Wednesday, July 24, 2013

This Post Has Nothing To Do With Gezi Park

So I know I wrote in my last post how I feel guilty every time I do some public Internetty thing that's not related to the Gezi protests.

Except sometimes things happen that aren't related to the Gezi protests. It's true! Actually, fairly often things like this happen because I, like everyone else in the world, just sort of get on with things just in case the world doesn't actually come to an end.

Everything here remains completely fucked up, though. Rest assured. It's not gone away and it's not calmed down and nothing is okay really. I've got my fingers permanently crossed waiting for the next thing.

Metaphorically crossed. If they were crossed for real, I wouldn't be able to get on with things.

Last night, we went to a going away party for a friend/co-worker who's managed to find something to do with her life besides The Job. She's not actually leaving the country like most of my friends here do eventually. She's just found something way cooler to do, which is telling stories. That's right. You can totally have a job telling stories. Not writing, mind you. Telling stories for real, from her mouth and with her body. It suits her perfectly and she's good at it and she can make a viable income from it.

So went to Bomonti in Nişantaşı to her house. LE had gas or something and started getting upset about his tummy and then he started weeping-- not crying but weeping, which is way sadder so I carried him for awhile up a hill and ran across a few streets through traffic and now my back is all fucked up. But that's not the story.

My friend's house is near a bunch of fabric sellers. I'm not sure if it's an everyday thing or a weekly thing, but the fabric sellers had apparently exploded onto the street, into neat piles of scraps of fabric.

I love a good ground score. Over the years I've trained myself to quit picking stuff up off the ground and keeping it. It was getting out of hand. Now I limit myself to keys and small things that I don't know what they are. But the fabric was too much. I put the no-longer-weeping kid down and scored like 100 4 x 4 swatches of different types of plaid. Checked fabric, if you're British. I have no idea what to do with it all, but there are a million things that could be done with it for sure, especially if I could sew, which I can't really except for utilitarian repairs.

My friend was ready for LE with kid's books and art supplies and juice. He had a rest and then he was fine, especially since her partner brought him a tray of snacks and a bowl of pekmez to the bed where he was hanging out keeping a low profile because the room full of grownups was too much for him. It was lovely. He was happy because of the pekmez and the cat that didn't bite and also because everywhere he goes, there are people who love him.

The past two weekends, BE and I have been all civil and shit. We have united in our mutual hatred of AKP. We have conversations in which he uses words and sentences and no one argues. He even joined a friend and I for Sunday brunch this past weekend. I always invite him to stuff like this, but he never joins and I was completely shocked he decided to join this time. My friend is the first person in my life in I-don't-know-how- long who saw BE's good side. Usually people are all, "I can't see you married to that guy-- he's such a dick," because BE is usually such a dick to my friends. But this weekend he wasn't. He showed his good side that I'd kind of forgotten he has and we had one of those 2 hour breakfasts and it was delightful.

Later that day when I emptied out LE's school bag, there was this inside:

It says, "He went to a restaurant with him mom and dad and he was very happy they were all together."
He drew this before we had all had brunch together. I can't remember the last time before this we've all had a meal in a restaurant together but it's been at least a year. I couldn't decide if I should be sad LE wants us all to be together or if I should be glad we may be managing something like that, sometimes at least.

And it's pictures that bring me to the story. On the Metro home from Nişantaşı, there was a guy sketching people. Everyone was peeking at him trying to see what he was sketching. He was assiduously ignoring them. We sat across from him and he was clearly sketching in our direction but my friend and I were just doing everything we could to keep LE amused because he was up Way Past His Bedtime partying with the grownups and due to crumble any second.

The guy got off the Metro before us and as he passed by he let a paper drop at our feet. It was this:
I love that he wrote "Hi."
Everyone around us craned to see. LE wondered aloud why he was holding his penis in the picture. Some Americans nearby exploded laughing and I told LE it's because he's always holding his penis even though I'm pretty sure that's not what he'd doing in the picture.

We argued for a bit over who got to keep the picture and I won and it's in my office now.

I'm sure there's some way to conect this all to Gezi and random acts of beauty, but why bother? If you wanted to do that, you already did.

I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I'm Fine, We're Fine, Everything Is Fine

Well, no. Not exactly.

It's just then whenever folks back home or folks not here get in touch asking if we're okay, this seems like
this is the best thing to start off with.

I expect a lot of people in my list of Facebook friends, the ones outside of Turkey I mean, have blocked me for being annoying with Turkey stuff. It's okay. I've blocked a lot of them for their boring, single-issue crap, too. Hurt animals with one nasty eye. Every goddamned injustice you can think of. Inspirational yoga quotes. Religious stuff.

If you think I've blocked you, it probably wasn't you. It was someone else.

I bring up Facebook because it's all I can manage as an information source. I still haven't gotten on Twitter. I've gotten used to the daily Facebook weirdness of Cop Violence! Taksim live feed link! Dead guy! I'm eating pancakes! Government lies! Insanely amazing people who still haven't given up and started punching despite the madness and fear! My kid is wearing a funny hat! Burning chemicals in the TOMA spray! Guy at Best Buy was stupid! Incisive political commentary!

This photo was guilt-free.
I used to post the shit out Facebook. I still do, but it's all Turkey stuff. I've started feeling guilty for posting non-Turkey stuff. Maybe once every couple of days I allow myself an empty share, like something hilarious George Takei punned, or something the Americans did that was bad, or something about Monsanto because I *hate* them. I've even gone off Grouchy Cat somewhat, which is not like me at all.

It's gotten to where if I don't start posting a bunch of Turkey crap within a certain time frame, my dad freaks out and thinks I've disappeared. It can be awkward when I'm out somewhere, and I'm suddenly all, "Oh, wait, sorry. It's after 9. I gotta start liking and sharing some stuff or my parents will get upset."

Here's the thing. LE and I are okay, but everything is not fine. More like everything is hovering precariously between everything is extraordinarily good and everything is extraordinarily bad. There are arguments both ways.

Today LE asked me why the soldiers don't just come and get rid of the police. So I tried to explain that, about the recent history of military coups and how that might affect us, but right in the middle he asked me why the kid who sticks his hands into people's armpits doesn't come to preschool anymore. The he asked me why the man and woman on the cigarette package are mad at each other, and I explained that it was because they couldn't have sex and how the government is trying to make you think cigarettes keep your dick from getting hard which isn't true at all as far as I know, and he said he didn't understand what I was talking about. This was all before 10am. Then this afternoon he wanted me to explain infinity so I did, but he got caught on the part where I was showing him how the kitchen is finite and he just wanted me to walk into the wall over and over.

So it was a heavy day for him.

These are extraordinary times. You try to guess what will happen next based on what you know about history, and about the nature of such things, based on what you know about Turkey but I'm pretty sure
An iftar meal that stretched over a mile down İstiklal.
nothing like this has ever happened in the world. Six weeks of cops brutalizing people and six weeks of people cheerfully coming back. Six weeks of the state trying to find excuses and ways to undermine what the people are doing and saying, and six weeks of the people being 1,000 miles ahead of the government's stupidity. At least it seems that way in terms of ideas. In terms of behavior, the government is all too happy to pull the crackdown card and the detainment card and the threat card and the farce trial card and the beating card. So maybe they're winning and I'm just reading the wrong stuff like I did during the last US election and it seemed all of America was a blue state.

I've stopped wondering when the guys were going to turn up with real guns because it seems the state is comfortable with just hurting people a lot and pretending it's all reasonable. Mostly I stopped feeling like I ought to learn how to pray or something, because I don't know how else you use your brain power to make people not do something awful.

Brain needs more superpowers.
It could be that something like this actually has happened in the world before now. Maybe it's just that nothing like this has ever happened to me. Not that it's happening to me exactly. Just near me. Around me.

Or maybe we're seeing how it's done, where people just keep being good. I don't know.

Also I don't know if such an event has ever been reported in such excruciatingly minute detail, where every day there's a new kind of man or woman that's memed so fast it's over-memed and tired by the third day. Woman in red. Woman in black. Naked Man. Talcid man. The laser cats show us the way? Hilarious, but so last month.

But the details can be too much. I try not to read all of them.

Ali İsmail Korkmaz
But I know the kind of music this kid listened to, and that he volunteered with old folks, and that the hospital sent him home with a brain injury. He got beaten by several guys while trying to escape the police.

Lobna Allamii

And that this woman, now almost a vegetable, seems like someone I would have liked and has a sister who leads her to the toilet. She took a gas canister to the head.

Abdullah Cömert
And that everyone argued about how this guy died-- beating or shooting or gas canister to the head? It all got confusing and it was in Hatay and he was the head of the CHP youth so it all got a bit
conspiracy-ridden and then sort of forgotten.

Ethem Sarısülük
And that this guy was Alevi and wanted to donate his organs but they
were rendered unusable after the autopsy. He was shot in the head by a scared cop.

Mehmet Ayvalıtaş

And that this kid was also Alevi and getting ready to do his military service. He got run over when a taxi rammed a group of protestors.

Mustafa Sarı
And this cop became a pawn of the state right away, who said protestors pushed him off a bridge but his family didn't believe that and even the other cops said he fell off the bridge.

Those are just the ones I read about-- the ones that died and the woman everyone thought was dead because of that awful picture with her lying on the ground with her eyes bulging out, stunned. The brain injuries seem countless and every time I leave Sarıyer, I see one or two people with eye injuries.

It's hard to say what's going on now, really. The secret war? They're sure taking a lot of people. But sometimes I think that this was always happening, just not out in the open and mostly on the other side of the country and everyone felt like they weren't supposed to talk about it. Or is it a fake secret war, just to scare people?

It's not like anything I've ever heard of, so it's impossible to know what's happening or what is going to happen.

But until then, I'm fine, we're fine, and everything is fine. Or not.

Hard to say.