Friday, December 28, 2007
I know I’ve not been the most fun the past few months. To tell you the truth, it’s been a pretty hard year all around.
But I feel much hope for 2008. I’ll be introducing a new voice for this blog, and continue to talk about art and education, life here in LalaLand, my travels, and other adventures.
For the new year I wish each of you peace, love, and adventure, too.
Kloe Among the Turks
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
I’ve been reading Graham Greene’s autobiography, Ways of Escape.
A friendship can be a way of escape, just as much as writing or traveling, from the everyday routine, the sense of failure, the fear of the future… I write of trivial matters, but when one loves a man, as I loved him, it is the small things which others may have forgotten or not known which first come to mind…
In 1946 I felt myself at a loss. How had I in the past found the progressions from one scene to another?... Work was not made easier because the booby traps I had heedlessly planted in my private life were blowing up in turn. I had always thought that war would bring death as a solution in one form or another, in the blitz, in a submarined ship, in Africa with a dose of blackwater, but here I was alive, the carrier of unhappiness to people I loved…
Dreams, perhaps because I was psychoanalyzed as a boy, have always had great importance when I write… The unconscious collaborates in all our work: it is a negre we keep in the cellar to aid us. When an obstacle seems insurmountable, I read the day’s work before sleep and leave the negre to labor in my place. When I wake the obstacle has nearly always been removed: the solution is there and obvious—perhaps it came in a dream which I have forgotten.
Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.
There were dangers, I was to discover, in film reviewing. On one occasion I opened a letter to find a piece of shit enclosed. I have always—though probably incorrectly—believed that it was a piece of aristocratic shit…
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
We took the kids to see “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” a Christmas opera by Gian Carlo Menotti. Although I don’t remember seeing it on tv, the music is part of my childhood, one of those records my mom got out every December (along with Julie Andrews and the Tijuana Brass). It’s a very easy way to enjoy opera--simple, melodic, melodramatic—and it gets me every time.
The Three Kings ask the mother of the poor crippled child, “Have you seen a child the color of wheat, the color of gold…?” and she answers, of course, “Yes, he’s my child, my darling, my own.” In the eyes of every mother her child is the One.
I’ve lived without my traditions many years; my kids don’t even know the Christmas story because they are not being raised to know it. I’ve made that choice for them, but as I get older, I miss some of that stuff. I miss it.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Who is to judge?
Maybe our last days in this life can be the best. Maybe the guacamole tastes perfectly balanced, the sky has never been bluer, the sheets on our bed so soft after being washed 1000 times.
Maybe we should linger in our dying, because we value these final sunsets and cups of coffee. Why are people waiting for us to die? Because they are so uncomfortable with the fact of dying, that’s why.
And it was easier, in the beginning, because life just faded away, instead of being cut off suddenly.
But grief also builds in reverse.
Bits of thread, wound on a spool, are a perfect symbol of my grandmother’s generation, who lived through the great depression and war after war. Her parents spoke German, poor like everyone else. She made herself.
Why can I not do it, with so much more?
This is my 399th post.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
My grandmother taught me to sew. I always went to her house to use her machine, an early Singer. And so she promised it to me.
I don’t sew clothes. I mend, I make costumes, I renew sheets and towels and pillows. Now the Singer is in my house, near me, along with the notions chest, full of tiny treasures. I used the machine for the first time, to hem some new pants for Kid.01. Bittersweet.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I like my students. We work together to make a successful experience. I’m sad when the class is over. I’m especially sad when my students just walk out the door.
So let me give you a word of advice. If you’re an adult and you take classes, whether they are cooking or driver’s ed or college level courses, make it a point to go up to your teacher at the end of the course. Thank her, or at least say good-bye. Shake hands and smile. And I will wish you well and thank you for studying with me.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The semester is over. It’s been a long one, complicated by school canceled around midterms because of the fires. We are all tired, students and teachers. Today my figure drawing class turned in final projects, hand-made artist books, and they were pretty good. We ate bagels, donuts and pan dulce with coffee. A few students have told me they now want to pursue art or design as a career—that’s very complimentary. Sometimes you have an effect...
Last semester in Turkey we celebrated the end of the term by taking a field trip. The photo above is how Turks relax: tea, smoking, and sitting around chatting. I miss that.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Sunday, December 16, 2007
A couple, a young Turkish man and woman, is here in SoCal from my Anatolian City. They are studying at the local university. I saw them at a party recently and they were ecstatic about buying a car. Socal is expensive in all things except autos. They had been getting around by bus and train for four months. Believe me, it’s hard to do here.
They told me a horror story:
Traveling home one day, their driver stopped the bus on the side of the road and harangued them… about being Muslims. He told them Christianity is the only way to salvation. He also asserted Muslim men sleep with their daughters. The only other person on the bus joined in with the driver. The Turks didn’t get off because they didn’t have another way to get home. I told them this was completely illegal, and that they could sue this guy’s butt off, not to mention the City. Of course they would never consider this. Any lawyers out there interested???
Friday, December 14, 2007
I just watched this movie called “I Love Paris,” on dvd. It’s a collection of five minute stories about love, set in different neighborhoods of the City of Love/Light/Baguettes. Different directors, different actors. Most are ok, but a few are devastating. There’s a story by Nobuhiro Suwa starring Juliette Binoche, about a mother in fresh mourning for her son. And another by Frederik Auburtin and Gerard Depardieu, starring Gena Rolands, about a mature couple meeting in a café to discuss their divorce. Amazing. Natalie Portman and Maggie Gyllenhal also fair well. See it and drink some good wine.
And yes, I have been in Paris, and been in love there. I hope you get a chance to go there, too.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I made Turk Pide, or pizza, last night for a dinner party. It turned out pretty damn good.
Here’s the recipe:
Make a pizza dough in your bread maker (yes, I cheat), with a bit of whole wheat flour.
For cheese topping (the kids really loved this) mix :
1 raw egg, some crumbled feta and a small amount of shredded mozzarella, salt and pepper
For lahmacun filling mix:
Raw ground lamb, minced onion, minced parsley, chopped green pepper, crushed red pepper, allspice, salt and pepper
Shape dough very thin, like a long football.
Spread filling thinly in center. Roll up the edges. Bake in hot oven.
Serve with pile of parsley or cilantro and lemon wedges.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Years ago, when I drove a beat-up old Volkswagen Beetle, I made friends with a car mechanic who repeatedly saved my butt. He only does foreign cars, he likes young women, and he talks your ear off about the most esoteric subjects. He’s highly educated and won’t work for The Man, so became a small businessperson.
Now he’s working on my car again, thank Goddess. He’ll never overcharge me, he suggests junkyard parts if they will work, and once he bolted my car together with spit. He also had a very bad car accident when he was young, so safety is his prime concern. (He keeps wanting me to get a Volvo.)
For a woman who doesn’t know about cars, a mechanic like this is beyond valuable. I’m trying to indenture one of my kids to him, but no deal so far…
Monday, December 10, 2007
Why don’t Americans know how to eat? We are heathens. We stuff ourselves with food that is fast, over-processed, greasy, sugary and just not worth eating. How I long for civilized meals that are slow, in which we eat only small amounts, we drink good wine and water complimented with fresh, chewy bread. Such meals can’t be eaten alone, or with children. Such meals need adult conversation with partners who have many experiences and broad education. They need good music and warm surroundings. They should be eaten at either mid-afternoon (my favorite time for a meal) or 10pm, on long tables laden with dishes and candles.
I am living in a desert.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
I heard a story on NPR about the U.S. Post Office’s discontinuation of slow mail abroad (mail shipped by train and/or boat). M-bags are how I got all my books to Turkey last year. Three huge bags of art books, elementary school books, cookbooks—almost all left to colleagues in my Anatolian City, where libraries, if they exist in institutions, are poorly stocked.
Now future academics teaching abroad will be stuck. That just sucks. Because you can only take only 50 lbs per suitcase, and airlines weigh carry-ons, it will be very difficult to move abroad for six months or a year to teach or do research. You’ll have to pay exorbitant prices to ship heavy texts. Doesn’t the government understand you can’t buy books you need to teach in most other countries?
Here’s an eye-opening story:
There was a bookseller who set up in my Turkish Faculty. The texts were from European publishers. I saw a hardbound illustrated volume on Italian Mannerist Pontormo, one of my favorite artists. In my broken Turkish I asked the price. He replied something like $20. I was surprised; normally a book like this would sell for about $60. But then I understood—as a faculty member I could buy the book on time, paying $20 a month for a year! What professor, Turkish or American, could afford that?
book/bird sculpture by Joanne Hayakawa
Friday, December 07, 2007
We went to light the candles for Chanukah, then over to the Park for the annual holiday celebration. Saw a Mexican Folklorico dance troupe (big skirts, kissing behind sombreros) that also performed Irish. Imagine a bunch of handsome Latinos doing Riverdance; it starts to rain and these kids keep on tapping in the downpour as we cheer them on.
We walk in the dripping night under palms trees wrapped in lights to eat bratwurst and burritos. Thousands of people, kids and dogs in tow, wearing bags on their heads cause few here remember to bring umbrellas. The city looked beautiful. I guess SoCal is just as exotic as Turkey after all.
Tomorrow have to get up and cook again.
Photo taken in NYC in front of a decorated holiday window, a tradition we don’t have here at all.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
I haven’t felt much in the holiday spirit yet, and it’s already the third night of Chanukah. OK, I went shopping, I’ve got some lights up, but I realized what would help is holiday baking. It’s supposed to rain all day tomorrow, my day off, so I’ve started cooking:
• Leeks with carrots and rice in oil (Turkish)
• Mercemek kofte (red lentil patties, also Turkish)
• Challah with dried fruit and nuts
• Pesto (to finish my basil plant)
• Tomato sauce (my late-planted tomatoes are just now ripening, isn’t California amazing?)
• Applesauce with plums
• Latkes with zucchini
• Cupcakes with lots of buttercream frosting (I’ve been dreaming of cupcakes lately, what’s up with that?)
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
When you get very old, and all your contemporaries are shut-in or dead, with whom do you interact? Well, if you’re lucky, your family. Otherwise, your caregivers. At the final years of my gram’s life, these were the people who came through, who were there at the end, who cried the tears. Current caregivers, former caregivers, mothers and daughters of caregivers. The family was in and out, but the caregivers stayed.
Image of Ground Zero, NYC
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
This video artist, Jeremy Blake, recently walked into the ocean after his longtime girlfriend, Theresa Duncan, also killed herself. They were a young NYC/LA couple, hip and cultured, successful by most standards artists hold themselves to.
This double suicide has fascinated the Artworld. They were beautiful, they were popular, they were on the way up. She wrote a cryptic and intelligent blog. They were also apparently paranoid and frustrated. I wonder if the constant stress of keeping up the image of “artist” was involved. I wonder about myself, if I could keep up the image, if I should do it. It’s a very selfish lifestyle.
Monday, December 03, 2007
My Grandma S. died in her late 60s and we thought my Grandpa S. would soon follow. But he blossomed after the death of his wife of 50 years: lost weight, sold most of his stuff, pared his life down to only essentials. He was like Yoda.
Grandpa was a snowbird for years, coming down from NoCal to the SoCal desert for the winter months. I’d paint out there with him, staying in his tiny camper (once I brought a boyfriend and it wasn’t much appreciated…) He fed me oatmeal and didn’t give me advice.
This widower legend finally got too old to drive, and lived in a mobile home park, gently chuckling at life, until he got sick, went to hospital and died after two weeks. Saw him before he left, and he was still smiling. He greeted my kids as the “Future Presidents of America.”
Tree photo with white gouache by Tacita Dean at MOMA
Saturday, December 01, 2007
The dreaded holiday season is all of a sudden upon us. You can’t ignore it when you have kids. Last year was easier: no relatives around, Moslem country, my new life not yet started. Now I’m a bit paralyzed. Need to shop and organize and knit and decorate and cook and finish my semester and tend to my family. Yikes.
I’m going skating.