Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My application essay to Georgetown and other places. I wrote it five years ago, and it still rings true. Here you go:

application essay

I run away from regrets. To run away from regrets, I must confront my fears and laziness and longing for security. That lag is what shapes my life and decisions.

I adore beauty. Beautiful songs, places, people, sights, smells, food, books. I'm trying to expand myself: To hear more of good music, read more of good books, meet more of good people. I travel to cities like Istanbul, Rome, Milan, London, Berlin, Bremen and Prague. According to me, all of these cities, including my hometown, Izmir, are like stages, which host many stories and people. All the actors and actresses leave their signs on the streets, bridges, buildings, leave their scent in the air. I read books as good as Jitterbug Perfume, 1984 and My Name Is Red. I like those unique books and their authors who look at the world from a different point of view than everyone else. I see movies as good as the Fight Club, the Matrix, American Beauty and Moulin Rouge. I am astonished by all the big and interesting inventions and discoveries made by determined people. I know people who are intelligent but who still remain down-to-earth. My parents are such people and I learn so much from them!

However, I’m never completely happy and peaceful. As I look at all the beautiful things, I get jealous. When I read a good sentence from a book, when I see a good illustration in a painting, when I hear a good song, my admiration and joy mixes with annoyance. How happy I would get if I was a beautiful person and if I created beautiful things!

I see myself a part of a big picture. I’m curious, I want to rise on my toes to see and understand more. Only when I understand more of this world, I will be able to create meaningful things. I know that I have to open eyes, observe and understand; I have to live, work, read, see, sacrifice and collect information. I know that I have to MAKE myself more beautiful to make the picture more beautiful. The easiest thing I can change and develop in this picture is myself.

My way of expressing myself has been writing up to now. It's like collecting a lot of things in you and reorganizing them in an original way. I want to produce a lot and affect a lot of people. I love to write essays on subjects I “understand”, and therefore have something to say about.

I’m sometimes bored of my every day life. Through all my responsibilities, I hardly see the beauty. I want amazing surprises to happen suddenly. Though, when opportunities do come, I can’t find the courage in myself to decide right away. I want to avoid risks.

Even right now, I’m running away from regrets. I’m working hard on an essay. I know I won’t be able to live a satisfactory life if I don’t try hard enough to reach my goals. I will have to bare regrets if I don’t live a full life. I know I have to take away so much from the world and give so much in return. I remember a saying by Lord Tennyson, a famous English poet, and repeat it to myself with a smile: So many worlds, so much to do; so little done, such things to be!

Friday, July 27, 2007

looking out of the bus window

you see a lot of people walking fast. fat people. good-looking people. well-dressed bankers. lawyers. people with thinning hair and receding hairlines. blonde frizzy hair, burnt from too much intervention. huge afros. red beautiful hair that moves as one mass. tired people. people walking fast, ignited with an unexplainable source of motivation. people waiting for the bus. crazy guy with horribly long rasta hair. two japanese men passed out from the gentle massage at the hair dresser. people talking on the phone with a smile on their faces. couples kissing. really handsome guys with perfect hair. middle aged fit women with a really rough mask on their faces, like they've been out in the cold for too long. old, tired men in trenchcoats with sleepy eyes. women in suits, tights and sneakers. small fat women. women checking themselves out on shop windows. sometimes I just pick one person and look at them hard. sometimes they have a smile for no apparent reason. interesting thing watching people when they are not interacting with anyone, when they are walking alone, submerged in their own thoughts and worries. some of them self-conscious with muscles on their faces twitching, some of them truly lost in thought. all these cells in the blood that circulates in the london streets. addicted to running. then, each of these cells has a life. each of them is in a bloated, all-so-important bubble of their own. imagine everyone having a life just like your own! so much information, so much memory and emotion, yet each of them a huge isolated bubble. they have hopes, disappointments, connections, people who care for them. and then they are just a cell in blood, so ordinary. no apparent reason to pay attention to them separately, because they are all like one another. london will spit them out soon.

how many people really pay attention to me? I think I'm so special, but noone seems to care. where do I stand on that big, invisible ladder that ranks people? we are immune to even the best now, because there are too many of them, so who should care about me when I'm clearly not the best? I hate it when people on the street look through me, turning their eyes quickly, not finding me interesting enough to really look at. I would always imagine passerby's admired me, but now I know they don't. but how many of them catch my attention anyway? we just pass by. nowadays I feel very ordinary, very unimportant. I hate that.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Turkish Elections

The incumbent Justice and Development Party has won the parliamentary elections. This result was expected, and I don't get those that are so angry and disappointed at it. Here are vote and MP distributions in 2002 and today, as of now:

AKP - 2002: 34.43%, 365; 2007: 46.62%, 340
CHP - 2002: 19.41%, 177; 2007: 20.91%, 111
MHP - 2002: 8.35%, 0; 2007: 14.27%, 71
Independents - 2002: 0.96%, 8; 2007: 5.7%, 28.

If I were in Turkey today, I would have voted for AKP. It's not because I agree with the fellows at the Economist. Having spent some time in Turkey recently, I am well aware of the government's flaws, double standards and negligence, as well as the corruption allegations that seem well-founded. Despite some journalists' willingness to portray a different picture, much went wrong during their term, and we shouldn't forget. The murder of the Council of State judges, the murder of Hrant Dink, Article 301 and rising nationalism, the uneasy current account deficit, wide-spread unemployment among the youth, soaring crime rates, unbelievably atrocious crime stories, the EU disappointment, horrendous public transportation, the derailed fast train, worries over earthquakes, drought, erosion and forest fires that remain unaddressed, the deep divides in the society - and those are not only religious or ethnic divides, they are divides between rich and poor, educated and ignorant. They simply did not do enough. And they also did not lift the headscarf ban.

But let's take a look at AKP's rivals: CHP, one that does not formulate any policy except for stirring up fear and anger against religious fundamentalists, foreign investors, businessmen, European Union. They make up the "secular elite" alongside the military, and them branding themselves secular is not enough reason for anyone to vote for them. Their leader Deniz Baykal is famous for both his ambition that undermines the success of his own party and his incompetence.

I don't need to say much about the blind, irrational nationalism of MHP. Their increasing popularity is the only thing that truly disturbs me about this election. They are abusing the sentiment about the increasing clashes between the PKK and Turkish soldiers in the South East. Although the injustices done to Kurds by the Turkish state are clear, nothing can justify the violence inflicted by the PKK. Especially after reading Mutluluk by Zülfü Livaneli, I appreciate more and more the difficulty and meaning of what our soldiers are doing there, of course all we can do is imagine, there is no way to truly understand. It is so appalling and two-faced that the US and Iraqi Kurds are not trying in good faith to stop PKK. All the same, I find it very dangerous that growing numbers of people go for the hate-inflicting, "testosterone-driven" nationalism.

Finally, Mehmet Ağar's centre-right DP lost miserably, getting only 5.43% of the vote, despite its equivalent ANAP's failure to enter the election after a doomed merger between the parties. Ağar's alleged association with the "deep state" was a big liability, although the media seemed to forget the accusations and the trials. AKP gained much ground in centre-right to the expense of DP and ANAP. Centre right is the most favourable place to stand in Turkish political spectrum.

More people will be represented in this parliament than the last one, which is good. Running independent enabled Kurdish candidates in the eastern and south eastern provinces to get around the 10% threshold for political parties. They came first in Tunceli, Muş, Diyarbakır, Şırnak, Hakkari and Iğdır. AKP increased its votes but will have a healthier, smaller majority, forcing it to come up with a compromise candidate for President (unless they try to push through the referendum option immediately.)

A new party is desperately needed. A new party made up of liberal-minded, well-qualified, idealistic yet practical people. People who won't try to gain support by simply standing on one side or the other of the religious and ethnical divides, but instead work for better education and employment for all in good faith. People who understand the world economy and the importance of being open and competitive. A party that's not just the best option among the bad.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


When you tried to kiss me
I only bit your tongue
When you tried to get me together
I only came undone

When you tried to tell me
The one for me was you
I was in your mattress
Back in 1982

I won't be soothed
Daria (yeah)
I won't be soothed over
Like smoothed over
Like milk silk a bedspread or a quilt
Icing on a cake
Or a serene translucent lake

I won't be soothed
I won't be soothed

When you tried to tell me
Of all the love you had
I was cleaning oil from beaches
Seeing only what was bad

When you tried to feed me
I only shut my mouth
Food got on your apron
And you told me to get out

I won't be soothed
Daria (yeah)
I won't be soothed over,
Like smoothed over,
Like milk, silk, a bedspread, or a quilt
Icing on a cake
Or a serene translucent lake

I won't be soothed
I won't be soothed

About being ordinary... and more

I haven't been writing since I came back to London, I miss sitting down and collecting my thoughts. I've been working, socializing and trying to work on my dissertation - very inefficiently and unsuccessfully. I want to use the Varieties of Capitalism approach to explain differences in corporate governance and countries' approaches to crossborder M&As - and maybe private equity? Disclosure? As you see I have no clue! And I don't know what I can add to the existing literature. I'm hoping to read more and more and hopefully I'll come up with a revelation.

Since I last wrote here, I finished On Beauty by Zadie Smith, went to the Cake concert in O2 arena, saw La Vie en Rose and Good Night and Good Luck, went to a really fun barbecue afternoon and a Forro place on Brick Lane. I downloaded lots of music on ITunes, all of Cake's albums (their music is so vibrant and cheerful and alive, with colorful and upbeat layers - and one layer is a recurring, hypnotic melody), Meteora by Linkin Park (I saw them on their Live Earth concert in Tokyo -on TV, but they were still amazing), and Işık Doğudan Yükselir by Sezen Aksu. Remember what I told in my previous post about music that connects directly to your heart and stirs something in you? After elementary school, I went to this road trip with my parents on the Black Sea coast. It was an amazing trip, I remember it really fondly, and this album played on tape the whole time. Davet is the sexiest song you can ever hear, and I was aware of this even when I was ten. The hazelnuts on the beach in Akçakoca, the dark shadows of the grapevines in Safranbolu, the dark green and the water lilies in Abant... I was reading Ayn Rand's the Fountainhead the whole time. From the book I remember the ice blue backless dress Dominique wears and the granite, and that's about it. So that was twelve years ago... Wow. Will those days ever come back? After years, last year in Spring Break I took a road trip in California, and that was amazing, too. I feel completely free when I'm going in the car. I feel cool and calm inside yet excited and expectant - happy, I guess.

There is so much to see and watch, so much to hear, so much history, so much variety, it blows my mind. As Orhan Pamuk wrote once, it is so tempting to stay at the point where you could do anything, actually committing to nothing. As a student I was always sure I'd do something big. I was learning something important and meaningful that would bring me somewhere. Once you actually start working, you sit on an office floor next to tens of other people, you make little money, and you ask yourself whether someone else could do what you're doing just as well as you do. And you wonder whether you should be doing something else. Or whether this leads to something bigger. I think the trick is to be able to content with what you are doing, and try to do your best at it, while always, always keeping your initial dreams at the back of your head. It's important to be content and calm, because it enables you to do something rather than continuously and restlessly searching. But now and then I should remember the initial dream and ask (again calmly) whether my job is leading me there on the greater scheme of things. Because habit makes people numb, and daily rituals and schedules are too comfortable to change, especially when you get efficient and good at something. So it's important to stop and ask every once in a while - is this really what I want to do?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Political Quiz

I used to call myself a liberal when it comes to personal freedoms and a conservative when it comes to economic freedoms. I found out this position is called a libertarian, but I also realized I'm in fact NOT one.

In most cases I believe in individual responsibility, and I'm against policies that don't give people (and companies) enough incentives to work and improve their life standards (or efficiency). But there are important exceptions where people don't have enough information, where they don't make rational decisions even when they do have the information, and their choices may have important externalities on the society. Nick Barr's class on Economics of Social Policy made me recognize these cases and converted me from an American-educated free market advocate into a centrist, if not a liberal. Sometimes private insurance leaves large groups in the society uninsured, as in the case of health insurance. Similarly, if student loans were left to markets alone, many students would not be able to receive them. Discretionary subsidies to businesses cannot be justified, but businesses may need government encouragement to increase their R&D spending.

In matters of personal freedoms too, I believe in individual responsibility and choice as long as they don't interfere with or harm others' lives. Based on this basic principle, I would argue for gay rights, but I would be against free possession and use of drugs. High demand for drugs will push poor groups in the society to become suppliers. A system that punishes poor suppliers while protecting rich demanders makes no sense to me. I'm also against free possession of guns.

I took this quiz and found out that my views make me a centrist leaning left.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Back to Black

I don't really have much knowledge on music, I'm like a clean white board, very easy to influence. I try to keep an open mind, try new things and catch up. Sometimes I'm doing something else, and someone's (or my own) ITunes library is on, and a song I've never heard before grabs my attention because it's so good. Some songs need a second chance and take listening to a few times before they grow on you. Some songs I only like, some songs I love. I listen to them over and over and over until they grow old. Then they re-appear unexpectedly after a while, in shuffle or on the radio.

What touches me most is Turkish music played with traditional instruments, like kanun, ud, and ney and clarinet. Hearing a good piece can make me really homesick in a few moments and I'll want to move back for good as soon as possible. They pull invisible strings attached directly to my heart. Then sometimes a real American song will come along in someone else's library, like John Mayer or Jack Johnson or Dave Matthews, and I will miss the uncomplicated, blunt and noisy American spirit. Or a German song that used to play in clubs all the time when we were in Munich.

I think there is something wrong if you're showing a conscious effort to understand and like a piece of music. I don't want to see music as an intellectual endeavour. I don't really like discussing about music, because I don't know much about it and I don't put much thought into it, I don't really have strong opinions. I just feel if a song doesn't grab me, it's not good for me now. It's the same thing with literature. Maybe I should be in a different state of mind to like a song or book, and I'm not there yet. Maybe I will come across it at a better time and it will hit me then.

What I love nowadays is Amy Winehouse. I had been listening to a lot of Nina Simone and Sade during exams time. Nina Simone has an attitude, she's independent. But it's not because she's so sensible and rational, she admits to being in love with someone that doesn't make sense, and she doesn't mind fighting for him. In "Do What You Gotta Do," she says:

Man I can understand how it might be
Kinda hard to love a girl like me
I don't blame you much for wanting to be free
I just wanted you to know
I've loved you better that your own kin did
From the very start
It's my own fault
What happens to my heart
You see I've always known you'd go

Now I know it'll make you feel sad
And make you feel so bad
They say you don't treat me like you should
They got ways to make you feels no good
I guess they got no way to know
I've had my eyes wide open from the start
And man you never lied to me
The part of you that they'll never see
Is the part you've shown to me

So you just do what you gotta do
My wild sweet love
Though it may mean that I'll never kiss
Those sweet lips again
Pay that no mind
Find that dappled dream of yours
Come on back and see me when you can

Sade is a bit more mellow, calm and fragile:

You think I'd leave your side baby
You know me better than that
You think I'd leave you down when you're down on your knees
I wouldn't do that

Amy is strong and weak and hurt and blunt and sincere all at once. Her music is soulful and sexy, her voice is amazing. She doesn't care in In My Bed:

you'll never get my mind right
like two ships passing in the night
in the night, in the night
want the same thing where we lay
otherwise mine's a different way
a different way from where I'm going

oh, it's you again listen this isn't a reunion
so sorry if i turn my head
yours is a familliar face
but that don't make your place safe
in my bed my bed my bed

She's in love in Back to Black:

You went back to what you know
So far removed from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track
My odds are stacked
I'll go back to black

We only said good-bye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to.....

I go back to us

I love you much
It's not enough
You love blow and I love puff
And life is like a pipe
And I'm a tiny penny rolling up the walls inside

We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to...


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Welcome Lightness of Losing

I'm writing this by the pool but in fact I started working a couple of weeks ago. My first real, paid job. Soon after I realized they expected me to show up on time and really, efficiently work for seven hours (unlike previous internships), the rush hour in London was overwhelming and just plain horrible, I wouldn't be best friends with my co-workers, and office life was monotonous. I hope to feel better (or think less) when I get a better hang of things. On top of all this, London proved to be unexpectedly cold and rainy in the summer, and they put a car full of explosives in the neighborhood I work. I'm just hoping that the odds that the same area is targeted for a second time are pretty low, unless the city is in war!

The day before my first day of work, I heard back from the FT about the internship prize I had applied for a couple of months ago. Working for the FT is my dream (although I barely read it unless I have to for work or school!) I do want to travel to developing countries and talk to people and help their plight (or uncover a plot) by writing just, honest, direct stories. That is as meaningful as it gets, something that will set me apart from everyone else in all those offices across the world. I imagined myself in cargo trousers - that special young fearless idealist journalist woman. Somebody finally discovered my huuuuuge potential.

Too much happiness makes you a little unstable and annoying, but I tried to keep my balance. I saw myself too good for my job (not exactly the best attitude to start a job when you clearly have a lot to learn!) but I did my best to keep my vanity to myself. I took pride in my modesty and tried to work hard.

Now, to keep the long story short, as there's nothing exciting about the post-interview wait and playing the interview scene over and over in your head, weighing your pros and cons, I didn't get the internship. That shouldn't come as a surprise because I haven't done anything that I aspire to do yet. I just feel much more clear-headed and balanced now. I'm excited about my life and projects again. Steve Jobs likes to tell how getting fired from the board of Apple turned out to be a good thing for him. Starting fresh is great because it is humbling. You realize your real value, and you are ready to learn and work hard to increase it.