just another day in life

Ramazan Mubarak

 So, this time of year (it changes, depending on lunar, Islamic calendar), is filled with inspiration, hope, dedication, ritual, family happenings. There is high energy nightly just before iftar- the breaking of the fast (after this light meal, a while later a feast ensues). People that devote to the fast have been doing their thing all day from sun-up to sun-down all the while not letting food nor drink touch their lips.

Women, perhaps bear some extra highlighting here because through all of this, many are at home preparing fresh foods daily for iftar. This involves a lot of time in preparation, all the while smelling the food.

As well, it's family time- especially at the beginning and end of Ramadan. Laylat is the 1st night, and Eid al-Fitr comes at the end- the 3-day celebration for breaking the fast.

Each country I've lived in, I've noticed subtle differences. Mostly, I suppose this can be due to environmental factors: the intensity of the fast in the Middle Eastern dry heat; the wet humidity of North Africa added to a furious sun; and the sheer size and energy of Istanbul makes the occasion especially 'electric' in feel.

A friend out on the street yesterday in the late afternoon greeted me in a typical 'day 3' fashion; tired yet already getting used to the schedule. A ravenous appetite, and anticipating an abundant iftar surrounded by family and friends. Joyous occasions that turn yearly ritual into family oral histories to weave down through the generations.  :)  I wished him well and went on my merry way, en route to the sahil (coast road) to take in sunset. Sunset strolling in full effect, I noticed the overwhelming obvious- most consisted of groups of men. Having little to no responsibilities of kitchen duty for the enormous task of producing so much food, that are able to divert their attentions more easily and, likely choose not to stay at home and smell the food cooking. So guy-gangs sauntered by for the entire 2 hours I sat and reflected. Currently, iftar breaks at around 8:30 PM.

Of course, the time of year that Ramadan falls on also influences. My first experience was in Tunisia in 2010. In the heat of summer, with the wet heat searing my back, scorching the earth unrelentingly, I took the sights/vibes all in. You definitely, instinctively understand that you should try to be respectful and take your own food and drink in privacy. It is appreciated, although not expected.

Right now in Istanbul, the weather is fabulous- perfect iftar weather I'd say. Spring has been hanging around very late this year. Temperatures hover around 22º to 28º (mid 70s to low 80s).  I have heard that winter time can be a little easier in effect because of not only weather, but days are shorter as well.

Okay, that's it. More later. Back to sleep...


Ramadan drummers


Ode to Istanbul: chapter 5.28.2017_Ritual: Frankincense.

Istanbul, as of late, has been a celebration of ritual cleansing. A rite of (another) passage. Accepting the challenge with grace is the challenge that I hunger for. Always.

Omani Frankincense, certainly an influential element to my existence, is firmly rooted in my ritual. How to explain?

This chapter commences in Bahrain, at the souk, Bab al- Bahrain. My incense guy, Basim, always greets with a smile. I give into his wisdom. One day he chastised me for wanting to purchase his roung charcoal coils. Afficionados prefer the smokeless, odorless squares. How was I to know? From then on, I deferred to his authority on all incense-related  matters. Many times I left his stall, gleeful to inherently understand I was well taken care of.

Basim & I at his shop in Bab al Bahrain

Many advantages come with having your own 'incense guy' in the souk. On a particularly generous day, Basim gave me one of his charcoal holders- these long, elegant tweezers. The ritual of lighting the charcoal squares heightened ever so intensely, feeling closer to patterned behavior more steeped in ancient knowledge than ever.

On other days, he showed me various 'brews' he was amassing. Many glass vials of fermenting oils, herbs, resins. Cauldrons of bubbling Bakhoor (traditional, homemade incense) in which he would scoop out a sample for me. Sometimes dripping, others sticky... always intoxicating. Breathe.

We had a great first encounter, Basim and me. Light conversation turned into local archaeology. he showed me a picture of his father from long ago, in the company of a Danish archaeologist that was working on island. This picture happened to be the grandfather (*not exactly sure now) of a Danish archaeologist in Bahrain that I had recently met, who is continuing their work. Connection made. Magic ensues. All. The. Time.

Frankincense. Myrrh. Sandalwood. Balms. Ouds. Bakhoor: ecstasy, exactly.

      absence of words
      framework-free no structure to wrap a familiar, atrophied concept around,       To tame 'it'. No words to hid behind. Bare naked breath. A non-lexical Show and Tell.
Non-sensical; the point being...

      shackeless. free to explore. cliffdiving for pearls of wisdom.
         close encounters with the oyster colony. luminescent. enchanting.   intoxication. rhapsody


Dichotomy as clear as the lunarscape; cloaked luminosity, mysterious, crystal-clear blur


inhale kindling of desire
exhale smouldering passions of lunar-wisdom
too cumbersome to contain, at times
stormy horizon; the cosmic ebb and flow. Agitated. Foamy.
Cresting breaks; washes over. The fine mist sprays my face. Ritual.
Cleansing warmth
seeking out distant horizons, attracting the Green Flash
watch. listen. breathe.
Where these coordinates dwell, we seek. always. all ways.
those first signs
gather the kindling

It gives me great pleasure to share this Frankincense Ritual as I depart Istanbul. I leave a trail of Frankincense, and what teachings I have been given to those who also indulge and seek the wisdom it offers. 


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.