Tuesday, June 30, 2015



Coming this Fall!

Image result for journaling 

Enjoy the summer but plan ahead for the fall – that season of yellow and red leaves, cool afternoons, the promise of snow. Fall is the perfect time to start a new project or finally sit down and finish what you started.  It only takes 5 minutes to register for a workshop.

FROM JOURNAL TO MEMOIR: six sessions every other week.
Journaling your way to writing memoir – be it short personal essays or a book-length narrative. The various techniques in this class will bring the past into sharp relief, allowing for meaning to surface, and creativity to flourish.
          Mondays 6:30 to 8:30 pm
          Start date: September 21
          Fee: $300.00
SCENES, SCENES, AND MORE SCENES: six sessions every other week.
As the atom is the smallest discrete unit of matter, so the scene is the smallest discrete unit in prose writing – be it fiction or nonfiction; it is the smallest bit that contains the essential elements of story. You don’t build a story or a book with words and sentences and paragraphs — you build it with scenes, one piled on top of the next, each changing something that came before, all of them moving the story inexorably and relentlessly forward.
Tuesdays 6:30 to 8:30 pm
Start date: September 22
Fee: $300.00 – 

Contact me for more information or to register at:

Thursday, June 18, 2015


Image result for st lazarus square byron athens

The senior citizens sit on benches and twirl their worry beads absentmindedly. They stare in the distance. The men, at least. The women feed the pigeons or sit next to the men, attempting to chat. Some simply stare too. Pigeons walk around our feet, jump on a chair and try to grab our potato chips or chocolate cakes. Their feathers flutter around, fall on our heads or inside our coffee cups. Disgusting pigeons! Aggressive little birds ubiquitous as clouds.

At the square there are so many older people. With canes. Some smoking. White-haired. Doing nothing. There is very little grass, mostly brown soil, dry and stony. Short trees offer shade. The chapel of St. Lazarus attracts a few faithful. When they walk by, they cross themselves.

They spend several hours at the square before going home for lunch and a nap.

The children, like children everywhere, play ball or with their iPads. Roughhouse. Mothers admonish good behavior, yelling to be heard above their din.

The highlight of the day is - what are we making for lunch?

-What are you making?
-Okra with lamb. And you?
-Fish with greens.
-We had fish yesterday.
-Yes, fish is good for you. We'll have okra tomorrow.
-I'm tired of meat, meat every day.

The square is busy enough to make us feel alive but not too chaotic. A good place to read, write, and listen to other people's conversations.

A statue of Lord Byron keeps watch from the center of the square. The neighborhood also bears his name. A hero for the Greeks, there are other statues around the city and references to his support and dedication to the cause of Greek Independence in the 19th century. He fought the Ottomans and died in 1824 at the Battle of Messolonghi.

Under the watchful eyes of Lord Byron the Greek people try to return to some kind of glory days, not to fall into despair, to survive and triumph.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


The lawlessness baffles me. Cars parked anywhere, anyhow, blocking sidewalks, crosswalks, corners. Pedestrians have no rights. Watch out or you'll lose your head! Trolleys and buses are ridden without paying. No control whatsoever. Smoking is theoretically banned indoors but everyone smokes in cafes, bars, restaurants. An ashtray disguised as a cup is provided.

The despair is more palpable than it used to be. Yet, nothing changes. Why is it so trying for me to spend more than a day here?

The apartment is too small, too cramped for three women. Did you know that there is no Greek word for "privacy"?

Today I discovered Syntagma Square's café. Nice to sit and people-watch. All kinds of tourists and natives go by. A man wearing just black shorts was lying down on the ground as if at the beach. Yesterday I met the Greek director Nikos Koundouros at his house. What a diva! But fun too. Likes to surround himself with young, pretty women. We watched his latest film and then went to a café nearby for "raki". His acolytes came and went. His film "O Drakos" from the 1950s is legendary.

Have I mentioned the insane, with no planning, building of high rises everywhere? Big, white, cement boxes crowding narrow streets. Ugly. Where are the majestic 19th century residences and mansions? What happened to the beautiful edifices of yesterday? So many are crumbling and falling apart. Some are taken over illegally by artists for performances, exhibits, cultural works.

And an earthquake woke me up at 4 a.m. when my bed shook side to side. Whoa! I said, what's happening? I got up, looked at my mother sleeping peacefully in the living room, and decided it must be ok. Should I run out? Will there be more tremors? It better not happen again. Please!

Thursday, June 4, 2015


Walking is an excellent antidote to boredom, obesity, the simple annoyances  of daily life.

This morning I embarked on my first power walk in Athens.  Armed with my iPod and water, I went left from the front door (usually we go right to the trolley stop or the shops).  Soon I was immersed in a mess of cars, buildings, broken sidewalks. But I persevered. Avoiding being run over by motorcycles I made my way to a park.  Success I thought. Yet, not so good.

The park must've been built on a ridge because it is all steps and up hills (or down hills), no grass but clay; trees however abound.  I went up and down for a little while.  Soon I found myself back on the streets, so I returned the way I had come and walked around and around St. Lazarus Square.  Populated by cafes on all sides, I walked a few times around, trying not to run into the mostly-older people sitting and sipping coffee.  Finally I gave in and sat down myself. It was getting too warm.

This afternoon I went to a meeting and then walked on a pedestrian mall for a while before sitting down again to sip cold coffee and read. It was fairly pleasant. Then I walked down a very wide, busy avenue with no real destination. My feet warm and achy I decided to return home.

I wish there were wide, flat areas to do my power walk. I suppose the ups and downs are good aerobically speaking but...

Back home I felt animated, lighter. It helped that the last song I heard on my iPod was "Don't worry, be happy." 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


Still somewhat jet-lagged, trying to adjust to time and space, to idiosyncrasies and customs.  It's not that I forget, it's that they always shock my system.  What to do, what to do. 

Fashioning a calendar of activities to keep the mind active, the body in motion. 

Athens looks the same as last year. I don't see any difference nor do I see signs of doom as predicted in the US media.  So far, so good.

Met Maria at one of my favorite spots: Syllabi Café - owned by Philipos, musician and singer.  The café is also a bookstore, a tiny bookstore.  One of its virtues is that it is located on a pedestrian, narrow street; therefore, it is quieter than most streets, less transited by people or cars, with the exception of the occasional motorcycle.  Maria wore a fantastic long dress, African style, colorful, with her usual head-of-curls. Always striking.

Weather is perfect: sunny, warm, very comfortable.  Not the blazing heat of July and August.

Wish I could go to the beach!