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State of Greece

19 Oct

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I’m in greece where trash is literally flooding the streets. Disposal workers are on strike.
Busses and trains are off and on because public transport workers are on strike.
My cousin’s six year old is home from school because the elementary school teachers are on strike.
Junior high and high school students will stay home tomorrow because their teachers are striking then.
Policemen are striking too. Right.

The situation as it stands:

• Huge demonstrations have taken place across Greece, from Athens to Thessaloniki and Syros.
• Tear gas and stun grenades used – citizens tell us how the events in Athens unfolded
• Latest Greek austerity package passes first vote in parliament
• European leaders have met in Frankfurt to discuss a solution to the European debt crisis

I’m not quite sure what to say about Greece really. On the one hand, there is very much a crisis. People are leaving their jobs to riot and protest in the street. 70,000 were reported to have come together in Syntagma Square (outside of parliament) in Athens and thats really quite a small area. Who knows how many more people have been protesting country wide. I’ve been in Thessaloniki where the demonstrations are milder and the only thing to do is go to the cafes. Of which there are rows and rows. And bars.

And on the other hand, people are out, at cafes and bars. All the time. Though that’s mostly young people. It’s very apparent that the general population is struggling. I’m struggling. Prices are much higher and the cost of living has certainly increased. Wages have decreased despite this and people are just generally demoralized.

And then the irony of it all is that everyone expects a quick fix. They no longer want their current prime minister, whom might actually be the only man on earth who can help Greece. Consensus seems to be that paralyzing the country with protests is going to bring about change. I wonder how much Greece’s deficit increases for every day everyone strikes. Because most workers get paid when they strike too. No one wants to pay taxes because they don’t trust their government. Which, so far, is actually pretty fair. And I can’t imagine a healthy state model that doesn’t have a solid foundational taxation program. Which Greece doesn’t.

Greek pride is another minus. What Greece should do is welcome private investment. And actually, Greece should sell as much of what it has to the private sector. Parks, stadiums, transport systems, property, whatever. All of it should either be leased or sold to private companies. Foreigners with money. The responsibility for upkeep and maintenance won’t fall on government spending and the proceeds will help Greece get on it’s feet. But from what I understand, this is another no-go because Greek people couldn’t stand the thought of selling it’s heirlooms to “the foreigner”. Okay. If they could get past this hurdle, then the Greek government could be better equipped to handle basic infrastructural management. Like having real streets and sidewalks.

Meanwhile getting a plain filtered coffee at a cafe costs €4,50. Which I think works out to $37.00 but my math may be a bit off with gradual fluctuation…

I guess I’ll do a quality of life index:

Average wage for someone without a degree in Greece: €1.300 – €2.200 a month
Average wage for government/municipal workers: €2.600 a month
Average wage for recent college graduates in Greece: €0,00
Average bag of tomatoes: €1,50
Average bus ticket: €0,80
Average taxi cab to and from the waterfront: €8
Average stick of deodorant: €4
Average low quality made-in-china graphic top: €17
Cigarette Tobacco: €4
Shampoo: €5
Rent for a two bedroom apartment: €300
Doctors visit: €45 or free if you feel like waiting around for their subsidized welfare health insurance doctors (IKA)
Bag of chips: €1,40
Bootleg handbag from nice Kenyan immigrants: €14

October is not a good month to visit Greece. Also the weather has been unusually cold. I only hope there won’t be residual air traffic controller striking when I have my flight.

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Several Things:

26 Sep

First: I really wish I were psychic. Or that Cheaptickets.com would tell me the truth. What do you think discount flight companies mean when they say “Last day to buy at this price”? Is it:

“buy this today because tomorrow it WILL be more expensive”

Or

“buy this today because tomorrow it MAY be more expensive. Or not. Who knows!”

I’ve done some calculations and I think I have about a 40% chance of getting the flight at a cheaper price tomorrow. But 40 isn’t 100 is it.

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Second: I’m intrigued by PanAm. That new mad-menesque show that’s coming out. Or is out? It’s not about a 50s-60s fixation. And it certainly isn’t nostalgia; I wasn’t anywhere near even being conceived. It’s about the fine craftsmanship that the makers of these shows exhibit.

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Third: My morning glory plant is just now starting a major growth spurt. Leaving now will be seriously detrimental to it’s growth. I wish aqua globes actually worked. Or that I knew someone who would water my plants like they say they will when I go on vacation.

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Fourth: I’ve started investing some work into my paper crane curtain. I have about 25 cranes made out of discarded magazines! I must channel my inner Anthropologie, because really, who doesn’t love anthropologie? It’s an decorational inspiration to everyone. Examples of the kind of thing I’d like to achieve:

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Death and Glory. And deadlines.

30 Jul

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When I was 15, my friend Jessica and I decided we would make lists of things we’d like to do before we died. I really wish I had taken better care of that because I think I’ve done about half the list already! It’s actually on my livejournal, I just haven’t written in that in so long that I forget my log in, my username and even the email address I had used. I had a hand written copy but that’s even more far gone than the electronic copy.

I’ve decided to write another. Everyone else should too. Even if you’re having a really bad day, at least you can refer to the list for either an ego boost or a motivator. A little push always does you good. Plus it’s fun to think about what kinds of stuff you actually want.

I’ve organized them into sections after I made the list. Somehow I have 102… I can’t find the discrepancies.

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TRAVEL!

1. Live in a foreign country for either one year or for extended periods of time that amount to one year.
13. Bali, not because of Eat Pray Love but because my friend Misty went a few months ago and said all the right things. Plus it just seems nice.
14. Hawaii. This one is feasible, my other friend Ruta is going to Hawaii on a yoga retreat to get her yogi certificate (or whatever you get…)
15. Los Angeles. I have so many neon colored things that it would be nice to put them to use. If only for a weekend.
22. Disney World.
23. Go to the mud baths of Delphi. At least I think it’s Delphi…
24. Tanzania.
25. London for an extended period of time.
32. San Fran.
33. Sarah Palin’s Alaska.
34. Brazi.
35. Argentina.
35.5. Bolivia
36. Montreal.
36.5. Mexico city.
37. New York for an extended period of time.
56. New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
57. Love Parade in Berlin.
58. Amsterdam.
63. Costa rica.
64. New Zealand.
65. Have a meal at underwater restaurant Ithaa when I visit the Maldives.
66. Japan
67. Crete.
68. Thailand
69. Amazonian rain forest.
70. Visit hot springs that I can swim in during the winter. Iceland?
71. Bora Bora.
72. See the libraries of Alexandria in Egypt. And the sphinx.
73. Swim in the dead sea.
74. Norway. Try to see some Christian extremists.
75. India- Sri Lanka

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ACTIVITIES!

2. Learn to sail. Be good at it.
3. Make a dress for myself.
7. Get to a place where I can do handstands and scorpion pose in yoga.
8. Keep my own garden.
9. Paint things that I’d like to hang in my apartment.
18. Maintain lots and lots of photo albums.
19. Live in a loft.
21. Go on a hot air balloon ride from Boston Common.
26. Finish my stained glass project I still have in my basement from senior year of high school.
27. Finish my book in what will be the next great American novel.
28. Bungee jump.
29. Paraglide.
30. Ride an elephant.
31. Ride a horse.
38. Go on one of those incredibly indulgent all inclusive resorts.
39. Go snorkeling.
40. Go diving. With a very capable, trained attendant.
42. Go skydiving with a very capable and trained attendant.
43. Help make a film.
45. Find places to wear my fox bolero.
47. Fly first class.
48. Donate blood.
49. Shower in a waterfall.
50. Jump off a really really high rock into water. In an exotic location.
51. Learn to make my own bread.
52. Go to the opera.
59. Make pottery Dr. Seuss style.
60. Have a collection of Dr. Seuss books.
61. Have a library of all my favorite books and films.
62. Acquire a collection of very beautiful antique pieces.
63. Make a curtain or origami pieces.
64. Make my own beer.
66. Go to an Indian wedding and wear a Sari.
75. Record an album. On GarageBand…
80. Go skiing.
86. Get called in for jury duty.
90. Learn to drive stick.
91. Cook Thanksgiving dinner.
97. Take a road trip with friends.
98. Be on the board of an important societal group.
99. Be part of a badminton group.

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MONEY CAN BUY… !

4. Purchase an expensive ring for myself when I turn 25. Hopefully I’ll have done something reputable by then and the purchase will actually mean something.
5. Purchase my own apartment. With a balcony.
6. Get another scooter.
10. Get a doberman.
16. Get more pieces for my Alice in Wonderland tea set.
17. Get an apartment in Greece. With a balcony.
54. Get a really pretty bird that will live in the greenhouse.
55. Get a greenhouse.
79. Acquire a collection of really great quality work clothes.
82. Buy the order for the guy behind me at either a toll or a drive through.
83. Donate $1,000 to an organization I feel strongly about. You know, if I want to.
84. Get laser eye surgery.
85. Purchase an expensive piece of jewelry or handbag for myself when I reach an important career objective.
95. Pay off student loans.
96. Buy myself a car that’s really fun to drive.

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EMOTIONAL!

11. Find someone to love that’s better than the last person.
12. Have a child, maybe two.
20. Live with a man.
22. Go to Disney World.
41. Find someone who will do the tandem bungee jumping with me.
42. Be proposed to in a really nice way.
43. Become my cousin’s daughter’s godmother.
44. Baptize more children!
46. Create a house of plants. So that it looks like a glorious art installation.
53. Adopt a pet from an animal shelter.
68. Have a wedding celebration of some kind.
76. Start my own company.
77. Become someone’s boss.
78. Work for a company I feel connected to. Beyond the fact that they pay me…
81. Reach dharma. Yeah I know what that means.
87. Plan a surprise party for someone I love.
88. Be someone’s maid of honor. Or best maid…?
89. Give a toast at an important function.
92. Have the kind of place people drop by in every day.
93. Have the kind of place I can host weekly dinner parties in.
94. Be published in a publication of some sort for something.
100. Develop my own Daily Practice.

Seriously just do one. It’s kind of silly. I get that. Just do it, it’ll feed your soul. You’ll forget about it, but put it somewhere where you’ll find it years later and you’ll realize you’ve done more than you thought! And that’s always nice.

The West, America, Urban Loving, Animals

24 Jul

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Really, I frequently think about what massive a country we live in and how little I know about what it all is. Flying over places like Nebraska and Kansas is terrifying. Huge crop circles. All corn. So huge there’s no doubt in my mind they have something to do with aliens. I had the pleasure of taking a domestic trip recently.

I stayed with a friend. Her family had ordered a half beef from Nebraska, which is a great deal of red meat. One particular night, we had a sirloin. A beef sirloin that had the elegance and tenderness of a filet. It was incredible.

My destination was western Colorado. Grand Junction. So many horses just hanging out in people’s backyards. None rideable. Open space. Lots of it. And while this may be liberating to so many and while I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, I realized that not living in a congested, urban area could kill me. The open space was suffocating. I kept thinking about what would happen to me if someone came up out of nowhere, shot me and left. No one would know for days. I had spotty service. The only way my remains might be discovered is months from the fact, when someone noticed that a patch of land was yielding uncharacteristically verdant grass. The result of my decomposing tissue fertilizing the ground.

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The great part was that I saw lizards, falcons, horses, hummingbirds, cows, sheep, bear carcass, deer carcass, a variety of wildcat hides, a siamese cat, a plethora of beautiful monarch butterflies and, one day during dinner, a mallard couple flew into my friends backyard and walked around ten feet away from us. For about twenty minutes. It was neat. And startling. Their public stroll was far too casual in comparison with the normal animal baseline behavior I’ve been assimilated to. It was such a quiet, graceful moment and they knew they were safe. Because what spiritual being could disrupt such a gift? They were almost daring me to throw my discarded olive pits at them. They knew I wouldn’t. I didn’t, obviously.

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Mountains: I used to think that people who went on and on about mountains were annoyingly granola. Now I understand.

1. It’s cool.
2. It looks like nothing else in the city.
3. It’s beautiful.
4. Imagining the force and weight of that giant landmass is impossibly challenging.
5. Being that high up sort of makes you feel inebriated or, at least, that it would be irresponsible to handle heavy machinery. Or a cellular telephone. Which I fumbled with a little bit.
6. It’s strange how horrifically mediocre the pictures of the mountains came out. Like a Bermuda triangle of BEAUTY– I didn’t know where it went. On camera, dull. Off camera, beautiful. Mountains aren’t photogenic it seems.

I’d like to try and see more of our country’s bountiful natural wonders. Next up: the Redwood forests, the Grand Canyon, the waves of Hawaii, that funny place where you can extend each limb and be in four states at once, glaciers of Alaska, Mount Rushmore and any horse riding place. I’m sure there are more impressive things out there but if I experience the aforementioned, then that’s a pretty good run.

What I will travel great distances for again is another steak like that Nebraska steak. I’ll dream of that for years. Years. I think I wish I never had it. Every piece of steak I’ve had so far since this trip has been a huge letdown.

I now feel the true depth of Flowers for Algernon.

Making up for lost time!: From Zurich with Love

22 Jan

One more! I had a layover in Zurich… I alerted as many people as I possibly could of this because, well, it was torture. I know. “Shut up. You have no idea how stupid you sound when you complain about being stuck in Zurich, meanwhile it’s been snowing snowstorm after snowstorm back home and we all hate you. Stop.” I know. But look:

I hadn’t slept. I had arrived at 5:30 in the morning. My flight back home was going to be at 5 that evening which is 11 hours of doing nothing time in a foreign country where everyone is creepy looking. I had no where to go, besides places where I would spend money, it rained, it snowed, it hailed, all not for very long–that is, just long enough to make my hair look crazy, my eyeliner rub all over my face, my boots and socks wet, and my magazines crinkly. Plus it was dark there until like 9 AM!? I wouldn’t know what the morning daylight situation in Greece is since I’ve never woken up there before 11… Ah vacation.

At one point I decided that I would look for the river. Because I found out there was a river and I thought it would be nice for chick-pictures. It was, as you’ll note the feigned romanticism and girlization of an otherwise boring, cold and unpleasant city.

But first I’m going to tell you about the man that shot a pigeon. I found the river. Took some quasi-scenic pictures, found a couple of docks that were swarming with pigeons, swans and ducks. All playing nice with one another. Then a man comes in with this huge musket. Well I don’t know if it was a musket since I don’t really know what a musket is… exactly. I could Google it, but even then I wouldn’t know if it actually was or not. Regardless, it was long and intimidating but when he pointed and SHOT at a pigeon, it didn’t make a sound. Or at least I didn’t hear anything, so it must have had a silencer. Although from time to time I convince myself that I’m hard of hearing and this is actually becoming one of those moments where I’m wondering why I didn’t hear anything at all…

Anyway so I risked death and went over to him and asked him IF he shot the pigeon and, when I realized he had because he scooped the dead pigeon into his hand and into a black plastic bag, why he would shoot a pigeon. He said there were too many and that last year he has shot 5,000. So there you have it.

I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of him secretly. He looked like that photo-place repair guy from Amelie.

A very nice woman sold me fantastic macaroons. I made friends with a Harvard student who had a layover in Zurich as well, but she only entertained me for a few hours because her layover time wasn’t as long as mine.

Zurich:

I have returned! My myth involved lots of food and I am now fatter.

22 Jan

Blogs are completely self serving and self indulgent. I know that, you know that. I have, you see, substituted my blog indulgence for a variety of delicious exotic indulgences during my time away. I ate lots of baklava, had lots of coffee and frilly caffeinated drinks at cafes with plushy couchey seating outdoors, I drowned myself in, yes, debt-laden Aegean sunlight, I was endlessly occupied with delightful conversation and smoke-friendly establishments, I was awoken in the morning by little Greek angel-children whispering “Irene… are you sleeping? Wake up!!” in little gilded child-voices which is similar to waking up to cupcakes and fairy dust.

I have come back to the land of workaholics and to you, my devoted FANS (friends).

On the way to the airport as I was leaving Greece, my cousin’s husband (driver) missed the exit and I figured he would keep going and just get off at the nearest exit. Judging by the amount of time he continued driving for, I assumed he would resort to the same, when suddenly he stops and says “maybe I should just reverse”. I laughed, naturally, because that’s ridiculous and what else are you supposed to do when you’re sure someone just made a joke?

He did. He reversed all the way back to the exit. For a solid three minutes, I counted. THREE minutes of reverse time is like three hours of normal life time!! Right? What? And then I thought, obviously, this would never happen in the US. Regardless of the hawk-like stalking nature of the “establishment”, Big Brother and the ubiquity of Government know all … it doesn’t even matter if no one was there to see you reverse down a broad highway.

God would be watching. And we all know how intimate a relationship God and the United States government have.

So there you have it, an anecdote from my most recent trip and now a picture collage of the intimate relationship between Greece and her very own divine:

Commencement: Live Your Myth in Greece!

6 Jan

That’s their travel slogan. Ha.

Parting from the ‘Merica is always bittersweet. On the one hand, I like to get away, recharge my batteries, take a stroll on the greener grassy knoll… you know. On the other, I know that when I come back I will hate everything for at least a week. Everything. Returning, well, to the figuratively less green pastures of Massachusetts strikes my already buoyant heart.

The pain is exquisite, it has become a part of my yearly routine.

But don’t cry for me!! On the upside! It gives me a chance to shop for teeny tiny little containers of stuff i like!

And make up! I hardly ever care for make up during my day to day. Lipstick is really my only staple. Black or brown eyeliner used to be a staple, but as of recent I’ve been opting for an au naturale optic look. For someone like me, it shouldn’t make sense to have as much make up as I do. Truly… It’s such a waste. But Ah. When I go on vacation, I pack it all together with the steady trial of a craftsman!

Behold:

Anyway I am packed and ready to go. I have only to dye my hair as I’ve decided to make my newly darkened locks permanent. Also dying ones hair is incredibly convenient because it dries the hair out, resulting in non-greasy hair for at least three days which is what I need. Especially since I’ll be bouncing around Athens for a few days before I settle in Thessaloniki for the remainder of my trip.

Greece is one of those places people always say they would love to go to. I rarely meet people who have actually made the commitment to go. This is actually unsettling for me because I frequently feel that those who haven’t gone need it the most. Italy always shadows Greece in terms of popularity, and though Italy is a beautiful country as well, there’s something about Greece that touches you on a more subtle, profound level. I’m not being proud here, I’ve been Greece’s toughest critic because of my familial connection to it… besides I hate demonstrating excessive pride. Despite all this, I’ve concluded that you can’t ever really leave Greece and still feel the same way about things, life, and what it all “means”.

I am excited for my trip.

I am a little nervous about my photo-situation.

See you in two weeks!!

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