December 29, 2008 - 9:27 PM
Some days it's hard to think of something to write. I want so bad to just write about flowery, glittery things that make people happy when they read them. I've thought about it though and I am under the assumption that this blog is supposed to be an eye into the life of a real college student. Therefore, I think it can be unfettered with artificial potpourri and fruity scents. Welcome to the life of a real college student. We all have moods of existential angst at some point. The truth is that not all days can be rainbows and sunshine. There are days when you wake up and you just feel like this, like I do right now. This blog is my dedication to those days when, straight from the beginning, everything is just awful. It's hideous. It's bad. It is a dedication to those days when no matter how hard you try, you just can't pull yourself out of your bitterness toward everything. Everything. It is a dedication to those days where you stop trying to pull yourself out of the bitterness because you're so bitter that you've convinced yourself that all you want to do is wallow in angst and despair.
There are days when I come into this café to write my blog and I just feel great. I slowly sip my chai tea, savoring and enjoying every spice. I let its warmness continue to heat my already radiating soul. This is not one of those days. Today I have been at this café for probably no more than twenty minutes and I am almost done with my chai tea because I don't care. I just want to drink it, chug it down. Everything is hideous, so my chai tea is nothing special and I don't care. Not to mention that I'm pretty sure my bad attitude is making my chai tea get cold faster than usual.
I went to bed last night with a plan. My winter break from school is almost over. I'm pretty sure it seems like a week shorter this year, thanks a lot University of Oregon, I sure hope you're making that up to us somewhere. Anyway, I had a plan. I started break with a list of things I wanted to accomplish and I was looking at it and realizing that there's a good chunk still not accomplished in the least bit. So, I had a plan. I was going to wake up at 9:00am (early for me this break, noon is the norm) and get to work. I was going to write a couple of blogs, send some postcards to my friends in Greece, do some other various mellow activities in town, et cetera, et cetera. I didn't hear my alarm go off, so I woke up at 11:30am. By the time I got showered and dressed I had already decided that my day was basically over. I might as well start getting ready for bed. I looked at my to do list and came up with a negative excuse for why I didn't get each thing done. For example, I didn't write postcards to my friends in Greece because I'm an awful person who is bad at relationships and is lazy. Completely reasonable, right?
I forced myself into town to do a little bopping around. I mean, I'm home from school, I suppose I should enjoy my little town while I can. However, I found myself just looking around at all of these awful people walking around like they had things to do and people to see. I'm sure they're actually great people, but not today. Remember, this blog is not about the beauty of life, but rather the days where everything is dark and gloomy. If that's what I want, then so be it! Those people were bad.
However, one blog can only contain so much hate, so I think I'm about finished with this dedication. And, although I hate to admit it in this state, I do happen to be a pretty "glass is half full" kind of person, so, reluctantly, I will end it with this thought. While I was walking around I went past a middle-aged woman with fluffy, dark, afro-like hair. She looked kind of mystical with her long, flowy black coat and her amicable scarf. As I passed her, we made eye contact and she gave me a fabulous smile. I automatically smiled back and you know what? It felt good. People should smile at each other more, I mean, why not? Life is pretty good, not everything is awful. Today was though, don't get me wrong. Bah humbug!
December 26, 2008 - 3:39 PM
Food. Ain't nothing wrong with that. What is this time of the year without food? People are so concerned about their weight all of time. It seems like everyone has their own fad diet that they're on. Everyone wants to lose five pounds. However, how can, and maybe more importantly why would, anyone go on a diet this time of the year? There are far too many good foods to be eaten and enjoyed.
My favorite part about coming home from school for winter break? The food, of course! Nothing beats having a mom who loves to cook for you. My mom is one of those moms. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, dessert - she has it on lock. I don't know where she just whips all of this good food out of, but she does. For Thanksgiving, my mom made five desserts. There were four of us at dinner. She made a pumpkin cheesecake pie, a mud pie, an apple blackberry tart, a chocolate silk pie, and a chocolate mousse cake. I had at least one slice of each. This time of the year is about food. It is not a time to hold back and think rationally that five pieces of dessert is too much.
Food is also the perfect social activity. "I'm bored. What should we do?" says one person to another. The perfect response? "Let's go get something to eat!" Why not enjoy the delicious flavors of food over some good conversation? This time of the year is about getting together. Warm comfort foods like soup or a grilled cheese sandwich add to a person's contentment and can make people feel closer to one another.
The best aroma in all of the land? Food. There is nothing quite like smelling the aromas of good food being cooked. Hunger is the best seasoning and the aromas before the feast just add to one's appetite, intensifying the later enjoyment of the meal. I'd rather have a house that smells of fine foods than one that has no scent at all. The smell is the smell of family and company. A house that smells like food is a strong house.
In conclusion, I have one piece of advice for everyone this holiday season. Forget the diet! Eat and enjoy as much food as you possibly can. The gym will be waiting for you toward the end of January and you can worry about it then. However, why even worry about? Sure, go exercise because it's good for your heart health and all, but don't do it with the excuse that you ate too much. That's like saying that you enjoyed yourself too much. What's wrong with enjoyment? That's right, nothing. So, eat up everyone! Enjoy food! It is one of the things in life that is always good. Be thankful you have it! When someone offers you a carrot stick this holiday season, graciously decline and head toward the gravy.
December 25, 2008 - 11:17 PM
It is a wonderful feeling to know that you have family. On Christmas Day, I woke up and found that I not only had my family around me, but that I also had family all over the world. There is something incredibly special about text messages from Greece. Coming home is one of the most difficult parts of studying abroad. It's not that you're not happy to be home and to see everyone again, but it's just the realization that you've returned from this incredible experience and you're not sure when you'll make it back again. It's the fear that one day you may wake up and forget it. It's the thought that the people you met on your travels will forget you once you leave. I met some very special people on my journey and Christmas Day reassured to me that they will forever be a part of my life.
When I awoke on Christmas Day, I checked my cell phone. It had been going off periodically since about 6:30am. It kept waking me up and I was getting flustered, but all of those feelings went away when I looked in my inbox and saw a line of text messages from Greece. Each message was from a different person who had meant so much to me while I was living there. Each person is so unique. Each has his or her own story. Each message reminded me of what I love about each person.
The first message I had received was from Maria. Of course it was from Maria. Maria was my adopted mother while I was over there. I worked with her in the reception desk at the hotel I was employed at. Maria took me to a Mixalis Hatzigiannis concert while I was there. It was so much fun! I went with her and a flock of kids from her village, including her own two adorable children, Andreas and Antonia. Maria and I always had amazing conversations, the type that I'm pretty sure only we could understand. "Merry Christmas louloudi moy (my flower), ask your mom to give you a mummy hug for me. Love you lots, mom."
The next message I received was from Thanos. Thanos is the best hair stylist in all of Kefalonia, Greece. The day I got my hair cut, he picked me up on his scooter and took me to the salon. I swear there had to have been about seven different people all working on my hair. Thanos made sure that I had the special treatment. He's an amazingly sweet guy and I think I might need to fly out there just to get my hair cut by him again. "Korrin, kala christougenna! Merry Christmas! Wish you all the best!"
My third message came from Katerina. Katerina was my best friend in Greece. We went out together every night. She always watched out for me and introduced me to everyone. She is possibly the most fun girl in the entire world. She's crazy and spontaneous and such a free spirit. I could never forget how sweet she is. "Agapi mou (my love)! Kala christougenna! Love, health, and happiness may always be in your life! My wishes to your family too! I love you! Filakia (kisses)! xxx."
Next was a message from Dimitris. He is a really great guy. He came to be a real representation to me of the beauty of Kefalonia. How could I ever forget a moonlit walk in Argostoli around the bay of the Ionian Sea? "Merry Christmas...I'm in Kefalonia, I wish you were here too...kisses."
My final message was from Niko. Niko worked at the hotel with me. He was kind of the handyman, do it all guy there. Niko was Bulgarian and only spoke Bulgarian and Greek, so needless to say it was a little difficult for us to communicate. However, Niko and I didn't need many words. Niko made me feel like I'd always have a friend to laugh with in Skala. It was fun trying to find ways to explain to each other what we were trying to say. "Kala christougenna Korrin."
I was filled with joy reading these messages. I feel so lucky to have met so many amazing people while in Greece and those are only five of them! I needed these messages to remind me that it did happen. I needed them to remind me that I will go back someday. I have to go back someday because I have family there.
December 15, 2008 - 11:44 AM
Last night the first snow hit Eugene. I am still amazed that it snowed so early this year. I love the snow. Well, let me revise that. I love the snow when it only comes once or twice a year. I could never live somewhere like Denver where the winter means feet of snow day after day. I am perfectly content to frolic in four to five inches of snow, at a low elevation, for one or two days.
What amazes me about the snow is how silently and beautifully it comes. On Sunday night, my friend, Michelle, and I walked outside to see if there was too much snow for her to drive home. Our quick trip outside turned into a prolonged journey into a winter oasis. We walked to the edge of my driveway and became mesmerized, watching the snow fall.
It was so quiet out as the glistening flakes fell from the sky and blanketed themselves on the ground. It was absolutely freezing out and we had not dressed to stay out for very long. However, as we both stood there watching the snow, I was overcome with peace. I felt as though even if it was freezing outside, I could stay out there and just meditate. I emptied my mind into the snowy scene. The snow seemed like it was coming unexpectedly and just covering up everything that was bad. As it fell, it covered the dirt and grim of a long fall term. It hid gas-guzzling cars under a dusty white coat. It surrounded houses, keeping families inside, with each other, where their love would be what existed to keep them warm. When a mindless idiot came and destroyed the peace, racing by us, doing 180's and 360's in his truck, he left muddy marks in the perfect white snow. However, as Michelle and I continued to just stand there and gaze at the whole process going on, we watched the tire tract slowly disappear. The beautiful snow was so innocent, so perfect, a fresh start.
Michelle and I decided that it was best if she stayed the night and didn't drive home. Michelle is from Hawaii and I am from California, hence we don't drive in snow. Once this was decided, we began to walk, to test the great plain of snow. I followed in the footsteps Michelle left in the snow, as not to ruin its virgin beauty. Our slow stroll began as a quest to find deer tracts and ended up as a philosophical conversation about life. Michelle and I walked and walked and shared in great conversation, all the while ascending the street's hill. When we got to the top, we had covered some pretty deep topics. All that was left was to vent out all that could be left of life's struggles and embrace the childlike cheer of the snow. I wanted to sled down the hill.
Michelle and I soon found ourselves, at two in the morning, rummaging through the neighbors' recycling bins to try and find some cardboard that could work as a sled. It had recently been trash day though, so our luck wasn't too great. We were about to give up, when I decided to open up this small cereal box labeled "Nutty Rice" and attempt to slide it down the hill. Neither of us thought it would work, but next thing I knew, I was balancing on my butt, slipping and sliding down our big hill. I couldn't stop laughing. Michelle got another Nutty Rice box and we both sled our way down to the bottom of the hill.
We were completely freezing and wet by the time we got back into my house, but the laughs and the joy that had accompanied it had been priceless. We warmed up with cocoa and more conversation. Life can get cold, but even in the coldest weather one can find simple joys.
December 12, 2008 - 9:34 PM
Studying abroad last spring in Greece had an immensely profound effect on me. When I returned to the United States, I was very worried that I would just wake up one day and forget the trip ever happened. My first few weeks back were tough. Every day that passed made my experience fade a little further into the horizon. I thought about how I had watched the island that I had lived on for almost six months of my life slowly fade into the hazy horizon as my ferryboat began my journey back home. I couldn't let this amazing chapter of my life just disappear into the haze. I was determined to stay connected with Greek culture as much as possible.
One way I did this was by signing up to take the ancient Greek language course offered at the UO. The first day of class was amazing. It felt so good to be talking about Greece again. My roommate in Greece was also in the class, which was great. We were able to relive the magical memories that had shaped our spring. Looking back at it though, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Two weeks in and I swear we were expected to have memorized about fifteen sets of six different verb endings and know when to use them and what they meant. I was suppose to be able to hear "present indicative active" and just be able to shout out, "w, eis, ei, omen, ete, ousi, principal part one, present tense stem, paideuw, I am educating or I educate habitually." I had never realized how complex and intense learning an ancient language was. I was using this to fulfill my language requirement as well, so the thought of doing this five days a week for the next two years of my life became quite daunting. This wasn't even a language I could really speak with anyone. It was very different from Modern Greek. Most of what we focused on in class was being able to read it, not speak it.
However, during one of the weeks, our professor had us turn to a page in our textbook so that we could take a little break from all of the intense grammar lessons. On the page was a section of the Book of John written in the original ancient Greek. It was absolutely fascinating. There I was, able to read and understand a passage from John in the original Greek! We talked about how it had been mistranslated into Latin and then into English. I was so interested and excited about this that after class, I went and dropped my minor in Business Administration and added a minor in Ancient Greek.
Ancient Greek was my last final of the term. I spent all Tuesday studying for it. At 10am I was at Sweet Life Patisserie, with a twelve-ounce chai and a slice of their famous Chocolate Orgasm Cake, translating sentence after sentence from ancient Greek to English. At around 1pm, I went home and changed to go to work and went through another chapter before I had to leave. After work at 5:30pm, I went to the Fifth Street Market and sat at a table in the food court with a plateful of delicious fettuccini alfredo, meanwhile cramming verb endings and conditional sentence forms into my head. I got home around 9pm and looked through flashcards for another hour before I fell asleep.
Ancient Greek is a challenging course. However, it is easy to get kind of nerdy about the subject. Due to this, I know I can make it through and survive all of the intense grammar. It is fascinating. Despite having some rough patches throughout the term, I ended up with a final grade of an A- in the course. I was ecstatic. I can't wait to take on GRK 102 winter term. It's an incredible subject and best of all, it keeps me thinking about Greece and how it changed my life forever.