her yer taksim

“Ernie, you left the door open to the annex.” Benal called me.

“you can’t lock it?”

“No, you have the only key. was that alright though? your stuff is alright?”

“yes, it’s all fine. “

We had a dinner party in Kadikoy–me, alex, anna, neylan, amelie, and fadi–and sat on the balcony and talked about language and politics. Neylan made turkish manti, which are dumplings blanketed in yogurt, butter, sumac, oregano, and hot red pepper SO GOOD. Alex made very american snickerdoodles and I ate a lot of dough. Fadi showed us a handful of stock wedding photos which he uses to teach idioms–holding hands, getting down on one knee, popping the question, giving away the bride, etc–in order to prove to me that “trousseau” is also an english word, not just a french one. I’d never heard it before. (fadi is a huge syrian dude, but speaks masterful english and knows and teaches it far better than a lot of native speakers I know. he and I play word games. also just a wonderful person.)

during the party, someone texted neylan a picture of the protest at the bull statue that was happening in kadikoy, maybe twenty minutes walk from alex’s apartment. She showed us. the plaza was on fire. the polis had shot tear gas and I had no idea where the fire came from. The party got quieter and we talked politics on the balcony. It got late so I stayed in Asia. 

the polis killed four people two days ago at a protest. one of them was thrown off a building. while wandering through the city, I’ve seen squads of polismen, idling in a riot shield phalanx, or milling about, eating sunflower seeds, carrying semiautomatic weapons, watching people get on and off the ferries all day. they always seem bored. I am taking extra steps to make sure I am NOWHERE near protests. It’s funny, I charted the Occupy thing in America, but here it’s a totally different story. Here I have no language and no desire to get injured/arrested/killed by accident. it’s a little scary.

on the morning walk, I passed the bull, and it looked busy as always, commuters meeting there and waiting for things and going to shops. though–large spray-painted messages ran all around the concrete of the meydan. “her yer taksim.” everywhere is taksim. 

I took a midmorning ferry to besiktas, had chai and was all moody and sleepy and happy to drink tea out of a crystal cup and look at the bosphorus, and then got a simit, which is like a sesame bagel, except a lot worse and cheaper. I got to the school and went to the annex,  where all my stuff and my air mattress was tucked away. I went to take a shower and turned around and saw on my bed a cat. A tabby. 


I went to pet it. It had stayed there all night (judging by the weird catfluid stains surrounding it) and had an enormous belly and protruding cat nipples. 

“oh my god,” I said. I put a towel underneath the street cat. Then we waited for ten or so minutes. “Is this actually happening?” I asked myself. “Did a pregnant street cat actually seek sanctuary in my music annex room on my air mattress. Is that real.” 

Then, it yowled. A lot. And then it YOWLED shat out a tiny mucus catling. WHAT. Then she IMMEDIATELY started licking it clean and gnawing through the umbilical cord. The catling moved around. 




anyways I’d been singing this song I made up called “street cat” which is just about a street cat and its life on the streets, so this cat is named street cat. Benal’s daughter Emine got a bigger box and transferred the cats into their new home, and made a big sign: “Don’t Disturb–Street Cat’s House!” more pictures to come of them soon. they now live outside my office window. neat. 

  1. Sage said:

    does this mean you have pet kittens? Or will the street cat claw out your eyes if you touch them.

  2. catluvrs said:

    Taksim is one of maybe five Turkish words I retained from our little lesson the day you learned you were going to Turkey. I remember it because is sounded funny at the time (as most Turkish words do,) but picturing you walking by walls scribbled with it surely makes it sound more solemn.

    Also, “maidan” is used in India, too! In Kolkata, the large green Maidan has a metro stop, so I’ve seen it written in English, Hindi, and Bengali. I feel like we’ve talked about this before. Was the word used in Georgia at all?

    Also, I appreciate the continued updates on all the foods you’re eating. Keep it up!

    Also, you’ve completely taken out all of the majesty of the birth of cats, but I love it, haha. BEST STORY EVER.


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