11.11.2016

Groundhog Day...every day... for.4.years...

topsy-turvy Istanbul


Soul-Searching Saturday folks. So, you guys want the 'Holly-whiny-poo-in-her-pants version', or the 'Holly put on her big girl pants' to find her cup half-full version?

Okay then, we begin with the tongue-in-cheek blended version: tequila

As you all know, America took to the polls this week Tuesday to determine, among other important things, our next president. Let's start with the awesome;

Marijuana: Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California passed measures legalizing recreational marijuana. Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas and Florida all voted to legalize medical marijuana. The only digression here was Arizona; their initiative to legalize recreational marijuana failed with a 52% majority. There's something about Arizona... Something too bad that is. Oh well, next time, with more states too :)


Not to interrupt, but I'm going to interrupt here.  It's after 9:30 in the morning on Saturday the 12th November here in moody Istanbul. Drifting from the street below is the sound of hymns. Yes, hymns- coming from the Greek Orthodox church below. You all remember that I live in an old Greek, Armenian neighborhood here in the northernmost borough of Istanbul, up on the shores of the Bosphorus meeting the Black Sea (whoa, that sounds GOOD, doesn't it?). So... it must mean that it is some kind of Orthodox holy day? I'm not sure, but I've heard this a few times before on a Saturday so maybe there is a service, or maybe dude is just feeling the spirit, heart soaring and so belting out some hymns,  just because.

Okay, I'm back from that drifting observation. Back to the realization that I'm surrounded with TOO MUCH tech: Mac Book Pro, Mac Book Air, Ipad Mini & iPhone6. This is exactly the shit that is bumming me out- since Tuesday's election... This is my spiritual vomit. Hopefully I'll remember to get back to this point later on, because this IS my main point today.

Of course, that first moment was disbelief. I was lecturing for my writing class and students were out of control; they couldn't stop checking their phones as we were all following the soon-to-be-announced election results, on the down-low. After a few attempts to deflect questions from students, somehow the next moment we were all staring at the projector & screen, watching FOX news live coverage. One of my students blurted out that Wisconsin votes were coming in... OMG! Shocking.

It must have been interesting for them to experience this with me; the reverse scenario certainly captured my attention! Students are clever. They are totally up on all US politico/diplomatic news events, as well as John Oliver, Conan, Seth, SNL, etc. We've watched various news clips together in fact. A few were catching my eye more than others and they knew. They knew I was totally shocked and had NO IDEA that Donald Drumpf would- COULD- ever be elected...

The camaraderie I experienced at that day at work with everyone... I won't ever forget. It's interesting being an expat, in general. Upon finding out one's nationality, one is immediately associated with some (basic) generalizations, I think. These can be stereotypes, or not; it depends on what the other knows, in general and specific, about that culture. It's not judgment, but something to work down from. You either ask more questions, and get more feedback, or you don't and leave it at that. This is basic, and universal.

Students and colleagues- especially female colleagues; there was such an intense, unspoken bond. This is one of those moments that an endears an expat to a country... The spoken bond was just as emotional- especially with my Turkish-female colleagues. I think I can safely say that our little troop of Americans were experiencing similar feelings; disbelief, disgust, shock, defeat.

A few standout moments, that I shall cherish forever, were smoking cigarettes with my writing class at break- just after news broke of results. Break was over, actually, so I was going outside to grab my naughty students hanging out still, in their group smoking cigarettes. I looked up at them, and looked into their mysterious eyes, and asked for a cigarette... We came back and managed to have a fairly excellent class that weaved this beautiful story of the structure of a basic cause/effect essay with dialogue frequently drifting to how I was doing, more questions about the structure of voting in America, and if Russia had anything to do with results. I then recall walking back to my office and bumming another cigarette from a Canadian colleague. One Turkish teacher casually walked past, caught my eye and said, "I'm sorry Holly".

From there we gathered inside as if attending a wake. The Turkish instructors in a procession expressing their sorrow for what we were experiencing. Much of it was amusing and light-hearted- as I think we Americanos were trying to keep things simple. Some saw through the facade though. It was a beautiful day, in that way, that I won't forget, even long after I've left Turkey. We planned to meet-up and drink at a local watering hole, yet by the end of the day, feeling dejected as reality further set in, we all trotted off home to (most likely) drink in private :) I know I did... In fact, we brewed our concoctions and put them in (large) to-go cups and took a long, reflective walk along the shore of the Bosphorus. 'Fuck, it's only Tuesday', I thought to myself...

I gave myself that day to grieve. The rest of the week is now a blur of eating, drinking, sleeping, working, running, and da kine. So, now this brings us full circle back to tequila...

Some of our local gra club members decided to lighten up the darkness. Meeting up at HoGra HQ, we devised a plan; tequila, walkabout, etc. Armed with our WMDs, we set out to expand our horizons and look for that silver lining. I almost had them convinced what we needed to do was hop on a bus headed to Kilyos Beach, almost... Back to ViaGra HQ for some tequila-sipping (yea, the good shit).

There was a portal involved in our journey, which just so happened to be the Great White-Lighted Christmas Tree at the Haciosman Roundabout... We searched for the Keymaster and located the Gatekeeper, yet couldn't reach either. Next time. I can say HERstory is coming along quite nicely...

Here I lay, in bed, reflecting on a nation I know not. I have had the fortune to be an expat during the Obama presidency. This has been SO easy, honestly. Here's the thing now, though... I'm doing the requisite research now; I'm looking at 'the other side' information. I'm foraging around their website hangouts to figure 'them' out. No matter. What I've decided is that this election represents where we are headed- not just in America though. Technology has done this to us. We love it. We embrace it. We can't live without it. I realized that I'm fucking sick of looking at news online, but I can't stop myself. We are always fact-checking, or skimming headlines or looking for something, because it's all there- available always. The media is always here for us, to sway us, to convince us, to amuse us.

This was a vote resulting from fear (ahem, Brexit too)- for a lot of people I think. America is fearful. If we have all this tech and access to everything, and fully embrace it, why are we turning to insulate ourselves? What will this produce? This intense feigned 'return' nationalism and to 'make America great again'? Where has America gone? America is great, and it sucks too. There is always a duality, everywhere. How do I turn all this shit off? Have I forgotten? I'm growing tired of always looking at screens. More Kool-Aid please...

My reactions to my thoughts? Some words to express: equator, simplicity, remote, global, humanitarian, yoga, family, friends, back to basics, like-minded, cultural diversity, reading more books, music, positivity, hiking, wanderlust, green. So yea, the usual...

BTW, this NYT exit poll link is fascinating- if data can be representative... (again, back to this 'always fact-checking shit')

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/election-exit-polls.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&_r=0


Playlist:

Live- Lightning Crashes
Steppenwolf- Desperation   (very fitting, under political circumstances)
James- Laid
Crowded House- Weather With You    (everywhere you go, always take the weather with you)
Beck- Tropicalia
Gotan Project- Una Música Brutal
Harry Belafonte- Banana Boat Song
Arcade Fire- Haiti
Raining Pleasure- Fake
Toots and The Maytals- Pressure Drop
David Bowie- Under Pressure
Depeche Mode- Dream On
Bo Diddley- You Can't Judge a Book By Looking at the Cover
The Smiths- How Soon is Now
The Vaccines- Wetsuit
Conjure One- Center of the Sun
Kate Bush- How to Be Invisible


Resources:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/datadesign/2016/11/11/legal-marijuana-and-a-higher-minimum-wage-states-that-passed-key-ballot-measures-in-2016/#34954ec7cb9f

coffee w/Portuguese Bailey's
Da Kine
faith in humankind to do the right thing, as per their gut feeling. My gut feeling says to get back to the equator...