Sunday, March 21, 2010

Task 11: Push

So I've been uncomfortable with my body for a while now and I decided it's time to do something about it. Since I've been home I've been eating better and trying to get in 40 minutes of work out time on the elliptical thing we have. It's that machine that makes you move your arms and legs at the same time and makes you push and run and pedal backwards and all sorts of crap. I'm going to pick up pilates again when I'm back in Boston (the kitteh and I leave Istanbul at 5:50 am Monday) and maybe try to do the elliptical stuff too, I'm sure there is a gym near my place. I've actually lost a little weight in the last month and a half, about 2 kilos (4 pounds I think?) which doesn't sound like much but is on my frame. When I gain weight it goes to my chest, ass, and stomach so even a little bit off makes me look more in shape. My goal is about 4 more kilos.

I've always been self-conscious about my body as I think most girls are, sadly. But in the last year or so there have been so many huge hits to my system (hormones, medications, weight loss and gain) that it's really made me unsatisfied and unhappy with how I look. It feels good to be doing something about it though and getting results and I'm going to stick with it, even in Boston where I tend to eat out too much and neglect my veggies and salads. Working out and exercise have always been those things that I just never wanted to do. I have friends and family members that swear by keeping in shape and healthy and it's just like, dude calm down, who needs to waste three hours of their life doing butt clenches? However, adapting it to stuff I can do and not necessarily enjoy but be comfortable with is proving to be a good thing, both physically and mentally.

Working out has also helped me catch up on my stories haha. An episode of Chuck is about 40 minutes so I just load it up, set the computer in front of me, and watch as I torture myself. I highly recommend Chuck by the way. I fell in love with that show over the summer and though the first season was fun, the second season was just the most wonderful geek television in ever. It's now well into the third season and it still gives me joy and random bursts of love, especially when it plays music like David Lee Roth's, "Just Like Paradise."

Sometimes, when I don't feel up to the full 40 minutes (and when I was just starting out), I do 20 minutes. Just so I can get the blood pumping and sweat pouring and not feel like a complete fatty fat fat. That's when I break out the Madonna. There's nothing quite like pushing yourself to the limit, at 1 in the morning while the rest of your family is asleep, and "Jump," (Which I always begin with because it's so damn energizing. The intro with, "Thank you for coming to our show the night is young and the show has just begun," followed my GET READY TO JUMP ARE YOU READY TO JUMP DON'T EVER LOOK BACK and I CAN MAKE IT ALONE, I CAN MAKE IT ALONE I CAN MAKE IT MAKE IT just gets my heart racing and adrenaline not so much flowing but jetting through my whole system and it's such a GOOD. SONG. Yes, caps lock was necessary, like I ever use it without reason psh) is pounding in your ears. We have a view of the street right in front of our elliptical machine and the other night, as Madonna in the live version of "Like A Prayer," ordered the audience and me to put our/my hands up, anyone walking by would've gotten a pretty hilarious eyeful had they happened to glance up. Me, in my glasses, with my hair pulled up and held back, wearing a pair of short grey sweatpants and a loose yet pretty top (come on now, I do not work out. I am the patron saint of not working out, do you think I have the clothes for it?), and my Iron Maiden slip-ons as I have no athletic footwear, enthusiastically pedalling at full speed while bouncing up and down and waving my arms and whisper-screaming along with the words. I now have new respect for performers who dance and sing at the same time, no lip-syncing. I wasn't even singing out loud and I was gasping and choking. And this was for 20 minutes! Madonna, how you last for a two hour show is beyond me. But I do now understand your scary biceps (seriously, she could choke a bear with those arms).

On another plus side, I have now managed something that was pretty much the impossible in high school. The six minute mile.

If do this in public, I of course won't be bringing my laptop to the gym so it'll just be music, and no dancing along with the music either. So I kind of cherish those few nights rocking out to Madonna on the elliptical, while snow came hurtling down in full view of the window before me. Yes me, the girl morally against to working out and dieting. Hey, I'm still eating and I'm certainly not dedicating my life to getting toned guns but you know, maybe all this exercise stuff isn't that bad. Don't tell anyone I said that. Especially my dear aunt that used to have a certain fondness for poking me in the belly and suggesting yoga.

Yes I'm ready to jump
Just take my hand
Get ready to jump
Are you ready?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Task 8: Oh Father

A couple weeks ago I went with my father to his horseland. By horseland I mean the stables and horseback riding premises where he rides and also keeps his own horse, Lulu. Though I've seen all his other horses over the years, (fucking Nelson sneezed horse mucus all over me) this was the first time I met Miss Lulu. She was a beautiful yet skittish lady of a deep brown color while her mane and tail were swishy black. My dad has loved horses and horseback riding for as long as I can remember. We even found pictures of him atop a horse when he was no older than eight with a huge, cheeky grin plastered across his face. Though we, as a family, and I, by myself, used to accompany him a lot on his horse times on weekends in the past, these last few years he's just been going by himself. Whenever I come back to Istanbul we usually have some father-daughter time set aside to just talk and hang out but instead of going out to eat, I thought I'd just come out with him early one Saturday morning.

Stopping to pick up some much needed coffee, we got to the stables around 9:30 and were greeted by the sweetest dog. He just came up to me and rested his head on my leg and let me pet him as if to say, you're okay. Since my dad has been going there for years everyone pretty much knew him and greeted him as such. My dad is also a very personable and friendly man and so of course he had his share of buddies and acquaintances who came up and sad hello throughout our time there. I even had the pleasure of eavesdropping on a group of crusty old men, probably caretakers, who were watching the riders and talking about my dad and his famous falls (broke an arm, some ribs, bruises everywhere etc). While I was watching him warm up Lulu alongside the other riders, a little kitty came up and pretty much threw himself at me. Mewing and head-butting me, he kept me company as I pet and rubbed him all over and admired all the horses. I never was a horse girl, though I tried to be, but some were so pretty. There was even one whose tail was exactly how I wanted my hair, black with white blonde streaks. Oh and for the record, my hair is currently dark dark brown with a few Cruella DeVille streaks and it looks fantastic. But anyway, it was such a nice atmosphere there; horses, millions of cats, and just people happy to be doing what they do. I don't know if it was all the animals, because let's face it, I turn into a mushy squealing retard when there are fuzzy animals around, but the entire place had such a nice aura. My dad told me about his friend whose son was such a manic mess that his doctor recommended the parents get a horse for the boy because the animal would take away his nervous energy and maybe help him settle. Riding and taking care of it would help exorcise his restlessness. I can believe it because it's such a calming air in there and my dad swears his horse just takes away his "bad energy." I mean yeah, horses aren't the coolest of cucumbers (I can't believe I just wrote that. I'm tired and can't think of clever metaphors right now) and even Lulu snorted and jumped whenever the door banged but well, I can't explain it. It was such a blissful envirnment. My dad, after two hours, was covered in sweat and basically trudged exhausted towards me, but he had the most relaxed, happy expression on his face.

As we drove back home, he told me that whenever he goes riding, he just lets go of everything and enjoys the moment, then and there, riding with his horsey. I wish I had something like that. Something I loved and could do on a daily or regular basis that got my mind off of everything and let me just enjoy doing whatever it is. My dad has his horses, my boyfriend has his muay thai where he joyfully beats up pro thai fighters, and my little cousins have their tennis and their little tennis social club, but I don't know what it is I like that I could be passionate about. I enjoyed my pilates classes but I wasn't chomping at the bit (hur hur I made a funny) to get down there and assume the, "table-top position." I mean, the thing that gives me most joy is probably my kitty. And movies. I'm kind of combining them right now; my sister and I are watching Lilo & Stitch (it's kind of "our" movie) and my little Stitch is currently admiring her reflection in the mirror on the referierator (oh sorry, now she's trying to get into the plants in the living room) but I can't just sit on my ass and watch movies while I clutch my cat all the time because I'm saving that for when I'm 90 and a crazy cat lady. I need something more active, not passive. Suggestions?

My daddy and I had a nice rest of the day too, he took me out to lunch and to Zara where I got a pretty shirt and then we came home to my mom and sister. Heh, he has his ladies; me, my mom, my sister, Lulu and now Eggolita. I wish I had my "thing" too.

"I can't even pet it! It keeps looking at me like it's going to eat me!" This is the best movie. My cat is so an alien like Stitch.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Task 6: Sky Fits Heaven

This is a touchy subject for some but I want to write about it. I believe in God. I believe in Allah. I don't pray five times a day nor do I cover my head and never appear in public with boys because I don't have the time and I like boys. I don't particularly believe in heaven and I sure as hell, don't believe in, well, hell. I believe there is a spirit, something that watches over us, that protects us and if we let it, guides us. I believe it is an energy connected to the universe and to everyone that allows for everything to work out the way it's supposed to and that everything happens for a reason. As far as I know, and I am a know-it-all, there's no bearded dude in the sky getting mad at us for having sex before marriage or tsking every time we eat pork. In fact, I kind of look down on most religions. Who are you to tell me I came into this world full of sin and some man died because of it? What is gunah about showing my hair? I have great hair for crying out loud and Allah wouldn't have given it to me if he wanted it to be covered up! No, I believe organized religion brings out the worst in people. Adhering to rules is one thing but to live by a book who can't claim an author? Not for me. This is true for most things though, fanatics are scary people. Have you tried talking to a fan of those Twilight books? Scarier than an army of zombie nuns. I do believe I came into this world for a reason, and when I'm done with what I have to do, I will leave it. I do believe in the soul and the spirit. That is what Allah and religion is to me. It's a connection to the energy around you. Sixth sense in a way, or instinct. I have my little idiosyncrasies like always stepping onto a plane with my right foot and praying three times before take-off. And by praying I mean cupping my hands and hastily wishing Allah to protect me and my family, thanks for everything, let me arrive safely at my destination please and thank you. To me Allah is the gut feeling that helps me along the way. I know I'm here for a reason and when I'm done with what I have to do, I'll leave. Maybe a part of me will come back.

Some people might say all these things; religion, superstition, prayer, God, reincarnation are all excuses people make up to feel safe. So what? I do feel better knowing that there might be a chance my soul could live on. I mean, I might not remember my past lives but some part of what made Leyla might survive on this little planet. What's the harm in believing in that? I'm scared of death. I'm scared than most people I know. It's caused me to have panic attacks and burst into tears randomly because I can't help it. It seems so final and done. I'm scared shitless of the fact that I will lose people I love. It's the one thing I can't make peace with. But I'm trying. This is what Allah is to me, it's comfort and I don't care if people sneer at it. Atheists are just as annoying as religious fanatics. Why do you need to foist your beliefs on other and damn them for not agreeing with you? This is what I believe and I'm no trying to convince anyone, I'm just trying to explain myself. My protector does not see killing people in his name as a good thing. My protector allows me to combine Islam and Hinduism and a bunch of other things to carve out a belief system that suits me. Religion is at the forefront of soothing people in the face of death and it should be. It's nothing that can be explained and to be torn from the ones you love forever is a ridiculously scary notion. What if you could be with them again? Wouldn't that be amazing? You could have me in your life over and over and over!

Not that I'm a complete saint. I mean, as much as I don't want to judge others there are certain notions that make me involuntarily roll my eyes. The HBO show Big Love and the whole religious reasons for polygamy therein made me yell at my TV many a time as I watched it. It's a good show though, check it out. But the simple matter is, I'm afraid of dying. I'm afraid of death. I fear the reaper, if you will haha. I don't want my mom, my dad, my boyfriend, sister, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and every other person that has ever touched me to leave. Especially to a place where they can't come back and visit at least not in the physical sense. My beliefs are working very hard to soothe me and like I said, there's a reason for everything.

So it was a pretty big "coincidence" that I just started reading Elif Safak's Ask. This book was a big hit here, she's one of Turkey's most famous authors and I was just waiting for the English version to come out (it's out in the States too, The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak) and I finally got it and read the entire 300+ page book on the flight to India (oh yeah, I went to India, more on that later). It's about Ella, a forty year old woman stuck in a rut, feeling a little lost and working as a reader at a literary agency.

What is my current unofficial job? How have I been feeling? Yeah exactly.

Through her job Ella reads a book about the life of the poet Rumi and his companion Shams and their religion of Sufism. Sufism is a branch of Islam that focuses on the titular rules of love and how they can be applied to life and basically the love of Allah. It really touched me. In my previous entry I mentioned the artist Mercan Dede. He is a Sufi and Elif Safak actually thanks him in the acknowledgements of this book. It's such a simple concept. The idea of love. Of loving everything and everyone and living your life with love. There was one sentence in the book that especially stood out to me. "To be a Sufi, you learn to die before death." I'm paraphrasing but still, it struck a chord with me. Learning to accept and welcome death in life is not something I can wrap my mind around. I live each day fighting the thought of it. But it made sense. As I read books submitted to me, I keep receiving messages that ring true with me much like the protagonist of Ask. One book's underlying theme was that life is about choices and you need to make them. The one I had to read and write up in one day, yesterday, was all about love. It was about all-encompassing love and life and focused on an immortal soul. One that had to die before he could live again, forever. I think we can stop calling them coincidences now. Or I can.

My grandfather and I recently came to the conclusion that I could teach. I have a master's that allows me to teach in my field and maybe further down the line I could get my PhD. Well this is what sealed it. I want to study this. Maybe do it on my own, read about Rumi and Sufism, but it would be something I would love to sink my teeth into and maybe realign my belief system to better flow with it as well. It is a comfort. Everything does happen for a reason. I've seen enough proof of it in my life to believe it. It's what makes the dread of fear in my chest slowly ebb away.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Task 7 & Task 17: Music Inferno

Day 7: Along with sucking at being in pictures I'm also crap behind the camera. But I want to be better. I've had this idea kicking around in my head forever and I want to just get out and do it. A complete photo-book called Heavy Metal Istanbul documenting, guess what, heavy metal in Istanbul.

Changed my mind. I am not a photographer nor do I want to be. There are enough pseudo photographic artistes out there anyway, taking pictures of their shoes and feet and calling it "unique." See? I'm more of a poet, and I know it.

Moving along then, I'm quite happy not attempting to be a photographer, so new task. It kind of goes in with Task 17, working with my mom and our company, Borusan's, Arts and Culture Foundation to create a concept to display at the newly opened Music House.

I've already begun that.

The Music House is a house (yes thank you captain obvious) that works to promote music and art in Turkey, you can look it up online! Shameless family promotion. We recently had an art exhibit for emerging young artists in Turkey and there have been quite a few performances there already like the Borusan Chamber Quartet and Kerem Gorsev, a jazz musician. I missed the opening because I was still under the delusion I was going to LA and had returned to Boston at the time, but I watched the DVD and it was amazing. It completely set the tone for this huge undertaking. You know, being the go-to people when it comes to arts and culture in Turkey. First we start at home, then we take over the world. Anyway, we had re-known DJ and Sufi Mercan Dede along with the Quartet play music while a male and female dervish danced the sema and artist Carlito Dalceggio painted on a huge canvass. I met Carlito and Mercan Dede before I left and they were truly some of the most kind and inspirational people I've had the joy of talking to. They're basically on another plane because they get so lost in their art. It's hippie-dippie crap but none of the kind that makes me roll my eyes. You can tell they have talent and that they're humble about it, but you also want to match them, creativity to creativity. Here are links to their websites and some pictures from that night.

It quite clearly was an unforgettable night and my family, though our name is already sort ofrecognized here, is now at the forefront of innovation in the arts. We could've have been prouder of my mom who heads the department. As well as the entire Borusan Art and Culture staff whom I love and spend more time with when I'm home than anyone else.

So it's been a good year for my family work-wise. We also had a concert conducted by a really well-known Turkish comedian, Cem Yilmaz, to raise money to provide scholarships to talented musicians who want to further their craft abroad. We've held this concert every year for the past four years but because Cem Yilmaz is so beloved, this year's concert created sort of an uproar. Instead of one, we raised enough money to sponsor 5 people and the entire night got written about and reported in every major news outlet. I would love to be a part of my family's growing projects and endeavors and I want to be able to do so in the future but based on my own innovation and creativity, not because I'm someone's granddaughter. Like A Muse is also my first steps into doing something I could be good at, writing and making stuff happen from the writing therein.

I was asked to come up with a new concept to put on in the Music House. My taste is, as you might know, not quite on par with everyone else's (I mean, I can match any of their classical music knowledge too. Ahem, I did take History of Classical Music in college and minored in Music. I also threw a fit when they changed said minor to Music Appreciation rather than plain Music therefore making it sound about as useful as a philosophy degree. Not that I don't appreciate music but nevertheless, the resume reads a minor in music, period. ) so it could be an interesting project. I thought of a few pieces that could happen relating to metal and to my delight some people at the office seemed to respond really positively. That's when I re-imagined Task 7. Instead of photographing Istanbul's music, I could contribute to it. Plus, Heavy Metal Istanbul would've probably ended up as five pictures of the one metal bar in town, a couple long-haired dudes walking about in Slayer shirts, and angry men in the midst of breaking my camera because I was photographing the black market metal t-shirt shops.

Along with the art pieces I thought up I needed something directly music related as it is the MUSIC House. So I thought of bands I could contact and maybe convince to play for a fee. The building is not equipped to deal with a full-out metal show, but maybe a different re-imagining of the chosen band's songs? And maybe showcase a local band too like an opening act? I used my old music-writing contacts to get in touch with a couple managers and sent off my emails to the world. Including my current favorite band, Hardcore Superstar. I interviewed their drummer so I still had their manager's email and he was kind enough to forward me to their European contact. I wrote my typical flowery email, beseeching them and sucking up like there was no tomorrow. But I might add, sucking up sincerely because I am a fan and man alive, I want to meet them and have them here working with me! They're so good. Oh my God. So. Good.

But, it's been a couple weeks and still no response. I'm going to try again soon because I think this could be a great project. We could even print up t-shirts and have them for the people coming to see like at a concert! And have an Iron Maiden retrospective in a corner with all my stuff! Heh, I wish we could get them buuuut I doubt we have the budget.

Now if they'd hurry up and respond, I can sign off on this task. Until then, I'll just sit here, in the Borusan BMW lot and listen to the orchestra rehearse Mahler. It's kind of peaceful having a 100+ person orchestra play as I type. God, that sounded spoiled, I'm going to go do my internship reading and coverage for which I work too hard and receive no pay. That'll bring me back down to Earth.
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