Tuesday, February 05, 2008

In Which I Show Up Again And Promise to Keep Writing

Hello everyone. This is just quick note to let you all know that I have in fact been writing again. No, really. I mean it this time. Check out www.ipromisetogowandering.blogspot.com. It even has a huge adorable picture of my cat at the top.

Friday, October 26, 2007

In Which I Create A New Blog

So here's what has happened in the past few months:

1) I left New York, travelled back to Greece and Serbia, taught a class full of wonderful high school students in Serbia, caught up briefly with some friends in Greece, but unfortunately returned home to New York early because of a death in the family. (That's one reason I never had a chance to connect with several of the wonderful Greek bloggers that I would very much have liked to meet. Next time?)

2)Got my passport stolen in the Athens airport on the way home. Oops! (Never put anything in your back pocket.)

3) Returned to my work with middle school students this fall in New York, started additional work as an SAT tutor and graduate classes in secondary education.

3)Became hopelessly obsessed with HBO in the form of Big Love and The Sopranos.

4) Decided it was time for a blank slate. So, without further adieu, I will introduce....drumroll please...my NEW BLOG. It's called "I promise to go wandering." The title is a misheard Bob Dylan lyric from Mr. Tambourine Man. I thought the song went "Cast your dancing spell my way, I promise to go wandering." Actually, the line goes "Cast Your Dancing spell my way, I promise to go under it." By the time I figured that out, I had already adopted "I promise to go wandering" as a sort of motto. I even listed it as one of my favorite quotes on facebook. And now, every time I get lost in Chinatown, my boyfriend gives me this incredulous and disgusted look and says "Well, you did say you promised to go wandering."
So yes, I promise to go wandering. Specifically, I promise to go wandering at www.ipromisetogowandering.blogspot.com. If I can't regale you with fantastic travel tales this time around (and believe me, I would if I could) I'll have to do my best to entertain you with thoughts about New York, school, the Sopranos, and cats. (Don't worry, they are entertaining cats.)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

In Which I Make Summer Plans

In May, I once again wrote to say that I was back from the dead and blogging again, and then disappeared for another extended period of time. Somehow, since my return from Greece (which has been a while now) I've really struggled with how to use this blog. I come up with ideas to write about on a regular basis, but somehow they rarely actually make it onto the computer screen. While I was travelling, a blog seemed like a good way to communicate with home and the world, and all of my online writing had a definite theme- travel. But here in the United States, I never quite wrapped my typing fingers around a similiar theme. Although there are many things to say about life in New York City, I never quite made my blog work.
But now I'm back to announce that, on June 25th, things will change. Because on June 25th, I am flying back to Thessaloniki. From there, I will travel to Serbia for two weeks (I will be teaching at a summer workshop for high school students working on their English) and then I take the bus back to Athens, where I will begin several more weeks as, yes, Emily Z in Greece once again. (That's still a terrible name for a blog, but I really liked living it.)
So, here I go again, travelling recklessly off into a region of the world where I don't speak the language and I am totally unprepared for whatever may greet me. (At least, I am totally unprepared for Serbia. Greece and I are well acquainted by now.)It should be pretty interesting. I'll keep you posted. And yes, I mean it this time.
(By the way, Kassandra, I'm glad to hear you have a new friend! Calypso is doing quite well at the moment. She's a little bit crazy, but through some miraculous freak of nature, my sister has actually taught her to sit and wave on command. I didn't even know cats could do that.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

In Which I Return From the (Blogging) Dead with a Fractured Foot

It's been a while, hasn't it? I haven't written a word on blogger in over two months. Interestingly, this development ocurred at almost the exact same time I took a second job working with eight year olds in an afterschool program. This is not a coincidence. Eight year olds are exhausting. And if you're not careful, you can catch the flu from them, and spend your spring break curled up on the couch watching movies on demand.
So, those are two events that have occured in my life since I disappeared; a second job, and the flu. But those are old news. Here's more recent unfortunate medical information; I broke my foot.
Well, I didn't really break it, per se. I have, to be exact, a hairline fracture in my metatarsal. When I heard this news, I thought about the word 'metatarsal', and I was not entirely sure what it meant. The 'meta' part sounded Greek. Context dictated that it was a part of my foot, though I wasn't sure which part. Then my sister explained that your metatarsal is the bone right above your toe. She knew this, because she is an animal science major, and she has taken anatomy classes. So really, all I learned from her is that if I were a horse or a cat, my metatarsal would be right above my toe. However, this was still far more than I had known before.
Everyone who sees me limping around, especially my students, asks me how I hurt my foot. This is somewhat humiliating. I injured it walking down the street. I wasn't even walking very fast. Unfortunately, I was walking in heels. Heels that didn't fit.
A lot of people get injured playing sports, or running, or taking risks. I wish I could be one of those people. I would like to be able to say I fractured my metatarsal while marching for peace, or kicking Dick Cheney, or bringing a vaccine to needy children in Alaska. Or even just, you know, playing soccer. When I googled 'fractured metatarsal', I read that David Beckham fractured his metatarsal once. I don't think he did it in heels.
The good news is, my fracture is not a major fracture. In fact, it is a tiny fracture - so tiny that I am, two weeks later, able to walk long distances, ride a bike, climb stairs, and do almost everything I would normally do, except run. And hike. And dance at the New York Ballet. And play center field at Shea stadium. If only it weren't for my fractured metatarsal, I would be able to do all of these things.
However, as my brilliant baseball/ballet career has been tragically cut short, I have returned to the educational field to work with those eight year olds. Luckily, they're helpful- on my first day back at work, I had five kids "helping" me up the stairs. That's how I knew I was really getting better; I could make it up three flights of stairs with five eight year olds hanging off my every limb.
With that, I leave you- but not for two months this time. I'll be back. In fact, this summer, I may be back with another exciting travellogue...but I'll fill you in on that next time.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In Which I Almost Turn Around and Smack The Total Ignoramus Sitting Next To Me in Saigon Grill

There's a great scene in Annie Hall, which I should mention is my favorite movie of all time. In fact, this might be my favorite scene in my favorite movie of all time, so you know it's good. Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, scuse me, Alvy Singer and Annie Hall, are on line at the movie theatre, and they overhear this horribly pretentious man making all sorts of comments about film, particularly the films of Marshall McLuhan. Finally Alvy gets so fed up that he turns around and joins in the argument. The pretentious man snootily informs him that he teaches a class on film at NYU and knows what he is talking about. "Oh yeah?' says Alvy/Woody. "Well, I just happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here. And he pulls him out from behind, I think, a vending machine. And it really is Marshall McLuhan, apparently, though I confess I haven't the slightest idea who Marshall McLuhan actually is, apart from the guy that Woody Allen pulls out from behind the vending machine. And the real Marshall McLuhan lets the pretentious guy have it.
I used to fantasize about this sort of thing all the time at college. You know, college is just filled with pretentious people who think they know a lot. In my English seminars, I just happened to have James Joyce and Walt Whitman right there. In Civil War History, it was Lincoln. In Major Western Religions, I just happened to have God right there. It was always a nice fantasy, watching Joyce with his glasses and Irish accent, or Whitman with his beard, telling that really annoying girl to shut up.
This evening my boyfriend and I were eating Vietnamese food, spinach dumplings and grilled eggplant, and having a nice conversation about something or other. (My boyfriend is not the one I almost smacked.) The people sitting next to us were having a heated conversation, and I wasn't really paying attention until I heard one man declare "So, the public schools..I hear the kids are basically not very bright, and the teachers are pretty lousy, and nobody works very hard."
I almost smacked him. I am telling you, I made a fist and I could just imagine reaching out and whacking him over the head. He was no more than three feet away. I could have done it. I could have! I am usually mild-mannered, but my buttons can be pressed. I once threw a plate at my sister for some reason that neither one of us can remember. This was a much better reason for violence, I'll bet.
After I decided not to smack him, I thought about speaking up, and announcing that I work in a public school, that I highly respect the people I work with, and they are excellent at what they do. I thought about telling him that there are plenty of smart kids in public school, and being behind has nothing to do with being smart if you don't have the money or the opportunity for a fancy education. I thought about telling him about that he would probably last about thirty seconds if he got up in front of a seventh grade classroom. I thought again about smacking him. I didn't do any of these things. I don't know why.
I looked at my boyfriend, to confirm that he had heard the same thing I had. He had not, and looked at me quizzically. I shook my head and tried not to overhear anything else. It was futile. After three minutes, my ears wandered again.
the topic had shifted. "My brother went to London," explained the man. "I told him not to do it. I told him he would hate it. I told him it would be expensive! I told him, the Euro is much stronger than the dollar these days!"
Normally, I would feel mean laughing because somebody didn't know what currency a particular nation used. This time, I felt no shame. I snickered. Joe, who was now listening in, joined me.
I rejoined my own conversation with a calmer mind now, feeling that perhaps, it was better to let sleeping brain cells lie. Of course, I couldn't help but entertain the Annie Hall fantasy as usual. Would I just happen to have a smart pulic school graduate with me? Or a teacher? Or a British two pound coin? I probably could have fished out a British coin if I'd really tried hard and scoured my coat linings. But I tried to let it be. However, the best was yet to come. As I put on my coat to leave, I overheard one last encore, or perhaps a grand finale, of ignorance. Apparently, he wanted to go out in a blaze of glory.
"I'm too nice to date girls I like and respect," he explained, earnestly to his companions, one of whom was female. "I might have to dump them, and then I would feel bad! So instead, I date girls who I don't like OR respect, and then I don't feel bad when I dump them. It works out well!"
"Happy Valentine's Day," I thought. "I hate you."
And then I left.

Friday, February 09, 2007

In Which I Am Reminded That Toto, We're Not In Greece Anymore

This morning I was at the pastry shop on the corner, ordering coffee, when I overheard someone mention 'The Greeks' in a conversation behind me. I swiveled my head around to see a table full of six men eating pastries. The one who had been talking exclaimed "On the bright side, the Turks invaded Cyprus!"

It's been six months, but that was still enough to take me by surprise.

Friday, January 26, 2007


My family got Chloe right after I turned nine. She was so small that I was afraid to pick her up at first; I felt like I would hurt her by mistake. She was the most patient cat imaginable, even when my sister and I dressed her up in doll clothes, or repeatedly picked her up against her will. In almost fourteen years, I think the only time she scratched me was when I tried to give her medicine.
Chloe was the most sociable animal I ever met; she would come running to meet you when you came through the door, and wherever there were people to be found, that's where she was. She never really liked other cats as much as she liked humans, and we always suspected that she didn't really think she was one of them. She used to jump on my bed when it was time for me to get up for school. For some reason that we never really understood, she used to carry around red pony-tail holders in her mouth, and sometimes leave them in her water bowl. She was perpetually curled up on the clean laundry, especially the towels, though she sometimes slept on the cable box. Only six weeks ago, to our amazement and horror, she actually caught a mouse. She used to eat ice cream off my fingers, but after she was sick she started eating anything she could finagle from us, and we let her; she ate two whole tortilla chips once, to the utter amazement of my mother and I, and babaganoush, croissant, chicken, yogurt, and even lentil soup. Wednesday evening, the night before she died, I fed her cheddar cheese and she was delighted.
Yesterday I came home from work, and when I opened the door, the hallway was empty. I opened a can of cat food, and I had to split it between two, not three. (How can two cats in one New York apartment not be enough?) I cried.
Every person thinks that their pet is the best, but you're all wrong; mine was. It won't be the same without you, Chloe. We love you.