Now that it's behind me, I must tell you the fact that I have a blog entry yesterday is a real success. A true measure of what happens when you've created a positive habit for yourself. There was not one word on my mind and not the slightest inclination in my heart to write down anything yesterday. To continue with the theme of honesty, it's not so much better today, but here I am, regardless.
I've even lost track of what day out of 100 I'm in.
Today my housemate returned from Santorini, completely wrecked as a human being. He had gone up with the promise of well paid work. He came back after a week without being paid one red cent, and no promise of payment until half into May. This is the fourth job in a row that he's had such a story to tell.
The door opened. I was drawing with pen and paper on the floor of my bedroom and I heard a suitcase rolling to his. "Hello?" He dropped it and came in; told me the whole, sad story before he had even gotten his coat off.
To Malaka. *this is not a nice word.
I got my own little bits of news, not unrelated to the economy, and then I went out to Attikoulamou waiting patiently outside the window of my office. Don't believe in manifestation? I wish I had taken a picture of her tire for you. It was a little rubber puddle on the sidewalk. I walked her to Monistiraki where the good men at Serkos' bike shop fixed her up pronto, something I hope to take as a positive omen, but in the meantime I'm left with this residual business of being in Greece, trying to stick to an activity, something I haven't been very good about in the past, and trying to do it in one of the historical low points for this democracy. Alright, it's true as a democracy, the irony is that Greece is even younger than the United States. They've only been electing their leaders since the 1970's, and they have seen far tougher patches than now, namely in the 1960's, 1940's, 1920's... well, really, when you look at it this way, they were due, weren't they?
So the tire was repaired and in one last attempt to lift my spirits I made a spontaneous strawberry purchase from a gypsy outside the Kallithea street market, grabbed a good friend and went to a little place I am selfishly, oh so selfishly, going to keep a secret even here. But I will describe it for you.
This place has an owner who has never been to the states, but if he were to ever go, particularly to the Florida Keys, to the wood paneled bars there with their 1970's hard rock playing on the overhead, serving beer in frosty mugs, sausages, and fried foods, he would be shocked to see that his own place was not as original as he might have originally thought. But in Greece, I can tell you, it's an elephant among penguins. Or maybe vice-versa. I asked him once, why the decor and hard rock music combination with an aquatic- themed bar name... and he answered simply, "well, I wanted to make an old German beer hall, but I like old hard rock, and I like the sea."
It's tucked back in a non -descript shopping center. There is absolutely nothing fancy or special about anything in a 1000 meter radius, but this little pocket never fails to pull me out of my shitty moods. Pardon my Greek. But do you know what my favorite waitress told me?
"I'm lucky I have work, but things are changing. People are coming and not enjoying themselves. They come with all of their problems and they are aggressive and rude. They say, 'You need me. So... serve.' And I think, 'Why do you unload on me your problems? I also have problems, for the same reasons you do!"
My horoscope says that I'm in an "emotional phase." The full moon is in Scorpio and for whatever reason that means I'm a basket case. Well, I'm happy to report that I'm not a basket case, nor do I ascribe too much importance to horoscopes, but sometimes I see it as a weather report. It's not that the rain is good or bad, but it does exist, you see?
The zodiac is acknowledged by everyone here. It's usually within the first round of questions you're asked in meaningless banter, along with "how much money do you make?" and "How's your sex life?" It makes sense. The stars are full of old Hellenic myths and martyrs, put there by Zeus as some sort of retribution? No that's not the word I want... some attempt at balance for the tragic way they left.
When the world around you is coming apart at the seams, you have a couple of options.
1) Focus on life's little pleasures. Gypsy strawberries, a friend, and sharing a pricey beer... these little things made my sun come out.
2) Clean your room. I'm not saying it's fail proof, but it does help.
3) Don't take yourself so seriously.
One of my favorite movies is "Ghost Dog." It's what you could call a ghetto-samurai flick, possibly the only one in its genre. But he says something I've kept close to my pocket:
"Matters of great concern should be treated lightly." Master Ittei commented, "Matters of small concern should be treated seriously."
I think here, the matters of great concern include (but are not limited to) Me, an Economic Crisis that has everyone freaked out, and whether or not I'm crazy for sticking to a life less certain.
whereas, matters of small concern might include, making sure that my housemate feels someone has heard him, making sure your favorite waitress understands that she is your ray of light in a grimy, gunmetal gray cloud, keeping your toes and fingernails trimmed, your bed made, and a stupid smile on your face. Just to throw people off.
After I'd fixed my bike, a large lady pedaled up next to me in an otherwise pedestrian area near the Acropolis.
"Hello! Are you Greek?"
Me (wary of strangers since having moved here and especially crazy ones) Um, well, no...
"Oh! Where are you from!?"
"Oh! I like to ride my bicycle. Do you?"
And here, she realized she might be freaking me out a little and said, still smiling, "I'm sorry, I just wanted to talk because we're both on bicycles and we're both enjoying ourselves."
My new goal is to channel more often the lady who spontaneously begins conversations with someone else on their bicycle. I'm fairly certain that she is going to survive this crisis with a smile on her face.