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.