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Attack of the Seagulls, Florida Keys
Attack of the killer seagulls, somewhere near Key Largo, Florida.
(Aziz Gökdemir, December 1990.)


A Long December, or There Was a Flock of Seagulls Before the Counting Crows

I never went to Sunday school, but I can pick a photo at random and have it remind me of things that are best forgotten, like my first American "road" trip.
spaceA little like that Woody Allen bit where in response to the loaded question on what he does on those rare nights when he's not "throwing bacchanals," he tosses a joke about reliving bad memories amidst a flurry of "morbid introspection" before finally succumbing at 4 a.m. But that's Woody; me I'm asleep by 2 a.m., yes sir, no more than four hours of lying there wide awake.
spaceSo I was saying about this trip... the reason I took it would be that after four months of boring (in that inimitable passive-aggressive way that engineering departments always seem to have) masters study in Iowa, here's what the situation looked like in mid-December 1990:

- Turns out that fall (my favorite season) in Iowa lasts about two seconds. From an unbearably sticky summer you move on to a shockingly cold winter.
- Dorms are set to close. Broken up with sort-of-girlfriend on semi-cordial terms. Not a soul in town to talk to.
- Despicable GPA, killing any chance of an assistantship and accompanying tuition break.

spaceWhat I do then, is in a moment of insanity I decide to waste even more of my parents' money and buy a plane ticket to Miami for an absurd amount of money. ["Yes, we got the bill, honey. It's all right." This is what's wrong with Turks, parents getting mad and controlling about all the wrong things and cutting too much slack on others. And so you end up with people whose maturity and self-esteem trail their biological age by about twenty years.]
spaceIn a place where they don't know the meaning of "cold," I tried to relax with two friends and tried to forget (another thing we positively excel at) about the ticket and the fact that I'd been spinning my wheels for about five years now.
spaceWe drove down to Key West one day and at a stop along that scenic route where you may have seen James Bond (all right, so I'm one of the three people who think Timothy "So this is a farewell to arms" Dalton was a much better Bond than Pierce "Your accent's a little muddled"/"So's your tan" Brosnan) and Ahnuld dodge bullets, I took a picture of these crazy seagulls auditioning for The Birds, Part 2: This Time We Mean Business.
spaceAs long as I'm rambling I should mention that one night we were chatting around 2 a.m. in the living room and a resigned-looking raccoon walked by, peered at us through the screen door for a second and moved on to more appetizing prey. (At which point one of my friends, drunk and unable to make sense of this obviously non-cat, non-dog beast that he'd never seen before, blurted, "What is this supposed to be?" "Oh, that's a raccoon, man, so anyway...") Another day, another night, Beavis in, Butthead out, and one day you realize you're the rabbit in that Roger Waters song.
spaceA few days later I was back in the state no one has ever heard of outside the context of a Dave Barry joke, staying in somebody's guest room and walking an hour each way to campus and back along icy roads in a futile attempt to clear my head, trapped in a delusional warp that extolled the value of saving 60 cents to offset an $800+ plane ticket.
spaceI miss the prairie sometimes, and the coffee shops in Iowa City, but I don't really miss those winters, small-town desolation, and I particularly don't miss the time a friend and I were walking home drunk from the bars and decided to walk across the frozen river instead of using the bridge like smart people do. About halfway out, I dipped one of my legs all the way up to the hip into the icy water because I was too wasted to see the hole in front of me. A bigger hole or a less thick ice surface that night, and I would've probably fallen in thoroughly and gotten sucked into the dam valves waiting with mouths agape just a few yards downstream, underneath the bridge.
spaceJust what every parent loves to hear...

October 9, 1999
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