February felt like a reset after overextending myself in January; it was a chance to be grounded and calm and to catch up with many, many friends. Lots of laughter this month got me through the last gasp of dreary winter.
Best Of The Month
I needed to get out of Istanbul at the beginning of the month–not for any particular reason, I just wanted a brief mental break– so I fled to Kiev with my friend Lorena. Kiev in February might seem like a crazy idea, but I LOVED it, much more than I did during my September visit. Winter suits the city and even though it was colder than Istanbul, the cold had a different quality to it (actually, it reminded me of Boston) and that was sort of refreshing. I bought a big rabbit fur hat and ate a lot of borscht and was very content.
Also I bought a lot of plants once I got back to Istanbul, and it’s made my room feel so bright and fresh. I want more!
Worst Of The Month
I guess it’s been a pretty excellent month, because I can’t really think of many bad things that happened. I could tell you the debacle of buying the bridesmaid dress for my best friend’s wedding, but, who cares? Every remotely difficult thing was only a blip, and for that I’m grateful.
What I’m Loving
Reads: I’m reading Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon, his most recent novel. It’s very… Pynchonian. I really love Pynchon, though I’m not sure if I’m into this novel yet. However, it took me three tries to make it all the way through Mason & Dixon, and once I did, it became one of my favorites. So let’s see!
Music: I’ve been all about the album Wildflower by The Avalanches this month. I first heard it in my friend’s Oakland apartment in December, when we spent a sunny morning listening to it on vinyl. Every song flows into the next, which makes it great work music; my favorite tracks are “Livin’ Underwater“/”The Wozard of Iz.”
I’ve also been listening to the second movement of Mozart’s Piano Concerto #20 (“Romance”), mostly because of one of the movies I saw this month…
Movies: I adore movies– I even studied film in college– but I go so rarely these days. However, this month I saw three particularly special movies.
I went to see Amadeus Live, which is the 1984 film Amadeus with a live full orchestra playing the soundtrack. And the soundtrack is, of course, all Mozart. I nerd out over Mozart operas and really love the movie, but seeing it with an audience and a LIVE FULL ORCHESTRA was an amazing, spine-tingling experience.
The other two movies I saw were part of the !f Istanbul Independent Film Festival. The one I really wanted to see was Multiple Maniacs, an early low-budget John Waters film. I’ve seen Pink Flamingos and knew what I was getting into. But I realized I had no idea which of my friends would find John Waters’ perverse, wildly inappropriate humor FUNNY. (In Boston, where there are actual art house movie theaters, I knew exactly who might come with me. Here, it is definitely not usual to see a John Waters film in a theater.) So I went alone, and I’m glad I did– as soon as I walked in, I bumped into three friends. I don’t know how the festival got away with showing this film (in a mall) in Istanbul and we were some of the few people in the theater laughing, but what a pleasure! And now I know which friends share my appreciation of dirty absurdist humor.
I went to another film festival movie with one of those friends I bumped into at Multiple Maniacs. This time we saw Midnight Return, a documentary about the man at the center of Midnight Express and the way that movie affected both his life and the world’s perception of Turkey.
Podcasts: I finally branched out from You Must Remember This (because I’m a little too close to finishing the entire archive) and started listening to Stuff You Missed In History Class and 99% Invisible. SYMIHC is more no-frills than I usually like (the hosts often sound like they’re just reading), but the subjects are all so interesting, so I will stick with it for now. I’ve listened to 99% Invisible before and often refer people to their show about Brutalism to explain why I love concrete buildings so much; I listened to their 2-part episode about Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian houses and it was fascinating.
The Film Files
I got all my film from December and January developed this month… what a thrill! I post some of them on my film Instagram account (@katrinkafilm) so check that out if you don’t want to wait for me to write the corresponding blog posts.
I had a strange experience in Kiev– multiple restaurants in the city were playing the same Charlie Chaplin film on their televisions. It’s strange enough seeing a Charlie Chaplin film in a restaurant in Ukraine in 2017, it’s even stranger when the same movie keeps turning up in different places.
The second or third time this happened, I was alone, taking a quiet afternoon to eat soup and read. I got distracted by the film and started watching and realized it was the end of the movie– and it was so moving and so emotional, I was completely caught off guard. Curious, I tried to figure out what movie I’d inadvertently been watching. It turns out the movie is City Lights, and it’s famous FOR this very moving beautiful ending. Out of context and without any prior knowledge of the film’s place in cinema history, I can say emphatically that the ending deserves its reputation. What a beautiful scene.
Also, while reading about Don Giovanni after watching Amadeus Live, I stumbled across this terrific quote by Gustave Flaubert: “The three finest things God ever made are the sea, Hamlet, and Mozart’s Don Giovanni.” Yup.
I was hoping to travel internationally in the beginning of this month, but the trip fell through. No matter! I’m already going to Macedonia at the end of March, and I’m hoping to squeeze in a bike adventure sometime soon. I can feel the springtime coming!