I spent almost all of December in California, a place that’s sort of home and sort of not home at all. It was jam-packed, as these visits tend to be; even better, it made me appreciate being back in Istanbul for the last few days of 2016. I missed the place.
Best Of The Month
I always have a good time when I visit my sister in LA, and this year was no exception. The best was the day we spent at the Huntington, a sprawling campus of botanical gardens, museums, and installations. My favorite was the Desert Garden, a surreal stretch of succulents and spiky plants.
My friend Julius came to visit me in San Francisco on a bit of a whim– I’d asked him to (repeatedly), but I didn’t think he’d actually take me up on it. Julius left Istanbul for New York City back in August, so it was a treat to be in the same place again, if only for a few days. And he and my parents got along like a house on fire; it’s possible my mother has already adopted him.
Worst Of The Month
Remember in last month’s update I mentioned I’d picked up a stomach bug in India? Turns out it was an intestinal parasite and it took six weeks to figure that out. So I’m finally getting better, but it’s been a thing to deal with all month.
I hoped San Francisco would be relaxing, but I ended up doing a lot of work (which is great!) while also trying to give my family full attention, and I ended up exhausted.
What I’m Loving
Reads: I thought I would take advantage of the public library while I was in the US. You know what I did instead? I reread most of the Harry Potter books. NO REGRETS. (A receipt fell out of the 6th book that was time-stamped just before midnight on July 15, 2005. I called the friend who waited in line with me that summer evening and we reminisced about how much fun we had whenever the books came out!)
Music: I’ve talked about my love for Analog Africa in these round-ups before; this month I was hooked on Space Echo – The Mystery Behind the Cosmic Sound of Cabo Verde Finally Revealed!, ’70’s era electro grooves from Cape Verde. And continuing with the theme of returning to childhood joys (see: Harry Potter, above), my sister and I spent a long car ride into the desert belting out the 1995 concert version of Les Miserables.
TV/Movies: I actually watch TV when I’m home, but I actually only watch Jeopardy. The exquisite height of lazy for me is lying on the couch with my family, shouting trivia answers at an onscreen Alex Trebek.
I watched an unusually large number of movies in December, particularly a large number of Los Angeles movies: Chinatown, Blade Runner, L.A. Confidential, and La La Land. They’re all exceptional movies that I’d recommend for different reasons; particularly special was watching Blade Runner IN Los Angeles at an independent movie theater with my sister, who’d never seen it. She loved it as much as I do, thank goodness.
Podcasts: Ages ago, my sister recommended the podcast You Must Remember This, but I finally listened to it this month (while taking a bubble bath– there are benefits to being home). The podcast deals with the forgotten stories and strange history of the first century of cinema (with a clear fondness for the Hollywood studio golden age), and I listened to episodes about Bogart and Bacall and thought it was really charming.
…but then I started listening to their series on the 1950’s Hollywood blacklist and I was blown away. I knew about the blacklist, where irrational fear of “communist infiltration” led to writers and performers being barred from working, but hearing it explained intricately in this many-part series struck me as being relevant and deeply ominous, given the current political rhetoric. I’m partway through it and completely hooked; I recommend checking it out– it’s riveting.
I’ve been trying to give my writing– both on the blog and off– more attention, and somehow stole a few moments to focus on the personal writing that I don’t tend to post here. I need to do that more often; it feels good and I’m usually pleased with the results.
I spent a lot of time catching up with friends in California, and that was lovely. It’s a way to remind myself who we were, and who we are now, and how those two things can be very close and very distant at the same time.
I’m just so excited to be back in Istanbul. Since September, I haven’t been in Istanbul for longer than a week and a half at a time– I’m looking forward to a least a month of staying put in this mad city.