Saturday, 16 July 2016

15 July 2016

GEZI Days in 2013
From where I am sitting I have a sweeping view of emerald Tuscan hills,  quilted with olive groves and vineyards. I can hear the six o'clock church bells ringing from the numerous churches in my village and every villager I pass has their 'summer' on. But I am not here. I mean my body is ( with all its generous Chianti-inspired curves) but my heart and my mind are far, far away.

In Istanbul. In Turkey. With my friends. With my ex-students. With the waiters and the taxi drivers,the woman in my local fruit shop, the young soldiers, the old men playing tavla, the Nisantasi ladies and the simit sellers of Kadikoy.

And with Y.

I love Turkey despite how harsh she is and to see her being torn about like this makes my heart sink into itself.

I hold great fears for her now. Even greater than the ones I had  yesterday.

My beautiful friend.


Sunday, 5 June 2016

Benim Canim

On Friday I woke up feeling low. I don't know if it was because of dreams I couldn't remember or the fact that the weather was so grey and downcast for yet another day.  I sat at my computer for a while, trying to write (I am determined to finish my novel this summer - there have been some developments in this area but it is too early to say anything) but my mind kept on wandering to Istanbul where the weather reports said the sun was shining and no doubt the Bosphorus was throwing diamonds to the sky. I thought about Ramazan, which is starting very soon, and  how I will miss the pide and the feeling on the streets as dusk begins to fall.
Then, almost like a miracle, I found out that one of my ex-students from Istanbul was going to be in Florence on Saturday and suddenly I felt this joyfulness. We ended up meeting Saturday night where we shared wine and dinner on Piazza della Signoria and somehow staring at the Tuscan sky with a Turk by my side felt very, very fine.



Sunday, 29 May 2016

Big as a cherry

BEWARE: Tick haven!!!
When I was small I used to sit in the back of my parent's car singing 'it was as big as a cherry la la la la' with the Saltzman brothers. It always gratified me that these brothers would sing along because the song was all about me. Well, about a tick my mum found on the back of my neck while at a Sunday school picnic. It had been there a while because I remember playing with it in bed and I  only told my mother at the picnic because (a) all the caramel paddlepops had melted and (b) I wasn't getting enough attention. It was quite the sizable beast and everyone was suitably aghast. The doctor suggested I not host a tick for quite some time after.

Well, I have finally played host again. This time on my hip. I didn't even notice it for a while because I thought it was a scab. Then when I noticed it still wasn't healing, I realised my scab had legs. Unfortunately I did not go about its eviction in the right way so there is still the tiniest speck of its head hanging in my hip. It is a little itchy and red but I don't believe it is infected so I am kind of waiting for it to get pushed out like a splinter.

The joys of rural living. Snakes - 3. Ticks - 1.

 I am waiting for a wild boar to tear through my backyard. Hopefully it will snag me a truffle on its way and I can retire on its riches.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

fireflies

Fireflies have started appearing in my garden. Beautiful, fragile things, flitting between the olive trees. Like fireworks for ants. I love them. Often I sit outside in the grass and watch them dance about me until it is time for bed. Apparently Tuscan children try to catch them in jars and their parents give them coins for the ones they manage to catch. It isn't easy work and they release them in the end ( thank goodness) but it does conjure up a wonderful image of children playing and laughing amongst the cypress trees

I often see fireflies on my walk home when I am too late for the last bus. I have a rather steep climb up to my town but have found a short cut through an olive grove which literally buzzes with these beautiful creatures whenever I pass through. Even though the walk can be exhausting at the end of a long day, when the moon is full and the fireflies dance it makes it all worthwhile.

Last Saturday evening I had to do just this after I missed my connection from Florence. I had been at an all day writers' conference in the city and my feet had simply lost their rhythm by the close of the day.  The conference was the usual mix of awkwardness and enthusiasm which seems to colour these things but it was good to identify myself with my writing again.  It's time to ride that pony again.
One thing that became very apparent to me though was that I need to start working on my blog again (oh and I need to finish some stories.) I did manage to meet with a publisher ( who doesn't accept unsolicited manuscripts but had read some of work and  said some really wonderful things) and the first thing she said to me was ' you need to get an agent.' I found this both insightful and amusing since she made it sound like something you just pick up at your local grocery story.

'Um a bottle of red wine, three tomatoes...oh and one agent please. Preferably a good one!'

A good agent though, I suspect, is a bit like a firefly. A beautiful, lively things that can bring such joy into your life...but damn hard to catch.

Time to get some bigger jars.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

New blog

I have started a new blog to document my time in my new town. It is called http://sanminiaow.blogspot.it/. It is not meant to replace this blog at all but I thought if I started a somewhat more detached account of my move I might find it easier to write while I work out how to write on this blog. Suffice to say I am already very behind in this other blog as well..but baby steps, baby steps.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

How to begin

Well spring has arrived and perhaps it is time I got back on my blog.

 It is difficult though to know how to begin so I am going to ease myself in gently with a pretty picture or two.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Today

Today I cried.
It had been a while coming. Maybe five years even.
It happened in the vet's office. My new vet. I changed vets because the old vet gave dog tests to my cat which created all sorts of false positives and misdiagnosis. My new vet can be very abrupt but he was reasonably competent with Three Paw's problems even if I had to push him every inch of the way.  Anyway today I went into to get my cats' travel documents prepared as I am going to try again to leave even though a strong part of me feels like I should stay. I am travelling to the EU and there is an Annex IV document that must be filled out by the vet within ten days of travel. He told me it wasn't necessary. ( I know it is.) I told him to humour me and fill it out anyway and he said he would not because Turkey was different and he is not able to fill it out. But I know he is ( and must) because any licensed vet can and he is licensed. I couldn't believe it. Everyone else who has travelled from here has been able to get a vet certificate before they fly and here I was with the only vet who would not budge.

So I cried. And it wasn't a few tears of frustration. It was shoulder-shuddering, blinding tears that make you need to hold yourself in case you collapse. He sat there impassively going 'don't cry' and I couldn't believe this was happening. I am exhausted. I am physically, emotionally and financially spent. There is so little left in me right now and I can't help wondering when will this all end. If you make your own luck in this life, then I am making only bad luck. And the things is I do get it. I know in this world right now with terrorism, war, cancer and fire, my problems are a hill of beans. But I am drowning in my hill of beans right now and I don't know how to make it stop. Every time something hits me I pick myself up and keep trying. Quietly. Often without ceremony. Tears behind closed doors but a ready smile and a helping hand outside. Even the other day I came across one of the cardboard collector boys lying sprawled on the pavement. Blood bubbling out of his mouth. People walking over his body or just staring. I knelt down beside him and tried to clear his airway and I am shouting to people call an ambulance/ hospital. Help me to help this man. And no one even reached for their mobiles. To them this cardboard boy is nothing. The poorest in this society, eking a living out of scavenging for cardboard in bins full of rot and food. Finally I stopped a bus driver and he pulled over and came to my aid. The boy came to and we got him to sit up and drink some water. When it was finished I disappeared around the corner and I cried.

And I am not writing about this because I am some sort of hero. because I am not. All I did was care. but how much longer can I continue to cope and to care. How many more times can I fall down or see someone fall around me. Even a prize fighter stops getting up if they have been hit too many times.

Is this what a cry for help looks like? I don't know. And even if it is, how can anyone help me. I am alone in this great hole I seem to have fallen in and every time I try to crawl out of it I feel like I am bringing more dirt in. And blocking the light.

Am I supposed to express these feelings here. Probably not. Perhaps I am embarrassing myself here with my desperate words but I don't feel embarassed. I just feel done.


Monday, 21 December 2015

Burgazada

If you ask an Istanbulli which Princes' Island to visit they will generally say Buyukada or perhaps Kinliada if you want to swim. I am pleased by their lack of wisdom for, as I have said before, Burgazada is the gem on that Prince's crown and the less people who bespoil her beauty the better. 

I decided to visit her the other day because even in wintry isolation she is a splendid place for an amble and some  raki. Truth be told, if Three Paw (the miracle doy) hadn't made it through her latest affliction, I had planned to carry her and a shovel over to bury her among the pines.

The weather was glorious. Cold in the shadows but perfect for striding between trees and walking with street dogs.