Spent all day in a little booth making funny voices and drinking tea. Work is hard :~)
_ The cats, I have to mention the cats. Istanbul has cats like New York City has pidgins. These aren’t the mangy street cats I’m used to in the States, they are tame, healthy, beautiful cats. Hundreds of cats. Cats everywhere, the parks, the train stations, the street cafes, the monuments and not just the outside monuments. The doors to the Haghia Sophia are open, and sure enough, taking a nap on a 2,000 year old statue was a cat, delighting in the shaft of sunlight from the stained glass window in the dome above. Everywhere I went these little furry little Turks welcomed me. When I would eat at an outdoor café one would walk up to me and lick it’s lips in hopes of food (but never jump up on the table). Even now, as I sit in the square of Constantine’s column, an orange and white cat has crawled up and perched itself on my lap. The Turks are friendly enough, but they can put on a bit of a harsh demeanor, these cats soften the feel of the city. I don’t know why all these cats are here, but I sure am glad they are. 12/14/11
The Turks love shinny shoes. There are shoe shine men everywhere. With their little shine kits they scurry around everywhere harassing tourists. Well not just that, they definitely harass tourists, but the locals also seem to use them. A lot. Even in the non-tourist areas of the city there’s a legion of shoe shine men at work. So, anyway I’m sitting on a bench in front the Haghia Sophia, resting my poor feet, when one of them comes up to me. “Where you from? Very dirty,” he says “I shine.” Now I’ve lived in New York City for 15 years, I know how to deal with street hustlers, but I’m in a foreign country and I’m trying to be a good ambassador for America. I made the classic mistake. I made eye contact. That was enough. He drops down and starts to physically pick up my foot. “No,” I said, pulling my foot back. I like them that way.” I’m all for putting on a good face for America, but I don’t like being touched. “Very dirty, I clean. Very dirty.” The barrage continued and I did the only thing you could do in a situation like this, bury my nose in my guide book and ignore him. He spat a little curse under his breath and walked away. Later that day he, in another park, came ambling back. “Very dirty. I shine. Remember me?” I did remember him and was a little shocked at his persistence. The same dance of him insisting and me declining followed, ending in the same way as before. The next day, to my continued surprise, he walked up to me in the park again. Remember me? Very dirty,” he repeated his mantra. It had become a battle of wills and I would not give in. Later that night as I walked back over the bridge to my hotel, a completely different shoe shine man walking in front of me dropped his brush. Thinking to improve my karma with the shoe shine men of Istanbul, I picked it up and called out to him. “Thank you,” he said in broken English. He then proceeded to bend down to shine my shoes. “no, it’s fine,” I said. “Please,” he said, “I shine.” Thinking he wanted to thank me for returning the brush, I let him shine my boots. “7 lira,” he says. Well, that was about the end of my rope for shoe shine men. I pulled the change out of my pocket, a little over 2 lira, and handed it to him. “No, paper money.” “This is all I have you can take it or leave it,” I said dropping the money in his hand and walking away. When I got back to my hotel and pulled off my boots I couldn’t help but notice what a great job he had done. The Turks sure do like shinny shoes. 12/15/11
_ Ok, so we’re back to Star Wars. I guess it’s not really surprising, Star Wars provided a major frame of reference for any man between 25 and 45. That movie made such a brand on our psyche that its hard not to see things through that lens, especially when you’re flying. So anyway, I’m in the plane winging my way across the Atlantic. I’m not sure what time it is, the time change already has me messed up, but it’s sometime in the middle of the night. I’m looking out the window (paid extra for that window seat so I’d have a wall to lean against) and the clouds make me think of Hoth. You know the ice planet in Empire Strikes Back. I told you Star Wars was coming back. Ever since I was a little kid, looking down on the clouds made me think of snowscapes. Probably a common thought. The cloudscapes fascinate me and I would play out scenes across the “landscape” as I flew above. So, that is what I was doing tonight when something special happened. A shooting star ripped its way across the sky. I’ve seen shooting stars before, but not very often since I left Kansas. This was something different. With less atmosphere and no city lights, this meteor blazed across the night sky like a fire brand. How lucky am I? I was just lamenting the fact that I wasn’t being able to sleep on my red eye. Guess that’s a good lesson to start my trip with. Don’t be too ridged with what you think you want. You never know where the wonders will present themselves. 12/14/11
_ As I look out onto the tarmac, I’m reminded of Star Wars; Star Wars and home. My seat faces the ocean, so the smattering of lights reminds me of night in Kansas. Also, there’s a red orange swath across the horizon, left by the setting sun. It reminds me of the prairies. Then there’s the lights. When I was a boy there was an airport on the way home to our farm. Airport is a bit generous. It was one runway, mostly for crop dusters, but what was so memorable about this little airport was that the runway faced the road. For one magical second when we drove home at night you could look right down the runway. It was magic. I felt like I was instantly transported to another galaxy. You can’t underestimate the importance of a thing like that to a boy trapped in Kansas. Thoughts of star ships and adventure would flood my head. Kind of fitting that I’m reminded of that as my plane prepares to leave, the already exotic to a Kansas boy, New York and start my journey to the other side of the world. Istanbul. Let the adventure begin. 12/13/11
Very exciting news -- DAILY FLASH 2011 won the 2011 New Mexico Book Award in the fiction, science fiction & fantasy category! Why is that so exciting? Because the Daily Flash 2011 anthology includes a story by yours truly :~)
Opening night of Satyagraha. Get ready for some serious shadow violence!
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