Wednesday, January 28, 2015

the cheeseburger

i have a weird fascination with cheeseburgers.  it actually all started quite a few long years ago when my friend amanda drew me a picture of a greasy cheeseburger covered in ketchup, mustard and pickles and i'm not sure if i remember correctly but i think it had some sort of graffiti-esque writing coming from the residue at the bottom of the page.  the colors are amazing.  the cheeseburger has these bright colors of orange with red and yellow mixed with earth tones of brown meat and sesame seed bun.  the curious thing about this fascination is that i'm actually a vegetarian, i haven't had a cheeseburger in probably fourteen years.

lately i've been thinking a lot about human beings and our progresses through civiliztion.  i've been caught recently on a thought of food and how important it is to understand what nourishes our bodies and where the things we consume come from.  this is when i started thinking about the cheeseburger.  at mcdonald's you can buy a double cheeseburger for ninety-nine cents.  if you look at that historically it is truly a testament of how far we've come.  you must consider the beef which is ground up and frozen then transported long distances to where it is processed in a kitchen.  the bread comes from wheat which is grown on different farms and the cheese comes from another area of the farm where milk is taken and turned into a solid over the process of pasturization, i actually don't know much about pasturization so i'll just assume that's the correct word for this.  cucumbers are turned into pickles by some sort of sorcery and other forms of magic create ketchup and mustard.  all of this comes together in a wrapper made from paper and given to us in a small cardboard box yet somehow this will cost the consumer less than one dollar.

this is amazing to think about.  historically we worked on our own lands which were cultivated to grow locally.  even further back we hunted and foraged for food and it could be estimated that it took about as many calories to acquire calories as it did to spend it.  then we have the cheeseburger, a sandwich of about four hundred to six hundred calories that takes essentially no effort to consume.  i guess i'm just struck by this fact in the thoughts that we should pay more attention to how far our species has come.

i don't eat meat though.  you'll ask me why and i'll tell you how i have no reason but i'm lying.  i have many reasons for not eating meat (or fish.. fish is a meat.. just saying).  i understand however that vegetarianism is a luxury or so i believe.  i don't squander the kindness of people who have taken me into their homes in the villages i pass through by rejecting their gifts of meat.  i've been in some really poor places and it would really be in bad taste to deny the kindness offered to me by those who don't have much to offer.  i still love the cheeseburger though, it's beautiful.  i would probably put a picture of a cheeseburger on my wall and look at it with fascination.  maybe it's a testament to our achievements as humans and it shows how far we've come or perhaps to me it's a reminder that we take our pasts for granted and often forget that things we're not always this accessible.

afiyet olsun

Thursday, January 22, 2015

the goddess

the iban, the indigenous people of malaysian borneo, are a colorfully decorated people.  they wear markings of tattoos on their bodies in the belief that a person with no tattoos would not be recognized by the gods.  i can't disagree.  what are we when we leave this world but an empty shell, a shadow of a vessel ready to take a journey into the unknown.. or become one with the dirt below our feet.  more on this later, i'm not in borneo yet.  yet yet yet yet yet..  patience, spring will come soon and i'll be reporting back from the jungle.

men and women are different types of the same human animal.  somehow in our recent history we have asserted male dominance to the world then reverted a few aspects of it.  we color our words and call each other equal but the average man knowns nothing about the complex body and mind of a woman.  we have done this through over complication of ourselves and our cultures.  we have wandered so far away from the village and the tribe and we forget why we have such primal instincts towards our opposite, or sometimes same, sex.  ps it's 2015, if you're still homophobic at all, fuck you.

where was i?  i don't want to lose this thought.

i look towards ourselves as naked, painted animals.  in fact, i'll go ahead and share that i often people watch and imagine people naked.  it makes me more comfortable and reminds me that only a few thousand years ago we were naked.  religion has taught us to be ashamed of our bodies.  this is true in the sense of the missionaries who have invaded indigenous places and shamed people for nudity and polygamy.  the tattoo had almost vanished.  even today people still feel the stigma left behind from religion and call the tattoo 'indecent'.  not this cat.  you cover your body with clothes, i'll cover mine with beauty.

i'm not bigger than the cliche.  i'll tell about how technology, society, religion, money, relationships falan filan (etc. etc. in turkish) have overburdened our lives.  we are a victim of capitalism and over consumption and after all this time we have wandered so far from our ancestral roots.  in fact we have only been like this for a short time if you consider that the agricultural revolution was only a few thousand years ago and we have been in this form we are now for much, much longer.  we wandered the world and wondered what lie beyond the other side of the hills.  we kept small communities of people close to us and lived off the land.  we lived in harmony with nature and knew no words such as dollar or tuesday or job.  job?  what the fuck is a job?  you need a job to make money.  what the fuck is money?  you need it to buy food.  food?  there is food all around you.  it's all there and those who believe in god should believe this the most.  god created this world and it is ours to protect and preserve yet we destroy it.  we pollute it and make up rules and beliefs for us to hate each other.  celebrate this earth man!  peace love!  whoa i'm a hippy!  grow out your hair and walk around your house naked.. quit your job and plant a farm.  climb a tree.  eat more vegetables.  have a threesome.  make bracelets.  burn your bra.  yeah.. so.. that's not all me i'm just on a rant, i'm not any good at making bracelets :)

long ago they called us pagans.  those who believed in the forces of nature and looked more to our maternal instincts.  they told us that god is a man and women were to be tamed.  read your bible, exodus specifically.. come on.. i want to go back to the old ways.  i want to take from the land only that which i need for this life.  i'm sick of being shamed for feeling what i think is natural.

picture this.  we are genetically no different than the hunter-gatherers who came before us.  we just have cell phones and we can watch cat videos on youtube when we take a shit.  we got to this point through thousands of years of slavery and undeserved excess.  it is actually in our genetic make up to walk this earth as did our ancestors long ago yet we were born in a time when this is seemingly impossible..  and you wonder why i wander off into the village every year to deep faraway corners of the earth where people still live as they did long ago.  i'll be back soon.  i'll be shirtless and shoeless among other people with painted bodies giving thanks to the bones of their ancestors.  i'll be picking happiness off sounds of nature all around me and one day too i shall return home with wider eyes and more knowledge about the truth about the human condition.

kiss a stranger today, i dare you.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

beasts of no nation

a recent conversation with my parents left me thinking about a topic which has come up a lot lately.  i have been wondering more and more frequently about my position, so to speak, in the world.  i don't mean this in the way of an adolescent trying to see where they fit in however from the perspective of a person who is generally curious about why people are the way they are.

i left the united states quite a few years ago now and time has finally revealed to me that i have formed a legitimate perspective of an expatriate, one who has left his or her country to become a functioning member of another.  i've been doing this in turkey for the longest stretch of time but i've also done this in other countries like argentina and samoa.  there are some things that i've been paying attention to lately that make me realize my life is a lot different than most other people.  i'm proud of it, i'll say that first, but i have a lot of learning still to do.

when you grow up in the united states you are saturated with american things, western things, first world things, other outdated terminology for the same concept: to be an american.  most people of my like, at least those in my younger years, had this natural disdain for being american.  we hated america in a way that drew us to anarchy.  the seemingly logical acceptance of chaos appealed to us and we loved carving the symbol into our high school desks yet our worlds were so small, what did we really know?

university made me question everything and i tried a lot of new things.  that sentence makes everyone smirk.  i learned how to be more open minded towards people.  i noticed that i was often wrong about people from my first impressions of them.  i stopped judging people who weren't into the same music as me, yet i still criticize people who lack musical curiosity.  i began to carve for myself a character in the society i called home yet for as far back as i can remember i've always wanted to leave.  i wanted to explore and see what life was like in other places.  in a way i knew that my time as an american was coming to a close and i took a very buddhist approach to my imminent changing of lifestyle.  i gave away all of my possessions, instruments and drawing tools mostly, then i downsized my life to a backpack.  then i left.

about nine years pass and i'm here in turkey.  i've been here for a long time.  i'm fascinated by turks and their culture.  it's so crazy to me that life is going here and everywhere always at any given time (i've tried to word that better in my head many times and that's the best i've been able to come up with).  south america also blew my mind.  i always marvel that at any given time life is going on all over the world.  i must add that many people say it's 'a small world'.  it's not a small world.  it's a very, very, very big world.  there are lots of people doing lots of things and it's selfish to think people are exactly the same everywhere, we're just not.  different cultures breed different kinds of people who value different things.  it's not only in the beliefs they are raised with but the things lives they are surrounded by.  we eat different foods and drink water from different sources, it's a cute example yet carries some truth.  we have different looking houses and wear different clothes.  it is true that people are just people but we have many differences that absolutely deserve celebrating.

so i wonder where i fit into all this, this cosmic existentialism crisis i've built for myself.  i don't vote, i'll start with that.  i almost completely missed any news of the 2012 usa presidential election simply by not paying attention.  furthermore, i can't vote here for things which matter to the country i currently live in, i'm not a citizen only a resident.  i'm not that interested in politics but i'm surrounded by constant reminders that i live among people who are very sensitive to the actions of their government.  we've had our classes canceled before due to excessive tear gas seeping into our classroom windows as a result of protests outside.  i do have opinions which i would express through my vote yet i currently am unable to.  

so where does that leave me?  must one have the right to vote to be considered part of a nation?  the answer isn't so obvious for me.  i've created for myself a sort of limbo between cultures.  here in istanbul i'm the tattooed american who speaks turkish.  i get to participate in intellectual conversation and learn about the country first hand through the voices of actual people who are from here, this information is not passed to me through documentaries or books, i gather it for myself through experience.  i work here.  i have an apartment that i pay for with income i've generated from my job right down the street.  

i'm still in limbo though.  i don't care.  i'm not trying to become turkish, i'm only painting a picture of my life out here.  i've spared detail, those details are for me.  many people call me 'free' or özgür’ as they would say in turkish.  i can literally escape at any time and drift off to some other country and teach english over there and carve for myself a new life.  wherever i do end up i work for a few months and save cash in order to fund new adventures and that is fucking cool.  it's the most rock n' roll job in the world.  

some people out here get really into it.  they lose themselves because they know there is a cushion below them that will catch their fall and i've done it too at times.  you can party your ass off until early hours of the morning and show up for work tomorrow on auto pilot because shortly after you will get this 'siesta' between 14:00 and 21:00 to sleep it off.  sucks to be you.  

so what are we?  what am i?  so few people in the world know what it's like to be in this position and it still blows my mind.  i don't really belong anywhere, at least not in the sense of nationalism.  my world is made of the people around me, those who have also picked up and left their worlds behind.  in that sentiment i find comfort in having no answer for my questions.  we are animals of a different kind, beasts of the world.  we are to use this opportunity to first learn and second teach the ways of each other's culture.  we are curious and we can't soothe the itch which wonders what happens on the other side of the hills, across the ocean and beyond the world we know.

Monday, January 5, 2015

homesickness and waterfalls

i slept a lot last night.  i really needed it.  lately i've been having the strangest of encounters including things i perceived to be ghosts and other strange chance run-ins with people from the past in both dreams and waking life.  i hold that few people care about ghost stories (except you) or telling about your dreams so i won't really go into details about what i saw the other night.  it doesn't matter.  actually it's almost to be expected that weird things would start happening as something really strange is in the air these days.

making music has taken me into a deep trance of reality.  i love it so much that i almost care more about the feeling i get than the actual art itself.  it gives me so much happiness to explore deep into my sub-consciousness and see what music lies beneath.  we all have music inside of us, not everybody lets it out.  deep down in there we also have weird things, illusions, old dusty dreams, deja vu and so on yet we've kept these things bottled for so long that when we rediscover them it feels like a chance run-in with an old friend.

so i slept a lot last night.  just crashed.  i don't remember dreaming.  i barely remember falling asleep.  i didn't wake up in the middle of the night once and i'm pretty sure i awoke in the exact same position as when i went to sleep.  i have today off work, which is quite rare, so i decided to enjoy laziness for a while.  i put off my shower for about two and a half hours but when i finally got in there i blasted myself with hotter than usual water.  i don't usually take super hot showers and i started to overheat.  i turned the water back to cold and suddenly i was again taken somewhere far away.  i closed my eyes and imagined that i was under a waterfall... god i love waterfalls.  i wanted to be somewhere else.  i wanted to jump on the next passing cloud and let it take me to a new place.  that's when i remembered i'm leaving in about two months (i think).  shit.. that's coming right up.  what am i doing?  why am i not at an internet cafe with a big cup of black coffee right next to me making plans?  i got sad for a second.  i miss my family.  i didn't get to go home this christmas and usually i'm better at ignoring it.  not this time.

this year is going to be a wild one, i can feel it.  i've almost circled the sun thirty three times and i've stepped foot on dozens of obscure corners of this earth.  i'm a traveler and i have an earnest desire to flip this world upside down.  it's getting real.  i want to see my home first (after?).  i want to see my friends and family and take in some of their energy.  i have this feeling that i'm needed somewhere and likewise i have this feeling that i need them too.  2015 is here.  next year it will essentially be ten years since i've started this traveling thing and i welcome it with open arms.  i'm just a little homesick right now.  it'll pass.