Wow, it’s been the craziest four weeks of my life. I guess things were once pretty slow because I was able to update every week. Even if I was a little late, there was a weekly update. Now, there’s only chaos. So, let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (Sound of Music).
After my weekend on the Arkansas River, I had a short week in preparation for my trip to the motherland. It was my first time visiting Turkey since December 2002. A very long time indeed. Being a dual citizen means that I have certain obligations to adhere to in Turkey including military service. To get out of that was quite the process, but all is well now, and I can come and go freely. We visited family friends, my dad’s reunion classes from both high school and college, and family as well. I ate kokorec – don’t ask – as well as lahmahcun, pide, kofte, and drank loads of ayran. It was really great. We got to head down to Antalya and hung out at a holiday resort playing soccer, volleyball, and just having fun. It was a great time. It turns out that of my dad’s group of 6, only 4 are still alive. Could you imagine coming to your 30th high school reunion and having 2 of your 5 best friends already be dead? The Turkish Government has some very dark moments in its history, but the personal connection between what was and what could have been always finds a way to hit people harder. My cousin who is now 11 years old has a brand spankin’ new cell phone. It’s cooler than mine, and more expensive as well. I think there’s something wrong with that equation. Or maybe, I’m just jealous. Watching the World Cup in a country that loves soccer was a great experience. Halls were filled with people watching the games and screaming at every goal or missed opportunity. It keeps alive my streak of being in Turkey for every World Cup that Turkey has not been apart of in my lifetime. Bizarre, I know.
When I came back, I had a quick turnaround and then flew out to the wonderful land of San Diego. I woke up at 4:30am to make the light rail, and then bus connection, to the airport. We boarded our 6:55am flight, lifted off, and then turned around and landed the flight. I was then stuck at the airport until 2pm. Yes, I spent my day in the airport. It wasn’t until 3:45 that I arrived in San Diego, but it turns out the city was worth the wait. I met Mark Newmark, of former Russian residency fame, in the town he calls home. We toured the dock area, ate, and then explored San Diego. Eventually we found our way to his parents house where we had a wonderful dinner. The conversation was the best part. After dinner, we headed to the beaches of La Jolla where a colony of seals has taken over a local beach. It was quite great to see those animals so up close. Of course, it being past their bedtime, we didn’t try to interact with them, but seeing something from that close that should be forbidden is quite great. The next day was spent at the San Diego Zoo, but not before a wonderful breakfast that was the size of a full day’s set of meals. It was absolutely delicious, but too much.
The zoo is quite fantastic. It really is a full day’s worth of stuff to do, but we jumped on a bus and did a quick tour and then followed that by seeing some things that weren’t on the tour. We got to see the famous Pandas and they had quite a line there in front of them. I really had a great time in San Diego, and Mark was even nice enough to let me watch the World Cup final. It’s great to see old friends and realize that simple things like friendship never change.
The following week was a long one at work. Lots to do, and no time to do it. It ended with Giana coming into town on Friday. It was her birthday the week before, so we decided to celebrate in San Francisco. Saturday we walked around downtown all day. It was a lot of fun. We saw Fisherman’s Wharf and walked through Chinatown and North Beach. North Beach, an Italian neighborhood, was celebrating the World Cup championship with t-shirts everywhere proclaiming that the Italians were world champions. We took a boat tour of the bay, and that was wonderful. We didn’t get out to Alcatraz, but that’s okay. From a distance it looked scary enough. That evening we went to a great restaurant named Saha in the Hotel Carlton. It was Yemeni food. I really enjoyed the salad which was a wonderful blend of diced tomatoes, parsely, olives, and onions, and it was just delicious. Afterwards we hit the Velvet Lounge which turned out to be pretty dumpy. We went there to support our friend Vishal, who ended up not showing up. Sunday we toured the Golden Gate Bridge area and saw the Coit Tower. It was a good trip.
This past week was even more killer than the week before. I put in 51 hours of work, and it was just a tough week. A lot of meetings and prep work, but also a lot of coding, which meant long nights. I also had a project due for class this week, and that made things even more difficult. I survived, but it wasn’t easy. On Friday night, we went to a Moroccan restaurant. It was fascinatingly boring, but fun. It was good that we went as a group, but it ended being phenomenally expensive for no good reason. Saturday we went paintballing. I won the first game for my team by taking out three people, and I won the last game by taking out three people. In between, I accumulated at least 9 welts that I can count, and only God knows how close I got to losing the ability to have children. I don’t suggest it for the weak at heart, but it was loads of fun. Afterwards we went to Sushi Boat which is a great restaurant where they have boats of Sushi float by you and you pick what you would like to eat. It was quite delicious. The day ended with a viewing of “The Devil Wears Prada”, which turns out not to be a chick flick, but a pretty good movie. Until next week… adieu