29 July 2010

Who was Lethe Bashar?

I knew him by his pseudonym, Lethe Bashar, but his real name was Chris. In the middle of him editing my short story The Mercy Troupers for Escape into Life, I realized his Twitter name had changed to Chris Al-Aswad.

"Who's Chris?" I asked.

"That's my real name," he said.

Lethe Bashar was the author of Novel of Life and Sentimental Education: Essays in Art.  A quick search on him and hundreds of pages testify to his prolific body of work and the number of people who read it.

I said, "So that's what happens when a pen name becomes you."

Chris wrote obsessively about art. He was gifted in showcasing artists, painters, writers, and thinkers on Escape Into Life. He brought my story to life through a handful of 140 character messages and short emails.

I didn't realize our friendship would also be so brief. Chris's obituary is in the Chicago Sun-Times. In his last blog post he writes about Sentimental Education: Essays in Art,

"I hope these essays carry a sense of experimental wonder to whomever reads them; also a love of beautiful forms, and a sadness toward self-destruction."

Thank you, Chris, for being a vital part of my journey. Your work was a gift to so many.  

image: Chris's Twitter avatarattributed to Courbet.

25 July 2010

Free Recipe Cards

From my design archives I dug out a set of vintage-inspired recipe cards I made last year. Download the free size A4 PDFs by clicking on the images below or browse my Mediafire folder for downloading. Please share and enjoy! Bon Apetit! Aftiyet Olsun!

23 July 2010

Five years in Turkey and Five Insights

Vanity, Rose Deniz 2010

This post was originally going to be tips for traveling light - a global citizen mama carries a lot of stuff across the world, but there are other ways to travel light - starting with disrobing definition and adopting changes in perspective.

Here are five insights that stem directly from uprooting myself and moving to Turkey.

1. I like to be slightly off the beaten path. I don't live in Istanbul, and I'm none the worse for it. Sometimes I get too hermit-y, but I need less stimulation in my daily life, not more, to do my creative work. Are you the kind of creative person that needs to live off the beaten track, too?

2. Saying the right thing is overrated. Observation, sharing, smiles, kind looks, accepting and offering food and drink, all help me to be expressive in Turkish. The persona I thought I adopted as a survival instinct to manage living abroad was not a veneer - it was an unused muscle, an un-actualized part of myself that had been dormant.

3. Raising kids abroad anchors me to Turkey in unexpected ways. I have to be present. My kids say and do things that put me at ease because they don't think about being half Turkish, half American. I'm learning to ignore parenting disparities and find commonalities.

4. Creativity doesn't need a rigid set of tools. I trade canvas for textile, fabric for pen and ink, then drawing tools for words depending on the space I am in. I've learned to slip in creative moments where I would have thought there was no time. Parenting brings out my creativity rather than prohibits it.

5. Words like foreigner and expat don't fit. I prefer global citizen, and being hybrid resonates with me in terms of being one of many places, with many impulses.

What have you learned about yourself from the place you are in? 

08 July 2010

Summer stories

In the maroon recliner in our living room with the overhead fan whirling, I read A Tree Grows In Brooklyn And Maggie-Now every summer until we moved from Wisconsin to Minnesota. My reading grew to include contraband paperbacks I hid behind bookshelves and the now defunct Sassy magazine.  My first summer in Turkey I read everything by Jane Austen. I measured periods of time by the books I read and the beverages I drank while processing the melodic, confusing sounds of Turkish. 

This summer I have my own story to offer - The Mercy Troupers, set in the desert and trailer parks to the tune of evangelical roadies. I scratched out the first draft when I was 21 and sitting on a park bench next to Lake Mendota. Now ten years later it's the first story I've published.

Another summer tale, shot on our Canon Powershot SX10IS and edited in iMovie, is a casting video for House Hunters International. The video peeks into our home and neighborhood in Izmit. It's a love story. And a story about leaving home.

What story, book or otherwise, is captivating you right now?