Sunday, August 28, 2016

Killing Crickets and Defending Thomas Jefferson

Working on illustrations for a children’s book late into the evening, I heard a loud chirping noise. My skills of deduction weren’t much better than those of the dim-witted St. Bernard I was drawing because it took me some time to realize that my air conditioner was not the culprit. I went onto my balcony that overlooks the street and I discovered a cricket. With a broom that had been propped conveniently against the wall, I promptly smashed it. I returned to my drawing at the dining room table, hoping the cricket I’d killed hadn’t been named Jiminy. How ironic if he’d been singing the song, “I’m No Fool,” in which he says he wants to live to be 103, just as I delivered the fatal blow.  Well, pretty soon, he started up again. Apparently, the bristle end of a broom is not a good murder weapon. I had only stunned him. This time when I stepped onto the balcony, I noticed he had company. His last desperate attempt at a mating call must have attracted a lady. I must confess I’m a diehard romantic. I was happy he’d found someone. However, I cannot abide nocturnal insects chirping away on my balcony, so I had to kill the romance, literally and figuratively: this time with the dustpan.
This cat has nothing to do with this blog entry, but how often
do you see a cat in Istanbul wearing a tie?

Now, not only do I have my haunting by dead crickets to worry about, but my relentless jet lag has not been kind to me, either. I have been back in Istanbul for one week and I feel I should have adjusted to the ten-hour time difference by now. My back balcony looks out onto a sports facility, which is not the greatest view, but when I want to use the gym, I’m glad it’s there. This morning at 5 AM I went running on the treadmill and afterward was able to crash for six hours of blissful sleep. I think if I time my runs carefully, I should be able to set my internal clock back to Istanbul time.

The lingering jet lag is probably due to my confusion about where to hang my hat and call home. Is Istanbul home? Sure, and it’s a lovely home, although the other day I saw two cars, crushed and full of bullet holes. I’m guessing these are reminders of the failed military coup, but I’m not sure. A home by definition doesn’t have to feel familiar. Homes can be confusing. Portland is not home, but I had fun there this summer. Every time I’m in Portland I can count on a stranger approaching me and telling me what kind of energy I’m giving off. One time I was giving off a strong “amethyst vibe.” I guess I had a light purple aura. Most recently, a woman approached me and said I exuded so much confidence and that she was certain my name was Chloe. I just looked like a Chloe, she said. I admitted that my name was not Chloe; it was Meriwether, and the woman looked so disappointed, I wished I had lied to her.

Portland is full of eccentric people, but it’s not home. It’s becoming too expensive to live there. Portland's eccentricity is overvalued. And Portland is damp and moldy.

This summer, I also spent some time in Seattle with my mom. We went to the opera, which I love. Seattle has the most wonderful opera and I feel fortunate for all the times I’ve been, but Seattle isn’t home either, and I wouldn’t want it to be, unless I got to live at the opera.
At the Opera!

I left Portland just as I learned of an event calling for people to jump off the Tillicum Bridge to protest the killing of Harambe, the gorilla. Only in Portland. The fashion there is stuck in the 90’s and time stopped even further back. On Facebook, some people were stuck centuries back, railing against Thomas Jefferson, discrediting all his contributions because of his ideas of race and his relationship with Sally Hemings. I suggested that we shouldn’t judge people in history through a lens of our modern morals because if we’d been alive in the 1700s, I don’t think we would have had such enlightened ideas about race either. The response I got from someone I don't know was, “Maybe you would have been a piece of s**t if you’d lived in the 1700s, but not me!”

On that note, I’m going to sign off and, cricket ghosts willing, get some much-needed sleep. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Turkish Dilemma

I have been facing uncertainty about the future, whether to return to Istanbul and live a life that is wonky, interesting, exciting, reckless (choose your own adjective), or whether to stay in Portland.  My mom and brother, who are used to me being adventurous, expressed concern about me going back. I have a small yet strong family, but our small size also makes us vulnerable, like surviving copies of the Gutenberg Bible. I can't put my family's compactness and rarity in peril just because I feel like traipsing off to Istanbul. 

Last week I had a dream that felt like a slap in the face. Donald Trump was chasing my family and me around the Grand Canyon. I should mention that before the chase scene, my dream was carefree. I was soaking in valuable writing advice from a Swedish author and she gave me my very own Swedish writer name. Agnes Larsson or something like that. She told me I was destined to become the greatest author Sweden had ever known. Then the dream cut to the Grand Canyon and the Swedish author/mentor disappeared. My mom and brother and I came to a cluster of peaks spaced like keys on a giant type writer. Trump was having a fit as he chased us and we were really scared. Looking back, I don't know why we didn't just push him in the Grand Canyon. But we had to get away from him and the only way to do that was to jump from peak to peak. My mom and brother went first, landing painfully on their stomachs. They instructed me to do the same. They said the rocks were slippery and if I tried to land on my feet, I would slip and fall into the abyss. I was too afraid to land on my stomach, so I ignored their advice. I landed on my feet and fell into the canyon. I died. No Swedish novelist career for me. And my family was down one person. 

I woke up with a gasp, thinking the solution was simple. I should stay in Portland. But then, just like landing on a jagged rock on my stomach, I decided that's not what I wanted either. I'm going back to Istanbul. And hopefully everything will be fine. And hopefully, I'll land on my feet, no matter how clumsy my jumps are and no matter how close Trump is to catching me in a chase around the Grand Canyon.