Sunday, August 29, 2010


Another letter that will never be delivered to its true recipient...Maybe, it's just for me... 

Dear Purple Bull,

So here we are again, my "love". Another year under the same roof, but essentially on different planets. There is beauty in that, I guess. How boring if we were overly familiar!

Remember my fantasy. Yes, THIS ONE! (CLICK HERE) We never did get round to it, did we? I pleaded with you and even made up a cute song and dance, but you stood your ground. And now that your business has folded, you have suddenly remembered our long lost love that was supposed to be your boobie prize when things got tough. But you did not tend to it and it seems to have shrivelled up... It was not a low maintenance plant, my dear. It needed to be watered on the odd occasion. You started off well, planted the seed of passion with grand gestures and beautiful words, and then forgot to harvest, to cultivate, to sow... But you were no gardener nor were you a poet, just a pragmatic business man.

How frustrating it must have been for you when we first got married and I kept saying "I love you!" and leaving little love notes everywhere. Embarassing notes stuck onto your money when you opened your wallet, annoying notes you'd almost choke on when biting your lunch, silly notes in your smelly socks...You see, I felt that I had to say it for both of us as you had already made your intentions quite clear: "I said it once. It still stands. If something changes, I'll let you know." 

Eventually, I stopped saying it, too. I could see that it tired you so. And I found other things to say.  More "important" things about the day-to-day running of our affairs. But when I stopped my declarations  -  I stopped feeling them as well. Then followed a whole domino effect - a chain reaction that finally lead to a communication meltdown.

So how come we're still together, my "love"? I won't hide the fact that divorce had crossed my mind.

What saved our marriage, though, believe it or not was history. No, not our own personal history, made up of a tapestry of precious personal memories that I appreciate more than you will ever know, but social history itself. It occured to me one day that the crumby institution of marriage was never created for the purpose of fulfilment. You see, marriage was initially more about pooling resources and reproducing...The notion that it was about making you feel happy was a wrong approach cultivated during the Industrial Revolution when "work", "ambition" and "marriage" suddenly acquired new meaning making us expect joy from things that are drudgery.

So I stopped thinking of marriage as a source of happiness and channeled my interests elsewhere - into our children, reading good books, going to protest rallies and other creative outlets (perhaps this blog is one of them). And this has worked for me.

I stopped expecting to be wooed. I became less romantic, more cynical...a worst enemy of Valentine's Day than you ever were. Don't blame yourself for this. These were my choices. I decided to stay and face things like a brave coward. And it wasn't even just for the kids that I made this choice.

I felt relief that our marriage was indeed as a marriage should be - an institution! And we were just another conventional couple prone to the same feelings as hundreds of other compromised couples around the world. Sometimes it helps to view things objectively, spherically and unemotionally. I can't say this satisfied me, but I understood at least what I was doing...

But then I became a blogger and began to read things like THIS and THIS (read no. 2) and THIS and THIS...

And I am beginning to wonder if perhaps we are tricking ourselves. Perhaps there should be more than THISWhat if I was right in the first place?

Worst still, amidst all this confusion, you are suddenly remembering things I once believed in but tossed out the window just to salvage our marriage. For heaven's sake, why are you suddenly flirting with me, now, after all this time? Where did this come from? Has an alien invaded your body or is this just you coming out? And how can I trust that this is not just another whim so that I can decide whether to roll up the emotional curtains that are protecting the window of my soul...

It seems, my dear, that we have switched roles. That I have ended up being how you had begun and you are now seeking for me to feel emotions that I have trained myself to crush.

But it is our anniversary. As usual, we have both arranged different activities so that we don't have to go through the pain of looking into each other's eyes and remembering what we could have had before our egotistical personalities got in the way. Infact, we will each be in different countries on this date even though there was a time when you had promised to take me to the moon. Perhaps we can both pretend to forget the whole thing, as though it never happened (after all, it belongs to another lifetime and we were both such different people then). But regardless of this I must say thank you for the fundamentals, for just being there, even when you are not. Perhaps if we were to thaw it all out there may be love deep down. Oh, I think there is...don't you?


And for the record, yes, regardless of the handcuffs I would probably marry you again. Maybe I like bondage.
Sometimes, I can still see you underneath all that complicated stuff. It is you, isn't it?

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Do you know any gypsies? Every mention I've ever heard throughout my life seems to be dipped in bias, from "Babes in Toyland" where Tom is sold to the gypsies to Bizet's sensual and adulterous Carmen to Shakira's new song that I heard the other day on the radio...The refrain keeps up the stereotype that gypsies are swindlers who may "steal your clothes" and back down from "agreements." (Have you ever wanted to throw bricks at your radio? Happens to me all the time.)

And yet, each person - regardless of their culture or national group is - above all, an individual with personal hopes and dreams.

When we forget that, and begin to create stereotypes, things can get dangerous...

CLICK HERE TO SEE HOW DANGEROUS....DO THESE DEPORTATIONS REMIND YOU OF SOMETHING? HITLER, PERHAPS.  (I guess, when things get tough economically its always convenient to mislead the population by finding a scapegoat to blame)

In a European Union that claims to encourage workers' mobility, Roma gypsies - one of the most mobile groups - are being sent "home" when "home" isn't even a gypsy concept.

NOTE: Last year, Germany, Denmark, Italy and Sweden pursued similar policies against the Roma gypsies.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I really shouldn't be doing this, you know! Just because I blog-hopped for the first time last week with some success does not mean that I am ready for a second round so soon. After all, I still haven't got to know my followers from the first hop all that well yet.

But this blog hopping is renewing my enthusiasm for blogging, you see... Of course, this may not be such a good thing, considering how I blog at work. Anonymously.

Blogging is addictive enough on its own...but mix in some hopping and working and that's just begging for trouble! It could prompt quite a scandal.

Like when my husband found out I was playing that shameful Facebook lollipop game... "Not only do you suck lollipops on Facebook but you have gathered thousands of points doing this! Who has been sucking you?" he accused, pointing the finger at me as though I was cheating with some FB lover and not just fooling around with old schoolfriends and a stupid application (so who says women over 40 are mature?) Now that I've lost interest in the lollipops, he's the one fiddling, finally realising for himself that its really no big deal. (Or is it?) But if he were blogging. That would be quite another matter. I would not like that one bit as this is my territory! (This and Scrabble)

Anyway, all I wanted to say really is "HI!" Welcome to my world... It's really nice to meet you.
PS. And, while I'm at it, why not try double blog hopping where I get to do Design it Chic's Boost My Blog as well as Java's Follow Friday? How's that for a dangerous double whammy? (Let's see what happens)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


WHAT IF I had decided not to be born?

WHAT IF my mother hadn’t fudged my birth certificate so that I could go to school with kids older than myself and get a "head-start" in life?

WHAT IF my parents hadn’t sent me to that conservative Catholic school that they believed it was the “best education” I could receive?

WHAT IF I had done the sane thing and listened to my grandmother's advice about becoming a teacher (for mainly three reasons: June, July and August)?

WHAT IF I hadn’t left Australia to come to Greece?

WHAT IF I’d been unscrupulous and slept my way to the top when I was still daisy fresh?

WHAT IF I had been sick and unable to attend the fateful art gallery exhibition where I met my husband?

WHAT IF I hadn’t reprioritised my life upon having my firstborn?

WHAT IF I had listened to everyone (doctor, husband, friends, yikes...) and aborted the “second child” just as they suggested cause all their stupid tests showed all sorts of problems?

WHAT IF - instead of being cynical and skeptical - I had let myself fall for the romantic words and compliments dished out by my first love who suddenly crawled out of the woodwork after over two decades of absence?

WHAT IF Alexandra and Vivi were still alive?

WHAT IF I couldn't light up a cigarette to be mesmerised and side-tracked by the "dancing smoke" everytime I want to cry?

WHAT IF I succumbed to pressure and got a cell phone? (No way!)

WHAT IF I had not begun this blog and not met you people?

WHAT IF everything we know is just a figment of our imagination and that none of this is real?

WHAT IF I discover that everything I've ever fought for and believed in is sheer fabrication (yes, Robin, just like "The Truman Show"), and WHAT IF this discovery is made shortly before I die? Would it still be a discovery I would want to make?

WHAT IF there actually is a God?

our lives had been different, would we still be the same…?
Is it our values that shape our lives or is it our experiences that influence our beliefs?

And, finally, WHAT IF I had not read  Jeff's "Wouldn't it be GREAT..." post?
Would I have still written this?  (CLICK HERE)
(Now you all know who is to blame!)


This moon picture is for Ro Magnolia.
Go to her blog to find out why!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Tonight, we will imagine we are "daughters" of the moon...

It is our family's pagan tradition to head to ancient sites left open courtesy of the Greek Cultural Ministry each August full moon night. As the moon makes its journey across the night sky - garbed in the bleeding beauty of its own lunacy - we will pay our respects to it.

This time, we will observe it from the seaside Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio, 65 km west of Athens. So, as we gaze at its steady portrait overhead, we will also catch a glimpse of its shimmering twin sister skinny-dipping in the tide beneath, naked and radiant.

We'll bring cheese, wine and hotdogs to nibble as we make peace with our own thinly-veiled insanity (for just one night, at least). Perhaps, if we are really lucky, we may capture moonbeans in our paper cups and drink from the potion of its intoxicating reflection.

And when I gaze into my husband's eyes, I may see the image of the moon and fall in love again with the moon of other days. Well, stranger things have happened you know...

By Rudyard Kipling

Beneath the deep veranda's shade,
When bats begin to fly,
I sit me down and watch -- alas! --
Another evening die.
Blood-red behind the sere ferash
She rises through the haze.
Sainted Diana! can that be
The Moon of Other Days?

Oh, and if tonight you should happen to gaze out your window to seek the full moon, perhaps we may for a while be together in essence although we are apart...


Monday, August 23, 2010


When I first began this blog on January 11, 2010, there were zero followers. There was an exquisiteness in this. I think it was Stephen Hawking who said that when one's expectations are reduced to zero, one really does appreciate what one has.

Being a daughter of Eve, however, I wanted more. I had to engage, to reach out, to seek...and the nothingness was broken. Everything changed. There were insightful comments and there was titillating interaction. The nature of zero was affected.

I miss the days when everything could be multiplied, divided but never truly be affected. You can only do that with 0!

These days, people blitzkrieg onto my blog and either silently disappear as did Propoquerian, Molecule Colony, Mr. Schafner, the Novelist... Or, if they are more polite, they feel the need to explain. To give reason why they are considering to quit so that there is no false hope for those who have come to love their presence on the blog-sphere...

I guess all things must come to an end, eventually. That's only natural, isn't it? Books finish, lives end, species become extinct...and personal blogs also must have a beginning, a middle and an end. In the case of the one you are reading, I have already decided that it will end on January 11, 2011 (11.1.11), when the blog turns one bringing all nothingness to an end. Until then, I intend to make the most of it.

But here's a song I dedicate to all the bloggers who disappeared without so much as a farewell despite the fact that for a brief moment we felt a bond, a click, a friendship even... CLICK HERE! (I wonder what happened to Eugene and to all bloggers lost in mid-air!)

For the others, kind enough to share THIS or THIS or THIS I just say thank you.

Friday, August 20, 2010


My first attempt at blog hopping (CLICK HERE TO SEE) was courtesy of Robin and her alternative friend-matching efforts. Indeed, I discovered three new blogs and made a new blogging buddy. And because for me each new discovery is precious, I consider the effort successful. But rumour on the web has it that you've never blog-hopped until you've tried Java's Follow Friday.

Having already had my first sip of this activity, I thought I'd start my new blog-hopping adventures more ceremoniously by accepting two awards given to me by Ro Magnolia

The rules are simple:

1) Thank the person who gave you the award.
My acceptance speech:
"This award has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time because it was hard for me to truly fathom how lovely and beautiful I am. Now that it has finally sunk in I would like to say - Thank you so much, Ro Magnolia. These two awards mean so much to me! I will print them, enlarge them, frame them and hang them on my office wall so that my colleagues will finally be able to see what a beautiful and lovely person I am. (Such a pity they don't know I blog, though.)"

2) Share 7 things about yourself.
Say, haven't I done this before? Or was that 10 random things I wrote about during my last award? CLICK HERE. I guess after receiving an award or two, they all just become this one BIG BLUR. This time around though, I'll show you my "things":
My Swatch...actually I have quite a collection. Instead of changing batteries, I just get a new one. They are loads of fun!
I've beeen holding onto my komboloi (worry beads) for dear life itself since quitting smoking about 1 1/2 months ago (this may explain the agitated edge that my posts have had lately). But before you go celebrating the new smoke-free me, I should tell you that I haven't totally kicked the habit - I've just quit buying cigarettes and I did enjoy a smoke on my birthday (August 11).
This is my SPOT! That place where I like to take my coffee, read books and ponder! We all have one, don't we?
Here is Bianca - my pal, my personal trainer, my transport, my beloved bike...
Summertime in Greece, and these are my shades. Bought for just 5 euros cause I keep losing the expensive ones! These ones are very retro, don't you think?


While still an undergraduate I read Marilyn Monroe's biography and her famous response to a reporter's question about what she wore to bed: "What do I wear in bed? Why Chanel No 5, of course." The first bottle I bought was a gift for my mother, but ended up hogging it for myself. My uni friends would say, "Try Loulou or Anais...You're too young for something so classical." And I would joke about it and say: "Darlings, I was born 40!" And here I am, 2 years past THAT age and still wearing the same perfume!
These are my favorite "things"...these little hands and the moments we spend together. Fleeting moments that we should appreciate before they slip through our fingers. Don't you agree?

3. Nominate at least 7 friends for this award.
If you are kind enough to read this and comment - even anonymously so (wink wink nudge nudge) - then I think you are definitely lovely and extremely beautiful. So with just one comment, with just one "hello", you can consider yourself nominated. (And you don't have to be over 40, either)! So now that I've shown you my things, perhaps you can show me yours...


Wednesday, August 18, 2010


On Monday, I wrote a post about my holiday to Zakynthos and received this accusation by an anonymous reader:

"Why call yourself an Australian in Athens when clearly you are Greek? My opinion is you are copying someone else who has a popular website. So sad."

At first it perplexed me as I had included my own personal photos and viewpoints that I believed to be original. Then I began to wonder about the entire concept of "copying". It isn’t always as evident as the obvious word-for-word plagiarism that of course we all condone. Sometimes it creeps into your writing insidiously. And then before you know it you become a doppelblogger*.

CASE 1: The concept

Looking at my last post, after the anonymous commentor squelched it with one foul swoop, I began to wonder if anything about it looked vaguely familiar. Evidently the words weren’t stolen, but it reminded me of CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE and CLICK HERE and of course, practically all the posts This American Tourist writes. So I guess the format was pilfered even though this was unconscious rather than deliberate. Is this plagiarism? Though it is hard to tell in such cases who is copying who...
CASE 2: The idea

On my recent vacation, my husband, whose finances are failing, kept saying, “Let’s just enjoy this cause next year, who knows?” This is a sentiment echoed by most Greek families and local news bulletins. Chances are I probably wouldn’t have linked the “Grasshopper and the Ant” analogy in reference to my need to keep the "perfect holiday myth" alive had I not read an article in a morning newspaper (don’t even remember which one, but came with a front-page plug) on a 10 percent drop in local Greek tourism and the differences in holidays from previous years plus a Greek blog post (if you read Greek, SEE HERE, titled "End of Eternal Greek Holidays"). I had neither of the pieces in mind when I wrote my post, but both - read on the same day - had affected me enough to change the ending of the post I had sketched out in my mind before falling asleep the night before. Is this plagiarism?

CASE 3: The influence

Brilliant writing moves me (and I guess that is the whole point of literature). Sometimes friends ask me what I am reading as I may be in a Dostoyevsky mood or a little analytical like Irvin Yalom. When I was reading Jonathan Coe, I wrote THIS. When I was reading Nabokov’s “Lolita”, I wrote THIS. Do you see similarities in the tone in which I refer to my bicycle and Nabokov's opening paragraph? (‘Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo-lee-ta: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate to tap, at three, on the teeth. Lo. Lee. Ta. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock. She was Lola in slacks. She was Dolly at school. She was Dolores on the dotted line. But in my arms she was always Lolita’) Is this experimentation with styles (in life as well as writing) a form of plagiarism in disguise?

CASE 4: The self

The poem on loneliness CLICK HERE may be mine but I had already published it a year ago on my FB page. A couple of times I have slipped sentences onto my blog from published research I have myself written. It is mine, but is this recycling a form of plagiarism nonetheless?

CASE 5: The admiration

My concept behind Sunday Bests is to pay tribute to great and wondrous posts that I reprint and feature on my blog while giving credit. I do inform those I am publishing, but is this not also plagiarism? CLICK HERE and HERE and HERE. How would you feel if I included one of your posts in this context?

CASE 6: Photographs

One reason I don’t publish photographs of myself and my children – beyond keeping my anonymity safe - is because I feel that they can easily be swiped by anyone. Do you “borrow” photographs from other sites? Of course, common sense prevents me from repasting photos of someone's family. But is even this "harmless borrowing" of photographs (eg cartoons embellishing this very post) plagiarism?

That’s it for starters. I am sure I could come up with more possible "copyright infringements" if I really nit-picked. I won’t tire you, but you get the gist.

We are living in the age of information and are constantly bombarded by influences so that sometimes we aren't even aware that our words/ideas/style may not be's called cryptomnesia. I sometimes wonder if there is anything new to think beyond cliches. Are ALL views - even original ones - just networks being built on pre-existing conceptual schemes or are most of us just content with borrowing other people's outlooks and cluttering the internet and our lives with tired, regurgitated perceptions. (It was your post today Robin on "Your Daily Dose" that made me think of that one - just to give credit to where credit is due though if I were to really do that I'd have to stop and thank someone at the end of every sentence).

Is anything really original? Even my beloved Nietzche was accused by Jung of plagiarism in his masterpiece, "Thus Spake Zarathustra", that includes an almost copied account of an incident included in a book published half a century earlier. Or consider the resemblance between Lord Byron's "Manfred" to Goethe's "Faustus". Didn't Shakespeare rip off so many already existing works and breathe new life into them? And aren't we glad he did? So is plagiarism acceptable when the copy surpasses the quality of the original? Furthermore, imagine Robert Louis Stevenson's embarrasment years after he wrote "Treasure Island" when it dawned on him that Long John Silver's parrot came from Robinson Crusoe and the skeleton was conveyed from Poe!

It is silly to believe that anybody should have a monopoly on parrots and skeletons, though that doesn't excuse plagiarism of course. So thank you so much anonymous reader for your comment. Please let me know which popular website you feel I have I said before, it may be an influence of ALL sites and books I've ever read.

As for anyone else caring to comment, please don't spare punches when striking at my counterfeit existence as a blogger or as a person so lacking in originality and so influenced by my environment that I am uncertain of who I really am let alone who I could be. Perhaps this is the human condition. Well, these are just my concerns...or at least I believe them to be mine (sorry if you've thought of them first).

(As for the first part of the comment on my claim to being Australian, I must say that I have Australian citizenship and am not a Greek national but was born in neither of the two countries. So go figure! Have put quotation mark around "Australian" though the Aussie embassy in Greece embraces me as one whereas the Greek Aliens' Residency Bureau treats me just like an outsider. CLICK HERE FOR MY VERY FIRST BLOG POST THAT MAY GIVE YOU AN IDEA!
PS. I'm not really a Purple Cow, either!)

* Doppelblogger - Comes from the German "doppel", meaning "double". A doppelblogger is someone who plagiarizes the content of another blogger for personal gain or recognition.


Monday, August 16, 2010


"How were your holidays?"

In Greece, this is the burning question on friends and colleagues' lips upon your return from summer leave. And they always ask with such longing that shortly after arriving at the office earlier today I wondered if the quality of people's lives really did depend on how great a time I had with my family on my recent trip to Zakynthos (Zante).

Being a decent sort of person - as most returning holiday makers are - I decided to omit the lousy bits (eg nautious boat ride, boring spouse who bickered with me when I flirted with the lifeguard on duty by the hotel's pool tsk tsk, drunk Brits not letting us sleep etc).

I kept the myth of "perfect vacations" alive by putting on a blissful smile as I regaled them with travel anecdotes before concluding with an aching sigh and sweeping statement:
"Zakynthos is p-a-r-a-d-i-s-e.
No wonder the Venetians referred to it as fior di levante (flower of the East)! I can understand why Edgar Allan Poe wrote a poem about it. Is it any wonder why so many of our national poets and composers were born on this island?
It is simply beautiful!" 

I didn't need to exaggerate too much, either. Here are some photographs so that you can judge for yourself.

Laganas beach is where we stayed and THIS is the view I encountered every morning. As I said - "p-a-r-a-d-i-s-e"!
On one particular morning my daughters and I followed a just-hatched loggerhead sea turtle (caretta caretta) on its trail to the sea and cleared obstacles in its path. We prayed that this little one would survive to adulthood as only one out of every thousand hatchlings do! "Bon voyage little fella!"
And here is one all grown up as photographed during our boat trip. Caretta in latin means head. (I wonder why they feel that they should state it twice. And for that matter why the double repetition of monachus monachus in reference to the endangered Mediterranean monk seal that also thrives on Zakynthos? If anyone knows, please fill me in.)
Sifting sand through our fingers is not all we did.
What do you think we should do with all these shells we brought back home? What a pity I'm not as creative as Lemonade Makin' Mama...
The notorious shipwreck made this beach famous in the Eighties. It's a real crowd-pleaser, but I wonder how many people would visit this out-of-the-way beach if there were no gimmick.
Caves. This formation is known as "Poseidon's Head" can you spot his face? (Clue: Look for the Grecian nose)
The elephant tree (an olive tree at Exohora) in a village square in the middle of nowhere.
Delicious. If you are a vegetarian, you really do not know what you are missing.
Lavish churches. This one is from inside St. Dennis on the port. (If we sold off some of these I'm sure we'd be able to solve our country's economic problems - but then again, some say we should sell off our islands, too!)
Personally, I prefer the less ostentatious, more humble churches (Church of Zoodohou Pigi).
Zakynthos is a little like an ecclesiastical Disneyland! Here is the Monastery of the Virgin Eleftherotria. Doesn't it make you just want to lock yourself away in a nunnery?
And, when not contemplating the spiritual, a massage by the beach soothes the stiff body...It doesn't get more self-indulgent than this!
Then there were things that I couldn't quite capture with my little camera, such as a torrent of shooting stars coming down so fast that I barely had time to make wishes let alone focus my lens. Or lizards rushing around the garden, disappearing before you could blink. Or the elusive images of our summer dreams.

As you can see, this year I have decided to refrain from debunking the summer holiday myth. After all, we need to believe in the magic of escape as times are tough living in a country on the verge of bankruptcy with the IMF deconstructing the Greek "system" and licking away at workers' hard-earned vested rights.

Next year? Who knows? Will our summer holidays be as carefree or is this the last glimpse of hedonistic life?

There seems to be a growing stinginess in vacations and an increasing tendency to save pennies for rainy days rather than squander them under the sun. Will our children believe that there was a time when life in Greece was one year-long summer holiday? People are already blaming this lifestyle for our current economic woes while pointing to Aesop's fable "The Grasshopper and the Ants"...managing to forget the offshore companies and powerful thieves that ruined what was perhaps the best social security/pension system in the world.

But come what may, I guess we'll always have our holiday memories, a few faded snapshots and of course a tide of inspiration that comes from having sipped some of life's splendour...

by Edgar Allan Poe (1837)

Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers,
Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take!
How many memories of what radiant hours
At sight of thee and thine at once awake!
How many scenes of what departed bliss!
How many thoughts of what entombed hopes!
How many visions of a maiden that is
No more - no more upon thy verdant slopes!
No more! alas, that magical sad sound
Transforming all! Thy charms shall please no more -

Thy memory no more! Accursed ground
Henceforth I hold thy flower - enameled shore,
O hyacinthine island! O purple Zante!
"Isola d'oro! Fior di Levante!"

Ironically enough, just as we left the island on August 15, parts of Zakynthos were licked by flames, burning away our still vivid memories.

All the pictures apart from the last one were taken by me.