There is a fundamental truth that prevails in how the United States are seen by the rest of the world.
How the US vote the world votes.
I was very aware of this reality from a very early age. I was born in Greece to an American mother and a Greek father. I’m an American by default; I didn’t become a full fledged “American” until after our arrival here as a family in 1992, at the tail end of the first Bush administration. As a young teenager, I discovered a very different America, from the one shown to the rest of the world. The America advertised in the movies, was a completely different place, than the America we saw through its politics.
The America sold to the world is not the America lived up close.
US citizens living abroad are most aware of this dichotomy and its consequences. The US are a super power, and for as long as I’ve been able to understand the political process, they have been actively determining how the rest of the world works.
Every US president is deemed by Greek society and the media as the Planet President. He who acts so powerfully towards the rest of the world, that the rest of the world inevitably is forever aware and reminded of its place. The U.S president is seen as a supreme leader. Most Americans have no idea who the president or prime minister of other countries is; they don’t have to until its a problem for them, or their old “friends” become “enemies”.
Everyone knows who the US president is and what HE stands for. From the first moment I set foot in the US to live, I realized my unique understanding of what it means to exercise my civic duty. I exercised and continue to exercise my right to vote because I knew it was my obligation as a U.S citizen who was born and raised abroad, to cast my vote for how the US is perceived, through its international image. Local politics determined international relations, trade, war, peace and prosperity. The most chilling reality most Americans don’t see is that America’s president and Americas elections dictate how the world functions.
My resolve to vote in every election was cemented further after the 2016 elections results, (and in previous years) I was mostly disappointed, disheartened but not at all surprised. So my vote is not a reaction to the status quo but as an affirmation that people who vote for the greater good also vote for their local good in their families, communities, friends and fellow citizens.
That’s the only way I know how to be. We all have a responsibility to have governance that is for the greater good and not only through personal growth and gain. Demos-Kratos was a fundamental building block of what we like to call a democratic society in Ancient Greece, and although America prides itself as the longest running democracy; it’s policies around the world have time and time again supported, funded and praised a very different type of governance.
The reason people opt out of the vote is that for whatever reason at least up until recently it wasn’t dire it wasn’t imperative it wasn’t necessary it doesn’t help. The people are powerless.Voting is not just a privilege it’s your obligation to show up, and make good on the pure fact that you’re a citizen of a town, a city, a country and you matter.
I voted for those who can’t, and to honor the city and town I have come to call my second home.
Value and Cost.
I’ll be honest… If I won the lottery tomorrow I would quit my job, pay my family’s debt, take up art, writing, and yoga studies full-time, go to massage therapy school, learn French and Spanish again, and travel….. a lot. Last month the mega millions lottery in the U.S was one of the biggest ever recorded in lottery history, and it got me thinking about what money buys us. It purchases the opportunity to access, connects us with services not available to people without money. It buys status, and privilege. What it definitely doesn’t get us is happiness, or love or meaningful connection with other people. It’s a cliché for a reason; money can’t buy peace of mind, and we’ve all seen how that ends up time and time again.
What, truly do these pieces of paper that we’ve deemed equivalent to denominations of value actually do for us?
What does money afford us and what does it take away. I’m not talking about exorbitant amounts of money or even the mega millions jackpot, but a large amount of money for any average person.
Money for as much as it provides, allows, or gains access to; it equally separates us in so many ways.
Access to money, especially in a very expensive city like New York, can purchase time, expensive things, convenience; but never any of the things that actually matter to us.
Yet here we are all working three and four jobs, just to pay our bills. We do jobs, instead of following our calling. We work in offices punching keyboards instead of creating wealth of knowledge and understanding for each other. We save up to retire so we can travel or buy that car we always wanted. We break our health and sanity to make copious amounts of money that buys things, monetary comfort when years, decades go by and we still struggle with pain, loneliness, fear, isolation, depression, and sickness.
In the end… What would you do with a 250 million dollars?
What role do our memories play in how we hold on to people?
I romanticize my exes.
Even when years have passed, they cross my mind. I do this just enough so I can trick my self into thinking how I regret losing them.
I’m surrounded by phantoms; ghosts of lovers past who I tap into every time I want to feel wounded about my crap choices in partners, lovers and men who are far from perfect in reality; yet I paint them in very different and much more favorable colors.
I’m the painter, it’s my canvas I’ll cry on it if I want to.
I’m content with how my life is right now, and after some time has passed, I’m fine with my choice to not seek any further romantic involvement, with all my failed romantic escapades. Yet… my skin feels the touch points he touched, I romanticize this imperfect and quite ridiculous person into some prince charming when he was far from it…
I clung for years to my memories of these imperfect men like little nuggets of a fairy tale gone horribly bad.
Of course they were imperfect, not what I truly wanted or needed in my life then or now. My loneliness played tricks on me, and we all do this; I projected characteristics, reactions and romantic comedy bull shit scenarios to these toads, who adorned me with fancy words, and over the top flattery.
Rhinestone Cowboys I like to call them. You know the type of men who will pretty much say anything just to get recognition, a smile, vulnerability, and ultimately power over you. And you let them; despite all the cautionary tales, and your friends telling you he’s full of shit, and your own brain trying to avoid another collision course, because it’s inevitable you will fall for the ones who tell you what you want to hear.
When we sit down and take stock of our past failures in relationships with people who on the surface may have seemed “perfect for us”; ultimately what we lament is not the loss of these seemingly perfect people, but the loss of ourselves, in them.
We must not lose ourselves for the whims and wants of others.
We must not lose who we are, we must not lose who we want to become, or hold back to please other peoples idea of us. As hard as that is, as challenging as it may seem, holding out for those who meet us half way or all the way for that matter are far more gratifying, appealing and beautiful.
There is no time for false narratives, bad stories and fake vulnerability. Holding on to ghosts as backward as it may seem to many, has at least helped me know what I definitely don’t want. And for many, recognizing even that; is a start to letting go of the ghosts and the phantoms of the past.
We’ve all had that moment.
We are projecting one version of ourselves, yet a completely different person is being reflected back at us.
We see ourselves one way and others see us in a completely different light.
Where do these two perceptions clash?
Most of it is based on people’s own stream of consciousness and not what we project.
We think no one is noticing us, while there are clearly people drawn to us, our energy, and who we are. Or the idea of who we might be in their head. We hardly notice or welcome people’s gaze, attention, or reflections of us, in a society where everyone is on social media posting every aspect of our lives.
Yet… with all this communication, there is clearly a big deficit in actual communication.
I’ve done this many times and I’m sure everyone does.
I fantasize about who people are, rather than actually seeing them for who they are.
My exploration of these dual realities and images comes at a very pivotal time. I have only recently discovered what I can simply call “my authentic self”. I am still battling with my perceived awkwardness of the pimply shy teenager I used to be, the one no one wants to talk to, and everyone makes fun of, and there are plenty of times I think I’m still that awkward girl. I often hope I go unnoticed, lurking in the shadows observing others.
I battled that fear of exposure, and people taking notice of who I was, or who they thought I was, when I posed for various photographers in the five years I’ve lived in New York. Some nude, some for Yoga purposes, some for fun. I continue to be open and vulnerable in my recent work performing my poetry in front of complete strangers. (that was a challenge!)
In every instance I haven’t seen myself as particularly attractive, interesting or photogenic, but more theatrical and obscure. A curiosity.
Yet the response I get from people, is that of someone who is quite different. After I turned 40 all the shyness and awkwardness of my youth has slowly faded away.
Claiming space, claiming my worth, my voice, beauty, or image as a woman; has been a very interesting exploration. But I’m still baffled at how others perceive me.
How we see ourselves may not be hour others see us.
We are shaped by a myriad of references. Cultural experiences being one of them. I grew up in Greece in the late 70’s and 80’s and then again in the early 2000’s. Despite my American accent and passport, everything about who I am and have become is shaped by my life in Greece. Recently a friend said to me “oh you’re such a Greek-American!” which is a blatant fact. I belong to two worlds, two camps, two realities. Often opposing each other vehemently. Depending on my surroundings; like a chameleon I absorb cultural references I grew up with, and mold them to my current reality. You never know what you’re going to get!
Yet time and time again, others who observe us, will see something purely based on their own perceptions. We ALL do that, sometimes to our advantage, sometimes to our detriment.
Next time you observe someone, before you impose your idea of them, let them unfold in front of you unobstructed by your own perceptions.
You might be surprised by what you receive.
I must confess; I’m in love with Brooklyn.
There is something enchanting about Brooklyn evenings that few other neighborhoods in New York City possess.
My bias is not with out an excuse; I’ve lived in the same neighborhood in south Brooklyn ever since I moved to New York from Athens five years ago. Except for a brief stint living in Manhattan in the East Village and the Lower East Side (which I still love), most of my time has been spent south of Prospect Park.
I owe my love of this part of city to my original host and friend from college who introduced me to this multi- ethnic, multi cultural and multi layered microcosm few (thank goodness) still know about.
Simply put it’s a gem.
Nestled in between Prospect Park and the Greenwood Cemetery, this still unspoiled part of Brooklyn is a place where you can say hello to the corner bodega owner, chat with your neighbor while they walk their dog, and see familiar faces walking around the streets on a lazy, Sunday afternoon. I wave to the store owners catching a glimpse of the action in the street every morning when I go to work, but I never think of taking the time to truly explore further.
From what many locals tell me, the neighborhood hasn’t changed that much over the years. Originally an Italian immigrant neighborhood, it is now peppered with a spectrum of nationalities, languages, cultures and religions. A true cultural crossroads. But I needed to know more.
Summer nights are a perfect excuse for a long walk.
One evening after an event in the Greenwood cemetery I took this rare opportunity to take the long way home.
As the sunset burst into a beautiful tapestry of colors; shades of pink, salmon, purple and yellow adorned the early evening sky. The aroma of evening primrose and soft wet soil wafted through the air… I was transported. For a moment I was lifted away from the worries of my New York life and felt like I was walking through the streets of my old neighborhood in Athens. I instantly felt carefree; but the real treat didn’t arrive until the sun set; revealing thousands upon thousands of fireflies signaling to each other in their own mystical code.
I closed my eyes took a deep breath and floated with the sounds of stories being told of the families living in these neighborhoods, of meals shared, travels taken and lives changed forever. This was the first time in my years living in New York that I was absolutely in tune with my surroundings.
Living in such a high strung city, we are used to boxing ourselves in. We end up shielding our bodies and minds from the cacophony of noises, lights, tall buildings, strong aromas; all of which accost our senses in invasive ways. We choose to be numb to the big stuff and forget to take a moment to really observe the more subtle aspects of this city. During my walk through my neighborhood, all of that outer noise instantly vanished, and I was able to just enjoy the long walk home.