Tuesday, May 17, 2011

True or False

I can't sleep and I have a cold so I'm curled up in my living room watching TV with the kitty sleeping next to me. Will & Grace is on and it's the episode with Madonna. Hello again late-night musings and Madonna. You always seem to go hand in hand.

She's not a very good actress, is she?

I do enjoy her brassy, weirdo character she assumes whenever she's, "laughing at herself," in roles (like she did on SNL with Wayne & Garth and right now on this show, too) but it comes off as trying too hard. Oh well, you can't be completely perfect darling.

I'm working on a new project and it does involve this blog in a way but that's all I want to say about that. Good night everybody.

...my cat just fell off the back of the couch. Good lord, she and I should be sitcom. 2000s had the sassy girl and gay best friend/roommate that everyone identified with but the 2010s? Yeah, it's all about the bespectacled night owl chicks with their personable and occasionally grouchy cats and their adventures on the Internet.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Şeytan Azapta

Fine, I will update, stop bullying me.

A lot has happened in my fabulous, jet-setting life. A lot. The person I am right now no longer has any similarity the person you last knew, who updated a little over a month ago. You will be shocked! Surprised! Horrified! Bewildered! You will OOO! You will AAA! Prepare yourselves because...

No I'm just kidding. Nothing of interest to report. Have a picture of my hair taking over me.

Real update might come later. Might not. You're not the boss of me, Internet.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Then Peace Will Guide the Planets, And Love Will Steer the Stars

It's been a bit since I wrote anything in here and I think I'm slowly losing interest. But no worries, I'll get back in the habit soon enough. Happy one year (and 18 days) to Like A Muse, though. It was exactly a year ago (and 18 days) when I wrote that first entry all freaked out and angry. Happy to say I am not very freaked out or angry right now. Which might be why I'm not writing. I have, however, been recently hired by a national women's website as part of the Boston crew. So once a week or so I will be writing random articles about stuff that's going on in Boston for www.askmissa.com. It can be everything from shows to fashion to movies to restaurants so I think I'll have fun with it. My first piece is all ready to go about the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge and it's Valentine's Day special showings of Casablanca. That was where I first saw the movie too, and I was secretly really excited at the time. When I was younger I used to read a book series about a girl named Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry, and she lived in Cambridge and she would always go to showings of Casablanca at the Brattle with her best friend. In fact, her best friend went with someone else in one book and they had a huge fight and it was this whole dramatic exchange because it was with a boy that Anastasia liked, but didn't want to admit it because he was kind of a dork and carried a briefcase everywhere he went, and her friend couldn't understand what the big deal was. Okay yes, I'm a nerd but if you use the bathroom at the Brattle, there's graffiti in one of the stalls that refers to Anastasia so, I'm not the only one.

I'm also still writing for MetalSucks (wrote yet another theme piece about V-Day for it but mom, don't read it. It's about inappropriate heavy metal sex songs and not suitable for parents) and I'm probably going to start working at Angell Memorial. It's an animal hospital near Northeastern that has an adoption center and they've been looking for people to help out. Me + kitties? God, it's going to be the best thing ever.

On a weird and kind of un-me note, I went to an astrologer. He wasn't the usual tarot-card, read-your-palm man (they freak me out. No, I do not want to know when I'm going to die because then I'll spend the rest of my life obsessing over it. You, fortune teller, have therein ruined my life). Gahl Sasson is a spiritual teacher and deals with Kabbalah and astrology and I know a lot of people scoff at all that, but hey, I place so much faith in the universe, why not try out someone who deals with deciphering it? Besides, Madonna does Kabbalah and if I'm to be true to this blog/project, well, I should give it a shot. I went with my sister and we sat with the guy for almost two hours. He's very strange when you first meet him. You don't get any energy from him, good or bad. He's just blank. I'm pretty intuitive (which is why I judge people a bit harshly because I make up my mind about them within the first few minutes of meeting them) and I just couldn't get a reading off the man. Which he probably does on purpose, voodoo baldy that he is. No, I'm kidding he's actually really friendly, we talked a bit once our sessions were over.

To be honest, I don't place a lot of importance, or any, on planet alignment or any of that crap. When he was going on about the moon being the seventh house or the position of Jupiter in relation to my Virgo-ness blah blah blah, all I was doing was singing, "The Age of Aquarius," in my head and trying not to crack up. It's the personality stuff that matters to me. And he was pretty on-target with everything he said. Like, I need to have a tidy, peaceful environment or I'll freak out and can't get anything done. Well, I do clean the house and make my bed and get dressed as soon as I wake up otherwise I feel like I'm wasting the day in filth. He also called me a nun with great style. I'm a Queen Elizabeth figure, apparently, since we're both, "double Virgos." If you're reading this and looking completely blank, don't worry. I literally went, "Huh?' when he said that. It means I let no one, especially men, control me and I'm independent and grounded yet I love luxury, like the Virgin Queen. He was quick to add, "No, no doesn't mean she didn't have sex! She had lots of it! She just never took a man's name or one to rule with her!" Fair enough. Hah, that was also one of the few times he broke his sedate character to hastily explain himself. Guys, I need to be surrounded by luxury to feed my creativity. Buy me stuff. Anyone that sees him also has the opportunity to ask about whomever they want. You just have to give the time, date, and place of birth. My sister and I asked about our parents and then I couldn't resist, I timidly asked what his crazy astrology computer (he puts all the information into this program and it spits out everything and he explains it to whomever he's "reading,") said about my cat. I'm crazy okay? We know this. But he said my favorite thing; my cat and I have karma. She found me and if she ever leaves me, she will always find a way to get back to me, even in death. My little Egglet. I loves her.

Of course, I asked about writing stuff but let's just see how this year goes before I reveal anything and see if comes true. 2011 is the year of new beginnings, astrologically-speaking, and I do have hopes for it. He records every session and my sister and I both have CDs with our readings but meh, I don't need to hear it again. He named certan dates that were "good," or, "bad," but I don't remember them nor do I want to. His whole job may be based on the way the universe was on the specific times people were born and I don't know, maybe there's something to it. But everyone makes their own life and their own choices and I don't think giant balls of burning gas really set our paths. This is what I whole-heartedly believe and I don't care if Mars humping Venus on the night of my birth means I must dance in the blood of 1000 virgins to successfully write a novel. There are probably thousands of others born on the same date and time I was and they're all living different lives than I am. It's not because of planet alignment either, no, it's because of their choices and environment and everything else that helps shape them to be who they are. But, it's still fun and I see no harm in believing in this, rather than say, religion.

Also, this is horribly un-metal but I saw Wicked and it's amazing. I love belting female vocals and the lady playing Elphaba gave me goosebumps all night long. Yeah, I like musicals shhh. I mean, I had the lead in one in high school. AND THE ASTROLOGER SAID I SHOULD'VE BEEN AN ACTRESS BUT THAT I HATED THE SPOTLIGHT SO I COMPROMISED WITH SCREENWRITING. Yeah, occasionally he hit on some freakily accurate stuff. The Mercury is strong in me.

Now let's see how far along I am with this blog project! Note: I allowed for some creative adaptation as the year went on.

(X) Task 1: Plan out the project.
(X) Task 2: Dress up and look like an asshole.
(X) Task 3: Sexy writings.
(X) Task 4: Audition for something, anything. Applied for writing gigs, got'em.
(X) Task 5: Start fashion fuckery; www.shesoffbeat.blogspot.com
(X) Task 6: "Like a prayer, I'll take you there."
(X) Task 7: Write my book; wrote first 80 pages, gave up, re-writing the whole thing.
(X) Task 8: Design Ayran Maiden Eddie. Attempted, sucked at photoshop, no one would help me.
(X) Task 9: Conquer Egglet and her claws. I did, kind of.
(X) Task 10: Teach myself Hindi. Replaced it with improving Turkish, have started reading more in my native tongue.
(X) Task 11: Get into a healthy exercise program.
(X) Task 12: Go back to India.
(X) Task 13: Learn to tie a sari. It was hilariously bad.
(X) Task 14: Watch 8 Miles High, the life of Uschi Obermaier (I'm watching it tonight so technically, done)
(X) Task 15: Have a "mod," day. Welp, had a period of straightening my hair and wearing just black and white...
(X) Task 16: Karaoke timez. I sang with my friends to Dio during RockBand. Totally counts.
(X) Task 17: Do something with Borusan Kultur and Sanat. The program may not have worked out but I did contribute music to another event and maybe something will come of it when I get back.
(X) Task 18: Horsey times. May not have ridden it but did spend time with my daddy and Lulu his other baby.
(X) Task 19: Write a new script. Got the idea and outline.
(X) Task 20: Edit existing scripts... um, I made notes on future edits? Okay, bad me.
(X) Task 21: Write a series of kids books about Egglet. I started her blog (Like A Mews) and I will continue that and eventually turn it into a book.
(X) Task 22: Be a nice person, i.e. volunteer. Loophole: don't have to help people! Yay animals!
(X) Task 23: Belly-danced like the Middle Eastern stripper I am.
(X) Task 24: Dressed up night on the town. Did it one better; went to a movie premiere.
(X) Task 25: Go to a gay bar! The Model in Boston kind of counts.
(X) Task 26: Madonna artwork for my new place to stay in the mind-set. It's hidden in my closet and is secretly awesome.
(X) Task 27: Read Anna Karenina and various other classics. I read some amazing books though Anna was a little too dreary.
(X) Task 28: Learn to drive.
(X) Task 29: DIY my metal shirts. Finish vest and get going on the new one.
(X) Task 30: Watch Drowned World and various other Madonna concert films. Just Sticky & Sweet left.
(X) Task 31-100 - Adopt air of Madonna; go forth confidently and stuff. I guess? I'm pretty confident. I got some of that self-esteem shit people talk about.

It's been a year and I've done everything I set out to do. Pretty much. Kind of? Sure, I did some tweaking and cheating but my project, my rules. I think it's a turning point now to slowly get out of the Madonna-ness I've had for the past year. It was fun and something to do when I was kind of down and it helped me stay sane, but everything must come to an eventual end. Bu da gecer. And thus, I declare the Like A Muse project over. Of course, I'm going to continue with stuff I started, especially writing-wise, and I will keep writing here, but I think it's time for the blog to be just a blog. I'm keeping the name though, it's pretty catchy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Pissing Everywhere Is Not Very Chanel

This blog is almost a year old! January 15 is when I'll reaally do my year in review because I kind of live and breathe by the terms of this funny little corner of the Internet. In the meantime, I've started another task. I know there are a million and one fashion blogs out there and everyone and their mother thinks they're the next Anna Wintour (editor of Vogue) just because they can pair "vintage" with Chanel and then take well-lit pictures of it. However, since this here cyber world is as endless, infinite and eternal (God, I hope not. My article I wrote in in summer camp is still up somewhere on the damn world wide web. It needs to go away already) as the universe, there's no reason why there shouldn't be room for one more fashion blogger; ME! Don't worry, I won't be as annoying with it as I am with this one (feeding, on to Facebook, bullying people to read it, linking to posts everywhere. I'm sorry, okay! That's just the way things are done!) so I'll just leave the one link here.


I've always had an interest in clothing and style and jewelry, from making my own metal band skirts to hunting with my mom all over Istanbul for peacock feather fabric to stealing my grandmother's designer sequined top and lace skirt to wear to a school event (there are also pictures of me with her fur stole and handbag parading around the house when I was about 5). I like looking at peoples' daily outfits and half the blogs I follow are just that; regular girls with distinct styles that I enjoy seeing what they do. That's how I've gotten to know them. This is something I've wanted to for a while so I'm trying it out. I like my outfits even though I get called weird every so often from everyone from my boyfriend to my grandfather. Hey, I did get stopped on the street once to get photographed for Elle's Street Style though. That's my claim to fashion fame. I don't think they ever published it.

My sister now as her own blog too. Ah college, the year I started Livejournal and various other online journeys that have all led to this moment. We write. It runs in the family. Check it out.


I'll have a real post up soon. Elliot leaves tomorrow and the year has officially started so back to all the writing work I've put off.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Can't Stop the Cyclone, That's About to Explode

I don't really do resolutions on New Year's Eve because, well, I have enough things to live up to in my head year-round that I don't need to indulge in that particular cliche. Instead I'll join the "summing up my year" bandwagon.Enjoy a brief verbal and pictorial overview of my year. 2010, you were pretty interesting. Thank you to all of you who keep reading and commenting, it means the world to me.

* Started the year out in Istanbul
* Witnessed plans for the opening of the Music House
* Met Mercan Dede and Carlito Dalceggio
* Went to L.A.
* Did not like it (*cough* understatement *cough**cough*)
* Went back to Boston
* Got my 7th tattoo (or 5th depending on how you count them)
* Started the Like A Muse project/blog
* Had a blonde(ish) moment. Still growing out the streaks.
* Got internship with Gersh Agency based in L.A.
* Got upgraded to a paid reader at Gersh although amount of work they sent me drastically dropped
* Sent the boyfriend off to Iraq for the last couple times
* Went to Jodhpur, India with the family in time for Holi
* Returned to Boston to my favorite apartment I've ever lived in, with my cat
* Came back to Istanbul for the summer and my sister's high school graduation
* Saw Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood with my cousins and sister
* Went to Brussels, Belgium to see Mercan Dede and Elif Safak
* Went to Salzburg, Austria to watch our orchestra perform and my uncle receive a medal for contributions to the arts
* Traveled back to southern Turkey for sea times
* Started writing for MetalSucks and interviewed Roxana Shirazi, Wolf Hoffman from Accept, and Bobby Liebling of Pentagram
* Attended a Tarkan concert
* Back to Boston to see KISS with Elliot
* Elliot left for Austin, TX for two months while I got ready to move to a new apartment
* Kept making headway with the Muse Project, started writing a book
* Visited best friends in Chicago
* Treated boyfriend to Devin Townsend for his birthday
* Saw Dimmu Borgir and Enslaved
* Spent Thanksgiving in Virginia
* Traveled to Hong Kong with my boyfriend
* Came back home to Istanbul to finish off the year with my loved ones

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Thanks Hong Kong :D ! Part 5

And so we come to the last section of our five-part Hong Kong miniseries. It's been great having you along for the ride but please put your seats in the upright position and restore your tray tables. And since planes seem to keep on flying another half an hour after these useless announcements, I'm just going to keep on writing.

On our second to last day Elliot went to to explore one of the islands near Hong Kong. He'd wanted to rent a bike and ride around and had planned on it since way before the trip so I said he should just go for it. Since I felt like hell, and not on high heels like the subject of the eponymous Motley Crue song, I decided it was time for more relaxation. I went off to find out exactly what foot reflexology entailed. According to Wikipedia, reflexology is an alternative medicine, complementary, or integrated method of treatment involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet and hand with specific thumb, finger and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body. There were signs ALL OVER the city for it. Complete with neon-lit images of blinking feet. Now, I hate feet. I think they're gross and yucky and just bleh. But, I was willing to push aside my feet prejudices in the name research. Maybe by rubbing a certain area of my foot they could make me not quite so congested. And I really wanted a massage. Maybe one that didn't leave marks.

Our hotel was connected to a bigger one, it was like the satellite branch except they were right next to each other. Good job Hong Kong. So I went to their spa. It was on the bottom floor and made up of a series of rooms connected by short passageways. It was like a very dimly lit labyrinth where people went to get pampered and didn't come back alive. I said I wanted foot reflexology, a massage, and a manicure. I'm a girl, deal with it. They led me to a one person couch that was so comfy. Beaded curtains separated the hallway into partitions that each had a couch. They made makeshift rooms and each "room," had a couch, a table and small TV mounted on the wall. They gave me some tea and then I soaked my feet in warm water. The lady in charge of my treatments asked if I wanted the TV on and I said sure. They gave me little earphones, set the channel to National Geographic where a show about India was starting, then had me lean back and prop my feet up on a footstool.

And then I saw the DO NOT SCREAM sign. I'm not kidding. There was a sign fixed right across from me that read exactly that. Good grief, what did I get myself into?

Bliss. I got myself into bliss. Oh good God, it felt good. I mean, I don't know how "healed" I was, but it definitely felt nice. She rubbed my ankles and massaged my calves (who has knots in their calves? Me, apparently) and just applied the best amount of pressure to ease up my poor little feets. Plus, the show about India was really good. I learned all about cow wranglers. And then came a show about the tallest building in the world, Taipei 101, and I learned all about it. It has a special window-washing system made personally for it.

The reflexology took about an hour after which they graciously asked me if I need to use the bathroom (I did. I drank a lot of green tea) and then led me to the massage chamber where I changed into the same kimono top and shirts the other place had. And then I had the most miserable massage experience of my life. I'm not a hypochondriac or a fussy person. When I'm sick, and I say I'm sick, I am honestly sick. So when I had to lie on my stomach with my head propped on the padded toilet seat thing they have on massage tables for your face, all my mucus drained to the front of my head. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't sniffle without making a lot of noise and I could feel everything dripping. I couldn't even enjoy the massage because I was too busy silently willing my sinuses to cooperate. They didn't. At one point, I had a droplet splash down through the face hole of the massage table onto the ground. I felt so sorry for the poor Chinese lady having to touch the diseased white girl. But bless her she finally gave me tissues and had me rest my head on the side. That didn't work. I got a coughing attack and kept jerking around as she was trying to rub. Finally, she had me on my back and even tried to rub my sinuses but nope, I just felt too gross and too miserable. Thankfully it was over soon but I couldn't even hang my head and make my escape. I had my damn manicure. I was led back to my armchair (DO NOT SCREAM) and it was a different girl and I had the stupid glitter OPI nail polish that took about half an hour for her to remove. Then she basically scythed my cuticles with one blade of the nail scissors as I watched horrified. She left me there, after she was done applying whatever weird chemical-y nail polish she put on me, so my nails could dry but I just paid up and made my escape. It smudged. Thanks Hong Kong :D !

Elliot got back a little after I did and he was sun-burnt and a little let-down, as per Hong Kong usual. There were no bikes but he did get a lot of pictures. We hung out for a little while, got free coffee at the hotel's terrace cafe and then decided to give Indian food anther try. We found a place on the 6th floor of a building in Wan Chai and had a pretty decent meal. Much better than the Indian bazaar where I'm pretty sure I watched a woman agree to certain "services," for a creepy Indian man. I'm not just making this up either. Elliot missed the whole thing but I watched the man come in, talk to the woman (who I think was Malaysian. Definitely not Indian or Chinese), smile as she nodded, leave as she told him to go wait outside because she had food coming, and then come back in and inquire several times as to what was keeping her food to the girl working. When the woman got her food, he escorted her out. Something fishy definitely went on. After dinner we finally made it up to the Peak. It was so dark and the city was so beautifully lit, it was truly a spectacular view. Everyone should see it at some point in their lives. Of course, there was a lame couple making out like they'd never seen tongues before. We yelled, "EWWWW," at them. We are very mature.

It was with a hacking cough and more rib pain that I woke up on our last day. Elliot kept trying to convince me that we needed a doctor but I waved him off. We had presents to buy and bird markets to see. Though, I did get a little apprehensive about going to a Chinese bird market while sick. I mean, I joked about SARS and the bird flu but... we were in China and I had been growing steadily worse for the last ten days. I drank my weight in liquids though and off we went.

Hong Kong has a lot of markets. They have the fruit and vegetable markets set up on the streets during the day on Queen's Road where Elliot and I bought delicious crisp apples and sweet bananas. They have the night markets in Mong kok, the most crowded place on Earth, where they sell everything from vibrators to paintbrush sets to Super Mario figurines (we got them for our friends). They also have the two animal markets where, for once, you don't actually eat the animals. These are the bird market (or gardens as they were called) and the goldfish market. We went to the bird market first. It was this little area that had all sorts of birds in pretty wooden cages. There were African grey parrots I made Elliot take pictures of for my cousin who has one so she can see Gypsy's (that's his name. He's 19) Chinese cousins, and so many little budgies and parakeets. I think I saw some myna birds as well as blue and yellow Macaus, my favorite kind of parrots. It was a little uncomfortable seeing so many birds crammed into the cages though. Elliot is kind of a bleeding heart when it comes to animals, more so than I am, so we didn't really linger.

The goldfish market was amazing. I admit, I was kind of ambivalent about it because let's face it, goldfish are kind of boring. My family has had one goldfish or another in the house since I was a child and they just don't really excite me. Not like turtles, haha. But the market was not so much as a market as one street with all the shops next to each other and they all had rows and rows of plastic bags filled with water and fish on display right outside. Beyond just goldfish there were several other kinds of fish for sale too, including some really weird spotted ones. Of course, there were turtles too. I could've stayed and stared at everything for hours. We saw a little case of bright yellow frogs just swimming about like froggies do. This street also had pet shops and of course, I had to look at them. Elliot's stomach turned at all the kittens and dogs and bunnies on display, and I tried to make him feel better in between squealing. They wouldn't stock so many (and put them all together, like 7 kittens in one small enclosure) if there wasn't such a high demand, right? They probably sell them fast. But then I got distracted by a window filled with bunnies and stood there cooing. As we walked by apparently there was a giant bucket of guts right next door. I'm glad I didn't see it. Though it was odd that there were so many seafood restaurants next to the pet stores. I assured Elliot that the giant store with the big pawprint on the sign was probably just another pet store not a restaurant... thanks Hong Kong :D !

We'd finally managed to get in contact with Nikki and she asked if we were free that night. We were going to go to Jumbo, the famous restaurant that had a version in Boston, because it was our last chance to that night. But, we decided we could fit her in too so we used the free Internet at a Pacific Coffee Company (sort of like a Starbucks) to send her a message asking her to meet us at 8 p.m. by the clock tower in the Kowloon harbor. We went to lunch back on the Hong Kong side at this small, Chinese (doi big surprise) restaurant. A guy sitting next to us told us to get the set menus because they were cheaper and really good and told the waiter to give us the menus. The waiter got all fussy but did it and we ended up eating some of the best food on the whole trip. Noodles in clear, spicy broth and crispy pork in a honey glaze with fresh, crunchy cucumbers in garlic. Yeah, it was delicious. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting gifts including personalized stamps for each of our dads. We had to give the man an hour to make them so we made a plan. We'd go over to the Kowloon side for Elliot's final fitting and to give them the hotel address to deliver the suits (and free beer!), then come back and get the stamps, then make our way to the bus station to go and finally see Jumbo, then either take a cab or the bus back to Kowloon to meet Nikki, even though she hadn't responded back to us yet.

Elliot's suits were great and the tiny store was filled with energetic Indian men, all friendly and personable and measuring various customers. The stamps were made; my dad's with a carved horse on top (he loves horsies) and Elliot's dad's with a pig as he was born in the year of, and so we trudged back to the bus station. We'd had trouble finding the right bus earlier in the week but luckily, it was right there so we hopped on for a merciful half hour of sitting down. I was next to this kid playing, according to Elliot, God of War and he was not doing so well, also according to Elliot who was watching from behind us.

When we got to our stop it was right by the water. A few steps and we could see out towards some lights just floating in the middle. Jumbo. So we walked. We walked for half an hour and ended up at some car service district with no sign of water anywhere. Where the hell was it?! How do you get to the damn restaurant!? Finally, we gave up and went to pee at some food court we found. Needless to say, we were danm exhausted and we were pretty far from where we had to be so we found a bus stop rather than a cab and decided to just take it to the pretty much the end of the line. The bus rolled down the street in the opposite direction of where we'd been walking and it drove right past a giant sign, JUMBO. It had steps and a pier right to it. We'd gone the wrong way. At least we got a glimpse of it on the way back? We just didn't have time to get back out and go see it, we were already a little late.

We were at the clock tower a little past 8:30 but there was no sign of Nikki. You can kind of imagine how tired we were at that point (the market trips had been the same day) and we waited for almost and two hours but no sign of Nikki. We took turns getting hot coffee at the 711 or checking the internet and the heavy wind did not help my developing headache. We'd had a long day and at that point I hadn't eaten since lunch, nine hours earlier. After giving up on Nikki we got back on the ferry and crossed over to Hong Kong. I had a raging headache by this time and I just thought food was what I needed. We walked around trying in vain to find a roast pork place (or suckling pig. Elliot found out the name of what he wanted so we ended up walking into places, asking if they had it, and then turning around and walking swifly back out when they said no. We asked maybe 7 places. Note: this is a food Hong Kong is famous for) and after while, fed up, we ended up at the same building the Indian restaurant had been in. We picked a random floor and walked in to a restaurant. I think it was Taiwanese food. It was odd and I felt like throwing up because my headache was so bad. Elliot was getting increasingly worried, especially when I went to retch in the bathroom. No vomit though. Finally, I said I was just going to leave and grab a cab back but my darling boyfriend abandoned his meal, paid up, and led me out.

Back in the noise and mess and chaos of people we were. I had enough. I was just done with Hong Kong. A passing double-decker bus had an ad all over it for Turkish Airlines and Istanbul. Thanks universe. Your timing, as always, is super. I almost started crying, I wanted to go home so badly. This was of course, before my exchange with Cengiz Bey so Turkish Airlines was a sign of comfort not extreme hatred (haha their catchphrase is, "Globally yours." My dad cracked that it was, "Globally up yours." Amen sir!). We walked out on the street, stopping only so Elliot could get pork jerky from a corner store, and went to track down a cab. Our hotel wasn't too far away, but far enough distance walking so we had some trouble finding a cab but thank God one stopped. He dropped us off, Elliot begged me to eat something, I told him to get out as I did not want him to deal with me vomiting, he did, at which point I went to the bathroom and actually did start crying. This did not help my pounding head. And still no throwing up. That usually makes me feel better but I wasn't about to force myself. I'm pretty sure I burst some blood vessels from heaving anyway.

Elliot came back after a while with some yogurt but I had taken some Tylenol PM at that point (it knocks me out so I didn't want to take any earlier and I didn't have regular Tylenol with me) and was curled up in the bed. I've had migraines before but usually they're like once every six months or so. In Hong Kong I got two within three days of each oher. The Tylenol helped a little and I finally drifted off to sleep to the dulcet tones of CSI, my new friend.

The next morning I felt fine (well, still mucus-y and cough-y and gross but at least my brain didn't feel like it was about to come out of my skull) and it was kind of sad how happy Elliot and I were to be going home. We were almost giddy. We took a cab to the airport express terminal, got to check in our bags there (it's a subway station for just the airport in the city. You can check in and leave your luggage and it'll get to where it's going, no problem. Jesus, Hong Kong. You are so amazing at some stuff and so ass-backwards about others. It blows my mind), and then peacefully rode the subway to the airport. We got our last buns (pork for Elliot, cheese and mushroom and I think some pork too as I doubt they have anything without pork there. Yep, I was a bad Muslim this vacation) and I bought the sequel to the, "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," as I'd finished the first one and we boarded Continental bound for that magical, glorious land; NEWARK.

Now, we were spoiled by Cathay Pacific so we didn't have high hopes for our Continental plane. Boy, were we wrong. Every seat had a TV with probably hundreds of movies and a fair amount of TV shows. They had Dexter! They gave us food and snacks and even though I was in the middle seat, I was quite comfortable the fifteen hours back. I watched Desperately Seeking Susan because it was a comfort movie with my Madonna in it and I realized I'd never seen it all the way. It's not very good. The problem is, it has a decent plot and the writer(s) gave reasons and alibis and explanations for everything so that it would be plausible. But, they got so caught up with making sure everything made sense that the actual story and movie fell by the wayside. It was kind of boring but fun. Madonna was amazing though, just because she's so cool. I mean, acting is so so but she's just so cool! My darling muse was there right when I needed her. Oh, and her outfits? MAN. She had a pair of sequinned boots I would very happily sell my cat for. No, I LIED. NEVER. Not my Egglet. Oh I just got a heartache-y pang. I have to go hug her right now. No, not my cat. My sister maybe. I love you Mina. Rosanna Arquette talks and looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar, by the way. It was really odd. I think that might be way I like her. I always wondered why and assumed because she kept appearing in mvoies with my loves, Madonna and David Bowie (The Linguini Incident, one of my favorites), but it might very well be because I love SMG and Rosanna and she do have a fair bit in common. She's in Desperately Seeking Susan too, I didn't just randomly start talking about the best Arquette.

It wasn't until we reached Newark that I saw I had a message from Nikki. She slept through everything. Oh Nikki. Good job :D

We got home and were immediately greeted by an ecstatic Egg. She spent the rest of the afternoon and night going from my arms to Elliot's and slept curled up close to us all night. It was good to be home.

I wouldn't say it was a bad vacation but I also wouldn't say it was the best. China is not for the weak. Especially those with a crappy immune system (my cough went away a day after I got back home but I remained congested for another week). But, I guess I'm still pretty happy I got to go and see it. It was an experience and well, maybe next time it'll be for 3 days rather than ten. THANKS HONG KONG :D !

Goldfish market

Bird gardens.

Hong Kong from the Peak at night.

Us. Where will we end up next? My vote is for Australia.

Thanks Hong Kong :D ! Part 4

All right, I got my German bowel-movement tea (don't ask) and my King Diamond DVD waiting for me so I'm ready to finish this sum bitch up. Bring it on Hong Kong.


I have no idea where we left off so we're just going to start off with the nice Korean dinner we had one night. There was a huge sign outside the place that read, "WE SPEAK ENGLISH," which seemed kind of odd but we went in. Yes, they did speak English. Very well. It kind of weirded us out. I don't know why but hearing an older Chinese (Korean? Wait I don't remember if it was run by Chinese or Koreans) spit out rapid-fire, amazing, English and then throw in some slang was just odd. But the food was so delicious. We weren't hungry enough for Korean barbecue (except I kind of was but I didn't want to bully Elliot into eating sizzling meat, hur hur that's what she said) so I got my stand-by Jap Che noodles and Elliot got... something. They were like tubes of noodles with veggies. Both very good.

The next day, we decided to go see the big, giant Buddha. Now, I was kind of excited about seeing the big, giant Buddha. It's a big, giant Buddha for crying out loud! All peaceful and big and giant. Who doesn't want to see a big, giant Buddha? Pish tosh. Oh, and to get to big Buddha you have to ride up by cable car.


I love cable cars. They were my favorite part of the skiing vacations my family used to go on. Besides the tost (grilled cheese) and tea/hot chocolate we'd have in the little restaurant at the bottom of one the slopes. And the game room with the pinball machine. Not to mention the foosball machine. Back in the days when I used to be good at it. Grr. Okay, I liked all the supplementary stuff to skiing. Skiing itself is kind of a take or leave. Since we haven't been in years it's more of a leave. But anyway, cable cars = good, creaky fun high above land!

Yeah the cars went rather slowly and swayed quite a bit and they had gaps where freezing wind snaked in and made me feel like we were in a rusty deathtrap but we lived. We went up a pretty long way but it was so cool seeing the big, giant Buddha slowly come into view. It lay just beyond one of the highest hills and even though it was a hazy day, it looked so majestic. And that was about the only impressive thing about it. The place was like a bizarre theme park. China Presents : Buddhism! There was a Starbucks, a Subway and various other fast food places and fake snow and Christmas music piping out of everywhere (you could get your picture taken with Santa!) and cheap, touristy crap. They also had an animated feature starring monkeys named Doofus and Clever. It was the most underwhelmed I've ever felt at an international landmark. The Buddha itself was all right. I'm actually surprised it wasn't plastic seeing as how commercial the entire place was. But it was big and we could climb the 300-odd, yup OCD me counted, steps up to it's base. Of course, I was excited because I didn't do my research and thought it was a historic place. It's barely 15 years old. The spiritual, mystic monastery right next to it? Still under construction.

I had fun laughing about it with my equally disgusted boyfriend. It became a running joke, "So help me God, I'll take you back to Ngong Ping!" That was the name of the place. But the most magnificent thing happened on our way back. We passed this couple, we can only assume a husband and wife, and the man looked like he was ready to kill himself (or more likely, her), he just looked like the most brow-beaten man ever. His wife was this rather large lady and all we heard her say, for about a full minute was, "MungmungmungmungMUNGMUNGMUNGmungMUNGmung." She said it maybe 15 times and she had no teeth and I sincerely hope she wasn't having some sort of stroke because oh how we laughed. I mean, we walked away really fast before we cracked up, but still. Hilarious. I guess you had to be there.

Then we got stuck in the cable car, suspended above water, with a Korean family for about half an hour. We assume someone threw up even though the announcement said there was just, "routine maintenance." Suuuuure. We did get a nice view of the sewage treatment informational facilities though. And the airport. Yes, the view was a little lackluster.

My Elliot and I don't really fight that often, and we usually resolve it in minutes, but we did have kind of a tiff in Hong Kong. He kept saying I looked miserable and I kept trying to tell him I was fine. Dumbest argument ever. I mean yeah, I was sick the entire time so I probably did look terrible but I don't ever really exclaim like a crazed banshee when I'm having the time of my life either. I absolutely hate it when he thinks I'm having a bad time and feels guilty about it because come on, I'm not a child. If I'm not enjoying myself I'll excuse myself and go do something else. Hell, I've done it with my other friends. Some nights I just don't want to laugh at fat hipsters at our bar. I'll bid them all have fun and hang out by myself at home or whatever. I was getting mad at him for being overly concerned and he was getting mad at me for not making any plans to see places and I guess it was secretly that we were both kind of disappointed with Hong Kong and taking it out on each other. I guess we assumed it would be like Japan where we had a blast but eh. But we cleared that up pretty fast. And then spent the rest of the time taking Hong Kong with a grain of salt. Thanks Hong Kong :D

Hong Kong is known for it's tailors and Elliot wanted to get a suit made so he found one of the more famous places, Samm's, where his dad and grandfather had also gotten suits and went in for a fitting. They had a pretty great marketing scheme for customers; offer them beer. It's Hong Kong, nobody cares about anything! So after every fitting (there were 3) Elliot would just walk back out into the city, carrying his open, and free, beer. He got two suits made there and they're excellent. One is a deep charcoal color with bright orange lining and the other is dark, dark navy with subtle pinstripes and a royal blue paisley lining. Yeah, my boyfriend has Iranian taste in his clothes. Loud and paisley. Thanks Hong Kong :D !

On one of these days we also ventured back to the Walk of Fame and took pictures of all the stars' names we recognized, both for our friends and for ourselves. We found Jackie Chan and Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat among others. I also took a picture of Elliot with the Bruce Lee statue. There were a bunch of school kids prowling around the area too, and they were conducting surveys for class. We got stopped a couple times each and asked questions. One girl who interviewed me also took my picture. I assume it shall become a Chinese internet meme soon. The questions were mostly about Hong Kong and the food in Hong Kong. They were short and kind of fun, actually.

We still hadn't heard from our friend Nikki so we went on making plans by ourselves. The next morning, after getting a breakfast of French toast at this little place run by a sweet old Chinese man, we rode one of the subway lines all the way to the end, outside the city, to try and find a certain monastery. There were signs pointing uphill and I was still a cauldron of boiling mucus (yep delightful, I know. I woke up every morning hacking and coughing and spitting out chunks of green phlegm. I am the most attractive girl in the world) and walking was cause for a weird stabbing pain in my ribs (I seriously was falling apart for ten days. When did I become such a weakling? Need to start hitting the gym again, I guess) so I asked if we could take a cab up. The guidebooks even recommended we do that. But the one cab that stopped was kind of a jerk and it just turned Elliot off of the whole deal so we decided to go find something else. We got on another train and followed a path to a secluded little garden. Elliot had looked up locations from Bruce Lee movies he'd wanted to visit and this was one of them. It was so quiet and so pretty; lots of big trees and small pools filled with giant carp and turtles again. Yay, turtles. There were archways and a couple buildings that we weren't allowed in but we could see inside and they had just rows and rows of pictures of people and incense burned everywhere.

There were big cauldron-like things set up everywhere and what looked like incinerators. Oh. It took us a while before we realized it was a type of crematorium center and those little flakes floating everywhere weren't leaves or blossoms, they were ashes. Human ashes. Thanks Hong Kong :D !

It was still pretty cool though and we got back to the city in time for lunch. This is where we gambled with our lives and picked a random place off the street to eat. Elliot and I both ordered our food, and milk tea which everyone around us was drinking and it looked really good, and waited in trepidation. There was an Istanbul Kebap branch right across from us so that was our back-up plan in case we were served something particularly inedible. That day I learned that lo mein in China is THE SAME AS IN AMERICA. It kind of blew my mind because I thought that was an Americanized dish. But nope, totally had noodles with sprouts and meat served to me. But I don't know what kind of meat. I'd like to think pork. Let's say it was pork.

Oh who am I kidding, it was probably horse.

Elliot had a dish of beef and rice and we both ate quite well. Our tea was also delicious, and let's just try not to think about how the the glasses probably hadn't been washed since they were first delivered to the restaurant. Everyone on the street was watching us eat too. There was a group of Indian men just staring. When my food came, a man walking by looked down, looked back at me, gave me big smile of approval and walked on. I guess I passed some sort of test?

That night we went to our stand-by of Japanese. How sad is it that we had to have Japanese as our stand-by? Poor Elliot. All he wanted was roast pig and we couldn't find one place. Hong Kong really let us down in terms of food. We went to this Indian arcade type place that was all stuff from India and we had lunch there and although I enjoyed the music videos (all of whom I recognized and could name the stars in them and the movies they were from) the food was kind of bad. I guess I'm a meat snob because the cuts of chicken there were terrible and the rice was not at all good. I also really wanted to try the crab with chili, a Hong Kong trademark, but I knew it would just come served as is; this giant crab staring at me from the plate and I would stare at it and it would stare back and I'd have no idea how to eat it and it would just be an ordeal. Next time I guess. Or we'll go to San Francisco and try there. We did find a restaurant that Anthony Bourdain went to, though. His picture was splashed across the door. Anyway, Japanese was good and I decided it was finally time to have my Tsing Tao. Yes, I ordered Chinese beer at the Japanese restaurant. It came in a bottle the size of a large, wine bottle. Elliot didn't have more than a couple sips, his tailor had supplied him wit enough earlier, so I drank most of it. I was feeling no pain by the time I got up from that table.

Wan Chai is simply the best place to walk around when you're buzzed. I wasn't drunk or tipsy but I was at that nice point where you really can't work yourself up about anything but you've still got your wits about you. It was a nice state to be in as we walked around the hooker and "dance" club section of the city. And by dance I don't mean dance. It's unfortunate though, every time one of the "dance" ladies called out to us, it just broke any spell her looks may have sought to cast. Yeah, the language of love, nay seduction, it is not. Then we rode the double-decker tram back to the hotel. I got a nice hot Nescafe from the 711. I really enjoyed the trams and the cans of Nescafe drinks, hot or cold.

Thus ended another night in Hong Kong. We still hadn't trekked out to the metal bar a MetalSucks reader had sent me a message about, or to the "old" Jumbo, but hey, I had my beer. Still prefer Kirin. But thanks Hong Kong :D !

Up with the cable cars.

The big, giant Buddha

The animated monkeys. You may wonder why one's head is up the others' ass. I wonder too.

Jackie Chan!

Elliot and Bruce Lee.

Peaceful crematorium garden.

Where we assume they dump the bodies.

The tram during the day.

On the the tram, empty street at night.

Warnings on a bus. Hee, boobies.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

An Ode to the Fairest Flight of the All; Turkish (Fucking) Airlines

I apologize for cursing so soon into this entry (the title) but I do believe strong words are needed. I know I haven't finished the Hong Kong updates but they were beginning to sound kind of dry and boring and I needed a break from thinking about China dramas. So, I take this moment to tell you a little story...

The Day the Phone Died; A Leyla and Egglet Adventure

The first flakes of snow had just started falling when Leyla and her awesome cat, Egglet, set off for Logan International Airport. It wasn't long before Boston looked like it was covered in a blanket of soft, white, albeit freezing, wool. But the intrepid travelers weren't worried. They'd taken on the Atlantic several times before and little particles of frozen water weren't about to stop them. After sailing through security, the two girls wandered around for a bit. Leyla picked up the new Jonathan Franzen book, Freedom, because it was sufficiently long for the plane-ride (562 pages) and treated herself to a caramel apple cider before the flight.

On the plane, they were seated in business class because Leyla's parents are almost stupidly generous and they refused to let her travel in cramped quarters with a cat, and next to them was a Kazakh girl about her age named Mila. Mila and Leyla spent the flight making occasional chit-chat, eating their meals (Mila had the fish while Leyla had the ravioli. Countless viewings of the movie Airplane! had dissuaded her from ever eating fish on a flight), and bonding over how much they loved animals. Mila slept for most of the seven hours to Frankfurt and Leyla, unable to reach those quiet gates of slumber, watched The Kids Are All Right which had an excellent score and plenty of Bowie songs, which she delighted in (Carter Burwell was the composer of the original music and in charge of the rest and Leyla oft thought they'd be great friends since every time she really loved the score or music for a movie, it turned out to be Mr. Burwell's work. Or Graeme Revell but that's a different man for a different movie). It starred Julianne Moore and Annette Bening as a married lesbian couple with two kids who seek out their sperm donor dad on the eldest child's 18th birthday. Mark Ruffalo was also in it, as the donor, and with his dirty, tousled hair, motorcycle, and rakish charm he edged himself on Leyla's Top 10 Celebrities She Would Jump On If Her Boyfriend Gave the OK list. The rest, if you're interested, is as follows:

10. Mark Ruffalo
09. 1980s Nikki Sixx
08. Ewan McGregor
07. Christoph Waltz
06. Alexander Skarsgård
05. Michael Hutchence if they ever figure out how to reanimate the long-dead with no decomposing after-effects.
04. Cillian Murphy
03. Magnus "Adde" Andreasson
02. Jonathan Rhys Meyers
01. Jocke Berg

Towards the end of the flight Mila asked Leyla a peculiar sort of question. She pointed to the route map and asked if they were going to Munich. Leyla laughed and said no, Frankfurt. Then, knowing how out of it she could be at times, she double-checked on her boarding pass but yes, their destination was Frankfurt. The girls figured their was just a mistake with the map, the languages displayed were English, German, and for some reason, Hindi (Devanagari script) so there was already that bit of tomfoolery happening, it was entirely possible the wrong destination was in.

But then the captain started talking. He said his previous announcement had not been heard. They were going to Munich. Frankfurt was closed until 9 a.m. and so they were landing in Munich and would let the passengers know what was going on as the situation developed.

And this is where the idyllic, whimsical story ends.

We sat for 3 hours on the damn plane in Munich. No one was allowed off, and nobody was telling us anything. I let Egglet out for a little bit, she wrapped herself around my neck and peered curiously around until we saw a stewardess and I hastily put her back in her case. Finally, the pilot announced we were flying back to Frankfurt. Into a veritable mess of people and mixed up flights. I don't know why they didn't just let us disembark in Munich and let us rebook our flights from there. Where the fuck was that German efficiency?

In Frankfurt, I'd already missed my connecting flight and the line for the transfer desk was overwhelmingly long. I walked to the end of the terminal but there didn't seem to be anyone on duty or anyone who knew what they were doing so I walked all the way back to the Lufthansa ticketing counter which had about 300 people in line by then. I was carrying Egg, my bag, had my coat and scarf, and also the stupid Franzen book that was about 2 pounds heavy.

Finally, a man that seemed to have some authority directed me towards another terminal. They were trying to divide the inter-continental flights from the European flights. When I got to the area for the European flights, I pretty much started laughing in helpless disbelief. The line was, no joke, about 1000 people long, if not longer. After standing in it for about 20 minutes, I just shoved ahead to the main area to try to find someone to help. A woman stationed there told me to go through security and find the ticketing counter on the other side. I went through security and at one point I thought they were either taking Egg away or trying to put her in the x-ray machine because a gruff man yelled at me to keep moving and to leave my cat. I was so ready to pitch a fit but then he just said he was taking her to the other side where I could pick her up. I didn't take my eyes off her case as they "randomly" picked me for a full search. At this point, I'd been awake for a while and getting a little frustrated because I had no way of contacting my mom or Elliot to let them know what was going on. I knew they'd both get worried but my Blackberry wasn't working and I'd forgotten to charge my Turkish/international phone. When I tried to put the SIM card from my Turkish phone into the Blackberry, it wouldn't allow any calls because, of course, it was locked. So I had to worry of contacting them somehow pressing down on me along with trying to figure out what to do. Finally I got through, smiled tightly at the security people peering at my baby, and marched towards the other ticketing counter. If I could just talk to a Lufthansa representative, I could rebook my flight and be all set. I could see on the screens there were several flights to Istanbul on both Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines.

The second line was not that bad. It looked like about 100 people were ahead of me. I found a public computer and sent emails off to my mom and Elliot and then I got in line. I was behind a funny man who kept glaring at everyone coughing and wrapping his scarf around his face and mouth, a British guy who was traveling from Mozambique to the UK, and an older American man. The latter two had been stuck in airports for the past 2 days and looked fed up and tired. For the next two hours the line moved maybe 2 meters forward. There were only two people working and other than one man coming to yell at us to form the line in the opposite direction, their was absolutely no one on duty at the airport. The place was so crammed with people and there were rows of cots set up everywhere for all the stranded travelers. The men and I took turns watching each others' stuff as we went to get water or coffee or whatever. I finally went to use the computer and saw that my mom had sent a message. I'd been rebooked on another flight by our travel agent but since I hadn't seen the email and had no phone, I'd missed it.

Now I hadn't eaten since the plane and it was 2 p.m. in Frankfurt. We'd landed in Munich at 7 a.m., then back in Frankfurt at 10:30 a.m.. The line wasn't moving and I didn't know whether I should just stay in it and try to make it to the ticket counter or try to figure out something else. I had a sneaking suspicion Egg and I were going to end up booked in an airport hotel for the night but the FUCKING LINE WASN'T MOVING. The thing that kills me though was that there was barely 3 inches of snow in Frankfurt. There was nothing. I have no idea why it closed in the morning unless it had something to do with the flights and conditions in the UK and how they affected Frankfurt. The American in line was scoffing at it too, he'd been traveling from Pittsburgh, and the British guy was shaking his head at his own people. He'd been stick in Johannesburg for 2 days and this was his second day in Frankfurt. AND THE LINE TO GET US TO THE TICKETING COUNTER WHERE WE COULD FINALLY TALK TO SOME LUFTHANSA PEOPLE WAS NOT MOVING.

Finally, I took my turn. I asked my motley group of men to keep an eye on my Egglet (and it took every fiber of my being to do that because augh, it's my kitty! I can't leave her!) and went to check my mail. I don't know how much money I fed into the various public computers but I got my mom on gchat and tried to figure out what to do. After half an hour, I went and got Egglet and thanked the guys, wished them good luck, and said I thought I had a way out. Then came another excruciating half an hour as I waited to hear from my mom who was waiting to hear from the travel agent. At one point I thought I was going to have to beg to be let back in the line which had, by this time, grown to about four times the length it was when I first was in it. There must've been at least 500 people waiting. My mom finally said that I was booked for the Turkish Airlines flight at 6 but I needed to give my luggage info. At which point I had a mini freak-out because I thought they were attached to the previous flights' boarding pass which I'd used as a bookmark but I had long dumped the Franzen book in some corner because it was just too heavy to lug around and I didn't have room in my bag. But I found the tags, told my mom their numbers, and I logged out of gchat and went to find a business lounge. They let me in because of my first boarding pass and I took the time to give Egglet some food and fill a bowl with water and get her to drink a bit. I also parked her in a corner and ran to use the bathroom. I have never used the facilities so fast. I kept thinking, what if someone takes my Buglet because I had to be human and go evacuate my bladder? I worked myself up to the point of hysteria in the maybe 3 minutes it took me to go to the bathroom and came barreling out to find that she was, duh, fine.

My stomach was all clenched at this point because I still wasn't sure I was 100% on this flight and when I'm nervous and anxious, there's no way I can choke down anything. Plus, there was no gate for the flight. I was so paranoid that I was going to miss it too that all I could do was play BrickBreaker on my phone to keep my hands busy and get up every 10 minutes or less to check and see if there was a gate. When they finally posted one, I logged back into gchat on the lounge's computer (there was free wi-fi but I had packed my computer because I didn't want carry it along with a cat and for some reason my iPod's Internet was not working) and told my mom I was off to the gate.

She said there was a slight problem. There was another pet onboard and that their policy was only one. But when I got my boarding pass, nobody asked anything and I just sat there, hoping and praying everything would go okay. We're at 6 p.m. now. That's almost 11 hours on a plane (with the delay and the landing in Munich) and another 7 in the airport. I haven't eaten anything for about 9 hours or slept at all. At the gate, I sat there gulping anxiously. Egglet was so good. She just sat in her case and didn't make a peep. Even when I was hustling back and forth between terminals, she'd patiently endured being bounced around on my shoulder. The people working at the counter at the gate made an announcement. My heart stopped. But no, they were paging other passengers. Then for some reason, I focused on the woman and her kid sitting next to me. She was a stout woman wearing way too inappropriate clothing for her frame with leopard print boots and horribly bleached hair. To complete the look, she had the obligatory accessory; a chihuahua. There it was. Egg's plane nemesis. Never have I disliked an innocent animal so vehemently than right at that moment. They were obviously Turkish but were speaking German and her young daughter was so dark, she looked Arab. I sat there judging them and judging their idiot dog. Which, to be honest, was just sitting there as quietly as Egg and really had no fault in the matter. But I was mad.

We were in the bottom level of the terminal, where they always stick flights to Istanbul, and it's literally like the bowels of hell. Frankfurt airport IS hell. I absolutely despise that airport and this cramped, low-ceilinged, dungeon is where they always cram us. I just sat there, gripping my boarding pass, and trying to ignore all the German Turks with their abnormally loud children. God. They allow one pet in the cabin? They should change that rule for kids because for fuck's sake, no one needs to sit there and listen to little Ali as he repeatedly slams a metal cart into the metal barrier for the fucking fun of it. While his parents don't say a word. TELL YOUR LITTLE FUCKER TO SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP. It does not impede childhood creativity and independecne or whatever bullshit excuse you have to instill manners and teach them some common courtesy.

Then came another announcement. They were calling me. I walked over with Egg and told them I was the Leyla Hamedi they just paged. That's when I met Cengiz Bey. Now, I have two very dear friends named Cengiz. So in order not to sully their names with any connection to this gentleman I shall henceforth refer to him as Cengiz Bey. Not just Mr. Cengiz or sir (as that's what bey means) but Cengiz Bey. You have to picture me saying it in the most sneering, I-hate-your-entire-being way possible. Cengiz Bey curtly informed me that I was traveling with a cat. Well, yes I know. He said there was another pet on-board and that their policy was only one animal in the cabin. I said she was a very well-behaved cat and they'd just been sitting next to each other with no problem and she'd traveled all the way from America already with two other dogs on board, couldn't he just make an exception? He put his hand up and said, "Rules are rules. I will call the pilot and ask. If he says no. It's a no. No questions," and then he flounced off.

I stood to the side and waited for the next half hour. Everyone had heard him yell at me and well, there are very few things that can make me start crying instantaneously. Separating me from my cat is one of those things. So I'm standing there, silently tearing up because I can't bear the thought of having to give Egg to cargo and there's a man yelling at Cengiz Bey about the delay and Cengiz Bey, with all the diplomacy of a Turkish Airlines representative, arguing back at him, and there's a kid making cat noises because he heard Cengiz Bey yelling about my cat and his mom and her family, all stern women in headscarves, are giving me pitying looks and explaining yes, there's a kitty, no kitty is not allowed on the plane. It would've been funny had I not been a figure in this tableau.

Finally Cengiz Bey came back and said nope, cat is not allowed. The pilot said so. I would like to make it perfectly clear I did not make a fuss or argue or give this man any attitude. My friends, my family, and my boyfriend know me. I am capable of being an angry, mouthy bitch. I was so tired and so at the end of my rope but I knew an argument would only make the situation worse so I calmly tried to reason with him. I told him that she's traveled with other animals before. That we'd been there all day and we just wanted to go home. But no, Cengiz Bey continued telling me off, yes telling me off, about how rules are rules and that had I come earlier he could've arranged for a box, A BOX, and we could've have checked her in with the luggage. He said, "my mother," had called incessantly and it's just too bad she hadn't been able to reach me. And then he turned his back on me.

First of all, my mom didn't call. The caller was our travel agent who was trying to get me on the flight and who went up and beyond her job requirements to help me . Secondly, there is no fucking way I will allow my cat to be put in a fucking box and thrown around with the fucking cargo. I'm ashamed to admit the thought crossed my mind as I sat there, at the gate, clutching my boarding pass, waiting for the axe to drop. NO. You are not separating me from the most precious thing in my life. Thirdly, what fucking pilot takes up his time thinking up excuses not to allow pets on. Doesn't he have anything better to concern himself with? Shouldn't matters like this be a judgment call on part of the person in charge who was, oh, Cengiz Bey?

I tried to get his attention but Cengiz Bey was too busy picking fights with other people at the gate. I asked him what he would suggest I do because he flat out said, "I'm not allowing you on this flight," and I needed some options. Cengiz Bey said there wasn't much I could do, there was a Lufthansa flight at 10 and I could try to get on that. Then he flounced around again and started ignoring me.

That's when I found one euro in my bag and finally called my mom on a pay phone and promptly burst into tears.

Let's me take this moment to insert the titular ode to Turkish Airlines and to Cengiz Bey.

Dear Cengiz Bey,

My name is Leyla Hamedi. You remember me, you imperiously called my name out and gave me the worst look of disapproval I've ever received from a stranger. I don't quite understand why you felt the need to judge me so harshly just for the simple fact that I had a cat with me. You could plainly see a quite normal girl, with glasses no less, looking tired and miserable beyond belief, who just wanted to go home. Your job is in the service industry. You might not see it that way but you are. You are paid to deal with people and you have to navigate their requests and emotions everyday. If you're not equipped to deal with that, perhaps you should seek an alternate profession.

There was absolutely no call for your behavior. I was about as responsible for missing my flight and venturing to find an alternate way home as you were for the weather mishaps and flight delays. I realize there is a certain protocol for traveling with pets and scolding me for disregarding them was unnecessary and not conducive to the situation. My flight had been booked since August, all the papers and documents for my cat had been filed and paid for, and my only fault was not having a phone on my person. There was no need to admonish me and treat me like some yokel walking in and expecting to catch a plane like a taxi. I realize that there are rules and I was not asking you to break them, I was asking you if there was a way around them.

Having the ability to empathize and come up with logical reasoning and solutions is what separates us from robots. It makes us human. Staunchly sticking to something just because it's a, "rule," is both narrow-minded and ill-advised. You yourself admitted to the horrible state of the airport. There were hundreds of people displaced and disgruntled, all looking for a way to get out. Isn't it your job to guide these sorts of road blocks? Wouldn't it have been a lot easier to let one rule slip by the wayside, just so you could help out someone and let them leave, let them get home? It's not like I was asking to let another person on, or God forbid, a liquid! It was a small animal, with all her papers in order so it wouldn't have been illegal in the slightest, who would've taken up about as much space as a carry-on. I already had the boarding pass, you didn't need to magically summon a seat for me. Rules might be there for a reason but you have the power to improvise and make responsible decisions within and outside the parameters of those rules.

I guess you can't be completely blamed for your actions. You seem to have received the same brutish, dense, no regard for human decency, training that the rest of Turkish Airlines seems to go through. Your stewardesses are rude, your gate attendants are useless, and you sir were about as helpful as Chinese dictionary in Greece. I understand you've probably had a hard few days too but you'd think that would allow you to have more sympathy for others who've also been dealing with nuisances.

And we wonder about the state Turkey is in. Well, when our mere airport personnel are the way they are we can hardly complain that the rest of the country is so ignorant and backwards.

Auf Wiedersehen,

Leyla Hamedi

And we're back in.

Of course, one euro is nothing so the phone timed out and we were cut off mid-sentence. I was done. Just done. I marched over to duty-free, grabbed the first perfume I saw at the Dior counter (I wear Dior) and went to pay for it. I had 500 Euros in my bag that my grandmother, I think, had given me and I'd just kept so I got change, tersely told the cashier to give me coins, and marched back to the phone to punch in my mom's number again. I literally hit every button. Pause for comic relief because right next to me was an effeminate Iranian guy whining about his phone not working. Join the fucking club buddy. He was speaking Farsi and I understood him perfectly though he had a girlier voice than I did.

My mom told me not to cry and that they got me an economy seat for the Lufthansa flight at 10, but it was a stand-by and I needed to show them my cat before boarding. She gave me a flight number and I hung up, feeling a bit better. I went back to the lounge (yay, still allowed in) and tried to wait it out. But then I thought of my luggage. I talked to my mom again on gchat and she had a gate for me. So I walked all the way to the gate but it was still boarding another flight, it was to Tokyo. I don't know why but seeing smiley Japanese faces and hearing the language made me feel a bit better. I associate Japan with nice stuff (my trip with Elliot) so I guess it was sort of a subconscious elevation of my mood. But the gate people had no idea what flight I was talking about and told me to wait. I saw another business lounge right next to the gate though, and went in there. I walked to the Lufthansa representative working behind the desk, told her my story, and begged for help.

She was so nice. I jokingly told her to put me in cargo and she absently said it would be too cold. To think Cengiz Bey wanted to put my cat there! Anyway she, let's call her Frau Hilda, looked up my info, entered my luggage tag info, took my stand-by seat and made it a confirmed seat, in business class, and ignored the line behind me to play with Egg for a bit. I was so close to hugging her. I asked if she'd had a hard couple days and she shook her head like, "You have no idea." After I told her I didn't envy her job, and thanked her a thousand times, I took my Egglet to the nearest seat and we flopped down. There was a husband and wife sitting next to me and they smiled as I gave Egg some food and went to the bathroom.

Okay, they were weird. They were from Denver but the husband was Irish, though he'd lived in the States for 30 years, and they were traveling to Ireland with their surly teenage daughter. He kept asking me about where I was from and how I spoke English so well and when I said I was Turkish, he asked if I was Christian Turkish or Muslim. Uhh...what. Even his daughter yelled at him for that. Right when I was about to leave (I said I was paranoid and should get to the gate just in case) he said he wanted to tell me a story. Okay then, I sat back down. He then proceeded to explain how he had family everywhere and that his daughter was American and that they were all so different but when they got together they were the same. Different, but the same. He said I'd probably notice that too. I don't know if he thought I was going back to Turkey for the first time ever or what (I also think he was either really tired or really stupid because he kept asking me the same questions several times. Where did I live? Boston. Where was I going? Turkey. Where was I from? Turkey. Where did I live? BOSTON) but I just smiled and agreed. He then wished me happy holidays and made some comment about how, ho ho! we wouldn't be drinking. After I had told him we weren't really devout Muslims about 4 times. I finally just gritted my teeth and said no, we probably wouldn't be drinking as much as say, THE IRISH, (looking at him pointedly) but we could hold our own. Then I thanked him for keeping me company because I'm polite and got Egg and started to leave as his harried wife came back and snapped at him to get up, their flight had been cancelled and they were going to a hotel. So happy I wasn't them.

The gate was such quiet heaven. It was open and airy and calm and my stomach was starting to unclench. I was playing Tetris when I looked up and realized there was a mass exodus leaving the gate. They had changed our gate number. After walking halfway across the terminal and going downstairs, I realized where they'd put us. We were back in the bowels of hell.

Everyone was on stand-by and after a lot of yelling and shoving and me gingerly sitting in the dirtiest gate ever, they announced that they had room for everyone and started letting us on the flight. The plane was freezing so I covered Egg's case with my thick shawl and then assured the cute guy next to me that I wasn't crazy, there was a cat in the case. He laughed. He'd apparently been stuck in Bremen for two days and I almost said, "Oh, with the mizikacilar?" It's a childhood story by the Brothers Grimm and I do hope that I kept that stupid joke to myself but I was so tired, I probably did say it out loud. Th flight was delayed a couple hours but finally, we were in the air. I slept all the way home. It was a weird sort of sleep. I'd be passed out so deeply one minute that the poor guy next to me had to hop over to get to the bathroom, but then I'd jerk awake and sit straight up at the slightest bump.

I didn't get home until 4 am. My suitcases didn't show up, though I wasn't too surprised, and I was smart enough to go file a report before half the plane had formed a line to do so. I got home, hugged my mom and sister, and finally let Egglet out. After so many hours trapped in her case and being so good, she'd finally had enough. She growled at all of us, ate her food, went to the bathroom, and then ignored us until we went to bed at which point she spent the night going from room to room and jumping on us. She finally fell asleep next to me around 6 in the morning. The suitcases arrived two days later.

Epilogue: Yes, I am to blame. My Blackberry doesn't work outside the US and I should've charged my international/Turkish phone. Or found a charger in Frankfurt to avoid all the technological drama and just get on the first rebooked flight. But I was tired, I was worried, and I had a cat to carry. I couldn't deal with all the people and finding a some place that had a charger, let alone with a heavy cat on my shoulder. I love her but she is goddamn heavy. My left shoulder maybe permanently lower than the right because of this trip. I also would rather wet myself than leave her somewhere and go get stuff done. It took every fiber of my being to relax enough to let the nice men in line watch her when I went to use the computer but anywhere else, no. Never. I pretty much brought her into the bathroom with me when I needed to use it (hence the wet myself comment). I am also really lucky. There were people stranded there for days, people who had to sleep at the airport or be booked into hotels there in Frankfurt, and people whose flights had been cancelled with no alternate arrangements given. I was lucky enough to just be there for a day and get home. But, this does not make it any less of an ordeal and it does not make Cengiz Bey's actions any less appalling. I can admit my mistakes, I highly doubt he would.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thanks Hong Kong :D ! Part 3

The 5th was a day of exploration! We got dressed, headed for the glorious subway (air conditioned! Clean! So well-organized and laid out!) and made our way to a Buddhist nunnery. It was so, so beautiful. Kind of disheartening that it was built in 1995 and therefore not that historically inclined but still. It had all these pools filled with lotus flowers and turtles! That's what I think I loved about Hong Kong most. Turtles. Everywhere has pools with fish, Hong Kong had turtles. All swimming in their silly, yet peaceful, turtle way. Climbing on top of each other, craning their necks out of the water. I love turtles. They are actually one of my favorite creatures and I have one at home. He's about 14 years old and our family mascot, next to Egglet. It was so wonderful seeing his distant Chinese cousins. And trying not to think about how they will probably get eaten. Yeah, they eat a lot of turtle there. I saw a "turtle cafe." I am not that ashamed to say I screeched and made Elliot walk fast, fast away from it with me.

The nunnery was so peaceful. There was this soft chanting broadcast over the area and it was an oasis of calm right smack in the city. There were a lot of Japanese and Indian tourists too and it was kind of nice watching them pay their respects to the various Buddha statues and tableaus scattered around. It was such an open, good place to be. I get affected by stuff like this in a weird way. It happened in India too. I get this swelling of emotion in me and I don't know why and my breath catches and I start either crying or tearing up. But it's not a bad feeling. It's like this calm wave of release and though I'm sniffling, I never feel more open and relaxed inside. It sounds like a bunch of spiritual hogwash but I can't really explain it. I know my mom feels like that some places too. We both got hit with it in a temple in India. We didn't even have to talk about it, we saw it in each other's faces. It's like the deepest sigh you can breathe out and with the exhale, you're free. Okay, I sound high but it is what it is.

And then after this spiritual awakening we went to the mall next door and played arcade games. I played a game where I threw plastic balls at an image of a little girl while a man screamed at me in Chinese. I had no idea what was going on or what I had to do but it was amazing. I ended up losing, I think? I was laughing too hard to really figure it out. Elliot, of course, played his Street Fighter which he has to everywhere we go and made his mark on Hong Kong. Before he got in a match with the man sitting next to him and lost.

Then we went to Happy Lemon, Hong Kong's answer to the Boston Tea Stop. They have all sorts of milk tea drinks and treats and we got one with, get this, rock salt cheese. Doesn't that sound absolutely horrible? It was the most delicious milk tea drink I've ever had. It had this creamy condensed milk (?) layer and was just so rich and yummy. That's the thing with Hong Kong, everything is on the extreme side of the spectrum. There's no in-between good or bad. There's either wonder beyond anything or complete and utter shit.

On the way back we stumbled on some sort of street festival. There were families there and singing and jugglers and... clowns. It was bedlam. It was so noisy and so hot and then Elliot got a roast sweet potato off the street and we sat and watched the people as he ate his potato. They watched us right back. The exit lead to another sort of prayer spot filled with pools and yay, turtles again! A small Chinese boy was pushing them off the rocks back in the water so I avoided an international incident by yanking Elliot away (he yelled at the kid and was this close to drowning him for abusing the turtles) and we walked by the whole area. The air was thick with incense and the sound of shaking beads (you bought them in a can and they wished upon them for whatever you wanted) and ended up in a shaded passageway filled with fortune tellers and tarot card readers. Which we basically ran past as they freak both of us out. Thanks Hong Kong :D!

In the evening, since I was still sniffly and sick (fuck you immune system. Fuck you very much) I decided to ask the hotel for a nice massage place. I hadn't been able to locate an acupuncture place and I figured a nice massage was a good second to being stuck all over with needles. Elliot told me to ask because he was worried if he did, he'd get another sort of massage. Which I laughed off but then I found out the common hours of operation for massage places, even the nice ones, are from 10 am to 2 am...

The hotel directed me down the street to Chiba House. Wow. So not a place for Elliot. There was a small pond with carp in the entrance and I went upstairs to a dimly lit place with rows of pedicure chairs. I asked for a massage and they made me take of my shoes and gave me a pair of sandals I wobbled along in to a private room. In the room they gave me a kimono-type shirt and shorts to change into. Huh. I am not a small Asian girl. So with some trepidation I put them on. They fit just fine! I felt stupidly happy about this as I awkwardly stood in the room and waited for whatever came next. I had no idea. Finally, a small lady came in and made me lie down. Then for the next 50 minutes she pounded the shit out of my back. Holy god. It was so good and so painful at the same time. I was so confused. This is how sadomasochism originated didn't it? I don't like pain, I don't seek it out. But then, I never show it either. Tattoos, scars, falls, nothing. I came so close to gasping out loud during this massage, though. Yet, it still felt good!? Except for when she bent my leg all the way back so that my foot touched my rear and then proceeded to pound that leg. That's when I almost said uncle.

After that violent beat down (I had red marks on me where she rubbed), the lady assumed her calm demeanor and gave me a thermos and walked out. I hope to God it was tea in that thermos and that I was supposed to drink it because I sure did. I got dressed and came back out. A row of Japanese businessmen getting pedicures greeted me as I exited. Thanks Hong Kong :D!

That night we wandered back to the harbor and watched the Symphony of Lights. It's a light show bounced off the buildings on both sides set to music. And it's every night. It was so tacky and so delightful. Elliot took plenty of pictures and we had fun getting jostled by the crush of people there to see the lights.

We checked out on the 6th and headed to the Hong Kong side for The Cosmo Hotel. Huh. It wasn't a bad hotel per se. It was connected to a bigger, more star hotel called the Cosmopolitan and it was the smaller, satellite hotel off it. It was small but it's not like we really needed closets... or walking space in the room. We didn't have internet in the room and asked to pay for the service at check-in. I guess it wasn't that important that they didn't really listen to us at all and we ended up paying separately for it everyday. Much like everyone else in China, listening doesn't seem to be that big a priority. Oh and I suppose it wasn't that big a deal that we only got breakfast on that first day, and we had to pay even though it was 30% off, and Elliot ate the single worst pork bun of his life.

Yeah, Cosmo was kind of crappy but not horrible. Though, it was right next to the news agency so we were pretty paranoid/positive that the rooms were bugged and that the government was reading our emails. Which is why whenever I wrote anything disparaging to my sister I "disguised" it in Turkish.

The location was kind of out of the way too. We had to walk through an underpass and get on the double decker tram to get to the main city center. Did I not mention? Along with a truly excellent subway system with trains that never took longer than 2 minutes to arrive, Hong Kong had a series of buses and trams, both double decker. Probably out of necessity because it's so crammed with people. Which begs the question, why do they meander so? You'd think living in a city, nay a country with the most people per square inch would teach you that there's ALWAYS someone behind you. Walk faster goddammit!

My view of Cosmo may have been tempered by the fact that I had a fever again and a splitting headache that progressed into a full-blown migraine complete with retches. Thank God for the British and their colonizing efforts. Every corner had a Watson's (a pharmacy) so I did manage to get some cold medicine. It had codeine in it and was over the counter. Bless you. Though they did take my passport number and hotel down and then I ended up not really taking it because each dose had to be 10mL and there was no measuring implement given. I had a capful of the stuff every night to avoid being a zombie in the day but even that seemed not enough.

The Hong Kong side seemed kind of full of jackass tourists and attitude-y Chinese people. During the day it was a mess of noise and cars and at night, trashy people just flooded the streets. We wanted to experience the "native," night life, pardon me for sounding so awful, but everyone was either British or French.

Also, I forgot my sunglasses at the Luxe Manor and when we went back (we were homesick for the Kowloon side) they said they didn't have them. China stole my sunglasses! They were nice ones too. We did realize though that the youth of Hong Kong hangs out in Kowloon at night. We much preferred that side.

But we made do. I mean, Cosmo may not have been in the best location but we did have the most giant cemetery right next door! It was Parsee and we also had a Sikh temple as our other neighbor. It was kind of like coming to college for the first time and realizing there were dead people buried right across from my dorm. I live for ominous symbolism. I should add, by "made do" I mean, Elliot went out to explore and I spent the day dying in the room. They didn't even have Cartoon Network, just AXN which broadcast shows in English, so I spent my day in a haze of pain and mucus watching more CSI and House than I have my entire life. I also watched an Australian show called Wipe-Out where they basically torture weirdos on a silly obstacle course and the announcers then make fun of them when they fall. It was brilliant.

We put off finding the "old" Jumbo and the metal bar (and going up the Peak at night) for another night. We still had time and plus, we still needed to find roast suckling pig for Elliot. It's what Hong Kong is famous for and so far we hadn't managed to locate any place that had it. Plus, I now had a cough and we suspect the pollution coming from the mainland might be affecting my "healing" time. Thanks Hong Kong :D !

The nunnery.

The lotus pools


Massage battle scars.

Hong Kong at night and The Symphony of Lights.

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