Friday, December 30, 2011


Few places have ever effected me in such a way as Istanbul. It's been more than a year since I went, yet I still can't quite put my finger on what it was about that city that pulled me in. I'm not sure if it was noisy, cobblestone streets, maze like bazaars, or spices stacked so high that if they toppled, you would die smelling heaven. It could have been the stray cats that napped in the shade, or the big old dog that sat watching everyone in the park. Maybe it was the conjuncture of new and ancient, towering minarets and a mysterious underground Medusa head. It might have been all the families crowded into the park, breaking their Ramadan fasts, or street vendors selling roasted corn or the children eating cotton candy and shooting light up toys into the sky. Whatever it may have been, something about Istanbul drew me close, and made me feel as if I could live there my whole life. 

Perhaps the reason Istanbul had such an effect on me was the same reason I was so enthralled with India: I didn't know much about it. My knowledge of Istanbul before I went was this: it used to be called Constantinople, and before that it was Byzantium. And it had some pretty buildings. And that was it. I didn't know, for instance, that the streets were so winding and narrow in the part of town that we were staying in, that our cab driver wouldn't even know where we were going, even though we were staying next to the biggest landmark in the city. I didn't know that the fountain in Sultanahmet park lit up with different colors (at least during Ramadan) or that you could get almost any flavor of Turkish delight that you could think of. I certainly didn't know how much I would love ayasofya (Hagia Sofia). Being inside that building was the closest thing that I have ever had to a truly religious experience. The scale of it was beyond anything I could have dreamed of; it's sheer size left me in speechless wonder for more than a few 
minutes. Originally it served as the Greek Patriarchal cathedral of Constantinople, except for a short period when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral. It was then converted into a mosque. Now, it's a museum. The walls of the building have beautiful mosaics depicting religious scenes. When it was converted into a mosque, they were painted over which ironically preserved them. Standing in the middle of the massive building, I was humbled. Its size and its beauty were enough to nearly bring me to tears. The upstairs balcony held a special surprise for me, other than the beautiful mosaics being restored there. On one wall, there were holes where it was obvious that ornate crosses were once there. There was something about ayasofya that could have kept me there forever. I was fascinated and enthralled by its massiveness and its history, overwhelmed by the myriad of emotions that standing in the middle of it all brought down on me. Being there brought to me the realization of  the inevitability of change and the idea that we are surrounded constantly by layers and layers of history. This was something that I kept coming back to throughout my trip, and throughout Istanbul. 
Basilica Cistern was another place that, like ayasofya, had a great effect on me. It wasn't to the extent that I had felt from ayasofya, and maybe in a slightly different way, but Basilica Cistern was one of the weirdest and most interesting places that I've been. I can't really remember the history of it, or why it was built, but I can tell you this: it is one strange place. Underground, it is an enormous cavern with hundreds  pillars and platforms that suspend you above the water it is filled with. It's dark and cool and damp and a little creepy. The platforms are slippery and it smells a bit (not too bad though). The pillars have dim lights on them and the entire time I was there, I was writing the climactic chase scene of a movie in my head. Maybe the strangest things of all in the Basilica Cistern were the Medusa column bases.  No one is sure of their origin, or what they might have been used for previously. They stare at you menacingly, striking into you a fear that perhaps they will turn you to stone and you will be trapped underground forever. Fresh air was a relief when we resurfaced.
While the grandeur of places like Blue Mosque, ayasofya, or Topkapi Palace were surely a reason that I loved the city, what I think may have caused me to fall in love with it was not the architecture (amazing), but the atmosphere. As began to set, families spilled onto the streets and into the parks, toting picnic baskets and coolers. As they spread their things out and set up their meal, lights strung between the minarets of Blue Mosque flickered on, and the official band of the night set up on stage in Sultanahmet park. Leaning against a fence and eating a big, juicy slice of watermelon that I had bought from a street vendor, I was reminded vaguely of the 4th of July. Children were running around laughing and screaming, the aroma of wonderful, wonderful food filled the air and music played on. Wandering away from the park and on down the main roads, hosts beckoned you into their restaurants while cars and the occasional streetcar (tram/train/trolley?) whizzed by. Looping back around and walking up a quieter street, the shops were closed for the evening, and through the windows you could see people eating at higher end restaurants. There was almost no one on this quieter street, and at first I thought my ears were playing tricks on me. But the noise grew louder as we approached an outdoor restaurant down the block from our hotel. Floating gently through the Istanbul night was the theme for the Godfather, being played mournfully by the live entertainment for the night. As the song played on and I returned to my hotel, I thought to myself that perhaps one day I would return to Istanbul, but the tune was carrying me to Italy, and as sad as I was to leave, you can't complain if your next destination is Venice. 

I did a really good job of getting back into this blog, didn't I?
Yep. Really skillful.
This time, I think I am back for good.
Although I have created another blog on both this site, and wordpress, since I forgot the password to the email that I created this account with and decided to just make a new one altogether. Then I remembered and got myself back on here and made this poorly written post. So I guess I will continue to write here, but if you wish to, you could check out my other two blogs (they don't have very much written on them at the moment, and possibly never will, knowing my ability to honor commitments).

here's the blogger one 
and here's the wordpress one

And here's to the new year and hopefully making more regular posts.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


We paddled our yellow raft down the cold Kern River, Ben, Aiden, Evan and I.  The smooth strokes through the freezing water were relatively coordinated, and our path wasn’t a complete zig zag. Aiden and Evan sat in the back, steering.  Ben and I sat in the front, supposedly moving us forward.  We looked to the left, and saw Alex, Sara, Conor and Gabe paddling their raft gracefully along.  Moving in  a straight line. They looked over at us, and saw us struggling to move forward, and struggling even harder to not hit the banks of the river.  
Ok, Ben, I said.  Ben, you and I, we gotta keep moving, keep paddling.  Aiden, Evan, you two just gotta get us to the middle of the river. Just get us there and we can have wiggle room.  Just do it, please? 
They agree, reluctantly, to do work. Before long, the four of us are cruising right along, making good time, with no potential crash areas in sight. 
And then BOOM. We hit something, a rock I think.  I couldn’t tell, I was disorientated. Up, down, up? I thought we were going the other way... And then I realized we were going down the river backwards, and heading straight into the rapids, unable to see ahead of us.
 What do we do? Ben yelled in my ear.
I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know! I yelled back.
Paddle! Aiden screams desperately, so we paddle. 
Aiden, Evan, turn us around! Do it do it do it! I screamed.
They paddled as hard and fast as they could, while we were tossed mercilessly around in our little boat. The water poured in over the sides, into our raft, and Ben nearly fell out as we hit a large rock, but I dove to the other side of our little bench and pulled him back to the relative safety of our boat. 
Evan and Aiden finally turned us around, so instead of being pushed blindly through the water, we could see where our fates lay. 
Paddle guys, paddle! Try to get around the rocks on the left, those look like they’d hurt, I ordered. 
They paddled, I paddled, we paddled as a team.  We missed the rocks on the left, and swerved out of the way of rocks looming on the right.  All four of us were breathing sighs of relief until we hear Ben.
Oh shit! Oh shit Oh shit! We’re gonna die! No way we’re gonna make it!
And then we see it, a row of rocks, unavoidable, lined up in front of us. And then we’re all copying Ben’s words, and I’m pretty sure we all believed them.
Our puny yellow raft hit the rocks, we were all holding on to each other, grasping all the life we could find.  We flip like a coin, over, and over through the air.  It can’t have been more than five seconds, because soon we were underwater. We popped up, amazed. 
Alive? Alive! Dude! We’re freaking alive! That was awesome! Dude! Let’s do it again! We rescue our boat, pull it ashore, and we truly are invincible. 



I feel bad. I abandoned this blog. And now I feel bad. There wasn't  a reason I did it, except for my discovery of Tumblr, which is blogging but requires less thought. And now I miss this blog, and I think I will return to it and attempt to regain my honor by writing stuff.
See, I'm already back on my A-game, using phrases like "writing stuff".

Hope you had a wonderful summer, and that your fall is yummy!


Friday, June 18, 2010


Wow!! It has bee soooo super duper long since i have posted anything on here! I was just so busy with school, trying to keep my grades up, which I managed to do relatively ok. A's in everything except a B+ in math, which i got an A- on the final and A+'s on the last two tests of the year. I guess that just doesn't make up for a couple of F's and D's on tests earlier in the year...
But WOW IT'S SUMMER AND I AM SO EXCITED. And grounded... So, since I am basically not allowed out, I have plenty of time to let the creative juices flow, or even doing some more analytical pieces (something I got pretty good at in English this year).
Hopefully I get ungrounded sometime soon, so I can see my friends at some point before my dad and I take our trip. We are apparently tackling the I countries, as last year we went to India, and this year, we are going to Istanbul and Italy!! I'm really excited, because I finally get to see Pompeii, which is something I have wanted to see since I read the Magic Tree House Story about it in Kindergarden.  And Rome, which has been up there on the list since I saw the Lizzie McGuire Movie (which incidentally was on TV earlier today). And Venice, since I saw Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Istanbul I expect will be amazing as well, though I don't know much about it. All I know is I am gonna have a great time.
Since it's summer and I'm grounded, my activities are limited to writing, reading, facebook, watching movies and cleaning the house, so I will probably read more books than I have really for the last year. Currently I am reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Stieg Larsson. I love it! It's the best book I have read in a long time and I highly recommend it to everyone who loves a good  mystery!
Hope your summer is great!!!


Thursday, April 1, 2010


The heat in New Delhi in July is oppressive. It traps you, it suffocates you.  Just walking down a sidewalk tests your mettle.  You’re surrounded by people, by noise, by smells, and muggy, smoggy air.  The world is chaotic, unorganized, and making your way through this strange land seems a daunting task.  
You can hide from the heat in a hotel, escape the crowds, and find shelter in the air conditioned lobby. But you can’t leave the noise behind you. There is a perpetual racket being made by car horns and the tuk-tuks that run on C.N.G that ceases only late at night.  But there is no quiet then either. There is the sound of the wild dogs howling and prowling the city at night.  And by the time this stops, it’s time for the sound of engines again. 
The Birla House, on Tees January Marg, is where Mohandas Gandhi, the father of India spent the last 144 days of his life.  This is the spot where the great man, who fought with his words, not his fists, and led India out of British control, was martyred. 
Beyond the white house, you follow Gandhi’s footsteps, the last he would take. You find yourself on a lawn, a large, vibrantly green lawn.  You realize that it’s different here. The heat has abated, and you can feel an almost breeze on your skin.  And the silence.  You’re suddenly miles away from the blaring horns of cars on the other side of house.  You’re in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, and it’s quiet.  You’re distant.  You’re separate from the rest of the world, which goes on rushing by.  You feel free from it all, free from the heat, the noise.  
And then you feel sad.  Unexpectedly sad.  A life is such a beautiful thing, such a terrible thing to take.  But what can you do, against such hate and anger? You stop for a moment, and think.  This place, really, it is beautiful.  Its beauty isn’t just soft edges and strong colors.  Its beauty is in its freedom, it’s the release of a soul. It’s the ability to find beauty in an ugly thing.  It’s the capacity to shake the world, to make things better.  It’s the power of one life. 
You’ve answered your question.  Against the anger and the hate you can be strong.  You can keep on going, though your feet may hurt and bleed.
And then you’re back to the world, roused from the thoughts you were absorbed in.  A bird is perched on the spot of Gandhi’s martyrdom.  It chirps prettily, and takes flight.  You smile as it spreads its wings and heads into the warm, Indian sky, free. 


Saturday, February 27, 2010

i need a puppy

I love dogs. I love them so much.  Sometimes, they are better than people, because they just listen. And then you can get the best hugs and cuddles from them. And they can at least pretend to look like they care, unlike cats...I want a dog so so so so so badly, but chances are I won't get one for a looooooong time.
But when I do, I am so getting two, and naming them:
Tybalt (pronounced tibalt).  Not that it's an especially great name, or that he is the best character in Romeo & Juliet, (that would be Mercutio) or that he has any really great lines, because he doesn't. No, it's the fact that its Tybalt, said tibalt.
How do you spell that? T-Y-B-A-L-T. Tie-balt? NO. Tib-alt.
Here Tybalt.. good Tybalt.

And doggie number two: Ganesh.
In India, somewhere between Agra and Jaipur, at a rest stop with giftshop selling overpriced merchandise, I found a comic book. It was called The Adventures of Ganesh: That Wacky Little Trickster.  How much I wish I had overpaid for it, you will never know.  The consolation I found was that hey wait! That would be a great name for a dog! So, doggie #2 will answer to Ganesh, and that wacky little trickster.

Shutter Island was great! I highly recommend seeing it. Actually, I recommend seeing it twice! I saw it with my dad and one of my best friends, and through the varying tastes in movies, we all came out impressed, yet slightly puzzled.  Hence the see it twice part! Hope your weekend is going good, and you have a good week!  Wish us luck in our first game this year in Valencia!