Not me. I care too much about who wins and who loses to watch the play-by-play drama. Although I have friends who are sports enthusiasts and wouldn't dream of missing it, I will be at the movies, which I discovered is the best time to be out and about: everyone else will be at home or ensconced in a bar somewhere watching. And I will be home and in my bed before the drunks hit the streets tonight. Win or lose, you know there will be people celebrating to excess. Last year a drunk drove up on the sidewalk and killed a pedestrian in downtown Bellingham. Many times a week I pass by the spot, where a memorial to the young man is still lovingly tended by those who miss him and honor his memory. Hopefully the man who killed him is in jail somewhere.
It reminds me how quickly things can change. In an instant, the young man's life was gone, and the life of the man who killed him is essentially over as well. It's a scene that plays out all over the world, and in this country, every half-hour on average another person is killed by a drunk driver. That's rather terrifying to realize. And that's just alcohol: I wonder how many more are killed by distracted drivers. It's a scene that only a few years ago I couldn't have imagined, but today I see more and more people looking down at their smartphone screens while walking, sitting, or... driving.
But that is not what I intended to write about this morning. I'll be missing this wonderful little scene in my bedroom for the next two Sundays, since I will be traveling. Now that it is upon me, I am excited for the adventure, and I'll be doing what I can to maintain my blogging schedule, since I should have lots of interesting things to write about. I've never been in a Muslim country before, and I have been reading about Turkey and all the controversies over headscarves and proper dress. I didn't know that, as in France a few years ago, the headscarf was banned in many cities in Turkey for some time. The reforms that were instituted by Atatürk in the early part of the last century gave women many rights that were ahead of the rest of the world: the right to vote, hold office, and own land.
But as often happens, there was a conservative backlash in the country, and once the current Islamist president, Erdoğan, who was elected more than a decade ago took office, he repealed the ban against headscarves in Turkey. I've learned that it will be all right for me to walk around on the streets without one, but when visiting mosques I should cover my head, as well as making sure I don't show too much skin. Well, I never do anyway, so that shouldn't be much of a problem. Long pants and long sleeves are pretty much all I ever wear, summer or winter. There are times when I wear short-sleeved t-shirts, but as someone who is all too conscious of what old-lady upper arms look like, I'm always careful to cover them. I sure don't want to stand out in any way while I'm over there. I've also learned that means to leave my purple Crocs behind and wear dark shoes.
Turkey is ten hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time, and I will have my schedule thrown off by a full day of travel and that big time change, but if I recover sufficiently, I'll be walking around the city of Antalya next Monday. The conference doesn't start until Tuesday and will continue through Friday. Then I'll board an airplane on Valentine's Day and spend three nights in Istanbul. During that time, we will forge a document from our combined notes and then return to our respective homes. I'm looking forward to seeing old friends from my working years, but in almost a decade we will all have changed. My old boss Mickey is bringing his wife Karen, and I look forward very much to seeing them both.
There is a tiny nagging doubt that I will not be able to carry out the duties that came so easily years ago. I've learned that I don't bounce back like I once did, either from travel or stress of any sort. Writing in these blogs has helped me to keep a semblance of my former language skills, and I suspect that it will all return to me. It was hard to learn how to bring my own personality into my writing, since all science writing is expected to be formal and academic and expressed in the third person. Mickey has always bent these rules a little himself, and I will be counting on him to help me with my writing. He has always been a prolific writer, and it was my duty once upon a time to help him in the same way. I've taken a look at the tentative agenda, and it is very similar to dozens of meetings that I've helped Mickey organize in the past.
As I said at the beginning of this post, that is the plan, but as we know things can change very quickly. I'm not exactly nervous about the actual flights, but in these days of so much political unrest around the world, I hope I am able to avoid any conflict myself. I will be only a few hundred miles away from the Syrian border, and nowhere in any of my imaginings did I see myself there. And now here I am going to the Middle East. Well, things change. Hopefully it will be a positive experience and all will be well.
I'm not sure how or when I will get next Sunday's post up here. In the long waits in airports, I'm thinking that if they have internet connections I might be able to get some pictures and thoughts organized and posted here. My other blog will have more pictures and less dialog (probably, anyway) if all goes according to plan. I'll have my iPad, my iPhone, and my MacBook Air with me. Although they will all be disconnected from the internet, they will nevertheless still have many usable functions.
It's been quite an education so far, and I have learned a new Turkish phrases, thanks to YouTube. I've become so accustomed to being constantly connected to a wealth of information, and Turkey is a very modern city. şimdilik güle güle (goodbye and until we meet again in Turkish)