Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Making Promises

There once was a woman who didn't know how to drive a car. She promised herself every January—with a list of other promises—that she'd finally learn to drive. But it seemed too complicated, all those gadgets and buttons and well, her husband, Bert, had always done that sort of thing. But when at the age of 75, she watched poor old Bert reach for his jacket in the back seat of their beat-up old sedan and slump lifelessly to the floor, she realized her time to learn to drive had arrived. First she dialed 911 and received a recorded message, then she screamed for her neighbor who appeared to not be home. Then she pushed poor old Bert further into the back seat, closed the door, got into the driver's side and backed the car out of the driveway with all the speed and prowess of Mario Andretti.

The hospital was only 3 blocks away so she didn't have much time to think about the fact that she was, for the first time in her life, in the driver's seat.

But when she did have time to reflect on it (and after she found out that poor old Bert was okay), she felt very proud and happy. And then she felt very sad.

"But why, granny?" her awestruck teenaged granddaughter asked, "Why are you sad? You should be proud!"

"My dear," Granny looked at her with solemn eyes, "it's an awful feeling, at my age, to realize you can do something you thought you couldn't." She shook her head slowly. "And worse than that, is wondering about all those other things you hadn't tried because you thought you couldn't."

Granny has a good point, doesn't she? Forget about January promises. Let's just go out there and do the things we still have time to do!

I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

From the Big Apple to a Big Greek Village

An interview by author Marjory McGinn from her blog Big Fat Greek Odyssey 

Caption for linda and hubby with NY skyline
A recent photo of Linda and Nick in front of the New York skyline
This week I am interviewing Linda Fagioli-Katsiotas, a New York teacher and writer who married a Greek in the 1980s and bravely went to live with her new family in a remote and raw village in Epirus, in Greece. Her fascinating story is the subject of her memoir The Nifi.
Q: Welcome to my blog, Linda. Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: First let me thank you for inviting me to this interview. I was born and raised on Long Island, outside of New York City. My father’s parents were Italian immigrants and my mother was from the little town of Malone, in the Adirondack Mountains; her parents were French Canadian. I’ve been a teacher for 21 years, working with immigrant children at my local school.
Q:  In your 20s you married a Greek. Tell us a little about that.
A: I met my husband in 1980 at a restaurant on Long Island, where we worked together. Nick had been in the US since 1978 and didn’t speak a lot of English but it was enough. Later we eloped after knowing each other for about a year. It was a marriage with all the trimmings for failure: different culture, religion, language, ethnic background, but somehow we made it.
margariti village caption
The traditional village of Margariti in Epirus
nick and linda cooking goat 1983
A young Linda and Nick in 1983 getting to grips with village life, and roasting a goat for lunch
Q: Later you went to live for a while in your husband’s native village of Margariti, in Epirus, north-west Greece. What was your Big Fat Greek Immersion like?
A: At that age, I had no idea what I was doing. I was madly in love and, probably like every young person then, I wanted a life that was different from the mainstream. Nick was quite a tough person and I realised when I got to his village why he was like that. Most of the people in Margariti are tough. It’s a matter of survival. The journey to his village was my first trip out of the US.  Epirus is a beautiful mountainous area with some of the most exquisite beaches as well like Karovostasi. But lovely surroundings quickly lose their appeal when you’re living in quite primitive conditions, without the ability to communicate with anyone.