Monday, April 30, 2007

Remember Books?

I am so bleeding discouraged by the novels I’ve been reading here in Turkey; they just can’t hold me like a good, to-the-point blog post can. Granted, I brought only what I thought were “classics” from a used bookstore. I got through a minor Margaret Drabble, slogged through Indiana by George Sand, am now in the midst of Main Street by Sinclair Lewis (the other Carrie story, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, is devastating, this one is just annoying).
Have been trying to finish Snow by Orhan Pamuk for months. The novel is maddening, and I haven’t met a single person who could finish it. You already know the writer/Pamuk will be assassinated, you had the climatic massacre in the theater in the first half of the book--basically there are no surprises because this is such a self conscious novel he tells you everything before in occurs. Except--now I find out he loses the love of his life due to jealousy he feels toward her previous lover??? No, a writer can’t compare with a sexy blue-eyed revolutionary, but just take what you can get, Sad-Sack! And this was the Nobel Prize getter. Jeesh!
Two consolations:
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. Wonderful. Check out the BBC miniseries for one of THE most beautiful men on the planet.
And Harry Potter IV, a few pages each night with Kid.01.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

More Cute Animals

Today we visited a farm with Kangal puppies, Turkish sheep dogs. Took a hike in the fresh air, lots of tiny spring flowers peppering the hills. Saw our first stork of the season.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Van Kedisi

One of my students has a new Van Cat kitten. These are special cats from Turkey, white with one blue and one yellow eye.
As you can see, I woke up still a girl, in a man's world.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Kid.02: “I like Bad Guys.”
He’s sort of violent, don’t you think?
“He has a violent gun, and violent boots, and violent arms. And violent hair. Mama, do you like bad guys?”
Yes, I guess sometimes I do.
(In fact, since I’ve been taking steroids-yikes!-with my antibiotics, I feel like I could be turning into a guy… huge veins popping out on my arms, clothes hanging on my body as all baby fat melts away… No more post-pregnancy melon breasts… maybe tomorrow I’ll wake up with a beard…)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

More Blogging Thoughts

I’m trying to put my finger on why I am so wrapped up in blogging, both working on kloeamongtheturks and reading other blogs, which I do several hours each night. (I haven’t linked to most of these blogs cause they don’t relate to this one and, let’s be honest, some are not G-rated…)
Creating a blog can be a very light activity, but long-term blogging is a tremendous project, requiring countless hours of writing, researching, designing, making visuals, interacting with the blogging community, and promoting your blog (which I haven’t done, yet). Creating a blog is like writing a novel, with intricate characters, settings, plots and subplots. Blogs, like postmodern novels, contain multiple layers as comments enrich the narrative.
But there are differences. The blogger is publishing the blog-novel in process, rather than completely finishing a tomb and then sending it off to be critiqued/rejected/published. The blog-novelist is self-publishing, which is a very powerful idea and not as ego-massaging as in the past (think of the self-produced pop music and movies that have achieved success). When you self-publish you can DO ANYTHING, or anyway, it feels that way: write a novel, make a movie, bring down a congressperson, run for president. Your work is not under your bed, waiting to be discovered after you’ve died—it’s out there somewhere in the blogosphere. Even if no one reads it, the possibility exists that someone will and someone is.
After publishing every post I click on “view blog,” although I know exactly how it will look. Even after 190 posts, I still get a kick out of seeing my shiny new entry up on the web.
PS Don’t you just love this dress? It’s what a Turkish bride might wear at her engagement party…
PPS A few weeks ago Blogger popped up here completely in Turkish, so now all my interface is done in Turkish. Cok iyi, Kloe!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

OK, This is Worrisome

From the New York Times:
ISTANBUL, April 24 — Turkey’s ruling party on Tuesday chose a presidential candidate with an Islamic background, a move that will extend the reach of the party — and the emerging class of devout Muslims it represents — into the heart of Turkey’s secular establishment for the first time.
The selection has focused the worries of secular Turks who fear that sexual equality, as well as drinking alcohol and wearing miniskirts, could eventually be in danger.
Abdullah Gul, 56, the foreign minister, whose wife wears a Muslim head scarf and who is Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s closest political ally, is expected to be confirmed as president by Parliament in several rounds of voting that begin Friday. That will boost Turkey’s new political class — modernizers from a religious background.
“These are the new forces, the new social powers,” said Ali Bulac, a columnist for a conservative newspaper, Zaman, in Istanbul. “They are very devout. They don’t drink. They don’t gamble. They don’t take holidays. They are loaded with a huge energy. This energy has been blocked by the state.”

The party that Mr. Gul helped found, known by its Turkish initials, AK, sprang from the Islamic political movements of the 1990s. But the AK became significantly more moderate after taking power on a national scale in 2002. Since then, it has applied pragmatic policies that helped create an economic boom and opened up the state in ways that the rigid secular elite, which relied heavily on state control, had never imagined, in part to qualify for membership in the European Union.
Although the party is publicly adamant about keeping religion separate from policy, bristling at shorthand descriptions of it as pro-Islamic, it draws much of its support from Turkey’s religiously conservative heartland. Once on the periphery, these traditional Turks are now emerging as a powerful middle class that has driven Turkey’s boom. The economy has nearly doubled in the four years that the AK has been in power, largely because it has stuck to an economic program prescribed by the International Monetary Fund.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Two Interesting Articles about Feminism and the Arts

Yoko Ono talks about her work in relationship to feminism.
Two critics discuss the paintings of Lisa Yuskavage.
I love the idea that Ono has recreated her “Cut Piece,” in which she invites audience members to cut off her clothes piece by piece. The work was about one thing when she performed it at age 30, but it seems to me about quite different things at age 70. Most people never see a near-naked mature woman, and if they do, is it still about sex? Violence? Vulnerability?
Yuskavage paints mutant sex babes in candy colors. I've always thought it pretty gimmicky. The article hits home when it addresses the commercialism of the work; how it’s not OK to hang a Playboy centerfold in your million dollar home, but very cool to own a Yuskavage or John Currin.
I returned to teaching and painting in the Faculty today, and am almost deliriously happy.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Fun with Food

Academia Can Really Suck

I was rejected from even initial interviews for a tenure-track job I thought was perfect for me back in SoCal. I am such a damn fine teacher, but I can’t find stable work, along with many other fine teachers I know. We are the ones with our offices in the backs of our cars.
Here in Turkey the system is different: basically the university where you do your masters and doctoral work (in Europe there is a PhD in studio arts) hires you after you finish your degrees. Later you can be lured away to another school. There are many new universities being established in Turkey now, both private and public, and not enough good teachers to fill all the faculties.
On another note, in my twelve years of teaching college I have had only one student who I thought might be violent to me, herself or others, but it was scary and sobering. An American, she had obvious serious mental problems, but was a good student as long as I didn’t get personal. One day she just lost it (probably went off her meds) and became very threatening. It’s so hard to know when to get authorities involved, and usually you wait until a crisis to do it.
Today I am a bit clearer, and sadder.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Noticias de Comida

At the tail end of my illness, I basically haven’t cooked a thing in two weeks and we’ve been living off Turkish takeout. Kid.01, my little gourmand, came to me weepy and said he couldn’t take one more Turkish meal. I agreed with him and promised I’d make a really American meal soon as I could.
How bout meatloaf, mashed potatoes, ketchup, and peas?
The Bisquick I brought with me from the last visit to the States is regretfully almost gone, but I did make chicken and dumplings once. Somehow there’s just no replicating that taste of partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil in the mix.
We now have a Domino’s Pizza in Our Anatolia City.
Being sick deadened my appetite for my favorite food groups: coffee, wine, chocolate and bread. I am now a shocking 52 kilos.
This weekend is a holiday, “23 Nisan,” or Children’s Day. The weather has blossomed into early summer, complete with bees and kids playing in the dirt. We ate our first lunch out on the balcony in the sun. And tonight we returned to one of our favorite outdoor restaurants to eat lamb chops and kunife, battered cheese drenched in syrup with pistachios.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Headaches and Glass

Let’s see, we have
• The repeated karate chop to the side of my head.
• The spear poking through the crown of my head.
• The classic temple throb.
• The Oh My God, my root canals have failed ache.
• The screw to the old jaw hinge.
• The cold-seawater-is-in-my-ear and now cold-wind-is-blowing-on-my-ear ache.
• The coffee cup suctioned to the base of my head.
• The good old crink in the neck.
• And what’s worse, a constant 6 pain, or a 3 with pulses up to 8?
Through all this my doctors refused to give me any painkillers stronger than anti-inflammatory drugs. Narcotic prescriptions are written on a special color of paper, and I guess you have to be basically on your way out to get them. The problem was that I didn’t have the correct diagnosis of sinusitis until the head ENT doctor returned from Samsun and ordered a brain scan (of course this made me think I had a tumor and all sorts of dire thoughts). When he saw the x-rays he said, “OK, you can have that much pain.” He also said if my sinuses don’t drain after the new course of antibiotics and steroids (!) he suggests surgery (I will be better by next week).
My ENT doctor is a very successful glass artist and has decorated his offices in flamboyant color. He also has the most amazing rings on his hands I’ve ever seen, like finger armor. Life is full of surprises.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

29 Again

Today was my birthday and I had a lovely day. My illness turned the corner yesterday (will write more about that later, but notice my ear is no longer angry red!). So here’s my idea of a perfect day:
A. Sleeping in to 8 am.
B. Getting cooked an egg in a hole, and actually wanting coffee for the first time in a week.
C. Going to one of my favorite new coffee shops and just sitting for a couple hours, writing and knitting and text messaging all the girlfriends I haven’t been able to see in a week.
D. Shopping!
E. Seeing one close confident for tea, and hearing about how smart my kids are.
F. Eating Chinese with our friends and four hungry, loud boys.
G. Chocolate dipped strawberries and chocolate cake (thanks H for all your planning).
H. Blogging!
Will take photos of the beautiful flowers I got tomorrow. A hair-pulling headache is coming on, so drugs and to bed.
Hugs and kisses, K

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Read a Master

Writing about his first experience abroad, the amazing travel writer Ryszard Kapuscinski. He died in January in Warsaw:
India was my first encounter with otherness, the discovery of a new world. It was at the same time a great lesson in humility. I returned from the journey embarrassed by my own ignorance. I realized then what seems obvious now: another culture would not reveal its mysteries to me at the mere wave of my hand. One has to prepare oneself thoroughly for such an encounter.
My initial reaction to this lesson was to run home, to return to places I knew, to my own language, to the world of already familiar signs and symbols. I tried to forget India, which signified to me my failure: its enormousness and diversity, its poverty and riches, its incomprehensibility had crushed, stunned, and finally defeated me. Once again, I was glad to travel around Poland, to write about its people, to talk to them, to listen to what they had to say. We understood each other instantly, were united by common experience.
But of course I remembered India. The more bitter the cold of the Polish winter, the more readily I thought of hot Kerala; the quicker darkness fell, the more vividly images of Kashmir’s dazzling sunrises resurfaced. The world was no longer uniformly cold and snowy but had multiplied, become variegated: it was simultaneously cold and hot, snowy white but also green and blooming.

Translated from the Polish by Klara Glowczewska
Photo: Scaffolding and the image of the Archangel in the Hagia Sophia, Istanbul

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Happy 94th, Gram

All my love.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


From my ear, jaw, temple, crown or base of my head.
Visualizing my new painting, much bigger than I’ve painted before. A huge nude, lying back on her arms, but she feels like she’s flying. I’m thinking about the next layer of paint, how juicy I want the whites to be, with drips and blobs.
Throbbing, ringing.
Listening to Correlli, Vaughn Williams, Glass, and Kid.02’s chatter-laughter. Doctors told me today my hearing might be affected. I hope they meant temporarily.
Still sometimes, moving sometimes.
Thinking about some big dragon trees I know in the park at home, 100 years old, with Dr. Suess trunks supported by cables, sculptural. And my little dragon tree in my garden, I hope the gophers don’t get the roots again, Jesus is taking care of it.
A spear pierced through my skull.
A huge piece of baklava is waiting for me in the fridge. It’s probably 1500 calories, and pistachio, not walnut. Getting yelled at from all sides to force myself to eat.
So many people live with constant pain. How do they do it?
Imagining a soft touch on my shoulders, sweet smells, lovely murmurings, a fairy godmother protecting me.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Are You Feeling Yourself Very Toxic?

Said the doctor to Kloe. And I answered, Yep/Evet. As so found myself in the hospital after several clinic visits, and increasingly distressing symptoms. When I get sick in Turkey, I don’t mess around. My flora is not happy. The first time I lived here I got food poisoning often, and once landed in the hospital with an IV. A few months ago it was UTIs (gory details here and here). This time I have a lymph infection that has gone into my ear, accompanied by blinding headaches, and complicated of course by the fact that I’m allergic to most antibiotics.
So how is a Turkish hospital? I have a very large private room as a VIP (!). Kid.01 says he’d like to buy this hospital for his hotel chain. So it looks good. A lot quieter that American institutions, much less of beeping and nurses taking your temperature every hour. You don’t have to wear those awful hospital gowns where your butt hangs out. The doctors have been extremely attentive. Pain control has been a bit of an issue. Another difference is they let me sneak away for an hour to the hotel next door to use the internet!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Food Installations

I bet you thought I was going to rave about Turkish food again. Nope. I’m going to rave about my students who this week made two fabulous site-specific installations using food.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Like the Princess and the Pea, I am a Delicate Flower

Yesterday I had a massage. The day salon (or place where women go to have all their body hair removed) was recommended by a friend. I knew that the massage would be different from what I occasionally get in the States, but for 20 YTL ($15) how can you go wrong? I knew it would be rough because the massages I’ve had in hamams are quite rigorous, although they only last five minutes. Well, this was really rough and it went on and on. It was repetitive and hard and fast. Painful, but I felt pretty refreshed afterward. Today, however, I am a mass of bruises and have a terrible headache. Maybe I’m getting the flu again (had it last week too). Anyway, I am just too big a wimp for a Turkish massage.

Monday, April 09, 2007


Literally, fish-bread.
Fresh fillet, onions, tomatoes, salad, white bread, salt and lemon.
For 2.50 YTL, or about $1.80.
Just one of the best things about Istanbul.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

From Kloe Among the Tulips
Sultanahmet, Istanbul at the Hagia Sophia
(and I assure you that this photo is in no way Photoshopped)

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Turkish Time

Americans are morning people. We drink our huge cups of coffee early. The Socal freeways are crowded by 6am with people driving to work. We put our children to bed by 9pm (8 if we’re smart or lucky).
Turks are evening people. Not as bad as the Spanish, but definitely in the Mediterranean way of thinking. Students think a 9am class is early. Coffee hour is about 4pm. A party really seems to starts after dinner, when the guests all sit around drinking tea and can really talk. Kids, even little ones, stay up late with their parents. The other evening a school friend was dropped off to play. I asked his mom if the child would spend the night at our house. No, was the answer, his dad will pick him up around 11. That’s pm.
And don’t ever call a Turk before 10am on a weekend. No no no. Don’t do it.
Photo is of the main shopping street in Our Anatolian City. As you can see we have a McDonalds. And three Burger Kings.

Friday, April 06, 2007

I Heart Shopping

I’ve been spending some time recently at the two new malls. There are food courts, coffee shops that don’t serve Nescafe, toy shops, boutiques (I really love the new spring dresses), and there is Carrefour. Carrefour is the WalMart of Europe, big enough to stock imports like tofu, Swiss cheese, filtered coffee, Haagen Daaz, and avocados. You pay for these luxuries, but sometimes it’s worth it.
And yes, I’m feeling badly for abandoning the city center and old ways of shopping, so last weekend I went downtown to replace a misplaced school uniform shirt and buy some wooden items. After walking around for a couple hours dragging unhappy kids and being completely unsuccessful, I realized I shouldn’t feel guilty. Just like in the U.S., many small and expensive shops on “Main Street” will go out of business. Shoppers will be free do more profitable things with their time than run from place to place. A housewife’s revolution is taking place in Our Anatolian City.
And today I bought one of the new black and white op art dresses. It fits like a Chinese dress from the 50s. Now if it would just get a little warmer…

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Home Depot, Not

In America, people who are lucky enough to own a home spend at least part of each weekend at Home Depot, Ikea or the local nursery. We are burdened with long honey-do lists. We try to fix things ourselves because the plumber, the electrician and the sprinkler guy get paid more than our children’s teachers do. Way more.
Here in Turkey there is no such thing as Home Depot (hard for artists!). Ikea has arrived in Istanbul only. Homeowners don’t spend their weekends working on their houses, because calling a plumber to come out, even on a weekend, usually costs only parts. Like under $20. The only problem with these guys is that they don’t clean up after themselves (maybe they feel it’s women’s work?)
Above is newly refurbished water heater. Yeah!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Blogging Weirds Out Your Parents

I’ve read how other bloggers have to deal with older family members reacting to supposed revelations on line. And right on cue, mine chime in. It’s a generation gap, partly. They don’t like my “obsessive” behavior to write every day. They don’t want me mentioning the kids. They want me to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of alienation and keep up appearances in the face of depression.
Writing is cathartic for me here, as an expat. I need to communicate, with anyone willing to look and read (and yes, it does distract me from other things). I have fantastic experiences here that I want to share.
But I consider this blog an ARTWORK. It is mediated. It is not naïve. It is my work and will help me get a job. Got that???
PS Isn't my hair shiny?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Another Student AutoBio

I’m teaching a Cross Discipline Studio Arts class, in which we’re doing performance, video, installation, and blogging. This kind of class has never been taught here before and I’m having lots of fun with it.
Here’s an “Autobiography in 30 Seconds” from one of my two American exchange students. It’s great to have these women in my classes because they are showing my Turkish students a different way of looking at, speaking about, and making art.
I’ve linked to all my students’ blogs in my sidebar. The blogs are young, but promising.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Things I Do Without in Turkey

In-Line Skates
Garage Filled with Junk
Clothes Dryer
Garbage Disposal
Electric Mixer
Food Processor
Electric Coffee Maker
Frost-free Freezer
Bread Machine
Sewing Machine
Answering Machine

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Getting my Mind on Other Things

A great typical meal: cheese lamb patties, white bean salad with onions, eggs, tomatoes and olive oil, pickled peppers, fresh bread. Have yet to learn to like ayran (salted yogurt drink), so diet coke.
Subtle redesign of the blog: colors, labels, links. Thinking about blogging. Reading lots of blogs.
Have a bad sore throat, which means laryngitis soon. Couldn’t go to Istanbul today as planned. The house is quiet.