It’s so fitting that I am rambling about Ataturk and the birth of the Turkish republic, almost but not entirely oblivious to the fact that your eyes are following a very young woman as she walks away, and you will suddenly announce that we should get up and leave. You practically chase her down the street – pretending for my sake to be casual and cool. I might not even have known since I was in the store buying your beer. But since neither of you had a fucking clue about how to operate an iPhone, the exchange of information was too slow.

“It wasn’t planned, I didn’t follow her. I didn’t send you into the corner shop to buy me a beer so I could pursue her. I swear. It’s not what you think.”

The fact that I can get lost in talking about Ataturk while you chase girls – that should tell me all I need to know.




When asked what sort of superpower I would want to have, I always think I want to know exactly what people are thinking all the time. I want to know their feelings, their thoughts, their lies. I am already too sensitive to these things, and even if I can’t read the actual thoughts, I know when things are just not as they seem.

But there is a disappointing finality to knowing anything for sure, particularly when it comes to someone’s feelings, motivations and inner life. Perhaps the most disappointing thing of all is when you doubt a person, and you find out for sure, for real, that you were right – no matter how they tried to steer you otherwise. And the best part – such people imagine that if they cry, beg, and feel real guilt, that is somehow enough. Everything is okay because they feel guilt. Guilt is such a scapegoat for the conscience.

Hedging Bets, Getting Played & Consolation Prizes


Could it be that someone points the finger, lashes out at you and really unleashes thunderous cascades of shittiness because of their own self-loathing? Ranting about how awful all these other people in your life have been, and how he is so different, so very different. Not a cheater, not a liar, not someone who would hurt you. No, someone who would never hurt you. Never do anything to cause you a moment of grief. Never stop trying to do everything to make you happy. But he knows he will never make you happy because he knows full well what he is doing to negate that happiness. He reflects on all the things he has done and all the lies he told you – even if he was just trying to stroke his own fragile ego, even if he was just hedging his bets for when he fucked everything up (has to have somewhere to run when that happens), even if he was actually just playing you all along. Somewhere he finds the courage to go on with the charade because, oh, what a material loss to somehow alienate the consolation prize he has so cultivated and played.

You only asked for a time free of lies. After all, as he himself points out repeatedly, there were so many “bad people” who came before him. In most cases, though, at least those monstrosities were honest about and lived fully in the light of their asshole nature. It was visible. At least they did not pretend to be madly in love with you or secretly juggle other people on the side (no, they did that openly). They may have hedged their bets, but they did so openly. They gave you a choice as to whether you wanted to play the game rather than just playing you.

You’re not stupid. You’re just a consolation prize and you’ll do for now. You knew better.

Chicken Soup


Something like hopping on a plane and almost immediately succumbing to excruciating stomach cramps and then classic and miserable flu symptoms is about the least fun I can think of. This unfortunate fate happened to Mr Firewall, and I have been trying everything in my amateur first-aid repertoire to help him get well and make him comfortable.

One bit was my first attempt to make standard chicken soup. I am not sure how I got to this stage in my life without ever having made basic chicken soup – it just never seemed like a priority. Not to add that it’s not really my favorite soup, and I rarely have chicken on hand. I didn’t even have a whole chicken – only boneless chicken breast, which is far from ideal for this kind of thing. This time, though, it seemed that when Mr Firewall felt like eating again, chicken soup would be just the right thing.

How did I do it?

Quickly sear both sides of two large chicken breasts in about a tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven or large, heavy-bottomed pot. Remove chicken and set aside. Now you can either chop it into a few chunks to cook in the soup or cook thoroughly in another pot of boiling water to make it easy to shred.

I chopped up one red onion, one large shallot, one (cleaned) leek, two stalks of celery and two carrots and sauteed these in the pan in which I seared the chicken. Saute for about five minutes, stirring a couple of times during the process. At the very end, throw in about four thinly sliced cloves of garlic.

Add two cups of boiling water. In a separate glass, mix a half cup to one cup of boiling water with two chicken or vegetable bouillon cubes and about 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper – mix that into the sauteed veg mixture and let all simmer. Add the chicken now as well. Simmer for about 10 minutes. (If you are or have been cooking and shredding the chicken separately you can wait to add that until the last few minutes.)

After simmering, I threw the chicken in as well as about a quarter of a head of cabbage chopped into thin pieces as well as a handful of baby spinach, also roughly chopped. I also threw in two more cloves of thinly sliced garlic – and voilà – it turned out pretty well.

And everyone is feeling much better, thanks.