Saturday, February 27, 2010


"Space and time are not conditions in which we live; they are simply modes in which we think." (Albert Einstein)

Does time ever stand still for you? Have you ever savoured the exquisiteness of an unrivaled moment so much that you managed to transcend its time capacity? For instance, after the births of my daughters I cannot say for certain whether time flew or dragged during that first brief or eternal hug. For a mystical moment time just stood still and lost its sense of ticking and tocking as though bowing to the majesty of that unique everlasting instant.

Ask me of my university years, however, and all I can remember is a whirlwind. Time just flew. All I have is rapid flashbacks and a rush of songs, flavours and experiences. Yet, as far as I can honestly recall, I was not on speed or acid or even that fashionable end-of-Eighties drug – ecstacy. The only ecstasy was youth as time breezed through.

They say that time does fly when you are having fun, but I’m not so sure. I just think that we forget to savour the moment or even realize we are alive as we cram and rush. So we lose not just the sense of time, but also the sense of ourselves. All that is left is hurried nonsense.

Or perhaps time is subjective. Some minds process things quicker than others. Perhaps one person’s day is another person’s month.

At this point I should say that the dramatic distortions in our perception of time have always fascinated me. Take for instance, dreams that seem long yet only take place in just a few minutes. More bizarre still are stories of alien abductions and snatched victims’ claims that they’d been missing for days when in real time their absence may have passed unnoticed. On telly an eye-witness of the 8.8 Richter earthquake in Chile said that he thought that time was coming to an end... Armageddon!

My guess is that events experienced are recorded at different rates but are recalled at a constant rate. Hence, in body-threatening situations a greater series of events are recorded than in run-of-the-mill situations. When these are played back, the threatening event appears in slow motion detail whereas less detailed circumstances of our lives are played back in fast time.

Something tells me that we still have a long way to go before solving the mystery of time. I’d like to believe that someday we’ll be able to fold the fabric of space and time as was done in Madeline L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time”. Why not? After all, life as we know it has undergone so many revolutions in the past that more likely than not this will happen again in the future.

Then again, there may be no future. Perhaps the past, present and future are a consolidation of now. And if you think that this all sounds bizarre, please remember that there was a time when people thought that the earth was flat. So if the world isn’t flat, how can we be so certain that time is necessarily linear?

* In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” one of the stories-within-stories involves the tale of a clock built for the New Orleans train station by a blind clock-maker that is designed to run backwards, in the hope that it will resurrect the First World War dead, including his son. Parallel to this clock ticks Benjamin Button’s life lived backwards, the premise on which the plot is based.


Friday, February 26, 2010


My Saturday morning friends and I were discussing our fantasy men. One thinks of George Clooney when she makes love (yawn), the other says Hugh Jackman is the sexiest man alive and so forth (more yawns). Then there is Greece's homegrown hunk, Sakis Rouvas. Jesus Christ suggests another enthusiastically getting a bit too carried away. I cringe.

Talking about men’s buns and imagining details about their genitalia is generally not my cup of tea and my thoughts begin to slowly drift into my steamy cappuccino. “Come on,” they encourage me. “There must be some man who totally turns you on.”

“I’m not the type who would stir the dusty waters of my misty marriage by having an affair or even conjuring a fantasy third person to toy with,” I say. “But if I were to be unfaithful - even mentally so - then it would have to be with someone worthwhile. Someone like, someone like…”

They stare expectantly as I accidentally blow smoke in their faces while contemplating (oops!). “It would have to be Jostein Gaarder! For him I just may sell out on my morals and values,” I conclude only to be met with blank stares. “You know…the Norwegian…” I add helpfully. Still blank stares. “Author of ‘Sophie’s World’, ‘Castle in the Pyrenees’...”

I can sense that the conversation is about to turn. The other three get fidgety. But we have just spent 20 minutes analyzing Brad Pitt's torso and I want my value’s worth. So I continue, “In fact, why say I would have sex with him when I probably already have if you consider all the times I’ve taken him to bed and had his thoughts permeate into the secret corners of my mind and soul. And all this, in the scandalous presence of my husband.”

Wild burst of laughter follows. But I am not joking.

The conversation moves on and I am left behind with dangerous thoughts about this sexy, deeply philosophical Norwegian author who is obscure to my fair weather friends. I remember moments we have shared in the garden…“Although you may not stumble across a Martian in the garden, you might stumble across yourself,” he writes. “The day that happens, you’ll probably also scream a little. And that’ll be perfectly all right, because it’s not every day you realize you’re a living planet dweller on a little island in the universe.” Or the other thing I read that made me almost cry – “How terribly sad it was that people are made in such a way that they get used to something as extraordinary as living.” And that’s just the tip of this Norwegian iceberg

How could you not fantasize about a man who thinks such things? A man who jolts your awareness of your own existence and wraps you in the warmth of his congenial writing style, his intellect, his sense of being and interest in our world and who we are!

Imagine what such a man could do in bed…

PS Looking at Jostein Gaarder in this picture I have to admit that he does look a little like a Nordic version of my dark hunk of a Greek husband. They even think alike, only Gaarder does his thinking in a less fiery, more philosophical, Norwegian kind of way. These similarities are a good thing, right?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


On July 1 2009, the European smoking ban was implemented in Greece, the country with the highest smoking rates in the EU. The much-publicised awareness campaign was followed by smoking restrictions in public spaces including bars, cafes and taxis. While anti-smokers were delighted, smokers briefly wondered how, and if, life would change. "Nah, this is Greece," they would say on second thought.

"They may bar us from restaurants! They may force us out onto the cold, cold streets! But they will never rob us of our joys and passions," said freedom-loving Greeks.

Six months onwards people have got back inside their offices and it's business as usual as the law is being flagrantly flouted! Rather than restrict smoking, bar and café owners have turned their venues into full-smoking areas. Taxi drivers have loosely interpreted the law to mean that there is no smoking only if the passenger asks for it.

"Why do Greeks smoke so much?" I wonder as I light up yet another Silk Cut Slim. And as I gaze into the dancing smoke I meditate. The smoke rises to meet the smoke of days gone by...beautiful cigarette moments with me starring as the Galoise gal or the Marlboro man depending on the circumstances...poetry and cigarettes, tears and cigarettes, nature and cigarettes, work-work-work and cigarettes, sex and cigarettes...indeed there's nothing like it.

Reminds me of that Florence King quote: "Now the only thing I miss about sex is the cigarette afterward. Next to the first one in the morning, it's the best one of all. It tasted so good that even if I had been frigid I would have pretended otherwise just to be able to smoke it."

PS The two friends I lost to cancer were staunch non-smokers and health freaks! Go figure!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Germany’s FOCUS magazine yesterday shed light on what may have happened to the arms of famous ancient Greek sculpture Aphrodite of Milos (Venus de Milo). The magazine's cover article wrapped a Greek flag around the love goddess' torso and showed her rudely gesticulating to the rest of Europe in an article titled “Frauds of the Euro Family”.

The German joke was not seen as an example of successful satire in the birthplace of Aristophanes, the father of the genre himself. Most Greeks viewed the desecration of the art work as an insult.

Those who say that the jest is well deserved following fudge ups in Greek statistics and the deficit that has made us a laughing stock would do well to look at the situation a little less simplistically. Is Germany without blame for our national plight? Let’s not forget scandals like Siemens, Hochtief, Skaramanga, Vodafone phone tappings, etc. Indeed, German companies have profited big time on the corpse of Greece. Take for instance the fact that Greece is forced to spend 4.3 percent of its GDP on defence systems to protect European borders and that equipment comes mainly from Germany. If we dig beneath the surface we will find that it is to Europe's benefit to keep Greece in the hot zone with Turkey.

Also, why don’t I hear anyone talking about Italy that has a public debt of 160 percent of its GDP or Spain or Ireland?

Ofcourse, if we are really interested in talking about fraud, we should look no further than Germany, a country that borrowed gold from Greece (actually got a loan at gun point) during the occupation of Greece in 1941-1944. It has been estimated that at today’s prices that loan (equivalent to 1.5 billion euros at the time) is worth close to 40 billion euros. West Germany had acknowledged and verified the existence of this loan but refused to pay because of the division of Germany. However, 20 years after the unification of Germany I think it is time for them to pay their debt. And this is a point that German journalists should remember before calling Greeks crooks.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Over dinner in the company of some amazing women last Saturday night it occurred to me that most bright and creative women I know are fools in love.

Indeed, there I was in the company of intelligent women talking and laughing about – well…everything! Interesting viewpoints with great company, scrumptious food and wine. There was never a dull lapse in the conversation. "What could be finer?" I wondered, enjoying the moment.

It began to dawn on me that while these bright women are successful in their careers and had the ability to sustain loyal friendships, they toss and turn in their private lives. Even the “happily” married ones feel quietly stifled, choked by the injustice that women are forced to deal with in their relationships.

And I compare these women to other less intelligent friends who claim to be passionately in love and who enjoy meaningful relationships. "Lesser" women who have little to say beyond leg waxing, recipes and gossip (yawn) are privy to sustaining more lasting liaisons with the opposite sex.

This isn’t just my view, either. Forbes Magazine warned men off marrying career girls pointing to recent studies that show that clever, professional women are more likely to get divorced and cheat and less likely to have children. The American Journal of Marriage and Family even cites studies that show that the divorce risk rises when women out-earn their husbands.

Why is this so?

Is it because smarter women expect more or does knowledge make these women more controlling? Do they approach love with too much academic prowess and intellect when what is needed more is surrender? Is it because lower achievers are more easily hoodwinked by the male sex?

What a shame that brilliant, high-flying women strike out in love, often losing out to bimbos!

* Even intellectual Athena, goddess of wisdom, featured in this photo outside the Academy of Athens, lost out to Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, when they fought over the golden apple. Paris proved yet again what jerks men are by offering the apple to Aphrodite just cause she bribed him with sultry Helen of Troy...

Friday, February 19, 2010


Have you ever seen the truth metamorphosize before your very eyes? Keeps happening to me all the time!

Imagine walking across a dark path. All of a sudden, a snake bites you on the leg. You see it lying on the ground just a few feet away. What do you do? Does the pain make you weep? Do you feel the poison traveling through your bloodstream, quickly bringing your life to an untimely end?

A nearby farmer rushes over with a flashlight. He points it to the snake. Lo and behold, the snake turns out to be nothing more than a rope.

Now here is the question: During the incident, was the snake real or unreal? Subjectively it was, objectively it wasn’t.

This analogy by Hindu thinker Samkara (in his Advaita Vedanta) is as poignant today as when it was first written circa 700 AD. Subjective reality and all concepts and “truths” in the universe are based on our own knowledge at the time.

And indeed, we think the “truth” keeps changing…but it isn’t the truth that changes but our own perception of it.

All we can know for certain is our own "existence". And even though I know I exist, how can I be certain that you do?

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Have you ever felt yourself bursting at the seams with something to say?

Though you knew that if you opened your mouth, the explosion would be so great that people would run for cover...

You imagine them hiding under desks to avoid the debris exploding from your mouth.

And you are uncertain as to whether it is better to put your hand over your mouth and shut up ...

...or to just go ahead and put your foot in it...

After all, some things definitely should be said regardless of the consequences.

Then again, fools will be fools.

So, have you ever felt this way?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


When Alexandra and Vivi succumbed to cancer last January and June I felt a large chunk of me vanish with them. My dearest, closest friends of the last decade disappeared so quickly. I promised not to let their deaths be for naught and that I would always carry a part of them with me forever alive.

Promises aside, the only life-changing impact of the death of these two very special and important women has been my loss of spirit. There’s nothing like a loved one’s death to make you view your own mortality and nakedness and realise that each and every moment must count.

Unfortunately, without their presence in my life, the moments are meaningless. I force myself to spend time with Saturday morning friends in the hope that something will somehow click. I half-heartedly accept invitations from new friends but feel that doing so is treason as nobody and nothing can fill this void and every other human interaction (aside from time with my kiddies) is pale compared to time spent with Alexandra and Vivi.

Late at night when I can’t sleep, I have imaginary conversations with them woven and replayed from actual discussions we once had. Alexandra still says: “I choose to be happy! It’s a choice you know. Just make the decision and be happy!” And I protest as I always have.

Vivi butts in, using her usual perky tone: “Snap out of it! As Eckhart Tolle says, ‘live for the now’. Do you even realise how lucky you are? (she munches on a dried fig as she says this) You are so fortunate to even have the luxury of being unhappy…Can you see how many people around you there are that don’t even know they are miserable?

She’s right. Here I am complaining when I have two truly amazing children, a devoted and smart husband, loving parents, cushy job, friends knocking down my door and a blog with one follower.

Imagine how dreadful my life would be if I was stuck in a dead-end job at some supermarket counter working long shifts with varicose veins popping from my legs after constantly standing. My body fast losing its firmness from all the stress of trying to conceive a child with some deadbeat husband who I fell in love with because he wrote 6-page letters (the same lines he probably wrote to other girls before me) that made me feel special though they were just carbon-copied FAKE words. And while I worked HARD in my blissful ignorance, trying to make him happy by giving him a child, my sneak of a LIGHT-headed husband would be so preoccupied with his HARD penis at XXX hotels with other women – feeding them the same crappy lines...(after all, business goes on as usual, as it always has)...

And in my ignorance and “lightness” of being (after all, as uneducated checkout girl, I prefer Loipon magazine to Kafka), I wouldn’t even come close to realising how truly unhappy I am. And life would just go on. Wasted.

The only good news for such a lost case as the hypothetical supermarket example is that some day the fate of the check-out chic and her sex-starved husband will be the same as that of Vivi, Alexandra and myself. At the end we all die and turn to dust. Not even the fake words are left.

Do we really deserve this?

Either way, we have no choice. Here's a poem I scrawled after Alexandra's funeral:

All us ant friends came to your grave
Drawn by our misery.
We had taken what you gave
Before your soul broke free.
And yet my darling one,
Our tears will someday dry.
And ants will rush under the sun
Until we, too, shall die.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I got a bit of a buzz a couple of days ago when this blog acquired its first solitary follower. And what a follower! A romance writer and fellow book worm from Kentucky no less! Though why a romance writer would want following my blog beats me…there’s certainly no romantic inspiration to be had here.

Even so, I guess it’s always nice to hear a thought or two and to be considered follow worthy. Not that I wouldn’t continue writing even if my readership was zero. Sometimes there’s safety in the sheer airy nothingness of our thoughts.

So from NONE there is now a follower of ONE! Will things ever be the same again now that zero is no more?

Anyway, kisses to TR from Kentucky! Thanks for poking away at my zero and making me feel like a hero! Thanks to everyone else also who occasionally drops a line - or not...

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Technology is wonderful. It fosters intimacy but keeps a nice safe distance at the same time by greying the lines between who is a stranger and who is a friend. It even alters memories by giving them a reality check. Beautiful, romantic memories of people we lost touch with are revised thanks to the wisdom of hindsight. Suddenly we see them for what they are and were.

The long lost love remembered with nostalgic affection is seen as the sly, fake, pathetic sleazebucket he always was...a routine lover using the same lines (or six-page carbon copied letters) as bait for any stupid woman who would listen (or read). Then there are the old friends we so dearly miss who surprise us as we realise that they have spent the last decades selling out on the dreams and ideals of their youth. We wonder why this happened and come to the conclusion that we had misjudged as we remember all those little tell-tale signs back then that gave away the fact that this person would someday become a great scamster (or as they say in Greece "lamogiο")...Best of all are those other people that we barely said "hi" to in high school but suddenly seem so appealing now that they've outgrown that "teen" attitude...

Is it good to see the truth or should we be left with the sweet misleading memories?

PS Happy Valentine's Day everyone! It's midnight here in it's officially begun. I'm off to celebrate or sleep (whichever comes first)....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE! and stamina...

At the age of 15, my friend, Tania, and I visited a stationary shop so that I could help her select one special Valentine's Day card from the dozens of cheesy cards available for her boyfriend, Rob. Through her, I managed to vicariously live the joys of Valentine's Day. Unfortunately, they broke up that very night. I guess Rob did not live up to the expectations of such a big day!

Despite not having a boyfriend, I left the shop with my first Valentine's Day card purchase that day – the corniest, kitschiest I could find. “For next year,” I explained.

Truth is, next year and the year after were not much different. The card lay blank. The popular girls received stacks of cards, chocolates and perfumes while misfits like myself sat alone, awkward, gangly and feeling lousy and unwanted.

Occasionally, I would recognize my father’s lettering on a card and this boobie prize just made me feel worse, even more of a spinster. “Thanks dad!” I’d say and turn on the telly to watch films like "Now Voyager" or "An Affair to Remember" after listening to Mr. Magoo-styled "Mr Movies" Bill Collins' passionate introduction.

Feeling unloved, unwanted - Who would want a Purple Cow? - the years passed and I left that all-girls Catholic school and made my debut to campus life. Then everything livened up. The star dust and moon beams and of course the first kiss, first love, first Valentine (a stuffed little purple dog - not cow - with Blues Brothers sunglasses that held a very special place in the corner of my room until I tossed it away along with the love letters and broken heart).

"I may be a Purple Cow, but men are pigs!" was the conclusion.

Just because I was free from the sentiment of Valentine's Day doesn't mean life got better. Indeed not! Every February 14 - whether with someone or single - I would always be disappointed. Always expecting something more than love notes from men I didn't really fancy, flowers from anonymous stalkers or romantic evenings arguing about Valentine's Day and where the relationship is headed.

My husband says that my Australian upbringing is to blame. In Greece, they did not grow up with Valentine's hype and it most certainly was not a consideration during their adolescent flings. Being a marketing man himself, he says "Bah, humbug!"

Truth is, it is an industry. Commercial desperation hit an all-new low this year when Mattel, the makers of Barbie, used the love season to announce that Barbie is now "contemplating" a reunion with longtime boyfriend Ken after a headline marking their 2004 breakup. I'm sure that St. Valentine is rolling in his grave knowing that his holy day is being exploited by Mattel so that Ken can get a piece of plastic booty.

But, having said all that, I’m still hopeful that this Valentine’s Day will be the one where my husband – and not just my children – gives me a card. Maybe he’ll even set up a babysitter so that we can go out for dinner or a movie. Unlikely as this is, it never hurts to plant the idea. But a far better idea is for me to stop whining and set it up myself.

There is no shame in wanting to be happy on Valentine's Day! And if we level up we'll find that nobody actually hates Valentine's Day regardless of what they way...when we say, "This day is so commercial! It's only for mushy losers!" we really mean "I need validation that I can be loved!"

* Don't you just love Gustav Klimt's "The Kiss"? Absolutely sensuous and decadent! Eroticism, liberalisation and shimmering fulfilment! Some think that Klimt and his beloved companion Emilie Floge modelled for the masterpiece. It is currently housed at the museum in the Belevedere Palace in Vienna, Austria. I think its interesting also that Klimt and "The Kiss" were selected as the main motif for a collectors' coin - the 100-euro gold coin issued on November 5, 2003.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


"We must do something good for our fellow human beings this Christmas! Do you have any suggestions? Something for our kids to do so that they can become better people," said J lazily lounging on M's couch on one of our Saturday morning sessions just two months ago.

"Why?" asked I, "Because its Christmas?" She nodded emphatically, encouraging me to continue. "To be philanthropical during Christmas is fake. To do it as a show for your children is phony as they'll know its all an act for their benefit. Sure, be good, but do it when nobody is looking and for yourself and not during Christmas."

Now the momentum has gone. So J wants her daughter's slice of the carol money we had agreed would go to charity. "She earnt it and I must let her do what she wants with it," was her muffled excuse as she collected her daughter's thirty pieces of silver (18 euros and 12 cents to be exact). After all, it's no longer Christmas.

People are such hypocrites. Pharisees. I always wonder why it even surprises me. My friends are no exception. Every Saturday morning for the last two years a group of us have been showing without fail for our morning ritual of coffee and discussion about the fundamental questions of life. We talk about books, religion, politics, history, charity, wonderful things and of course grouse about our husbands. It's all such idle banter. Chit chat. Nonsense swaddled in pseudo-intellectual cloth.

It makes us feel good pretending that we care about a better world as long as it feeds our own self-absorption.
Yes, folks. These are my Saturday morning friends. Kind and educated women full of grand ideas never quite put into practice. Upstanding members of the community with impressive professional backgrounds and enough intellect to clothe their own hypocrisy.

Why do I even bother with them? Because I, too, am such a woman. A fraud. Superficial in my own way...Aren't we all?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


The fact that the EU is blasting ‘unreliable’ Greek economic data is not as simple as it seems. What is all this nonsense about “Greek statistics” making my country the laughing stock of Europe? What about the European Commission’s statisticians paid to check the figures? Please folks, give us a break!

Is it just Greeks that fiddle with statistics as though they are whores that can do anything for us? Perhaps this is what statistics are for – to make a point! What surprises me actually is that people bother with them at all. They are to mathematics what psychology is to medicine – full of loopholes. They are the economist’s version of anabolic steroids.

I tend to agree with two-time British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who said: "There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damned lies and statistics”. Saying that statistics are reliable is an oxymoron at any rate. What about the UK Home Office statistics that had Sir David Normington apologizing to the Commons public account committee for unreliable statistics two years ago? Or how about last year’s Chinese unreliable statistics in the middle of the global crisis that had international economists rubbing their eyes at the rosy picture being portrayed?

If you look hard enough you’ll find as many interpretations to statistics as recipes for veal pies. Harvard President Lawrence Lowell so aptly wrote in 1909 that statistics, “like veal pies, are good if you know the person that made them, and are sure of the ingredients.” And though statistics are dubitable, there is no question on the sumptuousness of Greek home-made veal pies.

***Pictured is Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia who is launching an infringement procedure to ensure that Greek authorities report reliable budgetary statistics. (Greece's deficit is currently more than four times higher than eurozone rules allow).  

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


A three-year-old boy was examining his testicles while taking a bath.

"Mom," he asked. "Are these my brains?"

"Not yet," she replied.

At first appearance this may sound like a joke. But it really isn't funny. I think that this is how men were made to think. Mine doesn't and it's a worry. Either he is faulty or all other men are...

In the early stages of love I thought that he never took his eyes off me even when a sexy bombshell walked  by only because we were still on the throngs of passion. Now though, after 12 years of marriage, there is no excuse.

He should be leering at women like men were meant to so that I can have the excuse to whine and get jealous and compete and get out of this rut. So how come mine thinks with his mind and is always indecently decent?

My girlfriends think I'm lucky. When they speak about men they are always sure to include exclusion clauses when it comes to my husband. A real "gentleman" they say! But had I wanted "gentleman" would I really have chosen a GREEK husband?

So I think we have a problem. Either way, there would be a problem. But this, too, is a problem nomatter how you look at it.

Monday, February 1, 2010


A problem at home caused me to stay four days with my parents. It was indeed a hard experience. Apart from the fact that I had to keep the girls quiet so as not to disrupt their programme or just the general tediousness of not feeling free I also had to come to terms with my parents' aging.

It's a subject I wish to avoid. I pretend they are not getting old. Indeed, they help in this pretense by going on little trips and keeping social. But being with them 24x7 made it difficult to pretend.

My mother's posture is cramped due to osteoporosis and my father's stride is not what it used to be. They were handsome people once. But their virility is leaving them.

I wonder if they are embarrassed by what they've become. I sometimes look at my own reflection in the mirror and feel shame. Sometimes the small signs of pain frighten me. My knees are beginning to feel changes in the weather and I wonder if this is the first step towards rheumatism. I ignore it. Pretend it is just my imagination and soldier on.

But here we are - all of us getting old and older until time eradicates us altogether.

Reminds me of this anonymous beatitude:

Blessed are they who understand
My faltering steps and palsied hand.
Blessed are they who know my ears today
Must strain to catch the words they say.
Blessed are they who see that my eyes
Are dim and my wits are slow.
Blessed are they who looked away
When I spilt the cup of tea today.
Blessed are they who know the ways
To bring back memories of yesterdays.
Blessed are they who make it known
That I'm loved, respected and not alone.
Blessed are they who know I'm at a loss
To find the strength to carry my cross.
Blessed are they who ease the days
On my journey Home in loving ways.