I've been gone for a bit but my boyfriend was visiting and he stole the adaptor to my computer's charger for his laptop and I'm not comfortable writing when I'm not on my own device so I gave myself the week off. But, here I am, with my adaptor and charger and computer all set and ready to go. Though, now the boy is gone and that makes me sad. We've spent most of the last two years (and probably a good percentage of past years) not being in the same place but hopefully that will change by the end of September. I go back to Boston in August and he'll be in Austin, Texas for a while but his company will pay for him to come visit a few weekends until his work there is done so it won't be as bad as when he was in Iraq and I was in the States and we could barely talk to each other between the time difference and the shoddy internet/skype/phones.
While he was here, we mostly just hung out at home and had good home cooking (well, he did. I'm on my diet still and though it's not bad food, it's still trying on the nerves. Let's just say I've ingested more salad and greens in the last two weeks than most cows do) and watched movies and TV shows. It was just nice to relax in each other's company and it was usually too hot to do anything else during the day; Istanbul has been a sweltering 32 degrees Celsius (90 F.) and higher all week and it's not getting any cooler. Which means a lot of ice cream and even I was allowed two scoops of diet. Maras is my favorite ice cream, it's thicker and chewier than regular ice cream and is a Turkish specialty and even the diet version tastes good.
We did manage to make it out a few times. We took the ferry from my side, the European side of Istanbul, to the Asian and had a nice afternoon of wandering about trying to find the metal shop where he bought me a Motley Crue shirt four years ago. That shirt was one of my favorites and I have no idea what happened to it but as luck would have it, we found a similar one left in stock at the place. Akmer Pasaj (pasajs are "covered shopping arcades" as the Turkish-English/English-Turkish translations website zargan.com informs me. I couldn't really find a way to explain them but they're just passageways off main roads that have stores and shops all lined up across from each other and often are two or three floors) is known as the heavy metal pasaj of the Asian side but it kind of threw us when we found it and the entire first floor were bookstores. Everything from school books and textbooks to modern fiction to really, really old paperbacks and foreign books. The basement floor, once we found the stairs, had a bunch of music t-shirt and record shops and we got Elliot a Municipal Waste shirt as well as my Motley Crue shirt. The design and colors are the same except this is cut for a boy and my old shirt was a girl's shirt. Ugh, it looked so good on me too. Oh well, this will just be added to the pile of shirts I have to hem.
I also found a cool little necklace. It was a cut piece of fluoride and I liked the purples and greens and was all set to get it when the vendor dropped and cracked the end off. I was a little disappointed but I got it anyway and he dropped the price down 20 lira. It's not thaaaat noticeable, and the relative pointiness hasn't been disturbed much since it's hurts like a bitch if I try to hug anyone while wearing it.
We also took several trips to Istiklal Caddesi, kind of our version of Newbury St./Harvard Square. These aren't my pictures but you get the idea.
It used to be so beautiful all lined with cobblestones and trees but they ripped out the stones a couple years ago, and the trees, and replaced them with concrete. Now you just bake while you walk down, and occasionally almost get run over by the trolley that goes up and down the street, but thankfully there are hundreds of places to eat and shop and duck into. My mom's office, and the Music House and Borusan Arts and Culture buildings are there too as well as three, yes three, Starbucks. Which, my boyfriend and I use as bathroom stops because, well, they're just cleaner than the places we frequent.
We met up with a friend of a friend who has been in Istanbul for a while, and will be until August attending language programs, and it was nice to get to know a new face and take her out to dessert and hookah. The hookah itself, sour cherry flavor, was not very good. I'll be sticking to my traditional mint in the summer. It's bad for you but doesn't feel as bad if that makes sense. Kind of light and refreshing as opposed to the cherry that was too sweet and burned my throat. And of course, we had to go a couple times to our metal bar, DoRock. Whose name I didn't get until my boyfriend explained it to me last year; durak means stop, like on a bus or train schedule. So it's a music stop. Yeah I know. It used to be this crappy little hole in the wall that had hair metal and death metal nights and my boyfriend and I just loved to be crammed in there with everyone else, enjoying a beer and blinking back tears because the air was just so smoky and musty. He used to go hang out there everyday when he attended school in Istanbul and all the bartenders used to know him. It kind of upsets him now because it's become sort of a "cool" place to hang out and they're now sponsored by Efes beer so the walls and tables and seats have all been re-done and they have wireless internet and security now. They had a tattoo shop on the second floor but I'm assuming it got shut down because beer and hepatitus isn't that fun a mix.
It doesn't have the same atmosphere it used to have but it got really bad for a while. I mean they had a Nazi bartender and most of the people in there weren't that nice and you just got an uncomfortable feeling being there but this last time was a definite imrpovement from last year. No Nazi tattoos to be seen, only the old familiar bartenders working, and since the smoking ban is in effect, you could breathe and actually see more than a foot in front of you. The atmosphere was almost back to the normal with the fun and friendly vibe it used to have. Metalheads think they're cool but really, we're the biggest geeks. When you get a crowd of us we're all just so overwhelmed by finally having people we have something in common with to hang out with, that we just turn into adoring puppies and basically want to be nice to everyone. Of course, there will be those with superiority complexes and attitudes but Elliot and I do a good job of avoiding them and secretly making fun of them. I was pretty happy that the welcoming feeling that's been absent the last couple years was good and back. Elliot blames girls coming for the reason the bar got all spiffy and up-it's-own-ass, so to speak, but hey, it's the boys that bring the girlftriends. I used to go when there'd be only two other girls besides me and yeah it was nice but I don't think it was that terrible this last time we went. Though we did have a moment of panic when we stopped by to have a drink on another afternoon and they were playing country music. I think we were suitably, and loudly, derisive enough to get them to switch to classic rock. But anyway, he says all the improvements are for the ladies and why it's made the bar change from the little, unique place we used to love. Hey, they need to make money. TVs, wireless internet, and girls are the way you keep metal boys coming and spending money. They're just trying to keep a bar running, it's not their fault what the customers do because the customers are what bring the other elements as well as the money.
On a different note, (haha no pun intended) cover band we'd heard in the past was playing again the night we went and it was hilarious. They did all the popular songs like, "The Trooper," and, "Electric Eye," and though they're not particularly ood, I'd say they're terrible but the singer's voice and the drummer are pretty decent, the enthusiasm and joy with which they play and psych up everyone is priceless. They were bellowing, wailing, and soloing all over the place and they got everyone to sing along and have a good time. It's moments like that; sitting at the bar with my Efes and my Elliot, singing along to, "Aces High," where the lead singer makes up a large portion of the lyrics, and just enjoying the company of friendly, like-minded people makes me so happy to be who I am and where I am. It helps that we always get checked out because we speak English to each other and Turkish to everyone else and we're familiar enough that they recognize us but don't really know our story. I like having that mystery there, it's silly but it's fun. This is probably my favorite thing to do with my Elliot; hang out and enjoy our music with nice drinks at DoRock and then go off and have a hookah with nice tea and snacks. It's even better in the winter. Checking in at the bar and listening to the songs that come up on their playlist, making bets about what the next video will be, and then warming up with salep (another Turkish drink) and nargile (as we call our hookah) at the tea house before heading home.
We did some touristy stuff that i include in my usual Istanbul time like going to the Covered Bazaar as well. We stopped by my usual stores in there and picked up various gifts for friends, a beautiful Iranian miniature to put in my new apartment, and I also got a pretty great pendant. The vendor, who loves me and my sister, told me it was a jaguar claw with semi-precious stone embeliishments but eh, I'm not sure I believe him, though I'd like to. Poor jaguar though. At least I gave it a good home. I also got a ring inscribed with Tibetan script. My mom got one for herself and my sister too and later at home figured out what it said. It says om mani padme hum and is a mantra particularly associated with the four-armed Shadakshari form of Avalokiteshvara. Mani means the jewel and Padma-the lotus. It is the six syllabled mantra of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara.
The ring is silver with the script in gold and the pendant has 29 stones on it, including on the little attachment that hangs from the chain. I'll get better pictures once I get my hands on my camera and get going on Task 5. Heh, like Eddie on my shirt?
My jewelry collection is getting out of hand and I'm really looking forward to getting to organize it all when I get back to Boston and move into the new apartment which will thankfully, have space for all my junk.
Elliot's back off to Boston today but my sister just got back from a two week vacation in Mykonos, Greece so it's good to have her here and make her hang out with me so I won't get too bummed. We've got a busy couple of weeks coming up with a trip to Salzburg, going down to Bodrum in southern Turkey with the cousins, and less fun, a bunch of doctor's appointments. I haven't done much writing or reading recently but hopefully that'll pick up but for now, I listen to, "Living After Midnight," and wait for dinner like those stray cats that linger by the fish vendors on Istiklal. We're famous for our stray cats you know. They're everywhere and probably the reason why I love cats so much.
A wanna-be Egglet?