October 31, 2006

Letting Things Lie

Once, when I was little, I fancied I saw something buried in my wrist. I dug, with a fingernail and a paper clip, layer by layer, until I couldn't see it for the blood.

Once, when I was little, I fancied that when I twisted my arm about, an unsightly pocket of air came to surface in the crook of my arm. Out came the safety pins, and I don't think it ever really popped.

Once, when I was older, I misspoke - I said "På" for "For", and I wouldn't forget it. It haunted me for two days, until I remembered where I had learned it, burned it out from that very source. "Vent på meg..." never meant "Wait for me..." but, "Wait on me...". Sweet epiphany.

Once, when I was older still, I couldn't get stewardship and presidential together in my head, opposite taftian and congressional. I followed it to it's source, deep in a mountain of trivia long forgotten, moldered, all for the better, now feeding the mind. The Stewards of Gondor were less than the Kings.

So I'm sorry if I can't let things lie. It's never been my nature.

October 30, 2006

Utilitarian Garage Family

I don't know who to turn to. No, that's wrong. It's really completely off. I have plenty of people to turn to, and the diety of my choosing - that's one blessing. And I'm counting every one right now - not for warm and fuzzies, but because I have to.

Tidbit just drug herself up a flight of steps. Does anyone remember another little puppy who did that? Don't ever get a dachshund. Save yourself the heartache. They're the cutest dogs in the whole world, and the bravest (per size ratio), and the most loyal and sweetest. But you can love a mut just the same. I just want her to be Tidbit again.

Then there's my family. Coming home feels like going out to the garage nowadays. Cold and empty and old and worn out and above all utilitarian. Yeah. That's about it. My mind keeps going back to a day we all went hiking and played frisbee and cooked hotdogs and Tidbit and Tootsie chased each other down the trail as the leaves changed colours.

They're falling off the trees now - right as they've finally turned their brightest colours. The oaks are in full bloom right now, as it were - mom and dad say they've never seen such a bright oak. I took pictures so that when my heart is not as heavy I can enjoy them.

So yeah, Mom, she's still tired. Tired, she says. I don't know what I can do. My god, I'm sorry. I've tried my best. I try to be a good daughter. So, it's bad enough you yell at me. Tell me I'm the reason our family is breaking. Yeah, bad enough. Then you get Melissa in on it.

Go ahead. Tell her I'm the devil. I heard you tell her that I'm what's wrong with this family, that I'm a special needs child and I've taken all you have to give. Go ahead, tell her everything. Tell her if it wasn't for me... If it wasn't for me we'd still be throwing frisbees down by the river banks.

But I won't forgive you for that. I swear it - I'll forgive whatever you've said to me, in time, but I won't forget or forgive what you said to my sister. Not unless you see what you've done and paid for it, or until I've changed and all the world with me, become a better person, the good Christian I ought to be. I guess then I won't be wrecking any families, either.

Layla emailed me. How happy that makes me feel. When the whole world is spinning, I think, a kind word smooths it out and brightens it, too. Thank you, Layla.

My grades are going to hell. I can feel it and I care but I don't care and I hate myself for that too. I suppose my German grades holding up fine, I have no idea about English or Chemistry, never do... Gym I need my make ups, Gov I should have a solid B, and then there are the two I have to focus on: Math and Spanish: Borderline B-C and H-A, respectively.

But Math is hard and I don't have the stomach for it. So I throw myself into Spanish and it holds me for awhile. And food. I like to cook whole loaves of garlic bread and curl up on the couch and read Marianela and cry. Okay, no, I really don't, but I did yesterday and it made me feel better. And I love my Spanish.

No, I won't be emo about it. I promised that much and I won't back down. But if I have to burn that away with anger, I guess I'll have to do just that. And I'll live on emails dropped like rays of sunshine, and hugs from those who care, and my Spanish, and Tidbit in the morning when she first wakes up, and is almost Tidbit again until she remembers.

October 29, 2006

Lack of Activity

Alright, so the reason I haven't posted on my blog or emailed anyone other than teachers or anything all week is that... I've had the most stressful week of my life, to date. But, now almost all my tests are made up and I can start living in the present again... it'll still be pretty rough for a while.

And I know it's gotten to the point of rediculous with sending post cards, but I still will. ^^ Because I'd still like to get them.

Anyhow, I think I failed my math test, but I'm doing well everywhere else, and I did get to go with Kaline to the science center, which was fun. More on that later. :D

And Tidbit's really sick. More on that later, too.

October 23, 2006

Duration of Life

Days are long, weeks are longer, seasons are short, years are shorter.

Profound, I know it.


Right, so Altadonna emailed me back, answering my request for a grade report with:

"I'll let you know after class."

This means:

1.) She has no idea what I have yet.

2.) She is waiting to tell me I fail at life and have to give up until she can see my tears, in person.

3.) She is waiting to tell me I'd have to be the most amazing Spanish student she's ever had if I want a prayer, in person.

None of these tell me anything I don't already know. And I'm still really worried about it. Partly because I've let myself down, and partly because I've made the whole thing quasi-public, so I feel like I'm letting everyone down even though nobody else cares. Oh, the embarrassment!

This is so stupid. My dad says, "Worry is interest you pay on a debt you never owed". I think, maybe you owe the debt, but it's an interest free loan. Or something. Or maybe, "Worry is interest you pay on a debt you may or may not owe, and certainly don't have to pay interest, because interest is a concept that doesn't really extend to all metaphores concerning debt." Longer, but more accurate.

October 22, 2006


Right, so... I didn't get all my work done this weekend, I'm not even well rested, and I'm about to be physically sick not wanting to face Sra. Altadonna tomorrow. I know I did terribly on that test. Gah.

-.- I did post the first three days of my trip. No pictures yet.

To Do List

Yesterday I worked from 8:30-5:00, then had church from 6:15-10:30.

My to do list today? My mom lovingly wrote it out for me.

Sleep in.
Install printer.
Install keyboard.
Go to Racquetball.
Do Homework.
Clean Room.
Sort School Stuff.
Clean White Crate.
Clean Office.
Clean Bathroom.
Watch Scarlet Letter.

Right... you know, just because a Day is technically empty doesn't mean it's infinite...

So far I've slept in, sorted school stuff, cleaned my white crate, and installed the keyboard. It's four in the afternoon...

A Words I Need to Brush Up On:

A few I don't know, most I could read without looking up but need to know more firmly.

aberration n. Deviation from a right, customary, or prescribed course.
abet v. To aid, promote, or encourage the commission of (an offense).
abeyance n. A state of suspension or temporary inaction.
abject adj. Sunk to a low condition.
abjure v. To recant, renounce, repudiate under oath.
ablution n. A washing or cleansing, especially of the body.
abnegate v. To renounce (a right or privilege).
abrade v. To wear away the surface or some part of by friction.
abrogate v. To abolish, repeal.
abscond v. To depart suddenly and secretly, as for the purpose of escaping arrest.
abstemious adj. Characterized by self denial or abstinence, as in the use of drink, food.
abut v. To touch at the end or boundary line.
accouter v. To dress.
acerbity n. Sourness, with bitterness and astringency.
acetate n. A salt of acetic acid.
acetic adj. Of, pertaining to, or of the nature of vinegar.
acrimonious adj. Full of bitterness.
acrimony n. Sharpness or bitterness of speech or temper.
actuary n. An officer, as of an insurance company, who calculates and states the risks and premiums.
actuate v. To move or incite to action.
acumen n. Quickness of intellectual insight, or discernment; keenness of discrimination.
adduce v. To bring forward or name for consideration.
adjudge v. To award or bestow by formal decision.
adjunct n. Something joined to or connected with another thing, but holding a subordinate place.
adjuration n. A vehement appeal.
adjutant adj. Auxiliary.
alluvion n. Flood.
amalgam n. An alloy or union of mercury with another metal.
amalgamate v. To mix or blend together in a homogeneous body.
amorphous adj. Without determinate shape.
ampersand n. The character &; and.
anhydrous adj. Withered.
animalcule n. An animal of microscopic smallness.
anode n. The point where or path by which a voltaic current enters an electrolyte or the like.
antediluvian adj. Of or pertaining to the times, things, events before the great flood in the days of Noah.
antilogy n. Inconsistency or contradiction in terms or ideas.
antipathize v. To show or feel a feeling of antagonism, aversion, or dislike.
antiphon n. A response or alteration of responses, generally musical.
antiphony n. An anthem or other composition sung responsively.
antipodes n. A place or region on the opposite side of the earth.
antistrophe n. The inversion of terms in successive classes, as in "the home of joy and the joy of home".
arbiter n. One chosen or appointed, by mutual consent of parties in dispute, to decide matters.
arbitrary adj. Fixed or done capriciously.
arbitrate v. To act or give judgment as umpire.
arraign v. To call into court, as a person indicted for crime, and demand whether he pleads guilty or not.
arrant adj. Notoriously bad.
arrear n. Something overdue and unpaid.
ascetic adj. Given to severe self-denial and practicing excessive abstinence and devotion.
askance adv. With a side or indirect glance or meaning.
asperity n. Harshness or roughness of temper.
attache n. A subordinate member of a diplomatic embassy.
augur v. To predict.
aver v. To assert as a fact
avocation n. Diversion.
avow v. To declare openly.

Vegelate and Zorbing


I wonder if American Chocolate does the same? I personally would have chosen; "Industrial Chocolate."


Too bad this apparently wasn't around when they were filming LOTR...

October 21, 2006

Sounds like me and my German Chocolate...


Short Reflection on Death

You don't feel their loss. Not after the first few weeks, at least.

You just don't feel their presence.

It's almost like they could be just around the corner, like if you whistled loud enough, they might come running.

I don't think our minds can truly grasp the enormity of it.

More H Angst

Yeah... so I'm still in knots over the H. And I know no one cares but me. But I've let myself down, and I feel like I've let Mrs. Altadonna down too. But I'm feeling a little bit better all the time. There was a dumb mistake; not 100% mine, but mine in the vast majority. Mistakes happen, and life goes on, but you can't expect an H to withstand them. I shall get an A, and I shall still read the Honours book (unless they like... take it away or something... :S) - I think it will improve my vocabulary and fluency anyway. Next semester I'll kick you know what and take an H, and next year I'll have it in the bag. I'll make Altadonna forgive me by doing well in her Vocabulary Competition. :D

See... it's not so bad. Besides, if there are enough points in the class, it's still technically possible for me to get an H. Until I know otherwise. And, if I put the energy I would have put into the H - or even the energy I've put into worrying about it - into my other classes... who knows what will happen?

Spanish H --- Over?

Alright, so I really shouldn't have tried to take the test I missed today. But, I had to stay after to talk to Mrs. Altadonna, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. BAD idea... She even gave me a chance to back out before she gave it to me. I really should be shot over this.

Yeah. So, I got a C. Yes, I already know. Forget the fact that I knew everything we had covered when I was in class, forget that I think I aced all the culture information, forget the fact that as far as mountains and rivers went, I was all set. Even forget the fact that I learned the Regions and they didn't even make a guest appearance. There was a province map and a city map, and I got about 60% on each of those. Frankly, I'm not even sure how math's contrived against me to make my total grade a 77% if I add in a tiny margin of error (at least that's not in my favour).

Anyhow... in any other circumstance, a C would be... how can I say this? Recoverable. But I don't know how many points the class has in it, and it could EASILY make it impossible for me to get an H. Goddamn. -.-

Let's be optimistic, though... and I need to be, becaus I need the sleep. Lets say I get 80 points out of 81 for my participation every six week period. (what I made last time, I think). Now lets pretend that my entire grade was participation and this test. With just last six week grading period's participation, that brings me to 89.9%, an A, rounded up. Now, I do need a 94% on the next evaluation. Technically, I might get off with a 93, but NO LOWER, and I'd more or less have to ace the final. This scenario gives me... 93 even, so it's possible.

Just for realism's fake sake, lets throw in 200 points worth of homework etc in the first grading period. That scenario would make my current grade 89.5... tecnically an A, rounded up, but nowhere within striking range of my H. But, I do have room before 12 weeks, and I already have a little more participation, (2 weeks?) and a pamphlet project (A). It brings me to a pathetic 90%.

Lets say that as things are speeding up, I have 300 other points this grading period. If I get 100% on that, I get a 94.4%, just enough, but I think I'm being optimistic about the point pool. Even so, thats with participation, so maybe....

And really, I'm thinking too hard and all of this is speculative. I'm going to leave it at this:

A.) It's probably possible, if highly unlikely, for me to get an H.

B.) This is an H we're worried about, after all...

C.) Even if I fail, I still have an A... :D

D.) I can still read the honours book and boost my vocabulary.

E.) There's always next semester and next year for H's.

F.) I always do better second semester.

Will all these nicities help me sleep? Dios me ayuda.... I hope so. :)

October 19, 2006


I haven't had time to write about Greece... so I haven't written at all! I'll get to it... I promise. :D

October 08, 2006

Day Three - Athens City, the Agora

The air was clear when we first woke up, bright and early - eight o' clock in Greece and midnight back home. The air was clear, so we could see then that what we had previously mistaken for open sea was perhaps a bay, or a water so crowded with islands that they ringed us with seemingly unbroken land.

At breakfast the quiet lay upon us still. The banquet hall and porches contain, in full, too many silent seagulls, a very friendly cat, and some exquisitely coloured birds with the most graceful shape, all striking black on white. The waiter is a slightly frightening man with a very square head, perhaps vaguely inspired by Frankenstein. Beyond that our company is nothing, and we had the distinction of being alone in a restaurant, watching trays of fried eggs replaced by trays of fried eggs, twice an hour, like clockwork. It seemed to me a waste, but for all I know they may be swapping the same two trays ad infinitum. What would stop them?

I sample everything and arrive at my favourites: squares of soft bread, warm, in cinnamon and sugar; sesame rings with salami; 'Frutomania!', also known as yogurt for small Greek children, bearing a picture reminiscent of Pokemon, a little boy with his hand outstretched presenting an unusual, star shaped fruit. I found slices of this same fruit and sampled them, but their taste was about as remarkable as that of a pear, and nothing like the yogurt. Still, I wonder who could make the connection between a grape and a grape slushee? I'll have to look it up when I get home... I've also taken a picture of said yogurt.

On we went to Athens itself, taking a cab to the Plaka. Anywhere in that district you can stop and look around you, find no less than one site of ancient ruins, two tourist shops, one taverna, four motorcycles, one random peddler, and a hundred and fifty Greek people. So, while it is a tourist neighborhood, understand that is only because the tourists love it there, not because the Greeks do not.

The tourist shops all have postcards, picture books of Greece, coffee tabled books (invariably Athens, Greece, the Acropolis, Greek Lovers, Greek Islands, and Kitties!... I don't pretend to understand that.) They also have lots of jewelry, lots of realistic looking pottery (my favourites were the salt and pepper shakers), all the little statues, and nice chess sets. There are these little medallions everywhere - blue, with a sort of eye painted on them, which are to ward off the evil eye. For Melissa we wanted a necklace of blue beads with a single, medium sized evil eye medallion at the end, but this was easier stated than followed through on. They had everything but that particular design, and finally we compromised with a bracelet of pretty blue beads and the evil eye every four spaces.

Eventually, of course, we bought the obligatory tourist clothing. My Dad bought a T-shirt of the Acropolis, and I got for myself and Melissa a shirt with the first lines of the Odyssey in Greek. What I really wanted was an entirely non touristy shirt with Greek writing like the natives might wear, but this was better than most. For Mom we bought a "traditional virgins dress" because it was cuter than the "traditional matrons dress", and besides, everything in those stores are "traditional". We picked a deep olive green like pine needles because it goes nicely with our skin tone.

Now this next part was purely destiny. The store had a thousand shirts saying "Greece!" or "Athens!" or "The Olympics!" and exactly one which said, "Norway". I had to have it. I didn't know or care what it was doing in the Plaka of Athens Greece, but I knew I couldn't find them in Ballwin MO, and here they were. It also has a little flag, and the whole shirt is decent quality... embroidered and the like.

At one store a lady was complaining as we entered that the same pottery she once bought for some hundreds of currency thirty years ago was now selling for Europennies in comparison. She was actually still lamenting this bitterly as we left ten minutes later...

"With the exchange rate, that makes almost 300 times!!" Alas for her...

There are an incredible amount of birds, cats, and dogs in Athens. In every olive tree you find a pack of the kitties, all shy and wary, but friendly, too. They snake their way through each ruin, as well, oblivious to signs and 'archeological sites" and "Do not touch the marble!", walking the streets humans once walked.

And on every ancient stone and outlook the dogs gather, many of them no more than puppies. We heard one fight and encountered the one strange dog our first night, but otherwise found them all rather amicable. They frolicked all over the hillsides, through parks filled with pot smokers and ancient statues, jumping over holes as perfect circles, once wells, now communal trash heaps. They even made their way into a few of our photos.

There are also peddlers everywhere. No straight out begging, but many instruments, trinkets, flowers, and obviously pirated DVD's striving for a glimpse at your wallet. I don't know how many people tried to sell me keychains, roses, or Pirates of the Carribean. From the Monostiraki beside Hadrian's Library I snapped a picture of one of the more unusual ones, an old lady selling cloth.

The place was beautiful. The Acropolis stood golden above it, nestled amoung many other hills, some deep pine green and others shimmering desert-like in the smog. Greek music wafted out of tavernas and down into the streets, and at our favourite store grape vines had grown up the treets and over across to one another, creating a shady and lovely green canopy.

Most of the Greek in the city had a translation, which was a bit of a shame, but what was interesting was that the translation wasn't always in English. There were several in German, a handful in Spanish, Italian, or French, and exactly two (that I saw), in Japanese.

We saw Socrates's prison, Pan's sanctuary, the Fountain of Kalliroe, the Sacred Gate, and more in the hills above Athens, then climbed in a roundabout way through homes carved into rock to the steps of the Acropolis and climbed to the rock of Pnix, where the first democratic assemblies were held.

I thought my prayers had been answered when the refreshments man, having no water, described one of his juices as "lemon."

"My God." I said, "It's Lemonade, in Europe!" But it wasn't meant to be. The juice was, as advertised, straight, pulpy, sour, lemon juice. It actually made me thirstier.

I counted thirty postcards from the cheapest store, at 20 Eurocents a pop. They all show Athens, Santorini, the Acropolis, the Karyatides, or the Tower of the Winds. I may wait until I get home to send them though, sorry to all those who hoped for a postmark. It's too complicated here.

After this I enjoyed some Gelato, a cone of vanilla. It's funny, I can't quite say whether it is more sugary or more creamy or what than regular ice cream, but I will say that it is different, and just as good, and it was what I had in Köln all those years ago.

The ancient Agora is amazing as well. You can see quite clearly where houses have been cut from the soft stone out of the hillsides, where enormous temples once stood. There are bits of rock everywhere, most plain but many with sculpturing: the top of a column, perhaps, and here and there a truly carved piece: a horse rearing to charge, arrested by the stone, half a woman's face. It's eerie in it's own way.

The pride of the Agora is the Hephaisteion, and rightfully so. The best preserved temple in Greece, it actually looks whole, or nearly enough so, though two black pigeons did take the place where the heads of a few statues once sat. Though small and perhaps not quite as ornate as the Parthenon or the Nike, it gives a good idea of what all the temples may have looked like complete.

The whole Agora was shaded, which was nice; I'm glad we did it on the hottest day of our visit. Also lovely viewing from the Plaka area, even if you don't make the climb, is the multi domed Church of St. Marina, patron saint of pregnant women, on the Hill of the Nymphs. I kid you not; the church is pink, a sleepy rose colour with a light red and tiled roof. It looks lovely perched in the trees.

As we climbed over Athens we heard the sound of a flute creeping through the streets and over the hills, a haunting tune that stirred the little yellow flowers that bloomed amoung the ruins. It shall forever be the voice of Greece for me, and there's the irony. Upon chasing down the source of the music at last, we discovered a band of Native Americans...

We saw the sunset from an ancient roadway that looked over the sea, sharing the area with a few other tourists, a college student studying, and a pack of half grown dogs. Back in the city as it grew dark, we got a seat at a table where we could see the Acropolis lit up for the evening. We tried with varying success to get a picture of the citadel shining golden against the sky, but such a thing can't really be captured.

The whole city erupted into furious backgammon playing as we sat and enjoyed some quality father-daughter time. The menu offered Grilled Soloman, which would have been very interesting to eat. Old, a bit gamey, but still good! :D Obviously, it was a mistranslation of Salmon, but strangely enough, there was a Salmon of wisdom, and Soloman was very wise as well. Coincidence? I think not!

We had a hard time getting a taxi, actually. First two didn't want to go all the way to the hotel because they had faster turnover with more money staying in the city. We finally found a guy on smoke break, though, and he agreed to take us provided he could finish his cigarette on the way.

He was an interesting fellow; intensely Greek, the second most Greek person we met. He was quite surprised that I had read the Iliad and the Odyssey. Shocked, really. He quizzed me on them. Of course, this was probably due to the fact that he thought I was 13 or so.

Sleep came quickly. That's never the problem.

October 07, 2006

Day Two - The Longest Day

Now at this point I've missed an entire night. I woke up yesterday and showered and finished packing and ate a loaf of fresh rosemary bread, drank a bottle of Sobe and went into the city. The day passed in planes, and a short night, too. This I sat through sleepless. I find myself in Athens at noon, with only one surefire way to prevent jet lag - I must stay up.

I'm on a buzzy high of excitement at first. It carries me off the plane and through the airport as if charmed. Our luggage comes out first. We have no wait for a taxi. I look around me and find signs full of letters I've memorized, one by one.

I get into the taxi. The air in Greece is warm and still. Faint smog is in the air, lending a haze to far off hillsides. Sleep begins to come over me. Finally we reach the hotel, and I revive somewhat. We check in to the eerie feeling that we are the only occupants of a deserted resort.

Examining the room I find a toilet that flushes with a round handle in the to
p, like picking the lid off a cookie jar. The shower is strange too, the basin long and narrow, the showerhead mounted in the center lengthwise. Curioser and curioser. The shampoos are labeled mint, vanilla cinnamon, and rice. The rice shampoo actually does have that fragrance; fills the room with that smell almost like bread.

The check in ladies do not assume you speak Greek. Everyone else, ναι. I don't know why - perhaps I look the part? If so, that may be a first for me.

We go to swim after showering. It is so quiet here, even the gulls hardly call. When they do, you can hear it clearly, hear the sound swoop over you as they glide on the winds as picture perfectly as a nature documentary. The water, too, makes no sound. There are no waves, even against the rocks that ring the bay.

There are few guests here, as well. I see one woman swimming and several staff lazing about the bar. The woman tells us in a British accent that the water's fine after just a few minutes, so we figure we'll get in soon.

I had a few second thoughts, I admit, when a German couple made their way down and gingerly entered. The woman bounced up and down incessantly once immersed, and
I kept making out the same word from their chattering teeth... "Kalt!" Presently they retreated to a lawn chair.

Finally we did get in, although we feared for our lives after seeing the Germans
and the Brits tested by the waters. We're Americans, after all, and quite used to the Gulf of Mexico. Note that these three guests were the only guests I saw at the hotel in the duration of our stay, excluding of course the other businessmen my father worked for, and possibly one other British woman.

All for nothing, their whining! Cold on the bare skin for five seconds, no more. We
swam over to the rocks on the other side, and there the fun began. Standing on the rock, I began to feel a burning all down my leg and also on my elbow.

"Do these things bite?" I asked of the plan material clinging to my legs. They looked harmless and I guessed wisely that they were unrelated to the sensation. I rinsed them off and Dad and I conjectured that I had scraped my legs a bit in climbing and now the salt water was stinging them. Moments later a small quantity of blood appeared, so we figured the case was closed.

Back in our lawnchairs, I realized said affected areas, having continued t
o sting rather fiercely, were now lovingly swelling, turning puffy, white and red, in little lines. Anemone sting, as it happens. Aren't I lucky?

We wanted to take pictures, but the camera seemed broken; bad luck so far, it seemed.* I'll confess it; I began to long ardently for Germany. I reminded myself that the primary and sole purpose of the day was to stay awake so I could enjoy the rest of my trip, and took another bath, so hot it more or less cauterized the toxin. The stinging, which more or less felt like constantly pouring alcohol on a fresh wound, began to abate at last. I did fall asleep in the bathtub for a few minutes, though... this is not recommended.

After this we went out to Glyfada, a little district of Athens that was mostly unremarkable save in its proximity to our hotel. We had Souvlaki, Pitta, and Ice Cream. There was a chicken going around begging at the tables just like a pigeon would anywhere else. You can also find these in Key West, but I liked this one because it kept closing it's eyes and swaying slightly. Was it falling asleep?

We also had more fun with the local wildlife as a strange dog was lurking around, and charged the two of us and a Greek couple repeatedly, barking and snarling. My Dad had to go after it with a stone. When at last it fled for good, my dad and the Greek man turned to each other at the exact same time with their own equivalent of, "How Strange!” Funny, the four of us laughing, understanding our bewilderment without words.

Back in our nearly private hotel, I crashed, and had absolutely no trouble making it through the night.

* - The pictures did turn out in the end. Mildly gross image warning. ;)

Day One - In Route to Athens

Day One – In Route to Athens

First we stopped by some sausage place for lunch. Service was incredibly slow. Maybe a record. They cooked on sausage at a time, and probably spent another 5 minutes switching one with another. After consuming said sausage I determined that the extra time was needed to endow it with its uniquely wrinkled and crunchy outer covering. Hopefully my last meal in the states for a while.

Missouri to Chicago was a quick and uneventful hop. 1 Hour. I did look out the window and really was quite impressed by Missouri's stretch of farmland. Funny; I live in the middle of our breadbasket and need an airplane to get an eyeful of the fields. After this there was a long walk to the opposite end of the World's Busiest Airport. I joke that we're a third done. Then the fun begins.

We head to München... on Lufthansa! I got an eyeful of Germany before I even left our soil, much less our airspace. There was a guy from Serbia, too, but mostly a terminal full of jabbering blonds. I was in heaven.

I guess this was all yesterday; we flew against the night, so it's midmorning here and only 1 am in St. Louis. So; we got on the plane. On the ramp there was a cart of newspapers. I wanted one in German, but of course I didn't want to hold up traffic or take a paper from a genuine German, either. After a few apologetic and frenzied moments, I snagged one. It appears to be one giant business section. I don't know why that always happens to me... but it will serve.

I get on the plane. Dad heads to business class, saying, "You better go to the left." Of course, he means the left of the bulkhead, but I go to the left of the entrance and find myself in First Class. Everyone's speaking in German, so it falls to me to find my way back to coach. I manage, and since I boarded with my father, I'm one of the first.

The flight attendants assail me with an utterance born of years of experience. (Or perhaps they learn it in training). It's exactly halfway between Hallo! and Hullo! I say Hi. It's not quite as neutral, so they immediately ask my how I am and proceed to speak to me in English for the duration of the flight. Genius.

I'm not so wretched with my row mates. The first to arrive, on my right, is a tall, blonde female, 25, obviously German. For a few minutes I debate speaking in Deutsch and appearing an idiot or in English and removing all doubt. She asks me the wonderful question first.

"Spriechst du Deutsch?"

"Bisschen," I answer, and we proceed to describe our bosses and fathers getting first class while we were stuck in coach, that coach is far too small, where we live, and where we're headed, all in German. It's amazing what one can accomplish with even a partial hold on the language with creative speaking and discriminate listening.

Her name was Kristina, aka Stini, she lived in Hamburg, she had a boyfriend in Florida who looked just like my cousin Todd, and she was on her first business trip. After a while we did switch to English, but only after I (I hoped) demonstrated that at least some Americans care at least a little for other cultures. I also asked her how they had a city called Essen. She told me that of course she didn't know, only she didn't think of food, and that her boyfriend had asked the exact same question.

On my left was a married couple, sadly American. But all was not lost! Immediately to my left was Keiko, originally Japanese. I used my few hard won phrases and she was pleased, but mostly we talked in English, and her husband was also very nice. We shared music and travel stories until they both fell asleep. At this point Kristina was out too, so I tried to follow suit.

It kind of didn't work. The auras created too much interference. I couldn't distance myself mentally or emotionally from the fact that there was a perfect German here, and there was a perfect Japanese woman, and beyond was a whole field of Germans and their hum of German conversation blending into the roar of the plane, and also the plane was switching from a great model of our flight to a movie in no less than eight languages. I know I may be pathetic, but Lufthansa is right; there's no better way to fly.

The downside of all of this was that I cramped up really, really badly and couldn't move for 9 hours straight. I lived.

We arrive in Germany! We circle München for a while... there are mountains! So, we land and head through security again. Even that's better abroad. Again, the ambiguous greeting. I find it mildly but deservingly insulting. Are you one of our own, returning to the Vaterland? Or are you Auslander?

Um, right, the latter, and the worst sort at that.

I am emboldened by my encounter with Kristina and perhaps would have gone for the German, but my dad answers. I go through the sensor first, however, and once emboldened, once denied, I am hardly shy!

They ask if I am carrying a computer. I tell them nein, they point to the screen.

"Ach." I say, cleverly. "DVD."

They say stuff. They want me to take it out. I do. They put it in it's own box and run it through the sensor again, which confirms that it is a DVD player. Now the question...

"Spriechst du Deutsch oder Englisch?" I concede the latter apologetically, and then cheerfully add, "Bisschen Deutsch!"

They run my bag through again, sans DVD player, point at more stuff at the bottom. It's the landwire cords to the DVD player. I dig them out of the bag. Not those, they say. I'm confused, but then my calculator falls out. I'd forgotten I packed it.

"My Calculator?"

They seize it.

"Thisss...." With a laugh, I realize the problem. They don't know what it is. My memory returns to Stian, disbelieving my tales of Zelda and Mario on the Ti-84. I am only too happy to explain the situation like the imperialistic American I am.

"Taschen-rechner." I say omnisciently, pointing.

"Das ist eine Taschenrechner?!" (Best quote of trip, so far, albeit I haven't gotten out of the airport.)

"Ein sehr gut Taschenrechner." Unconcealed wonder. "Für meine Hausaufgauben." I want to stay and give demonstrations of Tetris, but by this time my dad, having had to fumble with his own very real computer, is finally through the sensor.

"You're enjoying this, aren't you?"


"I hope they hurry. We're going to miss our flight." (Spoiler: We don't.)

I danke everyone and we make a hasty retreat, shoving everything into my emptier carryon. The Athens flight is, from here, 2.5 hours. I don't mean to sound like a battle worn veteran, but that's nothing.

There are more German's on this flight. And a Spanish woman with a pretty baby. I LOVE Europe. If we went back to St. Louis right now, I would consider the trip worth it. It's silly to be so enamoured, but it also doesn't hurt.

So I expected the last flight to be boring, as some Americans with Chicago accents sat beside me. Instead I found myself extremely lucky yet again. The pair was originally from Chicago, but living in Zurich, as I found out when they came around for drinks.

"Möchtest du etwas zu trinken?" She asks, since I tricked her, and didn't speak English on the way in.

"Wasser ohne gas, bitte, danke schön."

They did the same, so then we really got talking, and didn't stop until Athens. We talked about poetry, literature, the northern lights, the pyramids, and, I must admit, languages. The woman was a linguist! We had a delightful chat of linguistic jokes that went right over her husbands head, literally and figuratively.

"Ah." He might cut in. "The imperative tense." To this his wife asked,

"Do you even know that the imperative tense is?"

"Well, yes, like, I am impaired..."


But yes, it was very nice. She said it was a fun major and I should go for it. And her husband was a great guy, humbling himself at every turn and making everything hilarious. At one point I had finished my water and was holding it out to the attendant in a way that clearly signalled my desire to dispose of it. She merely raised her eyebrows as if to say,

"That's nice. That's really nice. You can hold a cup!"

With a laugh I turned back to my new friends. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Well it may seem rude," he said, "But there's this thing, this feeling in Germany, Switzerland too... and it's like... 'How you like it." Oh, I'm going to do such a bad job explaining this..."

And so he did. We were in stitches as he described this phenomenon.

"It's like, if you want to hold your cup like that, that's okay, that's fine, they don't want to interrupt you..."

"My experience of holding the cup!"

"Well, yes, it's just; they're not going to take it away unless you ask them. 'How you like it.'"

"And if I should like it on their head, slowly dripping from their blonde hair?"

"There are obviously limits..."

Oh, they were great. I never cease to be amazed at my luck in good travelling companions. At last the plane lands. I look out the window and see hills and buildings. Suddenly I am lifting off the floor. It's Greece. It's really Greece, all there and suddenly real as it's never truly been real in my mind before. We are here.

October 05, 2006

Army of Slaves

Muahahaha! Alright, they're not slaves. Just useful friends. Or even just interesting friends.

The point of this post is that the moment I surveyed my math class on the first day of school, all my mind registered was the fact that there were no less than 3 foreigners in it. And, I knew that unless they were completely standoffish or rude snobs, I wanted to get to know them.

Now I gloat over my success! The key is to not act creepy. Don't act like you don't want to be friends, but don't particularly act like you do. It scares people off. Also, don't just target the foreigners. They'll figure out you have ulterior motives. Like sucking out their languages or souls.

Part of key one concerns the fact that, unless you take drastic measures, they will sooner or later discover you are a culture or language freak. Just don't be the one to tell them, and act as if it is perfectly natural if they ask. This does NOT mean blowing it off completely or changing the subject hastily. Just act like they've asked you about... I don't know, Racquetball or your favourite books or something.

The next part is that you can't just target all three of them and group them together. They're actually individuals. I started with Kaline because she sat near me and was the friendliest. On a totally different road, I started in on Agnese, who was staying with my friend Christy. The other Brazilian came last. I think her name is Lucia... maybe? I really, really should know... Ah well.

So. Now you're all friends. You say hi in the halls, maybe stop by at lunch, talk between classes. Moving things to the next level: Kaline and I are going to try to hit the Omnimax when I'm back from Greece and she's back from Branson. And, the wonder of the whole project? Agnese approached me about Italian! We're going to do a language exchange after school! We've been jokingly saying she'll teach me Italian and I'll teach her everything else. Actually, we'll probably focus on German or Spanish.

Right... like I actually had this attack plan. But I am glad they all turned out to be nice. :D
I can't wait until I can travel abroad and meet even more amazing people...

To Speak of Love at Lunchtime

You've ruined Macbeth for me, you know.

Have I?

Well, it's just the bit about the Norwegian. All I can see is Stian...

Did you ever see Stian, then?

No. What does he look like?

Well. He's blond haired and blue-green eyed and pretty. But no. I must cleanse myself of that.

Why? Don’t you speak?

Well, yes, but… well, things are over. It’s how they are.

I don’t believe that. It was too perfect. Besides, I finally reconcile myself to Chao’s boy and yours, and you go and get over them!

Well, I’m not quite over mine, and that’s the problem. Mostly, but not quite.

A pause.

But it just doesn’t make sense! I finally get used to it, and…

Layla! This isn’t about you! You egotistical… beast! It’s for me to get used to! Don’t make it your problem!

It’s just so perfect. I’m sure the moment you two meet everything will be fine.

A pause.

He is pretty, though. And his brother is totally ripped. I saw him coming out of the shower once with just a towel on…

Miranda! My respect for your maturity has just plummeted!

Layla, if you saw this, your eyes would flutter for a moment. Even yours. I swear it. Even if it didn’t do a thing, even if you didn’t consciously feel it, it would be there. It’s hardwired. (She glares)

A pause.

Alright, I’ll concede that, maybe… deep inside the heart of the id, only because it’s an accepted societal…

Oh, Layla, trust me on this one. He was ripped and tan and STEAMING. Literally.

Miranda! No! I was about to concede, but no longer!

Layla, I don’t… didn’t love him because he was pretty, you know.

I know that.

A pause.

It’s just that you’ve never been in love. Someday you’ll understand.

Don’t give me that crap about Rousseau, either…

No! It isn’t even fangirlism! I know fangirlism! This, is deeper…

Layla, my respect for you has just plummeted.

Quote Day

"From the sun rising above the marshes of Maeotia
There is no one who may be equal in deeds.
If is it right for anyone to rise into the regions of the gods,
For me alone the greatest gate of heaven stands open."

Epitaph of Scipio Africanus - Q. Ennius

“We Must Find a Way
Or we will make one.
Many things which nature makes difficult
Become easy to the man who uses his brains.”

-Attributed to Hannibal Barca

October 04, 2006

Tin and Copper: Assorted thoughts

Tin and Copper: Assorted thoughts

A bit overdramatic, but much like me, so anyone who reads this should crack up at this post... Oh, and, as always, it does have a deep end. ;)

Prepare for Takeoff...

There's really nothing like an American Passport. I have nothing to compare one with and therefore absolutely no business making that statement, but there you are. It's a deep navy blue, like Prussian Blue in freshly ground paint, with little silvery gold letters and our olive and arrow bearing Eagle gracing the cover. It's enough to make me proud of my country.

It opens to have a lovely message in English, French, and Spanish: "The Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen national of the United States named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection." Funny, I never knew Condi cared so much. Interesting note: On British passports, the Queen "requests" this safe passage, etc, so thereby she can't actually have one herself. She requests directly in the event that she travels abroad. :D

After that I have all the wonderful data. Massachusetts, U.S.A. Following all this is the ugliest picture I have ever taken. That includes the one I took on webcam where I'm flashing the birdy and look obese. One of my eye looks like Poe's Evil Eye in a Tell Tale Heart, the other is normal size. Weird... Not to mention I'm about 13, and I have braces, and I normally take decent pictures for official stuff.

Now heres the part that bothers me. You know where you get the stamps from all the countries you've visited? I have two. Go figure. One barely visible one that says Frankfurt, and one big ugly one from Curacao. What happened to France, Belgium, and the Netherlands? Bah... :( Well, I'll be sure to get a Greek one this time.

Passport --- √

After all that, I've packed. One pair of shorts, one pair of jeans, skirts (4 long, 1 medium), a sweatshirt, swimsuits, a jacket, and a ton of shirts, shoes, and necessaries. I made all this fit in a carryon. :D My "Fun Bag" or lightweight stowable carryon, is at an all time record weight wise. It's empty except for my portable dvd player, toiletry kit, and purse. I'll add a book before I leave, though.

Luggage --- √

Can anyone tell I'm excited?

October 03, 2006

Greece AND Germany!

Alright, so here's the plan for the vacation:

Friday - Travel to Greece
Saturday - Sightsee with Dad
Sunday - Company Athens Tour
Monday - Hang out at awesome hotel
Tuesday - Awesome Hotel, Fly to Germany
Wednesday - Rhine Castle Cruise
Thursday - Hang around downtown Mainz while Dad works.
Friday - Fly Home.

October 02, 2006

St. Louis... Salute!

Honestly, how many places can you have 40 degree weather one week, and 90 degree whether the next? (5-32 degrees celsius.)

If this keeps up, I'll be flying to Greece to BEAT the heat...

October 01, 2006

4 Days Until Greece....

The excitement has started to mount. ^^

First Day of Work - First Day Sleeping In!

Yesterday was my first day of work! Yay! :D

It was so über-official! There are lockers, microwaves, a refrigerator, lots of dishes and stuff you can use if you wash them at the little sink, couches, magazines, a staff boards, and more! I even got a work email address! I'm very excited.

I sort of hit the ground running starting with an 8 hour shift, but it went well. I feel like I've got most of it down. I did 5 carts, which Maddy said wasn't bad at all for a first day. They checked all of them, but my accuracy was pretty good; I got tripped up once by a thin song book that was supposed to be on the left of the one I was shelving, not the right, and once by a label that snuck surreptiously around the book beyond the spine, and I didn't check the six, but other than that, it was all perfect. Yay!

I was a little sore when I got home, but the Mina's weren't going to church, so I got to go more or less straight to bed. Lo and behold, I got to sleep in for the first day in almost a month! I needed it, too... with my trip next week. I can hardly believe it's so close! I am going to take an almost obscene amount of photos...

Friend Game

I tried out the Friend Game on Facebook. I have mixed feelings about it. It displays a few of your friends, and an interest one of them has listed, and you have to match it up. Sometimes you'll get a really obvious, fun answer:

racquetball - obviously Rachel,

marching band - definately Christy,

Guns and Roses - Kate. :)

Mu Alpha Theta - Angie...

hermeneutics - Hmmm.... :P (Jashen)

And, anytime they give you a little more text to work off of, it's great:

"Happiness is like peeing your pants; everyone can see it, but only you can feel it's warmth" - Lisa,

"Emergency Vets? Hmm... I don't really watch much." - Christy

But then you get stuff like, "Bright Eyes" "Monk" "or "Friends". O.O Yeah... um...



Quote: "But this also happened on September 11th." "The Same Day?" "The Same Day." "The Same Day? Are you sure?" "Yes." "Are you sure it was the eleventh? That cannot be true." "Seven hours after the World Trade Center came down." "... Then they've worked very hard."


I don't know what to think about this. Honestly, it's suggesting... too much. But... :S

Quote: "(It's) claimed that the building collapsed due to debris from the World Trade Center that caused internal fires. If this story is true, it is the third building in history to collapse due to fires. The first two are the World Trade Center Towers."

Quote from another site, which discredits most of the second video: "The promotion of theories about what hit the Pentagon in highly visible media do not advance that research but instead provide our detractors with ammunition with which to discredit us, and eclipse easily established and highly incriminating facts such as where the Pentagon was hit, the astounding failures to defend the 9/11 targets, and the obvious controlled demolition of Building 7."