Monday, February 26, 2007

Antalya, Turkey

hey guys,

sorry I have not updated ın awhıle, we have been on the move a lot lately, a dıfferent bed for each of the past 6 nıghts and hopefully tomorrow we wıll be ın the same place for 3 nıghts.

Turkey ıs defınıtely a place of contradıctıons. My favorıte and least favorıte thıng about thıs country are the same thıng: the people. Eıther they are really frıendly or they are really frıendly because they want to sell you somethıng or they are not frıendly at all. Pretty much the only frıendly people we have met are through hospıtalıtyclub. I am sure there are great Turkısh people who are frıendly and dont want to sell us somethıng but how can we fınd and meet them?

Yesterday there was a hospıtalıtyclub meetıng here ın Antalya. There were about 15 people there, ıncludıng someone from the town we lıve ın ın Germany, I could not belıeve ıt! Somethıng weırd happened two days ago. A frıendly person wanted to show us a mosque so we went ın wıth hım, he showed us around and then ınvıted us to tea to hıs carpet store across the street. Then he saıd ıt would be nıce ıf we made a small donatıon for the kıds who the mosque helps gıve thıngs lıke pencıls and food to occasıonally because they dont have parents and other sob storıes. We thought ıt would be a small donatıon lıke 2 bucks but he pulls out thıs thıng that ıs a nıce lıttle souvenır and then tells us wıth a straıght face that ıt costs 18euro! We bargaıned hım down to 8euro but felt angry and stupıd for beıng cornered ınto thıs. We were happy to help the chıldren but ıt was way more than we were plannıng on spendıng. When we left the store, we started wonderıng ıf there were actually real kıds who came to the mosque because they dıdnt have parents.

Well, one of our new frıends from hospıtalıtyclub went wıth us back to the carpet store yesterday to ask to meet some of the kıds that we just donated so much money to. That dude was not there but our frıend talked to another guy who flat out saıd, there are no kıds at the mosque and the proceeded to gıve us more than half of our money back, probably to avoıd real trouble for the shıt that other dude trıed to pull. That other dude was actually outsıde when we were leavıng and saıd somethıng nıce to us wıthout realızıng probably what had just happened. Frıendly, used the mosque and orphans as pressure poınts and got us to gıve a lot of money and then ıt was not true at all. See what I mean?

Some bıg storıes ın the news to look out for:
1)the bıg wave of recent fırıngs of US attorneys for specıous reasons, namely Carol Lam
2)the Scooter Lıbby case
3)5 generals and admırals have saıd they wıll resıgn before we attack Iran
4)Fox news slammıng Barack Obama ın the most heınous ways.

That ıs enough. I mıss you guys, I am lookıng forward to my bed agaın and the German versıon of Turkısh food! haha

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Constantıne

Near death ın the 4th century, Constantine converted to Christianity. Then, by the middle of the 6th century, the largest building in the world (at that time) was constructed. 900 years later, when Sultan Mehmet II successfully sieged the city and conquered it, he turned it into a Mosque called Hagia Sofia. It stayed that way until 1932 when Ataturk turned it into a museum. It was the largest building in the world until St. Peter's was constructed in Rome.

It's cold as hell here in Istanbul, around freezing with a biting wind. We've so far met 3 members of Hospitalityclub and they have all been so nice, it's great. We're going to eat some white beans with our host soon but I wanted to update ya'll and let you know that life is grand, albeit it a bit cold.

We'll stay here the next few nights and then plan to take an overnight bus to central Turkey. Istanbul is definitely more expensive than I thought it would be but I hope that the rest of the country is cheaper! :) We've spent about 35euro each day, cheap by most travel standards but still hard cash that I work hard for (sort of).

I'll be in touch in a few days, hope all is well and for the love of god, do something! hahah

Thursday, February 15, 2007

20 days

I'm one of the luckiest people on earth again. I'm officially on holiday until March 7th. That is 20 days. It's mid-February and I'm going on holiday for 16 days to Turkey. Last year at this time we went to Paris for 9 days. It's hard to believe that a year's already gone by.

First off, I had the last classes at the university for the semester and it was interesting to see them without the backdrop of a classroom setting. Some of them I would be happy to consider a friend if I wasn't their teacher. That's why I like my job so much.

At this time tomorrow we'll be in the air (hopefully) on the way to Istanbul. I'm very interested in Turkey and Turkish history. I read a book about the decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire and it was fascinating and I am bringing a book called "1453" about Constantinople being overrun and turned finally into a "muslim city". I hope to take some good photographs, see some old stuff, eat some weird mystery meat, have interesting conversations with people late at night, listen to the radio while taking a bus for 6-7 hours, trying to sleep in a variety of positions and places and then get back safely so I can go back to work.

We should be arriving in Basel around 5:30am on Monday, March 5th. I have nothing to do really until 9:30am on Wednesday. And that week I will have to get another 90 day extension to my work permit. It's been going on 11 months now. What jackasses. Seriously, I'm fairly sucessful here, don't get me wrong, I don't make money but I have a nice, simple life with a lot of freedom and that freedom is worth more than money. But I got it going on here, with work coming out of my ass yet going on holiday for 2+ weeks because I want to. That's why I'm one of the luckiest people on earth.

I'll do my best to update while auf dem Weg...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Bush Press Conference any minute

This will be my first Blog 2.0. What does that mean? It means I am going to try and cover Bush's press conference live in the blog. His first press conference since December 20th, difficult questions will be asked, come on CNN, come through for me, don't make me watch it on the internet. Now they've got weather, perfect weather in Riyadh, you're watching CNN. Your World Today...

African commercial for "African Journalist Awards". Some modern commercial with many different images being shown flowing, it was presented by Shell.

Snow at the white house, it looks cold and crusty there. We should be positive about the North Korea nuclear arm talks.

All right, he's expected to begin with a 5-7 minute statement.

Damn, I'm not good at this. Baghdad security plan. The plan is already a year old! Shit has changed so much since then. Iraqi soldiers being put into Baghdad, Petraeus apparently said the new security command center is being finished up in the city. Coordination between Iraqi and coalition soldiers and they talk to each other. Terrorists will send car bombs into people. (Bush is right about the difficulty of dealing with suicide bombers). The violence distrubs people. Wow, he knows he can't stop all of the suicide bombers. What a grasp of reality. They want to grow up in a peacefull government. He's talking about Maliki and now about the Congress. Comprehensive review of our strategy. Disastrous consequences.

I just totally disagreed with him. That if we "lose Baghdad" they will come to us.

40 Billion dollar budget. What about our budget? 3 trillion?

Unifiying the country? What about country?

They've had the plan since January and they've never used it?

Korea peninchula.

Why don't we ban nuclear weapons ourselves? What if weapon's makers changed their factories to find alternatives fuel sources.

Questions:
Russia arms race question. I've tried to convince Putin that NATOa is a good thing. Democracies tend not to fight each other. Wow.

How do you know that Iran is responsible for attacks in Iraq? Is it worse if the government of Iran knew or didn't knew? Iran with a nuclear weapon could be dangerous.

Jesus, the past few minutes are scaring me. DAavid Gregory asked the president if he is planning war on Iran. What a disturbing answer. He just cut him off of a second question. Bush is out of control. He is not answering questions. I strongly disagree. "They're flat wrong".

I'm sure no one I knew back home is consciously watching this. I can't say it more plainly. There are weapons in Iraq harming American soldiers that come from the Iranian Secret Service and "were going to do something about it."

Do you agree with teh NIE statement that says there is civil war in Iraq? It's not an open-ended comittment but there are no benchmarks, she asked.

Now' he's talking about ethnic cleansing. He's basically dodging the question. Safehaven for extremism.

Declining troop morale? It's the families who feel this way. The commanders on the ground tell me not. "I want the troops home as soon as possible."

Can we use diplomacy in Iran? He said that we already were.

Is a vote against your plan emboldening to terrorists? Good question...I understand that Congress is going --- need flexibility to get the job done.


Sorry, he's been babbling in the most fascinating way for a few minutes.

Valerie Plame question. Yes. I will recycle you.

Allies in Europe do busines with Iran?

Money trumps peace sometimes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Presidential rACE question.

He didn't say articulate. (laughter)

What matters to the American people is to see progress.

What really matters is what happens.

I work for politico.com.

Do you want to explain to what politico.com is?

My Democratic retreat: we're willing to put our families through the grind of politics, we care deeply what takes place.

My hope is that we can positive pieces of literature passed.

I hope I'm right.

There seems to be agreement that we should have a balanced budget.

We need a temporary-worker program.

12 million illegals.

I don't believe we should give them automatic amnesty.

Energy
is an opportunity for us to work together. America has done more than any other nation in the world to promote renewable energy, we're good stewards of the environment.

babble

uninsured to have private health insurance.

The governors are coming into town.

Rewriting tax code.

global economy. jobs of the 21st century remain here in America.

They shouldn't expect me to change my principles.

It's gonna take work.

That's why you pay us so much money.

I thought he was bored. Remember the debates?

Why don't we do one-on-one diplomacy with Iran?

Damn, it's over.

-------
What did you think of my play by play?

Bush press conference

I like to notice changes in myself. I just got really excited about Bush having his first press conference since Dec 20 and I have approx. 85 minutes to figure out if it will be on CNN here or if I can/have to watch on the internet.

I just rode my bike home in the rain. No, actually I just watched the 5th episode of LOST. Good shit, man. Anyway, it sucked having to ride my bike home in the rain for about 7 minutes but it was also one of those experiences in life that can make you feel more alive than sitting on the couch watching tv with a blanket on. It's weird because all of life's best experiences happen when you're in that vibe where you've given yourself to the moment and it's okay if rain hits my head, backpack, glasses, jeans, jacket, shoes and so on. I am riding my bike in the rain. I accept this as my current reality. Zennicty.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Spring cleaning?

Can one try and begin spring cleaning in mid-February? It's raining, I'm lazy, I'm slowly adding some stuff to the apartment, photos on the walls, cleaning behind a couple of corners, organizing some books and the desk. Assiyeah thought it was an ongoing process, like aging but I explained to her that the first 3 months I lived in the apartment I did very little to get my life set up here. The folks are coming to visit in 2 months and I guess that's my goal, to have the apartment sort of look "ready to be shown". I dusted on top of Assiyeah's closet, making our stuff up there look a bit more organized.

It's not ready, that much I can promise you. At times I enjoy the process or rearranging, of trying to make things fit better or more dynamically, especially in my living space. There are of course "more important" things I could be doing but who are you, my mother? It's better to accomplishing something than to be accomplishing nothing, right?

I've been using SKYPE more often lately and digging it. It's much more than just a messenger-type thing and phone calls. I can call computers and phones, with video if I want, dragging files into our conversation and it downloads on the other's computer. Less than 2 cents a minute to call any phone in the United States. Technology kicks ass in this case. Now in cases where technology doesn't kick ass, you'll have think about that one yourself and get back to me. I'm too busy trying to accomplish something...

Friday, February 09, 2007

Dispersion

It's funny, I am one of the constants in my life. When you live in your hometown, there isn't as much of your friends up and moving to other places in the world but when you're an expat it seems to be more of a normal occurrence. One friend moved to New Zealand last year but he's coming back soon. Another is moving to Berlin. And last night another told he'd been accepted into a university in Shanghai. Another friend moved to Frankfurt and is moving to Hamburg at the end of the month.

And I'm here. And I want to be here. I am not averse to change, quite the opposite actually. I just like instituting the change myself. I love where I live, I love my apartment and the style and quality of my life. The opportunities afforded to me here appear lucky, even though anyone who knows me knows that I like to put myself just at Luck's windowsill so when she opens up the window looking for someone to bequeath such wonderfullness, I'm waiting there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, smiling like a 7-year old on Xmas morning. I don't want to leave Freiburg right now. This is where I am becoming an artist, or really, it's hard to categorize because since I've been here, I've written a book (my 4th), done more than 6 photo exhibitions, and am now working on a fashion show. I am thinking of doing a "book evening", with all 4 of my books printed out, a book of short stories to boot. Do a reading from some, have some discussion of points brought up in the novels, namely:

1)post-education uncertainty: what to do with one's life after one graduates from university
2)Quebec separatism; the road; how to define love without appearing narcissistic
3)get-famous-quick schemes: our 15 minutes of mine has been reduced to 15 seconds but also has become more of a reality.
4)European travel, starting a new relationship while still hurting from the last, overcoming the obvious influences in your life to act as you should


Other points could be brought up as well but it could make for a nice evening I think. So as my friends disperse to different parts of the world, I'm trying to disperse into different avenues of art and expression.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

17 on 15.40

I had the last class of the semester for a Business English class in a town 15 minutes away by train tonight. I had two small beers, one large beer, and my dinner was two hamburger-type things with a brown sauce, homemade potato salad and side salad. When it came time to paying, my portion was 15.40 (approximately 20 dollars). I told her, 17, thereby giving her a tip of 1.60. The student who was sitting next to me commented on me giving a good tip.There's one difference between the US and Germany.

The second one is that my time seems to be worth a lot more than it ever was in the US. Tonight, I "worked" (read: drank a few beers, ate some food, played a bit of Taboo) for two and a half hours. For that time I will be 144euro (185 dollars). My monthly rent is 130euro. It's all a bit shocking.

The German version of American Idol is on, my girlfriend just left to go dancing, another roommate just went down to the bar below our apartment to buy 4 beers. I've never seen her interested in alcohol like this. She's had two tests this week. Our other roommate is working the coat check at the library for a job while also working on her thesis on German writers in exile.I am envigilating a test at the University.

I didn't know the word envigilating until I moved to Germany. It's a British English word, apparently.

Monday, February 05, 2007

En kniv

The things that seem to help me enjoy the smallest of moments in life is when I know that the Norwegian word for 'knife' is 'kniv', said "kaniv", like it was probably said in English 700 years ago. While I think that too much of today's life is being documented, we are sorely lacking on all things before the invention of the camera.

Last night was the Superbowl. It started at 12.30am and I got home by taxi at 4.15am. It was a tough sleep and I'm thanking my lucky stars (although I planned my stars to be lucky) that I don't have to work today, I'd be good for nothing! haha

I'm going to organize my two folders of handouts as an act of defiance against the supreme laziness. I will be lazy and productive at the same time, something that I think is where the most crucial of my work is produced that lead me to feeling like I've got stuff accomplished or not.

We actually bought a case of beer in the bar for the superbowl. 24 beers cost us 30euro (40 bucks), not a bad price to watch the superbowl in a bar.

We're going to Turkey in 11 days now, I can't believe it. We've got a couple of hosts so far and we're really excited. We love the experience of being in a new town in a new country and someone is there to meet you at the bus stop and bring you back to their house so you can sit down for 15 minutes before you are either:

1)going off to the host's sister's birthday party and we're gonna go off tonight!
2)going to cook some dinner at home and talk over some wine
3)going to eat dinner at a friend's restaurant and maybe get some drinks after
4)left alone in the house/town for the beginning because your host has to work

It's amazing because you don't know which one it will be and of course there will always be more possiblities. Man oh man...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Knowing is half the battle

I went to the German Social Security yesterday at 9am. The meeting went exactly as scheduled. They realized that I was self-employed and started talking about 19.9% of my income for the past 4 years and every month in the future. That's unacceptable of course but what can ya do?

Well, first I'm going to fill out the form that they gave me and mail it in. In a month or two a letter will come back declaring that I must make a large backpayment and every month here on out pay more than my rent! Maybe having to pay 200euro/month I could "afford" (that's a large percentage of my beer/food/fun money) but the 7000 or whatever crazy number they're going to come out with I am totally against paying it. In fact, and I don't care what happens as a result of this move, I intend to take pretty much all of my savings here in Germany and send it to the States via Paypal. I'm not going to let them just up and take all of my savings. They're crazy if they think I'm going to give them a dime without fighting for every penny. So I'll send almost all of my money home and that way I won't have it here. I don't want them to write that in 30 days they will be taking 3500euro from one account so I'm going to preemptively strike my bank accounts, ya know?

As a legal answer, with the exchange rate at about 1.30dollar to 1 euro, it's a good idea for me financially to move it to dollars and wait until the exchange rate goes down a lot.

Anyway, I just had a private lesson for 3 hours and made 100euro, now I'm going jogging and then showering and then my chill out of an afternoon is going to start, yee haw!