Sunday, December 31, 2006
Bearing witness to the execution of a despotic Middle Eastern leader sure gets you into the party mood. Could 2006 have ended more oddly?
As my husband and I head out for our New Years Eve party, we want to wish you all a safe and happy new year and the best for 2007.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Kitchen shopping is the most inane, boring, time sucking consumer activity I have ever participated in. I honestly believe that when Oedipus poked out his eyes he was debating cupboard choices at Neoset instead of agonizing over his illicit love affair with his mother, because the former is obviously far worse.
In theory, it seems like it would be fun. A whole, empty kitchen to design. Cupboards and counters at your choosing. Colors and countertops and sinks of all varieties. But after all the looking and dreaming you sit down with the salesperson, blueprints in hand and then it starts. The math. Not only math, but some sort of complicated math that seems to be best used in hell. Measurements and drawings, all to figure out exactly how everything you want fits in the space you have. Nothing is left to chance, and this is when all the questions start. What size cupboards? How many compartments? If you want drawers, how deep? Which handles? Do you want glass on any of the doors? How high? How low? By the time we were finished, I was ready to confess to crimes I had never committed if only I could crawl into one of the corner cabinets on the showroom floor and go to sleep and never have to think of kitchens ever again.
Believe me, I get the point. The measurements have to be accurate. I want to be sure that I get the kitchen I want, no mistakes. But when what seems like the realization of a dream turns into a two hour interrogation of facts, figures, and choices, you quickly begin to not care about whether or not you have the perfect handles for your cabinet doors. And when you realize at the end of it all that it will take a second appointment to have a computerized design and price quote ready, for a brief moment you think hell with it all, I’ll just have a spigot and a table in the room with my appliances.
I’m sure by the time it is all done and we have found the right kitchen at the right price and we are finally living in our house with my dream kitchen (not my husband’s dream kitchen, because he doesn’t get a say) it will all seem worth it. But for now, I’ll suffer the agony of Greek tragedy, just to make it so.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
This display, by far, is my favorite, mostly because I love the Santa climbing the ladder (that red blob in the bottom center of the picture). Ok, so maybe it is a bit overdone, but it is tasteful enough. I like looking at it, at least.
That same balcony, when your camera has dropped a couple of doses of LSD:
The same balcony when your camera has gone completely schizo:
I keep meaning to take some pictures about town, but everytime we go out it is either too early or for purposes that exclude the practicality of carrying the camera with us. Hopefully, we'll get some before all the Christmas displays are gone.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
With my husband in tow as assistant I started. Right off I dropped an egg. No big deal. I got all the ingredients into the mixer (ah, laziness) and let her rip. So far, so good. When it was done, I noticed the dough had an odd consistency, and the flavor was not quite right. My husband looked at our bottle of almond extract and thought maybe the French on the bottle said it needed to be diluted. No matter, so they’d be heavy with the almond flavoring. Not so bad, right? I affixed the camel stencil to the cookie press and shoved a big chunk of dough inside.
As I prepared to press the first camel onto the cookie sheet, my husband had a look of sheer delight and curiosity in his eyes. He had never come across such a device as a cookie press before and wanted to see how it worked. Imagine my surprise when I squeezed out the first camel and it resembled something more akin to a microbe than a desert dwelling pack animal. In all his expectancy, my husband certainly wasn’t prepared for that, and he let out a peal of laughter that I am certain found its way into orbit around the earth. Camel after camel kept appearing equally deformed, and his laughter didn’t stop.
I was not amused.
Since the dough seemed too buttery, my husband suggested adding more flour, and so he graciously kneaded flour into the batter, a half cup at a time, working towards a more normal consistency. By the time it seemed right, we had already almost doubled the amount of flour the recipe called for. Not a good sign. Now, I realize that most logical human beings at this point in time might have realized the dough is completely wrong and perhaps the whole mess should be trashed. But I had already invested some time in the process and by god I wanted my camel and Christmas tree cookies. So I refilled the cookie press and tried again, with the hoped for results of perfect camels.
While I worked on the camels I gave my husband a chunk of dough to work with. His sole job was to use the blue and yellow food coloring to make the dough green, for the Christmas trees. By the time he was finished, the dough looked like a giant blob of toxic waste and his entire body was covered with food coloring. Since there was no way he was going to get the dough any lighter, we decided to go along with toxic sludge colored Christmas trees. Why not? At least it was green.
At this point the first batch of camels came out of the oven. They looked ok, pretty normal in fact. But as I began to remove them from the cookie sheet I realized they were quite brittle. I was decapitating camels left and right, limbs were coming off, it was an ugly scene. When all the camels had finished, we had a couple dozen healthy looking camels and a giant graveyard of camel parts. It was from these that we taste tested our work. They weren’t awful, but they sure didn’t taste like Spritz. They actually tasted more like a shortbread. Ah well. They would still be presentable.
By the time we were done, the kitchen appeared as if it had been the site of a horrible industrial accident. There were dishes and utensils everywhere, and little spots of toxic green dough spattered all about. We filled the tin with the cookies we would take to my in-laws and left the remains behind.
I was still bothered by what had gone wrong. It was a recipe I knew, a recipe I usually excelled at. Yet they had turned into a disaster. Why? I kept going over the recipe in my head, trying to think if I had left anything off. Finally I had a horrible sinking feeling. The butter. I had done the cups to grams conversion wrong, and used twice as much butter as the recipe called for! That certainly explained the weird dough consistency and the fact that it needed nearly twice as much flour to be normal.
Stupid metric system. When we first learned about it in the third grade I had a funny feeling it would come bite me in the ass someday. And I was right.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Christmas Day will be spent with the in-laws but without my hardworking husband, who scored a 24 hour shift. I guess we've been lucky, this is the first Christmas we've spent apart in 6 years. We'll get New Year's Day together instead, and celebrate the coming of St. Vassilis instead of Mr. Claus.
To everyone who celebrates Christmas - have a safe and happy holiday. To those who don't, have a safe and happy day anyway. We all deserve that every day, after all.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
For the first time in over ten years, I made cookies for Christmas. Sure, it is only one kind of cookie when I used to make five or six, but this is a great improvement. I don't know exactly what got me off the baking bandwagon, a combination of things I guess - from a new found fear of burning myself (where did that come from?) to the lack of a decent oven.
I'm also not exactly sure what got me off my arse this year. I'm thinking a cross between having a halfway decent oven and the sheer frustration of lack of dessert choices at Christmas dinner. I tell you one thing, having only two (TWO!) small cookie sheets gets old fast in the cookie making process. It seems that Greek households aren't known for their proliferate cooking baking, because I'll be damned if I can find a cookie sheet anywhere. I suppose I’ll survive, for now. But when I’m ready to make more varieties, I hope I can find more cookie sheets.
These were made with special thanks to my parents, who sent me some butterscotch morsels.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Hey, I'm not even going to pretend I know anything about the background of this "rogue" set of monks who aren't recognized by the powers that be, or about the background of any and all tension on Mt. Athos. But to think that any monks, recognized or not, could actively get in an imbroglio with other monks and cause enough damage to one another to send a few to the hospital doesn't seem to be the pinnacle of Christian monk-like behavior. I also don't think it is very Christian of the legitimate monks to force another set of monks, recognized or not, out of a habitable living situation.
The story seems to change depending on which side is telling it, but honestly guys, you are both supposed to be on the same damn side. Not only that, you should also be setting an example. How am I ever going to find my faith when behavior like this is going on?
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Thank you dear husband. Some day I'll buy you a Breguet pocket watch.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Yet for some reason, ever since I've moved here - whether we lived in the big cities or the islands or the mountains - I have managed to get colds and/or the flu multiple times in the fall and winter months. In Nashville I had a sort of schedule for these illnesses - once in the summer, once in the winter, and once in the spring - which wasn't really surprising considering I have a "challenged" immune system. But here in Greece I seem to get upwards of a half dozen colds, right on top of another, between October and February. I'm now working on my third cold of the season, which started a week after I had been fully recovered from the last one.
I would understand this if it had been cold and wet for the last couple of months, but the temperatures have been relatively warm for winter and the days have been quite sunny. Why does Greece make me sick? Do Greece and I not get along? Do we have a bad relationship? I really don't think so. I've become quite fond of Greece since I've been living here and I like to think Greece has become fond of me. So why the sickness? Why does Greece seem to be a breeding ground for infectious microbes this time of year? And why, oh why, do I have to get sick so many damned times?
At first I blamed it on my husband working in a hospital - but when we were on Kos and in Litochoro he worked at the Army camps, not the hospital. I don't think I interact more with the world here than I did in Nashville, but I guess I do spend a lot of time at cafes. Still, I didn't really start doing that a lot until we moved to Thessaloniki. I just want to know why I keep getting sick. Why that scratchy, itchy, painful glut in my throat rears its ugly head so often. Why my nose is filled with concrete. Why I can't stop coughing.
Somehow, I think there is some type of Murphy's Law at play here. Leave it to me to move someplace that is supposed to have a healthy climate and get sick so often. For now, all I can do is take my decongestants, drink my tea, suck on my cough drops, and pray. At least I get one thing out of it - my husband waits on me hand and foot. Hmm, maybe my constant sickness is psychological...
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Greeks, on the other hand, only seem to acknowledge and accept one type of weather – sunny, with temperatures of 70 degrees or higher. The hotter, the better, as many Greeks would say, although personally I think anyone who loves temperatures in excess of 95 degrees should be declared legally insane. With the Greek love for warm weather, it comes as no surprise that as soon as the temperature dips lower than subtropical, Greeks do not emerge outside without full Eskimo arctic gear, struggling along the city streets in their puffy coats, big hoods, and gloves that could handle dry ice. It is pretty obvious that Greek blood doesn’t tolerate the cold but at all.
Imagine my surprise, then, when my husband and I were out for our stroll on a slightly chilly but sunny 50 degree day and found scores upon scores of shops and cafes with their doors WIDE open. What in the name of all that is warm and fuzzy was going on there? My husband, in true Greek spirit, was in absolute shock. Why oh why would warm weather loving Greeks have their shops and cafes open in such weather?
As we approached the next open door, we drew closer, and a heavy, slightly malodorous burst of extremely hot hair punched us in the face. It wasn’t long before we realized that these places had the heat up so high, they had to open the door. Now, I’m not one for reason and logic, but wouldn’t it be better to lower the heat and close the door? Obviously, if Greeks are getting too hot, it is too damn hot. I suspect another ten degree drop or so will render no doors open, heat too high or not. In fact, in a month or so it will be so cold they’ll probably be using radioactive material to heat their shops. For now, I can walk down the street in my light jacket and chuckle at the frozen Greeks, wondering how they’d handle the
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Nicole over in
Without further delay, here is what I came up with. Nicole’s is more interesting. Can’t write thesis. Read. Overthink. Read again.
Stress too much. Get homesick. Discover
Love it. Miss working. No job this year. Maybe next.
Can’t write thesis. Read. Overthink. Read again.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
My husband is convinced that my parents are trying to send him a message via the greeting cards they send us. Twice now the header has read something to the effect of:
For a Special Daughter and "Son"
He thinks the son in quotation marks has a hidden meaning, as in
"we'll-say-it-in-quotations-because-you-can-be-easily-replaced" OR "we-have-our-eyes-on-you-buddy" OR "we-know-you-aren't-really-our-son-and-we'll-treat-you-in-kind"
What he doesn't know is that my parents aren't really the evil nemeses of superheroes who think things on such elaborate levels. My mother was probably just trying to pick out a card that acknowledges us both on a not-so-annoying level.
For now, however, I'll keep feeding his paranoia. It's more fun that way.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Husband, not missing a beat: Papadopoulous!**
*To the person who was searching, Achilles was not a god, he was born of a demi-goddess and a mortal human. His mother tried to make him immortal by putting him in the fire but she held him by the heel, thus leaving that part of his body unblessed and rendering him mortal.
**For those of you not familiar with Greek last names, Papadopoulous is one of the most common surnames in Greece
Monday, December 11, 2006
I’ve complained before -
So, to the woman and her man who were sitting next to me on the bench outside Plaisio, both with unlit cigarettes in their hand, I apologize. You just happened to ask the only non-smoker in
I knew I should have gone into Plaisio with my husband.
The stripes represent the syllables in the phrase "Eleftheria i Thanatos" (Freedom or Death), which was a morale boosting chant during the Ottoman occupation. The colors represent the beautiful sea surrounding
And now, a word from our sponsor:
Sunday, December 10, 2006
|You Are Dasher|
You're an independent minded reindeer who never plays by the rules.
Why You're Naughty: That little coup you tried to stage against Santa last year
Why You're Nice: You secretly give naughty children presents.
Saturday, December 09, 2006
This is what you see when you close the inside doors that must be closed in order for the
The panel is nice and flashy, and the elevator is automatic, which makes for fun times when you get in and don't hit the ground floor button fast enough so someone on another floor calls the elevator before you are done with it. Since there is only room enough for two people in the thing, it doesn't really work for it to stop at multiple floors on the way down.
The inside view, pretty standard for new, Greek elevators.
I wish I had the camera in time to take pictures of the ancient, scary elevator, but alas, those images are left to my memories. I'm a bit sad that I can't whine about the prehistoric moving box o' death anymore, but the new one is fast, sleek, and keeps me from climbing six flights of stairs. You can't beat that!
Friday, December 08, 2006
I'm still not brave enough to risk a whole tree with cats running around. We'll see how long this tree lasts before it gets knocked over.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
1 I bite and pull my fingernails. This seems rather common, I know, but there is a twist: I only bite and pull at the fingernails on my ring fingers on both hands. The other nails I leave alone, although I have to file them down frequently, because my ring fingers actually make me look like I’ve been tortured with some kind of fingernail pulling device.
2 Whenever I eat something in a wrapper (a candy bar, tsurekakia, potato chips, etc.) I fold the wrapper into a tiny square and sit on it. I have no idea why I do this, although it seems to go along with my whole need to consolidate trash.
3 When I was ten years old, my best friend and I got in a dog poo fight with her big sister, who was a real twat. If you want to know what exactly a dog poo fight entails, think of snow ball fight but with a smelly, brown substance. I did not have a predisposition for using dog poo as an instrument of violence, I actually thought it was quite disgusting, but these are the things that childhood ire can drive you to do. Not to mention, it was the big sister who started it. Of course, now as an adult I feel the need to question why their basement was literally filled to the brim with dog poo.
4 I scare myself awake about every other night. It seems to be some kind of weird, hallucinogenic type dream/vision that does it, maybe I am not fully asleep yet when it happens. It is usually linked to something I think I see or feel in reality, like an earthquake or a giant half bug/half frog creature crawling on the wall. The rush of adrenaline is insane, I just hope I don’t give myself a heart attack one of these nights.
5 I have a history of odd celebrity crushes. It started when I was five with Tony Randall, continued with Peter Sellers, Carl Sagan, David Bowie, and Boy George. By the time I hit my 20’s I guess I stopped looking for humor, intelligence, and weirdness in my celebrity crushes and started the Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, etc. phase. Then I had the celebrity couples phase (David Duchovny and Tea Leoni) and now I don’t really have a current celebrity crush, as my obsession with Michael Vartan finally passed. Hmm, I need a new celebrity crush!
See, I’m not weird at all!
I tag everyone and no one. A lot of
Monday, December 04, 2006
It is a brittle season Hades made dear, though a seed might trick us all. The Hellenes suffer silently the cold winter days in a land that was meant for the warmth of the sun. But Helios does not favor them – if ever in word or deed they had pleased him, Demeter’s maternal grief demands the chill of winter overtake us all.
The streets are filled with people wrapped like mummies against the bitter wind. Darkness comes early, a velvet covered hand clasped tightly at their throats. People move mechanically, sadly, bereft of the joy of kalokairi, their solemn faces a sober reflection of the dark skies around them. Fate has spared none.
So in this season we wait lugubriously with Demeter, her frozen tears blanketing us with melancholia until the sweet warm breath of a lost daughter frees us from the gloomy cold.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
I guess the answer to the question "how long before you realized you were really homesick after moving abroad?" is 4 years.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Because it reminds me of home. It reminds me of late nights at Elliston Square and Exit-In, drunk with the sound of music ringing in my near deaf ears, grabbing a table at TGI Fridays at 1am and having an appetizer or two before heading back out to party til 5am. It reminds me of days when my hair could get a bit spikier, my outfits could get a bit flashier and my tolerance for partying had no limits. It reminds me of Alien in the Land of our Birth, F.U.C.T., Clockhammer, Wishcraft, Anastasia Screamed, Suicide Alley, Apache Underground and some of the other great bands that shone in the Nashville alternative scene in the late 80's/early 90's. It reminds me of my youth, of being carefree, careless, and uninhibited.
Sure, I'll never get any of that back, nor do I want to. Life is different now, and just as good, if not better, in a more responsible, grown-up way. But it will be nice to have a constant reminder of all those good times just a few blocks away on the other side of the world.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
The world seems to be looking at the whole “Pope visiting
Honestly, if everyone involved really spoke their mind here, the Pope would have a better shot with the Muslims than the Orthodox. It isn’t that the Orthodox hate Catholicism, it is just that the nicest reply any Orthodox has given to a statement concerning Catholicism has been a sort of growl. I can’t claim to have been around in 1054, but I do know that all the grievances that caused the split seem to have withstood the test of time. Sure, some of it is semantics, but hey, I wouldn’t have liked the Pope claiming supremacy Über Alles either. Both sides consider themselves to be the “One Holy Catholic and
I don’t know what the internal politics are of both churches, but I have a strong feeling that each side still wants what they want. And since what they both want pretty much absorbs the other, I don’t think we’ll get any major agreements out of them anytime soon. But who will win, The Joker or The Riddler? How many ka-pows will it take? As long as they get a good illustrator, I guess it really doesn’t matter, because Batman will always save the day.
The 47th Thessaloniki International Film Festival has come and gone, and unfortunately, due to myriad events that conspired to keep me from attending, I did not get to watch even one film. It is really too bad, because this is my one chance a year to see foreign films, including a plethora of Greek movies, with English subtitles (I’ll hold back about the irony of U.S. movies being considered “foreign films” here, because I find it too hilarious). Maybe next year, I’ll get lucky.
This year offered a variety of interesting films, including a tribute to Wim Wenders (which basically meant they screened most of his more famous films at least once). The festival also featured a host of Greek tributes, along with a special focus on films with teenage angst/lust as the theme. It would have been a good opportunity to see some
Of course, the problem with pouring over schedules for a film festival of this type is lack of knowledge about most of the foreign films. Which one do you decide to see? Do you pick based on country, how well you like the title, what? I guess that might be the fun of it. Unfortunately, my stupid husband knows nothing about Greek cinema so aside from a few popular Greek movies, he isn’t much help when it comes to making choices. Next year, I might just make some executive decisions. Or at least put the schedule on the floor, close my eyes, and throw a coin at it.
For those of you who are always on the lookout for a good foreign film, you might want to check out this year’s winner of the Golden Alexander, GAJOKEUI TANSAENG (Family Ties) by Kim Tae-yong, from
I’m preparing ahead for next year. I’ll put some cash away, take my zinc tablets and vitamins, and be ready to head off, perhaps to do some live blogging from the festival. Eh, no, probably not. I'm not that ambitious.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Four days later, and I am in the "I'm-really-tired-of-this-why-can't-I-stop-coughing-and-blowing-my-nose" phase, which I know means I am near the end. Even though I feel worse during the fever phase, the constant coughing of this final phase seems more terrible, because there is no rest when you are coughing. And coughing. And coughing. Wow, cough is a funny looking word.
On the upside (maybe the downside) I've been able to vegetate on my couch and pray for movies to come on our movie channel that I haven't seen before. So I finally watched Star Wars: Episode III and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Honestly, of the last three Star Wars movies this was the best, although my general feeling is that none of them should have been made at all. For some reason they kinda ruin the old ones for me.
As for Mr. and Mrs. Smith, what a waste of movie reels. I got so bored by it I actually removed myself from my sanctuary on the couch and browsed websites. Both actors seem to have forgotten how to act (and both of them certainly lean towards being good actors usually), although the script didn't help too much. I didn't expect anything grand out of this movie but I figured it would be an action oriented picture that would at least occupy me for a couple of hours. Nope.
Here's hoping I'm better tomorrow so I can go back to reading and writing without words looking all squiggly and fuzzy. I just can't take another bad movie.
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Saturday, November 25, 2006
I have two diametrically opposed thoughts about this. Firstly, no way, no how. Faulkner only wrote screenplays to make easy money and even then he never seemed entirely pleased about the process. But hey, that's what American writers back then had to do. So anyway, why would he write a complete, feature length screenplay that never got made? Had someone commissioned him to do it, but decided against it in the end? Because that seems to me the only way he would have written such a thing.
But then, when I think about Faulkner's body of work and his relationship with the deep, dark South, I can see how he might be tempted by vampires. Yet his screenplay is set in Eastern Europe, not the South. Would Faulkner really have written something not set in the South? Why a screenplay and not a novel?
It seems as though producer Lee Caplin is moving forward with a movie based on the screenplay, but I still have my doubts about its authenticity. If if was something he wrote for someone else and not a personally inspired work, should we be seeing it on the big screen as a Faulkner work?
I guess this serves as a caution to all writers: be careful what you leave behind.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Thanksgiving can be a surreal experience when you are living abroad. It is a holiday that takes years of conditioning – frantic, last minute grocery shopping on Wednesday, overeating on Thursday, Christmas shopping on Friday, and swearing you’ll never so much as look at another turkey or pumpkin pie again on Saturday. Over the years this settles into a comfortable, if slightly neurotic, routine. It can’t be an American holiday without an appropriate amount of neurosis, after all.
Obviously, Greeks don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, considering they are not a country founded by wayward pilgrims who saw the devil in nature and decided that razing, partitioning, and selling land was a good way to settle themselves in their new found freedom. I don’t know for sure, but I am fairly certain that no Greeks shared a thankful feast with aborigines they would systematically exploit and drive away, but that’s a different story altogether. Honestly, I’m not knocking Thanksgiving. I do think there is a lot of goodness in the core of the holiday, and any excuse to eat good food, make merry with friends and family, and be thankful for all you have is a good one.
My conditioned responses set in the Monday before Thanksgiving. I frantically make a grocery list, knowing that I should go to the store before Wednesday to avoid the insane rush of last minute shoppers. When I inevitably end up going to the store on Wednesday anyway (best laid plans, and all that) I stare incredulously at the near empty store.
“But, it’s on the day before Thanksgiving!!!” I cry out, exasperated.
People look at me curiously. Then it hits me. This is not
Thankfully, most of the people staring decide that I am just another crazy
Each year I keep thinking that maybe I’ll forget Thanksgiving, that I’ll wake up one day and realize that Thanksgiving had come and gone and I gave it nary a thought. But somehow that never happens. The Thanksgiving conditioning automatically kicks in as easily as my instinct for survival. Pavlov might be impressed. I figure one of two things can happen. After about thirty years of living abroad, I’ll lose the conditioning, or I’ll start cooking my own Thanksgiving dinners, thus reinforcing it. The improbable might become probable. It might snow in August on a Greek island. Greek politicians might stop being corrupt.
To all of you who are celebrating this thankful holiday, Happy Thanksgiving. To all of you who aren’t, perhaps you can take just a moment to think about all the things you are thankful for, and rejoice for a moment.
Everywhere I go, everything I try to do, it is in my head. It haunts me even now, as I try to sleep.
Sadly, one of my favorite songs as a child has now been ruined by excessive airplay.
RIP, lonely goatherd
Odl lay ee (odl lay ee)
Odl lay hee hee
Monday, November 20, 2006
…you open up your sewing box and find sutures
…you can’t watch a medical show without hearing complaints about everything they are doing wrong
…you can’t be in the bathroom when he/she is washing their hands without getting sprayed by the “doctor shake” when they are done
…you tell him/her that they are getting on your last nerve and they draw an accurate picture of a nerve with a little stick person on it
…you find yourself constantly washing scrubs and white coats
…your house is littered with office supplies bearing the names of various pharmaceuticals
…you can’t complain of a scratchy throat without having a tongue depressor shoved in your mouth and your spouse looking at you from behind a tiny light
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Every time I turn around I see some link inviting me to peruse some salacious web site. Now, maybe these are false links without pornographic content, but honestly, can I really believe that only 1% of web sites out there have pornographic content? The internet, after all, was created for
Maybe the proliferation of bloggers has crunched the numbers down some, but if I was going to make a conservative guess myself I might have said 5%, with a personal belief that the true number is around 10%.
The study the story was reporting on focuses on numbers to try to breathe new life into the 1998 Child Online Protection Act, which would require a credit card or some other kind of "proof" of age before you can view pornographic material online. As if a child can't get his parent's credit card/driver's license/ID card info. The Supreme Court shot down this law in 2004, citing a breach in an adult's right to look at and buy what they want on the internet.
While I'm not thrilled with the idea of children ending up gazing open-mouthed at lascivious web sites, I'm equally unenthused about someone having to share their identity and/or credit card information to look at porn. The ACLU claims filters work well, and I'm sure they work reasonably well. The thing is, you can be searching for some perfectly innocent things and end up staring point blank at some full frontal. I don't have any particular objection to porn in general, it serves a need I suppose, but I'm certainly not a big fan. Despite my lukewarm sentiments, I do think adult people should have the right to look at porn if they wanna. When it comes to children, well, I don't think they should be exposed to porn, but I also don't think they should be brought up to be ashamed or disgusted at the human body. But there is a big difference in a teenage boy hiding a stack of Playboys and the same boy crawling into a site that would put the Marquis de Sade to shame.
Obviously, the European point of view regarding porn is a wee bit different. Porn is hanging in plain sight at kiosks everywhere. Naked breasts can be found on network TV without being blurred, and movie channels show a porn movie every night after midnight. To be honest, I much prefer living in a society where it is all out in the open, but I might feel a bit differently if I had children. Still, if my child saw a picture of a naked woman, I wouldn't start screaming and shield his or her eyes. That just makes them more curious.
Alas, I digress. My point is, I don't believe that porn makes up only 1% of web sites. Of course, I could be wrong. It has been known to happen, on rare occasions when pigs fly and it rains blood.
The original plan was for the elevator installation to start sometime in September. The bills were passed around in late July, so there was plenty of time for folks to come up with their share. But of course, there was a problem. The people on the first floor claimed they never used the elevator and thus had no intention of paying their paltry share of the bill. While it is true that on occasion I witnessed first floor folks using the stairs, it was always when the elevator was in use and people were waiting, so I reckon it was faster for them to just walk up a flight of stairs. However, there were plenty of times that I called the elevator to find it was "parked" on the first floor, or waited for the elevator to come down from the first floor, or found the elevator door wide open (thus halting all use of the elevator) on the first floor, therefore, it was utilized quite a bit by the first floor residents. So in addition to being cheap and whiney bitches, they are also big fat liars.
When September came and went and still no elevator, we got wind of some of the internal drama that was going on in the building. The first floor folks were outright refusing to pay for the elevator - and what would the solution be? There was some discussion of the rest of us making up for their share and just cementing over the elevator shaft on the first floor. Instead, the building manager decided to go with the shame and ridicule approach, posting a notice about paying for the elevator and a list showing who had not yet paid. None of the owners of first floor apartments were paying, along with their old woman toady on the seventh floor. This was an outright conspiracy!
In the end, it came down to "well, if he pays, I'll pay", and somehow it all worked out. I don't know for sure if the first floor has completely paid up, but I assume they did. If they didn't, I'm sure we'll be in for more drama after the elevator is completed. Maybe they'll even hire some Kostas from Crete to break some fingers. Anything to liven up the place.
For now, I'm just trying to get used to climbing six flights of stairs. I'm a bit worried that, should the neighbors hear me coming, they'll think I'm the big bad wolf coming to huff and puff and blow their apartment down. Here's hoping that by the end of this three weeks I'll be in better shape.
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Behold, the people of
Friday, November 10, 2006
Most people that know me, and some who read this blog frequently, know that I don’t do religion. I can’t do religion. Apparently, part of what I lack is faith, but a big part of it also involves not wanting to be a hypocrite by saying I believe in something in its entirety when I have issues with some parts of the whole. Over the past few months I’ve been trying to grow a little bit, to understand more about religion, and see if maybe somehow, some way, I can find faith in something beyond the temporal, physical, logical plane.
My husband has been translating the New Testament for me, because I wanted a simple translation that is as close to the original as possible. As poetic as translations into English are, it seems that some things are changed, in small ways, when trying to translate it into something that sounds beatific and wise in English. Sure, the gist is still the same, but language is important. I’m not doing well with the Bible just the same, there are so many things I find contentious – things that bother me, but maybe with a better understanding and good discussions with people that have faith I’ll work through it all. We’ll see. Of course I still fast with my husband on Wednesdays and Fridays – I support him wholeheartedly in his faith, although I don’t go to church with him on Sundays. Realistically speaking, even if I had faith, I don’t see myself getting up at on Sundays. I guess I’m just not ready to sacrifice in that way. He understands that we are not at the same place – and may never be.
Yet recently, the devastatingly real struggle for life, health, and happiness that is going on right now for GAC and her family has led me down an unusual path. I want her to be ok, to be the same person she was before this ordeal began. I want her to live a long, happy life of health and well-being. I have faith that this can be accomplished by the hope, thoughts and prayers of people that love her, know her, and strangers like me from around the globe (although I don’t entirely think of myself as a stranger to AT and GAC, as I wrote before). Am I saying that I believe in prayer? Am I saying that I have faith?
Today was the second time I attended vespers this week – really the second time ever I’ve participated in an evening prayer (although there is a time that this may have occurred at a Methodist camp in
I like this church, surprisingly. The interior is very unassuming, with a modest amount of shine and ornaments, along with some very austere iconic artwork. It is all stone, marble and wood - very dark, gothic, ethereal. As I was sitting there, ensconced within the warm smell of incense, surrounded by candlelight, with the soothing chants of the priest echoing in my ears, I felt a sense of peace – a peace I have never felt anywhere else but there, at that moment, in that church. I was sitting in a passageway where there was a marble step that had been so worn down by centuries of worshippers it could no longer be called a step, but a spillway – and suddenly I felt as if the faith of all those who passed there before me had gushed forth, flowing in and around me. It was a comfort, an odd feeling for me. I don’t understand what it meant, but somehow I feel as if I am a step closer to something I can’t describe or imagine. Maybe I am finding my faith, or maybe not. I suppose it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the honest search, the continuing journey.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Things are looking better for AT's wife GAC, but she isn't out of the woods yet. This is just a reminder to keep her in your prayers, thoughts, and hopes. If the Democrats can gain control of Congress, we can bring a 29-year-old mother home healthy, happy, and safe to her husband and children.
The picture of her helps direct the prayers, but if AT wants me to take it down, I will.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
South Dakota did not pass a near-total abortion ban. Thank goodness.
Democrats are in control of the House. The Senate is still a bit up in the air, but it seems to be neck and neck.
People must be tired of Republicans. For the sake of all Americans, I hope the Democrats do better.
Yes, I am disappointed about the same-sex marriage decisions, but I didn't expect much better. I did have a bit of hope, though. This is, after all, what voting is all about.
May God, Allah, Buddah, Zeus, and any other politically correct deities bless America.
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
EDIT: Bah, they fixed it now. Ok, next time, ERT can make fun of my poor Greek translations
Monday, November 06, 2006
Well, tomorrow is midterm election day, and to some extent, it seems rather trivial discussing politics when people in the world are struggling for life and dying. Then I remember that the reason some people are struggling for life and dying is because of politics and I realize that perhaps it isn’t so trivial after all.
My absentee ballot has long since been mailed, although generally speaking I wasn’t thrilled with the choices in the good ol’ state of
For me, the most important aspect of this particular election is the marriage amendment. I think something like eight states total are presenting marriage amendments to their constitutions in this election. Tennessee’s amendment basically states that marriage will be defined as that between one man and one woman, and it also acknowledges that any legal marriages outside the state of Tennessee that do not fall under the same guidelines will not be recognized. I know some Europeans find the idea of such an amendment offensive, especially the latter part – they see it as just another example of American superciliousness and defiance in the face of the world, and I suppose I see their point.
Obviously, this amendment would limit marriage of many kinds, but most tragically it would disallow forever any same-sex marriages in
I realize that for some people the need to “protect” the world from homosexuality is too strong to think rationally about this amendment. But for those of you who are really unsure, perhaps take a moment to think about it before you cast your vote.
To all of you, vote well, vote with your minds and not just your hearts. But most of all, revel in your right to vote, and GO VOTE!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
You know how it is when you are watching a good movie – one of those movies that really sucks you in, with characters you can identify with, or at the very least grow attached to because they are good people, real people, people you want to be happy and have good lives with everything working out great for them in the end. If something happens to one of these characters you hope beyond hope that somehow, some way, it will all work out ok in the end, that they will survive, persevere, and overcome everything that ails them. You feel it so strongly, that if the movie takes a turn for the worse, if something bad happens, it is as if it has happened to someone you love and care about. It is crushing, horrible defeat – and with every movie like that there is the same hope, the same strength, the same unbeatable will growing inside you to help the character survive. The same thing happens with novels too, although more often than not the spirit gets defeated in ways you can’t even imagine, but you live and breathe hope through this character until the final outcome, whatever that may be.
In this wide world connected so intangibly by the internet, we meet people, we know people, but these are people we only see on the screen, like a movie or a book. You read their thoughts and feelings every day on blogs and through their websites, and it is a weird connection – you feel attached in an odd way – they’ve become a sort of extended family, even though technically speaking you don’t know them. Yet when something happens to them, whether they are trying to get a new job, or buying a house, or having a baby, or become seriously ill – you feel that connection even stronger – you want them to succeed, to get what they want, to be healthy and happy and strong.
In the last few days a fellow blogger has become seriously ill, deathly ill, and through the pained and beautiful posts of her husband we are kept aware of how she is doing, how he is doing, how a man faces the potential loss of the woman he loves. And it is devastating. And I feel that old familiar feeling, that hope beyond hope, that if anything can happen in life, can we just somehow make sure she comes out of this ok, so she can continue being a friend, a daughter, a wife, a mother - a human being who walks this earth, full of life and hope and even sadness and regret, because everything we experience includes all the good and the bad, and just to be alive is to be grateful for both.
This post is dedicated to the struggle for life that is going on at this moment halfway around the world from me, in a hospital in
Friday, November 03, 2006
Greece was a refreshing change. We could go for months without the phone ringing unnecessarily. Telemarketing had not yet cast its evil eye on the Greek market and it was a very good thing. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and slowly but surely telemarketing has picked up here. It isn't anywhere near as bad it was in the U.S., but we can guarantee that telemarketing call is going to come at a time when it really isn't convenient, not that such calls are ever convenient.
My husband is a bit of a pushover. While he won't buy anything, he is quite polite, listens to their pitch and responds amiably. I, on the other hand, have discovered the perfect device for offputting telemarkers in Greece. Whenever we get a call that shows up as "private caller" on caller ID (which could, of course, be family members so we just have to answer, don't we), I pick up and answer with the loudest, most obnoxious Southern belle hello I can muster. This is usually met with a few seconds of fumbling and muttering - obviously the caller has momentarily lost the ability to speak in their own language - and then I hear "Signomi, lathos". Not even sorry, wrong number, just sorry, wrong. Well yes, you are wrong. Quite wrong. Just to ruffle their feathers a bit more, I answer with "endaksi" and hang up. Let them mull that over a bit. Maybe she did speak Greek? But she sounded so...so...AMERICAN!
Look, I know that for some people telemarketing pays the bills. It has opened the doors to thousands, perhaps millions of jobs worldwide. But that doesn't diminish the fact that telemarketing is pure evil, and email spam is its hellish little spawn. I honestly think I would rather starve to death, and let my family starve to death, than work as a telemarketer. That's just me.
At least now I know the perfect trick to use with telemarkets should we ever return to the U.S. I can answer the phone with a hearty Greek greeting and see what happens. I might get lucky, or I might end up on the line with one of the millions of Greeks who have immigrated to the U.S. I guess you can't win them all.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
*I am just now watching the second season and I realize the show is in its seventh season, so please don't tell me what happens, like my sister-in-law started to do before I put my hands over my ears and started singing "John, Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" at the top of my lungs.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
No holiday makes me miss America more than Halloween.
The traditional ghost story also seems rather absent from Greek life. In
One of the most famous Greek ghost stories involves the Drosoulites of Crete, a ghost army that appears every year at dawn on May 17th at the ruins of Agios Charalambos, marches towards the fort at Fragokastello and eventually disappears into the sea. Many people have claimed to have seen this vision and science has not yet been able to explain it with rational facts. The army is so clear to the eye that the Turks fired on them in 1890, as did the Germans in World War II. Now that’s spooky. I fully intend to visit
Davelis Cave , along with the mountain it lies on, are reported to be sites for strange paranormal occurrences. Located on the Pendeli mountain just outside
Happy Halloween from
One thing I was never quite prepared for upon arriving in
When we were in
It seems that the great winds that blow through
I learned a great lesson in awning maintenance while living on the mountain, and that is why, if I wake up at and hear the wind chimes singing like angels hopped up on LSD, I make a mad dash for the balcony to put up the awning. There is a trick to it though, because the act of raising the awning creates an insane, demonic sound, as if wild pigs were loose on the city and very, very hungry. So I have to turn the crank carefully and slowly, which isn’t very much fun at 4am when freezing, gusting winds are threatening to blow your soul to kingdom come.
I suppose I could be one of those brilliant people who lowers the awning in the morning and puts it up again when the sun goes down, thus avoiding all the rushing outside at 4am incidents. This would make a relative amount of sense, except that I am a bit lazy when it comes to general, routine maintenance activities such as raising and lowering awnings. Not to mention I enjoy the extra bit of privacy having them down allows. So for now I’ll take my stand between the wind and the awning whenever I am called, hoping that one day the battle will not be lost.