None! Anywhere! It boggles the mind!

I am safely ensconced in my hotel in Newark, with my huge king bed. Culture shock #5: hotel prices in the states. Dude, in Greece we thought €20/night was expensive, and this place is over $90!

(Culture shock #2: Being able to flush toilet paper. It takes conscious thought to dispose of it in the bowl rather than in a bin, which is very, very weird.)

(Culture shock #4: TIPPING. I forgot about tipping! The woman in front of me tipped the shuttle driver for helping her get her bags out of the trunk and I just sort of stared. I barely remember how much to tip for food — how the hell much do you tip a shuttle driver?)

Culture shocks #1 and #3 will have to be documented later. Right now I’m worn out. Time for a shower and a good sleep before immersing myself in America tomorrow in New York.

Τα λέμε — see you later.

As has been mentioned here before, I’m something of an anxious traveler in spite of my best efforts to be zen — which is why I’m up at 7:27 AM, writing this, when my plane to London doesn’t leave until 1:40 this afternoon.

I have my notebook(s), my laptop, my fully-charged iPod, my passport, and yes, I know where my towel is. (Shrink-wrapped at the bottom of my backpack, taking up valuable space and being stubbornly heavy — but it’s important.) My souvenirs are all well-padded — I hope, LORD I hope — and all that really remains is to eat some breakfast, chuck my 3-oz fluids ziploc bag into my backpack, and go whenever I want.

I leave behind a phone, a set of keys, a lot of uneaten food and a surprising amount of undrunk coffee, a few pieces of clothing, stamps, and oppressive heat. I’m not leaving an awful lot, although I am impressed that my one new checked bag (I came with only carry-ons) mostly consists of papers and my parents’ books.

More importantly, though, I’m leaving behind a wonderful group. Greece has been great, but a place is almost nothing without its people. I was so  fortunate to have such a wonderful group at the Athens Centre: Rosemary, Vassia, Katja, Maggie, Nina, Kati, Lavros, Maria. I had wonderful teachers, Michael and Richmond and Nancy and Ianna.

And I had such friends.

And now I’ve got a lump in my throat, fantastic.

Tricia’s status the other day was “I’ll see you later; I’ll see you soon,” and I don’t think I can add anything to that.

To my friends, to my faculty, to Greece: I’ll see you later.

To my friends, to my family, to home: I’ll see you soon.

Τελειώνω – I finish.

Man, I’m sorry for the paucity of updates, guys, but it has paid off. I sent off my essays to Michael today, and did my oral for Greek an hour ago, and now I’m done. I’m almost done packing, too, so all I need to do now is give British Airways my passport information so I can check into my flights and print out my boarding passes, go to the farewell dinner tonight, and get to the airport tomorrow. Easy peasy!

It’s insane to imagine that tomorrow I’ll be someplace that speaks English, where the prices are all different, where my phone works. But that’s for tomorrow. Tonight is for Athens.

κοντά – near.

. . . Evidently it worked. I may have been the only person who tried to answer the final question (on a term that appeared nowhere on our study guide), and I only got it right by dumb luck.

So whoever was looking out for me, thank you. (Shannon, Rachel, Lauren — I think you may be my unknown gods.)

We perform Ploutous tonight, in about an hour; I have trekked home to take a shower that will undoubtedly be undone by the trek back to school, but I have clean clothes to change in and hopefully don’t smell too much. These days, that’s all I ask. Then tomorrow I buckle down and write this last research paper (or maybe I’ll buckle down and write some of it tonight, after the reading), and Friday I buckle down and pack, and Saturday . . .

Saturday I leave.

You know the biggest worry on my mind right now? When am I going to get to the bookstore to get a book for the plane?

First-world problems, man.

There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you

-T. S. Eliot, “The Wasteland”

This weekend we went to Meteora — Lauren, Dana, Ali, Katherine, and I. Our plan was sort of loose: catch the train at 10:50 AM on Friday, ride five hours to Kalambaka, walk to our hotel (wherever it was), spend Saturday morning walking down the mountains and touring the monasteries, and catch the 2:30 train to be back to Athens in time for dinner. It was just enough planning to keep me reasonably happy, although the details were all a little vague.

Things started going downhill when we reached Larissa Station in Athens and tried to buy tickets. “The 10:50 train is only first class,” the woman in the ticket booth told me. And how much were those tickets? “Thirty-five euro.”

We’d been planning on getting tickets for €14,50 — that was what Rachel and Tricia had told us the tickets would cost. We conferred briefly and decided to take the 2:50 train, which only cost €19. Which left us with four hours to wait in the Everest cafe next door.

Four. Long. Hours. We poked listlessly at our homework (well, I poked listlessly; Lauren and Ali, at least, seemed to be applying themselves happily) and I grew more and more anxious. Changing plans makes me nervous. I can adapt, but it doesn’t make me happy, and uncertainty scares me even more. The uncertainty that was gnawing at me was the fact that we were going to have to change trains in someplace called (I had to sound it out from the ticket) Pa-lai-o-fa-r-sa-la. I thought that the woman in the ticket counter had said that the tickets in my hand would take us all the way to Kalambaka, but I couldn’t shake the thought that maybe we were going to have to buy another ticket in Pale-o-fars-ala.

We keep reading these pieces in Journeys class about people — often women — who travel in Greece or all over the world with little to no plan and apparently just as little anxiety. They trust in the mercy of the travel gods, throwing themselves into the air or over the sea and trusting that they’re going to land somewhere soft. And I simply can’t fathom that. Even traveling in an English-speaking country, on transportation I’m used to, like a plane, I wander around with my itinerary clutched tightly in my hand. I check my watch — I check my pockets as if, in the last thirty seconds, my ID might have vanished — I rehearse where I’ll go, how I’ll get there, what I’ll say, and how much money I’ll spend. If I don’t know the details of what’s going to happen, I don’t know what to do with myself. I am plenty capable of getting lost — but I’m not capable of letting myself get lost.

I’ve been trying. My friends wax rhapsodic about their impulse-driven spring breaks, and I’ve tried to do things that are unplanned and enjoy the spontaneity of it all — and I’m coming to the conclusion that I’m just not that kind of person. I tell myself repeatedly that it’s not a bad thing to be uncomfortable with unscheduled trips. There is no right or wrong way to travel — even though we sometimes talk like there is, in class, deriding the retirees who pile on and off of tour buses and wear silly looking hats and shorts, who buy the packaged tour and see the ruins without knowing the history. The problem with those travelers, though, is not the mode of travel they’ve chosen, the buses and schedules and hotels in the touristy part of town. The problem is only if they travel with an unseeing mindset.

Read the rest of this entry »

Μαγειρεύω — I cook!

Super Colorful Chili (/Finals Stress Relief)

A recipe by me. (Although it is in no small part inspired by a similar chili made by my housemate Jessica.)


1 and 1/2 large tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans
1 orange bell pepper
1 green belle pepper
1/2 large onion
Spices (oregano, basil, salt, pepper. You could probably put cayenne or other really spicy stuff in too, if you like your chili spicy; as is, this is more like glorified tomato sauce than anything.)
Olive oil

(Probably optional beginning: Put a little olive oil in a large pot, along with some of the spices and the garlic. Let the garlic roast a little.)

Dice all your veggies. I like my chili chunky, so I dice my veggies to somewhere between 3/4 inch and 1/4 inch.

Combine all ingredients in a large pot, put on medium heat, and let simmer until, well, it’s done. I let mine go for a fairly long while, so that a lot of the liquid (from the beans and the tomatoes) boils off. Trust your judgement.

Stir frequently (make sure you scrape the bottom of the pot; nothing spoils the experience of good chili like having to scrub off burned-on chili bits). And taste frequently, too. One, it’s hard to season perfectly from the get-go — I find this chili needs a lot of salt to counteract the sweetness of the tomatoes — two, it’s the best way to make sure the veggies are done to your taste, be that crispy or super tender, and three, you’re the cook! You’re making something tasty! You should get right of first taste-test.

For best results, it’s recommended that you use veggies fresh from a local market, and cook when you’re stressed out — because if you can make yourself delicious chili, you can do anything. (Eating the chili helps with this attitude.)

Serve over pasta or rice, with something cold to drink. Feeds . . . several, or one person for several days, because it reheats really well.

I’m not sure what the nutritional value of this chili is. My can of beans says it’s 87 calories, and all those veggies together can’t amount to much. The highest calorie part of it is probably the olive oil, and you’re really only using a smidgen of that, like maybe a teaspoon of it. The beans are a good source of protein, and by combining all these different colors of veggies you’re getting a huge spectrum of nutrients. Combine it with some complex carbs and you’re golden.

Πελοπόννησος – Pelops’ Island.

I realize I still haven’t blogged about the Peloponnese tour. Oooops. In my (lame) defense, there was a lot on that tour — two or three sites every day for four days — and we’re entering finals week (as the state of our kitchen table and living room attests to).

But I feel like I ought to offer up something. This was, after all, the trip where we say some of the most important Panhellenic sites of the Ancient Greek world: Nemea, Olympia, and Isthmia, three of the four sites with Panhellenic games (Delphi was the fourth), and Epidaurus, the biggest healing sanctuary in the Peloponnese. So I’ll fall back on my usual “Can’t blog, homework will eat me!” standby and give you a lot of pictures, instead. Read the rest of this entry »

Ναι, είναι ένα βιβλίο για Star Trek. Είναι πρόβλημα; (Yes, it's a Star Trek book. Is that a problem?)

χτες ήμουν στην μάθημα για ελληνικά και μάθαμε τη λέξη «πινάω», και ξαφνικά ήθελα να διαβάσω My Enemy, My Ally,  βιβλίο Νταϊάν Ντουάιν του για Star Trek.

Είναι τρία αιτιολογικό:

1. Δεν διαβάσω τίποτα πρόσφατα, και θέλω παρά πολύ μια βιβλία νέα.

2. Μου αρέσει η γλώσσα Νταϊάν Ντουάιν γράφει, Rihannsu, ή ίσως ρίχαννσικά στην ελληνικά. Πιστεύω ότι η γλώσσα ακούγεται σαν ελληνικά. (Βέβαιο, ίσος με λίγο ιρλανδικό. Και ουαλική. Ίσως δεν ακούγεται σαν ελληνικά.) Νταϊάν Ντουάιν επινόησε τη γλώσσα, και λέξες μικρές σαν Διοβ (Dhiov, ένα όνομα) ή σούσσαι-θράι (susse-thrai) ακούγεται σαν ελληνικό για μένα.

3. Αλλά η αιτία μεγάλα είναι μια λέξη. Στο βιβλίο My Enemy, My Ally, Ael γελάει με το όνομα Jim Kirk, γιατί “Jim” ακούγεται σαν μια κακή λέξη στην ρίχαννσικά. Και όταν η καθηγητή μας, Γιάννα, λέει τη λέξη «Πεινάς;» γελάμε. Εη, μόνο είμαστε σπουδαστές.

Γιατί εγώ σπουδάσω ελληνικά, νομίζω περισσότερος πώς γλώσσες εργασίας. (Είναι «εργασίας» η σωστή λέξη; Δεν ξέρω.) Ίσως θα γράψω μια ιστορία με μια νέα γλώσσα κάποια μέρα.


Yesterday I was in my Greek lesson and we learned the word “πινάω” [pinao, “I’m hungry” or “I hunger”], and suddenly I wanted to read My Enemy, My Ally, Diane Duane’s Star Trek book.

There are three reasons:

1. I have not read anything recently, and I very much want a new book.

2. I like the language Diane Duane writes, Rihannsu, or maybe ρίχαννσικά in Greek. I think that the language sounds like Greek. (Of course, maybe a little Irish. And Welsh. Maybe it doesn’t sound like Greek.) Diane Duane invented the language, and little words like Dhiov (Dhiov, a name) or susse-thrai sound like Greek to me.

3. But the big reason is one word. In the book My Enemy, My Ally, Ael laughs at the name Jim Kirk, because “Jim” sound like a bad word in Rihannsu. And when our teacher, Ianna, says the word “Πεινάς;” [pronounced peenas, meaning “Are you hungry?” or literally “Do you hunger?”], we laugh. Eh, we’re only students.

Because I’m studying Greek, I think more about how languages function. (Is “εργασίας” the right word? I don’t know.) Maybe I’ll write a story with a new language someday.

κλοπή και αντίστροφη μέτρηση — theft and countdown.

The big news today is that a second person in our group has had her laptop stolen — taken right out of her hands. Dana’s was stolen when she was sitting on her first-floor balcony, just before we left for the Peloponnese; Shannon’s was taken last night while she was sitting outside the Athens Centre after dark. It seems to be the same two high school age guys. One of them kicked Shannon in the face to make sure she wouldn’t chase them.

This pisses me off. When I came in this morning and heard about Shannon’s loss — and more to the point, her assault — Jaxon joked that this was a job for me and my karate. “We need you to sit out there alone — ‘alone’ — with your laptop, and we’ll be hiding . . .” And I really am tempted to do just that. The cops are not going to catch these guys. I have a better chance of tackling one of them and getting a little vengeance for Shannon and Dana, though there’s basically no chance of getting their laptops back.

I’m not going to do that, of course. Even if these are just a couple of skinny high schoolers, they’ve proven themselves willing to hit their victims. But the desire’s to punch someone in the face is strong.

I guess this is how costumed superheroes are born.

Anyway, in a less . . . unsettling vein. I have seventeen days left here, which is absolutely crazy.

Things I’m looking forward to in the States:

-Bear Tooth. Burritos in general.
-Lattes. From anywhere — Starbucks, Kaladi’s, Kiva Han, anywhere.
-Skim milk. (The milk here is more like cream than anything.)
-Drivers who respect pedestrians.
-Hulu and Pandora and other websites that don’t work outside the US.
-Shopkeepers and restaurant owners who don’t badger you to come inside.
-Dark beers.

Things I’m already missing:

-Greek produce.
-The mile-long walk to school.
-Urban neighborliness.
-Euros. (I really like the currency – the different sizes and colors, the country-specific decorations on the coins.)
-The Acropolis.
-Olive trees.
-Dessert wine.
-Sitting in a taverna for hours.

Posts and photos from the Peloponnesian tour will be up soon, I promise.

(If you couldn't guess, I'm the tiny one at the stage right end of the line.)

A post with, like, substance will appear at some point, but right now it’s the end of a long, long, very, very hot day.

October 2016
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Anthea -- or Ανθαία, if you want to be Greek about it -- an Alaskan traveling abroad for the first time ever. I'm five foot nothing; I'm vegetarian; I write a lot and draw a little; I'm studying dramaturgy; I act like I know what I'm doing but I really don't.