Tag Archive for Turkish

My Turkish Fixation

Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to grab on to a new interest or hobby, beat the hell out of it with my unflagging passion, and then move on to something new. I’ve done that with authors, reading every book written by that person, good or bad; film stars or directors, watching every movie ever made by that person; even cheesecake recipes.

I’m sure there are a few people who regret that I gave up my quest to try every cheesecake recipe I ever found, just to see how it compared with the first one I ever made, also known as World’s Best Cheesecake. By the way, World’s Best Cheesecake, which was a classic New York style, reigned supreme.



My Hawaiian fixation endured for years, as I learned first hula, then ukulele, then the Hawaiian language and all the while blogged about the process. These days my obsession with all things Hawaiian has waned a bit, but only because I’ve replaced it with another cultural fixation, Turkish.

Istanbul 2007

Me on Istiklal Caddesi, Istanbul, 2007

And like my Hawaiian fixation, the Turkish fixation had waned years ago, only to surprise me by roaring back in the form of a fierce desire to achieve fluency in the Turkish language.

I studied Turkish in college and graduate school and could communicate reasonably well when I lived in Istanbul for 14 months in the mid-70s. But I was never fluent.

So for the past several years I’ve been a senior auditor at Portland State University, trying to make that language my own. Now my goal is to win a Fulbright Arts Fellowship in order to participate in Turkish society and write about it.

For the time being I’m participating in Turkish society in Portland, Oregon. This evening I’m attending a Turkish ladies’ coffee night and tomorrow I’m joining Turks and Turcophiles to see “Winter Sleep,” the new film by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. At least by now I’ve figured out how to learn Turkish: Study harder!