strange fire

books. poetry. paganism. feminism. queerness. blog.

wierdest Christmas ever December 27, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 5:52 am

but in a good way. This whole trip has a slightly surreal quality, like I’ve slipped out of ordinary time. The weather feels like March to me; the sun shines far too much for December (not that I’m complaining); the streets are lined with trees laden with oranges. Impossibily old ruins coexist with bustling, grimy modern Athens.
On the 23rd I finally made it to Eleusis. Got on the right bus this time, and rode an hour to the outskirts of Athens. The ruins of Eleusis are bizarre juxtaposition of ancient temples surrounded by used car lots and factories. I was alone, except for a very large Greek man who always seemed to be tailing behind me (unnerving). And the cafe across the street insisted on blasting “Jingle Bells” over and over. Hard to believe it was one of the holiest sites in ancient Greece. I liked seeing the house of the priestesses though.
Spent Christmas Eve at Delphi, wandering among the cat-covered ruins (I have never seen so many stray cats in my life; every archaeological site here has cats lounging on ancient marble columns, soaking up the sun), being awed by the mountain vista. No wonder they had an oracle here. I went with the InstaFriends that you make at hostels, my roommates of a day and half at that point; a Yank and two Canadians, all expats like myself. Katy’s from San Francisco, studying in Paris; I’m bunking with her over the New Year and saving myself the cash. Monty is from Alberta and Marie-Eve from Quebec so they spent the next three days arguing the intricacies of Quebecois separatism.
That evening we joined up with another American and another Quebecois, Olivier, for a big Christmas dinner at a local Greek restaurant. Complete with live music; the bouzouki player kept checking his cell phone between his solos. I’ve fallen off the vegetarian wagon slightly; I’m in Greece, man, I gotta try the moussaka! But mostly I’ve been living off spinach pies.
After dinner I read everyone’s tarot cards. On the bus to Delphi I made the mistake of admitting that I had brought my deck with me, and everybody wanted to know about their love life and career. I’ve been studying tarot for about two years but I’d never read for anyone but myself before; but it went really well. I had a lot of fun; so if worse comes to worse I guess I can always set up a booth at Renaissance Faires…
Everything has been closed the last two days; the four of us mostly wandered around and drank coffee. Christmas night we climbed to the top of Phillappapos Hill, the Hill of the Muses. Of all the ancient sites I’ve seen, the Hill of the Muses affected me the most; I’ve decided that my private spiritual beliefs are less influenced by marble temples and ancient societies than by just nature itself. Statues are cool and all, but I’d rather just sit under a grove of olive trees and enjoy the sunshine.
Went to the National Archaeological Museum today and saw the ancient Neolithic goddess statues. I think I sprained my eyeballs, I rolled them so much as I read the captions describing Neolithic “man” and “his” creative expression. Because women aren’t artists, you know, and Neolithic women made only babies…
Found some more bookstores; no Sappho. I despair. I don’t know what’s wrong with people; I can get the collected works of Browning here, for crying out loud! Did end up spending far too much money on Karen Armstrong’s A Short History of Myth, which is an appropriate choice, I think.
Will spend the next couple of days reading and wandering some more, I guess; my roommates have scattered to Crete and elsewhere. I’m reserving Crete for sometime in the future; I’ll go home and save my pennies and have Carol Christ show me around properly.


because it’s just not Christmas without Boris Karloff December 23, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:44 am

Although, admittedly, I usually get my Xmas Boris Karloff fix from the 1960s animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas. (“You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch…Your soul is an apalling dump heap overflowing with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable, mangled up in tangled up knots!” Oh, warm fuzzies!)
However, yesterday I was astonished to find Mr Karloff’s long-lost Greek cousin serving lunch at the Eden Vegetarian Restaurant, nestled in an ancient street in the shadow of the Acropolis.
I was so excited to find this place, because the gyros were starting to take a toll on my usually meat-free self. And when I walked inside I was greeted by a gangly sallow-faced giant of a man who totally lacked any facial expression whatsoever. He spoke just enough English to get by, in a flat, rumbling monotone.
I shrank about 3 feet as soon as I saw him.
Yes.” I think it was intended as a question, but it sure didn’t sound that way.
“Um…lunch for one, please,” I squeaked.
Ggggnnnnnnhhh.” he said, and showed me to my table.
I actually spent the entire time trying not to look directly at him, because I wasn’t sure if I would screech in shock or start giggling uncontrolably.
I’d like some Greek coffee, please.”
Now or after.”
Er…now, please.” Trying not to crawl under the table and hide.
It’s not that he was mean, exactly, or rude. He was perfectly polite, prompt service, etc. But he made Marvin the manically depressed robot in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy look positively gregarious.
I ordered mushroom stifado (fan-fucking-tastic, as was the coffee). “Thanks,” I squeaked, as he placed it before me.
“Ggggnnnnnnnhhhh,” he said, and lumbered off.
All he’s missing are the neck bolts. It was like being served by Frankenstein. The food was incredible and affordable, but I’m too scared to go back!


"if not, winter" December 21, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 8:01 am

Fragment, Sappho

Well, here I am. In Athens.
I’m glad I came. I think I needed this, the sunshine and the solitude. And the sandals. It was the sandals that convinced me, in the end. I read about The Poet’s Sandal Shop in my Let’s Go Guide, traditional Greek sandals handmade by a man who also composes poetry. And I knew I had to have them. So my first day I visited the Acropolis, like you do, bought my postcards, and wandered around the narrow streets of Plaka until I had my very own pair of Mycenean style sandals. Too bad it’s too cold to wear them.
I visited the Acropolis again today; my camera battery died yesterday morning, so I didn’t have any pictures. So I spent the solstice watching the waning moon rise (set?) over the Parthenon. Tried to think apropriately deep and profound thoughts suitable to the occaision, but mostly found myself contemplating my lunch (“Let’s see, that vegetarian restaurant opens at 12, it’s 11 now, so factor in walking time…Shit! Profundity! Need more profundity! Okay, um…’Time is an illusion. Lunch time doubly so.’ There, that’ll do.”)
Actually, it’s a surreal experience, trying to celebrate the darkness and waning light in a country that ain’t hurting for sunshine in the depths of winter. I suppose I should have thought of that before (duh). As for the Parthenon, well, it’s the Parthenon. It’s really big and really fucking old and has a spectacular view of smog-covered Athens; it’s almost anti-climatic, really, places like this. They’re so steeped in history and significance that it really doesn’t register. The park’s nice though; I wandered around beneath the olive trees until I heard Eastern-style chanting, and discovered a chorus of Greek Orthodox priests singing in a church from the umpteenth century. And the night before I spied on an Orthodox service at the Church of the Metamorphosis on my street. I feel strangely disconnected, surrounded by a totally unintelligable language, pagan relicts, an unfamiliar form of Christianity, cut off from my friends and family. Not an unpleasant feeling, necessarily. There’s a certain freedom to it that I relish. But it’s not really a comfortable feeling either.
I managed to find an English-language bookstore today, the Compendium. They don’t have Sappho either. A bookstore. In Greece. With a section devoted to Greek literature. Has no Sappho. My head almost exploded in frustration. You can get your copies of FHM and Maxim there though, thank goodness. I mean, if men didn’t have their various sexual wants met at every minute of every day everywhere the planet would stop spinning on its axis and we’d all be flung into outer space. And that’s just no fun.
I am so starting my own feminist bookstore when I get back to the States. I’ve been fantasizing about it for a while, actually. Fuck. this. bullshit.
(Had to get that off my chest. Feel much better now.)
Well, that’s about it. I’m going to try to find some Greek food that doesn’t involve slaughtered baby animals, and hang out in my hostle room listening to the bouzouki players in the street below. Whatever y’all may or may not celebrate this time of year, hope it’s great.


Holy fuck! December 19, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 7:59 am

I’m in Greece!! I did it!! With only minor mishaps!

(Though I’m completely incredulous that not a single bookstore in Paris has a copy of Sappho on hand. So much for my you-are-there reading plans)

I think I can officially add “Cosmopolitan Globetrotter” to my growing list of credentials. Or maybe “Intrepid Grrrrl Explorer”

And I’ve been traveling since 5 am, almost 12 hours straight now, soI’m going to go pass out in my nice shiny hostel room next to the Acropolis (no lie)


holiday reckoning December 16, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 7:42 am

presents mailed: check

train ticket to Paris: check

Paris hostel booked: check

Athens hostel booked: check

round trip ticket from Paris to Athens: check

supportive emails received from awesomely cool older cousin who just read my friendster profile and realized I’m a lesbo: 1 (“I’m at work and I just yelled ‘Holy shit!'”)

magazine-run to stock up on English-language queer magazines: not yet

copies of Sappho’s poetry purchased: 0, as of yet.

extra minutes purchased for mobile: 0. Crap, get on that.

amusing stories about students: several. But I have internet access at both my hostles.

date of departure for Paris: tomorrow, 6:45 a.m.

later, folks!


Greece is the word December 12, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 7:55 am

I seem to have decided on spending my holidays in Greece. I haven’t got any tickets (plane or train), mind you, or anywhere to stay (though I did find a kick-ass hostel on the internet), but the universe said “You’re going to Greece for Xmas” and I don’t seem to have much say in the matter.

In other words, despite numerous reasons why I shouldn’t go, I can’t get the idea out of my head. It’s entirely possible that I’m going to end up bumming around Paris for a few days and that’s it. It’s also possible that I’ll get to Athens, freak out, and come home. But I’d hate myself forever if I didn’t at least give it a shot.

I’ve never traveled alone before, and I have no idea what I’m doing–buying train tickets, getting a bed in a hostel–I’ve never done that before. And of course I don’t start small with an English-speaking country like Ireland; oh no, I have to pick a place that doesn’t even use the Roman alphabet. At least I’m true to my unofficial family motto: why do it easy when you can do it hard?

As for my family, they’re nervous about me traveling on my own, understandably. European men don’t have a very good reputation in the States; they’re all lecherous winos on the hunt for naive American girls! And I’m a little (okay, a lot. A-freakin’-lot) terrified of wandering around Athens on my own. But I’m familiar with this brand of fear; it’s the kind of fear that means I should do it. And I keep having visions of myself hanging out at Delphi (the oracle was Gaia’s before it was Apollo’s) on the solstice.
Besides, I certainly don’t plan on checking out the nightlife (well, Mykonos is supposed to be very, very gay, so we’ll see). And anyway, women aren’t raped by strange men lurking in the bushes, they’re raped by men they know, so stastically speaking, Verdun is the most dangerous place for me at the moment.

It’s almost like I’ve set a test for myself. Can I get to Greece for a week, just me and my Let’s Go Western Europe? I honestly have no idea.

Of course, first I have to figure out my Christmas shopping….


blog maintenance December 8, 2005

Filed under: Uncategorized — andygrrrl @ 7:26 am

cleaned up the blogroll a bit. Also, check out the flickr tag below–I got pics! They’re not in any order, but finally you get a chance to gaze upon yours truly (try to keep calm, ladies). Any resemblence to Mo, by the way, is entirely coincidental.