Tuesday, February 5, 2013

same head on same shoulders

The idea was to write about my life in NY, right? How different it is from my life in Ankara... How it feels to be so close to the center of the world, yet so far from my loved ones, the center of my world... As the saying goes, "wherever you go, your head goes on your shoulders". So it's not that different - I'm carrying my demons with me everywhere.

I had a chance to reconnect with my former best friend today. I say former, because we are not the same as we used to be. To keep the long story short, I felt the need to talk to her at one point about the things that were bothering me in our relationship, and offered to lower our expectations from each other. She had a hard time processing this, as I understand from her latest e-mails. Yes, she was in silent retreat for two years, and now we are communicating again through e-mails, thanks to her coming to my dream one night and then deciding to come out of her cocoon when I told her about the dream and invited her to New York. This doesn't mean that we will be best friends again - she was hurt, apparently, and she lost her faith in me as someone who would always be there - but we are talking now, working our way out of silence, trying to understand what we want and what we expect, trying to save something that was damaged but not entirely lost.

These e-mails, and some encounters I had before in Turkey, remind me once again the fact that I have significantly lowered the number of people in my immediate circle since cancer (by the way, I really need to come up with a name for that period, cause I hate the c-word popping up every now and then). I don't know for sure if this is good or bad, but I tend to think it is good to be able to refine your relationships and get rid of the overload so that you have much less to worry about other than your precious self - yes, I know it sounds selfish, and I do believe that selfish is good if the other option is to give and get nothing in return. B explains the change in me as: "You don't take shit anymore!" It wasn't a deliberate decision, but it sounds wise to me.

Does that mean the experience of cancer has actually taught me something other than the obvious facts (see, a previous post about how wigs make your scalp itch)? Well, that would be nice, knowing that it wasn't an utter waste of time - but I have a feeling that it's still a little too early to jump to conclusions about the effect of that experience on me, and maybe it shouldn't be me who reaches those conclusions after all. I would really like to hear what my small circle of friends and those who believe they have been left outside think about this.

Friday, February 1, 2013


I thought I wasn't the "complaining" kind of person, but then all I did throughout the first semester was complain - and I still catch myself in the middle of a conversation, complaining about things or people. This is not a good sign, and I'm sure it makes me rather boring. But then, having mottos obviously doesn't help. I know for a fact that I wasn't a whiner even through the hardest times - unemployment, family crises, cancer - but maybe I should have talked more about the things that I tried so hard to ignore. Maybe, certain things are coming back to haunt me and I can't handle them anymore. Maybe, just maybe, I should have complained at the right time to the right person so that I wouldn't become a whiner when there really isn't anything serious to complain about.

And if that had happened, maybe I wouldn't have sent a complaint to my parents and my sister out of the blue, and then my sister wouldn't have blamed me for the things that I didn't even know, and maybe... I don't know, and I never will, since this is the way we have lived so far, and this is where we have come.

So, what happened in the past five months... Well, it's happened and it's gone now. Living in a 4th-floor walk-up may not be the American dream, but I like my apartment, my room, my roommate, and every little bit of thing in my private space - from the pictures on the walls to the candies on my desk. I am very much at peace with the idea of spending 16 more months here - even though it looks like I'm counting the days left.

Going home for two weeks during the winter break did help. Maybe I was depressed - I had never even been close to depression, but maybe I was this time (oh so many maybe's!), at 30 years of age, and I needed to go back to familiar grounds, to reset. No matter what, I'm glad I did it.

So now I'm refreshed, energized, definitely less depressed. New York is the same old city, but now I see it differently. It seems like the spring is going to be a lot more fun than the winter. I can't wait to see.

Monday, September 17, 2012

marking the first month of my arrival in nyc

When I was a kid, my mother used to tell people that I did not like staying at places other than my home. I would think hard, but always fail, to remember the time when I had actually declared my dislike of staying at different houses. It took me a while to realize that this was my mother's polite way of rejecting the invitations, and of course one of her artful ways to keep me under her watch.

Things changed slightly when I was in college - sleepovers became part of some of my relationships. Yet I never felt that I was sleeping at somebody else's home.

Things changed a lot when I arrived in New York one month ago. For the first 20 days, I stayed at a sublet - a studio that belonged to a guy who was studying engineering at Columbia. He shared the apartment with his wife, and the apartment was decorated accordingly - a huge bed, a huge wardrobe, a huge table in the middle, wedding photos on the walls. It was clearly somebody else's home.

Then I moved here, which is a small room in a young couple's apartment - again furnished, and again temporary. Here I have a loft bed that makes weird sounds when I move in it, and a gigantic desk that I covered completely with my stuff. But, no matter what I put on the desk, I don't feel like I own it - because I don't.

So I have figured out the New York real estate market in 3 weeks, and learned a lesson: Wherever you stay, it is important to feel like you're at home. It has been quite difficult to finally find a place that may in time feel like home - it could be a lot easier if I had a SSN or wealthy American relatives - but I survived. That is exactly what I did - survive! I've kept reminding myself for the past one month that I am a survivor. I tried not to complain, to anybody but also to myself, and apart from one particular night when it was too difficult to keep calm, I managed to maintain my dignity. Though I was a bit boring in the first two weeks of school when all I could think of and talk about was apartment-hunting, now, having seen the worst of New York and having found a place that I can make mine, I don't want to talk about it anymore. Maybe just this: Go to hell brokers!

I'll be living off my suitcase for another two weeks, but after that, I will finally settle down and hopefully have time to explore the city.

(It's a curious coincidence that the last time I wrote on this blog was 16th December, exactly 9 months ago, and exactly 8 months before I started my U.S. adventure.)

(Do I need to also mention that I decided to go to Columbia University, or does everybody who reads this -if anybody is reading, of course- knows how things have unfolded in the 9 months after the last post?)

Friday, December 16, 2011

ramblings - on the edge of glory

So I bought a bunch of colorful pens and wrote my personal statements. When the standardized exam results turned out to be better than I expected (knock wood!) I convinced myself to be more confident and risked applying to some of the best schools. Jeopardized by one of my recommenders, I still haven't been able to complete my application to HKS and I don't think I have much chance about it. Harvard may be a lost cause, but I hope and I actually have reasons to believe that I'll be in the States next summer. (Can you hear me, Alison?)

At first this was the only thing that kept me from sleeping at night, and now I'm almost an insomniac. Competency exams are fast approaching, so I always find new things to fill my mind with, but I'm also afraid of losing it - I mean my mind. It will be a huge relief if I see the end of January in good health.

One of the things on my mind is the books I'll read after the exams. To name a few: Kate Atkinson's "Started Early, Took My Dog" (cited as one of the best books of 2011 by Time Magazine), a book about Istanbul (given by a dear friend in Istanbul last year as an xmas present), "Gargantua" (given by Ms. Uzuner as a birthday present), Chuck Palahniuk's "Snuff" (banned in my country, so bought from Books-a-Million in D.C.) and the Stephanie Plums that I haven't read yet (roughly between 7 and 15).

I have a renewed interest in music, which I think is because I've been able to listen to the radio more often since I bought a car, which we affectionately call "cherry-mobile" - a most becoming name coined by B., and I-Touch, which has proven to be a brilliant device after several challenges including two transatlantic flights, my 2-year-old niece's reckless demands to play with Gina the Giraffe, and a bath in a giant pool of Starbucks coffee (oh, I almost forgot: it also survived the threatening eyes of an Iraqi soldier holding a gun on top of a tank).

I think Adele rocks, and she's the best until a better one appears on the stage, but I also like Kings of Leon, Hurts, and Sunrise Avenue. I have recently discovered some good musicians, such as Sun Kil Moon (hello Alison!), Serena Ryder, and Reba McEntire. I am delighted to hear that The Cranberries are coming back, as they are an all-time favorite, and I never get tired of listening to R.E.M., The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Roxette, Duran Duran, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and of course, Take That. I should also mention my old pals Melissa Etheridge, Ani DiFranco, poor dear Amy, Eddie Vedder, k.d. lang, KT Tunstall, Lily Allen, and the magnificient Haroula, whose 25th July concert in Istanbul was a dream coming true.

Here's the latest list that I compiled for a friend. I recommend you to listen to them in this order.
1- Elvis Costello - I Want You
2- The Rolling Stones - Wild Horses
3- Kings of Leon - The Immortals
4- U2 - The Hands That Built America
5- Eddie Vedder - Long Nights
6- Thirteen Senses - Into the Fire
7- Hooverphonic - Anger Never Dies
8- The Fray - How to Save a Life
9- Dredg - Bug Eyes
10- Jakob Dylan - Truth for a Truth
11- k.d. lang - Constant Craving
12- Adele - Set Fire to the Rain
13- Irma - I Know
14- Fredrika Stahl - Rocket Trip to Mars
15- Brandi Carlile - The Story
16- Natalie Imbruglia - Come September
17- Patti Smith - Because the Night
18- Belinda Carlisle - California
19- Serena Ryder w/ Melissa Etheridge - Broken Heart Sun
20- KT Tunstall - Come On, Get In
21- Adele - Tired
22- Damien Rice - Rootless Tree
23- 3 Doors Down - When You're Young
24- Songs: Ohia - The Black Crow
25- The Rolling Stones - Angie
26- Tom Waits - Hold On
27- Eddie Vedder - End of the Road
28- Hurts - Wonderful Life
29- Simply Red - Stars
30- Anna Nalick - Breathe (2 AM)
31- Oasis - Champagne Supernova
32- Sheryl Crow - Strong Enough
33- Beirut - Postcards from Italy
34- OMD - Walking on the Milky Way
35- Jimmy Somerville - Safe in These Arms
36- Coldplay - Beautiful World
37- R.E.M. - UBerlin
38- Kings of Leon - California Waiting
39- Brandi Carlile - Dreams
40- Keane - Somewhere Only We Know
41- The Hard Lessons - Wedding Ring
42- Take That - Wait
43- Empire of the Sun - We Are the People

Monday, June 6, 2011

fear of getting lost on the urban freeway

Saturday evening, B. and her brother were supposed to attend a wedding, so after a nice day, we went home and she got dressed and we drove to her mother's house and her brother got in the car and we drove past the weekend traffic in the city center and we reached the hotel ten minutes before the wedding started and I dropped them at the hotel. Everything was perfect.

Then I drove home, or I thought so. I went on the right track for about fifteen minutes, and I was five minutes away from my destination... when I missed my exit and took the next one.

There I was, on the wrong side of the highway, not knowing how to get to the other side or how to find a way back. So I panicked and I missed the second possible exit too and I turned right as soon as I saw a familiar road sign and I found myself on a huge road. I didn't realize it was the urban freeway and I thought I would have to keep driving until I arrive at a different city and I started to pray out loud for a gas station because I had enough fuel for approximately 90 kilometers and the road ahead of me looked like it would go on forever.

But it didn't go on forever and I saw a police car at some point and I stopped to ask for directions and he told me that I had ten kilometers to go before turning right and he warned me not to miss that turn. I knew somehow that I was going in the right direction but the confirmation made me feel better and I saw the city center sign after going for another ten kilometers and I took it and I found my way home after driving for fifty kilometers more than expected.

Here's what I did.

Now imagine how easy it would be to go home if I could just turn right in the first place.

Monday, August 30, 2010

little journey to big apple

I know I haven't written for a long time, and I'm aware of the fact that I did not write from New York. I should have, but I couldn't, due to some technical and personal obstacles. And when I came back, my parents went on holiday, and I practically lived with B. at her apartment. Hence my absence for three months.

Now, before writing about anything related with my life in Ankara, I'd like to note some memorable times of my trip to NYC, which are in fact too many to remember all at once, but I'll cite just a few and keep it limited to rather unique moments, such as...

The moment when I first laid eyes on the Flat Iron Building, though I didn't realize there was a Gormley sculpture on top of it... The moment when, looking for the nearest Starbucks, I found myself in Gayborhood, in the middle of Stonewall Place... The moment when I watched squirrels tumbling head over tail in Washington Square Park, and the moment when I watched the sunset at Bryant Park... The moment when I drank the very first Jose Cuervo of my life... The moments I saw the works of Pannini, Van Gogh, Manet, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, the great Cartier-Bresson... The moment when I entered the Majestic Theater, and then, when the Phantom of the Opera entered the stage on his gondola... The half hour when I crossed the Brooklyn Bridge in the rain... The picnic at the Central Park with Derya, my host, and the moment we found Bethesda Fountain after a long walk...

The moment I met my friend Arelis for the first time in 10 years, after which we spent hours in the Strand, by far the best bookstore I've seen... Surely the moments when I looked down from the top of the Empire State with my dear friend Alison, and all the moments we had together, from taking pictures at the High Line Park to chatting on the gigantic steps of the Post Office across from Madison Square Garden to sharing oysters at the Grand Central Station... Especially the moment we kissed each other goodbye... Also the moment when I heard Yvonne's voice after such a long time...

Most of these moments were documented either by camera or camcorder, but there's one part of my vacation that I could not document nor could I ever leave aside to be forgotten: the view of the ocean from up above...

Thinking back, the whole experience was wonderful, and I'm glad I did it at this time of my life. The only -relatively- bad memory I have of New York is rudeness of some people towards strangers. The woman at the ticket booth of the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the man checking tickets in the Empire State - these were two examples, and perhaps I should feel lucky to meet not so many of them, but they were rude enough to register themselves in my memory.

Finally, let me give a piece of advice to those who plan to fly to NYC: Shuttle is the best way to travel from JFK to where you'll be staying. You get to see the whole city on the way. I remember thinking "I wouldn't mind if I had to go back tomorrow, now that I've seen almost all of it."

Friday, May 28, 2010

hitting the road

It's almost time. I'm going to the States on Tuesday early in the morning. I'll have two weeks to spend in New York with one of my best friends (who is studying at Columbia now) and I'll also see two friends whom I've never met before - this is not something unusual for me, I'm actually used to having friends through the Internet. In fact, the "excitement" of "knowing" someone "before" I get to meet them is one of my favorite feelings in life.

I now have a feeling that New York is going to be one of my favorite places on earth.

Before going to the USA, I had a three-day business trip to Denizli and Antalya. (I wouldn't be surprised if B got mad at me for disappearing so often.) One of the people I traveled with was bad for my nerves, so now I'm trying not to think about the trip, but... I should tell you this: The yacht that we saw in Antalya has door handles made of gold! I mean, who in the world is rich enough to purchase a yacht with gold handles and countless other things? What kind of joy does it give to a person? Is it more than, say, rubbing the belly of a cat? And the man who's manufacturing the yacht says it can go to the USA with a full depot, which costs around 180 thousand TRY, that is 115 thousand $ - would anyone do this???

Next time, I hope I'll write from New York.