Friday, September 28, 2007

Spot the differences

(a) A public area for students to hang out in a University in Vienna.

(b) A public area for students to hang out in a University in Athens.

Friday, September 21, 2007


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The grandmother was in the kitchen, the smell of butter, something baking, wafting through the house. My student's mouth and mine, watering through the lesson. At the end, I made off with a handful. I held the warm tinfoil pack of little pies in my hand all the way home.

(This is not a baby blog.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

first word?

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We think the buka has said her first word. It’s not mama or dada or any of the usual stuff. Nope. The buka is so mixed up with languages, it would have to be the one word that her American mother, Greek father, and Bulgarian babysitter all have in common and use often, with equal enthusisam. She says a-oh. But you know what it is?


Tuesday, September 18, 2007


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It was just a normal Monday afternoon... when I noticed an iguana on the balcony. Paschalis noticed it too, and engaged it in a hissing contest. I put an end to that -- with a pane of glass between them.

The babysitter said, don’t worry, you see those all the time, crawling the walls, one of them got in my window, and I was afraid to sleep, they’re harmless, though. (She talks like that.) That was a gecko, I said, indicating the size of a cute little mosquito-eating gecko with my forefinger and thumb. The iguana on the balcony is no native to Greece, I tried to explain, and anyway, the thing was longer than my arm. And κακάσχημος, I told her, which is a very strong word for ugly.

With the doors and windows closed and locked, I watched it. And it watched me. It went behind the ficus and watched me some more.

Then it went vertical.

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It sat on the rail.

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And then it started down the bougainvillea, presumably the same way it had come up. (But from where? It seemed less likely that it had escaped -- from a house in this neighborhood, inhabited mostly by the elderly? -- than that it had been abandoned.)

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At which point, it was captured in a laundry basket and taken to the neighborhood pet store. The proprietor said an iguana like that would fetch 150 euros. I’ll give it to you for 50, said my intrepid co-captor. I’ve already got two, said the proprietor. I had visions of the thing spending the night in my house clawing at my laundry basket, and I quickly intervened. We’re not selling it, I made it clear to both of them, we just want to get rid of it. So the guy picked it up, declared it to have frozen (which explained its docility), and put it in a glowing orange tank with two other very fine members of its species. It seemed cozy in there. It was fine by me.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


P and myself reflected on the shiny stern of a sailing boat we stopped to admire the other day. Clouds behind us.

Monday, September 10, 2007

village people

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Sunday, September 09, 2007


I think Sissy meant to tag me, although she didn't really, so here goes:

1. I'm not reading anything. That's not extraordinary for me.

2. I'm watching Nip/tuck. I keep asking myself why.

3. I see my mom every weekend. We don't talk about TV. She makes the greatest pizza.

4. I enacted a hero of the 1821 Greek revolution against the Othoman Empire in 5th grade. I am blond and I have blue eyes. So much for casting...

5. I have some issues with spelling. Sissy explained it's all about schwas. (And I think baceball is super-cool)

6. As of next week I'll be the owner of a mosquito chopper! Can't wait!

7. I hate blogs, generally speaking.

8. I really wanted a girl too (this time).

I'm not tagging anyone either. Afta.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

randomly ever after

Mr. Bensah tagged me. There’s a first time for everything. I think it’s silly, it reminds me of those chain letters we used to send in school, but it’s nice to be included in something. I don’t know how random or interesting the following facts are, but I tried to think of a few things I wouldn’t ordinarily divulge. (I omit the “rules” of the tag, but they can be found on Bensah’s blog if desired.)

1. I’m reading The Seal Wife.

2. I’m watching Lost. I don’t understand a thing.

3. I call my mother every Sunday. She doesn’t understand it either.

4. I was student council president in the 5th grade. It was an elected office.

5. The same year, I was eliminated from the spelling bee in an early round. I spelled “baseball” with a c.

6. As of last week, I own half of a brand new car.

7. I’ve been following the lives of two online journal writers (Beth, who recently had a baby, and The Gus, from whom I stole the title of this post) for 10 years. That's a long time.

8. I really wanted a girl.

I’m not tagging anybody. I’m generally not a rule-breaker, but I don’t want to annoy the few e-friends I’ve got by giving them a silly assignment like this. Afta.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Long weekends

That's what I've been doing this summer, in lieu of vacations.

I was invited to an American-style wedding reception thing. It was ok, but loaded with romantic, unbearably romantic, endlessly romantic speeches. I kind of hate speeches, romantic ones in particular. They make me feel embarrassed, like I am not supposed to be listening. I think these sorts of things should only concern one person, max two. Not an entire crowd going "awww..." at the mention of her adoring eyes, or his supportive shoulders, or whatever other part of their anatomy may do the trick. But hey, what can you do...

Anyway, as I said, it was ok. If they had done the "speak now or forever hold your silence" thing it would have been even better. Or maybe they did and I missed it while ordering another vodka tonic.

The highlight, though, was this guy:

This guy is actually the son of musician Jean-Michel Jarre, and grandson of also-musician Maurice Jarre! And he's a magician! I mean how much cooler can you get?! He was really nice...

I spent a big part of the next day observing Artemis' vampire teeth:

Then there was windsurfing, on Sunday. I applied everything I learnt from that DVD I borrowed:

"...a must-have DVD for anyone who dreams of carving smooth, consistent, planing jibes!", it says. Yes, I have dreamt of carving smooth, consistent, planing jibes. I still dream of it cause I'm not there yet, but I did great progress. Turns out step 11 was the one to watch out for.

And the weekend ended with the appearance of a strangely familiar face:


A couple of years ago, something really great happened to me. It brought unfamiliar feelings into my life, for which I am and always will be grateful. I’m also grateful for the chance that came along consequent to that really great thing that happened to do something really really super great. Just because it foundered doesn’t mean it wasn’t great, or something to be grateful for. I still have the hope of that chance: that it’s is still out there somewhere with my name on it, the chance of something really really super great happening to me. The question is not what the odds are, we know what the odds are, but whether I’ll be in the right frame of mind by then, to take it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007


I was walking downtown to meet a friend when I saw a girl wipe out on her bicycle, about 10 feet in front of me. She really bit the dust. She was riding on the sidewalk, attempting a tricky slalom between a tree and a metal bench. The front of her bike clipped the bench and she went flying -- straight over the handlebars and flat onto her face. Her face skidded on the pavement, her glasses went flying out into the street, and gloop -– I swallowed the gum I was chewing in one sicky fruit-flavored gulp. It was all very dramatic, but I’ll make a short story shorter here.

I asked if she was okay. No! she wailed, but she didn’t cry, not once. She had blood on her mouth. I thought maybe she’d chipped a tooth. She asked me to use my phone to take a picture of her mouth for her to see. I suggested instead that we use it to call her mother. “A nice lady gave me her phone,” she explained, calmly. She promised us both she’d go right home. She said she could make it.

I waited for her to get up and collect herself a little. She thanked me a lot. Finally, I walked on, shaking and shocked, like she was.

I’m not telling this story to play the hero. I just hope there’s some good karma in it, and if the buka ever crashes her bike, there will be some “nice lady” walking by, who will tell her to call her mother.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

apple of my eye

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1 month....................6 months....................12 months