The grassy keyboard and the glass shards remaining


So submerged was I, that it wasn’t until the fiftieth glass shard ratta-tat-tattled tinkety way down into my lair below the typewriter keys and on down past the steel spines with noted curvature to the grass roots nestled just below me in the dirt there that I even stirred much.

As I stirred, the warmth of dark healthy soil furled up into my nose before I even remembered my Father’s death and the new world up there somewhere above what was now my grassy typewriter.  I didn’t want to wake up and deal with it.  Why not sleep in the clean-smelling dirt for a bit more.  But the shards made an interesting metallic “tink” on the steel spines of all of the unwritten words around me, and so I began to consider the cocoon exit.

Let me catch you up.

When I last left you, I was broken out of a box of blue that had taken my voice into a veiled smoky place with no exit.  That box was a bout of post-tenure depression probably combined with what in retrospect was likely the pre-grieving of my Father.  The box-breakers to be thanked for this gift of mercy are none other than the Karagöz puppet troupe that resides in my brain during my own cross-cultural marital road trip.    Yes, those Karagöz puppets did break me out of the blue glass box this past June, but as I unfurled myself like a sunflower growing from a green bump, I could only watch bits of images fly by as I stood up and into the  dim light, changed again one more time.

Once out of that box, the puppets paraded my çay up the bed and into my mouth.  That çay, it was strong, but that box, you see, it was strong too, even broken to bits, it held a permeable membrane around my mind.  So, yes, it broke, thanks to the puppets, but I still sat in the ruins.  At the time, there I was, back in a modern block of fancy in Istanbul, in the home of our dear friend, drinking imaginary sweet limonlu çay brought to me by Esma and the lady puppets in their usual chain gang style.

Even with that tavşan kanı çay (such as the tea I wrote about here) I felt bent and crumpled like a morning glory on the vine for weeks after a windy Nor’easter flew about the tiny streets of Provincetown.  Just imagine that morning glory in that merciless wind, whipping the humid fog about with it and exhausting me despite my almost neon plum purple blue aura.  My mind felt fuzzy and my heart felt as though it specialized in the shallow end of the pool even though it knew it wanted to express more about the interesting goings on about me.

Rumpled morning glory or human being aside, there I was amidst the large shards of that aforementioned blue box which had since fallen to the white stone floor and rattled around a bit, and as they rattled slightly, I saw some interesting things reflected in their movement…

  • Standing with M. in enraptured delight slash horror as three tiny deaf schoolboys circa age eight engaged in what can only be referred to as monkey-like behavior as they swung about on the moving parts of the old fashioned trolley, hopping off and on during and after stops – and shocking people with their pointer fingers tapped at just the right moment with a “boo” as the trolley spun by the sun-weary pedestrians.  Priceless was that ride along Istiklal Caddesi on the trolly whilst in motion from Tunel to Taksim Square.  The ride brought a deep dent of a smile to my face with the after-school shenanigans of those grey-eyed boys…
  • Walking behind two color-coordinated sisters through the Mısır Çarşısı – one in a toga-like shirt of peachy pink with a brown border as thick as her heels were high – and the other veiled in the same colors, as demure as her sister’s cleavage was not…a duality often noted by me in Istanbul
  • Riotous laughter at my attempts to communicate my ideas about the swarm-like in honey traffic while crossing to the Asian side.  I waved my hands and said to my friend who was driving, “tas gibbi,” trying to indicate that the traffic was like stone.  Little did I know that this is a term for a statuesque woman…
  • The sheer joy of sitting with the Archers of Okçular in deep inky blue night and neon yellow light by the side of a Turkish highway near Dalyan drinking a simple soup and making personal connections we had hoped would be present, but were not sure, as we had never met in person before that night…
  • Noticing the lack of pain in my arthritic feet after soaking in a sulphur spring for a time – but surely outdone by the Russian-speaking babushka submerged for so many hours that a hammam scrubber might have rendered her to wet, frothy dust…

…and while there were many more reflections, in many more shards, the shard that hit hardest of all, the memory of hearing the phone ring in the living room, and knowing that this was the beginning of my Father’s body’s end.

It’s been a tougher couple of months than I could have imagined, dear readers.  With all of my professional and personal experience around the end of life, I still was not prepared for the havoc of it all.  Slowly by slowly, though, I am once again coming out of it.  Perhaps the keyboard grass will have a run for its money, but for now, it’s time to carefully place all of the glass shards down in here with me aside a bit, so I can stretch my legs some.

Thanks to all for your support.

Puppets on vacation – Writer’s block sets in


See the massively talented artist who created this cardboard typewriter over at Etsy (the puppets had it delivered in order to usher in the current era of writer's block)

After a truly lovely gourmet anniversary dinner at a tiny (and tony) local-food fancy restaurant, the puppets decided to take a vacation – and they sent me a gift – it is called “writer’s block.”

They are all in the upstairs “mango room” – so named for its wall color – revelling in the sunshine and playing hide and seek in between dust-bunnies behind my desk. It’s been a couple of really busy and intense days in the non-puppet world – and I really miss their presence. It’s hard to live without Rumi quotes, rebellious tricksters, flower-emitting hippies and manners-minded mavens.

Several times, I have sat down to write the stories knocking about in my head – and what happens is that my laptop begins to look about like the photo here, of a cardboard typewriter, that, need I say, does not produce written words. So, it looks like there are EVEN writer’s block moments on the cross-cultural journey that is my Turkish-American marriage – even though there is so much going on that my brain is akin to a massive hotel stove with 6 pots simultaneously simmering, boiling, poaching and braising various topics. From being black-and-white in arguments to the merits of bacon to the surprise of a tiny Eritrean girl upon seeing our faces walk into her father’s social club – there will be some good stories coming along as soon as my puppets come downstairs from the mango room and rejoin me again. Will it to be so, folks.