Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wind Moon

Tonight's full moon was the "Wind Moon" according to Cherokee legend. It's a night you should concentrate on your animal totems and put flowers all around you. Or at least that's what the new agers say. It's aptly named, I'll say that much. Boreas, old North Wind, was beating his chest through the whole day.

Me, I had a lot of trouble getting up this morning. Even more trouble getting out. Some days emotion sits so heavy on you, a Sumo wrestler, a Hungarian, operatic diva.. just sitting there on your chest and reminding you of everything that's bent and screwed. It's all you can do to get to the nearest bathtub and soak those worries out, just let them out and into the water, collecting together like the scum in a pot of simmering lentils.

When I finally found the courage to leave the house it was 3 o'clock. What was forcing my steps? An eventual lecture on Greek vampires. Vrykolakas, or βρυκόλακας. It was being held at the Canadian institute, albeit not until 7:30, but I was ready, wearing my "VOODOO QUEEN" t shirt, "Undead girls have more fun" written at the bottom. To kill the time, I had my public relations to do.

This entails walking past Deseo's cafe and eyeing the patio to see if there were any familiars. Indeed, Panos and his Sancho were sitting there. As custom has it, I have to go and attempt to speak Greek for a little while. Then I made an appearance at to Grafeio, the office, where Steve was sitting with an accountant in a neck brace. An Egyptian named "Christo." Of course! The office is nothing but a bunch of mutts, myself included. I saw G's backpack and assumed he was eating at "Mitso's," the corner taverna. (Right across the street from Deseo's. You're getting the idea of the community?) Sure enough he was snarfing down a horiatiki, "Greek" salad and a plate of calamari. He told me about running his bicycle into a tourist and crashing.

Walking back to the office I spotted a wine room I'd been meaning to talk to about incorporating the tasting of Greek wines into our tours, so I veered in and chatted up the two owners. They painted the wall with one hand (a mod, gunmetal gray) And poured me wine from Nemea with the other. Nemea, as in the Nemean lion that Hercules had to kill as part of his blood cleansing tasks. He killed his wife in a fit of confusion and therefore had a bunch of silly things he had to do, as big as killing monsters and lions and as small as cleaning out the royal stables. But I veer off course...

Finally it was time to go to this Vrykolakas lecture, so I jumped on the metro and navigated myself through the unknown neighborhood of Illisas, named for the Illisos river that used to flow through Athens from the ancient times until the 19th century and is now a dry ditch full of garbage. But I stray...

I found my way to door number seven and found an old man on a cane with an old woman, also with a cane and one upping him with a colorful assortment of patterns and textures, including a headscarf that would make a drag queen squeal with delight. They were buzzing the buzzer over and over with the tip of their cane, first one and then the other, as if one cane was magically going to make the doorbell work. "Why won't it work?" "I don't know, let me try..."

When finally the man had the brilliant notion of buzzing ALL of the buzzers until someone answered. They finally did and were still calling through the loudspeaker on the street as we happily entered, "nai? Pio einai? Oriste?" (You can imagine...)

And the door of the Canadian Institute squealed open with a tall, pink cheeked genteleman in spectacles who looked awfully disappointed. "I'm sorry, it's cancelled. Want to come in for a drink anyway?"

If you knew how many times this poor man, Mr. Jonathan, had to open that door and give the bad news to a LARGE number of people who were very very excited to spend their Wednesday evenings learning about vampires in Greece, you would pity him, you really would. The power had apparently gone out for most of the day and at 5:00 they made the call, as there was an impressive powerpoint presentation to be had and it just wouldn't be the same without it (I wish they had called me on that one... I've never seen a powerpoint presentation that has REALLY made the difference, but alas)

So what to do. I took the opportunity on finding a Canadian who was well associated with the international community in Athens and asked him if he would be interested in some unique tours going into the mountains of Pendeli and Parnitha. Lucky for me, he was.

Leaving the metro, on the way back, a nice looking man with clear, open eyes called me out, just as soon as I emerged into the waning light of day. "Hello! Do you speak English?"
And soon I was talking to a Hindu monk from California and giving a donation for a meditation cd, decorated a la Jerry Garcia. On any other day I would have walked straight past, but today, I'd had a little seed put in my head early in the morning to watch for signs, and I wondered if maybe this was one of them.

Home again now, the Diva is back on my chest. It was a nice break, the quest for knowledge of Vrykolakas, the Californian yogi, the "how do you dos," but now I'm back to her. She's smug, her tree trunk arms folded over her bouldrous breasts. "Thought you could slip away?" Only she was singing it. Alto.

I'm going to go now and see if Wikipedia offers any solutions for this...

I'm going to retreat back into my little fantasty world now, with Ellen Cherry Charles, and when I go to sleep to dream, I hope two things:

1) let me know what animal is my totem, so that I can draw a picture of it and put flowers all around.

2) Let it be something that would smack its lips and eat an operatic diva in one, chompless gulp. And then let it open it's mouth and say something wise to me, but in Greek.