Sunday, May 31, 2009
I need to do laundry. I need to shop for food. I need to write something witty. I need to clean out Skipper the guppy's bowl. I need to load the dishwasher. I need to pay attention to my exhausted and whiny children. I need to give my husband some action because God knows he didn't get any on this vacation. I need to exercise--badly. I need to clean the cat vomit on the carpet in the basement. And clean out the cat box, too. I need to make a snack for Minxette now or else she's going to pass out from hunger, apparently.
I need three glasses of wine and a corner to curl up in so I can suck my thumb. In the fetal position.
Dear God, how do those Supermommies do it? The ones who take their kids to the park and actually play with them, the ones who have shorts on sans popsicle/dirt/vomit stains, the ones with lipstick applied and hair combed--clean hair, I might add. The ones who can get through the day without screaming, the ones who don't resent the constant neediness in the world, the ones who always have a vehicle with half a tank of gas in it?
Those Supermommies suck. I struggle to be Basic-Needs-Met Mommy, and even on a good day I just barely squeeze through. My report card forever reads: Partially Proficient. I am C- Mommy.
My children turned into pint-sized wolverines many times on our Disney trip, but Mommy fared even worse. Mommy was a hairy, red-eyed, venom-squirting savage by day 3. Nobody liked me much and I liked myself even less, which is why I'm a puddle of exhaustion and nerves and vacation letdown at the moment.
But the girls want to go swimming this afternoon and I owe them some not-feral-mommy time, so those suitcases are staying in my foyer today. Vomit ridden and all. I do believe they'll still be there, waiting patiently for me. Tomorrow is another day.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
And I will have some healthy food there, too :)
If you have any dates in June that are definitely OUT, please give me a head's up and I will try to plan accordingly.
PS: You gotta wear ONE clothing item that is white trash, also. But I promise I will not serve MD 20/20 on ice.
We are off to Orlando (aka: Hades) for a week. I don't do amusement parks. I'd rather have my innards poked out like Prometheus, frankly.
But. The girls are excited and my best friend and her kids are coming, so I know it won't be the torture chamber I'm expecting.
And I finally get to meet my virtual friend Sheri, who I've been talking to daily for 7 years but never met in the flesh.
I might be too pooped to blog this next week, but please stick with me, because much mischief will be had, and I can't wait to share it with you.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
When Miss D. told me that her class was making a book about Mommy for Mother's Day this year, I thought here we go. I'm still stinging from the shame of last year's Mother's Day project.
Turns out, I'm a lucky devil, because the project was a book but only one page was directly about me. I still knew I was toast, but a page I could maybe deal with.
The project was a cookbook, and the kids drew pictures to match the recipes. The recipes they chose for the book were 1)Applesauce 2)Pumpkin seeds 3)Butter 4)Turkey 5)Peace 6)A Great Mom.
The kids also wrote out the recipes, which is always comical when you're dealing with 7 year olds. For example, take the recipe for Turkey:
First: We buy it an take the rapr off an wohs your hands.
Next: Wohs the turkey. An tack stuff out.
Then: We bake it.
Last: We eat!
Ah, if my Thanksgiving task were truly that easy. What a lovely concept. I'm actually wicked impressed that she included the step about "taking stuff out" because I actually forgot that step the first time I made a turkey.
I also really liked her "recipe" for Peace:
Peace is like a sigl glem in the sea.
Peace looks like the heart of frebship.
It sounds like the wind of a violin.
It can be pes of the earth and sun.
Peace is always a heart of a frend.
The last page was the "recipe" for a Good Mommy. I turned the page with trepidation and a slight wince.
At the top of the page was a brainstorming section. Before writing the formal "recipe" the kids wrote out a list of things they loved about their mommy.
Miss D's brainstorming session looked like this:
makeing me trets.
Well shit. At least I'm consistent, I guess.
The actual recipe looked like this:
First: she makes me pizza. she alwas puts peprone on it.
Then: makes me trets. She nos I love bullseyes.
Last: She kissis me. She makes the best kissis.
This year, my little minx, I am keeping the project.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Instead, I will tell you about the 7 perfect hours we had in Santorini until we caught the ferry to Crete.
I didn't really know what I'd been missing, but when we woke to sun and clear skies, I skipped over to the front door, flung the door open and whoa.
Okay, so that's what all the fuss is about. I get it now.
We stayed at a charming boutique hotel in the town of Imerovigli called the Astra Apartments and Suites. Imerovigli is about a 25 minute walk from the main town of Fira, and we loved staying a little bit away from the crowded main area. Well, we loved it on the day it wasn't rainy and cold...I do recall cursing our choice to stay in Imerovigli a time or two when drenched, chattering and cantankerous.
But truly, I recommend it. Imerovigli is actually on the most scenic part of the caldera, so the views cannot get any better.
You won't really have to deal with the hordes of blue-haired ladies who ransack Fira every afternoon when the cruise ships dock, either. BIG bonus. You don't have to deal with donkey scat either, unless you decide to walk to Fira, which is your choice. And if you're not up for a walk to Fira, the town of Firostefani is only a 10 minute walk away and they have some great restaurants.
Plus, the nice folks at the Astra include breakfast every day in the room rate. And it's a serious breakfast. You get to pick your type of omelet and it arrives hot. There's delicious, thick, Greek yogurt and fruit and granola. Meat and cheese platters, tomatoes and cucumbers. Yeah. And you get to eat it on your little front patio facing the caldera and just gawk at the amazing beauty in front of you.
We checked out of the hotel, left our bags in the lobby and set out for Fira. We had some trinkets and souveniers to purchase, and some little Gremlins were waiting anxiously in Houston to see what spoils would arrive. There are so many charming little shops in Fira and we spent a delightful hour or so there...until the attack of the Blue-Haired Cruisers. Dear God, they came in droves, pushing and shoving and sweating.
"We have to get the Hell out of here," I told hubby. So we hopped the bus to Oia, which is on the other side of the island. Oia is the other "big" city on Santorini and is the fishing hub. And directly underneath Oia is the Bay of Ammoudi, where the kind people at Astra Apartments insisted we stop for a fresh fish lunch.
To get to the Bay, and the tiny smattering of tavernas that sit right next to the shore, you need to take a path from Oia, which is 250 steps down. No, I didn't count them, I am not 'that' anal. They actually have numbers on them. Or you could do what smart folks do and rent a moped or take a cab.
I take it that you've already gathered that we aren't smart. In fact, we are so not smart that we couldn't even find the staircase to the Bay. We took the asphalt road instead and were unsure if we were even on the right road because, of course, there was no signage to be found anywhere. Mopeds whizzed past us and I wondered how long this road was, exactly.
Kinda long. As always, hubby and I took the long way. But we did eventually make it there and had built up an appetite. We walked to the end of the dock and entered the recommended taverna called Dimitri's "Ammoundi" Taverna. As we were waiting for a table, several fishermen reeled their boats in and slapped their haul onto the stones--hey, I thought, it's lunch!
We got a bottle of that famous Santorini wine and I asked our waitress what fish she recommended. "Come on back in the kitchen and take a look," she said.
How cool is that? I walked with her into the kitchen and there sat some really fresh, fat fish on ice in the cooler. It was hard to choose because they all were so gorgeous. You may think it's odd to call a heap of dead fish gorgeous, but believe me, they were.
I begged our waitress to help me choose. Turns out, the "waitress" is the wife of Dimitri, the owner. Her name is Joy and she is blonde and lovely and knows a buttload about fish. She steered me towards the mussels and the snapper, and I didn't argue because the snapper was a big, pink, delicious looking dude.
"The snapper's the most expensive, though," Joy said.
"Are you kidding? Who cares! I am in Greece, on the waterfront, in a tiny taverna kitchen looking at a gorgeous fish that just came off the boat a few hours ago. And I have a credit card. Bring it on, baby!"
"Okay, I'll throw it on the grill for you," she said. And then she paused and eyeballed me. "Where are you from?"
I told her, and she smiled and winked at me and said, "Do you want me to take the head off before I bring it to the table?"
Joy is a saint. Because even though I love food--the freshest possible food--I don't really want to look it in the eye. I know, I know, it's wimpy and no foodie worth her salt should balk at a fish head, but I was really freaking relieved. Joy laughed. She's Canadian. She said she'd even bone the sucker for us. I want to adopt Joy.
The mussels came out first. My husband and I have a thing about mussels. We had our second date over mussels at a cute French bistro. We ate mussels in many restuaurants during our courtship. We fell in love, probably, while sharing a pot of mussels with a loaf of good bread. Mussels, hubby, and I...we have a history. And when we were married without children, I used to drive to the Whole Foods and make mussels for him at least 3 times a month. We'd open a bottle of wine and slurp down those tender guys and sop sauce with bread and pile the shells onto the table and make eyes at one another...
Babies killed that little love ritual, lemme tell ya. I don't think I've made mussels for my husband in YEARS. I just can't toodle off to the Whole Foods that's a town away anymore, at least not easily. So we were really delighted to see those mussels, especially while looking at the Santorini coast on a sunny afternoon with a bottle of wine.
These mussels were prepared simply--steamed in wine, garlic, olive oil and shallot with a good fistful of fresh parsley scattered over the top. We attacked them. Seriously, those guys didn't stand a chance with us. We were so hungry and they were so good that we hoovered them down in no time. If I had any shame, I'd have been embarrassed, but I was too happy. So good.
Joy came back to check on us and I chatted her up--a practice I have that my husband finds excruciatingly embarrassing. Salesclerks, grocery baggers, the gardener, some random lady in an elevator--I chat them up. Which is odd because growing up, my mother did the exact same thing and I wanted to die, I was so mortified. I hated it. I bit the inside of my cheek whenever she did it because it was that annoying. And look at me, thirty years later, doing the exact same thing.
Anyways, Joy visited Greece 22 years ago, laid eyes on Dimitri, fell in love, and never went back. Doesn't that just make you swoon, it's so romantic?
Then the snapper, the star of the show came out. He'd been slit open like a book, brushed with olive oil, grilled and served with an olive oil/lemon viniagrette. Joy plopped him down on our table and said,"I'm confiscating your silverware. Fish like this should be eaten with the hands."
She didn't steer us wrong. We could not stop eating it, truly. I honestly think it's my favorite thing that I've ever eaten and hubby agrees. We picked little tender morsels off, popped them into our mouths, sipped wine, tilted our faces up to the sun. I was so happy that I even shared a little fish with the taverna's resident cat, Rosie...even though she's a little fat and Joy told me not to.
Shhhh, our secret. Days like today are too good to keep for yourself.
Monday, May 18, 2009
We found To Kouti, a cute little place with a great patio view of the Acropolis, without any drama this time. To Kouti means "the box" in Greek, and it is a tiny box-like restaurant. I was taken with the view and the menu--each menu is inscribed inside a different children's book. Some of the books are Greek, some are English, some are German, some are French. It's lots of fun trying to decode a children's book in a language you don't know. It's a good way to pass the time.
ps: my rudimentary German says that this book is about how everything is good on your birthday, Rosi!! And you gotta love that overbite.
Another good way to pass the time is to drink wine on the patio and watch hordes of people walk by because it's Sunday, which means it's market day. On Sundays there's a huge open-air flea market smack in the middle of the Monastiraki district, and we saw all kinds of swindlers and tourists and peddlers and gypsy-looking people.
There were little kids no older than Miss D. darting about, selling little packets of Kleenex or boxes of matches. There were some very persistent and annoying street musicians just dying to give you a serenade. There were clusters of African men hawking VERY fake looking Louis Vuitton bags. My favorite was a little old man, very stoop-shouldered, pushing a huge music box down the street on 4 wheels. He turned an old fashioned looking crank on the side and it played tinkly little notes. I am still wicked pissed that we failed to get a photo of him.
We needed the diversion, because the service at To Kouti is quite, um, leisurely. But it was a gorgeous day and we gazed at the Acropolis and smiled at the children and drank wine. Not a bad way to spend 2 or 3 hours. Plus, the food, when we eventually got it, was very good.
They bring bread to the table in little boxes (of course!) and it comes with a yummy, subtly spiced fava bean dip. Because the tomatoes in Greece are sooooo good, I got both tabbouleh and Greek salad and both tasted fresh and herbaceous and delectable.
We also got meatballs, which (sorry hubby) came over a bed of more Greek salad. The meatballs were flavorful and so tender that they melted in your mouth. And they weren't deep fried, like a lot of the meatballs in Greece are, so I felt rather virtuous.
We spent the afternoon wandering around the market and exploring the ruins of the Ancient Agora and we got lost a lot, but that was okay. We definitely walked off lunch.
Greeks eat dinner late, as do many people in warm climates. Restaurants don't really even start to get hopping until 9pm and many are open until 2am. We strolled into Daphne's Restaurant around 9:45pm and it wasn't that full; it was buzzing when we left.
Daphne's has gotten lots of good press in the guidebooks and in the hotels, so I wanted to eat there. Plus, it's got one of the best names in the world--how could I resist?
We had a delicious starter of eggplant salad ("good" eggplant, naturally) spread on warm bread, and shrimp "Saganaki" (shrimp in a sauce of tomato, ouzo and feta cheese).
For an entree, my husband ordered...rabbit. To be fair, Daphne's is well known for their rabbit, but still. He wanted to eat Thumper? Weird!
Now don't ask me why I don't think it's weird to eat cow or fish or chicken. I know I should be an equal-opportunity carnivore, but I'm not. I think it's weird to eat rabbit. Especially rabbit still on the bone, which gives me the willies just thinking about it.
I had to poke fun at my husband while we waited for our food, so I reminded him of that old episode of Bugs Bunny where the king keeps yelling at the cook, "Where's my hassenpfeffer?" And the king never gets it, of course, because Bugs Bunny is far too smart to end up as someone's dinner.
The rabbit came in a wine sauce that they called "Mavrodaphne" sauce and it's a delicately spiced dish that, my husband assured me, was very good. I had a lovely piece of fish.
Of course we got lost on our way home and had a nice hour walk trying to find out hotel. Cardio, man! It was a peaceful evening for me (eg: slept like the dead) but when I woke up, my sweet hubby was kind of sweaty and glassy eyed.
"I had three crazy-ass dreams in a row," he said.
I live for this stuff. I made him tell me about them all. They were all VERY odd, but the weirdest one involved Sebastian Bach , the lead singer from a very hair-band group called Skid Row (and my husband hates hair bands). Sebastian was following my husband around the world in the dream, crying about his lack of job opportunities.
"Where the heck did that dream come from?" I said.
"Hell if I know," he said, but his eyes were still bugging around in his head.
"Maybe you just weren't meant to eat Hassenpfeffer," I said.
"Revenge of the Hassenpfeffer...sounds like a bad movie," he replied. "I'm not eating it ever again. I don't need any hair band dudes in my dreams again. Even IF they need my help getting employed."
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
"But this is 'good' eggplant," he said.
This was a head scratcher. Not just because the Greek eggplant salad he'd been eating had, well, eggplant in it. It also was creamy. Dude don't do creamy. In fact, I could go far enough to say that my husband has a deep fear of all things creamy (except ice cream--the man is human, after all).
"What makes this 'good' eggplant?" I asked.
He sort of looked annoyed. He just wanted to eat the eggplant, not analyze it, but I couldn't let it go.
"I don't know what makes it 'good' eggplant but it is."
As if that was going to pacify me.
"But it's creamy," I said.
He gave me the universal look for duh, Moron! and kept eating the eggplant, slathered on a piece of grilled bread.
I helpfully ticked off a list of creamy foods that he professes to hate and will not eat: sour cream, yogurt, ranch or blue cheese dressing, mayo, tzatziki, just about any kind of dip, white trash food.
He just shrugged.
This was making me nuts.
"Is it the grilled bread?" I asked. "Could it be that you just really love grilled bread and you could smear anything on it and you'd think it was delicious?"
"I'm pretty sure I'm smarter than that, even if you don't think so."
"Is it the spices? Could it be that you just really love lemon and garlic, and you could put lemon and garlic on anything and you'd think it was delicious?"
"Do you really have to be the Inspector Clouseau of Eggplant right now? It's fairly annoying."
"I know, but dude, you are eating creamy eggplant!"
"I think you've had enough wine."
"Hey, hey, I think I know what it is! It's the olive oil, right? It's gotta be the olive oil! Greeks are famous for amazing olive oil, so that's it! Hah. I knew it had to be something."
"You know, I hate to break it to you, but I don't think it's the olive oil. I've been eating olive oil in the Greek Salad all week and now I can't even look at another Greek Salad. So if the oil was the secret weapon of the universe, I'd still be eating Greek Salad. So there."
"Sweetie, calm yourself. I think I do actually know what's amazing about this eggplant."
"Well then just tell me already, douchebag! It's been killing me!"
"I'm eating this eggplant in Greece. There. That's it."
Now of course, he was right. And I could just end this post with that thought, because it's a lovely thought and it came from the heart and he was very sweet and witty.
But of course I can't. I can't leave anything alone; it's a sickness, I tell you.
Now that I am home (okay, only for 5 days but still) I must.replicate.that.eggplant.
I'm thinking that it was eerily close to Baba Ghanoush, which I have no idea how to make. So I looked it up in one of my favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. Mark Bittman knows his veggies. I trust him.
He has two recipes: one for Roasted Eggplant Dip and one for Baba Ghanoush. The big difference between the two is that Baba Ghanoush has toasted pine nuts and tahini in it, which I think might be right.
Oh, and Bittman tells you to roast the eggplant. He says, "Roasting eggplant gives it such wonderful smoky flavor that even people who claim not to like eggplant often eat this dip enthusiastically."
So I'm going to try them. Both of them, back to back, in an Eggplant Smackdown.
But not now. Because the purchasing of tahini needs to happen at Whole Foods, which is 20 minutes away and I'm too lazy this week (well, 5 days) to make the trip. But I will keep you posted.
And if the miracle ingredient really is Greece, well I guess we'll just have to go back.
Here's the recipe(s) if you are interested.
Roasted Eggplant Dip
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything
makes at least 6 servings with bread or crackers
2 medium or 4 small eggplant, about 1 pound
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, or to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1. Start a charcoal or wood fire, or preheat a gas grill, or turn the oven to 500 degrees F. Pierce the eggplant in several places with a thin-bladed knife or skewer. Grill or roast, turning occasionally, until the eggplant collapses and the skin blackens, 15 to 30 minutes depending on size. Remove and cool.
2. When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, part the skin (if it hasn't split on its own), scoop out the flesh, and mince it finely. Mix it with the lemon juice, oil, garlic, cheese, salt and pepper. Taste to adjust seasonings, then garnish and serve, with bread or crackers.
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything
Omit the oil and the cheese from above recipe. While the eggplant is grilling or roasting, toast 1/2 cup of pine nuts by heating them in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking occasionally, just until they begin to brown. When the eggplant is cool, put it into the container of a food processor with the pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste). Process until very smooth, adding a few teaspoons of water or olive oil if necessary. Taste and add salt and/or more lemon juice or garlic if necessary. Garnish with minced parsley and serve.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I won. Dude knows not to mess with a feral beast.
Dinner was delicious: local fish and amazing bread and tomatoes like you never knew. And a really nice bottle of wine, which we hastily polished off.
Suddenly, I FELT TERRIFIC!
And guess what? All the waiters in Greece are cuties! And so helpful! Amazingly, they all have cousins who own tavernas that we need to visit tomorrow! And one of them has a cousin who plays in band who we must go see...now!
Yeah, I don't know why he married me, either.
But he paid our huge-ass bill and took me to see Rembetika and we got in for free with the royal treatment because our waiter at the GB, Evangelos, did indeed have a cousin playing and had called ahead to alert them.
Rembetika, as Evangelos (and my husband, who annoyingly knows everything about music) explained, is the music that the "real" people listen to--you know, the ones who don't like pop. Rembetika, they explained, is the music of the urban poor, the disenfranchised. They sing about drinking and drugs and anger and past injustices.
Yeah! My kinda attitude! My kinda music! I almost shook my fist in the air on the cab ride to the club. I pictured some Greek Kurt Cobain kinda dude, wailing into a microphone.
What I got was a tavern full of older people/families and a band that included an accordion, a violin and a tambourine. But they kinda rocked it, they did. The audience knew the songs by heart and sang and danced in the aisles and the singers belted the melodies out with feeling. And after a glass or two of the house wine--the wine of the Immortal, they said--I was tapping my foot right along with them.
The bar, should you ever find yourself in Athens in need of some Rembetika, tasty snacks and happy people, is called Stoa Athanaton. Music doesn't START until midnight, so I suggest you hustle up to the rooftop of the GB for 15$ kir royales and the most gorgeous Acropolis sunset you will ever see. But that wine of the Immortal? Ouch. Maybe not.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Yeppers, that would be me. I blame it on my mother. Have you noticed a trend here?
My mother has always been this freak optimist. I mean, this lady has had cancer more times than I can keep track of and she just whistles through it, pouring wine and figuring out what she can do to make someone else feel more comfortable. It's totally awesome but dang, it's just not fair to the rest of us humanoids with fallibilities to spare.
So the world's greatest optimist gave birth to...the girl who always sees the glass--that half-full one--and screams highway robbery.
The last 7 hours I had on Santorini were perfect. The sun was in full glory, the sea shimmered and I ate fish just off the boat with my fingers and it was the best damn thing I've ever put in my mouth. EVER.
And I can't wait to tell you about it. But it's gonna have to wait, because I walked about 8, yep, 8 miles yesterday, half of them uphill. So (wah) my legs are screaming and I have to go (wah) soak in the jacuzzi. At this really nice hotel in Crete.
And as we are on the ferry to Crete, after the most perfect day on Santorini, what do I say to my husband?
"Santorini is a seductive sadist of an island." Say that three times fast; it's hard. But I meant it. If the weather hadn't gotten gorgeous, I wouldn't have known what I'd been missing. But I saw. And I didn't want to leave because it was before tourist season (when the whole place, according to my mother, smells like steaming donkey shit) and I'd had a perfect day. And anyone with children or a job or a life knows that perfect days happen once in a million.
Glass half full? You betcha. But Crete has its charms too, and a jacuzzi is waiting for this whiner.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
So we ricocheted about, like a couple of North Dakota hockey forwards and went into the rain and the ballast and the VERY pissed off tourists.
Now let's get one thing clear. Am I upset that the weather is utterly craptacular on this island that I have waited 15 years (because I've dreamed of it for 15 years) to experience? Yeah, that's a positive. Is it a complete goddamn cheat that when you get to the place of your dreams NOTHING goes right or works right or is right? Yep, it really is. It sucks. But, and don't kill the messenger because I'm just sayin'.....
People, it doesn't give you a reason to be a dick.
Tourists are swarming around hotel lobbies and bars like the angry vampires from The Lost Boys, gunning their motorcycles and baring their teeth and pacing like agitated cats. And their waitress is their mid-morning snack.
"I said I wanted HOT coffee."
"You call this orange juice?"
"You said this was vegan, but it smells animal."
"You don't have a gluten free option. Really. What century are we in?"
"How do I know that your jam and syrup doesn't have high fructose corn syrup in it, because I read..."
"Hey girlie! Order of biscuits, sausage and cream gravy, stat.
"What do you mean you are OUT of soup? It's just soup?! Make some more, for chrissakes."
The weathermen have promised us a nicer day tomorrow. I really hope so. Because I don't want to see any more people taking their disappointment out on the easiest and youngest targets. Yah, okay, asshole, the weather and your life today isn't going the way you planned.You and me both.
So I suggest you do what I did today and go out without an umbrella and get drenched and start to shiver and wander around until...you reach that warm taverna you were in yesterday. And you walk in, say you are so happy for this shelter, and smile at the girl you thought was an inept little twat of a server, but she had a nice face. And damnded if you aren't glad to see her. And you don't sass and tip her double.
Yeah, you, Tosser. From Wherever You Are. Poor Disappointed Tourist man with aggression to spare..That anger you have? You don't know where it comes from or where it begins or where it ends. But you carry it around like a spider in the corner, like the birthmark that nobody can see. But. you. can. see.
You have a lot to answer for. Pony up and be a Human Being, not a petulant child in the corner.
Because tomorrow, you know what?
It's just gonna be rain. And disappointment. Perhaps a lot of disappointment. But life and rain and travel and crazy soft Greek music keep keening from the background, and how you see it all boils right down to one thing: You.
Monday, May 4, 2009
And that, as we were soon to find out, was one of the *clearer* signs in Athens.
People who know me well understand that I have a few character traits that just ain't gonna change. 1) I have the most backward internal compass in the world. I do believe the term directionally retarded has been used in more than one instance, probably not unfairly. 2) Despite evidence to the contrary, I am always absolutely certain that I know exactly where I'm going. 3) And I'm obnoxious about insisting thus. And, last but not least, 4) When I get hungry, I get mean. Not just cranky, not just mutter-under-my-breath snarky. We are talking full on foaming-at-the-mouth-like-a-rabid-dog MEAN.
Which is how, on our first day in Athens, we found ourselves wandering around maze-like streets at 2pm, with maybe 3 hours sleep (out of the last 24) under our belts, starvin' Marvin, with no relief in sight...huh?
Back up a minute, Belvedere. There's at least 4 restaurants on every block in Athens. And half of those restaurants have handsome Greek dudes outside of them, trying to convince you that their souvlaki is the only thing in town worth eating. So what's with the "no relief in sight" bullshit?
Honest, the "no relief in sight" is not bullshit. And this is why. There is no relief because rabid-dog-mean Dana is dragging her resigned and exhausted husband through the Plaka, insistent upon finding the one restaurant she needs to eat at, the one recommended to her by a random hotel employee, the one that her husband insists that we've passed by twice--which of course is crap because she knows exactly where it is--
Yeah, I don't know why the guy married me either.
One hour later, we still haven't found it. And I haven't gotten any nicer. And I think the Karma Gods decided that I needed a little kick in the pants, so we rounded a corner and saw:
Okay, probably only about 3 of you are laughing right now, but it's worth it. Allow me to explain.
I'm a former English teacher, which means I've taken more literature classes than is healthy for any human being and is probably the reason that I'm stark raving mad and have a tenuous grip on reality.
For some reason, damn near every professor my in undergraduate and graduate studies had a love affair with the Irish author James Joyce. "Brilliant," they said. "Complete genius," they said. "The greatest writer of all time, hands down," they said.
I said, "WTF? This guy is totally writing drunk."
But I, diligent student, continued to read Joyce and they, my very learned professors, continued to insist that Joyce was Genius...which resulted in my acute distaste for Joyce.
Seriously, put me on a desert island with nothing but a copy of The Dubliners and I will be roasting my own toes on a spit within 2 days. He makes me that mental and sure, I expect to grapple with Joyce in a classroom or in a coffeehouse or in a pub in Ireland. But that wanker followed me to Greece!
ps: The black and tan and chips were delicious.
We arrived this afternoon to the quaintest little white and blue apartment. It's a thousand degrees from our posh Athens digs and a welcome change (albeit the rain). The only constant between the two is the warmth of the Greek hospitality. Everywhere we have gone, we have been met with smiles and advice and an eagerness to share the beauty that is Greece.
So I'm hoping, over the next day or so (more rain forecast tomorrow--schizophrenic Spring weather) to settle in with a bottle of Santorini wine and tell you about the first (fairer) days of the trip. Because I'm sure as heck not spending it in the swimming pool, which is right out our front door. Tsk. At least I am with good company!