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.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

most wanted

There was once a show on MTV that featured live performances of popular singers and bands. It was hosted by a man called Ray.

All I remember is I watched Take That on this show one night in 1995. Not surprisingly, Take That was my favorite band at the time - I still feel some kind of attachment to the original members. My friend had called me on the phone that night - not on my cell phone, naturally, because they weren't around yet - and told me the band was on MTV, live! And I watched them as they sang "Pray" and "Babe" and "Back for Good", and as Robbie showed his bum to the camera when he was asked if he would pose naked for money - he did it for £10!

This is all I remember. And today, after 15 years, the Internet allows me to find the missing pieces. I google "Take That MTV Ray" and find the host's name was Ray Cokes, the show's name was MTV's Most Wanted and the channel's name was actually MTV Europe. (Don't judge my memory, I'm telling you it's been 15 years!) And I thank Youtube here for making it possible to watch the show again after all this time.

I believe my generation had fun with all those pop icons and with the little pleasures we could afford - like sending a letter to a TV show, making tapes with the help of DJs, collecting pictures from magazines, exchanging song lyrics with friends... I believe we are decent human beings after all, because we've observed as things have changed in time, and we've had the chance to internalize them.

And I hope my little niece, who will be 6 months old tomorrow, does not lose herself in the midst of technology. I hope she learns to savour progress, and she turns out to be a decent person too.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


After Istanbul and Izmir, I also spent 4 days in Bursa, my hometown. I've had busy weeks, and there are more to come.

So, I'll be brief this time, and give some links that provide info about Izmir and Bursa.

Oh, and let me not forget to mention my plans to visit my friends in the U.S. next time I write.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

on the road

I was in Istanbul last weekend. My primary purpose was to see a play - a musical comedy in which one of my friends had a leading role. The play, along with other things, such as seeing a group of friends and having breakfast in Kuzguncuk, raised my spirits. Despite its never-ending chaos, Istanbul gives me peace.

Now I'm heading to Izmir, another city of boats. I don't know much about Izmir, though I've been there a few times, so I'm hoping to get to know it better this time.

Monday, February 22, 2010

a long way down

I've read this book of Hornby recently, and I'd like to share a piece here. It made me smile, because it describes almost exactly how I feel about learning from cancer.

"[...] And yet just about everyone I've ever interviewed has told me that by doing something or other - recovering from cancer, climbing a mountain, playing the part of a serial killer in a movie - they have learned something about themselves. And I always nod and smile thoughtfully, when really I want to pin them down. 'What did you learn from the cancer, actually? That you don't like being sick? That you don't want to die? That wigs make your scalp itch? Come on, be specific.' I suspect it's something they tell themselves in order to turn the experience into something that might appear valuable, rather than a complete and utter waste of time. [...] Call me literal-minded, but I suspect people might learn more about themselves if they didn't get cancer. They'd have more time, and a lot more energy."

(A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby, Penguin Books, 2006, pp.208-9) (an informal way of citation, I know, but better than none at this time of day!)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

best way to celebrate v-day

I am working, again, after three months of laziness, which was also three months of treatment of course. Now I'm showing off with a red wig on my dear bald head - I must confess, however, that I feel more comfortable without my wig.

I haven't had the chance (or courage) to exhibit the white skin of my head yet, and very few people have seen me naked in that sense, namely my family and my girlfriend, who by the way considers this a personal privilege and doesn't want me to extend it to anybody else. Although I agree with her, I'd like to experience the scene at least once before my hair grows again - the scene when I walk on the street virtually bald. Still contemplating.

Now here's a Valentine's Day story...

When it became clear that I would be able to go back to work on the 15th Feb. my girlfriend and I decided to attend the party, Ladies' Night, at the Planet Café on Saturday. We started making plans weeks ago - I told my parents I wouldn't come home almost two weeks ago! So we went to the party, with a straight friend of mine, who was kind enough to join us to celebrate my return. We had to talk loudly so that we could hear each other, and we had to sit closely so that all three of us could find a place to sit, and we had to either watch an old friend kissing her new girlfriend or a lonely friend watching them. So we left before the party was over, and we went home together to watch something better - one of the movies we bought in the evening. We chose "Everybody's Fine" because the title implied that everybody in the movie was fine, meaning this movie was supposed to be fine - except it wasn't. We ate cookies, we drank coffee, and we got depressed. ("Everybody's Fine" is not recommended to my friends, to anybody.) We tried hard and got over our depression, and we realized it was time to go to bed - it was 2 a.m. when the film ended. So we went to our bedroom, with our cat following us. My girlfriend sat on the bed and called our cat. He responded and jumped on the bed, lay down while we gently petted him. Then he grumbled, and what's that? He marked the bed as his own territory, if you know what I mean. We were shocked, literally. We started our V-Day by changing the sheets, and the quilt. And our boy spent the whole night alone, outside of the room, making an intolerable noise, complaining right in front of the door. We weren't happy about it, but all he wanted was to go out, and that was impossible at night, when it was dangerous even during the day with all the stray cats and cars in the neighborhood. We could hardly sleep - I got up several times to check whether he opened the window and ran away, and first thing in the morning, after of course releasing him for half an hour and having breakfast, we called the vet to ask if they performed neutering on Sundays. That, unfortunately, was our V-Day present to our cat. We had no choice, and it was for his benefit, but it still broke our hearts.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

time limits

There are sooo many books I want to read, sooo many films I want to see, I don't know if I can do all these in a single lifetime. I know I have to choose, which naturally results in some books' or films' abandonment, and I know this doesn't mean I despise the writer's or director's efforts in writing that "never-to-be-read" book or directing that "never-to-be-seen" movie. Nevertheless, I feel sad when I think about them. I wish we had more time for everything we love to do, and less time for everything we have to do.

I spent my afternoon with an old friend. She told me about a wise man she knows and respects. According to this man, and my friend agrees with him in most matters, there is a time limit for everything. You should not worry about an incident for more than, say, five minutes. You should not extend your grief for a loved one for more than a year. You should not regret a mistake for more than one hour. And when you're still worried after five minutes, or still grieving after one year, then you're betraying yourself. There's a lesson here, but if you're reading this, you must have already figured it out, so I won't put it into words. Besides, I may need to think a little bit more on this.

Did I say I wish we had more time? Even for worrying when all we want to do is worry...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

passion and possession

It did snow last night, finally, and the streets and cars are covered in snow now. Beautiful view, plus the terribly cold weather must be somewhat tolerable today.

I watched the 11th and 12th episodes of Grey's Anatomy in the evening, thought about the things that keep us alive - family, job, love... Imagined how it would be like to have a job that thrills you so much that you can trade your love for it. My job is not like that, but I'd very much like to be able to dedicate my life to something I love passionately. I don't even know if there's a profession like that for me... but I do know it's too late to contemplate on this...

Oh, I actually had a job like that for a while - I was an editor in a publishing house for a year. My boss had nothing to do with books, real books, and despite the obvious fact that all he cared about was money, he made wrong choices all the time. The books we published were failures, and the very few good ones were lost in the market. I made an exciting arrangement with a great British author in my last days in the company, but the boss found the deal expensive, and they cancelled it after I left. I remember having cried while reading that novel, and I was really, really excited about it. Low wage, cruel working hours, mean people, mostly bad books - I could live with these for some more time if that deal was made. I love books passionately.

The one I'm reading now is Possession by A. S. Byatt. I had watched a movie based on this novel - this is how I learned about the novel. Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart played the young researchers. I liked that movie, but I like the book better. The correspondence between the poets in the 1800's feels ancient. The references make me think of other good examples of literature. The only thing that bothers me is that I can't concentrate as much as I want, but I am to blame for this, not the story. I am distracted by the external world even when I'm reading in bed. I think I should find a way to fix this, though I have no idea how.

You see here the first American edition cover of Possession. My book, which my sister bought for me when she was in Boston three years ago, is also a first edition, looking exactly like the picture. The cover painting is "The Beguiling of Merlin" by Sir Edward Burne-Jones.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

small talks

Here’s an everyday issue – at least it’s happened quite frequently in my life lately. I’m sure we all find ourselves in this kind of meaningless small talks from time to time.

First, something that happened last Thursday. I went to the hospital to have my prescription and buy my meds. After finishing my business there, I decided to stop by the new restaurant of an old friend of mine. I had not seen him for almost five years, and I had some fifteen minutes to congratulate him on his new initiative, tell him about my condition, and promise to come back when I get better. There we were, sitting at a table, talking about the medicines I bought, and a woman at the table across ours called out to me, asking if I had cancer. She asked what type, then told me she had a cousin with pancreatic cancer (God forbid!). I offered my good wishes and continued to talk to my friend, irritated by this intervention.

Today, I had my last session of chemotherapy. My mom and my cousin came with me. The room was empty and, lucky for us, we remained to be the only ones in the room until a woman came to the other bed ten minutes before we were done. She had difficulty in walking, so she explained the reason of her dizziness right away. Then she lay down, and not noticing that I was deeply concentrated in my book, asked me: “From where?” My first instinct was to say “From Ankara”, but I made a wise decision and said “Pardon me?” She said “From where? Which part of your body? What illness?” I said “Oh, breast.” Then she said hers was something (her voice was so low I could hardly hear it) that spread to her lungs (again, God forbid!) and began to tell me about one of her relatives – how she had had mastectomy at the age of 25, she drank only one cup of tea and one cup of coffee every day, she allowed herself to eat fried food not more than once a year, and she was 90 years old now – while her husband (I suppose) told my mother, fortunately not within the range of my ears, that breast was a common problem for women, prostate for men, and that he probably had a problem with his prostate too, but he was too scared to see a doctor. Then he asked, this I could hear, who the “child” was, referring to my 26-year-old cousin. Mom told me, when we came home, that she found it bizarre for this man to talk so freely about prostate with a woman other than his wife or his doctor. I guess I would’ve found it bizarre, too, if I had heard it. I thought everything else they said was awkward, meaningless, unnecessary. I wonder what the man expected my mom, a perfect stranger, to say to him regarding his problem.

Mom’s theory is that people desperately need nice words and prayers to comfort them. I, on the other hand, have a different theory. It is obvious that I have some kind of cancer, as I’m in that room having chemo, and I might not be able to soothe anybody at that moment. So why do they insist on having a small talk? I guess the reason why they ask and tell uninteresting things to strangers is because: a) they are extremely curious about other people’s lives, thanks to Big Brother kind of TV shows, and they think everybody is dying to talk about themselves, b) they need to hear that there are people worse-off.

No matter why, I’m sick of these “boundary-breaking” people. Is it too much to ask for silence when you’re busy with the IV line on your hand?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

first post, again

Life is too short to read things that are of no interest to you. I don't know what I'll write about here - this is not a novel, and I don't have a plan - but I know that I don't want to be the only person willing to read what I write, so I'll do my best.

Actually, I had an idea when I started this blog - I mean, who doesn't? My intention was to share some thoughts on everyday issues that we all experience - a stranger's random kindness on the street, students' excitement at the beginning of the school term and how it changes towards the end, co-workers' curiosity about the newcomer's private life, pros and cons of taking Spanish classes at the weekend, best place in the city to go for practising photography, etc.

My intention now is to keep this idea in mind and see what tomorrow brings. You see, the reason why I couldn't stick with my original plan is because I lost control in the first few months of my new job as an assistant foreign trade specialist - with all the trainings and trips and extra hours of work - and then I had to deal with cancer. We all know that plans are meant to fail, and nobody can predict what will happen the next minute, but I've also come to realize through the hard way that not everybody has the same 'everyday issues'. So, even if you have the chance to turn your ideas into reality, you may find at some point that the idea does not make sense to you anymore - there are some things in life that are not larger than life but definitely larger than everyday life.

Now I have a desktop calendar full of cats' pictures, and a long year ahead. The former is a new year's gift from my significant other and the latter will hopefully be a gift from life - and I want to make it count, and worth writing about.