Essential bookkeeping

Commentary

picture by Moyan Brenn on Flickr

Recently, a friend asked me to get a book for her while I was out shopping. The rules were simple: I need a beach book. Well, deceptively simple. Because really, what makes a good beach book? Something brainless that you can easily sink your teeth into? A story so engrossing that you can’t put it down? A book by your favorite author? Or simply something you just don’t mind getting all wet and gross?

In the absence of a clearcut definition, I rummaged through shelves looking for that vague something, meanwhile feeling an extraordinary amount of pressure on my shoulders. And that’s when I happened on Nick Hornby’s book: Stuff I’ve Been Reading.  To be honest, I’d glanced at this book online when it came and thought, “Why would anyone care?”. I mean it’s not a review of books as such, it bears no story, it’s just a journaling of thoughts surrounding books read by Hornby. And that struck me as the publisher trying to make an extra buck on the name of an established author.

But then, at the bookstore, I leafed through the book. And I loved it.

You see what Hornby does at the beginning of each chapter / entry is begin with a balance sheet of sorts: Books bought Vs Books read. And this stirred my curiosity because the books he buys are just so varied. And it turns out that he buys far more than he reads, and that actually made me feel quite…normal! It also made me look at my own book statistics with a different eye: the lists one can make are endless.

For instance:

Pages read so far in 2014 vs 2013: 7,928  vs 8,792

Fiction vs non-fiction books read so far in 2014: 12 fiction vs 13 non-fiction

Books bought this year:  17

Books read this year: 25

Of which E-books vs Audiobooks vs Physical books: 10 vs 4 vs 11

This kind of incessant list-making of statistics could pretty much go on for a whole day so I’m going to stop myself here. The bottom line is to get reading done, but beyond that bottom line is that competitive ego that wants to see how she’s sizing up against someone like Nick Hornby, or quite frankly even you (how are you sizing up?).

Maybe I’m not the voracious reader I used to be, but I’m definitely not doing that badly, in terms of reading progress. I got a nod of confirmation from the universe just the other day, as I was out for a drink with some friends. The table next to us had a group of 22-year-old girls drinking sangria and philosophizing about the meaning of life, the beginnings of career-making and the unsuspecting changes that occur when growing older. And then one girls says, in a voice of authority reserved for generalized statements: You know once you hit thirty, you stop reading. I can start to see it even now, I mean, I used to read 5 to 6 books a year and now it’s all dwindling to an insignificant number. 

Well, you know, nothing could be further from the truth. Everyone I know has read at least 5 or 6 books so far this year, but maybe I’m hanging out with the wrong crowd. Or maybe we’re all in denial that we’re past thirty.

Yeah, that must be it.

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My 2011

Commentary

2011 has treated me well. I travelled, I explored the world through the lens of my diana and lx3 and I read plenty (though not as avidly as I would have liked). Here is my year breakdown.

Note: Most of these are in no particular chronological order

1. The most anticipated item of the year: the stache! After much begging and volunteering to start a fund for movember, I was given the privilege of the stache preview in December. I’m happy to announce that this look is now a permanent fixture in all our joint portraits.

2. November brought a new person into our family unit of two: the Bear. He’s still nameless though he’s much of a character. I caught him reading on my wing chair that night, but I’ve even come home to him watching TV and eating cereal and his most recent feat was climbing the Xmas tree á la King Kong style. We don’t know what he’ll do next, but he sure fits in.

3. Lomography featured largely in 2011, mainly because it was my Xmas present to myself last year. This two-shot was quite a good accident. The third shot, of our other partner in crime, George, brings the photographic trio full circle.

4. Reading in Dublin was a pleasure. This was a small park right outside the biggest park ever, that we traversed on a two-seater bicycle (that was fun!). On this trip I had the lovely company of Margatet Atwood and The Year of the Flood, which I miraculously read through, while managing to do quite enough touring.

5. The beauty of the lomo lens: This colorful scene was straight out of Little Miss Sunshine almost, and lucky for me, just outside my home. The large puddles / lakes that form near the area make for the most spectacular reflections.

6. This birdcage has been in the family for about a decade and it used to be white. Living by the beach has turned it into a wonderful rusty peppermint color that I love. It’s  something that’s not coming off of our veranda wall anytime soon.

7. My grandmother had a rough 2011; in July she broke her ischial spine on her pelvis and was bedridden for about 2 months. She is now mostly recovered and able to walk without the help of a cane, but she’s spent quite a few hard months. This photo was taken during a drastic cleanup of her house. Quite unlike my normal photographic habits, I decided to take a self-portrait in my grandmother’s yard during the big mess.

8. Taking it easy with the kids: the cutest niece a person could have. Learning to be patient: the only thing that got me out of 2011 reasonably sane.

9. Discovered gloriously delicious tea from tea pigs, palais des thés bubblegum tea and generally stored up in herbal goodness in 2011.

10. Tried my first, and most likely last, bitter ale at the Guinness Factory. Trying out the 120 format on lomo was fun, but also disappointing: I had a whole 120 color film completely ruined by overexposure, and thus forever a mystery.

11. The year of many notes, by no letters, sadly. Friends across the world (you know who you are), I will make it up to you in 2012!

12. The endless pursuit of great indie coffee/ tea shops continues. I have just added a great one in old Nicosia:  Τα εφτά κλειδιά

13. My lovely, lovely mom. 2011 came along with a new resolution: more portraits. This is as candid as it gets.

14. Taking dark alleys and forgotten routes has always brought out the best exploration photos. If you exclude the rancid smell of urine, that is.

15. I love feet shots and always will. Our other addition to the household is Pingoo, our friendly bed penguin. My friend Gigi, understands my feet addiction and follows suit.

16. Paying closer attention to detail really got me out of 2011. As a perfectionist, I’ve got the bug for getting lost and sidetracked in intricate details that really have no use for the purpose at hand. It’s a problem I am gradually coming to terms with.

17. Back in the middle ages, maps read: There be dragons here. Discovering the wonderful Custard Factory in Birmingham was a resulted of our chat with an art gallery personnel, who ended up drawing a little map of how to get there in my journal. After walking for hours past the commercial junk recommended to us by the air host, we finally got there and it was wonderfully refreshing.

18. My belated Xmas present arrived sometime in January. A new toy and a new perspective. It was quite amusing that we got each other cameras for Xmas. It also made shooting more difficult now with so many choices.

19. Bicycles everywhere in the city of Dublin. Renting some off the bike stations resulted in some near-death experiences, but ultimately great fun. It also led to the sad realization that Cyprus will never be bike friendly, thanks to all the reckless drivers.

20. A quiet vigil at Phoinikoudes, Larnaca after the explosion at Mari. This really shook up the whole island and those days were dark and bleak. I can’t say that that there will be much light on the case, in due time. Disappointment prevails.

21. My bike was a birthday present from 2010, but it really travelled great distances in 2011. On the last day of 2010, I remember riding across timid rain capturing the very last moments of the year. Here, we were riding across the vast expanse that is Oroklini lake, near my apartment. It felt out of this world, but all those mosquito bites put things in a realistic perspective.

22. The year of Catan, surely. The game was a gift by a fellow friend, but was neatly tucked into the closet because its instructions were a goddamn booklet. So after a year of storage, my friend was in Cyprus and he finally showed me how to play in less than half an hour. It soon became an addiction. Midnight Catan sessions that progressed way into the early morning hours, fueled by cookies and hot tea and when hungrier, Indian cuisine. It really left its mark on 2011, and now we’ve got the expansion pack and I’m convinced we’re turning into the Cypriot version of the Big Bang Theory somehow. Who’s Sheldon?

23. One of our most beloved agrotourist locations in Cyprus is 3 Elies. It’s the most authentic little resort smack in the middle of nowhere. There’s fireplace, nature trails, great trout for dinner made my Androulla, and many many cats. This multiple exposure hides two.

24. Met my nieces and nephew in the summertime for the first time. This was a walk on the beach, when my niece was so excited to see the sea. It makes me blush that I take it for granted.

25. 2011 brought with it a lot of new recipes. For Easter I attempted to make candy pops, that tasted OK but didn’t look like the real thing. Luckily no one knew the original idea, so considered my own works of art. The bows and sticks featured were in preparation for the choc pops.

26. The sun sets on Oroklini lake. Discovering the beauty of my area has surely been a highlight of 2011. I have just recently taken up jogging along the beach every morning before work and I’m surprised that I never made the most of the what is available to me here until now.

27. A hurried trip to the city of my heart: Chania, Crete. On the weekend of Monday of Lent, we escaped to Chania to revisit memories, old friends and favorite spots.

28. My failed resolution to pick up rock-climbing as a hobby. Maybe 2012 will be kinder to this resolution. After observing a group of climbers, we headed for Ayios Nicolas for some biking and I almost fainted on those altitudes. It resulted in a half-hour surprise nap by a river, while my other half was having fun taking photos of me passed out from fatigue.

29. Beautiful dusk from my window. Those reflections, those colors — make me remember why I could never leave here.

30. Pimped rides with pegasus, but 2011 was the year I bid my little old car, Dot,  goodbye. Just as I wasn’t looking, I managed to get myself a deal on my car, and ended up with a brand new Toyota Aygo. Its flaming red is more to my taste than the old black. But Dot was my first car, and as such, very dearly missed.

31. Kids will be kids, but grownups need to be kids too sometimes. Relearning life through a 4-year-old’s perspective ain’t easy, but it’s good.

32. Having the sister to myself has been a treat. Here, we went on a great photowalk across town and I snapped this great portrait of her. Hopefully 2012 will bring a collaboration that could result in some monetary fruit, if she ever agrees to listen to my ideas!

33. I’m thankful for having friends who will willingly drop everything for an existential conversation about the meaning of it all. 2011 has taught me that I am definitely a lot more complex than even I ever imagined. I’m slowly learning to accept the most unexpected things about me, and more importantly, to embrace risk and learn from it.

34. 2011 changed the way I saw my life. Taking hard decisions is part of life, and being honest with what you like and don’t like is equally important. You need to be passionate about what you do full time, and if you’re not, you must change something. I’m changing things in 2012, but without 2011’s insight, I would be nowhere.

35. There’s a lot of home, in homemade, and I carry it with me in whatever I do: From jewelry, to writing, to photography to baking. You can’t separate the past from the present and carrying it with you is a good thing, really.

36. This unconventional portrait of my mom makes me think that there’s always a hidden side to us. And we sometimes hide it from ourselves even, but it’s there. I’m trying to reconcile myself with my hidden side, which is full of flaws and misery and pessimism, but hey, I’m not there yet. I’m trying, and that counts, doesn’t it?

Hope you have a great 2012. I await for it eagerly.

Switch off

Commentary

Today I’m not going to drink more than three cups of tea, no matter how much I convince myself that my throat hurts or I have that craving. I will drink more water and I will make a mental tally of the liters I down by night time. It will be close to the big two and I will feel a sense of achievement for doing something that should be part of my mundane routine anyway.

I will not spend hours getting tangled up in website links and referrals and e-mails and replies. I don’t have to update my facebook status or tweet that I’m drinking water for the day because it is not important. I will not open photoshop to edit any one of my candidate photos for flickr. I won’t even browse other photographs for inspiration and I most definitely will not log in on tumblr. All that inspiration and clicks can be downright distracting, especially if it leads me to etsy. I cannot allow myself to go on etsy, or any other online shop for that matter, because today of all days, there will be no window shopping. Even my metaphorical wallet is empty.

I will make the bed in the morning, and I will actually eat breakfast because it is the most important meal of the day I persistently choose to forget. I will call my mom to see how she is because I will remember to reach out across the telephone line that separates the measly distance between us. If I’m ambitious, I will also make the 10-minute drive to see my grandmother, who speaks in television language because that is all the company she has. I will make her day by sitting down next to her and listening to all the episodes I missed during the week. I will call my friends for a casual coffee drink of water and I will make the effort to be more than a Facebook friend.

Today, I will set aside time to read my book, even if I’ve forgotten its title from the time it’s been to hold it. I will not do this before I sleep because I want to read more than just a couple of sentences. I will write in my real journal, not my blog, about the thoughts in my mind, the things I most wish for, the quotidien that saturates my minutes. I will think of friends abroad and actually call them. Or better yet, I will sit down and write them a letter, not an e-mail. I will play songs I’ve forgotten about and I will sing along fearlessly. I will take a walk on the beach and I will write a poem. I will jot down my ideas on actual paper that is inside a thought notebook, not a post-it note.

Today, I’m changing everything. It all starts today.

The WRITE picture

The WRITE picture

The idea is simple: One picture, approximately 1000 words telling its story. Or at least the story in my head. Get inspired by clicking on the photo and discovering more through the photographer’s lens.

Photo by Zitaaa

Harry knew he’d be late. He knew it the moment he got up at 6.53, a fat 12 minutes later than his usual time. As he waited over the toaster, armed with bread knife and butter, he pondered over what to wear. He was a black-and-white type of man, but today was a different occasion. The day called for a tone of grey.

On his way out the door, he checked himself in the mirror. There was a moment of deliberation as he stared blankly, confused. He produced a practiced smile, the corners of his lips extending sideways, his tired lips reduced to faint lines.

Who am I kidding? he mumbled. But there was no time to change into his comfortable persona before he walked out the door. He was already 12 minutes behind his usual schedule. Keys in hand, he walked out the door and into his black Fiat Punto. He made a mental note to get it washed before his date later in the evening as he brushed his arm against the door accidentally. Good thing I’m wearing grey, he thought as he geared the car into the lane and the uncertain threat of oncoming traffic.

Harry enjoyed taking shortcuts on normal occasions, but today felt like a day for the main streets. The result of this decision nearly had disastrous effects because without realizing, his heart started racing. And then, like diamonds, the first drops of sweat started forming on his crown. It was only a matter of minutes before the wet stickiness spread like a tsunami across his entire body. Afraid that he would arrive to work smelling like leftovers from last night, he rolled down his window and took in a deep breath of carbon dioxide.

Of course everything’s bloody wrong today, he complained childishly. He loosened his tie and switched to the lane with moving cars. In a matter of seconds, however, everyone was immobilized.

He glanced in the rearview mirror and for the second time that day, looked at himself. His eyes were angry, yet helpless. They asked, Who do you think you are, you sorry sod? And Harry knew the meaning of that glare; he had asked himself that question a little less than a week ago as he took a pen out of his briefcase to circle something in the newspaper. It was Sunday morning and quite unlike him, he took his coffee in bed and read the newspaper under the covers, though fully dressed. Harry had suddenly felt overwhelmed by a feeling of idleness and had done nothing to fight it. It was with considerable effort that he rose later, already decided upon finding a writing utensil. By that time, he had lost complete control of his self-composure so that the Harry circling the Sunday personal ad with ferocious resolve in no way resembled the diminutive sweaty man trapped in a caterpillar of cars this morning.

Normally, Harry would have looked over his shoulder as soon as he even turned to that disgraceful page in the paper. He thought it embarrassing for a man his age to even read a word of that laconic nonsense of people coding loneliness. But he heard what his colleagues said behind his back.

He’s got no life.

Who would want to even sleep with that uptight son of a bitch?

I bet you he’s forgot what his dick is for.

He often paid no mind to such petty talk. But below his austere black suit lay a flaccid sexual organ, nothing obscene, really. And it was not often that he felt that there was a void in his life he could not fill with post-its of to-do lists and early nights in. But on Sunday, he felt like a barren field stretching out for acres and acres and in that feeling of misery, he mustered the courage to call the number on the ad he liked the most:  woman, 39, looks for adventure. Loves color and looks to balance her life’s vibrancy.

The conversation didn’t last more than 5 minutes. A courteous introduction and then a question that may have been impossible to utter, given different circumstances: Want to go out to dinner on Wednesday? And then Harry heard a yes thunder down the line and as he hang up the phone he got up, made the bed and threw up.

By the time the cars in front of him started moving, Harry was feeling dizzy. In a moment of panic and impulse he swerved into the next right without indicating and accelerated the car as he went down the narrow side road. Once he realized he was no longer close to the main street he slowed down and gradually came to a halt. He looked around and tried to figure out his geographical location. He got out of the car and stared into the open. His eyes focused on a bouquet of color that had mushroomed on the side of the road. Harry watched the yellow flowers dance in the breeze and thought, Flowers. I must remember to take her colorful flowers.

He fixed his tie, got in the car and drove off.

Make a run for it

Musings

It’s always the case that when I opt for the flight with less layover time at the airport there is a delay with my flight. Result: I have to spend the entire duration of the flight to connecting airport huffing and puffing, fretting about whether I’m going to make my connection at all. Add to that the stress of knowing said connection is the last flight to the island and you’ve got yourself a nerve-wracking trip ahead of you.

That was me on Saturday.

I checked in on time and was informed that the plane had a 20-minute delay, at which point I had already started calculating average time it would take me to get from one gate to another in semi-running (quick pacing) mode. At Cyprus airport I also took care of my bookcrossing item and tried as much as I could to make it a surprise for the next person to discover it.

Chocolate lovers have an advantage.

Chocolate lovers have an advantage

I then waited around the gate patiently and finally boarded the plane only to hear over the speakers an announcement that the plane would have a further delay of 20 minutes. Estimated time to get from gate of arrival to gate of departure: 15 minutes. Swell.

I moved up to the first row of economy class and knew that upon landing I had to RUN. And I did. We arrived at the furthest possible gate and I raced through the entire Eleftherios Venizelos, the whole time feeling like I was re-enacting a scene from Run Lola Run. I got to the gate on the dot and managed to make it home in one piece. And breathless.

Being back to base and my beading-corner-of-a-factory feels great. Yesterday I made a lot of new earrings, which I’ll post on flickr today as well as Etsy. Gradually the shop is growing and by tonight I hope to have updated all of my items that are currently available for sale. First order goes out today and I might post a photo of it in the next entry because if anything, it’s the start of something big (or even big-small). And this leaves me breathless too.

A super day

Musings

Yes, it’s been ages since I updated but things have been pretty hectic here in Crete-land. Today is a frantic day in which I hope to achieve a series of unfeasible goals. My to-do list is as follows:

– Clean my apartment before I start moving out

– Complete a video project. My mom hasn’t had a chance to visit me in my hole-of-an-apartment so I’m going to make a video giving her the entire one-minute tour (and that’s stretching it, to be honest). Will make it into something fun and artsy, no doubt.

– Start packing!

– Move a few of my basic things over to the new place.

– Upload the hundred something photos that have been idly waiting on that darn camera chip.

– Add some new photos here and on flickr.

– Open up my shop – or at least the main page with the banner or something.

– At least set up my beading workspace. I need to get back on the beading treadmill a.s.a.p.

[Here come my regulars:]

– Read on, dammit.

– Gym it up (definitely not happening today, haha!)

I will keep you posted on everything that is not happening. Most of these won’t, but it’s fun pretending I’m a Super Chick. Don’t even get me started on my special abilities.

Writing to reach you

Jewelry, Musings

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Thank you postman. I simply love receiving letters (as well as writing them) and when I do, either of the two following scenarios take place:

a) I savour it until the moment is right, atmosphere ambient, music on etc

b) furiously rip it open and devour all its contents hungrily

I do wish more people actually sat down to write letters, or even postcards. In fact, I’m going to cut you a deal: Provide me with an address and I will mail a postcard to you anywhere you are. Anywhere. Play along with me here. I’ll be waiting.

Yesterday was an unparalleled day in productivity and inspiration and I managed to take some photos of the new jewelry items today. Check out my flickr for the new stuff and leave a comment if you feel like it. It will make my day.

Now, let me get myself a real pen and some scrap paper and get to writing a letter. Reciprocity is part and parcel of keeping those letters flowing.

Deliver me please!

Deliver me please!

You give me fever

Jewelry, Musings

The week is off with thermometer in hand, cold compresses and sickness soup just when I was to say good riddance to winter. I’m not the one sick (yet), but something tells me to hold for the symptoms to appear on Friday, before I fly out to my sister because I know that life is not without a sense of sadistic brouhaha.

As I did my best trying to fruitlessly alleviate any form of discomfort the fever may have been causing my sick boyfriend, I didn’t for a second convince myself that I was making much of a difference. Between making soup, hydrating and keeping him company, I managed to make two new pairs of earrings that I’ve posted on flickr. I’m sharing one of those pictures here, because it is actually taken from inside my not-completely wrecked journal.

Chewed and digested

Chewed and digested

Credit for the chewing goes to The Little Anorak Girl’s illustrator, who couldn’t help getting his teeth into it. Thanks J.

As promised, I’m posting another picture from the Pink Milk Vintage photo-shoot. This is one of my favourites, and simply love the whole scene. The jacket is too elegant for words. Go ahead, chew on this yourself:

Hang on to this

Hang on to this