Sunday, March 10, 2013

How I Make My Life Look Cool

Everyone is a fucking artist because of apps like Instagram and Hipstamatic. I'm no different in harboring this self-deception that every photo I take is bloody amazing. I like my self- deceptions. They keep me warm at night. Sometimes anyway. Not quite enough but that's probably for the best.

My obsession with Hipstamatic continues. It helps that Turkey lends itself to groovy low-tech photos. Or maybe groovy low-tech photos lend themselves to Turkey. It's hard to say which.

In any case, I went about sneaking as many photos as I could of every second of my excruciating life for the past couple of days. I'm completely amazed with myself. You should pretend to be amazed with me because being amazing is one of my favorite pet self-deceptions. I call this one Dorothy. We fancy martinis and wear glasses and our witty zingers are always impeccably timed.

Anyway, Hipstamatic is super-fun and it makes my life look way cooler than it really is.

The high school behind the ambulance is next door to the primary school LE will go to next year. It has a 3D Atatürk face floating out of the wall above the door, but it was too far away for me to catch from the minibus. In the morning, the high school kids mill around inside the windows apparently doing nothing. When it's cold, you can see the girls are congregated at the radiators while the boys do whatever it is boys do.

These large bags of salt appeared along the side of the road shortly after the second big snowstorm. Someone told me they were there because of the ice in the morning. They've never been used. I wonder if it was up to the wherewithal of the citizenry to start shoveling salt if it snowed again, because salt trucks are few and far between when they're needed around here.

The road that goes up the hill to work cuts through the middle of the cemetery. I assume this means they built the road over the cemetery. You can tell how things have been built up over time, since the cemetery is lower than the road. Near here, next to the municipal vet where I took the cats for worming and where I once saw some guys who'd brought their sheep in the back of a small hatchback, there is an old çeşme that's a good 6 feet down in a pit with a fence around it. A çeşme is like a street faucet, but in a nice marble setting with an inscription of some sort. The çeşme in the pit doesn't look like it works anymore. But there are other çeşme around. They're where you get your water when the water gets cut off. Or when you need a lot of water for something but don't want to pay for the water and don't mind hauling it home in plastic bottles. Or you can just wash your hands there and splash your face there. Sometimes people use them for washing their cars.

All the old parts of Istanbul have their own cemeteries. They're crowded and overgrown and wonderfully simple and creepy.

Yay! The minibus!

This minibus "No Smoking" sign doesn't have the fine written on it. The fine for smoking is different on every minibus. Drivers, apparently, are immune to the fine.

This is a gorgeously falling-down abandoned house. There are a lot around here. When I lived in the States, I'd read about abandoned houses like in Steinbeck or whatever, but I never thought I'd see one for real.

Other houses and buildings are a little dilapidated, but lovingly so.

This shop used to sell house-decoration stuff, like curtains and paint. Then it sold organic olive oil and associated products. Now it sells pool supplies and water filtering equipment. The location of it, business-wise, is complete crap. The only nearby thing is the nursery across the street, and the sheep-killing place in the valley. I don't know what they have in the sheep-killing place the rest of the year. There are a lot of outbuildings and no house and sometimes there are people doing some sort of work or other. In the spring and fall, flocks of cranes come to hang out in the valley. The first time I saw them, I thought they were small sheep or big white dogs. But then I saw the feathers flapping in the wind and was all, "What the fuck is that?"  The cranes are huge and white with some black on the bottom and I totally get why everyone flips out when they fly overhead. It's an easy bit of free happiness to get in on.

Nurseries dot the road up the hill. I'm thinking I need to hit one of them pretty soon. This one has a selection of garden gnomes. 

This is close to the entrance of the Tea Garden of the fateful Unpleasant Breakfast. A year or so ago, LE and I went to breakfast here with some of our favorite friends we never see anymore since we moved out here. We had a Groupon deal and it was a fine breakfast and a good day. They have a playground. The Unpleasant Breakfast took place a week or two later, I took the in-laws up there. Either it was an off day or the business was in the process of failing. It was understaffed and the food wasn't great and the tables weren't super clean and then, horror of horrors, the water ran out of our tea urn. New water was never forthcoming. As you might guess, this all sent the MIL into a relentless tizzy and the tea thing just sealed the irrevocable disaster.

Every time we drive by the fateful Tea Garden with MIL on the way Kilyos, she goes, "Hey, that's the place where Stranger took us for the Unpleasant Breakfast." She doesn't say it exactly like that, but close enough. Then she recounts the bad food and dirty table. The story climaxes with not having water for tea. I've given up pointing out it was a good tea garden the first time I went there. LE used to point out how it's a good tea garden because they have a playground.

Now we just snicker in the back of car. We can tell each other secrets in English. As we near the tea garden, I say, "She's gonna tell about that time we had an Unpleasant Breakfast there, " and LE says gravely, "There was no water for tea. Mama, she always tells this!"

"Wait for it... Wait for it... Ah, there she goes!"

He waits for her to finish, and then reminds her about the playground.

This is the top of the hill.

This driver was drawing pictures in the dust on his minibus for much of the day, which I know because the same driver who took me to the office brought me home several hours later, and the fish were there around noon when I started up the hill. There were fish all along the sides, too. You can't see the submarine on this back window because of the glare. Here, the driver is working on a picture of a minibus. He has a face like a Red Skelton hobo clown, and he draws slowly and carefully, standing back for long, serious periods to consider the work.

Seriously, this guy drawing on his minibus was one of the best things I've seen in a long time.

Sometimes in the morning when I'm about to go into work, I feel like work is gonna eat me.

You have to go in this door.

Up the stairs goes to work. Down the stairs goes here to this terrifying place. I've never actually gone down the stairs. The red pipes are dusty and the door just has a You're Not Welcome Here feel. I've never seen anyone go down there, not even a worker.

Wait. I should totally just go down there and just see what there is. I don't even know if that downstairs door is locked.

I love this class. No, seriously. I really do. Last week on Friday, the sun came out for the first time in weeks and they were all batshit and adorable and I let them boil the lesson. "Boil the lesson" is a Turkish expression that means something like "Distract the teacher with other stuff so we don't have to learn anything." They started asking me questions about other stuff, like my life and Turkey and school. I tried a few times to get them back to their book and finally one of them said, "Teacher, just give up." So I did. The cool thing about boiling the lesson in an English class is that you trick them into learning English while letting them think they've won. At one point, we talked about why 8.30 classes suck so much. I told them I have to get up at 5.45 or 6 for an 8.30 class. They were horrified and wondered why. So I explained about getting up and sorting breakfast for me and the kid, and getting us both dressed and the arguments about what to watch on You Tube and brushing teeth and putting on jackets and dropping him off at school. The same student who'd told me to give up earlier was all, "So wait. You do all that, you're a mother and you have a job and take care of the house..." Only he didn't say it exactly like that.

Still, it was a good answer.

The Halk Müsiği Külübü concert. I was sitting way in the back. One of my co-workers sang Uzun İnce Bir Yoldayım with his saz and he did it justice and I was thrilled to bits because it was so good and I know most of the words. I knew a lot of the songs they did.

I got up closer when the show was finished.

I went to this particular dönerci in Taksim for old time's sake. I used to come here all the time. I don't know why I ended up choosing this dönerci over all the other ones in the Taksim meydan, but I swear this one's the best. There's still the same döner-cutting guy as there was 10 years ago.

The International Women's Day march. I didn't go on purpose. It was just already happening.

These guys had to knock off whatever work they were doing so the march could pass by.

There were tons of cops there, plainclothes and uniformed.

Some nights, there is a live band car attached to the end of the Beyoğlu cable car. They got held up by the march. I also got held up by the march, and joined a pushy crowd in Çiçek Pasaj to try to skip the march crowds. It hardly made a difference but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Inside, a waiter asked another what all the commotion and crowds were about. The other waiter told him it was because of the Galatasaray match. A third waiter contradicted him that it was about Women's Day and how we shouldn't beat them. The first two waiters took this in with serious nods.

The International Women's Day march got kind of gay at the end. After the gays were the trans folk.

I was on my way to a tattoo appointment. I'd planned to stop off along the way and buy some boots I don't need. Except the shop was pretty well blocked by the march. By the time I was done at the tattoo place, the boots place had closed. So International Women's Day prevented me from buying boots. Also hanging out at the tattoo place and having a rakı and going over half of the world's problems and mysteries with the tattoo guy and his friend. That prevented me from buying the boots too, but it was totally worth it talking to those guys.

The stairway to the tattoo shop is daunting, but the shop is fine and anyway, I fucking love these old buildings.

 This should probably be another post.


Bill said...

Does this mean you're gonna go for the paid Hipstamatic apps?

Stranger said...

I already paid like 4 bucks for extra film packs.

peapod said...

I loved this post! Could you take pictures every day and show us? Please?

Stranger said...

As long as the Hipstamatic addiction continues, I probably will :)