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TOUCH BASE

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@klovestorun via Twenty20

Hello good people! How are you? The last few days were a few hectic, and I don’t know what I have been doing. So I thought it is good to write a blog post about it and sort things out. So welcome to the Touch Base!

The first important thing that happened is that we found a baby cat at the entrance of our house. He had a gash on his stomach and right under his arm, as well as multiple scratches around his body. We took him to the vet and the vet amca, as we call him, said that “the kitten should be fed every hour or every two hours until his wounds are completely closed.” We had multiple trips to the vet amca and had many sleepless nights, and still have many sleepless nights, but our little boy is as healthy as he could be.

He is pear-shaped and happily purring while he is trying to carry his huge ass around. We named him Loki because our older cat is called Thor, and this little one is a bit battered up. Look at him. Isn’t he the silliest kitten you have ever seen?

Our baby boi Loki!

Dealing with our kitten made us have many sleepless nights, which shifted my focus from being the most boring intellectual person ever. So I have started diversifying my attention towards many interests I have. I started painting again and reading to my heart’s delight. I was kind of miserable when I forced myself to focus on writing, so I stopped doing that.

I was focusing on being a writer because at the company I am working at, they shifted my position from a graphic designer to a writer/translator/editor of English. I thought I wasn’t ready for the job yet, and I thought I have to improve extremely quickly, so I dropped everything I do and focused on learning how to write.

As it turns out, I knew how to write well enough for the company, so I can relax and continue being the jack of all trades master of none I am. I have translated websites, social media posts, youtube captions, and I started writing a series in which I interview ex-pats living in Istanbul and write a short essay about them. I love that job, and I am organically improving at it. Below is a photo from an interview I recently had.

My good friend Oscar and I

Leaving the obsessive days behind, I started looking around, and I found out Medium has many interesting articles. I used to dwell in Medium, but it has been quite some time since I have spent some time there. I spent a couple of nights reading Medium articles while waiting for the time to feed Loki. One night, I came across this article talking about a new social media platform on the blockchain. I joined BitClout even before I finished the article. You can reach my profile here.

BitClout made me realize the power of the blockchain, and I started investing in cryptocurrencies as well. Even though I wouldn’t suggest people who don’t understand finance invest their hard-earned cash on cryptocurrencies, long-term investors or people who understand finance shouldn’t miss the opportunity. I don’t care about short positions when I am investing, so I took long positions for some of the coins I found interesting and left it at that.

On BitClout, people can invest in other users’ currencies, and a user invested a whopping $180 on my coin. I wanted to pay him back, so I offered him to paint something in return. He wanted me to paint a friend of his as a troll, so I tried:

A troll painting by me!

Since I stopped trying to be cool and decided that I am going to follow my interests and curiosities, I decided that I should also loosen up in my blog. I will continue writing on my blog, but I am more likely to use this as a place to think publicly and give a heads up about what is going on in my life. I would be delighted if you come and check what we are up to from time to time!

See you around!

how to shave and live your life

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My father never taught me how to shave. Or how to smoke a cigarette. He taught me how to drink, though. I remember him not being able to walk from the table to the car. I remember helping him walk. I remember Mother telling him that he is too drunk to drive. I remember him arguing that the car knows the way. I remember him driving us home and tumbling to the floor as soon as he got out of the car. I remember the acrid smell of alcohol mixed with garlic. I remember sitting in the backseat, anxious. I remember Mother telling Father that he was driving too fast. I remember shrieking break and approaching the stoplights of the truck. I remember the ‘thunk!’ and the hard yank.

We were lucky that day. Nobody got hurt, even though the car was wrecked. That day I promised myself that I would not be like him. But then forgot the promise.

I started drinking when I was attending middle grade. I thought drinking was cool. I was a loser in my mind, and my friends were cool, so I drank with them to be cooler. Then I would go out to a restaurant with Father. He would drink until he couldn’t walk, and every time, I would think that he was dumb to drink that much and believe I was cool because I could handle my drink and stop before I get drunk.

I believed that I understood alcoholism well, and I was sure I wasn’t one. Even though I almost drank every day, I didn’t blackout or caused a scene. Therefore, I must have been drinking responsibly, right? I would always joke that “I drink until my graphic card moves from the slot.” That was my way of saying I always stop drinking when my vision gets laggy.

I drank away countless days. Drinking was the only way to socialize. When I didn’t drink, I got so bored that I wanted to leave and be alone. And then I would go home and drink by myself. Over time, I started drinking so much that my friends had to make sure that I am fine at the end of the night. I started drinking so much that at the end of the night, my friends drove me home. I started drinking too much that I had to spend countless hours trying to remember what had happened the previous day. Unaware, I was turning into my father. I was becoming the same sorry man, drinking his life away.

I don’t remember my last drink. But the last memory of my drunk self is a girl handing me a bottle of tequila and inviting me into my friend’s house. Who knows what happened after that.  I came to myself strolling the streets the next morning, not knowing where I was or what I was doing. I trudged myself back home, slept until five p.m., and have never drunk again.

While I was teaching our cat, Thor, how to shave, I remembered the confusing pain and destruction my father brought wherever he went. Even though Thor was more interested in attacking my slippers than watching me shave, I felt contempt: I figured out that I kept my promise to that little guy sitting at the backseat watching the stoplights coming closer than they were supposed to be, with terror.

I didn’t turn out to be like my father. I am forever thankful to all the people who helped me along the way. If you struggle with alcoholism, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

WRITING LAB

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You are in the dark. Your heart beats faster. It gets harder to breathe. Your eyes dilate. You clump toward the light source—the floor changes. Suddenly, you are under intense light! You can hear your heartbeat… THUMP THUMP! THUMP THUMP! You feel nauseous. These are not butterflies! There is a whirlwind in your stomach.

You turn your eyes to the light source. Too bright, too hot. Your eyes seek solace. You want to turn back and go back to the darkness, to safety. But you can’t now. You look ahead. And see thousands of glitters. Watching you, judging you. You take a breath and smile.

You open your mouth to speak, and nothing comes. It gets hotter, you perspire. A single drop of sweat travels across your eyebrow and finds your eye. It burns. You try to think about something to say. Your brain is barren.

You start mumbling the sentences you rehearsed a million times. You breathe. You don’t remember the following sentence, so you skip to the first one you remember. Darn! Now you remember the previous one. What to do? You stop. You smile.
You are as red as an apple now.

That is precisely how I feel when I am writing for this blog too. Even though only a few people are reading this, writing for this blog stresses me. It feels like stage fright. When I am writing here, the same fight or flight reflex kicks in, and I freeze! I stop writing for this blog and write other things and feel safe that I am writing.

I used to have stage fright. I used to go on the stage, and my mind would go blank. I would feel lanky and couldn’t decide where to put my hands. I would hear my heart pounding. I got rid of it over time, and my medicine was being on stage over and over again. If you get on the stage every day and do a lot of mortifying things on stage and get away with it, you start losing the self-destructive talk that makes you freeze in front of people.

When I started this blog, I thought by writing twice a week, I would write quality stuff instead of going for quantity, and that would be my best course of action. That experiment failed. I have been skipping that twice a week schedule at least once a week. Trying to write that long-form interesting article makes me freeze. That’s a problem.

It is time to drop that experiment and try another hypothesis. Starting today, I will experiment writing every day on this blog and use it to try different styles, genres and write about what’s on my mind. This blog will be the stage that I get used to being on stage all the time. I am going to make mortifying mistakes and then continue writing.

It will be an honor if you be a part of my journey while I loosen up and get ready for significant experiments.

I SEE DULL PEOPLE

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To believe is human. Like Yuval Noah Harari explains, the truly unique trait of Sapiens is our ability to create and believe fiction. All other animals use their communication system to describe reality. We use our communication system to create new realities. As he analyzed, as a species, our secret of success is large-scale flexible cooperation.

Although our species’ success depends on our ability to believe, I, like Oscar Wilde, think “To believe is very dull. To doubt is intensely engrossing.” Moreover, belief is an inhibitor of curiosity, one of the main ingredients of creativity; but more on this later.

Even though we need creative breakthroughs, our species’ survival depended on doing the dull things, and like our ancestors, before we follow the pink rabbit and explore creativity, we have to do the dull thing and define creativity.

Oxford Languages define creativity as:
“the use of imagination or original ideas to create something; inventiveness.”

Let’s understand what that sentence means by giving our attention to its individual words. Let’s start with imagination, and see what our beloved dictionary tells about it:
Imagination has Latin roots. Imago, imagin means image in Latin and it formed into imaginari, which means picture to oneself. The word changed to imaginato and through old French became a word in English.
And imagination is defined as:
“the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.”

So, obviously, to be creative, we have to form something new that is not present to our senses. Another important concept of creativity, being original, supports this idea as well:
“created personally by a particular artist, writer, musician, etc.; not a copy.”

Let’s see if inventiveness adds to the discussion:
“having the ability to create or design new things or to think originally.”

So for our purposes, we can say that you are creative if you are creating something original, and do that regularly. How do you create something original regularly, how to think new things, how to create an environment that supports creativity? We are going to delve into these topics and much more in the later posts, but until then, I am going to leave you with one of the best texts I have read about creativity, written by one of the most creative writers that I know of, Isaac Asimov.

Isaac Asimov Asks, “How Do People Get New Ideas?” | MIT Technology Review

Have a nice week!

OPENING CEREMONY

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businessman-throwing-papers-documents-into-air-and-celebrates-success-on-blue-background

Hi there! I rehearsed this many times before I came here today. *throws away the papers and shrugs* But, the best way to start this thing is by being me! Nobody cares about a perfect, rehearsed version of a human; we all want to see the bleeding, struggling, emotional, vulnerable person.

Since I was a kid, I devoured every book I could get my hands on. It wasn’t long before I figured out I can write as well; but, one thing led to another and I stopped writing and started pursuing other things with a stumped passion. No matter what I did, the love for the written word continued burning in me…

Life is hard, and working in a stressful environment under a raging global pandemic doesn’t make it easier. A couple days ago, after enduring multiple miserable days at work, while I was thinking about what else I can do to make me happier, I decided to start writing again. The blog you are reading is my first actionable step towards that goal.

I can’t promise that everything I publish here will be good, but I can promise that I will publish consistently and will try my best to produce something worthy of your time. I am going to publish every Tuesday and Friday, and even though I suspect I will steer away from it time to time, my main theme will be human ingenuity and creativity in general because I am fascinated by the subject and I think that’s what makes us human.

I want to use this platform to understand what creativity is, the common habits and traits of highly creative people, ways to change dull environments into creativity inducing ones and to admire the creative work of fellow earthlings publicly. I would be ecstatic, if you join me on this journey! See you on Tuesday!

Yigit Cakar