November was another month of easy joy. I spent the first three weeks in Istanbul, reveling in my everyday life, and the last week with my family in California. I think I’m finally over the jet lag.
Best Of The Month
I waited in line for an hour and a half to see an art exhibition, and it was worth the wait. The brief show at the Abdulmecid Efendi Kosku ended up being one of the best things I did this month. Housed in an Ottoman caliph’s villa that’s never before been open to the public, this exhibition showed off surreal, grotesque, and often beautiful art from the Koc collection. It was splendid.
In San Francisco, I went to the Conservatory of Flowers for the first time and immediately regretted that I’d never gone before. With luscious orchids, giant ferns, and bizarre tropical plants, it’s my kind of heaven.
Worst Of The Month
A group I’ve coordinated for the last two years had some drama that ended up hurting someone significantly. I’d never dealt with that in my time running the group and it was very upsetting. Be kind, people.
What I’m Loving
Reads: My friend Lauren lent me the novel A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, a 700+ page beast that was too heavy to carry in my bag. It hooked me immediately. I read through it in a week and wept when it was over. Oof, this book.
I also read the much lighter The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore on my flight to California; this is a satirical mash-up of The Merchant of Venice and Othello and it was very, very funny.
Music: I’ve been using Spotify while I sort out my computer woes and so I’ve been listening to a lot of great music this month. I’ve loved No Stars by Rebekah Del Rio, which appeared in Twin Peaks this summer.
I finally listened to–and LOVED– the new A Tribe Called Quest album, only a year late. And then I went on a George Harrison kick, with What Is Life playing on an endless loop since I’ve been in California. And you can see some of the other music I’ve been listening to here.
Movies/TV: There weren’t too many movies I want to watch on my long flight over to the US, so I ended up watching Lethal Weapon for the first time. It’s sort of goofy, VERY eighties, and kinda great. I’ve also been watching too many episodes of Jeopardy since I arrived at my parents’ house. Got to brush up on my trivia!
Podcasts: I started listening to a fantastic new podcast this month called Heaven’s Gate. It’s about the Heaven’s Gate cult who killed themselves in a mass suicide in the ’90’s; weirdly, watching a 60 Minutes segment about them is one of my earliest childhood TV memories, though all I could remember was that it had something to do with spaceships and matching sneakers. (Why did my parents let me watch this as a kid? Who knows.) Besides having riveting subject matter, the podcast also has THE BEST theme song. It reminds me of The Books.
I also finished a podcast that I’ve been lukewarm about, until I finished it and got angry. The Polybius Conspiracy is part of Radiotopia’s Showcase series, and it investigates an urban legend about an arcade game in Portland in the ’80’s that supposedly caused malicious things to happen to whoever played it. It follows Bobby, who claims he was abducted as a teenager by people connected to the game. I listened skeptically the whole time, but I was into it by the end. THEN I read a blog post the podcast published after the last episode aired and discovered the whole thing WASN’T REAL! But there’s no indication within the podcast that it’s fiction at any point. I was upset that I got emotionally invested in a story that was not true, but more upset that a podcast is presenting a fake story as real in the age of “fake news”– that struck me as being hugely irresponsible.
By the way: A big shout out to my girl Lizi for consistently recommending excellent podcasts to listen to.
The Film Files
I shot a roll of Lomography’s Volvox film in the Grand Bazaar and the results were so lovely! I wrote about it here.
A project I’ve been working on for months has finally seen the light of day! My friend Pesha and I are making a podcast about Greek tragedies and how they are still relevant in this strange modern age. It’s called A Walking Shadow, you can find it in your podcast app or HERE.
A piece I wrote about women in Tunisia was finally published by PRI’s Women in the World, which I’m so pleased about.
And my flowers are full of life! A dracaena plant I was gifted a year and a half ago suddenly sprouted a row of flowers out of nowhere. I didn’t even realize that plant COULD flower. And my magic orchid is growing new stems, after the old ones withered completely. I am smitten.
I’m in California for most of this month, with a jaunt to LA to see my sister. I’ll return to Istanbul before New Years. And then this year is over, my gosh!