Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It happened in Athens

Yes, I survived Athens. The city didn’t actually seem so bad from the 21st floor of our hotel (the pool bar).




Not to mention it was practically a ghost town, with everyone away for diakopes (vacations). We had an excellent view of our old neighborhood from the hotel –


and Thanos went out bright and early Saturday morning and got me some tsoureki from our old bakery (I’ve not had tsoureki quite as good since then). The weather was actually pleasant for July – plus I think Athens is less humid in general than Thessaloniki so the dry heat didn’t seem so bad.


The wedding was beautiful, the bride and groom looked fabulous and the reception had the usual “Greek wedding reception” elements but a few twists thrown in, including fireworks and a buffet. I’ve actually never experienced a buffet at a wedding before. The food was decent and there was something for everyone, yet Thanos and I still experienced “buffet sickness” the next day. No matter how good a buffet is, it just never quite works out for me. Unfortunately, none of my pictures of the reception venue turned out, because our camera is s*#t and it was too dark (same with the interior of the church, I got a couple of passable shots of the artwork inside, but most of it was dark). Too bad, because the place was kinda cool with a modern design, on a huge property among other such venues snug on the slopes of Parnitha.

The flight there was a bit dicey – a delay on the runway because of too much traffic in the Greek skies, and then again mid-flight. Add some turbulence on landing and it was a rough ride. On the flight back I was certain they hadn’t locked the cargo door (we were sitting right over it and I saw it close but I didn’t hear or feel the corresponding kalump) while Thanos rolled his eyes every time I said it. I’m even more amused by passenger behavior than ever. I’m trying to figure out why exactly people have to be first to board when boarding means getting on a bus to get to the plane and the people that get on first just have to wait on a hot bus for ten minutes. Then the minute the plane stops 90% of the people jump up and start gathering their crap only to stand there for ten minutes while waiting for the door(s) to be opened. And what exactly is so hard about finding your seat on a plane? People get on board and it is like all common sense regarding numbers has been lost on them. If your ticket says row 22 you can be pretty sure you need to keep moving towards the back of the plane. Then when people get to their designated seat they stand in the aisle, puzzled, as if not sure what to do next. Sitting down is a good rule of thumb, or at least get the hell out of the way so the rest of us that can count can get to our seats. Honestly, is life really that difficult for some people, or does travel stress just overcome them? If the latter is true, I guess I can’t blame them. I’m sure anyone who knew English on the plane didn’t appreciate my constant chatter about the cargo door being unlocked.

So I guess Athens is ok – if you are just visiting. I still wouldn’t want to live there again, even though I do recall a few good times in the old neighborhood.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Love, life, and homesickness

I don’t know what has been up with me lately. I’ve been a little off. Off kilter, off my rocker, off side. I’m sure it is just a momentary lapse of seasonal dysfunction (that disorder most people get in the winter I seem to get in the summer). A big part of it, however, is good old fashioned homesickness. As an expat you expect a good dose of the ailment once in awhile, although it doesn’t occur as often as I would have expected. It is just that when it does happen, it happens big. I find myself having fantasies of life in America, with a good job and all the conveniences of American life. Hell, I don’t even care where in America I live, anywhere would be fine, as long as it isn’t one of those desert states (my apologies to people who love the desert states, it just isn’t my thing).

But then I think that I wouldn’t want to leave our beautiful house here, and international moves are the biggest pain, and my husband would have to take the MCAT (or whatever the hell the medical licensing exam is called in the U.S.) if he were to practice medicine there, and all the little things about Greece I would miss if I moved back to the U.S. It is weird having this sort of duality about home – now it seems that both Greece and America are “home” to me, so how can I ever pick between them? I can’t even imagine what it is like for expats who have lived in several different countries.

This coming weekend we are planning a short trip to Athens – the city where my expat life started – and I suppose that could be one reason things are coming together in my mind the way they are. I’m sure my parents visit this spring didn’t help matters much either. I dread going to Athens the way most people dread going to the dentist, and to be honest I’d send my husband alone if it wasn’t our koumbaros who is getting married. Not because I feel I owe him, but because I want to be there to share his special day and wish him well as he starts his married life. I just wish he wasn’t doing it in Athens. I can’t really pinpoint why I hate Athens so much, but it might have something to do with the harried-ness of the people there. It was as if life wasn’t being lived as much as endured. That kind of environment can suck the will right out of anyone.

Hopefully I’ll be back to my cheerful, snarky self before too long.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The price of progress

On Monday afternoon there was a lot of hubbub across the street. A big truck with some dubious mechanized equipment was doing something that we couldn't see because whatever they were doing was being obstructed by the giant truck. My brother-in-law went outside to find out what the hell they were up to, and it turns out they were installing new poles to run phone lines to the house up the road from us.

I'm torn between feeling sympathy for the people up the street who seemed to have lived there a mighty long time without having access to a land line and being upset that our view has become tainted by a new wire. As you can see, there were electrical wires already but they were positioned high enough that they didn't cut across our view when sitting on the balcony. Alas, the phone wires are too low to be avoided. Such is the price of progress in our little village.


Monday, July 07, 2008

"So wise so young, they say do never live long"

My first reaction to this story about adapting Shakespeare for children as young as five years old was one of disapproval. I mean, come on, does a five-year-old really need all those “everybody dies” endings? Not to mention plenty of very adult subject matter. I loves me some Shakespeare but I’m not sure it is suitable for kids under a certain age. Twelve was always my guideline for starting Shakespeare, which is why my niece hasn’t gotten any from me yet.

Then I remembered we are living in an era where parents dress their five-year-old daughters up like little sluts for beauty pageants and use the T.V. as a babysitter pretty much from the womb, allowing young kids access to all kinds of inappropriate entertainment. So hell, might as well give them Shakespeare. Add Aeschylus and Sophocles to the list as well. Nothing like a good tragedy to put a child to sleep at night.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day

On this day of liberation for the United States of America, I would like to wish life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to people all over the world.

I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. I am against any man and any organization which seeks to limit or deny that freedom. . . [and] the superior man can be sure of freedom only if it is given to all men.

-H.L. Mencken*

*As spoken to Hamilton Owens, quoted in Guy J. Forgue. ed., Letters of H. L. Mencken (New York: Knopf. 1961), p. xix.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I must be an idiot

Are you not supposed to be able to crush ice in blenders? I always thought that was one of the great purposes of a blender, unless my margarita haze was blinding me to the fact that trying to blend drinks with ice caused broken blades and badly mixed drinks.

Anyway, I tried to crush some ice in our blender to mix with a granita mix, and it just wouldn't happen. The blades stubbornly refused to move the ice at all, in fact, the blade mechanism slid up so it wasn't even spinning at all anymore. It could be that our multi-purpose mixer/food processor/blender is multi-crap (although the mixer and food processor parts work pretty well). I finally got my granita by using one of those bags you fill with water to make ice thingies with tiny, tiny slots for the ice and using that in the blender, but I still had to open up halfway through to push down the ice/granita mixture so it would blend better.

I'm thinking we need a real blender.