This month has been jam-packed, mostly because I only had three weeks between my US trip and my current Albania trip and had a lot of things to fit in! I feel like summer has absolutely flown by… hopefully it will stay warm into the autumn in Istanbul this year, so I can stretch out those summer vibes as long as possible.
Best Of The Month
In a month full of high points, our three day adventure in Valbona in the Albanian mountains was one of the highest, in every sense. We hiked up steep slopes and enjoyed the cool night breezes and met mountain men bearing scythes and tea flowers. It was dreamy, and I miss it.
Earlier in the month, my friend Nicole visited and we spent a warm weekday on Burgazada, one of Istanbul’s smaller islands. Why don’t I do this more often?! The ferry ride took an hour and the island was quiet and beautiful; we brought a picnic and spent the day reading and swimming at the beach before eating meze at a sunset-facing restaurant. It was blissful.
Worst Of The Month
I was thrilled to be invited to the US Consulate’s Fourth of July party, a coveted invitation indeed. However, I never actually received my physical copy of the invitation (I was in the US when they tried to deliver it, ironically) so I didn’t realize the dress code was MUCH fancier than I anticipated. I felt underdressed and mildly mortified. (To make myself feel better, I took advantage of the free booze, mini burgers, and stars-and-stripes frosted donuts. America!)
What I’m Loving
Reads: I finally read a book I picked up at the Blossoms bookstores in Bangalore on Kabir’s recommendation: Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson. I liked it– it reminded me of a Decembrists song, with a lush and lewd medieval world twisting its way into the present. I also read The Black Rose of Halfeti by Nazli Eray, so I could review it for a magazine.
Music: Last year, I went to a concert on July 14 at Beykoz Kundera, a former shoe factory way up the Bosphorus that the Istanbul Jazz Festival uses for summer concerts. The next night, the world fell apart. This year I went back and saw a terrific show and we didn’t have a coup the next night! The two highlights of the four-band show were Miles Moseley and JUNUN ft. Shye Ben Tzur and the Rajasthan Express, and I’ve been jamming to both ever since.
TV/Movies: I finally saw Kedi, the Istanbul cat documentary, and it was as charming and joyful as I hoped it would be. It made me nostalgic for Istanbul, and I still live here… if I saw it somewhere else, it would have made me miss Istanbul desperately.
Podcasts: Two shows from 99% Invisible stood out this month– Dan & Dave, about a Reebok campaign in the 90’s that didn’t go as planned, and Mexico 68, about the design of Mexico City’s 1968 Olympics against the background of the protests there at that time. Also, You Must Remember This is back with a series called Jean & Jane, about the parallel lives of Jean Seberg and Jane Fonda, and I’m hooked (of course).
The Film Files
My camera broke in Boston, and this time my camera man refused to fix it– he said it would be more expensive to get it fixed than to buy a new one. So I’m borrowing my friend Will’s Pentax here in Albania and searching for a new 35mm SLR for me.
Those two pieces that were recently published are some of the news I’ve been holding back for a while. Writing about the Ghriba pilgrimage was always the point of the trip to Tunisia, and Emma and I started talking about making a piece about the monasteries while we were hiking around northeast Turkey. To see both out and in the world is the best kind of thrill.
It’s been a busy summer, so I’m hoping to stay in Turkey for quite a while once I get back from Albania. But first: exquisite beaches, old Ottoman cities, and a return to concrete wonders. There’s so much to do…