Παρασκευή, 23 Ιουνίου 2017

Blog no. 24: Films & music

Dear, uh, listeners?

  This one's for music (again) so let's just say the greeting makes sense, yeah? Great. Two days ago was international music day as I found out, and I can't simply let that go unnoticed because if you're not gonna celebrate music what the hell will you ever celebrate about? I wrote a piece in greek for an online magazine a year ago, so allow me to slightly plagiarize myself and translate some of it for this one. Oh and since I'm a huge fan of music and I like to consider myself a cinephile, it made sense to write about them both, so here goes.
  You see, those two mediums are so closely intertwined, nowadays even more so than in previous decades, so you can't have one without the other. Even the absence of a soundtrack is, in a sense, an artistic choice some filmmakers use, with the most concrete example being the complete lack of background music for a large stretch of the Coen bro's "No country for old men" duration, which made everything so realistic, grounded, bleak, giving a sense of dread, making us scared of the things the ever-menacing Javier Bardem (and his equally menacing haircut) would do to get what he wants.
  On the other side of the spectrum, there are others that literally hang from their soundtracks as if it were their lifeline. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Jaws wouldn't be nearly as good as they are without John Williams' incredible scores, "The Lord of the Rings" wouldn't be nearly as epic as it is without Howard Shore's bombastic compositions. Einaudi's score for "Les intouchables" and Tiersen's "Amelie" one are basically front and centre in every "listen while you're studying, start contemplating life instead" playlist. Abel Korzeniowski's score (whose name I definitely did NOT have to Google) made my heart fucking pound during last year's "Nocturnal Animals" and I'm not ashamed to say that I shed a tear or two at the end of the second Pokemon movie, when the beautifully simple ocarina melody was played during Lugia's revival. Hell, even forgettable or mediocre movies like "The Notebook" and "Remember Me" are elevated considerably solely on the merit of their incredible soundtracks.
  Whenever you're listening to Simple Minds' "Don't you forget about me" the image of the criminal's fist from "The Breakfast Club" immediately jumps to your head, "Mad World" takes you back to Jake Gylenhaal's manic laughter from "Donnie Darko", The Do's "Dust it off" makes you gaze into "I Origin's" protagonists' beautiful eyes, and Debussy's "Claire de lune" puts you next to "Ocean's Eleven" and in front of the Bellagio Fountains. More recently Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" made me tear up during the not too shabby Guardians of the Galaxy vol.2 but that might be because it's a really really good song regardless. Tarantino, amongst others, is a master of making a song get stuck in your head and connecting it with his movies and his smug face. Django's "Freedom", Reservoir Dog's "Stuck in the middle with you" and "Little green bag", and Kill Bill's "Twisted nerve" are some of the songs you'll find in my playlist from that stupidly eccentric, brilliant dude's filmography.
  Other directors more recently found some very inventive ways to fit their soundtracks into their movie's narrative. Matthew Vaughn, known for his extremely violent action scenes, manages to blend blood and mayhem with odd music choices in "Kick-Ass" and "Kingsmen", making the scenes jarring, ridiculous and, above all, hella fun. Hans Zimmer uses Edith Piaf's "Je ne regrette rien" as a literal tool for his characters to time their "kicks" in Christopher Nolan's Inception, and utilizes various slowed-down versions of the song in most of the film's soundtrack which is a brilliant way to represent the whole "time slows down in dreams" concept. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross worked together in Fincher's "Gone Girl" in a way that differentiated the dreamy sequences of Amy's diary to the grounded and mysterious scenes of Nick Dunne's attempts to find the truth. In Wong Kar Wai's "In the mood for love", the same song is being repeated throughout the whole movie, but the duration of it is analogous to the closeness of the two main characters.
   There's just so many examples but, being a *cough* responsible *cough* university student, I will spare you the details so I can actually pretend to study for my exams. Either way you can all make me and yourselves a favour and pay attention to a movie's soundtrack, it might just make you understand movies a bit more and make your music collection grow a bit bigger.

Your friendly know-it-all,
Stelios Zesiades.

P.S.

Τετάρτη, 14 Ιουνίου 2017

One for the road. pt.1: Flight of the navigator

  Jessica was ready to join the others for a few beers at the park. The clock read 4:26, she was melancholic, lonely, and it was a hot summer sleepless night so she figured a beer might have helped all that go away. She jumped out of bed, wore her red shorts and a black sleeveless shirt which had a negative space bunny printed in the middle, grabbed her phone headphones and keys and left as if she was late for something. She wasn't late though, people aren't often late at 4:26 a.m. unless they have a plane to catch or a drunken friend to drive home.
  Walking out of the apartment she stopped at the front door mirror for a second, Pink Floyd's "Fearless" echoing from her headphones. At first she tried to fix her hair, but as she moved closer she just stopped and gave a long, wide-eyed stare. It wasn't a stare to check if she looked good, no, she didn't care if she looked good at the time. It was more of a glare, her eyes fixated at her own reflection. "What the hell are you doing?" she whispered, looking at her sorrowful eyes. "What the hell are you doing." she repeated, her eyes watering up. She took a tissue from her back pocket and wiped the single tear dripping from her right eye, sighed loudly and in one quick motion she opened the door and left while fixing her long black hair underneath her white over-ear headphones.
  Gambino's "3005" queued up in her playlist, but she wasn't feeling it at the moment. She wanted something to fit her mood, the kind of mood you have when you're walking alone in the break of dawn, before the city has even woken up. She chose the same artist's "Flight of the navigator" and kept going, feeling each vibration of the gentle acoustic guitar run through her body. She remembered the first time she heard that song: it was during an exam period a few years back, her future ex-boyfriend was sitting at the studying room in the weirdest position, his feet dangling from the side of the table next to his laptop and his notepad sitting on his legs. He was holding a pen on one hand, fidgeting with his fingers. He suddenly drops his pen, lets out a mild "fuck" and turns around to see if he can reach it without disturbing his sitting position. Jessica picks the pen up and hands it to him, giving him a smile and a nod. He mutters an inaudible "thank you" while smiling back, takes his feet off the table and takes his headphones off to turn to Jessica.
"Have I seen you somewhere?"
"Chemical engineering major?" she asks.
"Nah, electrical" he answers. "Tried that too but was out of my element." he adds
Jessica lets out a genuine laugh, "Oh god you're one of those" she smiles.
"What, an electrical engineer, or a guy with a good sense of humour?" he smiles back.
"Not sure if you'd fit in either category to be honest." Jess says playfully.
"And you're in?"
"Well, chemical engineering if that wasn't so apparent."
He facepalms for a second, and extends his arm to Jessica. "I'm Nick by the way. Wannabe electrical engineer, bad humour specialist and quite stupid to be frank."
"So is it Frank or is it Nick?" she asks while shaking his hand. "I'm Jessica" she adds.
"Well Jess, I see you're ready to join the bad humour club."
Both of them seemed quite into each other at that point, and they both knew it but nobody wanted to make a first move so early after they met.
"So what are you listening to?" asks Jessica to break the bit of awkward silence that had formed in the past half a minute after the handshake.
"Childish Gambino" answers Nick while turning to his laptop to navigate his music files. "You know, the guy from Community."
"He makes music?" asks Jessica, quite surprised.
"Not only that, he's amazing. Wanna listen?" he asks.
Jessica takes her chair next to Nick's and lets him put his over-ear headphones on her head.
  She's thinking how great the song is, while Nick is staring directly at her with a big smile on his face, the kind of smile you have when you introduce someone to something you're sure they will enjoy. After the song ends, she sits there and stares at Nick for a while, not saying a word, and Nick himself staring back and smiling contently.
"Wanna go out sometime?" he says all of a sudden.
Jessica smiles a wide smile and answers playfully "As long as we get to listen to some more of that stuff."
"My headphones are an extension of my head, so you can bet on that." he says. They exchange numbers and facebook profiles and Nick turns back to his laptop to continue studying. "If you have your own headphones we can study together and start listening to my stuff right now," he says. Jessica pulls her red in-ear ones and hands them to Nick, who plugs them into the audio splitter and resumes his studying position, Jessica taking her own next to him. He played "Flight of the navigator" a few more times during that studying session and the song made it to Jessica's own playlist in a matter of a few hours.
  Two years later even though she and Nick had broken up a while ago after dating for half a year, the song was still in her playlist and every time she listened to it she was reminded of him and how much fun they had together at the short period they dated. She checked her phone and scrolled to find her last conversation with him. It was from February, Nick had wished her a happy birthday and they exchanged a few messages before returning to being mostly strangers. She felt sad knowing that a person she shared all those memories with, and who knew her so well was now a stranger. She typed his phone number and put her finger over the "call" button but then she remembered: she was the one who broke up with him, and she was the one that didn't want them to keep in touch. She hoped relationships were easier than that but alas, they're not. She deleted the phone number, changed the song and moved on.

...



Τετάρτη, 24 Μαΐου 2017

Blog no. 23: What plan?

  Have you ever ridden a bike with a friend on a rocky road with no regards for safety, him yelling to "hold on" at the top of his lungs and you knowing that it's gonna be a bumpy ride which will probably end up badly? Yeah, that's life for ya.
 


 I came to a realization the other day that I have no idea what I'm doing, and that's OK, because nobody really does. Some might think they know what's up, some might pretend they do but in reality, most of us are just winging it. Like a good choose-your-own-adventure book, we just make choice after choice, day by day, hoping we don't fuck up and regretting it at the very usual occurrence that we do eventually fuck up. You can call it Murphy's law or just bad luck, but making the wrong choices and getting punished for it is perfectly human and will happen a lot, so you better get used to falling on your ass. Thing is every time you fall on your ass it's a lesson to be learned, so by the 100th time you will have ass muscles strong enough to support your fall and make it a bit less painful. Or, y'know, put a damn pillow underneath if you are that prone to failure.
  Personally, I feel like the world moves faster than my ability to comprehend it. I feel like I'm in a perpetual state of catching up. I think I understand how things work and the status quo suddenly changes and I'm so lost I can't even understand myself sometimes. It's no use to try to wrap your head around how things work really, the world is evolving so fast by every passing moment that you can't actually keep yourself up to date. It's like an NVIDIA drive in that sense, there's always something new you have to account for, something different that fucks the whole system up. One of the most important traits you can have nowadays is the ability to adapt; without it you're just a 20/30/something-year old model running on outdated software.
  Planning for things has never been my thing, partially because I'm really really bad at it and partially because it's not my style. Even when I'm forced to think ahead, I'm the sort of guy who will lay down a very elaborate and well drawn plan, will write exact times and dates for each step of the plan, and will abort everything once the first step is not accomplished, making the whole thing crumble in a wreck of regret and missed opportunities. That's why I don't do New Year's resolutions anymore, I always fail them within the first week. I'm envious of people who can make a plan and stick to it, they are the kind of people that I would like to have in my lab assignments so I can have somebody to encourage me to follow said plans. Then again, isn't it a bit restraining to be forced to follow a certain path, whatever the circumstances might be? In a basketball match the coach lays down the positions and job of each player before the game, but once his team is trailing by 10 with 1 minute to go, it's all back to the drawing board with some impromptu, hopefully game-changing play. A friend of mine decided to write down some short term goals for herself 3 months in advance, with some of the bullet points being romantic relationships and mental state, so I asked her quite nicely: "How the fuck do you plan on these things in advance?" Short answer: You don't. Long answer: You really, really don't.

  It's fine to plan stuff that you can actually mostly predict like your financial state in a few months, but after a certain point planning about easily variable stuff, forces you to act in a very unnatural fashion. When you're forcing situations that should not normally be forced, you're setting yourself up for failure. This even applies when talking to people: it's perfectly reasonable to think before you talk if you're afraid of saying something stupid, but when you're close to someone isn't it better to just, you know, talk? 

  We had this exercise during my trip in Madrid where we had to make a short presentation about ourselves so that they could tell us what we could fix about our body language and since none of the stuff I said were practiced or pre-planned, I said some truths about myself that I hadn't really thought about before. Since my mouth was running faster than my brain what I said was pure improvisation, and I realized how I perceive myself unconsciously. I mentioned in an earlier post that when you stop thinking about stuff, that's when the real thinking begins. I still very much stand by that belief, but now I also have personal experience that it's actually true.

  When I write stories, blog posts, poems or even when I'm doodling something on a piece of paper, I never think about what I'm doing until I'm halfway through. I don't put any thought on what I'm writing, I just lay my hands on the keyboard and let my fingers do the talking, and that's why all this is so real for me. That has always been my goal really; if I can't be real myself, why should I expect anyone else to be? Here's the thing though: if people like the real you, you know you've done a damn fine job. And if they don't? Well you can't make everyone happy, can you?

Παρασκευή, 21 Απριλίου 2017

Something borrowed

"Where did you find this?" asked Cara. She walked towards me wearing a long white sundress with pink-and-yellow stripes, her straight long hair covering part of her beautiful face. Where did I find that jewel? I honestly couldn't remember by the time she approached me and tapped me on the shoulder.
"I...I think I just found it on the floor by the post-office." I replied awkwardly. "Is it yours?"
"No but it's strangely familiar. Is it a necklace or something?"
I held it in front of Cara and I to examine it briefly. Our eyes reflected its silver-ish glow and scanned it quickly front and back. It reminded me of the sort of treasures Nathan Drake would find in one of his adventures in Shambala, it was very decorated for such a small piece of jewelry. It had beautiful blue details and on its sides there was some sort of writing which we could tell was not English or any latin-based language we might have been familiar with, but a rather strange string of symbols we'd never seen before.
"Think it's Chinese or something?" I asked Cara.
She grabbed it from my hand in one quick motion and passed her fingers through the engravings. "Nah, I don't think so. If anything it's probably hieroglyphics: see that feather-like thingy and the ring?"
"You mean the cursive T and the incredibly round O?" I answered sarcastically. "I see them."
Cara gave me a mean glance and rolled her eyes, as usual. Whenever I made one of my stupid jokes she would look away as if someone was looking at us and she'd feel embarrassed of me, which should normally make me feel bad if it weren't accompanied by that cute little smile of hers. God, I swear that smile made my heart skip multiple beats.
  The way she looked at the jewel with her big brown puppy eyes made you realize why half the school was in love with her back then, and the rest of her made you ask why the other half didn't. She touched every inch of it carefully with her silky fingers, almost caressing it, trying to make it speak to her. I couldn't but stare at her more than the weird-looking relic we'd found.
"Do you think someone will be missing this?" she asked.
"This old thing? She's probably resting in a sarcophagus wrapped in towels and stuff."
She gave me a legitimate laugh and punched me lightly on my arm, and I let out an extremely fake "ouch" noise to see if I catch another glimpse of that smile.
"We could take it to a police station if you want." I suggested. She tilted her head to the side and held a blank, silent expression. "Or we could take a picture of it and ask around on the internet first. Who knows, maybe it's magic." I added.
"YES!" she exclaimed enthusiastically. "I mean yes, that's a good idea." she said in a more serious tone, clearing her throat.
  We walked towards our bikes and started pushing them back home to appreciate the amazing weather we were gifted with. My house was a 30 minute walk from the promenade and Cara's wasn't much farther than that. I noticed that the beach was empty as we walked by; even though it was rather hot for an April afternoon people were still weary of the sudden storms we had had in the past couple of days and preferred to stay at home for the time being. Seeing it so empty and calm was very rare and eerie, so I suggested we stopped for a while to catch the sunset. Cara was instantly on board with the idea, her being a sunset enthusiast. To be fair, who isn't?
  The beach was a large stretch of gold sand and a stone wall on the back that led to the promenade. Cara took of her shoes and set them on the side and her bike against the wall. She took a moment to appreciate the wet sand on her toes, letting it sink her bare feet a few inches while trying to maintain balance. The necklace took place on her neck while she was playing with the sand. I sat on a beach bed I found laying around and after looking over at her playing like a small child, I closed my eyes and leaned back. It reminded me so much of my teen years, when we used to come with our families and once the sun was down me and Cara would lay on the sand, look up at the starry sky and make up stories with aliens and space cowboys and whatever our then imaginative younger selves would come up with. We would talk about life, the universe and everything and I swear at least half of it made sense. Nowadays we didn't really have time for that, being busy with the university and whatnot, so occurrences like this one were to be treasured.
  Suddenly I felt her lips on mine. I opened my eyes slightly and saw her shadowed figure standing on top of me, and her leaning gracefully against the bed, messing with my hair with her free hand. For a second I flinched; I wasn't expecting that, no matter how much I wanted to I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize our friendship because I didn't know how she felt about me. I always thought there was this more-than-friends quality about our time spent alone but I was too afraid to do anything about it, and then I didn't have time to do so. It was the first time we went to the beach after those warm summer nights. It was the first time I felt she wanted me back. It was the first time we'd ever done something like that. It was my first time kissing a girl.
"Emily?" she said. "I..I didn't mean to..."
Before letting her finish her sentence I pulled her towards me and kissed her back, and then she hugged me and smiled playfully, before lying next to me and wrapping herself around my arms.
  We sat around that bed and talked and kissed and laughed all night. She confessed that she always liked me but her parents were too strict and she wasn't sure if they would accept her if she came out back then, so she hid it from everybody until now. Her eyes filled up telling me, but she was determined and hopeful that they would accept her for who she is, just like my parents accepted me. And when I held her in my arms, she knew everything would be okay.
  I had forgotten how good it felt to be around her and to finally find out that she actually likes me back. I had given up on the idea long ago but now that it actually happened I wasn't sure whether to believe it or not. Nobody knew if it would last and nobody really cared. We just had each other, the stars and the sea. At that moment we had everything.
  During one of our kissing sessions the necklace fell next to the bed and got buried under a thin layer of sand after a soft breeze. The next morning we left holding hands, heading to Cara's house to confront her parents and had forgotten all about it. I still don't recall where I'd found it. Maybe it was magic after all, passed on from a mysterious ancient tribe to make people's dreams come true. Maybe someone else will find it and it will help them too; all they have to do is look for it. The ones who do are the ones who want it more after all. 

Δευτέρα, 13 Φεβρουαρίου 2017

Blog no.22: Wanna go to the movies?

Dear film enthusiasts,

  Yesterday was international cinema day and thus I'm a day late at this, but since I've been *cough* busy with studying *cough* I figured I might as well do it now. "Buy the ticket, take the ride" says Hunter S.Thompson in the trippy "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas", and that's what you get yourself into whenever you step a few metres behind the big silver screen.
  We all watch movies, film buffs or not, even the least enthusiastic-about-film people have probably seen a bunch of them. Most of them download the majority of the films they watch and I won't be the kettle and call the pot black, if pirating was a crime I'd be facing several lifetimes in prison, and then some. Thing is, going to the cinema is just a much better way to go about it if you want to see a movie, because you're not just watching it, you're experiencing it.
  I find it hard to rate movies I have seen at home because I don't think I'm doing them justice at all. You always have a distraction, chatting on Facebook during the slow parts, probably pausing and unpausing every so often to grab a snack or take a bathroom break and you never really experience it the way the director meant you to experience it. Every time I watch a Tarantino at home I can feel Q over my shoulder, judging me for looking elsewhere instead of watching Pitt scalping a Nazi or Travolta and Thurman doing the twist, I can almost hear Fincher yelling at me to put the damn phone down and carefully study the hundredth take it took Gyllenhaal to get the shot just right, and I can see Linklater's disappointed look whenever I pause one of Delpy and Hawke's intimate conversations. Submarine got it exactly right: "How do they know? They just do."
  I dated this girl last year, really great and a film enthusiast, much like me. She was probably one of the biggest influences in me becoming so passionate about movies because she didn't just like them, by the (paraphrased) words of Anton Ego, "She adored them." Most of our dates included watching a movie or two, that's how we actually started dating in the first place, and it was always a treat. One of the best movie-going experiences I have ever had was watching The Nice Guys with her, in a cute little open-air summer cinema in Plaka, Cine Paris. We weren't doing so hot as a couple due to external turbulence and were kinda distant at first. It was mid-May I think, and the movie was starting at 8 pm sharp. We grabbed my favourite beer and some popcorn and took our seats silently, waiting for the movie to start. The sun was still creeping above our beautiful view of the Acropolis as the movie was starting. Half-way during the movie we watched the sun set from the west to give way to a lovely summer-ish night and light breeze, and half-way through the hilarious Crowe-Gosling induced shenanigans my girl and I were holding hands, laughing our asses off, kissing during the break, enjoying one perfect date. It's like all the problems we had and all the distance between us had vanished. How could they not, really?
  One of the reasons I love Athens is because of the cinema culture it provides. Coming here I wasn't much of a film buff, I watched movies regularly but I never thought of anything beyond that, watching them was just a past-time whenever I was bored gaming. Growing up in Cyprus we didn't have a lot of cinemas, just a few big multiplexes that showed the latest blockbusters so when I came here I was introduced to a whole new world of small, one-screen theatres, summer cinemas, community theatres and film festivals. It blew my mind how many movies from all around the world I could watch, not just Disney-owned properties (which to be fair are quite good in their own right). It's mind-boggling how much choice you can have here, and I imagine how much more there is in bigger cities all around the world. We're so lucky we're able to experience all these things, but unfortunately not a whole lot of us care.
  A few months ago I got into the habit of going to the movies by myself. I just got really tired of having no company after breaking up twice in the span of a year, and since most of my friends aren't huge on the whole "going to the cinema" thing I have going on, I figured I might as well try it on my own. It was pretty awkward at first, I had never done something like that because it seemed such a lonely, desperate thing to do and frankly, I was a bit of both. I went to see La la Land for the first time and I was so damn emotionally invested by the end of the movie, I was literally speechless for a few moments after the end title, and I had the luxury to just sit there by myself and contemplate my feelings for a bit. I didn't have to scoff, laugh, comment or get up immediately, and so I did none of those things. I just sat there for a bit until the credits rolled, stared at the screen for a while, and then took all my stuff and quietly  got out of the room. It wasn't sad or lonely, it was just very, very real. I watched a bunch of movies by myself after that, Arrival, Nocturnal Animals, Patterson, La la Land for a second time from the top of my head, and all of those were amazing experiences on their own.
  Looking back, I'm really disappointed at myself for being scared to do this earlier. I realized that it's not shameful or desperate to go to the movies by yourself, and that sometimes it's okay to spend some time alone. It's not awkward unless you make it awkward, and showing that you know what you're doing and that you're not afraid to do things alone and take some time for yourself is a fantastic trait to have. That being said it doesn't always have to be so profound, going as a group is always a fun ride. Just gotta find that group that tolerates your snobby "film-enthusiast" ass.

Your friendly avid movie-goer,
Stelios Zesiades.

P.S. Since it's Valentine's day and all, I might as well list my favourite romantic movies:
1. Before Trilogy
2. La la Land
3. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
4. Wall-E
5. The Lobster
6. Tangled
7. When Harry met Sally
8. Amelie
9. Crazy, Stupid Love
10. Definitely, Maybe

Also, Casablanca, Music&Lyrics, Roman Holiday, In the Mood for Love, Blue Valentine and many many more. 

Κυριακή, 8 Ιανουαρίου 2017

Blog no. 21: The airport shuffle

Dear travelers,

Whenever you're planning a trip what you have in mind is always what you'll pack before the trip and what you'll do during the trip; never what you're doing inbetween.
  You see, the airport shuffle as it's going to be known for the remaining of this blog, is the transitional period between the time you arrive at one airport and the time you leave from the airport of your destination. It can be somewhere between 2 hours to a whole day if you have a connecting flight with a long waiting period, and it's a time where you're practically a ghost. You don't have any responsibilities, you have nowhere else to be at so you just sort of linger, wandering around because nobody will look for you, for a few hours you are neither here nor there, for a while you just don't really exist. I've been in this situation many times and I actually enjoy it, as unconventional as that sounds. It's a time where I can do whatever I want without "wasting time" because that time is practically wasted already.
  It's endearing, really, sitting around at the airport and just watching people come and go, trying to figure what their destination is and what they're thinking about. What baggage do they bring along? What's their story? You just observe with keen eyes, trying to figure everyone out. You're so into it that you forget your own baggage, your own destination, you forget all about your story. Maybe that bearded dude is flying to England to propose to his girlfriend. Maybe that Asian-looking lady is flying to Germany for her job interview in a law firm practice. That couple is probably going over the Atlantic for their honeymoon in Cuba. That sad-looking middle aged guy might be visiting Italy for his father's funeral. That annoying group of kids might be playing in the junior international handball finals in Sweden. And while you're doing all this thinking you're invisible, so you can keep on doing your thing and nobody will even notice (unless what you're doing is bumping into people and calling them names and stuff).
  I've met a lot of interesting people in airport shuffles, I've fallen in love multiple times with beautiful strangers I never talked to, I've listened to songs on repeat so that my trip would have an official theme song. "We Believe" by Good Charlotte was the one when I was stranded in Mallorca for the whole night with no money and no food, "Sing about me I'm dying of thirst" by Kendrick Lamar was my jam when my flight was postponed for an hour in Stuttgart, "4 da squaw" by Isaiah Rashad was played a lot during my overnight stay in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam a few days ago and "Chasing cars" was the song that started it all, after my 5-day field trip in Salonica, 8 years ago.
  My favourite airport shuffle story though, is the one with Sofia from Chicago. So, one time I met this girl who was in my bus on the way to the airport with her friend, sitting right in front of me for the whole ride. She was really pretty, had this great smile and beautiful green eyes but I was listening to music, too shy, and too into "The Great Gatsby" that was in my hands to talk to her and her friend. After a while I took my headphones off to seem more approachable and she immediately asked me if I was enjoying the book, so I told her that it was great. She asked me if I got to the point of the huge party in Gatsby's house in which I replied that indeed I had, and she told me that was so wild. We talked for a while and she told me that her dad was from Chicago because I noticed she didn't have the traditional Greek accent when talking in English. When we arrived at the airport I was still a bit shaken because it's not something that happens often to me, a pretty girl talking me up is quite the rare occurrence, so - the idiot I am - I didn't continue the conversation. At that point she came close to me and grabbed me by the arm as if we were going on a date in some fancy restaurant. She leaned in and almost whispered in a very cute voice "My name is Sofia, and my friend is -" actually I don't remember her friend's name, silly me. "My name is Stelios, nice to meet you" I replied. We were both supposed to check in so I told her that I would check in my flight and we could meet somewhere afterward to continue the conversation. After what seemed like an eternity, Sofia wasn't at her check-in and I figured she was done before I was, so I started looking for her. I searched everywhere, walked every inch of the (admittedly not very big) airport but she was nowhere to be found, so I convinced myself that it was never gonna happen and, defeated as ever, I crawled through the security check and went on to my gate to painfully wait for my plane to depart. A few minutes before my departure I see her and her friend boarding their plane; their gate was right next to mine and she was sitting right there for the whole time. When I finally found her it was too late, so I just called her name out and waved her goodbye.
 Even though the story doesn't have a happy ending it's something I will remember it for a long time (and if I meet with Sofia again by an incredible amount of luck, it'll be a love story to write home about). Not every story has a happy ending unfortunately, but the ones in airports have a definitive beginning and end. The whole "it's not the destination, it's the journey" thing is amazingly true, although that shouldn't take away from the fun you'll have at your actual destination. Here's the thing though, you just know that whatever happens in an airport stays there and, you see, being in an airport shuffle is kinda like being in a vacuum; everything that happens is isolated from the whole world, and much like everything else around you, it just sort of lingers.

Your friendly airport-shuffler,
Stelios Zesiades.

P.S. Don't be afraid to travel solo, you might just make a memory or two.
  

Σάββατο, 31 Δεκεμβρίου 2016

Blog no.20 - A year of firsts

Dear disappointed dudes/dudettes,

  THE END IS NEIGH! The end of the year at least, since Giant Meteor 2016 didn't win the american presidential elections after all. It's been a year of experiences, a year of celebrity deaths, a year so full of chaos you'd think that the world was actually coming to an end. Well, the year's almost over and we managed to survive it all fairly decently, albeit a little bit bruised. The end of the year shouldn't find you recalling all the fuckups you experienced with dread, but with positivity. All the stuff that went wrong in this shitty year is in the past. It should be a time of remembering what you accomplished, no matter how big or small it was. And for god's sake, none of that "New Year resolution" crap, I'm talking about things that matter. Good or bad, everything you experienced will shape you into the person you will eventually become, just make sure it always leads to a better version of yourself year by year.
 It has been a year of firsts for me. I hosted strangers for the first time and had the time of my life doing so. I played music in the streets in front drunk tourists who danced to our ethnic sounds, I visited places I hadn't visited before with some vary sweet (and occasionally barefoot) travelers, and I confessed my feelings to a girl for the first time ever. I formed friendships (and other -ships), and despite all the heartbreak, anxiety, and negativity it oozed throughout, it's been great. Why is that? Under the stream of horrible TV news, breakups and some really awful days it has been a year of experiences. I found out that no matter how much shit I've been through in a single year, it always leads to something better.
  We live in interesting times ladies and gentlemen, all we can do is sit back and try to enjoy the ride. Everything we go through will eventually become something to recall in hot summer nights on the beach, or under a warm blanket with only just the Christmas lights and the moon to guide us, or maybe sitting on a bench in the middle of a packed square while waiting for our next adventure to begin. "This is not the end, this is not the beginning" says 21st century philosopher Chester Bennington in Linkin Park's "Waiting for the end", because nothing ever truly ends, it just becomes a memory.  
  There will always be good and bad days - everybody has their rough patches - but if you endure them all you might come up with something amazing in the end. That's what life is basically, a really difficult and complicated game full of twists and turns that not even Shyamalan could think of. It's trial and error, it's falling down over and over and over again and then getting up only to find yourself down again. After you find your stride though, it will be much more difficult to fall and even if you do so, so what? Getting up for the 101st time will be so much easier than the first hundred times. Just gotta keep playing, you know?

"Merry Christmas ya filthy animal, and a happy new year!" - The Home Alone guy in the fake movie. While shooting some other guy. Maybe not what I should've gone with. Oh well. 

Here's to another amazing, shitty, tiring, awesome year, and yet another year of firsts. Keep your head high and your beer hand higher, and keep on keeping on.

Your friendly dude,

Stelios Zesiades.