Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cycling Trivialities

Since I got my new bike almost two weeks ago, I've been pedaling some pretty crazy miles.

Due to the tragic temporary closing of my favorite coffee shop, Quills, I have been going twice as far to Sunergos, which is pretty much the best cup of locally roasted coffee you can find anywhere. Since the small shoulders, large hills, and inconsiderate cars of Eastern Parkway are not conducive to fixed-gear riding, I have been taking a slightly longer, but safer, route from my Crescent Hill residence that cuts through Germantown. I usually get there dripping sweat, but an iced caramel latte is a great way to cool back down.

Thursday night, I was biking around the Highlands with my friends Jess Britt and Mary Margaret when we ran into Jess' acquaintance Vinnie, a heavily tatted leader in a local bicycle gang called the Bottom Bracket Bastards. Vinnie, who rides a brake-less track bike he built himself, led us around on a break- neck-speed bike ride that transversed almost the entire city proper. (This late night tour was done with little consideration for traffic laws, as by his own admission Vinnie likes to ride, "as dangerously and recklessly as possible.") I learned quite a bit about the more extreme fringes of cycling culture from Vinnie's stories, such as when a bunch of punk teenagers egged a girl in their gang causing her to crash in heavy traffic. The 3 B's responded by tracking the punks down and breaking their windshield with chains.

My cycling adventures continued Saturday morning when I took Beargrass Trail to work to try to make up some time and keep from being late. Well that idea worked great until I absent minded-ly drifted off the bike path. The whole crash is a bit of a blur, mostly due to the fact that I was going pretty fast, but it involved either a flip or a roll (I am not sure which) and ended in a very awkward position with both of my feet still in their toe-locks. Thankfully I was able to walk away with only a sprained ankle, a road-burned back, grass-stained jeans, and a scratched up new bike. As far as I can tell the damage is only cosmetic.

Other than the crash, riding my Raleigh has been a complete joy. I can do a pretty legitimate skid-stop now, but I still don't have the whole track standing trick down.

Maybe Darren will let me in on his secret.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Pop Culture

I have now joined the ranks of fixed-gear hipsterdome. It took almost four months of layaway payments, but I am finally riding my brand new Raleigh Rush Hour, which I have affectionately named "Jackie" (after two of my heroes, Jackie Chan and Jackie Kennedy).
Another recent acquisition of mine is the new Sigur Ros album, "með suð í eyrum við spilumendalaust". In this album, the Icelandic post-rock collective explores new sonic soundscapes while maintaining the ethereal, other-worldly atmosphere that made them an international sensation. My personal favorite track is "Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur", which ends with a full symphonic build which I think is best described as angelic. While the album departs stylistically from their earlier work, I have no doubt that fans of "Takk" and "( )" will embrace this new direction.

Friday, July 18, 2008


Okay. I am back in the United States of America.

Re-entry can definitely be a bit difficult at times- it's almost like I expected my life to be on pause while I was gone, and would pick up exactly where I left off two months ago.

Obviously, that is not the case. While I have thoroughly enjoyed seeing all off my friends, there is much that happened while I was gone, and trying to catch up on everything feels like information overload. Likewise, I am still trying to process and reflect on my experience in Turkey.

Nevertheless, returning to Louisville has been an joyful occasion.

A large group of friends were there at the airport to greet me at midnight when my plane landed Tuesday night. Despite being incredibly sleep deprived and grungy, I couldn't help have the dorkiest grin on my face to see their great love for me- its pretty humbling.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


The time of my departure has come.

God will today I will be flying from Istanbul to London to Chicago to Louisville.

Goodbye Istanbul.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mixed Emotions

My time here in Istanbul is drawing to a close. While the realities of being away from home for two months are beginning to sink in, I have been anticipating my impending departure with a heavy heart. I feel as though I have just begun to find my place here in Istanbul and it is time to leave.

In many ways my summer has been similar to the hit international film Once. Basically the entire movie [spoiler alert] boils down to the chance interactions between two individuals who meet on the streets of Dublin, write a bunch of songs together, then go their separate ways- somehow finding meaning in their short time together. In the same way, God has brought a wide variety of interesting people across my path this summer, many of whom I have only met with once or twice. Just this evening I helped an elderly Italian man find his way on the Metro. For around thirty minutes I heard some of his story and I got to share some of mine. Yesterday I said goodbye to Ercan and Hakar, two Turks who I have really enjoyed hanging out with at the Derneck. On the Tramvay, I have explained that I am neither Russian or German too many times to count over the course of the summer.

As someone who deeply values his close friendship, an entire summer of such fragmented social encounters has been challenging for me. However, as a Christian, I firmly believe in the sovereignty of God, i.e. that God orchestrates and directs all things. From my perspective, my summer may have been little more that a random series of chance interactions with strangers, but in reality, I will never know the full effect that each encounter had.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Shoe Shiners

The shoe shiners in Istanbul have a pretty good gimmick. As you are walking by they will drop their brush and pretend not to notice. If one is kind enough to pick up his brush, or even just point the brush out to him, the shoe shiner in turns offers to shine the person's shoes, presumably for free. However, the well-meaning tourists that are duped by this ploy discover that after their footwear has been polished the shoe shiner expects to compensated for his work- sometimes as much as 20 USD.

Last night two separate shoe shiners tried this on two of my friends and myself while we were walking across the Galata Bridge literally within 30 seconds of each other. I found the second attempt so humerus that I burst into uncontrollable laughter. My boy Kendell, from Arkansas, in a spur of the moment decision , responded rather rashly by kicking the second brush like a soccer ball. Needless to say, the shoe-shiner transformed from a clumsy working class joe to an irate, street-hardened Turk hurling profanities in uncannily good English.

The locals watching the whole ordeal found it to be almost as hilarious as I did. Thankfully, no one was stabbed in a dark alley later.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Crazy Roadtrip

For the last five days I have transversed the Turkish countryside. My trek outside of Istanbul began by flying to Adana, geographically and climate-wise the Florida of Turkey, where I met up with my frienda Özgür and Matt. From Adana we took an 18 hour (one way) bus trip to Trabzon, a city on the coast of the Black Sea where we visited the famous Sumela Monastary. Although the roundtrip (36+ hours) was more than the actual amount of time we spent in Trabzon, the trip was incredible. Pictures up soon.