The Very Best Breakfast

Time is flying by, yet Greece still seems so far away! So, to bring it just a little bit closer to my mind and heart, I have started enjoying a lovely Greek breakfast every morning.

Best (Simple!) Greek breakfast

– 1/2 c   plain, Greek yogurt (my preference is the ‘Fage’ brand)

– A big drizzle of honey

– 1/2 c granola (or, even better, a handful of almonds and fresh strawberries)

The honey tames the tartness of the yogurt, while the nuts and granola give it the perfect level of crunch! Pair with a cup of fresh-squeezed orange juice and something fun to read (perhaps my Israel/Greece blog from my adventures abroad in 2009: http://dwriters.wordpress.com/page/4/)

 

(55 Days…)

Big Ideas

I must say, there is almost nothing more deliciously satisfying than making plans. Sometimes planning can be stressful, but even that added anxiety only serves to amplify the anticipation. Better yet are the times when you can develop an endless stream of ideas without any constraints or pressure. Only a few of those thoughts will wind their way into reality, but you distinctly recognize them as little droplets that flowed out of the deep sea of your mind.

Right now I have two major events that require intensive planning. The first of these is moving into an off-campus house for my last year of college. While I can hardly complain about my current apartment, the very concept of a house just thrills me. I get to really decorate, not just pick out new posters to sticky-tac to the walls. We’ll have lamps and big windows– no more long strings of Christmas lights.

We’ve already found our house for the year. It’s only a block from campus, it has a real backyard with a fire pit, there’s even a few rocking chairs on the front porch! And it has four bedrooms: which means we will all have our own space, at last.

But all this space requires tons of planning. We’re working out color palettes and room themes. I’m typing up a list of furniture we want to scout for on Craigslist. My brain simply will not stop replaying a mental walk-through of the layout. I want to touch every corner of the house and make it our home.

Now, for the second major experience. In all honesty, this blog was one of the earliest parts of this ‘plan’– way back when the ‘plan’ was still only a tiny drop of water. Now the river has pulled me in and spit me upon the shores of… Greece.

This summer I will be interning at Costa Navarino, a Westin Resort on the coast of Greece’s Southern Peloponnese. I will be working at the Dunes golf course there: helping in the pro-shop, doing some PR work, organizing golf clinics, and various other tasks. A golf course. IN GREECE. Can this be real?

It became real the moment I bought my plane ticket. I had invested time in contacting the resort and assorted staff-members, but when I actually put money into this venture– that was the moment it became my reality (of course, this ‘reality’ appears more like a white-sand mirage than a substantial summer job).

Where does this blog come in? Well, I want to craft both a personal journal to capture my experiences, reflections, adventures, disappointments, discoveries, and interactions from the summer, and I want to be able to share all those moments with the people I love. I want to provide you with as rich an account of my summer as possible, so that you can join in on my journey. I love planning and seeking out adventures, but I’ve come to realize that it means so much more when you have people to share in your life experiences. I promise to provide plenty of pictures and details. And I would absolutely love to receive your thoughts or input.

As a side note, I will continue to post random other blogs about topics completely unrelated to Greece. I often get inspired by various aspects of the arts or pop culture or news, etc. and I cannot resist putting a little more water into the social whirlpool.

I set off on my travels May 24. The countdown begins…

Why I Love Kurt Cobain

To be honest, that title just popped into my head. There was no serious amount of thought put into my feelings towards Kurt. I just said I loved him because, well, the world loved him.

I finished “Heavier than Heaven” by Charles Cross last week. Biographies of celebrities have predictable narratives and biographies of people who commit suicide have obvious endings. Combined, this book had the same potential excitement factor as listening to Ben Stein recite the alphabet. Obviously, since I finished it, I managed to find something redeemable about the book.

I skimmed it at work. I read it on my couch after classes were done for the day. I managed to read a page or two at night before sinking into a Cobain-coma. The best times were when no one was around and I could sprawl out on the floor and get lost in the narrative as Nirvana thrashed through my junky speakers. That’s how they were meant to be listened to, you know. Alone you can actually spend time translating Kurt’s haunting, rough words into sophisticated ciphers that still mean nothing. Smells like Teen Spirit will never remind me of deodorant or albinos… It will remind me of nights alone in my apartment, consuming thick, buttery frosting out of the jar and writing poems that no one would ever see.

Kurt Cobain just kind of brings out the best in you, I guess.

I couldn’t tell you when Kurt dropped out of school or the names of his parents. I don’t remember the number of drummers the band went through or where their first concert was. These details simply seem banal when juxtaposed with Kurt’s grotesque doll collection or the fact that he wore pajamas to his own wedding. Celebrity never fit Kurt Cobain.

But apparently life didn’t suit him either. I was thoroughly angered by his suicide. There were so many other times in his life when I thought, “Oh, surely he’s going to kill himself now. His life is really tragic”. Yes, that sounds horribly morbid, but everybody knows he committed suicide… I was simply trying to ‘figure it out’ before it happened. And I failed. He killed himself at the epitome of his career, just a few years after being married, and a year after he had his first child. Why why why WHY? I don’t want to call him a crazy druggie. I want to understand.

Part of me wants to understand. The other side of me, the non-rational half, wishes I had half the artistic sensibilities he possessed. Part of me knows I will never be great at writing or singing or drawing or anything that needs an ounce of creativity because I can’t let myself go. I can’t feel like Kurt feels.

It’s sad, you know. The world is divided into two types of people: those who create art and those who critique it.

January 29, 2011

Molotov!
The chant of the square
They only show us pictures taken at night

Inside, too, is dark
Blackness like a shield protects the inert forms
Wrapped in ancient linen

Glass spreads across the cobblestones
Like tiny spiders breaking
Out of their mother’s sack

The glass of the finger-smudged displays
Tremble in fear
And impatience

A young officer holds a handgun
In both hands
And swings it left, right, left, up…

Three men, drunk on revolution and pints of Stella
Forget that their ancestors
Meant something to someone

Thousands kneel in the streets
Praying to a God among gods
To restore that which they had long ago

Three men— elements or enemies?
Decapitate the Cause
And exit the museum

 
The current conflict in Egypt has piqued both my political and historical interests. I am challenged by the issues at hand. The US government has supported Mubarak and his administration for years and he has been able to maintain a sense of order that is rare in the Middle East. However, this order has come at the price of numerous freedoms. The revolutionaries in the streets are demanding justice and political freedom (the country has been under Emergency Law for over 40 years). Mubarak has been the only candidate for the presidency since he began his first term in 1981. Obviously, this is not a very democratic way of conducting affairs.

Ultimately, it seems to come down to the question of which is more valuable: order or justice? And can there be justice without order? Mubarak has declared that he will not run again for the presidency. What kind of leader can we expect to be voted into office?

An issue closely tied to this political affair has also been on my mind recently. On January 29, vandals broke into the Egyptian Museum. They left a wake of destruction, but one move in particular holds very powerful symbolism: they decapitated two mummies. I simply cannot fathom why anyone desirous of positive reform in their homeland would desecrate their own dead, their own cultural icons. As an archaeologist, it quite literally hurts my heart to hear of such a thing, and it makes it even more difficult to support the revolution.

Capote’s Crime

“Be careful what you do to get what you want” –Alvin Dewey to Truman Capote

I am a terrible movie watcher. I am so used to having several constant streams of action to process during my day (taking notes in one class while finishing the homework for another and keeping up a steady stream of wry commentary for the boy sitting next to me), that watching a movie simply doesn’t feel like enough. I flip open my laptop and begin looking up the actor’s credits. Then my email must be checked,  and facebook, too. Or, if I’m feeling rather productive, I’ll simply pull out a book and read while the movie flashes on in the background.

Due to these distractions, movies rarely have even the slightest chance of ‘captivating’ me. So I was rather taken aback when I realized, halfway through the movie Capote, I was actually listening. I clung to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s high, fanciful voice like it was a cold drink in the desert. The flat landscapes of Kansas mirrored the sharp cuts from image to image– as if the story was being told in photographs. Just as Capote’s famous non-fiction book, In Cold Blood, resonates with a fierce humanity, the movie underscores the similarities between Truman and the first-degree murderers. You are even led to feel distaste for Truman’s interview methods, as he misleads Perry in order to dig out the rest of the story. There is a bitterness in all wrongdoing.

Reading the end notes on the film, I discovered that Truman Capote never wrote another book, and that he died of complications related to alcoholism. Throughout the movie, Capote was rarely seen without a glass of something or other in hand. It became a part of his character, a hardly acknowledged accessory. So did the alcohol kill him? Or did his conscious actions throughout his life lead to his own death? The two previous hours of film would attest to the second. We are all subject to the same violent intents; it is our moral stature and our conscience and our trust in the strength of God that protects us from submitting to sin.We cannot fall out of line a little, without finding ourselves on the wrong path entirely. “Be careful what you do to get what you want”, a friend said to Capote. Capote loved his spotlight, his Bergdorf scarves. In exchange for the flashing lights, though, he sacrificed any chance of a further career, family, or stable life.

Tall Tales

A little late night thinking…

I was reading my Bible tonight and came to a verse in Mark that says “[Jesus] did not say anything to them without using a parable” (Mark 4:34). And I just stopped, put my Bible down, and leaned back, trying to picture what life would be like if all I ever did was talk in stories. The creativity! The brilliance of masking truths into everyday situations!

But then I realized something. My daily interactions with my peers usually revolve around the telling of stories. We complain about the crazy traffic to work this morning. We tell funny stories from the last family reunion went were forced to attend.  We discuss the hypothetical reality that our boss is an alien. Everything is in ‘story’ form; the more of a plot your narrative has, the more attentive your listeners will be.

So why is it so surprising that Jesus would use a similar method of talking? He entertained/captivated/connected to his listeners via encounters that were relevant to their lives. The Parable of the Sower is about a man scattering some seeds on the ground and what happens to them. Some grow, some don’t. Some get choked by weeds, others thrive. Cool beans.

What Jesus does that is so compelling, is that he reveals a Truth behind each and every story. He shows His disciples that behind these daily events and encounters lies a reality which God directs.

We agonize over the wonderful date we had last week with a guy who never called again. But we fail to dig down to the Truth residing in our hearts (are we just really lonely? did God want us to meet him for some specific reason? is He teaching us patience?).

Christ’s parables often feel impersonal because they aren’t revolving around Him, but He chose to reflect our own natural instincts and our own personal stories back at us. He did this so that we might come to know the Truth, the Truth that is ever-present in our day-to-day conversations.

Sons of Hope

“But oh, my heart was flawed
I knew my weakness
So hold my hand
Subscribe me not to darkness”

-Mumford & Sons

 

There is something about this band from West London that is irresistible. I do not think they have the most deep or profound lyrics, but they capture the sort of tortured reality that is felt by many members of my generation. Mumford & Sons was instantly popular within the college community; their folkiness did not throw hip-hop and pop listeners for a loop. But that is really no surprise. Every single song on their album speaks to some form of hurt that we encounter daily, and cries for some wild source of hope. And that is truly the beauty of Mumford– even if its “empty in the valley of your heart”, there is this constant faith that someone will be there to help you, to save you, to hold your hand.