Timeless Corridors of Good, Evil & Legendary.

Ahh, Istanbul, I really connected with the city of Istanbul, but it’s my type of city.   It was surprisingly similar to New York, the hustle, the edge, the camaraderie and esprit de corps, but not without caution.   Let’s face it, in this big, buzzing city, we’ve all different dreams.  Here, in the bul, a variety of cultures root so deep through hiatory that budding above the concrete surface is the remnants of ages welded, spliced and entwined. A city of historic mystique and harrowing mystery connected to all of human time.

Different than Rome or from Athens, because Istanbul, the Bosporus passage, the districts, changed rule, power, religion, century after century.  The keeper of many secrets, not in a Godfatherly way, but like that Grandfather whos lived through it all, and only share with you the stories you’re old enough to understand.

I was to scout the city.   Most especially, I was to plan a New Years celebration.   The perfect missions for me!

That overly eager night concierge.  His help was so endearing it was fake.  And, in return, I pretended I was very important to this world.  I think we both knew I wasn’t.  Or maybe, he doesn’t care and acts as if everyone is important because that is his job.

Reconnaissance 101, I mapped the terrain.  Two laps around home-base, then onward and upward.  Aimed at landmark: Galata Tower, a medieval stone tower, 1348.   Originally, Christea Turris (Tower of Christ) The Galata Tower has a Romanesque style, and stands 220 feet tall.  You can spot most the historic center from the top.  The Byzantines were replacing the Great Tower, which was destroyed during the Fourth Crusade.  Cats galloped about.  I shot a photo-sesh with the prancing kitties.

The Pera Palace: Timeless glamour and elegance with genuine Turkish hospitality, retains its unique heritage combined with a modern touch.    Cosmopolitan Istanbul.   that’s how the Pera Palace describes itself. All I felt was the darkness of it humming 1892- Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock among others.   Ghosts singing, maybe screaming.  Here, I’m deff to the difference.  Mystique memorizing like an open flame, relentlessly roaring.  The ignited will of eternity.   Consider the Tower of Terror, but instead of a thrill ride through the twilight zone, it’s a palpable surrender to history. I drank whisky in the lobby, enamored by it all. Senses teamed, ghosts lurked and I pretended not to be spooked while in these timeless corridors of good, evil and legendary.

I walked across the Galata Bridge.  It reeked of fish.   Fare or foul weather the fishermen fished.  Today had cold horizontal rains and whipping winds.  Istanbul had no hesitations in washing itself clean of 2014.   I trudged, soaked, and happy to be bringing in the New Year here.

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Timeless Corridors of the Good, Evil, & Legendary

Ahh, Istanbul, I really connected with the city of Istanbul, but it’s my type of city.   It was surprisingly similar to New York, the hustle, the edge, the camaraderie and esprit de corps, but not without caution.   Let’s face it, in this big, buzzing city, we’ve all different dreams.  Here, in the ‘bul, dozens of cultures root deep deep through the ages.  Budding above the concrete surface is the remnants of centuries of people welded, spliced and entwined.   A city of historic mystique.   Harrowing mysteries in the halls of all of human time.

Different than Rome and different from Athens, because Istanbul, the Bosporus passage, Eurasia’s champion cross roads, connecting the Orient Express, the Silk Road, had a different purpose throughout history.     The Byzantines, The Romans, The Ottomans, the hinge of the world as we knew it!   Power, Religion, War.  The keeper of many secrets, not in a Godfatherly way, but like your Grandfather who’s lived through it all, only sharing with you the stories you’re ready to understand.

I was to scout the city.   Most especially, I was to plan a New Years celebration.   The perfect missions for me!

Reconnaissance 101, I mapped the terrain.  I walked across the Galata Bridge.  It reeked of fish.   Fare or foul weather the fishermen fished.  Today had cold horizontal rains and whipping winds.  Istanbul had no hesitations in washing itself clean of 2014.   I trudged, soaked, and happy to be bringing in the New Year here. Aimed at landmark: Galata Tower, a medieval stone tower, 1348.   Originally, Christea Turris (Tower of Christ) The Galata Tower has a Romanesque style, and stands 220 feet tall.  The first Galata Tower was destroyed by the Fourth Crusade.

First place man took flight, or as some would argue, glided.   He did flap the wings he was wearing, and made it across the Bosphorus, flying Europe to Asia, about 1.5 miles.    His name was Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi, an aviator in 17th century Ottoman Istanbul.  He might have gotten exiled to Algeria because of it.  Source needed.

The Pera Palace: Timeless glamour and elegance with genuine Turkish hospitality, retains its unique heritage combined with a modern touch.    Cosmopolitan Istanbul.   That is how the Pera Palace describes itself.  All I felt was the darkness of it humming, 1892 – Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock, among more.   Ghosts singing, maybe screaming.  Here, I’m deff to the difference.  Mystique memorizing like an open flame, relentlessly roaring.  The ignited will of eternity.   Consider the Tower of Terror, but instead of a thrill ride through the twilight zone, it’s a palpable surrender to history.  I drank whisky in the lobby, enamored by it all.  Senses teamed, ghosts lurked and I pretended not to be spooked while in these timeless corridors of good, evil and legendary.

Reaching The Mediterranean’s East

I arrived late, hungry and ready, immediately setting search for where to drink a beer; maybe have a conversation.  The bars I stumbled into were coy, cool in the way a saxophonist in a jazz band is.  Like a East East Village in the port of Eurasia.

I found beer.   Some feeble attempts to talk but embarrassingly realized  I knew no Turkish.   I would reside to my beer, my book and my observing.   The eat and drink halls of Karaköy had a posh attitude, swank style, and I was waltzing around like Pig-Pen found a trunk full of Snoop’s old clothes.

The people of Istanbul dressed well, mostly in black, conservatively suave.  Istanbul does hipster, but in a poised way, rather than contrived.    Welcome to the Med-East.

New Rome, down to the tip-toeing half-sidewalks and doging the mess of jolting traffic.  I ordered another Efes.  It was time to read up on the history and culture – I was a bit benighted, illiterate to the world around me.

I meandered along the Bosphorus’ edge, watching the fish catch line, reel up into the night sky.  Like an abduction, iconic mosques in the backdrop, across the Bosphorus.  There was a refreshing chill and the acute aroma of fish.    Turkish isn’t a tongue I was picking up on.  It’s as foreign as Arabic, yet.  I couldn’t even translate “Thank you”.   I stumbled upon a bakery in my unsuccessful quest for real food.  I settled for a honey dessert.  It was sweet but unsatisfying.   Onward!  Across the street I ordered what tasted like lamb-meat-balls, over rice, and called it: Night 1.

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MИP via Ukraine

No matter how many times I travel, or how often, I get nervous.  Especially if I’m leaving directly from my family.  Twice so if it’s at night.   We joke about who to call if I go missing (ex-special forces, coast-guard divers, rich distant relatives) all real people for a fake situation.    We smirk at the far-fetched, yet nod solemnly to admit it is possible.   We’ve a vague contingency plan, should a screen-play-like one be needed.

I’m flying Ukraine International Airlines.   They offered me money and additional adventure,  see Consider Kiev & Where We Find Our Truths for more.   Long-haul red-eyes have a camaraderie other flights don’t.   Even more when most passengers are of the same culture.  I’m the outsider, observing the people in their matching sweat-suites, soft white skin, blonde funky hair and Slovakian speak.

The women are like grown American Girl Dolls, but with wide faces, wide eyes, submissive smiles and a manner of mischievous innocence.  I was benevolently bewildered, but allured by the thrill that they all seemed straight from a spy-novel, as if women of the Ukraine play a role of a smitten sex-kitten, that turns double agent and crosses man for country.  In fact, everyone at the airport had a part in this delusional story of romance and espionage that unfolded in my mind.   May they be accomplices or bystanders, agents or pawns, they were all honey-potting, scotching the plot or being played.

Rosy cheeks, soft pale skin, strawberry blonde hair, round doughy eyes with dreamscape color and long lashes.  Their lips were thin, or maybe their mouths were just small.   They’d make great house-wives my thoughts explored further.   They’ve a soft touch in the way they carried about.  I was sensing strong relationship loyalty, or was it obedience?   I observed the couples surrounding me.  The women were docile and nurturing, and innately intimidated.  However, a part of me believes their hearts also harbor an evil that could strike if cultivated and cornered.  Or, I’m back to being engulfed by spy-novel-nonsense.

In the first half of the haul to Istanbul, I’m seated in the way back, squeezed between the window and a friendly, goonning*, Ukrainian truck-driver.  He’s even bigger with his bubble jacket, which he never took off.   I say a silent pray for protection from anxiety and claustrophobia.  I sleep until some jet-rumbling turbulence about 4-hours in.  Shouldn’t we be above the weather by now,  not experiencing any such turbulence?   Maybe if I fall back asleep my passing will be peaceful.   MИP

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*made-up verb from noun: goon

On Post-Grad Wanderlust

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Now that I am a “real” person, you know, one with a job and responsibilities, a paycheck and rent check, good mail (birthday cards from my grandma) and bad mail (everything else) I have this constant itch, question, longing, something. And I know I’m not the only one.

The itch is for adventure. It is the urge to be outside as soon as the light hits the horizon and the world glows red, or really the reason why I am probably already outside when the sun shines a spotlight on Mr. Lincoln as I run the steps of the memorial with the November Project.  It is the feeling I get when I visit a new city and I realize that this world, this country, this state, is different everywhere I go. It is the excitement that builds inside me when I see the summit of a mountain before me and the drive that gets me hiking, running, climbing, falling, until I reach the top. It is the all-day, every-day reminder that comes with working for a company like National Geographic, that there is always more to explore. Without that itch, I wouldn’t run in the rain, get lost on a trail, or see the sunrise over the National Monuments. That itch is a good thing.

The question, I am so very often told, comes with the territory of being twenty-four. It is the anxiety of being the only person in charge of my life. I choose who I want to be and with whom I want to spend my time, I choose where I want to go and what I want to explore next. Should I be saving money, or running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco? By the way, the Nike Women’s Half was also in DC the past two years, and I live in DC. But San Francisco… Should I spend my weekends making new friends, meeting more people, cleaning my apartment? But I’ve never been to New Hampshire, and who knows how long I will have a friend living in Keene.

Wait, why do I live in DC? Should I move to NH? There are so many mountains to climb. Or NYC, where most of my friends have settled, my parents are close-by? Boston is so cozy, with all the brick, and history, and people just so amped up on their city, and plus, my sister is there. Charleston is on the water, I’ve always loved the water. I hear Nashville is the place to be, and I wouldn’t mind stumbling upon a handsome country singer to call my own. But more realistically, should I be taking advantage of my dual-citizenship and living in Europe for a few years? This would be the time to do it… Oh, right, I live in DC because I have a great job, in a great city, with great friends, and plenty of new things all around me, waiting to be explored. The question makes me check myself, and we all need that every once in a while.

And then there is the longing. I long to do more, be more, see more, know more. All I can ever do to remedy the feeling is to keep doing more, being more, seeing more, and learning more, and it is exhausting. But then I guess longing is not a negative, albeit uneasy, thing to feel – anything that serves as motivation in this confusing time in life must be a positive.

I am on track, but because of this itch, question, longing, something, it never seems to feel that way. I spent a long time thinking I was the only one feeling this confusion, but little by little, one friend after another let me in on their little secret, that they too have got that itch, question, longing, that something in their heart and mind, and that no matter what their life looks like on the outside (or on instagram), that something still exists. What we all need to realize, though, is that itch for adventure, our questions about right and wrong, the feeling of longing for more, or that something, whatever it is, is the driving force moving us forward, it is the very reason we are on track, and it is what makes us “real” people at all.