Aziz Gökdemir's Archive | THTB | Backstory
 

couple in the snow by Oryal Gökdemir
Photo by my father, circa 1964.

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  About the journal
Why I Write
The Cast... say goodbye
A Glossary of sorts
The Skinny About Me
A Full Bio?
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About this... thing

"A long time ago came a man on a track, walking thirty miles with a sack on his back." -- Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits, "Telegraph Road").

Actually, it was a United flight, some 5,000 miles, and a chest full of writing and photographs in the cargo hold. So here I am.

THTB sounds like the latest mind-altering drug on the scene. It isn't. It's a scene-altering drug for my mind. It's also the name of my journal, short for The Hassles That Be.

The abbreviation can be found in pretty scary incarnations on the Web, though, such as:

¶ The High Tea Basket from Winston Flowers: Whether it is high tea at 4pm or morning tea at 9am, this royal basket... [you get the idea]
¶ Texas Honky-Tonk Band
¶ Total Health Through Balance [some health cult based in (again!) Texas].

couple in the snow by Oryal Gökdemir

(Why the "Outsider Tone"? You're an American now.)

I was 23 when I came here and I "became" an American relatively recently, in 1998 (when I was 31). Don't expect me to treat my culture as if it were a distant memory that lives on in a grandmother's photo album or on the label of a beer bottle (not that there's anything wrong with that...). If at any time you think I'm unfairly critical toward the US, read a little bit further and you'll see that I keep the same critical distance toward the "old country." This dual outsider theme bleeds into a lot of my writing, so you'll either have to get used to it or stop reading.

A journal without flags. Diversity but no ethnic pride. Love thy country but love thy neighbor more unless the neighbor's a pain in the ass. Love thy homeland but check your nationalism along with the rest of your baggage. That kind of deal.

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Why I Write (this journal)

I haven't quite figured that one out yet. I suspect it has something to do with the preceding paragraph, but I don't talk about "issues" all the time. I write and publish other things (see Books and Essays to get an idea); and this is a place where I can think out loud, so to speak, before I mold ideas and true stories into more manipulated forms of writing. It's a notepad, a scrapbook. I don't take it too seriously, and neither should you.

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The Cast... say goodbye

I used to have initials or pseudonyms of a very few people here, but then I realized I don't write about other people -- or myself, for that matter, other than mining memory as I slowly construct a patchwork memoir -- all that much, and when I do it's usually in passing. This is simply not the kind of "journal" that sets out to interact with and dissect people; we do that enough around the dinner table or across from the fire, and that's where it stays. In fact, that's why the folder for "journal" entries has been labeled "nj" -- for non-journal -- for quite a while now.

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A Glossary of Sorts

emic: An evil military-industrial corporation. All caps when serving as the alias of a particular company.

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The Skinny About Me

¶ I tasted alcohol for the first time when I was seven. It's made me sick only once in my life. (I was born in 1967.)
¶ My earliest memory in life is of the first moonwalk. I was 2 and I remember the pearl-white TV set I watched it on.
¶ I lost a cousin, a leftist student leader, to violence when I was 9. He was in his 20s.
¶ I was raised without any religion. Today I find the subject fascinating, especially the associated literature, music, and architecture, but I remain a non-religious person. The closest I come to spirituality is through forms of art. I believe this is also called a high.
¶ The first time I encountered a friend's computer (a Sinclair ZX Spectrum!) we played games on it until dawn and just kept going.
¶ I've smoked maybe 15 joints and 5-10 cigarettes in my life. I don't have any desire to revisit either of those.
¶ I work from home as an editor. I can't remember the last time I had to put on a business suit.
¶ Though people have called me a smart person, there's at least one trait I share with Homer Simpson: reflexive desire. For example, if someone so much as mentions coffee in a movie, I think, "Mmm... Coffee."
¶ Mmm... Coffee.
¶ I have a B.S. and an M.S. in engineering. I haven't worked a day as an engineer in my life and I couldn't even B.S. my way through a ten-minute presentation about what I supposedly learned in school.
¶ Since I learned English as a second language I am virtually unable to misspell. But if you ask me to spell something letter by letter, I trip. My mind spells in syllables only.
¶ No matter where I live, Istanbul will always be my hometown. You can call it Constantinople too, I don't mind.
¶ I learned to read when I was five. I don't think I'm as well-read as I could be, though. I've squandered a number of years.
¶ Even though I dislike Ed McBain's (Evan Hunter) sanctimonious tone and knee-jerk conservatism I'm hooked on his 87th Precinct mysteries. Luckily, I hate Tom Clancy and his stupid books.
¶ I used to think Phil Collins was cool.
¶ I love cats, but I'm allergic to them so I can't have or be in close quarters with one for long without sneezing. I'm partial to strays that one encounters a lot in stray-friendly Mediterranean countries. I drop everything when I see a cool cat on the street. (I like dogs OK too, but I find them a bit silly.)
¶ I'd like to try skydiving but I'm too scared.
¶ I think someday (in a few thousand years) we'll all willingly become socialists rather than see people starve while we do just fine -- but I believe we would have to evolve beyond greed (to make capitalism seem unsavory) and power (to prevent socialism from turning into bloodbath) for that to happen. A free capitalist society seems to be the most suitable environment for said evolution.
¶ I'm unhappy about my weight (I'd like to gain more). Unfortunately I have high cholesterol owing to bad genes, so I can't just gorge on meat and bulk up.
¶ I think you may need a life if you've read this far.

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A Full Bio?

That and more about me can be found in the FAQ. You may want to look at the main page as well.

I guess that's all for now.

couple in the snow by Oryal Gökdemir

Oh, you want my picture too?

The Art Gallery has a couple of more interesting self-portraits.

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(Updated June 5, 2001)

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The Hassles That Be
an online Turkish American photo-journal
"of the leftist persuasion"
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All text and images © Aziz Gökdemir's Archive unless otherwise indicated or credited.
Snow photo by Oryal Gökdemir.


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