Welcome to 2016!
I’m sorry for my delay in posting a New Year’s themed blog. I’d actually written another blog, The Top 15 Dating Stories of 2015, but as you can probably imagine, that took a downward spiral real quick. I’d created the list, mostly out of spite, after someone who’s had nine serious relationships* in the last ten years told me I ought to “put myself out there more.”
*classified as six months or more. Said my writing mentor and friend, “How can you have nine serious anything’s in your life? Nine serious surgeries and, well, your face has been burned off.”
The exercise was a fruitful and interesting walk down memory lane, but it resulted in 18-page narrative that seemed too insulting for a blog. Instead, I decided to do something more positive with the New Year, and I summarized my favorite moments of 2015 into a list of memorable quotes that represent them. They are roughly ordered chronologically, and were spoken by friends or family or prophets. And–surprise, surprise!–most of them have to do with Greece.
The Top 15 (mostly Greek) Quotes of 2015
1. “What goes right must go left.” –Jenny
I might as well start off the list by quoting myself. I’m doing this as a copyright: THIS PHRASE BELONGS TO ME. Whenever I teach group exercise, we work one side of the body and then the other. Instead of saying “What goes up must come down,” I thought it’d be funny to say, “What goes right must go left.” I say it every week and it’s funny every time.**
**only to me
2. “Do you like glue?”
“I LOVE glue.” –A. DeFelice
One day Number Six (from my original Top 15 list) came to my office to help me stuff envelopes because it was the only time I’d be able to see him. He could have folded letters or glued the envelopes. I asked if he liked glue. He enthusiastically did.
3. “Greece will break you, and if it doesn’t, your heart is too hard.” Christopher Bakken
Christopher shared these wise words on the first day of our writing workshop. I got the chills immediately, as though the spirits from the sea flew through the wind onto our patio, warning me that he was right. And he was.
4. “I mean, it is like this, okay.” Tassos of Thassos
From the most quotable man on Thassos, every story or explanation he told began with these words. In an effort to conserve space on this list, I’ll just use these introductory words, because if you know him, you know it’s enough.
5. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;” Isaiah 40:11
I read this quote the morning after we visited Nikos the Shepherd, and it reminded me of one particular moment (not pictured) when we were out in the field and he was beckoning a ewe and her lamb to come closer to us. The two would take hesitant steps forward until they reached one particular tree, then they’d turn around and dash back to safety. When I read this verse the next day, it had a whole new meaning, about how gentle a shepherd must be to gather lambs and hold them close to his heart.
6. “Puhhh-ppy, pawww-ppy. These are bullshit words.” –Tassos of Thassos
I wrote an entire essay based on this misunderstanding, and I will never forget it. And for that reason, the “paparouna” will always be my favorite flower.
7. “Karakles!” –WWIG 2015
It’s better not to ask.
8. “Wherever I travel, Greece wounds me.” –Seferis
I didn’t understand this quote when I arrived, but I understood it when I left. These were the perfect words to put on the back of our t-shirts, and to carry with us always.
9. “‘Hronia’ means ‘years,’ and ‘polla’ means ‘many,’ so it literally means ‘Many years’…that you will live them is implied. In fact, much of Greek is implied.” –Nik Stam
Having begun to learn Greek, and realizing I couldn’t translate anything–even when I knew all the words–made Nik’s quote so much more applicable. Because IT’S TRUE. Yet the depth of the Greek language, as seen in poetry and prose, is beautiful. It is a paradox.
(“Hronia polla” means happy birthday, happy name day, happy New Year, etc.)
10. “I clearly see a squirrel.” –Yelena M.
The first time I had my flitzani read at a Greek festival, my friends and I passed around each other’s cups and tried to identify the coffee grind symbols. A squirrel was one of them.
11. “Are you Greek?” – (multiple)
I’ve gotten this question a lot now, thanks to my obsession. I consider it the best compliment when people tell me I look Greek. My answer, however, is oxi, alla isos stin psihi mou. (No, but maybe in my soul.)
12. “Chester from Chester…” – Sarah A.
This quote is solely a reminder of the time I was stalked via Yelp while dining at Chomp restaurant. One of Yelp’s “representatives” called the restaurant to ask for me, by my full name, and then proceeded to tell me I need to eat less greasy foods and more vegetables. We thought it was someone we knew joking with us, but when I called the number back (a Chester, MA number), it went to a customer service voicemail. So, the mystery remains.
13. “Thelo na pathaino.” – Jenny
I was trying to tell one of the Greeks in Rhode Island that I wanted to learn Greek. The word for learning is mathaino. But instead, I said pathaino, a word that rhymes, which means “to die.” I said I wanted to die and caused some confusion.
[note: I’m aware I was also using an incorrect tense]
14. “Too much water, not much essence.” –Yelena M.
We were at a fancy event that was serving essence of pineapple water, or some sort of essence water, which was nice in theory but poor in execution. Yelena stated her observation very matter-of-factly, and it was brilliant. Not to mention: what a metaphor for life!
15. “Keep walking steadily in His path, and in due season He will honor you with every blessing.” –daily inspirational calendar
Sometimes I surprise myself. On December 31st, I awoke to an alert on my phone with these words. Without remembering what I’d done, I’d set a repeating notification every year on December 31st so I would see this quote, no matter where I am, and I would have encouragement for the year ahead. I didn’t know the quote came from my calendar until I’d returned home from my vacation and scrolled through the pages I’d missed.
So now I share these words with you. May you keep traveling steadily along His path, and in 2016 be filled with every blessing. Hronia polla!