Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I invited a dear friend of mine to join in my 100 freakin' blogs in a row challenge. Do you know he was crazy enough to say yes? Now I feel duty bound to complete my mission, if anything just to show him up. He might be able to do more push ups than me, but on writing about our own, nutty universes, we're certainly equal.

Anyway it's more productive than watching television.

Today, on paper, looks an awful lot like yesterday. I again woke up (something I love to do and even considered writing an entire blog about it.) I again took to wrestling with the concept of a dream trip for Turkish women. I wrote the following email to the one that I know, the intellectual one ( who I also considered writing an entire blog about and likely, one day, will.)

The email was as such:
Dear Gokce,
In my developing, strange new twist of careers, I have been asked to come up with a weekend getaway to Greece that will be marketed, primarily, to wealthy, Turkish women. From everything I've proposed, I understand that wealthy Turkish women are VERY different from American and even Western European women. (British, French, German, etc) which means, roughly, that I don't exactly know what to do. Initially I was starting to mix a variety of things such as cultural places... ruins, museums, points of interest, with spas and shopping. I put in a boat ride along the Aegean coast... The Greek men are telling me that I have to imagine ladies weighted down with gold who don't want to move a finger if they don't have to, maybe even have a place where they can hear Turkish music and eat Turkish food, and to come up with a plan for THOSE women. Could you please guide me? What on earth would a privilidged Turkish woman want from a trip to Greece? It's hard for me to get my brain around why you would go somewhere else just to see and do the same things you do at home. Sincerely, P

To which she responded, (among other things I took out because it's a bit irrelevant):

Dear Paige,
It is interesting to see how prejudices flow against my women in europe...
I guess west is still afraid of facing the east...
But I believe sun rises from east...

I love how she puts this. "My women." It's why I fell in love with her in the first place, really. She's a tribal warrior princess, defending Islam through its mysticism, Turkish women through years of strangely progressive practices such as divorce and abortions, things they've been allowed to do for centuries, and, selfishly, confirming my instinctive feeling that Turkish women, like any other women, are curious creatures who love to be treated specially but also want variety, culture, beauty, romance... and it doesn't need to come in superficial packaging.

At least I'm hoping.

So after I bent my brain into a few more pretzel knots, this is the kicker, we got ANOTHER call from ANOTHER Indian flight crew stranded in Athens and looking to make the most of it.

Ok, this is more or less where the similarities end. As I said, just leaving your house in this city means you grab your whip and your brown fedora and prepare yourself for snakes and nazis. (Metaphorically speaking, of course.)

The wind could have picked me up today and carried me off like Piglet, straight up out of the hundred acre wood. I stood there along the median of busy Syngrou Avenue and waited the coach full of Indian flight attendants and was hanging on with one arm to a light post and had the other hand shoved deep in my jacket for warmth. When they pulled alongside me and I got in, they were introduced to my hair long before they saw the rest of me.


Because I'd had a little practice yesterday I have to admit today I slipped into automode which means I recite the stories by heart, usher them to "insert place of great historical value" and drift off into people-watching paradise. I like to watch tourists. They're always dressed on the quirky side, like no matter how sophisticated they might be in their high end, wrinkle free travelers clothes, when they're standing next to the lady in lime green tennies and a quilted purse big enough to fit a gallon of chicken, they look funny. Little games I play with myself to help the time pass include:
Counting the ones with ice cream cones.
Guessing their flavor.
Guessing their country of origin (the tourist, not the ice cream)
and mostly, what they're like when they're there.

Auto Insurance dealer. Has a wood shop in his garage. Cat owner.

Has a lot of brothers. Basketball fanatic. Has two more hats, just like this one, in different colors.
Married for fifty years. Teachers. He secretly writes poetry and she secretly reads it.

So today I was playing these little games with myself until my Indian flight attendants returned to me. These were a bit rowdier than yesterday's, all chain smokers, decked out in ripped jeans, tattoos, earrings.We all got in trouble when they decided to swing around the sacred olive trees of the New Acropolis Museum for a picture. One almost got eaten by the usually catatonic dogs of St. George's church because he bent down in his face and tried to give his ears a good rub. They were laughing like nuts, but it was quite likely because they were a) sleep deprived b) in a country they didn't expect to be in and c) were trying to have a nice time in spite of a) and b) so I hold them in the highest regard, not that they'll lose one second worrying about what I thought of them in the first place, something else I admire.

I got another ten invitations to visit in Delhi and am starting to warm up to the idea.

As the afternoon got later, something really magical happened with the sky. The winds grew even stronger, bending the trees over like naughty children. The clouds more pronounced, and the sunlight fell on the land in sharp shards leaving the rest in violet shadow. Standing on top of Lycavitous Hill with the entire city below and that magnificent wind howling, clanging the rope to the flagpole, saying something truly important in an impossible language, it was a moment that begged for an epic soundtrack.

"I like this life of mine that knocks me around a little. Please God let it be making me tougher. "

And with this little prayer I lead down the flight crew and we clamoured back into the still of the bus, curling down the road past the Aegean and θυμωμἐνο Ποσειδὠνα throwing the waves against the rocks like raquetballs.

My friend has stated he will use this exercise to "post the truth" for 100 days. My world is so gray right now, I'm completely confused at what is truth and what is illusion. My hope is that, at the end of 100 days, through the process of doing something repetitively and with discipline, be able to start functioning within the fuzziness as opposed to getting tangled deep inside of it. I'm going to do a cheesy little parallel here, something I learned from sitting in on too many sermons, but once upon a time a small Indian man taught me something important. He said "imagine you're on a boat and you see a big wave. You bend down and you ask it, 'What are you?' And he answers, 'I'm a wave!' The next day you're in your boat again and you see the same wave, but the wind has died down and it is calm. You ask it, 'What are you?' And it answers, 'I'm part of the sea.' Well, the idea is to go through life being the sea, not the wave."

I would like this exercise to make me a little less wave-like and a little more like the sea.

That is all.