This afternoon I was on the tram on my way to Taksim Square in Istanbul. I had a meeting in a place I’d never been to and I had to do something I’ve never done before. I was nervous and focused on the task.
I arrived at my location and suddenly, in the midst of hundreds of people coming and going, I stopped. I panicked and pulled out my cell phone to make notes.
I could see the scene. I could hear the screams and watch the tragedy unfold. The horrific event was happening in the middle of a face-time video conversation between one of the members of my Raven Group operatives. I even caught the conversation. I have no idea what any of it meant but I knew it was the opening of my next Code Raven 8 book!
The thing is, I’m in the middle of writing a second memoir. It’s going so well and I’m caught up in Rumi, and Turkey and how a nice Catholic girl ends up living in the Middle East. The absolute last thoughts I’m having are of a world-wide disaster that will require my Raven Group to get to the bottom of this brutal act.
But there it is. What can an author do? I’m powerless to the magic that unfolds when this happens. And it’s all my fault. I’ve allowed my Muse to have her way with me far too often. So she thinks she can interrupt my lovely non-fiction project and my very busy afternoon at a government office to insert a new thriller/suspense plot in my psyche!!
My writer’s day is never done—my Muse sleeps with me too!
One must start the day off at Starbucks, and yes, Cats are revered in Turkey, in the Islam religion, so this beauty was saying hello to everyone before she went on her independent Christmas Eve day.
I sent Santa this above message and followed it up with the one below, because last year I was in Mexico, and I didn’t want him to worry about trying to locate me in Istanbul–the city has 17 million people!
Although there are no signs of Christmas in this Muslim country, colorful lights decorate every street in this intensely lively city!
And the weather feels like spring, not winter. I don’t really need to wear my winter coat just yet!
This week my boyfriend bought me chocolates from the Spice Bazaar for absolutely no reason! Well, maybe he realized Christmas was coming and I was feeling … lonely? I knocked them off in 48 hours!!! And two days later he came over with another box of the same. He adores me and thinks I look amazing even if I’m sure I’ve put on 10 chocolate pounds in the last week.
The mosques still fascinate me. I love to listen to the call to prayer. Last night I couldn’t sleep–maybe memories of Christmas past and family that is no longer with us. So I listened to the call to prayer well before sunrise. There’s something comforting in this age-old manner of professing a love of God. It’s one of the things I find special about this culture.
My hairdresser decided it was time to change my hair color for this festive time of year, He added blue!! If he had asked me first, we both would have had to use Google Translate! I laughed out loud when I saw it. It’s absolutely perfect for me.
And to top off my evening–because soup alone does not cut it on Christmas Eve–I had a lovely glass or two of Blush Shiraz from Turkey. Then I chatted online with people I love from all around the world.
And I almost forgot!! Today I released my latest Code Raven book 7 The Istanbul Conspiracy! https://amzn.to/2PSAApgMy Christmas gift to you! It’s available in download and in print.
The wedding of DJ Turk and the daughter of the Minister of Defense is about to take place on a mega-yacht on the Bosphorus in Istanbul. Hours later the much-anticipated photos show corpses lined up along the dock and a bride covered in blood. Was this a random act of terror, a targeted assassination of the Turkish political elite, or an attack on DJ Turk who leads a double life? Luke and Samaar of the Raven Group have their own wedding to attend but it’s called off at the last minute when they uncover a breach in their security. Instead of returning to Paris, they come to the aid of the Turk to get to the bottom of this horrific event. The conspiracy they uncover must be prevented before the balance of power in the world is perilously reversed. Get your copy at https://amzn.to/2EQdpWf
Thank you for your support in 2019. I look forward to continuing to cause trouble, shock, and entertain you in 2020!!
I LOVE that I am fearless and refuse to live my life the way society dictates. Every morning I find joy in my love of life that has led me to adventures beyond what I ever thought possible.
I woke up this morning and hit the yoga mat. I have immense gratitude that at 72 I am able to move every single part of my body without pain.
I sat down at my desk and finished editing my latest book, The Istanbul Conspiracy. I LOVE that I’ve been blessed with the gift of imagination and the ability to entertain and inspire.
When I take a my medications for heart/blood pressure, I give thanks to a world that has created drugs that have allowed a woman like me to continue living and loving even though I was given “6 months to live” in 2009!
And I take joy from my attitude in life: everything amazes, surprises, and delights me…simple things like the Istanbul cats, Starbucks coffee, caramel waffle cookies, and finding fresh lettuce for my salad at the corner store.
And I find joy — endless joy, in creativity: photography, writing my novels, reading, graphics, fashion, music. And style, like my new hair color. This is what happens when you don’t speak Turkish, your hairdresser doesn’t speak English — but he gets me!
I take joy in knowing I have two amazing sons in my life. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but that’s okay. They are both just like me: strong-willed and on their own paths.
I’ve been through bankruptcies and divorces — make no comment about the plurals, please! But my stubborn determination to succeed means I’ve bounced back from both more times than I can remember and refuse to become hardened or bitter.
And at this moment in time, I have a very loving relationship with a guy who makes me laugh-out-loud and reminds me that I’m beautiful inside and out. He says that age is just a number to be ignored — ”It’s what’s in your heart that counts.”
Finally — although I’m sure I can come up with a lot more — I have a philosophy in life — many, actually, but I will share this one:
I want to tell you a story about Cree. Sixteen years ago, right before I took off for my EAT PRAY LOVE journey, I went to say my goodbyes to Cree. She had seen me through the ugliest days of my divorce. At that time, she was a stay-at-home mom, with two preschool children.
When she hugged me goodbye, she folded me into her arms and said: “Take us with you in spirit—all of us women who made different choices than you, and who are now staying home with our families. Don’t forget about us!” It was such a touching thing to say. I replied: “I’ll do one better than that, Cree. Someday we’ll go traveling together.”
Now here we are, a decade-and-a-half later. Cree’s wonderful kids are in college, and she and I are meandering up the Brittany Coast—two free women, doing just as we wish.
The other day, Cree posted this very photo of us on Instagram, and someone commented: “Flâneurs!” God, that made me happy. Flâneur is a 19th Century term for a “stroller” or a “loafer”—a man who saunters up the boulevard in aimless enjoyment, going wherever he pleases for the sheer delight of it. Traditionally, there is no such thing as a female flâneur—because allegedly the world is not safe for lady wanderers. In fact, I recently read a novel where two characters discuss the fact that the closest thing to a female flâneur is a “shopper”. (Excuse me?)
Well, hell…you wanna see some female flâneurs? HERE WE ARE.
Women, I want to tell you something: Your life will have SEASONS. Your tomorrows will not look like your today. You will not always be so tired. There will be seasons when you are taking care of others (babies, old people, the sick and the dying) but those seasons will pass, and then you can be a flâneur.
The world is safer than you think, and the time of your freedom is sooner than you know. Tag a friend who is feeling stuck or homebound, and make a promise to someday wander and stroll this world together. Remind each other of your wild nature. Make a plan to be free. Where will you go? Who will you bring? Onward❤️ LG
How I ended up in this city is pure serendipity. But here I am and I LOVE it.
Everyday I learn more and more. 17M people live here, but it feels like any other city in the world, only more historical and beautiful. Let me tell you why I love it.You walk amongst historical sites like it’s part of everyday life. Take a look at this view. The Blue Mosque is in the foreground and the Hagia Sophia in the background. If you make an arrow straight from the left of this photo over the Bosphorus Strait, that’s where I live. It’s a 15 minute tram ride to the Blue Mosque.
The Old City Walls are intact and can be seen in various forms all around the city. Imagine driving on ultra modern bridges and highways, with a view of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople that saved the city many a time during its wars against the Avars, the Tartars, the Russians, and the Bulgarians.
Photo Bob Phillips thank you! Fine Art America
The food is fun, delicious, nutritious, and colorful! And I LOVE the chocolates!!
The mix of old and new is felt in both the architecture, the culture, and the Islam religion. The unique ability for a 96.4% Muslim country to live side by side with all religions and cultures is felt in the welcoming nature of the people. As a secular woman I dress in my comfortable secular attire, and walk side by side with fully robed and casually attired Muslim women. There is no criticism, nor evil eyes, only nods of recognition that we are all one.
I LOVE the Call to Prayer, the Muslim tradition of the Quran prayer that reminds the devout five times a day, to stop what he/she is doing and say a prayer. Most of us have a belief in a Higher Power. It’s expressed by a variety of religions and ideologies, but the tenets are the same: We are all one and God is Love.
I was given a second chance at life in 2008 and I am determined to make the most of it! LOVE the Beat Goes On
Thank you for following my blog and I hope I gave you a small taste of life in Istanbul, Turkey.
Three years on, July 15 continues to be etched in people’s memory
REPRINTED THANKS TO: ŞEYMA NAZLI GÜRBÜZ@SeymNazliISTANBULPublished15.07.201900:07Updated15.07.2019
People stand their ground against the tanks of the coup plotters, July 15, 2016.
The coup attempt has its place within the Turkish people’s minds as one of the most catastrophic days for the country, with some even defining it as an ‘apocalypse’
There is no doubt that the bloody coup attempt of July 15, 2016, has marked its place in Turkey’s recent history as one of the, and maybe the most, significant challenges that the republic has faced. The official numbers on the night and its aftermath alone show 251 civilians killed during the coup attempt and thousands charged afterwards for having links to the terrorist group behind it, the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), tell the importance of this night in the republic’s saga. The real story of July 15, however, lies in average people’s memories, especially the youth, who still recall the shocking development of the events and define the day as the “apocalypse of the country.” “I remember every detail of that day,” said 35-year-old Mehmet, who recalled having an ordinary evening with his friends in Taksim, the heart of Istanbul.
“Normally in Taksim, there would be some security forces present. However, I realized that day there were none, which seemed suspicious to both me and my friends. Yet, we assumed that there was some kind of a bomb call or something like that,” said Mehmet, adding that he did not pay much attention to this at the time. However, Mehmet’s peaceful night did not last long as a friend called and informed him that there was a coup attempt. “At that point, I screamed. ‘What? A coup? In this century?'” Mehmet cried again, with enthusiasm, remembering those moments. Mehmet’s shock was actually a very common feeling, especially among the younger generations of the country, as others also expressed similar feelings while recalling the dark day.
“When I first heard that there was a coup, I was in shock. I suddenly felt very helpless. In a million years I never would’ve guessed that such a thing would occur,” said 25-year-old Neslişah. “Yet,” she said, “It did really happen.” Despite the surprise of the youth, Turkey is actually not a stranger to coups as there have been four of them, starting in 1960. However, the latest one took place in 1997, when Mehmet was only a child and Neslişah was just three years old. It also had a different pattern than its predecessors and was called a “post-modern coup” as it did not have soldiers walking around and taking control over places. Instead, the coup took place via a series of “recommendations” from the military to the era’s government. When the 1990s were left behind, however, things seemed quite smooth, especially after the rise of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which created an atmosphere that seemed to insure the elimination of coups from the country’s politics in people’s minds. Thus, when the July 15 came, and it was revealed that this was truly a coup attempt, the waves of shock spread all around the country very quickly.
“When I finally realized that this was really a coup, I decided to go home. On my way, I crossed paths with some local tourists, who were hitchhiking and scared. I welcomed them into my car. However, soon after, the coup plotter soldiers stopped me and did not allow me to go on. So I had to continue on foot,” said Mehmet. For Mehmet, the next couple of days became full off sadness, surprise and complexity. The very next day after the coup, he had to attend a funeral of his neighbor, who was killed during the coup attempt, and then leave his shock behind and start to participate in public occupations of squares that lasted for a while after the coup attempt as a signifier of the people’s victory.
‘IT WAS LIKE A PAUSE TO NORMAL FLOW OF LIFE’
“If things had not gone as before, my life would have crashed. For a moment, I felt very threatened,” he said, recalling his feelings.
In Neslişah’s opinion, the day was like dealing a big blow to the normal flow of time and pausing it somehow.
“I thought that my future was taken away from me,” she said. Remembering the day after the coup attempt, Neslişah said that she had never seen people in Istanbul in that way.
“I was staying with a relative so I had to leave the house to go home. However, I felt very nervous and couldn’t make myself leave the house. And when I finally stepped outside, I remember seeing blankness in people’s eyes, a reflection of something unforgettable that just happened. I remember seeing tanks everywhere and feeling chills all over my body,” she asserted with a trembling voice.
According to Kaan (26), the day was like the “apocalypse of the country.” Indicating that he felt nervous at first, Kaan said that when he saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan calling on people on TV, he felt relaxed and confident. “I thought that they are [the government] doing something about it. I found it [the president’s speech] very effective,” he said.
“I stayed up all night. I felt concern for my future and my loved ones, who might have been in danger at that time,” Kaan said, adding that it had only been a month since he started his first job when all this took place. “I questioned if I’d be able to go to work on Monday. I thought ‘what the hell, is this my luck or what’?” he asked, underlining that he felt very unfortunate and desperate for awhile.
The thing that gave Kaan his self-confidence and trust that there will not be coups no more, however, was the discharging of groups and people from public offices that might have caused such a threat.
Since the coup attempt was quelled, thousands of people have been detained or arrested for FETÖ links and actively participating in the coup attempt. The Interior Ministry recently announced that 30,709 people were taken into custody for their links to FETÖ following the coup attempt and another 19,329 people were convicted of FETÖ membership and related crimes.