Visiting Athens During the Eurozone Crisis

If you cancelled your plans to visit Greece during the Euro crisis, I think you made a mistake, cause it’s awesome here and you are missing out.

I arrived in Athens this morning expecting to walk into some sort of economic zombie apocalypse land. Yes, the banks are closed and people are pissed, but nobody knifed me for my cash. Mostly people just waited in long lines at ATM’s and occasionally yelled at bank managers standing outside the shuttered buildings.

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Overall, everyone here seems to be calm. Life is moving along.

The metro is free during the Euro crisis, which is going to save me lots of money over the next week.

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I spent most of my day hanging out near Syntagma Square, where I found tons of these delightful posters. Notice the background of the posters, nothing is on fire, no cars are being flipped, no tourists being mugged or killed. It’s all cool here.

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OXI, pronounced “ochi” or “oshi” is the rallying cry for those that want Greece to leave the Eurozone. From what I can tell it not only means “no” but is also a nod to OXI day and the quote “this means war”, which is a bit of overkill, but whatever, Greece is pissed.  Syntagma Square was deserted all day, but tonight it turned into a sea of people, complete with a live band.

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It was difficult to capture just how many people were at the rally because it spanned many levels and several side streets. Allegedly there was a teargas incident early in the evening but by the time I showed up the energy was all positive. All ages were represented and everyone was singing nationalistic songs. The food vendors were out in full effect, it was a real party.

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I will be here for the referendum on the 5th when Greece decides to stay in the Eurozone or go their own way. It will be interesting to see how the energy in Athens feels the night of the 5th.

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The Beauty in the Change we Dread

My office has been relocated to the other side of the city.

I knew this was coming for over a year and I’ve spent most of that year trying to devise a way to avoid the move. Everything was perfect the way it was. I walked to work, I had my desk arranged just so, etc. Now I would have to fight traffic and get used to a smaller work space.

I was most displeased.

After six months of delays (and many silent thanks to the universe for prolonging the inevitable) we finally made the move across town a few weeks ago.

Instead of stressing out in my car every day, I decided to bike to work, about 10 miles round trip. It is too soon to see any major changes, but today I noticed that my stomach is flatter and my hips feel smaller.  For a person that loathes gym time, this is pretty great. I’ve also been putting on weight like it’s my job lately and not only am I not being paid to pack it in, but I can’t afford a new summer wardrobe so any amount of weight maintenance is a win for me right now.

More importantly, I arrive at the office fully awake, sans caffeine.  Did I mention we have no way to make tea in the office yet?  I know. It’s complete BS.

But back to the good stuff, I’m also in closer proximity to friends I haven’t worked around in two years, which is an unexpected treat.  These friends are also turning me into a coffee drinker, another unexpected treat!

My desk is not as horrible as I expected it to be and I am slowly fixing it up. Aside from accidentally barging into the men’s bathroom on my first day in the new building, the terrible incidents have been kept to a minimum.

There are some other work-related silver linings that I won’t bother you with, but I will say this: if there is anything you are currently dreading, try loosening your grip, you might like what you find. I am shocked that I like what I found on the other self town.

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A Rainy Night in Palermo

Actual transcript from a conversation with Dad:

Dad: How is your writing going?
Me: Eh, not great.
Dad: How about the blog?
Me: I have some ideas for blog posts, I really need to get back into it.
((delete five minutes of excuses for transcript brevity)))
Dad: Well start posting, I’m sick of looking at pictures of teapots.

So, Dad, here a couple of guys getting rained on in Palermo to replace the teapots ūüėÄ

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I am here in Sicily to visit the valley of the tombs (more to follow) and to eat as much seafood as I can pack in.

After a rainy night in town, I woke up to a gorgeous (and noisy) morning so I think I will spend the rest of the weekend being chased by the sun.

Happy Friday!

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Another stray comes home

And I bought another tea set. You thought I was kidding about this being an obsession, right? Oh, you are so wrong. Give me a few years and I will be the crazy teapot lady.

I found this pretty piece of work on eBay and serendipitously enough, it arrived the day before my ladies tea date so I got to test drive it immediately!

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I served the tea with cocktail shrimp, fruit tarts, carnivale fritters, and other random pastries. And lots of wine. If I am being honest this was mostly a wine party with some tea at the end to sober up. So, it was kind perfect.

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An afternoon drinking and conspiring with smart and funny ladies was exactly what I needed and my new blue tea set (I think it is Nippon) was a hit.

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My New Obsession

My newest addiction is to teapots. I want to cultivate an inappropriately large collection to be used for the most mundane occasions.

I found my first member in a thrift shop tonight.

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It is a full set of Zeh Sherzer Bavarian China, but I can’t figure out the date of the pieces.

My favorite part of the set is the teapot.

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It is so elegant and art deco.

I think I will have to use this little gem for my first time hosting tea for the ladies this weekend!!

Happy Tea Time, everyone!

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Paris Christmas Windows

American Thanksgiving always lines up with the start of the Christmas season in Europe, which means Christmas markets, mulled wine and lots and lots of lights. I had my first mulled wine of the season at a Paris Christmas market right after browsing Christmas window displays.

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I took this picture of a killer dress that I would totally rock if I had bags of cash.

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Then a couple windows down I saw the same dress on a puppet! How freaking cute is that!!

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God, I love Paris!

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Attitude is Everything

Someone hit my parked car the other day.

I really hate when people mess with my car when he is sitting there minding his own business, but this was a complete accident.  What made this event blog-worthy is the way the lady reacted to her mistake (hint: not well).

Originally I was going to post a rant about the entire incident but after I vented to my friends for a while I realized that even though this lady pissed me off and made herself look a little ridiculous, she gave me a small gift.

So let’s start from the beginning:

I am closing out of my email and getting ready to leave the office when a young guy that works in the building comes running in shouting my name.

‚ÄúYeah?‚ÄĚ I asked, peaking around my privacy wall (actually it is just a cabinet I commandeered, but it works very well as a privacy wall).

‚ÄúSomeone hit your car!‚Äô he yelled with a little too much glee. ¬†Seriously. ¬†I appreciate you letting me know, but you don’t have to sound so excited about it.

‚ÄúOooohhhh‚ÄĚ says the entire office at the same time.

I sighed. I slowly rose (my coworker said I looked like Mount Vesuvius just before it lost its shit and exploded). I walked outside into the dark. A girl is standing by my car, shining the light from her cell phone onto my front left panel.

‚ÄúThere‚Äôs no damage!‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúUmmm‚Ķ OK, what is going on here?‚ÄĚ

Then the driver shows up.

‚ÄúI don‚Äôt know what happened!‚ÄĚ she screeched at me.

‚ÄúOk, what‚Äôs your insurance information?‚ÄĚ I asked

‚ÄúOh well, I will give you my phone number but I really don‚Äôt think there is any damage.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúWell it is dark right now and we can‚Äôt see anything, I will look tomorrow in the daylight, what is your insurance info?‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúOk, here is my number, if there is any damage call me.‚ÄĚ

It was cold, raining, and dark so I took her contact info and went inside.

I am sure she was embarrassed and frustrated and probably a little nervous. ¬†A crowd of people saw her drive into my car and they stood around to watch the rest of the scene. ¬†If I were in her shoes I would be freaking out about what this was going to do to my insurance premiums because here Italy we are essentially being price gouged by our insurance companies. ¬†But when you drive your car into someone else’s you have to give up your insurance information, its the law, its also what decent people do.

The next day I sent her pictures of the damage and asked for her insurance information.  The damage is all cosmetic and can probably be patched up pretty quickly.  Easy-peasy, right?

Of course not.

She didnt give me her insurance information, instead she wanted to meet after work (in the dark) so she could inspect the damage (in the dark) because her car didnt show any damage.

While I am over-the-moon-happy for her that she managed to hit a parked car and not get a scratch on her own car, she did scratch up mine and I was not thrilled that she was trying to play coy with me.  I was also not thrilled that she was implying I was somehow trying to scam her.

I really, really¬†do understand her¬†desire to sweep this under the rug, or ignore it and hope it goes away. ¬†I have ignored lots of issues, hoping they would give up and go away. ¬†Obviously they didn’t, they got bigger and uglier and I was always left wishing I would have just done the right thing from the get-go.

I would like to say that I grew out of that impulse as I matured but the truth is that I simply learned (the hard way) to resist that urge and take responsibility for the stupid stuff I do. ¬†It’s not fun, and it’s usually expensive, but it’s what grown folks do and so I will do it too.

She finally gave me the name of her insurance company but not her policy number. ¬†Luckily, we both use the same insurance so I called them and explained that she was playing coy. ¬†The agent told me I was going to have to get a police report with witness statements in order to establish that she was the one at fault since she was not cooperating or I would have to use my own insurance and pay the deductible myself. ¬†I have a high deductible. ¬†What I don’t have is bags of money to throw around, so off to the police station I went.

The cops were baffled. ¬†They didnt want to fill out a report for a simple traffic accident. ¬†They asked why we couldn’t have just exchanged insurance information. ¬†They explained that their office doesn’t have to be involved in what they call a “friendly agreement”¬†which is when one person hits another’s car and then takes responsibility with the insurance companies.

This lady stood in the police station and screeched through the double paned glass that she had no idea what happened, she was just driving along and then out of nowhere she heard a noise. ¬†She didn’t know¬†what that noise was, but it didnt sound like metal scrapping (in her expert opinion). ¬†When she got out of the car people were yelling that she’d hit a car (so hard, they said it rocked back and forth). ¬†And yet, she maintained that she couldn’t have been the cause of the damage to my car.

At this point the two lead cops (I am sure they have more official titles but I am civilian, I have no idea what those titles are) called me into the back and asked me what the hell was going on.  I explained the situation and then they started talking about opening a case and rattling off numbers and other cop jargon.

All of a sudden this minor traffic accident blew up.  Now she was going to be investigated for fleeing the scene of an accident and other offenses I didnt understand.

In the end I got the information I needed to get my car fixed and she got a plate load of problems.

I’m not going to lie, I definitely gloated a little bit. ¬†Justice had been served! ¬†She wasn’t going to get away with her¬†shenanigans! ¬†Hooray!

But now that I have had time to think about it I feel mostly empathy with her. ¬†She probably¬†also has a sky-high deductible or is worried that if her insurance rates go any higher she is going to have to make even more cuts to an already lean budget. ¬†I am sure like the rest of us, she just doesn’t have the time or energy to deal with this crap. ¬†This whole situation sucks.

What I learned from her is that the outcome of any situation is so dependent on your attitude.  She came out of that car ready to steam roll me into agreeing with her that this was no big deal.  The next day she was ready to play hardball about the insurance.  At the police station she was ready to cause a scene.  She wanted this situation to go away and she was ready to fight for it.

What if she had come out of the car ready to apologize for hitting another car?

What if she had asked how we could work together to get the damage fixed without breaking the bank?

What if instead of relying on anger and defensiveness she let the softer, more vulnerable emotions have a say in this interaction?

Things probably would have gone differently, more smoothly. ¬†At least the cops wouldn’t have been involved.

I am a lot like her.  When I am under pressure I rely heavily on my fight instincts.  I get angry and defensive.  I see other people as the enemy.

You know what happens when you see other people as the enemy?  You make a lot of enemies.

I believe that there are times when you need to put on your armor and go to battle, but probably not every time.  Probably not every fight.

In the spirit of this recent adventure I am going to try (I said try!) to be more aware of the times I am relying on my fight instincts and ask myself if there are more appropriate emotions I could be accessing.  Wish me luck.

 

 

 

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