I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Superbowl Sunday

Superbowl #49
I'm not much of a sports fan, but it's almost impossible to live in the United States these days without being aware of the final football game of the season: the Superbowl. And living in one of the states that has a team in the game, well, the enthusiasm borders on a fever. One team will win today, and one will lose. This is a matchup that should deliver a close game, one that millions will be watching.

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 while traveling, they will nevertheless still have many usable functions.

It's been quite an education so far, and I have learned a few 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 country.  şimdilik güle güle (goodbye and until we meet again in Turkish)


Anonymous said...

How wonderful! That trip will re-charge your brain cells, I am sure. I wonder how modern Turkey is and how westernized. Try to post at least one photo of your dinner. You know how I love food in various parts of the world. I learned to like Thai food when I lived in Thailand back in 1969.

Rian said...

DJan, I'm not much of a sports fan either, but since DH and the boys are, I take part... not in sitting and watching, but usually in making refreshments and checking in every now and then to see how the teams are doing. As for your upcoming trip, consider it an unexpected adventure that will give you plenty to write about. I don't know anyone who has been to Turkey, so I'm looking forward to your posts. Stay safe!

Glenda C. Beall said...

I am happy for you, going off on an exotic trip to the middle east, but I'm not nearly so adventurous. At this time, I think I'll keep my travels to less dangerous areas of the world - like the mountains of NC. I will travel up to Asheville this week for a writers conference.
Stay safe and have a wonderful time. I look forward to hearing all about your trip.

R. J. said...

Two years ago when we were in Turkey, we found it to be very modern with wind turbines, and technology that is up to date. We were in Ephesus where a photographer took pictures of people as we toured the city, then sold us the photos before we left. Our guide joked about religion and said it is officially a muslim country, but like your country, we might observe it on a holiday. I don't recall any women wearing religious head gear. I wore a hat when in the sun as I would any where or anytime I am in the sun because it was hot. The places we toured were like any European city. Your impressions will be interesting for me to compare.

Arkansas Patti said...

What a tremendous opportunity this trip is for you. You will do great. It's gotta be a bit like riding a bicycle. I am pleased you will know several of the people going and that you will have some down time to tour. Take lots of pictures Djan. Looking forward to your posts.

Elephant's Child said...

Good luck - and have a heap of fun.
PS: I am still smiling over your very witty comment on my last post. Thank you. For being you.

Gigi said...

As I'm sure you know, I don't care for football, so I won't be watching...but I'll be hearing as the Husband is an avid football fan. You'll be happy to hear, he's rooting for Seattle.

You've got quite the adventure ahead of you and I can't wait to live vicariously through your posts/pictures!

Red said...

You are making a big effort to prepare for this trip. You will be at the top of your game. I think for people like yourself, it is good to be challenged.

Far Side of Fifty said...

We don't do football here...we don't care who is playing:) I am with you on the drunk drivers it is a shame that it is allowed here in America. Throw them in jail and throw away the key...that would stop it! The media attacks nearly everything...drugs smoking why not liquor...big liquor money is greasing some wheels someplace.
I hope you get plenty of rest this week before your big trip:)

The Furry Gnome said...

I'll just wish you a wonderful, memorable and productive trip! Look forward to hearing about it.

#1Nana said...

I'm reading blogs while the game is on TV. I'm only distracted when the spouse starts yelling! I went out grocery shopping earlier and thought it was much like Christmas Eve...the streets and then the store were very busy and then almost everyone went home. By the time I finished shopping I didn't even have to wait in line.
Safe travels. I look forward to reading of your adventures.

Linda Reeder said...

It is now after 10:00 PM as I write this. The Super Bowl is long over and the disappointment is dulling. My grandkids were in tears at the sudden change of fate in the last minute. But I have learned to treat this as entertainment, and sometimes we don't like the ending. Losing is not fun.
The good news is that we have madie tit through January with much fun and excitement. Now we move on.
For you, moving on means a big adventure. I look forward to your reports!

Rita said...

I don't watch sports. I was wondering which movie you went to see.

Your trip is going to be so exciting. Whenever you get the chance to post...and even if it is not until you get back home...will be waiting to hear about your adventure. Travel safely. Take all your supplements. Get as much rest as you can. *hugs*

Mel said...

I'm excited for you and your trip, what an adventure, plus you get to see old friends too. Hope you have a wonderful time and the work words flow easily through you :) Can't wait to hear all about it.
şimdilik güle güle

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I’ve become accustomed to finding interesting reflections in your weekly posts and this one is yet another confirmation. Enjoyed your thoughts about the Superbowl and being a sports fan, especially in our area, this year. I’m glad I’m able to comment on this Monday morning after the big game is over. Your mention of how things can change in an instant actually fits very well with how the game turned out. Yes, I watched the whole thing. Overall, I thought it was one of the better Superbowls. Sadly, one poor choice of plays brought the whole year to a close for the Seahawks and prevented a “repeat”. So … as they say … it’s all just a game. Perhaps we should emphasize that, except for the final game, their season was a winner! Now, let’s look to the future: Wish you a safe and enjoyable journey to Turkey. Will look forward to some photos and hearing how it all turns out. I think the folks planning the event are lucky to have you there for writing it up. Take care and be well. John PS I will miss your daily comments on my blog while you are gone but if I were in your shoes I would be spending 100% of my time enjoying the journey. I’ll hope to see you again after your return. :-)

Friko said...

Just be your sensible self, don’t take chances and respect the customs of the country; you’ll be fine.

But you already know all that yourself.

Here’s wishing you a splendid time and a valuable reminder of what working life used to be like. You might even come back having enjoyed it but being glad that it doesn’t happen very often now.

Retired English Teacher said...

I'm so excited for you. I took a peak at your schedule and didn't understand a thing that you will be talking about. This is all way over my head! I think it is fantastic that you get this opportunity to expand your horizons in ways that few would ever dream of doing.

I thought you were a rock star before. Now, let's just say that you have brought retirement to a whole new level.

Stay safe. Drink plenty of safe liquids. Stay alert. Get your rest. Don't worry about your blogs. You can update us with all your new photos and such later. Take notes. Have an awesome time!

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

Some flights have internet connection now. It's actually kinda cool, flying at 33K feet, with the internet at your fingertips. I think the trip will be wonderful, filled with new adventures and insights and synchros. Can't wait to read all about it!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

How exciting. I've heard Turkey is a fabulous country to visit. Life is always an education, isn't it?

Safe travel and can't wait to see your photos and hear all about it.

CrazyCris said...

You've probably wrapped it all up now and are getting ready to head to Istanbul. I hope it all went wonderful! And enjoy old Constantinople! :o)

Funny coincidence: one of projects I'm working on is the set up a Master's Degree in Climate Change Adaptation in universities in 3 Maghreb countries, and there's a partner involved who's a big expert on Risk...