Dear readers! Today I bring you the final installment of student writing from my fall workshop at Koç. This piece, by senior literature major Ecem Kızıldağ, went through a particularly dramatic revision. It was originally only the story of Ecem’s kidney-stone-related misadventures. In class, it emerged that we wanted some kind of counterpoint to offset the negative/ comic portrayal of the hospital staff—something perhaps serious, sad, or affectionate. Ecem was like, “OK, I can do sad.” I hope you find her essay as moving as I did.
I’ve always despised hospitals. You know the feeling when your stomach clenches, right? That’s exactly how I feel when I enter hospital doors. The smell of medicine, the painful and tired look on sick peoples’ faces, cries, and moans… all these things terrify me. The worst thing is waiting for doctors to find a cure for you or for someone you care about.
Esteemed readers! I am very honored and excited to share with you another effort of the tireless Batumanologist Kaya Genç, appearing in the June issue of Turkish Vogue:
The title, “Şatodaki Yazar” (“The Writer in the Castle”), alludes both to a certain famous depressing writer, and also to my Gothic situation as writer-in-residence at Koç University, which I am happy to say has been extended through June 2012(!).
“You’re going to hear all kinds of curse words,” the taxi driver told me, on the way to the game. “You’re going to hear unheard-of things that nobody should ever hear.”
“That’s fine,” I said. “I’m trying to advance my knowledge of the Turkish language.”
“If you’re trying to advance your knowledge of the Turkish language, I’m not sure a Beşiktaş match is the first place I would advise you to go. It seems to me there are other, better places to advance your knowledge of the Turkish language. But of course, you know best,” he said. We drove a while in silence. “Here’s what I really want to know,” the driver resumed. “What are you going to write in your story? That the Beşiktaş fans are spewing curses unfit for the ears of civilized people? Or that Inönü Stadium is united by a warm, intimate, unpretentious atmosphere?”
“Well, whatever I see, that’s what I’ll write,” I said.
“You’re going to write what you see?” The driver looked really depressed. “Well, then we’re done for.”
I’m told there were between 40,000 and 42,000 football fans that day in the stadium, which has a 38,000 capacity. I had bought a ticket in the cheapest section and literally every seat had someone standing on top of it and directly in front of it. Getting into the stands was no joke. The low point for me was when some particularly solid-looking dudes in leather jackets shouldered me out of the crowd and it looked like I wasn’t going to make it into the gate. But just then a magical gust of wind blew off my hood, and one of the solid dudes exclaimed: “There’s a lady here! Back off, man, let the lady through.” Everyone standing near me stepped aside and let me through! Say what you will about Beşiktaş fans, they know how to treat a girl (sort of).
Dear readers! I am just back from New Orleans where I had a completely fabulous time at Faulkner House Books—big thanks to the terrific staff and all the attendees! I got to sit behind a huge, incredibly important-looking desk, pictured below. The format was meet-and-greet, an interesting challenge since I was sitting behind this amazing desk. At some point I tried firing one of my readers, as a joke (”You’re fired!”), but he didn’t seem to think it was funny.
Later I started fantasizing about getting such a desk in my apartment: I could fire my intern, and he would be so sad and wonder what he had done wrong; then I would realize it had all been a big mistake and rehire him, with tearful embraces on both sides. This initially struck me as a really fun game that we could play over and over again on the long winter evenings. Then I got a hold of myself and realized the desk had made me drunk with power. By then, everyone looked so confused that I just ended up reading from the book and answering questions, same as always.
Thanks to the inexorable Dave Lull for the link to this amazing A-to-Z insomnia cure by the Possessed super cover artist, Roz Chast. Apparently, when Chast is lying awake nights (probably, from wondering whether The Possessed will drop from the Amazon top-1,000 list), she passes the time by trying to think of physical afflictions starting with each letter of the alphabet. I forwarded her list to my father, a nephrologist, with a note to check out the letter K:
I just received the following response:
Elif, thanks!! And today is world kidney day, really.