Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Special special needs December 4, 2008

handicappedI was musing to myself that it would be nice to have a little income stream during this intermediary period. Rest assured, I have some (I think) good ideas in me noggin, and I’m getting some irons in the fire, so things should start to shape up and some cash rolling in by spring. However, seeing as I left my job rather than wait to be laid off (which I now very much wonder if I might have been. I don’t know how much demand there would’ve been for our boutique banking consulting services), I’m not eligible for unemployment.


Then it occurred me to me: I’ve been paying into the system for a good, long time. Maybe a little disability wouldn’t be too much to ask for? Admittedly (and happily), I’m healthy and (I think) mentally stable, but I do have a few unique flaws that I believe should be taken into consideration by the fine folks at the disability claims area:

Stove Dyslexia – This is the kind of thing that destroys families. I cannot turn on the burner I intended to turn on, and it is not my fault. This disorder has caused me considerable pain and trauma: Meals have been late, caffeine fixes unnecessarily delayed, several dish towels have burn marks on them, and I have even suffered the unspeakable – yes, I have lost arm hair. The smell torments my dreams to this day.


Irritable Howl Syndrome (IHS) – my dog has innovated this horrific banshee scream cum wolf howl noise that he’s very proud of. He will go out onto the back porch and let out this blood curdling sound until I go and drag him inside by the the collar. Nine times out of ten, he runs downstairs, goes out his dog door, and resumes again within two minutes. It drives me crazy, and if crazy isn’t grounds for disability payments, I don’t know what is.


Verification Word Blindness – For some reason Yahoo thinks I’m a spammer, and it constantly makes me type in the secret word it generates to confirm I’m a real human being. And I can never get the word right. Never. I have been known to try and fail five, six, seven times…until I finally have to call someone else in to help me. This is as embarrassing as it is emotionally crippling, and leads me to fear I may be a robot or android and no one has let me in on this yet.


Obsessive Compulsive Spellcheck Disorder (OCSD) – Yes, I am the obnoxious friend who notices you wrote ‘too’ when you meant ‘to’ or that you used the wrong their/they’re/there or that you’re a bit, shall we say, apostrophe ‘s’ happy. Also, the rumors are true: The dish is broken, not broke and irregardless is illogical, and thus not actually a word.


Curlyhairophobia – I have naturally curly hair, but I am not a fan. At all. And I have invested hundreds if not thousands of dollars into lotions and potions and straighteners and other accoutrement to fight my Irish genes. Possibly also related (to the genes more than the hair), I’ve also been known to go a little berserk if I get caught in the rain in my recently straightened hair. Okay, not a little beserk. A lot beserk. This no doubt speaks to some kind of rage disorder worthy of a little income.


Chronic Fashionista Syndrome – I’m obsessed with clothes. I’m driven to read each and every page of Elle, Lucky, In Style, Latina, Essence, or whatever you’ve got in search of tips, tricks, and the latest styles. This in turn manifests as an insatiable need for new stuff, adorable stuff, sexy stuff, any stuff…so long as it’s more stuff. This disorder speaks to my inner sadness and unquenchable emptiness, as well as a desire to look cute.


Cash deficit disorder (CDD) – See Above.

Syphilis – I’m just kidding. I don’t have syphilis. And I hope not to. So if you have it, stop looking at me and stay on your side of the bar. That is unless it’s grounds for a monthly stipend. Then I might consider actually allowing my bare ass to touch the rim of a gas station toilet seat and seeing what Mother Nature has up her sleeve.


I’m certain by now you agree. I am more than deserving of a cash influx…stat.

 

Faith is like electricity. You can’t see it, but you can see the light. November 28, 2008

So I’ve just started reading the book, “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity.” A few unrelated people mentioned it, and the ideas got stuck in my head. Before I knew it, I was on Amazon putting it into the shopping cart. I’ve only gotten through the first couple chapters, but already it’s quite clear that the author is a major advocate of an idea she calls “morning pages.”

Get up each morning – every morning – and write three pages in your own handwriting. They can be about anything so long as it’s three pages. And if you have nothing to say, you can write “I have nothing to say” over and over until you fill three pages.

That’s a little bit how I feel today.

I have nothing to say.

I have nothing to say.

I have nothing to say.

On the other hand, I haven’t started my morning pages process yet, so (in theory) starting tomorrow I will blow your little mind with the intensely creative and amazing things I will have to share. Allegedly.

I also must warn you that I am (for reasons unknown) entering into yet another ‘out there’ period of my life. I have been ‘out there’ more than once,  but I always seem to gravitate back to the (boring and predictable, but non-strange and thus strangely comforting) middle. The norm. However, the mere fact that I felt compelled to purchase “Mastering Remote Viewing – Remote Viewing, Third Eye, & Astral Projection” should serve as fair warning that my interests are once again moving toward the fringe.

I have a real love/hate relationship with the fringe. I love the idea that there’s magic in the world and so many things that we cannot easily perceive or sense or know, but that can be accessed if only we knew how. I love the idea that we’re all here with a purpose and to some extent the meaning of our lives is to discover and uncover our gifts in order to share them with the world.

At the same time, I hate that I have no proof. Nor does anyone else. I can’t see it or touch it or validate it beyond a shadow of a doubt. To believe in ‘the other’ (any other, really. Including that widely accepted by milliions) requires faith. And faith requires courage.

That stated, I am nothing if not a courageous soul. So I think in the end my curiosity will win out. I may never gain infallible proof, and I may end up believing in things that other people regard as kooky or even nuts, but a little mystery keeps it interesting. And if it turns out that there really is a whole magical world out there? What a wonderful ride that would be…

 

Sleep habits of the disenchanted November 20, 2008

So when I first got home from Turkey, I was widly jet-lagged and fighting to stay awake at 2pm.

Now the pendulum has swung dramatically the other way. I’m going to bed at 2am and rising at the equivalent of 7pm Istanbul time. What a difference three weeks makes.

Stepping back and looking at the situation objectively, I think I’m suffering the effects of no job, no schedule, and no real responsibilities. It’s fun for a few weeks, but there’s a nagging voice in the back of my head that would like to see me get my @ss in gear and develop a plan for managing my time.

Part of the problem is that I can dick around like nobody’s business. If there were a “who can waste the most time surfing the internet” competition, I could very possibly take home of the gold. Ditto for channel surfing, magazine flipping through, phone chatting, book skimming, and dog tug of warring. Alas, this is not how best selling novels are created (at least I doubt it), so starting next week I am developing a time management schedule and sticking to it! And calling all the people I need to call! And writing back to all the people I need to write! And commencing my plan for world domination!

To quote the famous time management expert Alan Lakein, “Time = life; therefore, waste your time and waste of your life, or master your time and master your life.”   Amen to that.

 

Your dreams may toss and turn you now November 11, 2008

So I woke up this morning with Cat Stevens playing in my head (just in my head, not on the radio or anything), which is kind of weird really. Nonetheless, seeing as it was out of nowhere and strangely apropos, I took it as a sign and decided to update the tag line on this blog. And the ‘about me’ was adjusted too. And even my outgoing voicemail message on my cell phone. Reality has settled in. Although I still haven’t fully unpacked my backpack, I also haven’t strapped The Beast on in over a week. It had to happen sometime. Elvis is back in the building.

 

Meanwhile, I’m still grappling with a serious case of jet lag. Thus, 7:00 this morning wasn’t the first time I woke up. I also woke up at 4:00 in the middle of a dream that I was hooking up with George Clooney. If you’d asked me yesterday, I’d have described that as pretty much the perfect dream, and one I’d be sorry to see interrupted.

 

However, it turns out having it cut short wasn’t as bad as it sounds. First off, in the dream I was dismayed to find that I was only wearing a sheet, and I was concerned that might send George the wrong message about what kind of girl I am. But that wasn’t all. You see, George had some rough breath. Dumpster meets outhouse meets rotten egg rough. And after I got over the shock and dismay, I was desperately trying to figure out how I might get him some Altoids or even just a TicTac (and maybe a pair of panties for myself). A dab of toothpaste. Some floss. Anything.

 

And I think my duress at the ultimate opportunity turned gross situation caused me to tune into the fact that my sleep hypnosis CD had gone nuts and in the real world, a male voice had been saying, “Anything is possible” for almost five hours.

 

You see, I somehow got my hands on a couple sleep hypnosis CDs earlier this summer. They open with this guy with a strange accent talking you through how your feet are relaxing and your shoulders are relaxing and then once you fall asleep, he rattles on about how “Anything is possible” and “It is. You know it. You accept it.” This I know because I had it on my iPod during my trip in Europe, and it was one of the only tracks that didn’t get wiped out. It was my hope that it would help me fall asleep or fall back asleep when the general ruckus that is a hostel dorm room competed with my beauty sleep. However, sometimes it had the opposite effect. The droning voice itself would keep me awake and I would lay there and listen to the parts you’re supposed to sleep through. Anyway, the point is that the positive affirmations are only to go on for an hour, but somehow my CD got stuck on the phrase “anything is possible” and repeated that until it wormed its way into my conscious mind.

 

But maybe in a way that was the endless repetition I needed? Because I woke up again a couple hours later ready to work and ready to write and feeling energized and excited and enthusiastic and like, well, anything is possible.

 

Things that make running a marathon look easy November 4, 2008

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages a sick sense of failure falls on me and I know I can never do it. This happens every time. Then gradually I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate and I eliminate the possibility of ever finishing.”  John Steinbeck

 

 

This is where I’m at with respect to writing a novel in one month. Except less positive and more in touch with the ‘sick sense of failure.’

 

 

Thus, to motivate myself through this ‘adventure,’ I’ve combined Mr. Steinbeck’s wisdom with that of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Starship Enterprise. My mission statement has come out a little something like this:

Focus on one day at a time, explore strange new worlds, and boldly go where no wo/man has gone before…or die trying.

 

 

I printed it out and stuck it on the bathroom mirror, but if that doesn’t provide sufficient oomph, I may have to move on to writing myself a manifesto. A manifesto that can hopefully be worked into the book so as to satisfy the quantity of writing required for the day. Or a manifesto so long it becomes the book. Like the Communist Manifesto, but without the words bourgeois and proletarian. And with a philosophy wherein I still get to keep some private property, like my dog and my clothes. And that doesn’t require me to emulate a crazy Karl Marx hairdo (acknowledging that barring the unexpected, I cannot grow a beard.)

 

 

And now you see how I can spend two hours in mock debate with myself or digressing about things that have nothing to do with anything and not writing the great American (or whoever will have it) novel.

 

 

Who came up with this NaNoWriMo thing anyway? And why did I think it was a good idea? It’s like a marathon…except much, much longer. With a marathon, at least you know that in five hours you’re either done or you’re going to be hit by a car when they open the course to traffic, which will render you done.  

 

But like any ‘no pain, no gain’ discipline, I acknowledge that it’s unlikely that I will smoothly transition to a successful writing career if I don’t actually write. That only happens if you’re a celebrity with nothing to say, and they probably give you a ghost writer anyway. However, once in a while, they don’t, as evidenced by these horrifying attempts at ‘poetry’ I found while Googling “celebrity books bad.”

From Charlie Sheen’s poetry book, A Peace of My Mind:

…Teacher, teacher, I don’t understand,

You tell me it’s like the back of my hand.

Should I play guitar and join the band?

Or head to the beach and walk in the sand?


Ouch. Can poetry actually hurt you or did my appendix just burst?

Suzanne Somers chose free verse for her book of poems called Touch Me. If you thought the internal monologue of the woman behind the Thighmaster might be interesting, this poem sets you straight:

Organic girl dropped by last night

For nothing in particular

Except to tell me again how beautiful and serene she feels

On uncooked vegetables and wheat germ fortified by bean sprouts–

Mixed with yeast and egg whites on really big days–

She not only meditates regularly, but looks at me like I should

And lectures me about meat and ice cream

And other aggressive foods I shouldn’t eat.

 

 Who would’ve thought? The mere act of reading this crap has renewed my enthusiasm for my own comparative talent, the NaNoWriMo challenge, and the 26 days remaining…

 

Final nail in the banking coffin November 2, 2008

Back in the civilized world of straightening irons and martinis!

Back in the civilized world of straightening irons, nail polish, warm turtlenecks, and martinis!

I was, as you probably recall, in Santorini on my birthday. That night I was in my room when my Skype ‘rang,’ and a good friend of mine was on the other end. I had to hang out of the window of the room to get a consistent wifi signal, but we still managed to have a fairly lengthy conversation.

Anyway, at some point I remember her saying to me that my talents were elsewhere, and if I tried to go back to banking and my old ways/old career, I would have to answer to her. I love that idea, largely because deep inside I know I am destined to do something else, but I worry that the lure of money and security and even to some degree predictability could serve as a siren song.

That is why I decided to make a little physical change.
In 1992, I went off to college at the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) intent on pursuing a marine biology career. Marine Biology, it turns out, does NOT consist of riding around in exotic waters with Jacques Cousteau, so I was quickly disenchanted. UCSC has a wonderful Marine Bio program, but otherwise it’s a big hippie commune filled with all sorts of young people with varying levels of emotional disturbance (present company included).

Thus, and perhaps not surprisingly, all my roommates were getting tattoos – usually very large ones across their back or stomach (which I, in all my practicality yet failure to self-edit, mused aloud as to how bad that would look if the recently tattooed young woman ever got pregnant or just fat.) This was the very early days of what is now the omnipresent ‘young people with tattoos’ trend, although Santa Cruz was probably a little ahead of its time in that regard.

I’m a chicken, and I didn’t feel strongly enough about any animal, vegetable, mineral, or word to get it permanently inked onto my person. However, there was also branding and piercing to choose from, so I took the most reversible course of action and had my nose pierced. I wore a small ring in my nose until my mid-20s when a mix of things (mostly work making me take it out, partly the widespread appearance of similar rings all of the sudden, etc.) caused me to take it out for good.

A few months ago, I realized I finally had a word that meant enough to me to tattoo it (discretely – in white ink and where I can cover it with a watch) onto myself. I suppose this is why I tuned into the number of tattoo/piercing parlors lining Istiklal Street in Istanbul the first day I arrived.

However, to my surprise, I found I still didn’t feel it was time to do the tattoo but rather I felt compelled to have my nose pierced again. This is partially because I always liked it and thought it suited me, partly because it can always be ‘undone’ if you change your mind for some reason, and mostly because bankers and banking consultants don’t have shiny things in their right nostril. It was – and now it is – a line in the sand between that world and me. The final nail in the banking consultant coffin.

Granted, I could have gone really extreme and had puzzle pieces tattooed onto my face, but scaring children isn’t really my bag, and I don’t want to drive nails into EVERY career out there. I mean, what’s left when you turn yourself into the guy from Hell Raiser? Circus Freak? Total digression: Do you remember that ad for some kind of phone service where people think that now that they have the service, phone conversations will go differently? And some guy tattooed with big stripes head to toe is calling an Asian man who says, “Sorry Roger. You tiger now.” Every time I saw that, it cracked me up.

Anyway, a Turkish man who spent time in Australia (so his English was very good, but the accent nearly unfathomable) did the piercing for me on Tuesday night. It’s subtle, but if you enlarge today’s picture, you can see it. It has been healing well, despite the questionable mix of products used to clean it.

Yesterday I learned that the clear fluid I am to use several times a day to wipe it down is sold in the U.S. as nasal spray. The pharmacist told me I could boil water and put a little salt in it, and it’s the same thing. Nice.

In their defense, I also have Betadine – the orange stuff they put on skin before doing surgery. If you’ve ever had a pet spayed (or any other major surgery), their whole belly comes home covered in the stuff. That at least actually qualifies as medicine of some sort.

Anyway, as I mentioned, from day one it’s healed remarkably, and that’s probably why I didn’t think it through when I got a facial yesterday. The weirdest part about that, is that I woke up ‘practicing’ explaining that the pierce was new to someone who didn’t speak very good English. When I realized what I was doing, I caught myself thinking, “That’s crazy. You’re back in America. You don’t have to go through all that any more.”

But I spoke too soon. Irina, the lovely woman who did my facial, is Russian and so-so on the English. Although she seemed to understand me, she managed to pull the thing out of my poor nose THREE times during the initial face wash. Holy crap!

It got worse from there. This is really gross, and not a feature of facials that I enjoy (and may come as a horrifying shock to the men out there), but part of a facial is that they clear your blackheads. Manually. Like in a manner that they tell you NOT to do when you’re a teenager. And it hurts. And it REALLY hurts when someone spies one 2mm from your brand new piercing and goes to town contorting your nose in 300 excruciatingly painful directions.

Tears rolling down my face, I finally had to tell her rather ferociously that we were DONE over there. No more touching the right side of my nose for ANY REASON. If it bursts into flames – don’t touch it. If a small alien pops out of the nostril – don’t touch it. If the voice of God booms into the room and commands you to touch it – DO NOT TOUCH IT.

The facial proceeded without further incident. I went home, and was a little freaked out, but I cleaned up with the nasal spray and Betadine and all is once again well. And although there may be banks – or at least a liberal credit union or two – that would still have me despite the pierce, in my own mind it serves as a further commitment to changing my life and finding a way to make a living at something creative. Plus – I think – it’s cute.

 

Happy Halloween!! October 31, 2008

Although I'm a tiny bit embarassed to share this, here is your blogger as Catwoman.

Although I'm a tiny bit embarrassed to share this with you, I said I would so...here you go!

Halloween is an iconic American tradition, and I’m happy I decided to come home in time to participate. I have a Cat Woman costume that borders on obscene (and yes, those of you who appreciate me for more than my mind, I promise to post a picture) and a whole lot of enthusiasm to be back in a land where I can eavesdrop and actually understand what’s being said.

I also got home in time to vote. I won’t get into my politics – although it might make for a more popular blog in the short run – as I largely agree with anyone who suggests that it’s pretty much six of one, half-dozen of the other (meaning all candidates are largely interchangeable in the big picture). At the same time, I can’t say I’ll miss George W. If anything, my association with the man (association being that I happen to hail from the country he governs) has been the source of much antagonism and ill-will throughout Europe.

I believe in method acting.

I believe in method acting.

In particular, I recall a Greek cabbie who – without any discussion of my views whatsoever – launched into a fairly intense diatribe upon learning that I was American. The point repeated over and over was that, “After the towers fell, everyone was for America. Everyone. We were all for America. But then George Bush ruined that. He ruined America.”

I’m not suggesting that’s a coherent or well-phrased argument, but I will say that it summarizes the feelings of EVERYONE who dared to share an opinion the last three months. It’s sad to me that we have lost the respect of the greater world, and it seems a crying shame.

But enough about that. It’s Halloween, and I’m home. And tomorrow is a brand new day. And come Tuesday it’s a brand new presidency. And in the middle of all this opportunity is my brand new life. And anything is possible.

I’m off to squeeze into a poorly made shiny plastic outfit and find some good old fashioned fun. Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, I wish you a wonderful Saturday night! Take stock of what’s going RIGHT in your life, and make a toast to happiness: “May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, the foresight to know where you are going, and the insight to know when you have gone too far.”

 

Diary of the blogger as a not-so-young woman October 13, 2008

I won’t beleaguer the whole ‘how the f–k did I get so old!?” thing. You don’t want to hear about it, and neither do I.

Instead, indulge me on a little trip through my psyche and the random thoughts that occupy it on this, the occasion of my birth:

  • Last night I dreamed that I got married, and the ceremony was traditional to the (never identified) groom’s culture. It was also complex.
  • I was wearing an ornate dress that took hours to put on, but the real focus of the ceremony was a little girl. She was made up to look like a doll (kind of like Raggedy Ann), and after the vows were complete, someone brought this wooden box (a little like a coffin) to the front. The box was presented to the onlookers and opened, and this little girl – about five or six years old – emerged in her doll costume. She was quite the ham, and the wedding guests were ENTHRALLED. I remember thinking that she had on way more makeup than I (the bride) did. I vaguely wondered if maybe I should have made myself up more.
  • I can still picture the expression of utter joy on this one guest’s (who I thought was maybe the doll-girl’s mother) face. However, to be fair, the guests were all about this doll-girl, who I thought perhaps was meant to symbolize the future children of the marriage.
  • Then the dream cut to the reception, and I didn’t really know anyone. It was strange because I was meant to be the focus of the celebration (at least in weddings as I know them), but I felt kind of auxiliary. I wasn’t upset about it. I somehow chalked it up to cultural differences. The last thing I remember was reading the box for the bustle and realizing I was wearing not just one, but two of them, necessary to make my huge dress as large as it needed to be.
  • I’m totally crappy at interpreting dreams, but I’ve come up with something about a culture that worships youth and giving up one’s expectations of attention to those younger than you. Otherwise, I’m baffled.

So otherwise, the dream was probably the most exciting thing that happened today. As birthdays go, mine was super mellow.

Ran. Checked pulse – still going. Sat on beach (windy/freezing). Ate lunch – spanikopita from bakery. Sat by pool (less windy/boring). Read some of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” – Did you know it takes one pound of petroleum to make one pound of food!?!?!? Worried about future of the earth and wished I’d paid more attention during “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Skyped with friends
E-mailed with friends
Ate some crappy greasy calamari for dinner. MUST AVENGE THIS BIRTHDAY DINNER INJUSTICE.
Felt grateful for those of you that realized that it wasn’t ‘just another day’ (at least to me). We all want to be be consequential and matter to someone else…and you’re that for me. The favor will be returned. And until then…THANK YOU.

 

Excuse me while I do a little dry heaving… October 12, 2008

Admittedly, I’ve never been to Egypt or India, but if there’s ever a ‘world’s worst tap water’ contest, I’d like to nominate Santorini, Greece. It is AWFUL. Actually, that’s not a strong enough word: HEINOUS. HARROWING. HORRIFIC. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD.

I thought maybe if I boiled it…??? I succeeded in ruining a perfectly good tea bag. Earl Gray, no less.

I don’t really know what is occurring, but I’d say the closest description is the ‘water cure’ at the Turkish baths in Budapest. I took a single mouthful of the salty sulfur water at the baths (out of the spigot intended for drinking), and it was warm and creepy, but bearable. The Santorini tap water is in the same genre, but not as curative. Just plain old gross.

As a coincidence (or is it???), I caught a small bit of ‘Erin Brokovich’ on the TV while using the wifi in the reception area earlier today. Just enough to remind me that the lawsuit was about poisonous water caused by PG&E. Just enough to feel a little tiny bit uncomfortable about all that I have consumed while on this trip.

In the same vein, I had my first glass of Greek wine today. A white wine apparently made in the traditional style. I had a sip, and I didn’t like it. The flavor was strange. Like herbs maybe. I couldn’t quit put my finger on it, but it was familiar.

I took another sip.

Oregano?

No.

Basil?

No.

Thyme?
No.

Mold?

Without a doubt.

Probably it came from a bottle that was corked, but I’m not sure. I know there’s a whole world of wine flavors. Is mildew a legitimate flavor profile?

Meanwhile, the hotel I’m staying at sells a glass of local white wine out of a box (less chance of corkage!) for 3 euro. However, if moldy is just the way it tastes, I really don’t want to waste the money. Thus, for now, I’ll just stick with my bottled water. On the other hand, tomorrow is my birthday (how weird is that???), so maybe I’ll live large and order up a glass of the box wine then? And I’m definitely getting some calamari.

Meanwhile, I had a strange night. After a solid week or more in hostels (and listening to people snore in all forms and fashion), I was so looking forward to peace and quiet. However, the universe had other plans. First, there was the wind. It got up to 45mph, and the sound of that is something else. At the very least, it’s not something I’m accustomed to, and some primitive instinct inside me finds it a little bit alarming. Especially when I’m on an island.

Next, there was my room. Not to pick on it, but the construction quality is little bit shoddy. The window has two panels – one glass and another wood – and they fit together and are held in place by a metal hinge that reminds me of a bobby pin. One strong breeze and they both come flying open.

Furthermore, the door to the room is jimmied into place, and a solid inch of daylight peers through when it’s shut. However, they have thoughtfully provided a sheet on a curtain rod, which I suppose is to try to block out the light or the breeze or ??? With respect to the door, the only thing that keeps it from flying open is a deadbolt which fits loosely in its slot. It’s a very casual arrangement from a security perspective, and if I knew I wouldn’t have to pay for the damage, I’d kind of be curious to see if I could body slam the door open using just my weight. I suspect I could.

Thus, due to the questionable craftsmanship and the intense winds, the door and windows spent the night slamming open and closed and creaking and straining and rattling against the deadbolt. It was incredibly noisy, and I probably woke up six or seven times. Then I would just lay in the darkness and listen to the wind and marvel at the fact that I’m lying in a bed in Santorni, Greece and my stomach is turning a little too much and does that water just taste bad or does the bad taste serve as a warning, like the stink applied to natural gas?

(Now you know why that little snippet of Erin Brokovich was particularly alarming…)

If the wind and the slamming and the creaking weren’t enough, there was the crying. At first, while still asleep, I thought it was a child. Then I realized it was a dog. In my sleepy confusion, I thought maybe it was in the courtyard of the hotel. I got up to look for it and maybe give it something to eat (I don’t have much in the room, but I do have some milk, some eggs, and an unlimited supply of hideous water). There was no one there but the wind.

I went back to bed, fell asleep, and heard it again. At this point, I realized it was coming from above my head, on the other side of the hotel. It cried and cried and cried, and I could occasionally hear it shake and the sound of a chain around its neck. I figured it must be afraid of all the wind or cold (or both), and it made me incredibly sad.

Today, I went looking and discovered a dog tied up behind a house near the hotel. I talked to the people here and they agreed that it was probably the same one I heard crying, that it’s always tied up, and that it “isn’t very nice.” I hate these kinds of situations. As much as I’m reminded of the magic in the world, it’s also hard to deny that people can be thoughtless idiots, if not worse.

If I were at home, I would go and talk to the owners and maybe even see if they would give me the dog or let me buy it from them. Anything to give it a better life. Here, and in these circumstances (with three weeks of backpacking left to do), I feel so helpless. I had to give myself firm talk about the insanity of trying to rescue a Greek dog. Or take it with me. Although if I can figure out where, I may go and buy it some meat or at least a bone. A birthday present to us both.

Speaking of birthdays, I was looking for a quote for tomorrow’s blog, and I ran across one so simple and yet profound, that it kind of made me tear up. As an added point of significance, it was said by Jonathan Swift, the writer that ‘invented’ my name (Vanessa) as a nickname for a student of his.

Moreover, it is a sentiment that has come to exemplify how I intend to live my life: by following my instincts, my heart, my emotions, and my gut. By noticing coincidences and doing what feels right. By being flexible and open and real. And by not being afraid and trusting the universe to throw out a safety net when I need it. And those ideals – as simple, as elusive, as liberating and as complicated as they are – can be summarized a little bit like this:

May you live all the days of your life.

 

 
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