Found Note (People’s Park)

Berkeley. People’s Park. Sitting in the cool and wet grass with Tone, my Norwegian friend. A confidant. Still heartbreak, still grief, and longing as usual. There are people here, not a lot, and I am laid on my belly at the park’s best vantage point. We’ve got the king seat. There is some kind of music festival happening, but it looks like everyone forgot to come – only a ring of dancers and friends in front of the stage. A woman to our left. She is tripping – hard. Blonde hair with pink fading at the unraveled, dreaded ends. She is talking to someone, no one, herself. She is the only person sitting against the utility box. Her voice is horse. She has been yelling to the heavens or hell for a while now. “I’m on Coconut Island! That’s was a good movie!” Her screaming is rhythmic, almost a song. She picks up a bottle of water and pours it over her head. “I’m on f***ing Coconut Island!”.

A bald, black man dressed in white has taken the stage. His voice booms. “If you can change your thoughts, you can change your language. If you can change your language, you can change your attitude. If you can change your attitude, you can change your character. If you change your character, you change who you are. You change who you are, you change the world you live in. We are all humans. We are all the same and we can all love each other.” Mmm-hmm the crowd responds. I clap. He is right.

Is this free love or is it an absolute truth? My rationality wants to posit and place. This must be life and living. This must be that bigness. Unity. I never want to leave California.

We can change thought patterns.

People who are afraid stay the same and rot away.

Scenes From The Shuttle

Transportation and traffic are a large part of my life here in Istanbul. It is inescapable. I spend at least an hour everyday on shuttle buses going from my dormitory to one of the two campuses in which I have classes. I can always expect to find the shuttles very crowded and much too warm for my comfort levels. Many times need to actively not think about how claustrophobic and irritating they are. But today as I rode the shuttle from Dolapdere back to the dorm, I realized the opportunity they offer to see life on the sidewalk without sound. I can put whatever song I choose on my iPod and have a soundtrack for each day, every store front and face

There was a man holding his son’s hand. At the moment I beheld them the father shook the boy’s hand from his. His face caved into his nose like a triangle. His eyebrows arched with anger and aggravation. They stopped walking. The boy began to cry. The father seemed disgusted and appalled. He began talking down the to the boy, but why had he so upset? Did his son’s steps exceed his? Maybe I was witnessing the boy’s first verbalization of a curse word or, maybe there was a level of respect that was violated.

A crowd gathered outside of a store front—window shopping for hardware and appliances. The back of a man’s head, his hair dark and peppered gray. A wedding band around his finger. He scratched the bottom of his head with a credit card. Was he contemplating a purchase?

Two young men standing in a recessed area of the sidewalk underneath an awning. Both wearing bright red tops. The thinner of the two had a matching jacket—just as bright, red beating into the overcast sky. If they were objects they would have been stop signs.

A teenager walking briskly, singing. No audio in the shuttle, but the shape of his mouth told me he was belting something.

They sweep water from the streets with brooms and elongated window wipers.



Forget Everything

(c) Lombardi 2011

I am ending introspection—at least where words are concerned. Time to start painting pictures and not feelings. I got some hard truths, drunken honesty about my use of words. Thank you to J for waking me up. I’m taking what you said with me and using it. No offense taken, just gratitude.


I’ve swum in my head, through my thoughts, and felt as though I were losing track of time and myself. I tried reaching out to people at home and they offered some great advice. They advised me to go within myself and at the same time, reach out to the environment that is so new to me. So, here is a list of the pearls that I am using to get through the days.

Be present to your thoughts. Your genius will meet you there.

You are your own map.

Don’t forget the power of being an individual. Of being a human. Or having a thought and expressing it. Action is key.

People tend to have a limited idea of ourselves, but we are capable of so much. Don’t be terrified of your potential.

Time is only a number, a figure, a suggestion. Just live each day. Getting caught up in your head is getting caught up in time.

Live the questions.

Believe in connectivity. We are all connected.


No Photos, But a Scene?

I know you all want pictures. I do too! But the last two days? (I am losing track of time as well) have been very hectic and there are issues with my personal computer. So, pictures may take a while. However, look forward to seeing some awesome shots within the next two weeks.

There are so many beautiful sights to see here. Heck, even the people are beautiful. I took a taxi today with my roommate to do some shopping at Ikea (got to love placelessness). It was the largest store I have ever set foot in, clad with metal detectors at the entrance, apparently there was a bombing there a few years back) No need to worry, Mom! But while I watched people pass by on the street from the backseat of the taxi, I was enamored by the beauty of the Turkish people. Men dressed so finely—sweaters, slacks, pea coats, hair brushed or misplaced perfectly. As if bed head, in some instances, was the exact thing they were going for. And the women—timeless, ageless. Their faces. My roommate was talking to me about past relationships and said she views this city, Istanbul, as one of the most romantic places. And she is right. How could it not be with such good-looking men and women all around you!

One thing I did take notice of while walking through Ikea was that people here do not say, “excuse me” or “pardon me” when they need to get by you. They simply walk wherever and the only way you know to move is by a nudge at your side and the back of the passerby squeezing by you. I also believe that this plays into the population density. There are so many people everywhere, all the time. My American self grew a bit indignant at first. I was ready to throw down some words—at least a dirty look. Hey, I guess it is in my nature. But, I realized it is just their way.

Jet Lagged? Insomnia?

A Note

3:22am. The sound of traffic is like static—ever moving. This city is alive and breathing. It is strange to be living in the middle of it and be so unfimilar to it. But I suppose these things take time—which I have a plethora of. Along wıth the traffıc: seagulls. Odd for me ears to hear such a thing in a city. My mind assocıates them with the beach. But I am surrounded by the sea—two in fact. Also, cat calls. There are cats everywhere. They are night owls, watchmen. A part of me would like to believe that all the cats here are living out their nine lives, that they are in fact ghosts, witness to the hıstory and changes of this city. Their eyes have seen time pass, the movement of the streets. They carry wısdom.

Take a Deep Breath

I will try to put it lightly. Traveling overseas is akin to getting lost in the dark. Like stepping into another realm that is pitch black and every voice telling you where to go is in a foreign language. It is a time warp, the most difficult thing I have done to date. Aside from airplanes and time changes, there’s a feeling of complete alienation. Maybe it is because I am American. We view our country (even subconsciously) as the center of the universe. Our universe. But, this world is huge and even being in Istanbul for 36 hours has opened my eyes and my head to the connectivity of the large and beautiful Earth in which we live. There is an overwhelming feeling that will not leave me, almost as though I am drowning. It is not sad, more like pressure, an anxiety—to be so naked in the eyes of others. To be seen merely for what I am–an American. An English speaker. A woman. A name.

Aside from all this, I cannot get over the fact that I AM HERE! Istanbul. You see pictures in books, but to be here, to smell this air, to see the incline of the hills marked by rooftops, to be awoken from a nap by the daily prayer call that plays through the city, its rhythmic chanting, to hear cats fighting in the street, to pass men and women walking arm in arm at their leisure, to stand on the rooftop of my dorm, see the Bosporus Bridge illuminated, Asia on the other end, is something else.

Last night my roommate, neighbor, and I sat in a square around the corner from our building on stools and ate fish bread. They’re made right there in the street on a barbecue grill. Later on, after napping, we went to a hookah bar and smoked water pipe, as the Turks call it. It was lovely, like lounging in the living room of the owners. Everyone who came in and out, all men, greeted one another so warmly. We sipped tea and talked about languages and all the sublimity involved in understanding and translation.

There is so much more to write about, but I will save it for the days to come.

Word. Words

All I want is words. Write, speak, type, feel them—forming lines, sentences, consonants, syllables, overlapping. Sound. Sonics.

I was the passenger in a Black Camry this morning. Arkansas plates. Delivered to the airport. I looked out of the window. The sky was blue, masked by the white of clouds, a patch over a peak, a tuft of hair. The road construction along I-25 had finally finished. New lanes, more space to criss-cross the asphalt. But every molecule inside the car and out, was filled with words. They were written down the interstate, across my friend’s face as she drove, in the rear view mirror. Every car was made of words, the Jemez range in the distance outlined by letterforms. And it started to creep up into my eyes, my fingers, my heart, my ears.

It was giddiness. It was limitlessness. I want to write. It’s belligerence. If my eyes didn’t see the world through words, I would be blind, deaf, dead. It is a violent feeling and I want to be as close as I can be to words. Words. Word.

I’d let them kill me if they could.

People, please. Find your words, whatever the equivalent may be. It will make you feel alive.

Where We Come From

Notes from the home front

(concerning time on the road, family, and travel)

In Jacksonville, Florida, once again. My sister and I drove from New Jersey to Florida in two days. We stopped in Chapel Hill, North Carolina the first night of the trip and stayed with our cousins. They had the most lovely house–high ceilings, wood trim and warm wall colors, a loft above the kitchen, and a cozy guest room in which my sister and I slumbered.

My cousin is in the never-ending process of piecing together my paternal family tree, pinning down the origins of the name, Lombardi. We sat with him for two and a half hours as he unearthed the names and lineage of my grandfather’s parents and grandparents, cousins, uncles, aunts. As I sat beside him looking at pictures of our family, I saw my smile on my great-grandmother’s face–the way her head was pitched back, her chin jutting out, her toothy grin and wide eyes. It is the same smile that I have never been able to place because it doesn’t always feel as though it belongs on my face. The smile of my father was on an unknown boy standing with his siblings circa 1920. (Cousins of some sort or possibly our uncles when they were boys). And my brother was in every picture of my grandfather–his smile, his eyes, the entire structure of his face! (minus the nose, which is an artifact of our maternal father)

And there were other realizations as well. Us Lombardis, we are a good-looking family! All of the men in the photos were dapper, slicked back hair, and countless shots of the women, standing together in flapper garb on the rooftops of houses in Queens and New York City. Another: We are creative people–artists, teachers, musicians, painters, writers.

We departed from Chapel Hill the following morning and took state highway 501 South through North Carolina. A much welcomed break from the interstate. The road was quiet and curvy. The abandoned houses and gas stations covered in rust–weathered, silent, and becoming a part of the natural landscape they sit on. They are history, living history, like artifacts or the names and faces of my family.

(Special thanks to my cousin, Julien Lombardi, for the photos and insight).

The Bunker

My sister and I are living in a bunker in my grandmother’s basement. There are two cots, a green area rug, a space heater, seven tins of homemade christmas cookies, not to mention a storage closet of non-perishable goods and a refrigerator housing any and all of my grandmother’s (the baker) supplies–nuts, dried fruits, milk, eggs, and butter. At one time, the bunker was the place to be. Every birthday party, christening, wedding anniversary, new year’s party, Christmas Eve dinner was held in the bunker. Really, it’s a party room, fully equipped with a bar, stools, Budweiser logo lights, 1950s style paneling, ash trays adorning the typefaces for Marlboro and Chesterfields!

I was afraid to go down there as a child.It could be haunted, I thought. There could be magic genies in all the old liquor bottles, ghosts of dead family members assuming there usual spots around the bar, watching the kids dance across the floor as they sipped their whiskey sours.

The calendar is still fixed on the date of the last party my grandparents threw. My first! February 22nd, 1991. There is something strange about it all, really–like a ghost town from the old west. A reminder of what my family’s life was like before I was born and the “change of times” as my grandmother says.

But presently, the bunker it not too bad. We have our own bathroom. There is even a separate entrance for us if we want to come in late and not disturb the rest of the house. And it’s kind of ironic that we’re down here. We are protecting our polished state of mind that Santa Fe lent us and we cannot seem to shake, consumed by complete acceptance of the change we are about to embark upon, not knowing what to do from day to day. The first night home, while chatting up my family and seeing old friends, I found myself saying, “It’s all good,” quite a bit. The energy of this state and its citizens is serving to be more than I asked for. There is a lot of hysteria. But, it is all good. I anticpate waking up each morning in the bunker, ready to  say yes to any possibility the day has to offer.