finding myself through art

One of the things I really want to do with this big move is to find the artist in me again. I’m an artist but I’ve never really worked at it. I feel its time I spent more time creating art at this stage of my life than all the other things I put my energies into.

Don’t get me wrong. I will continue to make stuff cause I love doing it. I’ll still repaint dolls and sew and revamp old furniture and make things out of found objects…

But I really want to paint more.

I realised a while ago that when I paint (in any medium) I feel good about myself. Sure, I often start something, hate it, stop, then go back later, rework it and finish it and love it. And then I get the most incredible feeling inside – achievement, pride, amazement that something I admire came out of my own hands.

So here I am, in Athens for almost 2 weeks now… without my art supplies. So I went out to find pastels (always my first choice of mediums to work with) and I couldn’t find what I wanted. I bought acrylic paints instead and gave them a try.

This is my first attempt with straight acrylics in years.

Its Phaedra, a toy poodle that used to belong to our neighour. I never met her but naturally I’d start with a poodle! I tried to loosed up and make it more painterly than is my normal style. Its something I love when I look at other works of art and always wish I could paint like that. But I’m not totally happy with it, its not really me. I’m not a loaded brush type of person. I tend to work best with washes and less paint than with more…

This is my second attempt.

This is a friend’s cat. For her I used a mix of dry brush and watered down acrylics. She’s not finished yet but I like it much better. I think I found the way I like to work best.

More than that, I realised that what I really want is to mix my media. I want to go and buy myself the soft pastels I didn’t find last time I looked for them (I found a shop which sells them!) and to get some pastel pencils as well. Then I can finish this little cat with charcoal and pastels. That way I can get both the texture and the detail and depth I’m used to getting in my work.

I’m pleased.

A painting a day keeps the depression at bay!

Now I want to go find mom’s old Singer and see if it still works! Cause I feel the urge to make some of my little critters…

Other than that, I’m slowly learning to live in Greece though it not easy. I have friends and family and that helps. I’m still very eager to get to Paros and start sorting out my life there. Till then, I’ll do what I need to do here.

z

colourful athens pt 2

A tour of the city centre wasn’t complete without a visit to the market – the meat and fish market that is. I’ve spared you the horrors of the meat market. I couldn’t stand that place. But outside on the street these little shops full of herbs and spices, nuts and other stuff, looked so pretty and inviting.

The fish market was stinky but not nearly as nightmarish as the meat market, so here are some fish… that’s one thing we missed in Tasmania. A proper fish market… at least there were none that I ever found!

It says the lobsters are alive but I didn’t see any indication of life. Poor things.

I know I’ve mentioned the ancient ruins in the metro before, but here is a view of the ruins under Monastiraki. Roman aqueducts which still work today apparently…

“But what have the Romans ever done for us?” you may ask. Besides the aquaducts…

So there you go.

A quick tour of the markets (thank goodness smellorama doesn’t yet exist) and the metro ruins.

z

another pretty cafe

You may think this is a bit of deja vu and you’d be right. This is a cafe I visited last time I was in Greece. Little Kook is an amazing place.

This time, just like last time, we didn’t go in for a coffee. The queues were incredible as you can imagine. Its Christmas holidays and everyone wants to take the family to this special place. But the entire street is magical. Just imagine how much fun they have decorating this place!

There’s one thing you gotta give greeks. They really know how to celebrate and make beautiful places. Its like fairyland in so many places around Athens.

And winter Christmas just seems so much more RIGHT than the heat in Australia at this time of the year. It feels more Christmassy. It just works.

Plus another bonus: No thongs to be seen!!

z

colourful athens pt 1

Its no secret that I love old things, old buildings and falling down broken stuff. I also love the contrast of the old crumbling homes in the center of Athens with the colourful graffiti that now covers everything.

Not to mention the juxtaposition of the old and the new – defaced by graffiti again… always…

Apparently Athens wasn’t always an ugly city. It was once full of neo-classical buildings like these old ones, and it had rivers flowing through it. But greed in the 60s saw them fill in all the rivers in order to build ‘new modern’ concrete block apartment buildings. Ugh. How stupid people are.

Of course, there are many, many closed shops in Athens, in the centre as well as the suburbs thanks to the current economy. But the center of Athens is coming alive with beautiful bars and cafes and hopefully things will pick up as more places open and more places get renovated. If we don’t all get mugged and killed first apparently. Crime is rife with so many out of work, refugees and homeless people.

Stick with me. You’ll see the pretty in the ugly parts of Greece. 🙂

z

old school friends and some real music

You know what the real problem is with Greece?

Greek music.

Ok. And Greek TV…

Sure, not everyone is as addicted to the badly over-acted greek TV serials as the old girls are, and not everyone has to have some stupid program on ALL THE TIME with the whining greek music of the mainland.

UGH.

I didn’t realise just how much I hated it till I went out with my friend from high school and she played some country music in the car on the way back. It was like coming home. It made me realise that I have no patience to sit and listen to the music the old girls like any more.

UGH.

Fine. I know. Country music is whining crap to a lot of people, but its my music. That and rockabilly, rock’n’roll and rhythm and blues. And a whole lot of other genres along those lines which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But its my cup of tea and, after less than a week in Greece, I think I’ve reached my limit of greek folk music.

I’m over it.

If I never hear it again I’ll be happy.

Time to plug in the earphones and listen to some of my own music. Please. For my sanity.

There is one type of greek music I do like. It speaks to my heart like Paros does… its the music of the Cyclades islands. Its the music I grew up hearing at parties and watching mom and her brothers and sisters dance to. I love it. And I feel like dancing to it when I hear it. Balo is a wonderful flirty partner dance, very similar to rock’n’roll… wonder why I like them both…

Anyway, enough about music and bad TV.

One thing Greece does well, is cafe restaurants. Beautifully decorated, great food or sweets (not that I’m indulging in either, I have a figure to create), great atmosphere and good company. Everyone is set on taking me to as many of the popular spots in town as they can.

Last night I met a friend from high school. I hadn’t seen Christine since she brought some long haired pot heads to my party and dad hit the roof.
Its great to see friends you share history with, even if its been years since you last saw them. It was like no time had passed. For some reason the people that went to Campion (an english school in Athens) are like that. We’ve stayed in touch despite scattering around the world.

And she’s taking me to a bar on New Years Eve where they play country music! How great is that!

I really need to find a gym and work out. Its been 8 days since my last workout. I walk but thats not enough. I need the sweat and endorphins. I’m outa here. Taking the long way down to see a friend.

z

never too old for fairytales

Isn’t that the problem though? We believe in the fairytale of the prince on the big white horse who’ll save us from everything, and the happily ever after and the everything working out, the good guys get all the riches and happiness they deserve while the bad guys get punished.

Perhaps the Grimm brothers had it right after all… if you’re gonna believe in a fairytale, believe in the ugliness of their stories. Cause life isn’t like a fairytale at all. You don’t find a prince (99.999% of the time you meet the frog and he turns out to be a toad), there is no such thing as happily ever after, best you can do is happily most of the time if you work on it. As for just deserts… well, maybe karma does exist if you’re patient enough. The tree on the gate at our old place in Tasmania might be proof of that.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life, its that nothing just happens. You have to make it happen. Its all up to you and no one else.

I’m not really down on the world… ok, maybe just a little bit right now. Its the whole “I made a huge decision and acted on it immediately not giving myself time to really let things settle and I moved to the other side of the world and now its all sinking in and I feel a bit lost and miss my dogs like crazy” thing.

Everyone says I’m so brave. I don’t know. I didn’t think it was brave. I wanted to do it, so I did it. If anything it was a kind of selfish decision – I decided that I wanted to move back to Greece and live on Paros so I made it happen. Sure, I’m closer to mom here so I can spend time with her and be part of her life. Sure, I missed being surrounded by family (a decision I might come to regret, remind me I moved here to be closer when that time comes, ok?). But at the end of the day, it was that Paros called to me deep down, in my heart.

Greeks are like homing pigeons… we seem to fly back home even after being away for years.

So here I am. Happy to be with friends and family. Thrilled to be going to Paros in a couple of weeks. Actually waiting impatiently to be on Paros in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait for this new life I dreamed of to start…

My own space, my own stuff (ok, borrowed stuff to start with), my creative space. The winter skies and the winter seas…

Till then I fill my days with catching up with friends, spending time with mom and the old girls, escaping the old girls to see friends and the constant search for wifi.

More next time I can connect without using up the pitiful data allowance my phone plan allows me… I’ve already had to invest more money to top up.

z

athens…

I know I’ve said it a thousand times, but I’m going to say it again. I really don’t like Athens. Its a dirty city. Too many cars. Too many people…

I’d been looking forward to the Athens of my teens where we did our Christmas shopping in the city centre in the cold weather. Yesterday I went into the city centre to buy myself a Christmas present (ok, to buy art supplies) and it was too darn hot in my winter coat. The sun was shining and it was a glorious day.

But I shouldn’t complain about good weather…

I can complain that I didn’t find what I wanted. Seems the biggest/best art supply shop in Athens doesn’t carry a good selection of soft pastels. Well, not compared the stores in Hobart. I’m used to having a choice of REAL soft pastels: Sennelier, Rembrandt, Windsor Newton, Art Spectrum – in both sets and loose where you can choose the colours you want, colours not included in the boxes. Here they only had Faber Castel – the square hard soft pastels.

Not happy.

I’ll have to do my pastel shopping online unless another store carries the sort I want.

I can also whine and complain about other things… Like the deal I got when I charged up my prepaid SIM card… the one I used when I was here in June/July. On that trip the card worked fine. I had included calls, texts (though not a lot) and mobile data which actually worked. I was able to pair my phone to my tablet and use the tablet to surf or blog. This time around the connection sucked big time.

I went to the same company to put money on the card to reconnect the phone. I put on 17 euros instead of the 10 I paid in June thinking 1GB data wouldn’t be enough. So I opted for the 4GB. I got home and I send one text and promptly ran out of texts. The internet was pathetically slow. For some reason the internet wasn’t working on the tablet though they were paired to ‘share the connection’. I went back to the shop to sort it out and they said well, you paid for the bigger data, you paid for 300 free minutes of talk time… you didn’t pay for texts. We suggest you use Messenger, WhatsApp or Viber for messaging. Great. I’d do that if the internet actually worked! Oh, yes… the internet is slow, thats cause its only 2G… Why? I don’t know. My greek is good but I’m lost when it comes to understanding all this crap.

Not happy.

TV in Greece sucks. Or should I say greek TV sucks. Same thing. I spend my days catching up with people and I enjoy that. Evenings are boring. No internet at home. No TV (that I’d actually enjoy watching). Yeah, I love my mom, but she has her own routines…

So today I went out and got myself another plan – a contract actually. A new phone with a plan with another company and its MUCH better. Only 1GB data (how sucky is that?) and included calls, but I will have wifi where I live so that should be ok. Best of all, its 4G so the internet actually works on the phone.

Have you I mentioned how much I dislike Athens? Its such a culture shock. I’ve been here many times before. I’ve lived here and worked here, yet its so hard to get used to. Again.

I’ve been feeling really down in the evenings and early morning. I miss my dogs. I miss my own home. Its like I’m finally slowing down after 5 months of whirlwind activity and its finally sinking in … the reality of the hugeness of my decision to move back to Greece.

I know this is the hardest part, the beginning, the starting over, the fitting in… things will fall into place. When I can get to Paros and begin to create my own space and my own life.

I hope.

z

beijing and the forbidden city

One day in Beijing is quite an experience.

I arrived here yesterday morning around 5.30am. In -3 degrees celsius. Then spent the next 2 hours getting out of the airport. I think I went through 3 or maybe 4 security checks, filled in about 5 forms, waited in about 4 queues, got a temporary airport exit card, got a transfer to the hotel and all without hardly anyone speaking English.

On the way to the airport I met some really nice guys – Richard and Gary who’d just done a driving tour of NZ and were on the way back to Germany. And Sebastian, a german guy on his way to meet his girlfriend for a holiday in Kuala Lumpur. We managed to check into the hotel with minimal loss of patience, had breakfast together and went to our rooms to rest up.

Given this might be my only ever visit to China, I didn’t think I should waste the entire day lying in bed in the hotel room. Besides, the TV remote only had one of two batteries in it, wifi wasn’t working, I hadn’t brought a charger with me thinking I wouldn’t be able to plug it in here anyway, and I learned that google, facebook and messenger don’t work in China, even when the hotel gives you the wifi code (which you need to log in using a code you get on sms… when your phone doesn’t work in the country and you have no roaming…)

Ah the adventure.

Anyway, turns out Sebastian was planning to experience a little China so I figured, what the hell, you only live once and I’m quite happy to see another place in the world. Incidental travel… So I joined him in a trip to the Forbidden City.

As part of the whole experience/adventure thing we decided (wisely) to take the subway there and a taxi on the way back. Wisely cause let me tell you, its a whole lot of walking to see the Forbidden City. Not to mention a whole lot of buildings that look almost the exactly the same.

The Monty Python ‘And more f#@g gondolas’ came to mind…

Don’t get me wrong, we had fun and it was something I’m glad I saw, but I won’t be rushing to see it again. If I ever come to China again I’ll visit the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army. They were just a little too far for us yesterday cause we both wanted to get some sleep before our next trip.

China sure was an interesting experience. Nowhere like I’ve ever been before. Hardly anyone speaks English for one thing… Even after the Olympics, where apparenly signs were put up in English everywhere, there is still a lack on signage I could understand with my non-existant chinese.

The security, military and police presence here is huge. At least they’re not carrying submachine guns like they used to in Greece…

It was pretty cold too. I was tempted to buy one of those army type hats but I refrained. I don’t see me wearing one of those anywhere else in the world, even if it is cold!

Naturally, I wasn’t dressed for the cold. It just never occurred to me… Beijing… winter… iced rivers… duh! My luggage was checked through direct to Athens so I only had my carry-on. I had to wear both my Tshirts, my jean jacket and my fluffy sweater to keep warm. Luckily the sun was out and we kept going from sunny spot to sunny spot.

After walking around the city for about 2.5 hours we stopped at the first restaurant we saw and had a (bad) coffee and a (great) noodle soup.

Yum. Warmed me up nicely. Though I do think I’m flirting with a cold right now and I’m not impressed.

The last thing I want is to develop a full blown cold on the plane or even after I land and spend Christmas feeling miserable.

Panadol here I come…

z

i’m leaving on a jet plane

That song describes my life perfectly right now.

As does the picture of the mouse on the wheel…running flat out and still managing to not move an inch…

The last few days have been a whirlwind of things to do, things remembered that were not done, things ticked off the list and a lot of stress. Which very kindly let itself be known by immense pain in my chest and back (thank you GERD). I spent quite a lot of time on the floor with rolled up towels to try to relieve the pain.

Its gotten to the point where I’m afraid to eat anything just in case my body doesn’t like it. On the plus side I’ll lose weight. On the minus side being bloated doesn’t let you look thin. On the minus/minus side, losing weight too fast when you’re been overweight for too long means a lot of sagging ugliness which I’d like to avoid thankyouverymuch.

Yesterday I had my last gym session at the gym I found here in Melbourne. Such a great place. Cycle class and a PT session to finish it off. I thought I’d never walk again but today I feel fine. Don’t tell Simon (the trainer)… then again, I won’t be seeing him again so he can’t take pleasure in torturing me anymore. heheheh

I’ve been so lucky that when I was ready to get fit again I found two great gyms in New Norfolk (Freedom Fitness) and Mitcham (Lifestyle Essentials). Great motivators. Thank you Simon, Chrissie, Michael, Stacey D, Stacey B and Janine. Not to mention David, the man with hands of gold… I did offer to take him to Greece with me as my personal masseur… I’ll miss you all.

Its funny how the people you end up seeing at the last minute, to say goodbye to, aren’t the people you saw the most of. Not the ones you hung out with or spent the most time with. It just seems that I’ve been catching up with people I haven’t seen in years… then again, I’m in Melbourne now so that makes sense. Its been years since I lived here.

And soon I’ll be living on the other side of the world.

Wow.

Its only just now sinking in. Its been such a whirlwind… I was in Greece in June/July, I came home, started packing, selling, finishing up and wrapping up my life in Tasmania. By the end of November I was in Melbourne. And tonight I leave for Greece indefinitely.

Though I’ve second guessed the move a few times, through all the bad times like having to rehome my beloved dogs who were both born in my bedroom and lived with me their entire lives, I’ve just plodded on. I made a decision so I was moving on, you know… following through with it. We don’t muck around here!

So now that the dust is settling its becoming real.

This whole experience has been difficult. I’ve moved back and forth to Greece and interstate quite a few times in my life, but this has been by far the hardest move ever. Selling a house, car, almost everything I own. In the past I either put stuff in storage or I didn’t have much to worry about.

Its been very expensive too. I’ve gone through so much money… and lost a crap load of money as well. On selling things way under what they were worth, just to get it done. And giving away so many things.

Thinking positive again, it feels good to let go of things. Its hard to start with, but as you begin to go through and look at things more practically, you realise there are so many things you don’t need to hold on to. I didn’t need to keep all the dogs’ sashes, rosettes and ribbons. I know they won them, its imprinted in my mind and heart. I didn’t need to hold onto all my collectables. Or all my crockery. Or my linen. How many things do you need in order to live comfortably? Not that many. Simplify your life. It feels good to not be surrounded by so much stuff.

In a way I look forward to living in a bedsit for a while. A small space, with only the necessities for daily life.

And creativity.

I am so looking forward to going to Paros and just spending time alone, finding the real Zefi. The artist who I’ve buried in the need to make a living, the need to do things every minute of the day.

And of course spending time with mom and my extended family. Being part of a family again. I’ve missed that.

(Remind me about that when I start complaining about not having any privacy, will you?)

z

so… where are we at?

Yes, its been a while since I last posted. I’ve been rather busy.

I know, I know. I said I’d keep you updated on how things were going and I’ve done a poor job of it so far. So how about I try to cover it all in a nutshell?

I arrived in Melbourne safe and sound with two poodles, my car and crapload of stuff.

I started selling stuff on ebay.

I looked for homes for my dogs. I found homes. Lost homes. Found new ones.

I drove my dogs up to Queensland for their new homes.

No, I didn’t find any nearby.

It was a long drive. It took me 2 days to get there with a night in Dubbo on the way up.

It took 3 days to get back. 2 days in Lismore with a friend (cause I got sick). One night in Newcastle.

I only stayed in Canberra for 2 days since I took so long to get there and back.

I had my car booked in to have the rear bumper fixed and a broken tail light replaced.

I’m selling my car.

The poodles are doing well. They settled in with Sue from Qld poodle rescue. They wont be going to their new homes till after Christmas but they are happy and loved with Sue. Sleeping on her bed. Sharing her love with her two poodles.

I’m so grateful to Sue and so much happier knowing she is looking out for them.

I visited my brother, a cousin and my niece and nephew while in Canberra. And met my great nephew… Randal.

Can you see the family resemblance?

I bought my ticket to Greece. December 20 is D-Day. Departure Day.

I fly China Air and get to spend some time in Beijing cause there’s a LOOOOONG stopover. They provide a hotel so all good.

I arrive in Athens December 22 in the morning. Yay.

I found out that I won’t be allowed to leave the country on a one way ticket without a Greek passport (mine expired and I dont have it with me anyway).

I went to the Greek Consulate and got a copy of my birth certificate to get translated.

I already had one. But they said I needed a fresh one. In case something changed I guess…

I’m waiting for the translation. Then I get to go back to the consulate to get it stamped. Oh the joy.

I went in to Vic Roads to change my Tasmanian drivers license to a Victorian one. I had to pay $18 to make an appointment to see someone about it.

I had to pay $18 to make an appointment.

I thought that bore repeating.

No. It was not refunded once I turned up.

I went to the doctor on Monday for a mole check.

Turns out I had to go to the doctor again today cause I needed her to sign a form saying I was healthy enough to drive and can see with my new fake lenses (installed due to eye surgery) and no longer need to wear glasses to drive.

Something I’d have appreciated knowing BEFORE I went to the doctor this week. Like when I paid $18 to MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. That would have been handy. Then I wouldn’t have had to pay for TWO doctors appointments…

I hurt my back. Driving too much.

I spent most of my time in Canberra flat out on the couch and groaning like an old woman. Not to mention walking like I’d shit my pants.

I had a massage in Canberra. It helped. The driving from there to Melbourne didn’t.

Turns out standing and walking isn’t a problem. Neither is lying down. Sitting can kill me.

I had another massage in Melbourne. That helped.

I’m having one more next week. Before the trip. Cause what’s an airplane trip but sitting for hours on end?

I am still selling stuff on ebay.

I am still selling my car.

I have a ton of packing and sorting and STUFF to do.

Always stuff to do.

I write lists. I tick things off and add more.

I can’t wait to go to Paros and turn my brain off for a while. Not that I can do that at any time… but its a nice thought.

Did I mention I can’t leave Australia on a one way ticket without a certificate proving I’m a Greek citizen? I could have bought a return ticket for almost the same price, but they don’t do open ended tickets for longer than 12 months. I doubt I’ll be in a position to visit in a year.

I may have found a job on Paros. Fingers crossed.

Its hot in Melbourne. It was hotter in Qld.

I still have a sore back, so I’m going to go have a swim. Why not take advantage of staying with a friend who has a pool?

z