Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election night 2008

At home with strep throat, I didn’t get to go to an election night party. I started watching CNN at 3:30 pm. However, as the first polls weren’t going to close until 1am Turkish time, which meant that I had a darn long time to watch CNN before anything started to happen. I watched their little backstage bit at least five times, and during the breaks instead of beer ads, watched every board of tourism east of Germany and west of America try to convince me that they had the most beautiful woman, beaches, etc. Either that, or it would be wise of me to get an MBA or go to a leaders conference in Dubai. Lying on pillows on the floor with dogs, I watched, waited, and hoped beyond hope, knowing that I had sent in my absentee ballot a week and a half before from Germany. At 5:30 I decided that Obama was going to win and went to sleep. Had I known that they were going to call it just half an hour later I would have stayed up. As it was, a friend and my mother called and woke me up at 6am to tell me Obama had won. Payback, my mother told me, for all the times I had woken her up to tell her UNC had won. And, as if to prove the two things are important enough to wake someone up over, Franklin Street was rushed after McCain conceded. Basketball and Obama. The two things worth staying up til 5:30 in the morning to watch from abroad. And, lying there with strep throat, as things went Obama’s way, I was much happier to be here now, than four years ago, sitting in the library at 2am with a broken heart, writing a paper the night before it was due, checking the returns online, and having my first fight with my mother in years as we watched the world fall apart wanting to cry.

This time I wanted to cry. For joy

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Marathon and Halloween

Istanbul, Turkey

Since returning to Istanbul, I am mostly just living. However, I no longer have my own place, and so I’ve been staying with various friends. And at this point I think I would like to say thank you to everyone who has put me up, and helped me on my way from the end of the festival to now.

A huge thanks to Rich and Jim, who gave me the gear, advice, and inspiration to hike the west highland way. Thanks to everyone I met on the way, to Daniel, Graeme and Karen for hosting me in Glasgow and showing me how fantastic the city is. To Tom and all his fellow assistant wardens for amazing food and adventures in St. Andrews. To Sarah in Manchester for taking me in at the last minute. To Lou and Olly for also giving me a place to stay at the last minute, for the hugs, and just generally being wonderful. To Charlie and Tiffany, for the awesomeness and fun of sunny Wales, and to Webster, for the birthday party and fold out sofa. But that’s only in the UK! Thanks to Ingo for having the amazing exhibition, to Buck, and amazing CS host, and Marko, for giving me my own space for two days. And in Istanbul, thanks to Hande, Collette, the dogs, Amy, the cats, and Brienne for putting me up so far. You all are absolutely amazing!!

And now after that short break, we return to Istanbul. I was exhausted after my flight here, and didn’t really do anything until Monday, when I went to the Kapili Carsi and the book exchange to visit people. The exception to that was to participate in the Istanbul Marathon on Sunday, October 26. It’s the only marathon in the world that spans two continents, and if you do it properly, it involves running 42 kilometers. There’s also a 15 kilometer fun run. But being much more the walking type than the running type, I participated, along with about 150,000 other Istanbul’lus in the Halk Korsusu, or the people’s course. It was about 6 kilometers from the Altunizade bridge on the Asian side, across the Bosphorus bridge to the European side, and then to just past Besiktas. It’s the one day a year that you can walk on the bridge, which explains why so many people turned up in the pouring rain. Usually, Turks are afraid of the cold and rain, convinced that they are going to get sick. I guess the other motivation was that if you had a number, you got a metal and a t shirt at the end. I didn’t have a number.

I guess the walk across the bridge could have been more amazing had it been clear and sunny so that it was possible to see Ayasofia and all the other historic mosques. And it would have been nice not to be soaking wet, through the three layers I was wearing. It took my shoes nearly three days to dry out. But it was amazing to walk across the bridge, and to look back and see the sea of umbrellas and hooded people being me. Sometimes people would feel inspired and run past, but mostly people just walked. I’ve never seen so many turks in one place before.

The other exciting, or perhaps not so exciting event was Halloween! Turks have not really gotten into Halloween yet, but some of the other foreigners had organized a party in one of the bars in Taksim. So after a three hour meeting (over amazing Thai food) on how we were going to make the pumpkin to carriage transformation for Cinderella, speech bubbles winter panto, we put on our Halloween gear. I had managed to scrape together a witch costume, with a skirt from Hande, a hat from Amy, and some green makeup from Sharon. I also had my own converse, and purple and black striped knee socks. Walking from the Galata tower nearly all the way to Taksim square (a 20 minute walk) I got an incredible number of stares. Some people just looked. Some said something about Halloween. And one girl stopped us and asked if we were going to a Halloween party. She was really excited and wanted to come as well.

There were some good costumes – a guy dressed as a belly dancer, Sarah Palin (she won the costume contest, hopefully the only thing she will win!), Penny from Hairspray, and a storm trooper. Sadly there was no pumpkin carving, but I did make a pumpkin pie instead.