Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Get Your Sticky Paws Off!

I've noticed a change starting to take place within myself and it's not one I'm very happy with. I have commented before on how ruthless Greek women are in the pursuit of men, to the point that they flirt shamelessly with Mr Zeus even while I'm right there. In the past there has not been much I can do about it except blog and tease Mr Zeus later, but now I've noticed that it has started to upset me.

Now when it happens, I find myself stating my territory in a more obvious way by making physical contact. I find my smile wavering. And my teasing has gone from playful to irritated. "I mean what is this? 'Would you like a coffee? Frappe? Flash of my boob?' Can't these women find their own men?"

The women of Eastern Europe in general are the most ruthless I've ever come across. As soon as a man is taken, it's like they can't resist the challenge of prying him back with their perfectly manicured fingers. It particularly pained me when it happened at a wedding and I felt like the woman was trying her luck because Mr Zeus's silly, sari-clad foreign wife wouldn't understand what she was saying anyway.

People flirt. It happens. Men flirt with me too, but they never do it when I'm with Mr Zeus. I can't understand what joy these women get from throwing themselves at taken men. But mostly I can't understand why it's starting to bother me more than it used to. Maybe somewhere in my subsconcious I thought that it would stop at some point and it hasn't.

I'm not a jealous person, I never really have been, so I don't want to continue on this path. I don't want Mr Zeus to grow tense when some predatory banshee flirts with him because he knows that afterwards I'll go on about it. I don't want to feel myself grow agitated and struggle to hide this from showing on my face (nearly impossible) when a woman who's been flirting lightly with my man bumps me along to the furthest chair from him. I mean really, what do you do in that situation? You could say "Excuse me but would you mind if I sat next to my husband?" but if it was an honest mistake then you'll just embarrass the person.

You know what's interesting about these women. Seeing a man they like taken turns the whole thing into a challenge for them and they will try their luck any way they can. If they manage to lure the man away, maybe somewhere in their twisted little minds they've won the game, whatever that may be.

But years later these women too cry when their own men cheat. So why start the cycle in the first place?

By the way, in my research, this phenomenon happens to all men as long as they are no longer single. So tell me, how can I go back to not caring? Oh and guys who are having a hard time finding a woman, the next time you're in a bar start talking about your imaginary wife and watch what happens.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Quirky Meme

EllasDevil tagged me for this quirky meme. Here are the rules:

1. Link the person who tagged you.

2. Mention the rules on your blog.

3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.

4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking to them.

5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged bloggers' blogs to inform them.

And here are my 6, strangely food-related, quirks:

1: When I'm particularly upset or stressed, I will embark on cooking complicated or fiddly food, like moussaka or samosas completely from scratch, to take my mind off it. I would do this at university too and then leave the finished product in the kitchen with a note for people to help themselves because by the time I was done, I didn't want it any more.

2: In supermarkets, I tend to buy the dented cans or cartons because I feel sorry for them and don't want them to feel unwanted.

3: I still feel creeped out that something under the bed is going to get me if I lie with a leg dangling over the edge. I tell myself to stop being silly and keep my leg hanging off the bed... but I soon get scared and draw it back.

4: When I eat a meal, I make forkfuls consisting of a little bit of everything on the plate. I adjust as I eat to make sure that I will be able to eat a little bit of everything from the first to the last bite. I might have a taste now and then of the different items but generally I'm a blender, not a separator.

5: When I prepare cucumbers, I slice the ends off and then rub them against the cut edge of the cucumber until a white froth forms. Someone once taught me that this draws out the bitterness but now everyone thinks I'm a weirdo for doing it.

6: Whenever I'm particularly starving, I keep hearing the sound that my phone makes when its battery is dying in my head. You know, as in my own battery is dying.

Hmmm who to tag now. I tag GreekGoddess, Blackbird, Psofofeggaro, TeacherDude and itelli, all of whom were kind enough to comment on my blog recently.

Gimme My Country Back!!

When I was at university and brimming with hope of changing the world, I went to a socialist student meeting. I'd joined the group on a whim and the discussion was of interest to me because we would be discussing military rule in the Home Country. It was your typical Welsh rainy September afternoon as I made my way up creaking stairs to a room over a pub, filled with right-on, fairtrade tea drinking, Guardian reading, long haired young socialists all who argued passionately using long words and throwing around the names of socialist icons or theories about the Home Country and I was taken aback, mightily disillusioned by how little they knew.

Naturally, being proper socialists and me being just a pretend one, they weren't having any of my not-based-on-some-dead-bigshot's-theories talk about the Home Country. I kept being told that I didn't understand, which for me was curious as I kept pointing out that actually I had grown up in the Home Country unlike anyone else in the room and so was much better placed to know what I was talking about than any of them. The reason they had taken such offence, argued so passionately with me in big important BBC Radio voices, was that I had said the unsayable in a room full of optimistic bright young things. I had said that marshal law was the best thing that could happen to the Home Country because democracy just didn't work for us.

And still they bandied on about it. They explained it to me patiently, the merits of democracy, ignoring and talking over me when I repeated that democracy didn't work for everyone, like marriage. Me being in the room was some sort of blip in their matrix. They paused, stared for a moment when I said something, and then continued to pick up the conversation where they had left out before Reality Check from the Home Country had butted in.

It was ridiculous. I looked around the room and realised what a sham it all was. Who did these people think they were, sitting above a pub in Wales talking out of their backsides about a country they knew so little about? They didn't have family or friends living there or any genuine reason for concern about what happened to the Home Country. I did.

The meeting was drawn to a 'successful' close with the conclusion that Democracy was the answer to the Home Country's woes. Democracy, just any type of democracy. Golly gosh! How come us silly people in the third world never thought of that before? Pick a tyrant and elect him and it'll all be good and proper. I never went to another meeting.

Naturally, that's what the people of the Home Country have just done and demonstrated very clearly why democracy doesn't work for them, because they kicked out a general who was the best of a bad lot and at least stabilised the country a little, and elected a man who has been thrown into jail many times for digging his grubby finger's into the nation's pockets and bought million pound mansions in the UK with the cash of ordinary people.

So you have to then wonder if my fellow Home Countryers don't deserve what they get if they're going to show that they have such appallingly short memories about how badly the same batch of politicians have treated them decade after decade.

And yet... I feel sometimes like I'm watching a country disappearing before my eyes, going up in flames like the iconic buildings of my childhood.

I don't feel sorry for the building. I feel sorry for the ordinary people who worked there, who were just trying to make a humble living. I feel sick at the thought of my friend's fiance being thrown three feet against a wall while he worked in a nearby building. I feel angry when I see the size of the crater and think that someone sat and calculated that level of raw violence, especially in the Holy Month and knowing full well that it would be a busy evening of families out with their children. What kind of sick people are these? I feel impotent because all I can do is watch the news.

In the end, I did find that bag of soil from my village and it now stands in a bottle on a shelf. Just as well because the way things are going, maybe that's the closest my own children will ever get to the Home Country.

I can say that things were never great when I lived in the Home Country but they were never this bad. It all makes me feel very strongly that it's outside hands that are stirring up trouble there, because whatever was wrong with the uneducated and easily influenced people of the Home Country, repeatedly blowing up your own countryfolk was considered a hideous, cowardly thing to do and now it happens all the time. But if you offer a poor person guaranteed financial security for his family with some religious guilt thrown in, his own life seems like a small price to pay.

I bet those socialists above a pub would love to hear my latest theory.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Clumsy + Flu = Certain Death

I am the absolute clumsiest person I know. In fact, that was my father's argument for why I should opt for an in- family arranged marriage, because no outside man would tolerate my destructive habits.

Mr Zeus has warily resigned to buying eight rather than six when we buy new glasses or plates, to leave me allowance for the breaks that are inevitable when things pass through my hands. Sometimes they don't even have to pass through my hands. Once I picked up a glass from the shelf and it's neighbour paused for a few moments before hurling itself off the edge. Mr Zeus gave me that look, and I protested "But I didn't even touch it this time!" Z2 had witnessed the event and confirmed, between laughs, that I had indeed broken a glass without even touching it.

This winter in Barcelona we acquired two absolutely beautiful handmade champagne flutes decorated with delicate wisps of melted glass. Mr Zeus had wanted to blow the budget and buy a set of six because they were so lovely, but I reminded him who he's living with. They had sat for months on display in a shelf before we put them away, worried that the next rumble of the earth might send them flying.

Two nights ago we were searching for something to sip with our meal and I found a little bottle of champagne someone had given me as a gift. We cracked it open and what better glasses to drink from than our two beautiful, delicate-stemmed Barcelona glasses? And naturally, obviously, I broke mine before I'd even finished my drink. And how I broke it! I went to get seconds and when I sat back down the edge of my plate cracked a line into the top of poor little champagne flute.

Either it was my mega clumsiness at work or I was being punished for a) consuming alcohol in the Holy Month b) making a pig of myself in the Holy Month.

This morning takes the cake, though. I currently have no sense of smell at all and when I woke up today I felt more half dead than half asleep. A strong cup of tea was in order so I set a pot boiling (we are cursed in that every electric kettle we own quickly dies) and began my morning routine of reading online newspapers.

A good ten minutes later I decided to attend to the noisy bubbling of the pot and when I turned, great big orange flames were leaping around next to it. Two kitchen towels that had been too close to the hob had caught fire so silently, so unodourosly, that the whole kitchen and indeed house could have started burning down around me while I sat clicking through the Guardian. I'd be found passed out with my browser clicked onto something embarrassing like "Best of WHAM! In Pictures". The headlines would read "WHAM! Fan dies in Kitchen Inferno".

And that's how flu kills.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Marriage and Babies

I went to a wedding on Saturday where the bride was wearing one of those meringue-skirted, see-through lace bodice creations so popular with brides in Greece. I suppose it's all a matter of taste because to me such princess frocks look positively hideous, but all around me people were oohing and aahing at what a lovely dress it was. The bride looked happy and therefore she looked beautiful. She would probably think my most wanted list of bridal outfits are over the top. Where's Vera Wang when you need her, eh?

Anyway, I was shocked to learn that this dress had cost EUR 1,500, which isn't so bad except that it was RENTED! Who the hell charges that much just to rent a dress, and why would you pay that much for a dress you can't even keep afterwards? For that much I could have any one of these designer creations, but I can't bring myself to splash out that much on an outfit I will most likely only ever wear once (but I could recycle it to attend other weddings, after all no one in Athens will know I'm wearing my wedding dress to a wedding will they).

Excuse me ... sneezing fit... I've been awake since 5.30 this morning with a fever. Damn summer flu.

Weddings, houses, babies. Or more often than not as of late, houses, babies, weddings. Being an extremely lightweight drinker, on our trip in Crete one evening as we sat by the sea with the Milky Way scattered overheard and a glass or two or white wine in my bloodstream, I admitted my burning desire for a baby to Mr Zeus. It wasn't just an admission like "I'd love to have a child," it was a full on, crazy eyed monologue about how badly I want a child and I don't even care if it's not mine, I'll adopt, and I don't care if I get stretchmarks, I'll get over it, that I have to take a deep breath to brace myself each time we're off to meet someone I know is pregnant and that I see babies everywhere and that all the women we know are having babies which they never, ever let me have for just one afternoon even though I've got years of baby care experience and neither do they tell us when we can drop in to see said bundles of joy resulting in four sets of rattles and baby-groes that have ended up stashed under our bed because by the time we get to see the baby they're too big for the clothes I buy and that sometimes when I'm sitting watching TV in the evenings I feel positively forlorn that I don't have a little person to take care of and feed and fuss over and wash their little clothes.

I stopped talking and held my head. "Am I being ridiculous?" I asked Mr Zeus. But he was too busy laughing at me to answer. Finally, he said "All in good time."

Indeed. And I know he's right. But I still want a baby. If any of you have one, please let me borrow it for an afternoon.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Life in the Jungle

A side-effect of Athens living is that everyone is living in everyone else's pockets. I have the misfortune of living in a neighbourhood with not one but two of those horrendous little white dogs that bark endlessly. One lives in the flat above, the other across the road. They usually are content sitting on their own balconies barking pointlessly into the wee hours of the morning, but every so often they both end up on facing balconies and then all hell breaks loose.

I am not ashamed to admit that during sleepless summer nights I have more than once contemplated climbing the metal staircase and sending the offending mutt wailing over the balcony.

Last night I was sitting on the bed reading a Bill Bryson with the radio playing. Pointless Mutt upstairs was barking. Someone else was banging on a door for ages. All of a sudden a ferocious fight broke out.

Over the music I could hear a man and a woman screaming bloody murder at each other. I resisted turning off the radio and listening in. It was none of my business. The fight continued and finally the curiosity got the better of me and I switched off the radio. Now, here is what happens each time I try to eavesdrop. The fight will be going all guns blazing until my curiosity gets the better of me and I try to listen in. Then the fight instantly tunes down.

Same thing happened last night. I could only make out snatches of a conversation that seconds earlier had been louder than my music. "...that idiot... what you want... no!... you can forget it .... I .... my child ..." and lots of booming shouting in between. I could gather from the tones of voice that the man was furious and the woman was talking in that high pitched, grating voice certain women have. She was not shouting, but she was obviously busy pushing all the man's buttons because every self-righteous quip from her resulted in a furious explosion from him.

The one time I did hear everything was when some couple in the neighbourhood were making love not war. It was one of the weirdest and most disconcerting experiences. I heard every sigh, every whisper, every shout, even the sound of the bed. The couple could have been right outside my window, which I couldn't shut on such a hot night (in every sense of the word, ho ho!).

I shrank away into my pillow, embarrassed about having no choice but to hear every moment of an almost obnoxiously long night of passion and mortified that if I could hear them, then it was perfectly possible that vice versa applied too...

Now that the weather is turning I can close another chapter of summer eavesdropping for this year. I feel a little down about it. I already have my first cold and feel that the summer didn't last nearly long enough. In the part of the Home Country where I lived, summer was so long that it left no room for Autumn, sprawling across a full seven months of the year and leaving a little bit of room in between for the monsoons before taking over again. And so our seasons ran: Winter, Spring, Summer, Monsoon, Summer, Winter.

Friday, September 12, 2008


The first sign that Z2 might not have been the best person to leave in charge of my plants while I went on holiday was when I tried to be him a house-warming plant and he said he doesn't like plants. No wonder my plants looked like they had just been liberated from a plant concentration camp when I got back. It's okay though, because they bounced back very well.

Crete was great. The people of Crete are so nice and welcoming that they make Athenians looks miserable and Londoners look infinitely worse. We had a totally chilled out time in the South of Crete, swimming, eating, sleeping, listening to Egyptian radio stations and sitting in babbling brooks until something bit my behind and I didn't do that again. It was refreshing while it lasted.

So here we are now post-holiday and in the Holy month which I so far have done a terrible job of observing. I set my alarm clock each day to wake up for a pre-sunrise meal and each night I change the time again, thinking I'll start a day later. I did it again today. So I've had breakfast and I won't eat or drink another thing till sunset now, which isn't playing by the rules but should help me get into the spirit of things.

The reason I like fasting is that is makes me feel like I earned the party at the end of it. And this year I won't be caught out. I'm going to make sure my new moon party is well planned and all guests well informed.

I will post again soon. This was a bit of a lame post.