3.2.2017

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A round up of this week’s:

Reading

The Detective of Northern OdditiesOutside Online
Loved this quirky portrait of an Alaska scientist, just as much about her as a person as the disturbing environmental trends her work reveals.

Refugees are already vigorously vetted. I know because I vetted them, The Washington Post
This piece was written by a former US immigration officer, who intimately describes the process refugees go through when applying for resettlement in the US.

U UP?The New Yorker
Miss you Obama.

How a Photo of Jewish and Muslim Kids Protesting President Trump Went Viral, Time
Yes America. ❤

This week’s more lighthearted ‘WTF’ moment, Business Insider

Watching

Global girl power, via Saudi Arabia (from NPR).


Something a little heart-warming – maybe we do have more in common than we think? Good job, Denmark.


I didn’t do the ‘love’ them on purpose, but it seems like a good one for this week.

Listening

John Lewis – the Art & Discipline of NonviolenceOn Being with Krista Tippett
These words seem more important than ever. ‘So you try to appeal to the goodness of every human being and you don’t give up. You never give up on anyone.’

Anti-Semitism in America, Fareed’s Take on Trump’s Travel Ban, ACLU vs. President Donald TrumpFareed Zakaria GPS
Great conversation, but also a telling example of a voice of reason drowned out by hurt indignation. (Thanks Theia!)

Busted, America’s Poverty Myths, Radiolab/On the Media
This series methodically tackles (and dismantles) America’s poverty myths. Worth listening to

Fortress America, Hidden Brain
Nuanced discussion of what we can (and can’t) learn from history, examining the case of the SS St Louis, the ship full of Holocaust refugees turned back from the United States in 1939.

Randomly

Plotting when I can make these brownies.

Currently drinking a lot of this before bed (with my most recent kitchen experiment, homemade almond milk!).

Just realised there is a lot of subtext going on in these links. I’ll add just one more here – basically sums it all up: How to #StayOutraged without Losing Your Mind.

Extra hugs to everyone today, just because.

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Around Athens in January

What a month. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go, though it flew by a little fast for me. Some highlights from the first month of what will be, I’m sure, an ‘interesting’ year: I celebrated New Years in Greece for the first time this year, eating plenty of vasilopita (though without finding the lucky coin..), did a lot of wandering around a rainy and chilly city, and enjoyed some unseasonably warm days too. Time, though not enough, with friends and family, and an adventure to a botanic garden near Athens that I will devote a full post to later. Though things sometimes feel like they are spinning a little out of control, overall there’s a lot going well in my little microcosm – lots of be grateful for, but ready for February!

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Aunt’s incredible new year’s table

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A Christmas tree in the wild! 

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Sunset over Athens, view from Ymittos

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Kolonaki views

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Stumbled upon a procession for Epiphany.. 

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Brunch at Zampano!

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Still pinching myself that I walk past these sights everyday.. 

Vasilissis Sophias

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Snow in Athens! 

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Waking up to a snow-covered city.

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Snowman invasion in the National Gardens

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A rainy night in Monastiraki

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Summarises January pretty accurately I think

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New yummy discoveries in Koukaki – Fabrica tou Efrosinou

Women's March, Athens

Athens’ representation for the Women’s March on Washington

Women's March, Athens

Women's March, Athens

Women's March, Athens

Mets

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Adventures in cyber land at ‘Hybrids,’ Onassis Cultural Centre

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An adventure to the Attica Plant Park – stay tuned! 

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Evening Kolonaki colours

Feet

Rain rain.. 

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Not all grey skies! 

Alimos

End of the month walk along the sea

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Alimos Bay

Sea Alimos

Happy February! 

2017 Non-Resolutions

As long it’s still January, we can still talk about goals for the coming year, right? I’m deliberately not saying ‘resolutions’, though I’m not actually sure why. Even when I was younger I don’t remember ever really getting on board that particular wagon – maybe I just think it’s unfair that January should have a monopoly on self-improvement. No day like today, right? It just happens to be January… 🙂

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This year, though, one thing is new  – putting my goals down on ‘paper’ and out in the open. Perhaps it’s obvious that my list will include writing and blogging more..! Here goes:

Say No

Perhaps a somewhat negative starting point, but an important one for me. A friend recently told I should refer to my plethora of jobs/volunteering as my ‘portfolio’ of work. I like it and intend to adopt it, but it’s still a nice way of describe one of my chronic problems. It’s not that I intend to overcommit, but I get excited about things and tend to agree to contribute to interesting new projects without calculating how much time I actually have. I think it’s also a reaction to uncertainty – if I just reach out in all directions, maybe I’ll actually grab something good.
On the other hand, I’m finally internalising what all the internet gurus say (or at least, Steve Jobs – he seems trustworthy, right?) – that focusing on too many things is not the way to achieve quality work.

This goes along with the next item, which is to be more deliberate with how I spend my time.

Relax – One Day at a Time

I’m sure it comes as no surprise to those who know me that I am somewhat ‘high strung’ (not a descriptor I would have chosen, but when it comes from Mom, it’s probably accurate). A huge combination of factors means that I am generally anxious and worry about everything, without good reason. To be fair, there are a lot of anxiety-inducing things going on these days, but there are also a lot of wonderful things in my life.
This year, I want to take things a little more slowly – focus on the day-to-day, all the things that are good, and channel my energy deliberately into making the not-so-good better. One of my favourite pieces of advice that I dole out liberally but seem incapable of taking myself:

‘Eat your elephant in small chunks.’

Learn to Feel at Home

There is certainly a theme to these goals so far – this one clearly derives from trying to be more relaxed and content with where I am right now. I think being semi-nomadic for the last nearly ten (!!!) years has created something of a paradox – addiction to being able to travel and see ‘my people’ across the world, paired with a deep longing for a stable base and a safe space that I can come back to.

This seems fairly reasonable to some extent, except that I’m not very good at, as above, being content with the present moment. Honestly, there is a lot that I would change if I had the magical capability – BUT my well-practiced ability to second guess and doubt also limits how much I appreciate what I have. And that helps no one.

Read/Write

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Some of last year’s picks

Surprise surprise. This year I want to read more. Last year I read 21 books, and this year I hope to reach at least 30. (I think in 2015 I had set a goal of 50, thinking, eh I read all the time, of course I’ll reach 50! No.. Of course, I choose beasts like The Count of Monte Cristo and The Goldfinch, which doesn’t help.) I also want to write out my thoughts and share them here – accountability! You can also follow me on Goodreads (let’s be friends!) to see how I’m getting on – so far I’ve read two!

Along with reading, this year I really want to write more, hence this post… I’ve worked out an editorial schedule for my blog, and will be aiming to post at least once a week, if not more. At this point, I’m thinking of sharing a combination of ‘travel log’ style posts, with photos and recaps from various adventures, ‘around Athens’ with snapshots of daily life, a round up of interesting things I’ve been reading/I’ve written elsewhere, and perhaps even a recipe or two(!). Stay tuned – and please let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see in this space!

Practice Languages

Living in Greece has, unsurprisingly, been very good for my Greek. That being said, I’m not as deliberate as I would like to be in noting unknown words, practicing, asking questions, etc. One habit I’ve gone back and forth with is reading a daily Greek e-newsletter that I love, AthiNEA, and making a point of recording any words I don’t know, and then practicing them.
Also, Greek has, understandably, replaced all the other languages I (once) had floating around in my head, and I want to snatch them back before they escape for good! So – French, Arabic and Turkish are (somehow) coming back!

Wear my Glasses

Note to self – everything is better when you can see clearly!

Run 3rd Half Marathon

Also self-explanatory. The Athens Half-Marathon is 19 March this year – the same race I did last year where I had a great run. Hopefully a new training plan plus ongoing yoga will allow for a similar experience! If it goes well, the ‘Poseidon’ Half Marathon is the following month. That was my first half marathon  and although I finished, it was not pretty. I’d love to run it again in better shape this year.

Cook

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Note – I did not make this food. I did eat most of it though 🙂

Well, I cook often enough at home, but it’s also become increasingly clear to me that a) I find it super relaxing and soothing and b) I love to feed people. (Neither of these are new developments). So, I’m going to try and share at least one ‘food blogger’ type post a month, just to give myself a bar to reach. I learned through writing for theTravelPorter that actually, all it takes is a deadline. After years of studying, I was convinced I was stuck in a state of writers’ block, and though I was feeling creative, I just wasn’t getting anything out there. But then.. I became a content producing machine. Apparently it’s possible!

 

Those are my rambles for now – I’ve read a lot of ‘blogging advice’ that suggests choosing one ‘genre’ to focus on. At the same time, bloggers are often urged to stay loyal to their own ‘authentic voice.’ Since it’s unlikely I’ll turn into a ‘real blogger’ any time soon, this space is going to continue to represent the diverse and colourful mess that is my life. I hope you’ll follow along!

Around Athens in October

Although a week of this month was spent adventuring around the Peloponnese with my dad, and then the rest of the month mostly spent at my aunt’s house where my dad recuperated from the fall that cut our adventures short (he will be fine!), the changing seasons here in Athens have made for some glorious skies and scenery. Also, staying home and keeping dad company has been a good excuse for some cooking, so there are a few more food photos than usually, I apologise. Still can’t quite believe October has come and gone already, but Happy November everyone! 

 

 

 

P.S. Previous Around Athens posts from June, July, August, & September!

 

‘Oxi Day’ 2014

The 28th of October, a national holiday in Greece, is usually a wonderful excuse for long weekend travel. This year, however, I stayed in Athens and popped down from my aunt’s house to see the parade and celebrations in the suburb of Halandri. Though I had hopes of going downtown for the city of Athens parade, I was deterred by reports of ‘draconian’ security measures, which would prevent the public getting too close to the officials who sit outside the Parliament while students march past. Also, the military parade is held in Thessaloniki, so the Athens parade was a smaller affair. 

I got enough of a taste of the holiday in Halandri though, where the municipality had organised the usual parade as well as speeches, wreath laying, and finally traditional Greek dances by local groups.

I’ve written about the holiday itself in the past – in 2011, I was on the island of Chios, while last year we watched the parade on the island of Spetses. ‘Oxi (No) Day’ celebrates Greece’s resistance to Italian occupation (hence the ‘No’), and its subsequent entry into the Second World War. The holiday is celebrated with parades where most students march uniformly, accompanied by a drum corps. When I watch the parades, I usually muse about how different my life would be if I had grown up in Greece instead of in the States. 

This year though, a classmate of mine from Edinburgh asked, ‘why do we still have student parades in Greece?,’ comparing the celebration of Oxi Day with the Norwegian Independence parade, which is a much more laid back affair and without the somewhat-militaristic undertones of rhythmic marching in matching ‘uniforms.’ A question worth asking, perhaps especially in the context of the central Athens parade where parents and other spectators are carefully kept behind barriers by the riot police. 

This parade was not terribly formal – at the end it dissolved into wandering children and families, drums being beaten just for fun by the younger kids as the older students continued to march. It was nice to see the central square of Halandri full, while also marking the transition from summer to autumn. Warm coats were out in abundance. 

The final item on the programme was a selection of traditional dances – not heavily attended but very much enjoyed! Happy Oxi Day!

100 Days Challenge: Days Five through Eleven

As I mentioned in this post, I decided to set a challenge for myself for the last 100 days of 2014. I’m back to carrying my big camera around with me, actively looking for the little things that I love, appreciate, might miss, laugh at, etc., every day. The challenge for me is to use these moments for inspiration, and to write a little bit about those moments.. Here are days five through eleven..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Day Five – 27 September 2014

A dreary Saturday in Athens. With a massive to-do list and trying to get through the last part of my dissertation, I only went out in the evening because I set myself this challenge. I’m glad I did it – evenings like these make me love Athens. The clouds were so much better in real life, and the pulse of the city was thrumming on, business as usual. Not a pristine sunny day, but a cloudy, dramatic, regular day. Not to mention a welcome sign of autumn.

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Day Six – 28 September 2014

An afternoon spent at my aunt’s house, in the company of family past and present. This was one of my great joys in the past week – finally digging into a box marked ‘photos’ and forgotten in a closet. I discovered it several months ago, but was resisting really getting into it until my dissertation was behind me. I often wonder what it is about my background, upbringing, personality, whatever, that makes me so happy to lose myself in these ‘memories’ that aren’t really mine. As of now, no conclusion. I’ll get back to you on that one..

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Day Seven – 29 September 2014

Finally an excuse to bake! Though autumn may or may not exist in Athens, I embrace it fully, and used end of dissertation as a reason to make this Pumpkin Walnut bread. I’m not sure there’s much better than filling up my apartment with cloves, nutmeg, etc., even if the weather was still decidedly late-summer. A few days earlier, a friend of mine told me he doesn’t like autumn, because things are dying, the days get shorter, darker, colder, etc., and although I see his point I just can’t get behind it. The season from now until the end of the year is my favourite – I start feeling grumpy about the short days in January, but until then I’m all about the baking and coziness of October, November and December.

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Day Eight – 30 September 2014

Hello Rusty! Not much exciting happening on Day Eight of my challenge, despite hauling my camera up and down town. But this guy (and his brother, Rocky) have played a fair part in keeping me happy and sane. I always forget how much I miss having animals in my life until I am actually around animals.. The antics of these crazy guys is always entertaining and their affection always appreciated. I think it’s because they’re always there (well, at my aunt’s house), hanging around and being weird (and also because I’m afraid of becoming a cat lady) that I rarely share any photos, but Rusty was looking especially photogenic here (and I didn’t have any other photos from the day!)

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Day Nine – 1 October 2014

Ok, I admit today’s photo is a bit of a pathetic one. But! It is more meaningful than it seems. Though I rambled a bit about fall above (and will continue the ramble below), I opened this box for a ceremonial ‘First of October’ cup of Pumpkin-y tea and it was lovely. Beyond that, this tea was a gift, and an indulgence of my weird autumn obsession, which to me means more than the fact that it was lovely and spicy and warm.

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Day Ten – 2 October 2014

Ah – where to find the words for this one? This gorgeous (or not-so-gorgeous thing, let’s be real..) thing is perhaps my favourite food in the world. It’s called ‘Peynirli,’ which in Turkish means just, ‘with cheese,’ but obviously it is so much more. It’s a traditional food brought from the Greeks who lived in Asia Minor (when Turkey was the Ottoman Empire), when they came to Greece as refugees in the 1920s. Then, and now, the restaurants specialising in this delicacy are centred in a far northern suburb of Athens where the descendants of those refugees go on  pilgrimmages to eat this thing. It’s basically fluffy dough, with cheese, an egg and pastourma, spicy cured meat – topped with liberal amounts of butter. That description does not do it justice. This particular Peynirli was enjoyed as a post-dissertation celebration, as well as a welcome dinner for my dad who is now in Athens. A memorable meal, as always.

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Day Eleven – 3 October 2014

More fall – but this is extra special because my dad brought it for me from Ohio. Not many mini-pumpkins to be found in Greece, especially this time of year. I do my best to keep the space around me inspiring and comforting, and small things like this bring me a disproportionate amount of happiness. (I’m reminded of my room at university in first year – I went all out on the Christmas decorations, and although my friends indulged me, assuring me it was lovely, I’m sure that the decorations made me happier than anyone.) Also it’s small and adorable. Very simple!

Ok — lesson learned from this week. Too much fall related stuff. This post is really orange  Challenge met but.. perhaps some more thinking outside the box is needed. Next week I’ll be away, travelling in the Peleponnese with my dad for the first Tour du PéloponnèseThere will certainly be no shortage of photo opps, but I’ll do my best to push myself a little and try and get creative. Stay tuned 🙂