Words of wisdom from the flying challenged, don’t slam down a glass of red wine following two glasses of white while two hours into a ten-hour flight. It started out fine and dandy: window seat, compression socks, bottled water. I was even thinking I won the lottery with two empty seats next to me; but at the final second two Puerto Rican party people plopped themselves beside me. I pouted for a solid minute and attempted to ignore them until I realized my seatmates were f-u-n. Who am I not to make new friends? Yes indeed. That friendship lasted for two and a half hours until I asked for another glass of wine as they blew up their neck pillows and put on their eye masks. I think I would have been ok with another white, but they brought me red. Immediately I started to feel queasy. Four hours in and with every ounce of everything I am, I willed myself not to throw up. I channeled my CNN breathing guru, Dana Santas and repeated her 7-count breath exercise over and over again but I was still eyeing the vomit bag. Just as I was losing hope and starting to gag, my savor appeared on American Airlines 4-inch screen, Ted Lasso. What a hero! Who knew!? His smiling face and unrelenting optimism not only rallied the AFC Richmond football club, he saved two good citizens of Puerto Rico from being projectile vomited on. Disaster averted.
Smelly and hungover, I made it to Athens where I am stationed for a month on an artist residency program. Usually a fan of public transport, but still a bit unstable, I grabbed a cab to get to my new digs. I was told to expect a hip artist area, but I was a little taken aback when I was dropped curbside by a bombed out looking building completely covered in graffiti. Athens is funky and chaotic on a good day; I am situated in the hyped-upped-on-steroid chaotic anarchist neighborhood which puts the F in funk.
I was greeted by the make-shift construction crew Dimitri and Jim who were still madly trying to finish construction on my tiny apartment. Dimitri, a scattered and kind-hearted ex-pat, is the host of this program. Jim is my artist friend from Detroit/Mexico who is a fellow visionary of bringing art to the people; more importantly he is recently retired and delusional enough to commit again to creating our show Painting with Prudence, now rebranded as The Artist’s Adventure, or The Artist Adventures? I am still not sure what is plural and where the apostrophe goes, but we have yet to be picked up by PBS so there is time for me to figure it out. We filmed in San Diego in September and figured we might as well go for the international bling.
Jim is on the full residency, while I am on the light one; the only difference is our living spaces. Jim has a sort of proper apartment over the gallery on a main street. I am in what is called the “Crow’s Nest” and every day I expect Moira from Schitt’s Creek to show up to start filming “The Crows Have Eyes 4”. On the first floor of my building is what I guess you would call a bookstore…but is it a bookstore or a place for a hoarder to be around his stuff…not sure. The only person I have ever seen in there is a smoking dude, not to be confused with a smoking hot dude, just a dude who smokes all day and occasionally pokes his head out from a book stacked desk. As for the other inhabitants in this building, I think there are only two. Initially I thought they were Albanians, but on further investigation I discovered they are Kurds. (Fear not, my homeland security friend has already signed me up for cultural sensitivity classes to begin as soon as I am stateside.)
There are two things in life I am not ultra-comfortable with, one is small spaces, and the other is heights. The Crow’s Nest covers both my phobia’s. The elevator I take to the sixth floor is a mirror lined small box obviously made to host one small child with a love for disco. Once released at my floor, I enter a one room studio with the cachet of an open deck overlooking anarchist-ville. The deck is pretty, and it is pretty high. It took a solid four days before I ventured out onto it, and that was only because the washing machine is there and my love for laundry over-rides my fear of heights. Jim’s apartment, much to his chagrin, does not have laundry, but he does have a proper shower. I have another tiny room which consists of a toilet and a shower head over the toilet. How do I classify that? It is a bit more than a half bath but I wouldn’t label it as a full bath...TBD. Furthermore, the act of taking a shower is tricky business, but that’s for another blog.
So, week one’s accomplishments: recovery from jetlag and a hangover, unpacking all the wrong clothes (it is no longer summer), braving the small spaces, waking up at 1am two nights a week a to teach via zoom, and not pissing off the already edgy anarchists!
Oh yah, and I love Athens!