that they both sense is soon to be upon them. The 3 huge suitcases, that have already been lying underneath my work desk downstairs. One is fabric. They incessantly attack that one. All 3 AI objects represent the enemy as far as they are concerned, and can remember back to being uprooted from their far-away Dilmun desert kingdom, and transplanted to the shores of the Bosporus. As victorious as they may feel, in clawing at and trying to break down that impenetrable cloth, they know the victory is hollow as the other 2 objects are indeed inaccessible...

They cling to this existence that have come to know- after intense trepidation in those first few days. The pile of clothing I have been amassing for months to give away to Syrian refugees. This is Shaika Spot's domain. Her upstairs HQ. Sami Bey, being the more 'needy' feline, he prefers to be closer to me. He prefers the comfort of an old favorite; a microfiber blanket.

I started packing right before my spring break camping/hiking trip to Kas. I thought it would be a good way to ease them into this newly resurfacing feeling of unease into the unknown. It's an experiment. They both appear to be adjusting, mainly by sleeping and sparing. They'll be fine.

Will I be fine? Sure. This feeling of unease, I've rather gotten used to and, dare I say addicted to, it. Sure. Why not. This reinvention. This shedding of the previous layers. The memories don't slough off necessarily; carcasses of memory laying around for the right time to awake from deep slumber remain within different chambers of our mind. Sometimes such utter clutter lodges inside for so long, so comfortable to settle snugly into ourselves, creating havoc or pleasure.

So yea, these carcasses full of ruination, these are the ones we must consciously work hard at in order to fully shed and depart from our systems. We can't afford to hold onto these for too long. We are such fragile creatures after all.

Let's instead worship and cultivate the resurrection of the good stuff. That's my agenda. Hard work. Big payoffs. The pleasure covenant. Let it be.

Maui has long been a principle pleasure covenant of mine. Consciously working hard to make this an unconscious, instinctual action. This is my big payoff, always. Not necessarily the physical plane of existence, but the mindset. Those senses, urges, pleasures that circulate my system, sending good vibrations along the journey. I feed my body with thoughts of specifically addressing THIS. This harmony- it certainly has its ups and downs.

This morning for example is a 'down', yet a result of an 'up'. Spending time with friends yesterday in Gümüşsuyu, we partook in adult libations and the most scrumptious pupus (appetizers), BEFORE a sit-down dinner and dessert brought by the token man of the bunch. We feasted, in all senses.

Perhaps we over-feasted. Thoughts of trekking back to Büyükdere soon consumed us weary pleasure warriors. A taxi ride won out, and soon enough B43 was at the curb whisking us away out into the dark, blury Istanbul late night skyline.

How to process the 'ups' and 'downs' into the most efficient carcasses, this is the question. I tend to just let them settle into existence, competing with the library of carcasses in different stages of suppleness or rigidness. Kinda like a dewey-decimal system of storage. How to access the right carcass at the right time? Ancient technology vs. modern technology storage. Both can work in unison to develop a more accurate system, designed to go with your immediate flow. Sometimes it doesn't work out... How to turn an inflexible carcass back into something malleable? It's possible.

You will lose a few of those precious carcasses, but not perhaps forever.  This is serendipity. This is deva ju. I love those moments whenever they arise. I've had a few lately- mostly about high school times, as memories of those times flooded back last week, when news of a friend who passed came.

What does it all mean? It means, in the immediate future, that Imma have to remove Shaika Spot's castle of security that she lays atop in the next few days... Sami Bey will be the better creature and let her share his sacred space, while THAT is still available. For me? Well, time for me to go through my possessions, once again, and filter out some more that don't really serve me. Challenge accepted...

...And there are those church bells ringing, for the 2nd time today. Another experience to process. Where to fit this one in? How often will it surface? Who knows, really. What I FEEL, is that the jungle, the rains, the island all support the pleasure covenant.

I realize my words might not make sense to all, or even one, but there is nothing I can change about them- in this moment of their perfectness... Of course in the next moment, when I want to proof-read, they (briefly) appear nonsensical. I can't help it. I am driven to write in the moment.

Here comes the rain again, a beautiful Istanbul drenching...

"Here comes the rain again
Falling on my head like a memory
Falling on my head like a new emotion..."   Eurythmics


Aloha Friday- Turkey style

beautiful creature
Aloha Friday y'all,

Lying in bed, kitties afoot, and coffee in hand,  life appears 'normal'. Then I look inward from that initial thought. I'm unsettled- not in an excessively unsettling way. What the f*ck is 'normal' anyway?

Our lives so full. Friendships from so long ago- these bonds can be so strong, even in the absence of sight decades or more. And then you don't realize the impact until they've departed this world. This is what I ponder this morning. Bittersweet. I love this word, bittersweet.

A typical American coming-of-age story, our gang was a silly bunch. High school drama was, for the most part, good-natured. As we turned into young adults and eager to fly the coop, we did just that.

He was so magnetic. His being just so deep, enlightening, absurd, easy-going. We managed to always keep in contact- generally two times a year, like a sort of sing-song, or 'tag-team, you're it'. Playful interaction. Always anticipated. Always delivered on. Commitment.

He was always about correspondence and tradition. One of the things I loved about his mind. This anthropological URGE to account for existence. This desire that drives one to take to ink, and later the electronic version. Details of existence, no matter how trivial, spill out onto the (virtual) parchment. Our human need to be significant in this universe that delights and then swallows us up.

December 2, February 2; two days that will live on in infamy, mostly because they represent our birthdays. Our 2 days from the Gregorian Calendar that have deep meaning; on these days we shared our written histories/herstories with each other. Playing catch-up. How to do it so eloquently, yet concisely. This challenge I love- always.

Life is such a beautiful decay. Why is it I nearly spill tears, berating myself for recently cleaning out my email inbox? What do I think seeing his words will bring to me? I already hold the experiences inside myself. Is it the physical element of our bodies/minds deteriorating in this physical process we call existence? Whatever it is, I am hoping to find a back-up on my external hard drive back in storage in America...

I'm numb, when I 'allow' myself to just sit and be- to embrace this numbness that heals. It is so heavy, until it isn't heavy anymore. This is life. We forget about death in life. Why would we dwell on it? Perhaps I dwell on it more as I've come to find a certain uncertainty on existence.

So much of my life has been looking at death. As an archaeologist, I can't even relay how fascinating every burial encountered was. I'm not going to get into an ethical conversation about details of excavating burials as I've no mood for politics today. Simply, seeing, feeling energies and sensing things through my work in these endeavors has given me some insights that help me to process death- the physical reality of death. That's all. On a spiritual realm, though, I can't so easily weave together words cohesively.

He is gone. Our group, our collective experience within all the subgroups, etc. we all mourn his passing with shock, awe, and universal love. Heart-broken because nothing has changed; once again I am confronted with the reality of our impermanence. Hearts mend.

He had some 'trail angels' along the way who were with him through the entire process. That's some incredible power right there- those experiences. I look forward to these oral histories next time I am in their presence. You see, that is how existence continues. That is food for our souls.

I wrote a letter to him, as was suggested by one of the trail angels. I am told it was read, laughter was shared, and a few hours later, transition to the ultimate journey was under way. My last sentence:

On the other hand, you are an eternal light in my life. Get a hold of me sometime- somehow.

At 4 AM May 17 Istanbul time I suddenly woke up. On the other side of the globe, at the same time (6 PM May 16), he had made the journey. Life can seem beautiful in this way, if you believe.

RIP Scampos


Pondering ponderosas for my summertime work fling, but what does that MEAN?

32 bottles of beer on the wall
     32 bottles of beer
Take one down, pass it around...
    31 bottles of beer on the wall

Pardon, I mean to say 32 days left in Istanbul. What am I pondering?

My lack of coffee this morning shifted my priorities and energies. I knew it was coming. I should have worked this out in advance, but... whatever. Perhaps there is a hidden cache of coffee somewhere in my kitchen cabinets, I thought.

Well, no there wasn't- as expected. Hesitant at first, I shifted into Plan B mode. Nearly 9 AM and I was out the door, running garb on. Equipped with my Yapi Kredi debit card, and enough change to catch a dolmus back to Büyükdere laden with my Macro Center groceries. Yes, Macro Center. I can be a food snob- especially right after pay day...

Moments earlier, as I lay in bed stalling the inevitable, last weekend's run drifts through my head front stage and center. A gorgeous day such as today, I headed out on my run at 10 AM. Not unusual this spring for me at all. I mean, this has been a long, slow build-up to typical spring weather in Istanbul. For example, it's May 14 (Happy Mother's Day (in a majority of countries anyway)) and I still don't need to have the fan on all the time. Highly unusual for Istanbul at this time, as well as for my digs (the top floor of an old stone building).

I had passed too many people, animals, fisher-folk messing around with their lines, lures, palls, etc. A maze of creatures all thriving at the water's edge- that's not exactly a deal breaker, but zig-zagging around people right at my personal space invisible shield weighed on me somehow.

Honestly, little gets me down where running is concerned these daze- mostly because I f*cking LOVE my Hoke One One shoes (as well as my heel inserts). Pillows I tell you. It's dreamy even. Honestly though, the best investment in running in a long time. Thank you so much Alex Garcia for giving me the 'Hoke One One' lecture that I needed.

Losing precious minutes as this entire scenario plays through my head this morning, I finally act. I must get going before 9 AM & before it gets both too hot, and too congested on the return trip dolmus ride through Tarabya at a snail's pace because there are too many tragically cool people that feel the need to double park their cars on the streets, because the 'no parking' signs aren't for them, etc.

I'm sounding pretty passive-aggressive right now actually. I need to just chill tf out- like I did yesterday, at Kilyos Beach with da kine. Yea, that was super sweet man. Just us two on the Black Sea for a bit until some more intrepid beach-goers filed in. Super refreshing sea, we frolicked as if no one was watching. Yet in fact, many were watching further up, where construction crews were working ferociously trying to prepare their 'beach clubs' for the season... Let me just say that I hate the idea of these so-called manicured beach clubs, where you pay a fee to sit in some shitty plastic lawn chair in close proximity to many others. It's the fucking beach man.

But I digress. I made the move. Within 5 minutes I was out the door. There was such a different vibe just one hour earlier that last week's run. It still felt like 'early morning'. Perhaps it's because I hadn't had any coffee yet? Whatever. There were runners, walkers, fisher-folk, cyclists, but it was just different. Perhaps next week I can make it out by 8 AM, and see a different crew entirely. It will have to happen anyway, as the weather is, finally, starting to heat up.

Jubilant, I passed the finish line (Macro Center entrance), took a triumphant deep breath and walked inside. Now, there is a certain gleeful element in my Macro Center trips. First, they are elusive. Generally, once a month, and usually right after pay day- when I feel like I am at my most wealthy point for the remainder of the month...

As well, only Macro Center has tortilla chips, and some of that special shit that I simply need to exist: free trade black beans and wild rice; chocolate macchiado soy milk, Pumpernickel bread, etc. Out the door and into the dolmus for a leisurely return trip I was. I also scored a seat immediately. Winning bigly. 

Speaking of flings, there has been this book being passed around at work. It just landed on my desk this past week. Magic. Midnight at the Pera Palace I shall begin. Feeling like it is a perfect send off from my time spent here in Istanbul.

Emotions spill over. Shit. I'm leaving Istanbul. In essence, Istanbul has been an awesome lover, yet I was, rather naively,  initially at least, expecting a long-term union. Alas, this connection was not to be. Acceptance and gratitude for readying myself to jump back on that bucking bronco to yet another location.

You see, I am constantly scouting out locations- looking for that next level. Why I haven't 'found' it is not a question to ask. She who feels it, knows it- in those moments. There are so many different moments though. I cast my net long and wide. Let the tide take me in, lather me up, cleanse me, educate me, and throw me upon another shoreline to soak up the scenery.

The obsession with Ken Burns documentaries on YouTube persists, along with Persepolis, Assyrian civilization, Gnostics, Göbekli Tepe, Babylon, Essenes, Dead Sea Scrolls, Enoch, Commagene, Natives of North America, etc. I am rich with wonder right now.

Gimme. Gimme. Gimme



Philosophical Ruminations on departing Istanbul Part I

5.5 Weeks to go. Departure.

It's a long, slow build-up. It's necessary, this manner. I don't get caught up in the stress of deviating from the Istanbul chapter. 

Dreamtime especially potent magic right now. I feel my unconscious processing so much information right now.  I am feeding it powerful Mana, so it works through the shitty stuff as I slumber. I'm not sure how I manifested this, but damn if this isn't what good karma FEELS like... Actually, I do know. I visualize the basic trajectory. After that, it's just a series of decision-making events when the off-ramps start appearing on the horizon. Sometimes they jump out at you though, and you are propelled into making a quick decision. Rely on the force young Jedi. 

Connections new and old- I feel strength in them. Familiarity. Family. So much knowledge shared. So much good vibes.

America-bound, temporarily. Wild West no more. Currently akin to a political shitshow. Transcend I will. Focus on the positive I must: West Coast summer sunshine, family, friends, work, wonder, wander; essentially wanderlust. Adventures on and off the trail.

The felines feel what's up. They sensed the feelings aroused when the suitcases appear... Unknown. Curiosity. Unease. Faint memories. Disruption of job. Attachment. Release. Surrender. Family. Ease. Comfort. Love.


when ya got lemonade, ya drink it...Super refreshing, ya

Kinli Ada Odyssey. Photo credit to Laura Fezzy.

Back in November the work started- earlier actually.  I feel I've made a conscious-with-just-the-right-mix-of-unconscious effort to make sure that my lemonade will taste epic. Because, after all, it's an experiment- this road map of (my) life, what with all the strange off ramps I've designated necessary and designed...

Upcoming, my magical mystery (re)tour. It's all about surrounding oneself in/receiving/accepting the right proportions of balance of pleasure (no work) and pain (work). How you turn that pain into pleasure- yea. I'm thirsty to do just that.

I have joined ranks of the deep resistance, I'm happy to report. I suppose that will eventually unfold here at a later date. For now, still being unfamiliar with this off ramp, I keep it to myself, and my inner sanctum of alliances. Yes. I'm, you can say, kinda 'guarding' my lemonade recipe- not wanting anything to morph yet. I feel the recipe is at near perfection in these moments. I want to savor it. Thereby indulging in building up the living-fantasy of my lemonade. Larger than life, or simply savoring? This upcoming off ramp has been designed with intentions of maximum pleasure and satisfaction- as much as there can be concerning working endeavors at any rate. Many people have played a role in this odyssey- that's what's so sweet about the recipe...

His question caught me off guard, honestly. I mean, I am fairly adept, IMHO, at giving Skype interviews. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's because when you are feeling confident about your next employment gig, and you just cast some stones far and wide because you're still in that mode, and the bait is taken... Well, let's just say that my Plan B for next year is looking better than my Plan A... And now, I've added a Plan C- that fits in just perfectly for summer. Serendipitous.

Honestly, I need Plan C, for a variety of reasons. Which brings me back to his question: What was it that led me to Plan C? I held back. Well, I thought, it 'fits' No. No no. It's not so simplistic as 'fitting' and needing a summer gig.

I am thirsty. For nature. A foreign natural environment, that's actually not so foreign for me. For exquisite lemonade. My thirst is so deep inside me. It's bubbling over its Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, metaphorically speaking of course.

While camping in Kas during spring break a few weeks back, I understood it all. Starry nights turning into road maps leading to a tall drink of lemonade. From my hammock, inside my tent, on the trail, at the beach, roaming through the narrow streets, I understood it all. Setting is everything...

I purged that understanding, and simply replied to him, "I need to be surrounded by majestic open spaces." America's national treasures. Land stewardship in these uneasy times, is more important than ever. It was spiritual vomit, what I spewed that afternoon. Real. Afterwards, a sense of accomplishment washed over; being able to tacitly explain what's locked away deep in my gut was not only self-invigorating, but well received. Have I suddenly found another tribe of mine? Me thinks. 

So anyway, I've included for an other adventure from a different off ramp. I finally noticed this off ramp, and my lemonade is, naturally, sweeter for it.

My witches brew of lemonade. This next month, so many essential ingredients are going into the pot. A unique blend of friends and location here, whose energies I receive warmly, are a true gift of loving spirit that guides me into the known unknown. Am I prepared? Sure! No matter. I am prepared to accept what I have brewed.

LaGra and I trotted off to Kinli Ada (island) in the Sea of Marmara on Saturday. All the signs were present: a sunny forecast-ed weekend... Yea, it's that simple. As we originally met on an island, it is overwhelmingly appropriate that we continue to seek out islands to settle our restless spirits and primal desires to carry out amphibian-like traditions of basking in the sun to regenerate our beings.

Am I drinking my lemonade just yet? Not quite. Right now I'm drinking coffee, in bed- as I usually do when I write this blog. I'm letting the lemonade build-up flavor. It's so close.

I think I'll really develop a true sense of enjoyment from that tall glass of lemonade brewing. I momentary thought floats by currently; that first blog post from that new bed in that Plan C universe...

Hell yea, gimme summa that koolaid.  Uh, I mean lemonade.


More da kine magical realism please

11:30 AM and I'm back in bed, coffee in hand. This morning's run seemed different. Feeling strong as I glided (okay, perhaps more like a mellow trot), conscious of hitting the pavement mid-sole. My Hoka One One pillow top running shoes always happy to comply with enthusiasm. Different in that my days of Bosporus runs are limited.

The weather looks threatening now. I timed that right for sure. Trotting and observing, the cloudy sky patterned in geometric shapes; white marshmallows to be more specific. My favorite çay guy was already set up; wide-smile, reggae music blasting and a faithful following chatting on a typical NorIst Sunday morning along the Bosporus.

Turkish people LOVE Sunday walks along the Bosporus- no matter how inclement the weather, really. I will miss these scenes. They have already left an imprint on my heart.

Springtime. The lead-up has been dramatic this year, IMHO. While Istanbul hasn't seen any magnificent electrical storms, it has delivered fairly constant cold weather. I'm at that point where I oscillate between wanting to retire my goose down comforter, but holding out- just in case... The latter has proved to be a better option, so far.

Today looks to be the perfect day to just chill out, read (starting Bruno Schulz's "The Street of Crocodiles", delving into Germany's take on magical realism), cooking (pressure cooking magic about to begin), and other such endeavors that include lounge-type behavior.

Okay then, let the day of rest begin!


dream baby, dream

recent phenomena

Lucid dreaming. I wonder what it is as of late. I have picked up this 'sense' of dreaming (I feel like I must not remember all the dreams that occur while sleeping) and waking up randomly at a scene that I vividly remember as soon as I wake up. I know the next scene I'm headed into, and I wake up.

Also, I have been focusing on what I want to dream about and then doing just that. My creatures of study currently are my 2 Middle East Beasts: Shaika Spot and Sami Bey.

This past evening we were all snuggled together (prolly one of the last nights of needing my duck down comforter) with Sami at my feed and Shaika on the pillow. They are such amazingly strange felines. They just need to be touching me somehow. This connection we have with each other, pretty sweet. Felines are great. Somehow Shaika started sniffing my eye lashes and eyebrows. I'm thinking, "OMG she is grooming me!" They do seem to respond to me as one of their breed.

A few weeks ago, one of my Turkish colleagues gave me some velvet and satin cat ears- a headband. I was cleaning my apartment the other day and saw it on the counter so put it on. Shaika immediately jumped around and wanted to check them out.  She was sniffing them fiercely. Sami was mildly amused- as he always is...

I digressed... As I slumbered, soon I was involved in a fantastical scene with cats and rabbits in surreal scenes. I knew it was going to happen beforehand too. Everything was so elegant and fuzzy. It was as if I fell into their magical world of feline imagination. What about those rabbits though?

I awoke to both of them at my feet nestled. Shaika was staring at me dead pan. Weird. I catch her quite often staring at me. I'll suddenly look up and there she is on the stairs looking all covert, but with bulging eyes just staring. Suddenly caught offguard, she gives one last intense look, then trots off while speaking in tongues.

Other recent experiences focus on understanding what I will do next in my dreams. Not that I experience a lot of nightmares (that I remember at least), but I feel that there is some force from within that plays mixmaster of ethereal, luxurious dreams. I feel that even in my dream, I'm aware that I have some sense of awareness for what is to come, in such a way that is not urgent or necessary even. I'm not sure I'm explaining this as I'm intending.

Dreamtime. Neat.


Whether or not the weather knows what to do, I know not.

What we've got here y'all is a spring-time weather tennis match. Back and forth; left, right, left, right...pause... left, right. All last week- dreary weather: clouds, rain, wind, cold-er. You know, much colder than it was a week before, etc. My Istanbul Igloo (the downstairs portion of my apartment) has been serving as a very adequate temperature gauge. I've kinda got this jerry-rigged window-screen thingy going on- for the kitties, of course. I do occasionally fret that the kitties need to be confined to their indoor prison cell (happy to announce, though, that they will be indoor-outdoor kitties at their next stop on this wild ride).

So, during their incarceration, much of their time is occupied by (sleeping, grooming, crashing into things during their MMA UFC cosplay...) bird observations... As I come and go all the time, I keep the large windows open, so have to reinforce it. The kitts are quite spirited indeed. They enjoy leaping onto the screen, seeing how far they can jump... Being on the top floor of the building, well it seemed necessary to take some precautions for my super tall cathedral-window... The result- great; no way the kitties can escape.

The result of that result, though: I cannot shut the windows. We're having a, IMHO, super long winter here in Istanbul...snow, rain, bitter cold currents blowing in from the Bosporus. "The South Pole" has only been used for cooking, as well as a staging area before going out (which winter jacket to don, which winter hat, which boots, etc. No, not that last one- Uggs always wins out. Yes they are ugly, and YES Uggs are the greatest innovation in winter-weather garb- politics; not having to wear socks!).

...but I digress...As well, the kitties benefit from all that cold-weather, rarefied air. They are happy to jump atop the wall heater, which is oddly placed right next to the cathedral window   *structural ineptitude; not logical placement in terms of receiving maximum benefits*  From the heater they listen to and watch the birdsong and humansong of winter in my Büyükdere neighborhood.

Hmm, I think I've digressed so far at this point that I forgot my original written intent/content- same thing...

Onward to Plan B; it is Sunday morning. To be more specific, a low-cloud, cloudy morning, just as predicted by the local weather guru- my iPhone Weather App. Oh yes, right. I remember now. My neck starts to get used to this ping-pong of temperamental weather tantrum-throwing. Like an enthusiastic audience, eagerly anticipating which side will get the next point- spring emergence, or winter-not willing to turn into a memory just yet...

I do not wish to wear my Uggs any longer this year. Hey, speaking of- has anyone ever put their Uggs in the washing machine? I think it is a good idea, so you can 'fluff' them back up and clean them. At least with me, I wear them in the rain too. Okay, holla if can. If no can, no can.

There is some loser out on the street whose car has been idling for about 20 minutes... Sometimes humanity is SUCH a disappointment. Yea, likely a 1st world problem... Speaking of Istanbul, their 'referendum vote' is coming up next month. Thank goodness I can get one more paycheck in before the vote- when their currency remains 'kinda-stable' (I use that word VERY loosely these days), and the exchange rate won't totally just suck AS MUCH as it has in the very recent past...

I don't think Turkey partakes in the scientific tradition known as Groundhog Day to predict when springtime hits the main stage. Inquiring minds wanna know. 

Another cup of coffee or a morning run? Morning run.


Dakine Hollyday 5.0


Etching Istanbul into my DNA. It is time for a necessary upgrade to Dakine Hollyday 5.0 operating system. With the last upgrade, Dakine Hollyday 4.0, there were many positives; wider-screen images in HD displays, heightened color absorption from a rainbow spectrum color palette, AND a few 'glitches' in the system abated. Definitely, the increase in creating awesome memories was a welcome addition. Technical issues, never a problem, stayed within guidelines for optimal performance. The forthcoming operating system is expected to convert even more lemons into lemonade with mega-boosting, most-excellent RAM-speed rates.
Some new software, installed throughout the year absolutely enhanced peak performance. Let's see, a shout-out is in order to: Hoke One One program addition, for giving me such pleasure on my Bosporus Runs. An uplifting journey always with the feeling of running atop pillows atop unicorn rainbow confetti strewn across the pavement...Yes folks, the shoes make runs that much more comfortable. *winning* 

After first discovering a possible virus attacking my system's hard drive (in the human form of the unwanted 'upgrade' of #45 to the American people), I somehow managed to turn this spam infiltration, with (as of yet) no-way-of-removing-the-malware-and-increasingly-threatening-to-take over-all-previously-installed-applications, into some positivity. Folks, I downloaded the knitting app to all my devices! Turning my ire into grassroots activism, I eagerly attacked the task of knitting Pussyhats for as many like-minded pussycats-of all spots, stripes and colors- to fight the good cat-fight.
( https://www.pussyhatproject.com/)

Hidden files continue to be a problem. The current operating system is plagued with fears of hidden data, long-forgotten about files, password management issues,  multiple-device harmony, and what the hell IS iCloud anyway... It is like a rogue God-like creature with multiple personality disorder, preached about in convoluted sermons by unknown CEO-clergy- and for what?  In the hopes that it will do 'so much more' for our hard-drives- but where is the evidence?  Pay and find out?

Kinda like #45, no $45 is a better symbol to use for America's current 'president-in-discharge' of an unknown substance- which, by the way, you can read up more on the possible chemical make-up of this strange, pustular substance here:

Regardless, all devices seem to be in-sync. It's a continual process making sure all are up to speed and in proper working order, ready to be called upon for active duty- whatever that means. You know, dakine...

 Dakine is life. Dakine is freedom. Dakine is fantastical, educational, introspective, engaging realism based in hypnopompic dream-time. Phew... You know what I mean, right?

Yea, Hollyday 4.0 has been operating at performance levels, but it's time for a boost. I want more connectivity from a more remote location... Let's see what new hardware the universe downloads to me via Bluetooth.

Okay, coffee #2 coming right up (some honorable, well deserved system maintenance). Yea, let's empty the cache and delete the garbage for renewed splendor...BOOM

Peace y'all


'Just another ordinary work day here in Istanbul' musings

Kinda feeling on top of the world this afternoon. Giddy, you could say. A (hopefully) fortunate series of events is about to take place. Bring it, I say! I'll keep y'all updated...

So, what's in my immediate thoughts you ask? Well, Surrounding me at this moment:

Iraq- A Tourist Guide (scored from a thrift shop for an animal shelter in Bahrain) from 1985, Lonely Planet Malta, my journal of unusual events to document, multiple, colorful skeins (yarn) for a plethora of knitting creations, Bulgakov's "The Master and Margarita", "Ancient Turkey" Koç University archaeology book, my iPhone, 2 Mac's and 2 kitties, da kine, etc. I'm busy.

I'm also thinking about the upcoming move, somewhat. I play scenarios in my head as to how it will all go down- project positive images and focus on all that... positive, and it's all good. Yes this is how I like to approach thinking about such things.

Did I tell you guys about our Mardi Gras party? I don't think sAo. Pictures forthcoming! Perhaps a story too... I know, right- BEHAVE!!! I'll prepare first by asking the cast of characters permission to post photo-evidence of said shenanigans :) 

FELINE FINE Mardi Gras, Sariyer, Istanbul, Turkey 2017 Krewe Büyükdere PussPuss


a day in a life in the post-Ottoman Empire...

Spending the day pleasantly drifting between tasks: da kine, cooking, knitting, chatting, absorbing news, reading The Master and Margarita, playing with the kitts, bringing out the spring wardrobe... Sexy, passionate, rainy days are the best.

There is nothing like a brilliantly lit rainy day. The sound intoxicates. It washes over me, exploding into soothing white noise. The sweet cacophony irons out all the 'blemishes' I've developed from the week. You know, those little things that you lodge in you that really serve no purpose, except to frustrate. Just the normal shit that normal people hang on to far longer than necessary. Yea, that shit just dissipates from the falling rain; the more, the louder, the harder- all the better to just drive that shit from my being. Left with only bliss to contemplate, I am whole again. I am cured, absolved even.

Mind wandering, I find myself tidying up, or burning some sage and cedar, harvested by my hands while journeying through North America by car two summers ago. That smell. That olfactory delight. I am transported to eastern Oregon. Not to a spot completely random. Curt had been seeking out old landing strips so punched in some coordinates and there we ended up. With him wandering around looking for clues, I saw what I wanted, needed. Memories as the smoke envelops the apartment, hanging around long enough for me to sense back in time to those moments of pleasure in knowing the moments of pleasure to experience in the future, back in Istanbul, would be equally fulfilling. The science of awareness is fascinating, as is the awareness of science.

I am watching one of my felines attack my ball of (pussy-pink) yarn. Not a vicious attack, as Sami Bey is prone to. But with a perceived attack of the heart. He is kneading the yarn. He seems to be remembering the sensation of feeding when a kitten. This I find incredible though as he was only with his mother a day, or few at most, before he and his brothers/sisters were rejected by ma. Starr became surrogate mother- complete with warming up milk bought from the funky pet shop out on Budaiya Highway, back in Bahrain. I remember vividly watching her with the 4 kittens making sure they fed and pooped/peed, etc. I was fascinated. So fragile, and fortunate to be alive. Sami Bey- what a life!

So, does he remember feeding for those few hours with ma? Did he do it because of countless hours of observation of his refugee sister, Shaika Spot, when she gets into one of 'those' moods where she lays down next to me and tries to mimic something endearing from her youth that she somehow tries to cling onto? She, I assume, got to spend more time with her mother- maybe close to a month before she, out of desperation and exhaustion stalked Starr at her parking stall spot at the university and made her way into her life, and then my life.

Animals. Pets. Family. One quirky family that I adore. So yea, this is how my day is going.

Time to focus on some new podcasts. Loving 'Lore', and 'Myths and Legends' right now. Fantastical places to travel back to.


Pussyhat Project Activation: Brace Yourselves, Pussy Politics Are Coming...

Rain rain rain, pouring down. Sounds, smells, graydation converges over Büyükdere, and likely all of Istanbul this morning. A respite from my Sunday morning runs, I gratefully lie in bed, snuggled with the kitts, drinking coffee. Another fun night on the town with friends and good beer! A new (for me) Irish pub has been added to the list of watering holes to frequent as well! No Istanbul Irish pub could ever take the place of Corner Irish Pub though...

So, here is today's lore:

I came down with a hard case of the PussyHat Project Power fever (https://www.pussyhatproject.com/) from the get-go. So, here are some facts, my facts, not 'alternative facts'...
Here's Sami Bey and myself modeling the PussyHat prototype
I've now handmade a variety-pack of PussyHats for curios cats. Here is our (ever-growing) tribe of sleeper-cat cells (sleepy pussies?) - that can be called upon and activated for pussy-shenanigans at any time:

Pussyhat 1.0     Pink Pink, You Think
My Pussyhat turned into a hand-me-down (think 'sisterhood of the traveling pants' journey of beloved garb) for a sweet, quick-thinking pussy from Naples. This mysterious pussy pounced on me while visiting a typical watering hole by the sea while enjoying some adult libations with a friend. Miss Mysterioso and her handsome guard-cat were indeed curious and curiosity is so satisfying for cats... Ensuing photo shoot and delivery of the goods left all pussies involved feline fine.  This pussy should have super-cat powers and be able to intuit when and where to strike up next because I never even got this pussycat's name!

Pussyhat 1.1     Lagra                 aka Catstar with Stripes
This intrepid cat prowls around deep in the Beyoglu hoods looking for the choice tidbits. This kitty 'catures' all her catventures with a tricked out iPhone. When not out carousing, this kitty can be found at home purring with her street kitties.

Pussyhat 1.2     Vigra                 aka  Purpalicious Catnips
Mountain highs to desert lows, kitty has an expansive territory to roam. Catnip lover of the highest quality. Other kitties that catch this kitties attention should be properly groomed because this kitty is allergic to kitties.

Pussyhat 1.3     Steve-O             aka  jester of Büyükdere; 1st order
Runaway from the KiwiCatPak. Constantinople is current chomping grounds. Friendly cat. Cat whisperer.

Pussyhat 1.4     Edvice               aka  jester of Büyükdere; 2nd order
America's northern neighbor kitty kat. Canadian cats, like Canadian bacon, must be national treasures. Finicky cat, I might add; turns up his nose at the thought of consuming dead flesh.

Pussyhat 1.5     JeGra                 aka JellyMeow
Some pussycats appear easy-going and mellow. Don't cross these kitties paths though, because they are kick boxers underneath so,when backed in a corner, will kick your ass. Pets. Purrs. Powerhouse. ""Nobody backs Kitty in a corner"...
Pussyhat 1.6     Inci-kitten- smitten
Good-natured, well-groomed, and playful. Purrfect cat to curl up with on a rainy afternoon, read a good book and share a cup of tea with. 

Pussyhat 1.7     MooKat- The Grand Mooba Cat curiously goes around marking his territories with his pussy-harem.

Pussyhat 1.8     Ipek- sleek, stealth, silky cat. Status: currently prowling.

Pussyhat 1.9     HollyBerry
Giving up Pussyhat 1.0 left me with a remaining 8 lives. Hence, Pussyhat 1.9 found itself atop my pussy-cranium, after a bit of a dry spell. Busy with life and entertaining, infiltrating and taming my own cat-colony. The Middle East Beasts have settled into Ottoman life, but soon enough they will evolve, or devolve, into Pac NorWest kittsters...

Pussyhat 1.10   Topher-kitt
This cat spends nearly all his time defending his turf in The Big Apple. Yea, you can imagine this Pussycat stays busy with full-time cat-defense. A lot of interlopers be trying to take over his turf.

Pussyhat 1.11    Nick           aka The Mangler
Good instincts, as well as wii skills. Meet-ups with this cat usually occur in Istanbul's festive underbelly- a breeding ground for nocturnal, defiant kitties, definitely. Gangs of cats converging on 'open' turf to prance about, war, lap delicious milk, etc.

Pussyhat 1.12    JenJen
 PacNorWest kitties know how to deal with rain coming down on their pelts, so they like to diversify their colorful PussyCat armour to meet the needs of all kinds of weather.

Pussyhat 1.13    Curtalina Cat    aka bro-kitty
KingKat is busy all the time relaxing now and digging holes in the backyard...

Pussyhat 1.14     A really tiny pussyhat, waiting for a tiny cranium to adorn...

upcoming PussyHats:

Spy1                                            aka SambaPussPuss
Southern Hemisphere Feline fighting the good fight on the Brazilian front lines. MEOWWWW.a


So yea, our tribe of sleeper-cat cells await the next cat-call to service. Add your name to the PussyHat list!


Frames of mind

roaming around Naples frame of mind

In a different frame of mind currently. A beautiful, gloomy late morning up here in Büyükdere. The Bosporus is in a different frame of mind too. Agitated slightly, perhaps at the inconvenience of the current kinda inclement weather- in the sense that remembrance to last weekend's splendid sunshine was so welcoming of... spring. Sigh.

Yea, coffee. Cup Number 2 is going down especially sweet this morning, mostly because Cup Number 1 & Cup Number 2 was separated by a spirited morning run along the brooding Bosporus. Runner's high frame of mind; it's pretty addictive.

Always check your headwinds before you take off downwind during kinda inclement weather. So yea, I didn't really catch on to the impending headwinds until I actually turned around in Tarabya. "I feel great", I kept thinking to myself. HELLO strong, cold, windy return-voyage. Yet she persisted...

Incredulous were these thoughts of greatness because last night was a typical pau hana (end of work week ) Happy Hour Friday gathering frame of mind starting early in the evening. Three vokda/tonics later and I was in a bit of a different frame of mind, full well knowing that my future frame of mind would (still) embrace a morning run.

Morning runs and Büyükdere are pretty dear to me. The joy experienced engaged in this endeavor burns deep in my soul, that ethereal energy storage space, and aids in reaching back to that dream-time that I can go through when living in different countries whereby I'm concentrating deeply on a past experience somewhere and wish to feel/smell/touch that moment in this moment...yea. That is where I travel to sometimes, when I wander off into that frame of mind. Deep gratitude in knowing this is possible to attain when in union with spiritual energies. That's the kinds frame of mind I'm talking about. Sweet spots rock.

Yesterday I ran, too, along My Bosphorus. Yesterday My Bosporus was less... 'sarcastic' is the word that eventually comes to mind. Unassuming- except for the Kireçburnu part, which was full of debris and loads of jellyfish, all clinging to life against the water's edge, ebbing and flowing with the changing tides. Fascinatingly gross. I lamented how trash-strewn the area was and how society really needs to get their collective shit together and keep our public lands/waterways CLEAN. Oh yea, #45 is a complete idiot BTW.

I mean, life is increasingly more stressful at this time, in my humble opinion. The entire world seems to be aware of politics, (politricks), and yet citizens can hardly get to the heart of matters. There is so much confusion with news, certainly for us Americans now, and with Turks on their upcoming elections next month, France, etc. All sides are spinning webs of deceit at this point. I'm burnt out. *starts reading BOOKS again instead (winning)*

Speaking of the upcoming election here in Turkey next month... So to give a quickie, it's about constitutional amendments. The biggest issue is getting rid of parliament while instituting an executive presidency. Nuff said.

I digress... So, I was running yesterday and on the ground everywhere is spray painted stampings of 'evet' (yes in Turkish). The main political party's youth organizations, etc. must have came out in force and stamped up streets throughout the city. Billboards as well now greet every person waiting at the bus-stops, etc. around the city saying that 'Turks say 'evet'. They don't say 'hayir' (no in Turkish). This is supposed to be a reminder to Turkish citizens to be good citizens of the Republic, IMHO. All countries, of course, use propaganda during elections, as far as I know.

As the story goes... some early voter-type opinion polls showing statistics not considered favorable enough for the ruling party, so... well, you guys can just read it here if you're interested:

or here:
or here:
or here, etc...

I think I provided a few POVs in the above articles...  *resistance  *persistence

Back to the story... As I ran and looked down on the pavement, there was a sea of 'evet' markings. Noticing the random patterns, every step I saw more and more. Today as I ran and noticed the circle shapes on the pavement, I remembered back to yesterday, but then I saw a 'hayir' marking. Then I saw more and more of them! The battle of the 'evets' and the 'hayirs' right there in front of me, guiding me on. Where will it end?

So, the opposition youth parties, etc. were out last night challenging one group framework's propaganda with another. Such is life, I think. It made me smile, and perhaps gave me a boost of energy to see this new development.Grateful for the experience. Grateful for The Persistence of The Resistance global movements.

Anyway, the things I observe on my Bosporus runs are precious memories that shape a frame of mind, that I can channel my energy back to, whenever desired, and just soak it in. Yea, that energizes me for the as-of-yet-unknown future! Stoked.



Normal, as in 'everything's normal'

Saturday afternoon in the 'Bul.  Midway through my euphoric post-run state of mind. The first real sunny late-winter morning/afternoon run. Just a beauty of a day indeed. This comes after a foodie-sess at The Boyz shack last night. Yes we did; our Büyükdere PussPuss krewe made 'smokin hot' tofu chili for our Sariyer-style Mardi Gras shindig tonight. No matter that it was (somewhat briefly) contemplated to  show up in our 'jammies' garb...

My Hoka One Ones faithfully carried me through my 7k walk/run along the Bosporus. It's like trotting on pillows, really. They are lovely and really do keep your runs pleasant when you're a runner with a somewhat compromised back at times.

Running and yoga- those 2 elements still make me swoon with delight that we have been a team all these years. As per usual, I never run with headphones. I did during my tenure in the Middle East, but it's just not really me, for whatever reason(s). I guess I'm of the idea that body rhythms should determine pace, not external sound. Perhaps I just oscillate- do whatever feels best at that time.

some thoughts:

I'm tired of the news- mainstream, fake, alternative; whatever, all of it

late night pancakes last night after a party-prep session at the boyz was just what the alternative doctor ordered

You can now buy chocolate Mentos here

Istanbul is such a bipolar lover... some days so magnetic, irresistible, charming- just the purrfect dose of poison in which one thrives

I really am hooked on moving around every couple of years, but in a most logical way; I just really haven't found that 'sweet spot' yet. Happy to say I'm still enjoying learning the lesson. Let's all find out together where I end up next.

Running and yoga, still, is LIFE, balanced with phamily, work & other healthy leisure (food, sunsets, staring-at-walls, etc.)

pursuit of happiness

still knitting pussy-hats; presently knitting a pussy-hat for a certain pussy-cat whose favorite American football team is the Green Bay packers

it's (early) enginar (artichoke) season in Istanbul

Spring semesters are always more awesome- unless you live in the southern hemisphere I suppose!

still can't resist Skittles...

For presidential news, I seek out the professionals: Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, SNL, Conan & Trever Noah...

As well, The Young Turks & Democracy Now. Also, now, Ben Shapiro a quick nod to as I'm starting to try reading up on some of 'the other (dark) side' POVs


"so much persisting"

Saturday morning in The 'Bul; up the coast here a shimmering, winter sun lingers around my windowsill. I've got a steaming cuppa joe at my side, and the kitties are afoot- basking in the golden glow in my room. Sometime in January came the swift death of my beloved french press, so I've been making do with my Melitta Ready Set Joe single cup coffee brewer thingy. The added drama, or flair, of the french press is surely missed, but coffee must go on! Or, in the newly coined phrase (memes too) by words arising from the new political climate we Americans are currently experiencing: "But, coffee persisted" Unfortunately, the stove top burners don't comply with my nifty caffeteria, so it must sit high up in the darkness of the back of a cupboard- never to experience the front row VIP utensils and such. Alas...

Here's the background:

But I digress; more about the current political shit-show later... Or not.  Let us persist in reveling on a more positive vibrational frequency.

Lots brewing in the Turkey transition cycle. I'm eagerly anticipating which country I'll be moving on to in September. Before that, though, I'll be doing a brief stint back in America hanging in the woods, on the beach- with all the usual suspects, etc.  The kitts will be hanging in southern Oregon, becoming acquainted with their new environment- living as indoor/outdoor kitties! They will also have other feline, and canine, roommates! I think they really miss their feline and canine friends back in Bahrain during the summer's at Starr Villa.

The weather, of course, if up for lengthy discussions. A long, cold winter finally showing the first signs of lifting. Nevertheless, Knit-wits persisted. Yes, fortunately, time was well-spent. Knitting kept me quite active; our 'Knit-Wit' Sunday sessions were/are welcome comic relief where we can come together, our little group of Americans, Canadians, Kiwis, Turks, etc. The Boyz, always gracious hosts for our shenanigans morph into 'TV-Js' (yes, I just made that up), tuning us into the latest and greatest TV series, comedy routines, news bits, etc.

I've been branching out in the culinary world as of late. I'm currently LOVING cooking with celery roots. Winter means soups and these buggahs serve as tremendous bases for tasty, soupy treats. Black beans have also become a staple. Imagine just throwing them into the pressure cooker for 22 minutes and PRESTO- they are finished; no soaking overnight! BAM; I love me some instant gratification when it comes to food. Avocados, I've noticed, are becoming increasingly easier to 'peel'. Yea, it's something to master- how to easily get the skins off of avos here.

This past week I've started to hear increasingly louder whispers from my spring collection, tucked away deep in my closet. Shiny, silky fabrics trying to make a run for it to the front row upon each opening. After a quick closet analysis, I decide to keep them in the background- awaiting patiently for 'that day' to arrive. Shunned for now, nevertheless, they persist in their whispers...

My running shoes are anxious to get dirty too. Last winter I ran throughout winter. Sure, it was cold; neverlesless, I persisted.  This winter? Well, it was damn cold, and icy quite a bit. It never felt totally fine, in my opinion, to risk running and slipping.

Okay, here's the real news folks: I'm hungover; I'm hungry; I've had too much coffee; I have to pee (some of this list might contain alternative facts, but I can't recall).  *very bigly problem*  

"This is fake news because the news is fake"      (look it up)

The End...or not. Neverless, meme news persisted...

In case you want a factual *meme analysis* of how I view this new Amerikan regime change, here it isn't:

*OMG' really?*



#tinyhands  #tinytrumps



The Young Turks   #resist


A funny thing happened to me on the way to Napoli Capodichino International Airport...

I'll begin with the end: A funny thing happened to me on the way to Napoli Capodichino International Airport, and this is how it went down...

So, there I was at the Port of Naples, sitting on a plastic chair drinking Proseco and soaking up the Napoli sun that has favorably looked down upon this city for thousands of years. Maxine, doing her thing with her new navy blue, Italian leather purse (admiration, appreciation, etc.), was waxing poetic about the city's cool, warm vibe (I know, sounds weird- but totally 100O% real fact, and not an 'alternative fact' (as the new U.S. president's inner circle would perhaps suggest).

Suddenly there is a chick coming up to us at our makeshift headquarters as we waited for the AliBus to whisk us off to the airport. She had a presence, I felt it. She hovered around us at first- until we noticed that she was going to say something to us, almost as if reluctant to approach us.

Let me back up a bit... So, January 21st, one day after the inauguration of the 45th American president *insert sad, angry emoji here*, was the "Women's March on D.C" https://www.womensmarch.com/ .  I had ferociously been making pink #pussyhatproject hats https://www.pussyhatproject.com/ weeks before for friends and myself to wear in protest of many important platforms, but just overall how shitty our douche bag new president is...

Because my time in Italy overlapped this monumental day, I decided that we must represent regardless of present location. I mean, pussies everywhere have shit to say, right? The 21st was spent checking out Naples most famous archaeological sites: Herculaneum and Pompeii. We had our pussyhats on and got our exploring on. Amazing day. Honestly, every day in Naples was amazing.

 But I digress... Back to the Port of Naples... So this chick is approaching us- me and my pink pussyhat specifically. She is a local, and looks to be asking for directions? I'm, of course, delighted as I think to myself, 'hah! I look Italian enough to be a 'local'- how cool is that?' I mean, I am Italian-American after all and have the nose to 'prove' it. She stops at our rickety little table and starts off, "Excuse me, but your hat you're wearing. I couldn't help but notice that it's pink and am wondering if you are part of this movement..." (something like this is went). It was like, YESSSSSS!!! I LOVE YOU! I mean, that is so cool that during our entire Naples journey no one approached us while wearing our hats, although I'm sure many knew from the news, social media, etc.

It was SUCH a beautiful moment that here is this chick and she recognized what was going on. Quickly she produced a camera! OMG! Suddenly I noticed another entity next to her- another pussycat, this one had a penis though! We were still in awe of what was happening and he quickly shifted into paparazzi mode!  We took pictures while exchanging niceties, etc.

Now, I tried to give away my pussyhat a day earlier, while thrift shopping. By the way, Naples has a thriving thrifting community! So, at Happy Vintage https://www.facebook.com/Happy-vintage-to-you-519567091414932/ I spied this lovely frock that I suddenly had to have. I bargained down to an incredible deal- mainly due to the owner being this kind, generous, wonderful creature. I was explaining the significance of my #pussyhat I was wearing and entered it into the deal, along with the makeshift sign (refer to pictures) I carried around while in pussyhat mode, etc. He wasn't quite getting it, and when I finally took it off my head to give it to him, he graciously turned down my offer, but kept the signage!  I hope he looks it up and reads all about it! I also gave him my calling card so he just might be checking out this blog at any moment (the makeshift card consisted of a Dr. Seuss sticker with some Sharpie scribblings of my social media sites to visit).

Again I digress. Earlier in the day I had lamented about how I wanted to give my pussyhat away to some Napoli pussy! During our photoshoot, I decided that this awesome female was the perfect pussy to don my very own made-by-my-hands pussyhat and continue to represent the movement in her world! I took off my hat and offered it to her. She was trying to graciously decline my offer, but I was having none of it.  I motioned for her to wait a moment (while I was digging through my backpack) so I could give her one of my calling cards too!

Because our bus was coming any minute, we left it at this. We just were all thrilled at what had transpired. I mean, it felt GOOD. I am so happy to give my hat to her. I feel like we healed the world, just a little bit from this :) I know she will be reading this too, so I am expecting some photos from yesterday of us, as well as keeping the movement alive and posting with it on around!!! I am so excited for the new chapter in my pussyhat's new life. I want to hear all about its journey. Those 2 people were just so damn cute and real and I hope they know how deep in my heart I loved their energy and how important it all was and the lead-up to our meeting was just whimsy!

Oh yea, Italy is amazing. More on that another time though. It's Thursday morning and I'm back in Istanbul on a dreary winter day that threatens with snowfall.

Here are some #pussyhat pictures in Pompeii!

by the end of the day, we were fuzzy pussies :)


Today in HERstory: Lucky13

Today. Today in HERstory:

MYstory about HERstory in history- 6 years ago to be exact. January 13, 2011. Not a date for forget, she thinks. Every year now I ponder what each and every one of us is thinking in those initial moments of awareness of the date. This year I was reminded on January 11. Marley posted something and the memory gates flooded so hard that a warmth washed over my body. I almost forgot, I thought. Solo_ojo reminded me I was 2 days early. Lucky 13, he said. That's how he remembers the date; his lucky number... Clever. Poignant. Bittersweet.

Tunisia, my beloved. A relatively recent arrival, soon enough I found myself immersed, absorbed, engulfed in the turmoil of that most wonderful country. Tunisia is kinda like my first love. I'm not sure why I say that, but I do. How do I define such a thing. I guess the 'Arab Spring' is one of those defining moments. So is Hammamet, though. Yea. That day we just decided to hop on the train and go camp on the beach in Hammamet. That we did.

I remember hanging out at this funky joint inside the kasbah (fort), in Hammamet's medina on the Mediterranean.  What a sight, I tell you. I remember we were smoking shisha outside. The heat of the day still radiating. We slid right into relax mode and just checked the new scene. Later we were walking the shoreline in darkness, looking for a resting spot in the sand for the night. Having no idea where we were, really, at some point we just sat down, rolled out our sleeping bags and passed out. Well, Solo_ojo did. Haha. He snores. My bag was about 10 feet away. The stars were chattering- louder than Solo_ojo's snoring.

La Goulette, another defining moment. And El Dougga. And 'plastic alley'. And Tunis's medina. And and and...I loved that city. Well, I also loved Gaziantep. I love Istanbul. There is a theme here, that doesn't go unnoticed by me. If you can't figure it out, ask and I'll tell you about it sometime...

So many defining moments, that place. Tunisia was a moment on my timeline, just a hiccup really. What I took away from that moment in time though is vast and inspiring.

So yea, I always wonder about our 'crew'; the circles of people who collectively make up this experience. All of us landing in time and place at that specific point in time, we had no idea what we were about to become a part of. It's like this tattoo impressed upon which memories might fade with time, but it's ETCHED in there pretty firmly, really. Whatever 'it' is, that is.

We all share it. We all know it. We don't really give ourselves too many platforms to talk about it. So this anniversary is special, I think, for each of us.

I look forward to the process of invoking these memories. I absolutely LOVE Facebook for allowing us a platform to all come together to see postings, make comments, share a collective experience- even though we've all (many) since scattered to all realms of the globe.

Photos, words, videos, emoji all mixed together in bittersweet expressionism; our performance art. I feel closer to everyone, again, during these days leading up to today. I think we all know of our whereabouts, and social media is this web for us. I know what both (Scottish and German) Kirsten's are doing. Does Faeez still wear my Brazilian track jacket, that I bought at some back alley fripe? The list goes on. This group of incredible beings I met while working at Amideast, we are a movement. We are in movement, always it seems. We seem to ebb and flow as the tide, landing on other shores to take up residence, for a short stay, or not.

So I mean to say that there is so much history from this historical event. I love all our stories. The connection to Tunisia still feels so strong. I came. I saw. I stayed. I got interrupted. I left. I hunger. I dream. I forget.

We all have it. We all have THIS in our systems. I wonder what we are all thinking at this moment...
Here is what I'm thinking about tonight, in pictures. Solo_ojo produced some epic shots of that day, which you will see. Yea, nearly cost him his life in doing so...

This coffee shop was around the corner from where I lived. We met up here a few times in the days that followed January 13.

The infamous Tunis Clocktower- legendary in fact... yes, it's a dark story of what used to happen underneath it...

Lots of protests erupted throughout the city, but certainly here downtown- a sort of spiritual center for revolutionaries you might say.





Solo_ojo captured this from his rooftop. This was our first observation deck. Soon afterwards, we decided to graduate ourselves from the safety of the roof to down on the streets, with the masses. We had no fucking idea what would happen...

My apartment,with the 'hood regulars. Solo_ojo had to take refuge here and re-cooperate from his gunshot wounds. Many friends actually stayed here during the days right after. No one wanted to stay alone in their apartments...

Neighbors being neighborly. These guys checked in very frequently to make sure Solo_ojo had all that he needed during his convalescing.

the nightly kitchen crew!

We did a lot of just hanging out right afterwards. There was no choice really as martial law was declared and curfews in place.

Another altercation on the street just below my apartment. We were like caged birds- watching from inside, wondering what it was like 'down there'. Everything suddenly seems so familiar. The Monoprix supermarket just down the street a block, Bombay Shwarma near the corner. FYI, to date,Bombay Shwarma is THE BEST shwarma in the world... (my) FACT.

Solo_ojo and Liz. Liz and Ehsan and friends rescued us! They braved driving under martial law (no one was supposed to be on the road) and got us out of the city center to Menzah 5 (?) neighborhood, in the 'burbs- where we thought we would be safe... NOT

Liz, Stephen, Faeez, Kirsten, Sam and Emily. We're all just chilling- I mean, we had all lost our jobs (temporarily). It was a surreal time indeed. Days of sitting, smoking, drinking, talking, wondering, theorizing...

I'm not sure if this was just before, or just after...

Hichem and Stephen catching up

Faeez, Avril, Hichem, Kirsten and Stephen. Another day, another cafe. We're all wondering when we would be working again, when our money was going to run out, what would happen to Tunisia now, etc.

This day was our 'revolution' field trip; we took ourselves on a self-guided walking tour of the various residences of Ben Ali and family members in a swank neighborhood. We weren't alone. Hundreds of people were descending into the (now) vandalized residences as Ben Ali and family members fled the country.

More of the 'revolutionary walking tour'

Claire-bear and I in yet another restaurant

I am amusing Kirsten here, I think :) 

Okay not sure how this got here. This was right when Solo_ojo first moved into Chloe's old place when she took off for Argentina.  I ended up finding a place 2 blocks away.

Amri, Emily and a large group at another bar in the aftermath


At David's place in the 'burbs. Stephen and Sarah. There was about 7 of us that took refuge here for a few days- until just after thugs decided to loot the Monoprix supermarket below and wreck havoc in general.  I remember thinking they would try to burn the building. Then I remember freaking out and all of thinking they were coming up the stairwell so we started moving furniture against the front door so it would take longer to break the door open... THIS was freaky.  We spend a very tense 1st night here. I mean, I thought this was it, again, for a few hours... Sarah and I did happen to catch one looter running away (we were spying from up on the 4th floor) carrying a naked mannequin... That was a funny Arab Spring Moment. A few of those moments managed to present themselves to us. Those distractions were much appreciated.