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Preview: POISED AT THE STARTING LINE

POISED AT THE STARTING LINE



The hopefully humourous ramblings of a world citizen who landed in Greece.



Updated: 2016-01-05T17:41:16.651+02:00

 



AHMET

2007-08-30T20:21:59.745+03:00

On my way home today, a skinny little man got on the bus and, with a small bow-like gesture, asked if he could sit beside me. I responded that indeed he could, and so he sat and gave me a shy smile, and I smiled back, and etsi started a conversation. It wasn't a terribly singular conversation, but it made an impression on me. So this, to the best of my memory (and slightly condensed), is how it went: AHMET: Where are you from? ME: Canada. AHMET: Ah! Toronto!?ME: No, Montreal. AHMET: Ah, Montreal. I have a friend in Canada. But I thought that you were from France. ME: Really, France? Why?AHMET: (Shrugs and gestures - at my attire, I suppose.) ME: So, where are you from? AHMET: Pakistan. ME: And how long have you been in Greece? AHMET: Two years. ME: And before that? AHMET: Oh, many places... many places... Always moving nowadays, you know? People are always moving, here, there. How many days are you here for?ME: I live here. Four years now.AHMET: (Total shock and incredulity registering on his face.) Why??ME: Well, my father is Greek.AHMET: And your mother? ME: Russian and Polish. (This seems to sit better with him.)AHMET: And your name? ME: Ranya. You?AHMET: Different name, Ranya. Hello, I'm Ahmet. (We shake hands.)ME: So, do you like it here? AHMET: No. It's very bad country. Not friendly to foreigners at all...ME: That's true...AHMET: You like it? ME: Well, it's got its good things and its bad things, you know? Like anywhere.AHMET: Yes... good and bad... Job good?ME: No, not really. I want to go to the islands, to a village. I think it'll be much nicer there, close to nature. AHMET: Yes, probably much better... Funny to hear different opinion about Greece! I like to hear that... Interesting.ME: What about you? Have you found a job here?AHMET: No. Two years I'm looking now and I haven't found anything. Very bad for jobs here. I'm small man, you know? So it's hard for me to find...ME: Yes, I imagine it's much more difficult for you here than for me...AHMET: Yes, very difficult. Government very corrupt, police very bad. Worst country in Europe. And now they let these people die in fires... very bad, very bad. ME: Yes. It's horrible... So, you want to leave, then? AHMET: Yes, I want to go to Spain. I have friend there. And little sister in Holland. No problems. ME: And your parents are still in Pakistan? AHMET: Yes, and my other sister. Studying medical in Islamabad. In two years she'll be doctor. Very good for me, very good for my family.ME: You must miss Pakistan. Do you ever think of going back? AHMET: Yes, of course. But very bad country, too. Government changing every two years, very corrupt. And no jobs. But maybe, if god is kind and I make money in Spain, I can go back. ME: What do you want to do in Spain?AHMET: Open business, if god is kind. You know, like McDonalds? ME: A fast food restaurant? AHMET: Yes. ME: Well good luck with that! Ahmet seemed to find this very funny (I guess relying on luck for something, instead of god's kindness?) but alas it was my stop so I bid him farewell and went to get off. As I did, though, he called out, still smiling like it was a really good joke, "Good luck to you too!" And so we parted. I wasn't going to editorialise, but allow me just one comment, please. Perhaps even more interesting than the conversation were the reactions of the Greeks and other immigrants on the bus:The 20-something Greek cool guy, studied nonchalance, eyes continuously averted and headphones in, but he managed to make his way over to near where we were sitting, and kept leaning in to hear better. The 50-something Greek man, openly staring, completely flabbergasted. The 70-something Greek woman, openly distasteful, many shakes of the head and mouth turned down in distaste. The 40-something Filipino woman, openly hostile, seemingly directed (from the angle of her glare) at Ahmed. Perhaps he was breaking some unwritten social rule by talking to me, a non-immigrant? The 30-something African dude, completely impassive. In fact, he seemed to be the only person on the bus not at all phased by our talk. And those [...]



FIRES

2007-08-30T20:22:47.623+03:00

What a sad reason to return to the blogging world, but I really feel the need to join Ellas devil and others in expressing how at a loss for words I am regarding the fires.

Or maybe I do have a word: enraged.

At whom is this rage directed? Politicians? Arsonists? I can't say. It's just kind of a blanket rage, I guess, the rage one feels when one sees something one loves being destroyed, and can do nothing to stop it.

So there's another word: impotence.

It's awful sitting here, watching the news in spurts for as long as I can take it, in a mournful, funereal silence, and not being able to DO anything. Anything to help. Anything to punish those responsible, either by their actions or by their lack thereof.

With elections looming ahead, I am left with no one to vote for. There is no lesser of two evils here - both are equally bad. Not even, anymore, a small party I can trust and rely on to not make me cringe when they state their opposition. So politically, too, I am impotent.

And what of the victims of the fires? Those who have lost their livelihoods, homes and loved ones? Is no aid being organised for them? Will there be no international relief funds set up, as there have been for numerous others the world over who have experienced tragedy of late? Karamanlis has promised those affected 13,000 euros compensation. It's almost better to offer nothing at all, no? The amount is just insulting when your home, your crops, your family is gone. And on the other hand he's got a spare million lying around for those who provide information leading to the arrest of arsonists. What should our priorities be, really? Does the need for revenge, to make someone pay, surpass the needs of the victims? Here, too, I am impotent, unable to offer any comfort, help or words of support to those whose lives have been ruined.

I can't help thinking, too, of the irony of the blood tax, a term fittingly coined by teacher dude, that these fires will no doubt serve to pay.

Most of all, however, watching the ashes fall, I feel sad and devastated at the senseless loss of our beautiful land and forests, which neither we nor our grandchildren will see restored in our lifetimes, if ever. The rains are coming next week, or so they say, and while they may aid in quenching the thirst of the fires, they will also wash away the detritus left by them - nutrient rich ashes which, if allowed to soak into the soil undisturbed, would render it fertile again. If they are washed away, the land will become completely and permanently barren.

We can only hope for the best, hope without reason that the government will manage to pull itself together in the wake of the blazes and take measures to minimize the damage, start reforestation, and most of all do whatever it can to stop the land from being developed. Sadly, I fear that none of these things will come to pass, and that the half of Greece which has been burnt will be lost to us forever.

In the face of that possibility, I am truly left speechless.

UPDATE: The Hellenic Red Cross is accepting cash donations for the purchase of essential items for those in need. These can be deposited at the following bank:

Bank of Attica
23 Omirou Str, Athens – Greece, under the indication ‘Fires in Greece'
Bank account: 069/84298361
IBAN: GR54 0160 0690 0000 0008 4298 361
Swift Code: ATTIGRAA XXX

For details, visit www.redcross.gr/files/preliminary_emergency_appeal.pdf

Thanks to buruburu for the link.



HOW TO TRAIN YOUR BOYFRIEND TO LET THE CAT ON THE BED

2015-03-07T02:14:36.275+02:00

Having a boyfriend can be a great thing. They’re cute, cuddly and entertaining, and offer companionship for many years. They are even know to reduce stress! Many people own boyfriends, and mostly the experience is a rewarding and pleasurable one. However, every now and then boyfriends can exhibit undesirable behaviour which they must be trained to suppress. Unfortunately, unlike cats, training boyfriends can be a bit tricky.

For example, imagine the following situation. A new cat enters your life and moves in with you. Your boyfriend, though normally an easy going and open minded dude, and though not overall averse to having a new playmate, may nonetheless become exceedingly territorial about one particular area, an area which was previously uniquely his domain: the bed.

The reasons for this reactionary behaviour are unclear. Perhaps it is simply a matter of instigating boundaries and maintaining control? Perhaps it is the thought of urine and faeces being tracked directly from litter box to bed? Perhaps it is indeed, as he claims, a matter of not being able to sleep for fear of turning and squishing said cat?

Whatever the root of the problem, finding a solution can be difficult. When all attempts to reason with boyfriend have failed, when boyfriend flat out refuses to sample – just for one night – how pleasurable it is to have a cat snuggled up in the crook of your knee or arm, purring away, when boyfriend turns up nose at all proffered treats and bribes, it’s easy to get frustrated and not know what to do.

But there is a solution out there! Our new, scientifically proven training method has been specially designed to make stubborn, recalcitrant boyfriends come round to your way of thinking. Now you, too, can alter your boyfriend’s troublesome behaviour – and all for the low low price of $29.99! Call today to learn more, and you'll soon be sleeping well at night with your boyfriend to one side… and your cat to the other.

END ADVERTISEMENT

Please, if anyone knows where I can get this product, or how exactly it works, could you let me know? Thanks,
R.

UPDATE: Six months later and I'm happy to report that not only does Ziggy enjoy the comfort of our bed nightly, but the boyfriend has fallen deeply deeply in love with him, slathering him with love and attention and care, playing with him for hours upon hours, feeding him gourmet cat food and petting him and greeting him the second he walks in the door and... and... in general spoiling him rotten. Hmmm. I think I might be a bit jealous... Hazo baba!



Ladies and Gentlemen, meet... ???

2007-06-12T11:57:52.358+03:00

(image)
(image)
So this is my new baby, everyone. Isn't he adorable? We have not decided on a name, yet... are torn between "Ziggy" and "Samba" (short for Sambucca) and can't decide because "Ziggy" is cooler, but harder to say, and "Samba" in Greek (so says my boyfriend anyway) sounds like a girl's name. So I said, pretend its name is "Sambas" cause anyway when we address it that will be said as "Samba"... but he didn't seem convinced...
Any ideas? Ziggy? Samba?




GREEK ANECDOTES ANTHOLOGY

2007-04-24T23:49:46.584+03:00

I just read one very funny post on Melusina's blog about crossing the street in greece and almost died laughing. I then skipped on over to Flubberwinkle's blog and found a very similar, in terms of style and humour, post about seat lurkers on the bus in greece... and almost died a second time.And at that very moment, the germ of an idea sprung into my head. Within a few seconds it had blossomed, and a pretty neat idea I think it is.Many of us blogging in Greece have written humorous, anecdotal-style posts about various aspects of modern greek life and society. These anecdotes are like 'snapshots,' if you like, perfectly conjuring some small splinter of life that is generally banal to those of us who live here, but mad-sounding to anyone who doesn't. And when we read it we, too, realise how mad it is, and that we would almost have become inured to that madness (and what a sad thing that would be) were it not for the post.Well, I think these little anecdotes deserve more than being relegated to the dusty corners of the archives section of our blogs. I think we should start collecting them together and, once we've done so and a final selection has been made, maybe post them on a separate blog of their own, or maybe even a real collective web page - if some web savvy person is willing to come up with one - or some other clever idea I can't think up on my own. Suggestions are welcome.So, in detail, here's what I propose:NOMINATING:- In the comments below this post, 'nominate' posts that you think are worthy of being anthologised.- Please include: 1. the name of the post 2. who wrote the post 3. a brief description of the subject matter 4. a link to the post.- Please read previous nominations and avoid nominating a post which has already been nominated once.- Nominated posts can be written in Greek or in English.- Feel free to nominate your own posts.- All nominations MUST be published ANONYMOUSLY (to avoid any potential hurt feelings). (All other comments, re. the idea in general, do NOT have to be anonymous).- Nominated posts should be similar in subject matter and style to the description above. i.e they should be: humourous in nature about a single EVERYDAY aspect of Greek life something that most Greeks/foreigners living in Greece will have experienced, too.- Nominated posts should not be purely complaints about some part of Greek society the author does not like. i.e. if it is complaining, at least it should be doing so humorously, and not be denigrating Greeks or Greece as a collective whole (or anyone else for that matter).- If you have previous posts that almost meet these requirements but don't quite (e.g. you talked about several things in one post) it would be a good idea to re-post a modified version of the original so that it can qualify. Or write a whole new one!VOTING:-Once a reasonable number of posts have been nominated (do I have to specify a number in advance? I think it'll become clear when we've exhausted the supply, and can just play it by ear. What do you think?) I will, after a week's advance warning, 'offically close' the nominating period.- From that point on, all further nominations will be rejected (ie deleted) and the voting period will begin.- in the comments of this post again, 'vote' for the posts that you think deserve to be included in the anthology by referring to them by NAME and AUTHOR.- Vote for as many posts as you like, several within one comment if you like, or each alone.- Again, all votes must be ANONYMOUS.- Please be honourable, and only vote for each post once.- I will post a one week warning before the end of the voting period (again, I assume it'll become obvious when voting has tapered off, but if you think it should be more restricted let me know) and then voting will be closed.At that point I will tally the results and publish a list of the chosen posts... and [...]



THE BIRTHDAY CAKE CONSPIRACY

2015-03-07T01:37:35.918+02:00

It being my boyfriend's birthday tomorrow, I decided to bake him a birthday cake. However, not being the most experienced of cake-bakers (and, OK, being a bit lazy), in a remarkable show of foresight I stopped by my local supermarket last Friday and purchased 1 box of Betty Crocker devil's chocolate cake mix and 1 (very large-looking indeed) tub of her icing.Past experience has sold me on the Betty Crocker icing - I can never get mine quite as thick and creamy as she does - and so I figured her mix would equally surpass mine. In that I was not disappointed. Carefully following the instructions, I mixed in the eggs, butter and water (adding tons of bitter chocolate chunks to the mix, cause my boyfriend is a chocoholic) and poured the batter, as per the written instructions, into a TWENTY-SIX centimetre cake tin. The cake came out of the oven, and a sneaky taste off the bottom confirmed that yes, Betty makes a mean chocolate cake.All well and good. But then came time to spread the icing on the cake. Being (as aforementioned) a bit lazy, rather than make 2 separate cakes for a layer cake I usually just slice a normal cake in half and slip a bit of extra icing in between. Well thank goodness for my laziness! Having used a very average amount of icing as filling , I slapped on the top half of the cake and started spreading the rest around to cover the sides and top. However, it soon became clear that the icing that remained in the tub was barely going to suffice for decent coverage. Intrigued, I looked at the directions and, lo and behold, in plain lettering on the side of the very large-looking tub, it was indicated that the amount of icing held within is only sufficient for a TWENTY-THREE centimetre layer cake.OK, so this was not actually a huge problem as, for good measure, I was going to cover the icing with a thick sprinkling of chocolate shavings, thus concealing any patchy bits. BUT WHAT IF THIS WERE NOT THE CASE? What if I wanted JUST a nice, thick creamy layer of icing over a 26 centimetre layer cake? And what if I were not so lazy, and had actually made two separate cakes, thus creating a much greater side area to be covered? Well, I'll tell you what if. I would have to buy a SECOND pot of icing - a pot whose contents would largely go unused, thus prompting me to make a second cake, purchasing a THIRD tub of icing, so as not let the contents of the second tub go to waste.Now, I'm pretty sure this is not simply an oversight on the part of Betty Crocker. After all, she's been in the business of making cakes for a quite some time now, and surely during that period someone has pointed out to her the 3 centimetre discrepancy. No, I am left with no option but to conclude that Betty is a sneaky little b**** who has come up with a clever ploy to make us bake (and eat) more cake than we want to. So given this scenario, when I slip into my little string bikini this summer and see more unsightly bulge than I'd like to, I'll know who to blame. Yes, I'm talking to you, Ms. Betty Crocker.But now for the icing on the cake - metaphorically speaking this time. As a final touch I wanted to spike the cake with birthday candles. And, since my boyfriend inconveniently refused to stop getting older at the age of 24 (and has now reached a whopping 31) this meant buying 2 packs of candles as the largest pack available only contains 24 (leaving me with a - rather useless since I don't know any 17-year-olds - surplus of candles). But anyway, I sucked it up, bought the two packs, and went to put them on the cake - only to realise that along with each set of 24 candles only TWELVE of those little plastic candle holders-that-stop-the-wax-dripping-all-over-the-cake were included. What the %#*$??? What use to me are 24 candles if I've only got TWELVE candle holders? What am I supposed to do - whittle the ends of the candles down so that two will fit in each holder??? By my calculations, in order to have enough[...]



SHAME ON ET3! BAN ANIMAL CIRCUSES!

2007-02-10T21:23:23.527+02:00

I am sitting here with the TV on mute in the background, by chance on channel ET3. As usual on a Saturday evening, they're showing footage from a circus... you know, the kind you usually sit in a big tent to watch, but on TV instead. Who watches this show every week I don't know, cause it's deathly boring - just people doing lame stunts and tricks and the like, but today is different; I just glanced over and saw that they've got THREE TIGERS and a guy FORCING THEM TO DO TRICKS with a LONG ROD on. I am so #%&*$#% furious right now I can't express it. It's bad enough that they give permission to the animal circuses (most of them from Italy) to even perform in Greece - just yesterday I saw a truck drive by advertising YET ANOTHER one, and thoroughly cursed it to hell - but now they are being SANCTIONED and essentially advertised on STATE TELEVISION.
Have we learnt nothing? Do the people taking their kids to watch these things not realise what is happening to these animals behind the scenes? Things that would make their kids have nightmares for weeks if they were to see them?
AAAAAAAGH.


On a more positive note, yesterday I attended the (wonderful) Thanassis Papakonstantino concert, which was being held to raise funds for the 'Steki Metanaston' - a group for immigrants' rights and support. The place was packed and full of high spirits, and hopefully lots of money was raised... will post at greater length tomorrow or Monday on the show/collective. There was also a protest today at Omonia for immigrant rights, but I'm afraid that after standing for 5 hours last night and getting up early for a greek lesson my poor body couldn't face it... If anyone else attended let me know how it went...



IT'S MY FUNERAL AND I'LL PLAY WHAT I WANT TO

2007-02-05T00:04:47.712+02:00

I’ve been tagged (cursed?) by toomanytribbles! For the top five songs I’d play at my own funeral. Wow. And no I’ve never considered this before. But it’s very High Fidelity – which is a great book and movie – so I’ll do it.
It’s REALLY tempting to come up with the 5 funniest titles I can think of (eg Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, The Jam's 'Going Underground', or The Pixies ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’) but I’ll resist the urge and try to take this semi-seriously.
Problem is, I really don’t want a typical funeral, people crying and blabbing on about what I was like… just dump me in the ground or cremate me thank you very much, show’s over – no service, definitely no church, and no dumping a huge bill for the ceremony on those I leave behind.
Hmmm. I may have been watching too much Six Feet Under of late.
However, I suppose the loved ones I’ve left behind will want to get together to mourn me somehow, and how better than a party? So, the top 5 songs that I, as DJ, would play at my hopefully-not-too-weepy funeral party:

1. The Beta Band – Dry the Rain
Manages to be melancholy and uplifting at the same time. And always a favourite of mine.
[alas no video available]


2. Baz Lurhman – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

My last chance to dispense words of advice to any youngsters I might have left behind. Especially appropriate if I’ve died of skin cancer – but then, of course, it might be considered a bit tasteless.

(object) (embed)


3. INXS – Never Tear Us Apart

For my significant other. Unless he’s managed to beat me to the punch. In which case, what the hell, play The Pixies ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’.

(object) (embed)


4. Cousteau – Of This Goodbye

Well there’s gotta be ONE "go on and have a good cry, then" number, right?
[alas no video available]


5. Paul Weller – Long Hot Summer (live)

Has that melancholy ‘it’s all over’ feel. Also hopefully my life will have been like one long hot summer. Also – I've got my reasons… let's just say this one’s a must. And it's gotta be played last.

(object) (embed)
[NOT the right version, but will have to do.]

Now... mwah ha ha... who to tag... definitely teacher dude, cause I like his taste in music and he'll probably figure out a way to turn this into a neat-o lesson... documentarist - who wants to bet that a song by The Cure will make its way onto her list? And, lastly, emilyz cause I think it's about time she got tagged for something!



THE BEST OF INTERACTIVE FLASH ART, FLASH TOYS & FLASH GAMES

2007-04-30T01:06:26.825+03:00

It’s been a slow couple of weeks at work so I’ve had plenty of time to fiddle around the Net finding fun things to do – all under the pretext of ‘conducting research’, if anyone asks. And what I’ve been looking at is stuff made with the program Flash.Of late, I’ve become increasingly interested in the potentials of flash, and especially interactive flash art, which, in a world where sliced cow is heralded as a masterpiece because everything else has been ‘done’, may just be the last ‘real’ art left for us to discover. And there truly are some insanely gifted people out there. Moreover, thanks to the web, their art is instantly and easily accessible to us, within the comfort of our own homes, so long as we can afford the cost of Internet.So, rather than keep this plentiful entertainment to myself, I’ve decided to compile a list of my personal faves – the crème de la crème of what flash artists have to offer - from interactive art and toys, to games where the point is to enjoy the process rather than experience the dubious glory of shouting “I won, I won!” to an empty room after hours of nail biting action. Are you ready to become glued to your screen for at least the next week? Sure? Have you got a recent version of the flash plug-in installed? Your headphones and mic plugged in? OK then, here we go!INTERACTIVE ARTYugo Nakamura, at yugop.com, is the most out-there and ‘arty’ of the bunch. The pieces have a relaxing and meditative quality to them - in contrast to the site, which is alas rather hard to navigate - but here are the highlights as I see them.I can’t find a direct link for the first one, but it should come up automatically as you enter from the main page. If not, click on number 06 (at bottom left) to access JAMPACK, set it to ‘semi-automatic’ and click to create bubbles, then click on one and move it to bounce them all around. The longer you hold down the mouse button, the bigger the bubble you create.Fun, no? Also try:BORDERSClick on the screen to change the type of waves, and move your mouse around to make them undulate.BLACK RIBBONClick on the screen to start your ribbon, then move the mouse around to make it grow and spin. Ooooh. Hours of fun.He’s got TONS more neat stuff in the archives section – well worth sifting through it to find what you like. Some downloadable stuff too, like CLOCKBLOCK, which is a clock screensaver where each digit is represented by video of a hand stacking blocks.Next, from the no-doubt twisted mind of zefrank, who 'likes you the best', no less, come a collection toys, art and games guaranteed to satisfy your urge for interactivity. Here is some of the artier stuff - scroll on down for the toys and games.MEDITATION FLOWERSLovely. That's all I've got to say. Oh, and you'll need a mic hooked up to your computer.SOUNDMAKERFor those noisemakers out there. With psychedelic images to boot. I tried to get a rhythm going, then just gave up and enjoyed bathing in the random sounds and looking at the images, which is why this goes under 'A' for Art.WHAT WE WANTAn interactive, ever shifting collage of facial features, crossed with personal ads. Click then browse over to change the parts. Weird, but thought provoking.Last in the Art section, a little something from westykid, who gets my vote for being the most personable-sounding of the bunch. More on him further down; for now just enjoy...WINDMACHINE MONSTERInsane, but too cool. Just keep clicking the machine thing, and get a… ummm… treat.TOYSNEW! FEED THE HEAD Undoubtedly thought up by someone on heavy doses of drugs, Feed the Head is nonetheless undoubtedly cool. Although the swallowing your own eyeball bit is rather gross. And the animals in the brain are just plain weird. NEW! ACROBOTSHelp piles of colourful acrobots perform gravity-defying stunts. As promised, more stuff fr[...]



BLOG ON BLOGGING ON BLOGGING ON BLOGGING...

2006-11-16T20:35:53.985+02:00

Ellas Devil tagged me, ages ago, for the meme about blogging that’s been going round, and thanks to my lengthy absence I’ve only just noticed. But I always say better late than never, so here goes!Do you like the look and contents of your blog?Well, given that I've just spent the last two days giving my blog a facelift, yes I like the looks! It was a real pain in the butt to do, too – all these little image bits that had to be downloaded, adjusted, uploaded… and they still didn’t all work out right but I don’t think anyone will notice unless they look real close… I hope. But I like the colours – vibrant and lively, and not quite as pink as the last one (though still too pink for some - you know who you are! What can I say? I like magenta!)Regarding content - I usually end up thinking everything I’ve written is drivel a day or two after posting it, and I always have the uneasy feeling that I should be posting about some stuff that is, I dunno, a bit more serious and important maybe? But I suppose I have managed to produce some vaguely amusing stuff here and there...Does your family know about your blog?I told my mom about it but she didn’t ask to see it so I didn’t volunteer the info. Perhaps she was being ‘sensitive to my needs’ and didn’t want to push me into telling her. Such is our relationship, sigh. My dad doesn’t know a computer from a vacuum cleaner, so he’s out too. I did tell my stepmom about it – I think she’d like it – but she doesn’t have a connection at home and isn't likely to check it out the rare times she heads over to the net café. I can’t remember if I told my brothers or not, but they’re self-involved teenagers so what would they care!Can you tell your friends about your blog? Do you consider it a private thing?I have done. Most of my friends have blogs, too – check them out in my blogroll! As for private - private shmivate! If I wanted it to be private I'd write it down on paper in a journal and hide it under my bed. As soon as you've posted something on the WORLD WIDE web, your privacy has gone out the window - you never know who'll stumble across your 'carefully guarded' secrets... in fact, SEVERAL old friends of mine that I'd completely lost touch with found me just by chance - which, though it was nice to hear from them again, was kind of freaky. I mean, I immediately started ticking over all the people I have known in my life to make sure there isn't anybody out there that I DON'T want to be found by...Do you read the blogs of those who comment on your blog? Or do you try and discover new blogs?I generally read the blogs of the people who've left comments - on other people's blogs, too, not just mine. Especially if it's an interesting comment. There are so many excellent blogs out there though, and so little time to read them all, that mostly I keep it local unless something really catches my fancy. I definitely don't go trawling through random blogs hoping something good will come up.Did your blog positively affect your mind? Give an example...Ummmm… in that it has helped me to not entirely lose my ability to speak English within a limited English-speaking environment, and has kept my writing muscles limber, yes. Therapeutically/psychologically speaking? I’m not so sure. I enjoy writing the posts, cause I enjoy writing generally. I enjoy having a 'captive audience' that I can blab away at (my mom always called me a chatterbox)... but I don't enjoy the feeling of guilt I experience when I look up at the clock and realise I've whittled away the entire evening doing it, especially when there is something else I could have/should have been doing (I have time management issues). And I don't think it really helps me get things off my chest or deal with my issues in the way that it seems to for other people. B[...]



So, how's the water?

2006-11-14T00:38:12.184+02:00

Well. It's Sunday evening, I've got a pile of laundry waiting to be hung out and a sink full of dishes begging to be washed, so this seems like an excellent opportunity to ignore all that and dip my toes in the water again, so to speak, by attempting to write a new post.But what to write about? Is blogging like riding a bike, or have I lost the knack of spewing my guts out in the hope that some poor soul will actually find my ramblings interesting?I suppose I should begin by reporting a truly miraculous occurrence - miraculous to me, at least.This past weekend my father came to Athens... for the SECOND TIME in as many months.Wow.Now this is a man who, it would seem, is bound by a sturdy iron chain - one end of which is strapped round his ankle and the other end to the bottom of the huge gangly olive tree that has sprouted, for at least the last couple hundred years, at the foot of our garden, in the middle of the fields and sheep where our house is situated, on the outskirts of the village of Molivos on the island of Lesvos.(My my, it seems that my sentences have grown since last I wrote. Bear with me.)This event, of my father's multiple visits, is miraculous because, as far as I know, and excluding the last couple of months, my father has only ventured away from his beloved garden (which will surely wither and die if deprived of two days of his attention) to come to Athens twice IN THE LAST TEN YEARS. And then for only half a day. But both these times he has actually stayed the whole weekend!Now, either he's finally figured out (two years down the road) that he has a daughter with a comfortable permanent residence (where he is more than welcome to stay) and the requisite sofa and TV available for his nap time, or it just so happens that two weddings have gone down here in Athens in the last months that actually demanded his attendance.The first wedding was my second-cousin's (the big sister of the cousin/parter in crime often referred to in these pages) and was a lovely event - everyone, besides the stressed-out bride, enjoyed themselves thoroughly and, to digress a moment, I can truly say it was the best wedding I've ever attended. It took place in a small church somewhere near Peania or Kanza (on the outskirts of Athens - and we nearly died driving there in the rain thanks to bad signage which led to us driving ONTO an off ramp of the Attiki Odos - but that's another story). Thankfully the rain stopped just in time for the ceremony, the setting was lovely, the priest genial (he even cracked jokes throughout the ceremony), the dress simple and elegant, and the guests for the most part dressed with a modicum of taste - a first for me at any Greek social event! And actually a disappointment as I was deprived of my usual favourite pastime at such boring social drags: mocking the elaborate bespangled costumes of the other guests.However this was more than made up for by the reception, held in the Italianate courtyard of a winery (if that's what they're called) with excellent booze, gourmet food, and the amusing pastime of running around with my cousin and other assorted relatives, watching as they tried to sneak cigarettes away from their parents' eyes. It was like being 16 all over again! One girl actually announced she was going to the bathroom, then waited expectantly until it dawned on me that I was supposed to follow her. Good grief.Mind you, the ceaseless 'kai sta dika sas' (and to yours) got a bit tiresome, not to mention being told about 6 times in a row that 'did you know so-and-so is your third cousin' (I hadn't known at the beginning of the night, but by the end I was starting to wish that the family connection between me and the girl, a rather insipid creature in a neon-green bouffant mini-dress, could be severed immediately) but despite thes[...]



TELL YOUR FORTUNE WITH YOUR iPOD!!!

2006-11-12T22:53:23.504+02:00

This meme was too cute to resist. The idea is, you set your iPod to shuffle, then press next for every question. The song that comes up is the answer to the question! Neat huh?I got some freakily sensical (OK that's not a word, but it should be - as in the opposite of NONsensical) answers (or maybe I'm reading too much into them?)This is also a good way to take a peek at what other people are listening to (and yes, I have very diverse taste in music). Feel free to post your results in the comments, or just link to them. (I suppose any mp3 player will do, even just iTunes, Winamp or Media Player on your computer - so long as you don't cheat and look ahead. Unless the iPod specifically has some supernatural powers. Let me know what you used to see if there's a difference in clarity!)Look forward to reading them!How am I feeling today? Tora kai ego tha ziso (Now I Too Will Live) – Haris AlexiouIf only I didn't have to work so much at the moment, this might actually be true. Perhaps it's what my subconscious is demanding. Will I get far in life? Here Comes Your Man – The PixiesAn ambiguous - and rather disturbing - answer. Apparently where I get in life will depend on my man. But whether this man will help me get far or not isn't specified. A closer look at the lyrics is not especially revealing - all that seems clear is that there will be a "wait so long".How do my friends see me? Sure Thing – St GermainUmm...? I guess I can live with that. When will I get married? I’ll Stop the World I’ll Melt With You – Nouvelle VagueNot much help in fixing a specific date, but this song certainly seems to suggest marriage is in my future. Humph.What is my best friend's theme song? Hallelujah – The Happy MondaysI certainly hope this will turn out to be true. What is the story of my life? Naïve Song - MirvaisHa! If only it weren't true. What was high school like? We Used to Be Friends – The Dandy WarholsSuccinct and to the point. How am I going to get ahead in life? I’ll Smash Some Mugs – Eleftheria ArvanitakiA reference, I think, to the fact that I have to be more forceful in how I confront the world and obstacles. Also perhaps a nod to THE BIG PLAN (those who know what it is should get it), which leads me to interpret this as a sign that it'll be a success. What is the best thing about me? Word Up! – Cameo I don't get it. Can someone help me out on this one? Lyrics not clear either.How is today going to be? Freedom – George MichaelGiven that it is almost midnight, I'll take today to mean tomorrow. Leading me to believe that perhaps I won't make it in to work as planned. What is in store for this weekend? Move On Up – Curtis MayfieldOK!What song describes my parents? Smooth Criminal – Michael JacksonHmmm... Interpret this as you choose. Given that the question states "parents" and my parents are entirely different people, it's a bit of a tricky one. What song describes your grandparents? Like Tears in Rain - CovenantAll passed away... all had hard lives... pretty sad, but true.How is my life going? What a Man – Linda LyndellAgain a reference to a man. Either this is because I have too many lovey songs on my iPod, or my man is pretty important to my life. And, according to Linda Lyndell, a mighty fine man he is. Which, come to think of, I agree with! So I guess that's one good thing about the way my life is going. Maybe the iPod didn't want to hurt my feelings by mentioning the rest...What song will they play at my funeral? Step On – The Happy MondaysAgain strangely appropriate. I just might play that at my funeral, too. Wait and see. How does the world see me? Extreme Ways - MobyHa ha! I wish. "Extreme" is something I aspire to but most of the time I think I just manage to scratch the bottom rung o[...]



IT'S NOT JUST GREECE - INTERNATIONAL BUREAUCRACY SCANDAL REVEALS!

2006-11-14T00:18:39.800+02:00

This is for everyone who complains about Greek bureaucracy, and thinks it's not a problem anywhere else in the world. It's for all those foreigners who incessantly complain, and for all those Greeks who regard me dubiously when I tell them their country is not the only one with a red tape problem.It is an e-mail my friend in Canada sent to the government office in charge of issuing drivers' licences. And if you didn't know better, you'd swear it was Greece!Read on and you'll see..."There are many things that I can complain about the SAAQ. Getting my first driver's license has been more trouble than it is worth. first the strike last year - occurred the day before my original written exam -after already waiting over 2 months to do that, I had to wait another 2 months. when finally I was able to write my exam it took over five hours to get through it, even though the test only took 20 minutes. I was shuffled around from one line to another - never receiving even a smile from a single employee.my driving exam was scheduled in late April - the earliest appointment available was on June 7th. over a month and a half later! my "appointment" was for 12:10 pm. the security guard at the front door of the henri bourassa center wouldn't let me take a number until the time of my "appointment". this should not be called an "appointment for a driving exam", as you call it, rather it should be an "appointment to take a number." finally as I walked into the waiting room, almost every single employee left their windows and went off to lunch - leaving me sitting and waiting for almost two hours while employees wandered around doing nothing. why would you schedule an "appointment" in the beginning of the lunch hour? it just get things even more backlogged. ridiculous that I could see all of the employees chatting in the back room and ignoring the 300 people waiting to be served - why aren't the breaks staggered like any other place of business - you can't send all of your employees to lunch at the same time without closing the shop!!!Finally being allowed to take my exam, and passing it, just to come back and get ANOTHER NUMBER (this being the fourth or fifth) to wait to have my photo taken. while getting my photo taken, the woman noticed an error in my address (which I had just changed with the first agent I spoke with (I wrote it down for him and he STILL didn't enter it correctly) she changed it by removing one letter from the street name (good thing she knew Decarie and how it was spelled)finally after almost three hours (better than last year but still too long) I was free. having been given a temporary piece of paper permit and being told that I would get my license by the 16th of June. well, today is the 16th, it isn't here and the rude man that I just spoke with on the phone told me that it's MY responsibility to got BACK to the saaq AGAIN and have my picture taken again and they would mail it again AFTER that.it is utterly ridiculous the way that I have been treated by all the employees that I have encountered at the saaq both last year and this year. the man on the phone basically called me an idiot by telling me that maybe I didn't see it in my mailbox. excuse me? I’m not blind, or I wouldn't be allowed to drive. I have a herniated disk in my lower back (partly due to sitting and waiting so long at the saaq last week) and can't even get out of bed for another week and yet, I am expected to get to the saaq before June 26th to have you take a photo that you already have on file - twice.the service that I have received from your "company" (if only it were privatized maybe we would get some real service) is abominable, shameful, and disgusting. your employees (thanks to the union probably) lack enthusiasm and [...]



SUMMER IS OFFICIALLY HERE

2006-11-14T00:42:59.501+02:00

Hi faithful blog readers... if there are any left?
This is just to let you know that I have not dropped off the face of the earth, died and gone to heaven or hell, joined the trend and moved back to Canada, or any such thing. I have quite simply been:
- taking care of some mundane practical matters in my life (like the messy state of my house, the empty state of my refrigerator, and the scattered state of my brain. I guess I'm having one of those "I've got to be a responsible adult" months.)
- racing to watch seasons two and three of Six Feet Under, which we finally managed to get our hands on, before Panos leaves for Mitilini this Monday (we finished both seasons last night - yes that's 2 seasons in under a month. And I have to say we have become increasingly disappointed and disillusioned with the series as it goes on. Please, someone, does season 4 get any better? As in, does any of the black humour, focus on at least semi realistic drama, etc, come back?)
I have also more recently been:
- On a short (5 day) vacation to Sifnos last week. Which was very nice. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share with you as the digital camera broke on the first day. Grrr. I must say though that the real pics, taken with my Exacta of course, are amazing. Maybe I'll do a brief write-up on what I though of Sifnos in the next few days. Maybe. If it rains and cools down a bit.
Which brings me to the fourth and last thing I've been doing recently: melting from the heat. I mean seriously, guys, when it's 37 degress out, who can be bothered to site on a sweaty desk chair near a box emitting even more heat, rather than just wilting somewhere on the bed? Besides, the ceiling fan (newly installed by handyman Panos!) is in the other room.

Besides that not much new. Just saw the Botero exhibit this morning, which was pretty fantastic. Oh, and yeah, I'll soon be boyfriend-less for the next month till I join him on the island in August (nothing compared to the near-3-month separation we underwent last summer!) Also am hating my job more and more with each passing day. Gotta figure out something temporary I can do until The Plan is put into effect, cause I don't know how much more I can take.
And c'est tout.

So postings to this site will most likely be fairly erratic for the summer - and non-existent in the month of August, but bear with me. We should be back up and running during the winter months!

Besides, it's SUMMER. Go OUTSIDE. You shouldn't even be online right now! Go to the sea or something. Sunbathe on your balconies! Drink frappe at an outdoor cafe! Whatever! Just get out there and enjoy yourselves!

KALO KALOKAIRI!!!!



IN WHICH WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE

2006-11-14T00:23:34.507+02:00

I've been reading and watching and thinking along with everyone else about that little boy, Alex, who was murdered. It truly is horrific and tragic and has made all of us stop and think - about what I'm not sure - many scattered thoughts are tossing about in my brain as I try to comprehend how children could do such a thing.But one thought that seems to be crystallizing - at least in the posts and comments I've read - is whether or not the murder was racially motivated.Personally, I think it more likely that Alex was murdered because (from the looks of his photo and what has been said about him) he was a sweet, sensitive, fragile little boy who wore glasses. That's all the reason kids need - kids filled with hate, that is. And if race came into it, I think it was more likely that they were trying to find a "good" reason for hating him (because it's really hard to say outright that you hate someone for being happy and good) - a reason society conveniently provided.But there's no question that hate was the cause, and hate at that age can only come from the surroundings. In a way, the kids responsible are just as much victims as Alex; victims of a society that bred such hate and unhappiness in them that they were capable of committing this terrible act. And while it's possible that these kids would have grown up to be awful people, it's just as possible that they would have risen above their milieu. Just because you're a savage at the age of 12 or 13 doesn't mean you'll end up as one. From the kids I've observed there's a tendency when they're in packs for the worst in them to come out, the most primitive and animal. Who's to say, they might have outgrown that.Or perhaps the enormity of what they have done will somehow shock them into realising how awful hating is; perhaps they may grow up to be decent people as a result of what they did - people who will carry with them for the rest of their lives the burden of it. Neither can I believe that they've spent the last months sleeping sweetly - if there was an adult involved, I suspect they were coerced into silence, or so terrified at the magnitude of what they'd done that they didn't know what to do, and have been wretched and terrified all these months. I'm hoping that's the case anyway, cause to believe otherwise is really to accept that mankind is evil - something I try to avoid. Even when adults are horrible, hateful and racist, I try to imagine what they might have been through that made them that way - not to excuse them necessarily, but to understand what makes them tick better, to understand better how to prevent more children from growing into people like that, and maybe even to understand how better to convince them change their minds.So while first I mourn for Alex and his mother, I also mourn for the other kids involved, who were victims of their society and who will have a heavy burden to carry with them all their lives.The other thought which struck me is one I encountered on Devious Diva's post on the subject - the notion that "we are all responsible, in some way, for what has happened". We are all (well, most of us) resposible because we allow this society of haters to continue unattacked. We generally don't challenge, we don't speak out, we don't try to nip hatred in the bud. Perhaps your first reaction is "that's not true, I'm always speaking out against hatred and racism." I'll be honest, it was mine. But then I realised that the people I "speak out against it" to are the already converted, or the "safe" ones; that often I won't confront the people who need to hear it most because I have too much to lose. An example:I don't hesitate to try to convince my aunt for hours that all the[...]



MY SOUL, MY SOUL FOR A HOT SHOWER

2006-11-12T22:53:22.089+02:00

I am currently sitting here killing time while waiting for four pots of water on the stove and my kettle to boil.
Why?
Because my thermosifono has been broken for three days now and I simply CANNOT muster the courage to take YET ANOTHER freezing shower.

It was OK the first day, when it was a really hot sweaty night.
The second day I just kind of splashed some water around and called it a shower.
Today I'm seriously wondering if those people who say cold showers are good for your health are off their rockers. Do they really mean ICY cold? Or just lukewarm?
So I've run a shallow bath with cold water, and am dumping the hot water in, one pot at a time.
This might take a while. I started with one pot and the kettle... It didn't really seem to take the icy edge of at all... So now I'm waiting with all burners going full throttle...
Next thing you know the fuse will blow.

Why haven't I called a plumber?
BECAUSE MY BOYFRIEND THINKS HE CAN FIX IT HIMSELF.
What a cliche.
OK he can actually probably do it, being pretty handy, but he's currently setting up and running two shows at the theatre, and has hardly been home the last few days... so too bad for the bloody boiler.
He did call his electrician friend for advice, who asked if the little light is blinking.
Apparently not. Apparently this means that it's the thermostat that is broken. Apparently the thermostat should be really easy to replace.

Time will tell...

The leaking pipe we had a month ago was also apparently easy to fix, but apparently not so judging by the amount of grunting and swearing coming from the vicinity of the bathroom while he was fixing it.

I suppose I should be grateful to have a boyfriend who is willing and able under normal circumstances to do these things.

But right now I just want to take a HOT SHOWER.

***

UPDATE: 5 pot and 3 kettle-fulls later, and the 1/3 of the way full bath was warm... just barely.
I must conclude that this is an interesting scientific experiment exhibiting the natural tendencies of cold water to REPEL HEAT.

And if you don't approve of my scientific method, TRY IT YOURSELF! And see what conclusions you draw. Brrr.



IN WHICH I MEET THE RUDEST COUPLE ON EARTH

2006-11-14T00:42:14.729+02:00

Today, I decided "bikini-figure-be-damned" - I'm going to have an ice-cream!" So I stopped at the periptero to pick up the yummy frozen goods on my way home.
Hovering over the ice-cream fridge was a couple. By the looks of it they were in their mid-twenties. But judging by how they were acting they could have been 5 or six.
The two of them were prancing in front of the freezer, blocking access to it from all angles, while squealing delightedly and trying to decide which ice-cream flavour to get.
Now, I'm all for acting like a kid sometimes, so I smiled on them benevolently while trying to edge past and grab my tub of "Scandal Extra Gooey Caramel Nut" or whatever it's called. But as soon as I tried to dodge in to the right, there'd be an oblivious, happily shrieking body between my hand and the ice-cream. Try from the other side, same result. I felt like I was trying to get a ball into the net past the offense or something.
Finally, with great agility and perseverance, I managed to reach in and snatch my prize from behind the human wall, and went to pay. Behind me, the couple continued making a spectacle of themselves - but OK. I had my ice-cream, I was happy. I reached into my bag, pulled out some money, and went to hand it to the periptero lady.
If this was a movie, the next scene would be shot in slo-mo: my hand extending towards hers, hers towards mine, frozen in a Michelangelian pose. Then, just as she was about to grasp the dough, the couple appeared at my side and the girl proceeded to SHOVE ME out of the way, and thrust HER OWN money in the periptero lady's face, all the while screaming "Se parakalo! Emena prota! Emena! Ella, Ella, Se Parakalo!" (Please, me first! ME! Come on Please!)
The periptero lady and I stared at each other a moment, stunned, then the amazingly unphaseable woman shrugged, rolled her eyes, and gestured to ask if she could let them go first - since apparently there was no saying no to them. I shrugged back, and gestured in turn expansively in their direction (all this gesturing was necessary because making oneself heard over the girl's screeches would have been impossible).
While the obnoxious brat - ahem, sorry - girl, got her change, I just stared open-mouthed at the guy, silently asking him what the hell planet they were from. He kept right on giggling - though to give him credit his giggles did start to get a bit uncomfortable, and was I imagining that he looked a bit shame-faced?
The best part of all this was that they were in no kind of rush: after they had paid, the girl continued to look over stuff in the drinks fridge while I continued to exchange disbelieving glances with the periptero lady. (What the heck do you call the periptero people anyway? You can't call them shop assistants, cause they're not in a shop, right? Any ideas?)

Now I know a lot of you are going to be saying I should have said something to them BUT:
a) either they were on drugs (though it didn't look that way) or so ridiculously unaware and self-centered that nothing I could have said in my not-so-sophisticated Greek would have gotten through to them, and
b) doing so and getting into an argument would just have raised my blood pressure and put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day...
...so I chose to laugh it off instead.

But REALLY!!!! I'm still speechless!



IN WHICH I LEARN NOT TO COMPLAIN SO MUCH

2006-11-14T00:22:55.793+02:00

On my way back from work today I sat on the bus directly in front of two immigrants. I’m not sure where they were from, but they were communicating with each other in very broken English, so evidently not from the same country.
The woman was trying to fill in some official document, and the man was trying to explain to her how to do it: “This is for your name, this is for you passport number. Then you have to go to the police station to get it signed, then somewhere else to get it stamped…” and so on. I think we all know the steps involved in getting official documents in Greece.
So I was remembering what I had gone through to get my docs when I first got here – barely speaking any Greek at the time – and what a hair-pulling, nerve racking hassle it had been. And I had had GREEK people helping me. Greek people who not only knew the system perfectly, but also spoke my language and were able to explain everything clearly.
Listening to these two people struggling to figure out what the hell they were supposed to be doing, I suddenly felt ashamed for the amount of moaning I had done when going through the same crap. I can only imagine that what they go through is at least 100 times worse than what I did – not only do they have more papers to get, they have no one to show them the ropes thoroughly, and are likely to be treated with a lot more disrespect and impatience than I was by the public employees.
I really don’t know how they manage it, but they have my respect for their courage and determination.



A CASE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY

2006-11-14T00:38:39.310+02:00

On Saturday night I went over to my cousin's house to celebrate her having gotten a new job. (Here's hoping this one is better than the last few!) I passed through Syntagma to get there, where they're selling lovely plants and flowers at the moment (and I heard that sometime in the next few days they'll be giving them away free!!! Can it be true? I must get myself down there to check it out as I'm busy filling up my balcony to capacity with greenery at the moment, and a few free plants wouldn't hurt.)
Anyway, I picked up a couple of pots of pretty flowers for her as she'd been saying that she'd like to get a few; her one plant, a jasmine given to her by her grandmother, hadn't fared too well over the winter.
(image)
When she saw the plants, she continued telling me her jasmine saga: it being pretty much dead, she had cut it back down to soil level in the hopes that it would grow again. And sure enough, something had sprouted - but to the side, not out of the main stem. However, something wasn't right with the newly growing jasmine plant... she wasn't sure what, but she couldn't get it to wrap around the trellis, and it didn't have many leaves. Her sister had even come over to have a look, and had proclaimed that the jasmine would be fine, but my cousin wasn't so sure.
Intrigued, I went out on the balcony to have a look.
"But... where is the jasmine?" I asked.
"Right there," my cousin replied, pointing to the long green stalks coming out of the pot and looking at me as though I was blind.
I walked over for a closer look... already trying to hold back my laughter.
"See," she said. "Here's the old stem, and this is the new growth which has come up. But it just won't stick to the trellis. Can you tell why?"

(image) "Well," I replied. "It could be because what you have growing here is a very fine specimen of GRASS, with some clover thrown in for good measure!" Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the so-called jasmine was in fact some very long, wild grass - the kind with the feathery tufts on top. And my cousin was complaining of allergies... wonder why!
Anyway, after much mirth on my part, and embarassment on hers, the death of the jasmine was mourned over a bottle of wine.
Bad luck for the grass, which had been enjoying frequent watering, love and attention, and will now be promptly uprooted!



IF I HEAR THE "E" WORD ONE MORE TIME I'M GOING TO THROW SOMETHING

2006-11-12T22:53:20.225+02:00

OK so on Saturday I joined most people in watching Eurovision.

We laughed, we cried (if we were Anna Vissi anyway), and we were fairly well entertained.

But then, on Sunday, I wanted to do nothing, take a day off and doss about in front of the TV.

Unfortunately, it seemed that on every single channel all one could find were panels of talking heads discussing WHY IT WAS THAT GREECE CAME 9th.

And not one person had the courage to come out and say - "Hey, maybe it was because the song sucked?'

Yeah, Greece loves you Anna.

But really, enough already. Please. Cause if I hear the word Eurovision one more time....



THE VILLAGE VS. THE CITY

2006-11-14T00:25:02.991+02:00

OK, Seawitch’s post “Waiting” has finally inspired me to put my nose to the grindstone, gather my notes, double check a few sources, dust off the keyboard, and write: THE VILLAGE VS. THE CITY. Seawitch, this post is dedicated to you!First instalment: The Village. Wait – what’s that you say? What are my qualifications? How can I claim to be an authority on village life? Well, actually I can’t, having only really lived in a village full-time for a year. But being the avid observer of society that I am, or think I am, it was enough – or at least it’ll have to do. So, let's get started then, shall we?Having just finished university and needing some time to chill out, de-stress, reflect, meditate on life, and all that stuff that recent graduates feel compelled to do, I went and stayed with my father, stepmother and two half brothers (who, since the last time I’d seen them two years previously, had exploded into fully grown, larger than life teenagers) in my “home village” of Molivos/Mythimna, on the spectacular island of Lesvos. I arrived in November, and left the following October, for Athens, just one month shy of a year.SO, YOU THINK YOU WANT TO LIVE IN A VILLAGE...The number one complaint of those who live in villages is that there is nothing to do in winter. And rather than try and convince you otherwise, let me tell you exactly how I passed the wintry months there, and let you decide for yourselves.Days were spent in quiet contemplation – or in building my dream house on the Sims deluxe edition – and evenings were spent huddled round the kerosene stove, reading or having inspiring conversations with my stepmother. Believe me, we figured out how to solve the world’s problems many times over that winter – and more! Alternatively, if there was a good film on telly, we’d all gather round to watch. We also all, as a family, became incredibly addicted to the first season of Six Feet Under, which I’d brought with me on DVD, and, when there was a power failure (which is often on Lesvos), we’d assemble around the old, large scarred table which dominates the main room and play board games like Trivial Pursuit.I also had plenty of time to try my hand at cooking various dishes – sometimes to the satisfaction of the critics, sometimes not (my dad just can’t understand what is pleasurable about vegetables that have not been cooked to death, and then cooked some more, so Chinese stir-fries were not always met with favourable reviews) and attended various courses – Greek and photography lessons organised by the dimos and “dancercise” classes offered by a long-time ex-pat. I also toyed with the idea of joining the “Carnival committee” and helping to build the floats for the parade, which looked like a lot of fun if a bit kitch, but, unfortunately, the times they met conflicted with my scheduled English lessons.These English lessons were a bit of work I’d picked up upon arriving, in order to have some pocket money on hand, and were a nice slice of enforced order on my otherwise haphazard days. They were also a great source of exercise! Twice a week I would make the trek into the village from our country house, a 15 minute’s walk away. I’d then schlep up numerous flights of steep, worn cobblestone steps to the castle, and enjoy an hour or so with two eager Bulgarian teenagers. Then it was back down the steps, and another fifteen minutes walk into the country in a different direction, for a lesson with a bright and winsome, though lazy, 12 year-old[...]



2 DEGREES OF SEPARATION FROM JON STEWART... SORT OF

2006-11-12T22:53:19.177+02:00

So my friend Liz went to New York and got to go see the Daily Show and sat 10 feet away from Jon Stewart and I'm insanely jealous.

Read about it here.



PUPPY GIVEAWAY!!! YOU COULD OWN A CUTE, HELPLESS, HOMELESS PUPPY!!!

2006-11-14T00:40:34.551+02:00

On a more serious note: My cousin found two puppies last week and needs to find a home for them.
She was walking her dog late at night when she came across a box in the middle of the street. And in the box were two adorable puppies. So of course she brought them home with her.
She's taken the puppies to the vet and they've had all their shots and received a clean bill of health.
The puppies are 3 months old, and probably a cross between a German Shephard and a Collie.
So if you have a big house, yard, farm, etc. (cause they'll be big dogs), please, take pity!!! They're really, really cute. And homeless. And someone just dumped them. They'd probably make great sheep dogs!
Contact me via e-mail (link top right below my profile).

The really ridiculous thing is that all she's gotten from her entire family is flack for taking them in! They're all making her feel bad, telling her it wasn't her problem and she should have ignored them!!! Now, I really don't understand this behaviour. If you don't have the guts to do the right thing yourself, don't make others feel bad for doing it! Like having to mop up puppy pee isn't enough of a challenge (two puppies = a lot of pee - but she's working on getting them house-trained), to have to deal with unsympathetic family members as well is too much! (And no, she's not sharing accomodations with any of them).

And lastly, to the people who dump their dogs and cats like that: SHAME ON YOU YOU HEARTLESS BRUTES LEAVING PUPPIES TO DIE AND FORCING OTHER PEOPLE TO CLEAN UP YOUR MESS!!! GET YOUR DOG NEUTERED OR SPAYED, OR FIND GOOD HOMES FOR THE PUPPIES THAT WILL RESULT. TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS!!!



I'M BACK

2006-11-14T00:39:53.383+02:00

Hi all, I'm back.In case you hadn't noticed I was gone, I was away for easter over... well, easter, and returned to a.) tax time looming ahead (don't ask - usual hassle over getting required veveosi from bank) and b.) a big pile of dog poo at work that required lots of overtime and such... including woking from home the entire trimero. This whole job thing is getting rather tiresome. When is my grade 11 (last year of high-school in Quebec) art teacher's prediction for my future going to come true???Curious? This is what he predicted:The last day of class, he told everyone what they would be when they grew up - he was kind of an eccentric ex-hippy guy. Anyway, around the class he went - you'll be a graphic designer, you'll be an architect, you'll be a this and a that, and when he got to me he said... "You... you're going to marry a Greek millionaire and live on top of a mountain in Greece and paint all day." At the time I was insulted, but now that real life has reared its ugly head I must admit the idea is growing increasingly attractive by the day.ANYWAY that's OK I don't need a millionaire. I've got my own plan to escape from the drugery of the 9 to 5 - or 8... or 10... or even 10:30 when the secretaries start calling me up and telling me to leave or they'll lock me in - grind.Yes I know I've been keeping you all on tenterhooks since my last post about just what this plan is. Ha ha.(Thanks all for your comments and support by the way. I'll get around to answering at some point when I'm not as lazy as I am now.)But you'll have to remain breathless for a while longer. All the details aren't yet worked out and I don't want to broadcast something that just aint going to happen. Or maybe I'm just sadistic.However, my time away at easter was well spent back in the horio, doing a study of all the minutae of village life, that you may all benefit from my experiences there. Based on my tireless and selfless research, I am now preparing a brilliant sequal in what has become known around the Net as the "V.S." series. It will be called BIG CITY BLUES vs. THE VACUOUS VILLAGE.Sorry. See. Too much work and stress makes me vent through ridiculous, and probably highly unamusing, sarcasm. Therefore someone should offer me a better job in order to stop me from writing this kind of drivel. But seriously now, I am writing up a little post on the subject - as it seems to be one of interest to everyone, with strong feelings on both sides... patience please, it's simmering away in there.In the meantime: two things I have been doing to de-stress at the end of each long day, which you, my fellow bloggers, may enjoy.The first, in fact, should immediately be added to your REQUIRED READING list, if you haven't read it already. It is called EURYDICE STREET, by Sofka Zinovieff, a British anthropologist who married a Greek and (after living in MOSCOW - !) moved with her husband to Athens when he was transferred here. Not only will ex-pats identify with much of what she goes through adjusting to life here, everyone (including native Athenians) will learn a lot about Athens, or at least get a new perspective on the city. And never fear, though Zinovieff doesn't shy from discussing the problems she encounters, she doesn't fall into the trap of "Greek bashing" either - extra brownie points from me.The only criticism I have of the book is that the couple are wealthier than average (her husband is a foreign minister) and her experiences ma[...]



FAREWELL O ATHENS OF MY HEART... I WISH

2006-11-14T00:25:48.829+02:00

I don't know about everyone else, but between the mounds of stinky garbage that are slowly consuming our fair city, the summery weather (which only serves to remind us that we could be lying on a beach somewhere), and the resulting increase in surliness one is encountering on the streets these days, I think it's about time to get the heck out of Dodge, don't you?

I mean, really, what is it that keeps everyone flocking to the big city? Is it the jobs? Cause, last time I checked, they were kind of in short supply. Is it the access to culture? If so, why is theatre, cinema and so on in decline? Does your family live here? Get them to move somewhere else with you. It shouldn't take too much convincing.

Why don't we all pack our bags and go harvest olives, peaches and ouzo on some gorgeous, sun-drenched island? Live the simple life. Drink and swim and laze and soak up the sun all day. Was it not, after all, the image of the sun-drenched island that captured our fancy and enamoured us of Greece in the first place?

I, for one, am currently planning my escape. It'll be tough. It'll be dangerous. It might even be painful. But I know for a fact that I will not live in this city forever. (More on my grand escape scheme another day... it's still in the works, though slowly coming together.)

Don't get me wrong. I am not normally among the Athens Haters. As those of you who have read my blog fairly regularly may have gathered, I actually find it an eternally fascinating city, full of spontaneous drama and hidden beauty.

So when I go, I'll make sure I have easy access to a quickie back in Athens every now and then, for when allure of sleepy island life wears thin and the big city clamours ever louder in my imagination.

But right now, in reality, the clamour of the city is getting to be a bit much.

A semi-irrelevant anecdote:
I was walking to work this morning, alternately beaming with pleasure and grimacing in horror as conflicting wafts of jasmine and putrefying garbage were blown my way, with my arms crossed across my chest cause it was a bit chilly. From the opposite direction came an decrepit, toothless old man. A few meters before our paths crossed, he started blabbering and gesticulating wildly in my direction.
Eventually I made out that he was telling me to uncross my arms. In fact, he seemed positively infuriated by my arms crossed position.
Yet another soul lost to the madness of city life? Or was I breaking some ancient Greek canon I've never heard of? (Or, though this is really stretching it, was he angered by the fact that I was denying him a view of my breasts?)

I continued on my way, dazed, murmuring over and over under my breath: "Oh, it's off to the island I go, I go! It's off to the island I go!"