Sunday, November 29, 2009

Turkey for Thanksgiving

So I'm standing in the West and looking at the East. A very Edward Said moment. East (turn) West (turn)... Istanbul is how I'd imagine Vienna to be if it were populated entirely by Muslims.* I've never actually been to Vienna, but I was blessed with a very active imagination.

It would be easy to over-romanticize the place. Staring up at the dome of the Hagia Sofia -- cathedral cum mosque cum museum -- is dizzying, dislocating... I resisted the urge to lie on the ground, but only just. At night, equilibrium restored, I made a nest of sorts in a rooftop cafe overlooking the Bosphorus. Eating a fruit and custard tart, drinking Turkish tea and reading Steinbeck, I was feeling generally very smug and worldly. The call to prayer suddenly booming from the Blue Mosque was a shivering shock. Bracketed by the strangled-baby call of seagulls and the subdued click-click of cups on saucers, it left me with that same shimmering dizzy vertigo as in the Hagia Sofia. I put down my book and really thought about where I was and the history of the place... Steinbeck says traveling alone unfixes you in time: "A memory, a present event, and a forecast all equally present." I think he's right.

*And indeed, I believe this was at one point in time the plan.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Never Love an FSO, She'll Only Break Your Heart

"I wanted to tell you guys..." The three of them looked up from their computers expectantly. Pumping my feet on the floor, I rolled my chair to the middle of our little knot of cubicles.

"It's been decided that Eric will take over when I leave ACS, so if you want to pull him over to show him anything you're working on or introduce him to any cases, I'm sure he'd appreciate it. I'll train him on things, too. Also," pause for effect, "I might be leaving a little earlier than we originally thought -- maybe a month earlier." I braced myself for the inevitable tears, the pleas for delay in departure. The FSNs glanced at one other.

"Okay." A collective shrug and typing resumed.

I'm sure they were crying on the inside.