Progress at the new offices continued to happen slower than expected, so we decided to have a “Program Lite” week at the house. This worked out pretty well, since we have a new woman (from Nigeria, 8 months pregnant, our house is now FULL and we’ve already had to turn down someone who wanted to join the program, ack), and it gave her time to adjust. But this meant coming up with plans last minute and never feeling quite settled, which makes me stressed. Luckily, I had some really fun friend moments this week, and that helped me survive.
One of the strangest and most wonderful things about my friends in Athens is that they usually share in one of my “shameful obsessions.” I have cat friends here! And video game fanatics! And Korean drama enthusiasts! The things that used to be “oh, Tricia is the cat/video game/anime friend” has now become “we like this thing.” It’s so much fun to have people to share these obsessions with.
On Sunday, the Four Cat Ladies went to Danielle’s apartment after church for her birthday celebration choice: a cat movie marathon. We ordered food and watched a documentary called The Lion in Your Living Room and exclaimed over the cute kittens and said things like, “Oh, that’s why Oscar/Louis/Pepperina/Hans Harrison” does that!” Then we watched a movie called A Street Cat Named Bob, a true story about a stray cat that saved the life of a drug addict. Cats are amazing, I truly don’t understand haters.
On Wednesday after 12 Steps, I went out for sushi with Luciana. I’ve been having a bit of a faith crisis post-US-election, and I opened up to her about it all. “You know what you need?” she asked. “WHAT?” I asked desperately. “Dessert!” So we got dark chocolate mochi, then walked back to her apartment. Giorgos was there, so the three of us played Zelda until 11:00 p.m. It was true gaming joy, with agonizingly frustrating puzzles that had people screaming and then cheering when they finally succeeded.
And on Saturday, I went to Rosie’s apartment to watch Coffee Prince, a Korean comedy about a girl who is mistaken for a boy and winds up working at a coffee shop intentionally run by hot guys. I LOVE these kinds of ridiculous shows, and found myself saying, “Oh, so he is going to fall in love with her knowing she’s a girl, and HE is going to fall in love with her thinking she’s a boy, right?” Rosie would respond, “The plot is incredibly obvious, but it is so much fun to see it play out.” That’s what I love so much about anime and Korean comedies. The characters are stereotypes (the Arrogant Rich Guy, the Edgy Foreigner, the Dumb Sweet Guy, the Delicate Wallflower, the Guns Blazing Girl) the actions are repeated (“he did the thing where he puts his hand on the wall over her head!!!”) and the plots are incredibly familiar. But there’s something so pleasing about knowing what’s going to happen and then laughing hysterically when yes, she DID have to hide in the men’s locker room while they were changing because she has to hide the fact that she’s actually a woman.
I realize this is a pretty specific media interest (in the Western world, I would fit right in in the East), which is exactly why it feels so amazing to have Rosie as a friend. And Luciana and Giorgos as my video games partners. And Kendra, Rosie, and Danielle as my fellow Cat Moms. There are few things as comforting as finding people who like the same weird things you do.
HD Photo Shoot
We did a lot of random stuff this week with our participants, but my favorite was on Friday. My friend Damaris came over to take professional pictures of each of the women. I knew this was going to be a success when we went upstairs and saw each of the women in their best clothes, makeup on and hair done ON TIME. We took photos on the roof and in the garden, and it was such a joy to see them open up and show off how amazing they are.
Maybe it seems silly to place value on taking someone’s picture, but these women so rarely get to dress up and feel beautiful while also being safe. They were getting fancy for themselves. Damaris is going to print the pictures and give them copies, and nothing is going to us to be used for promotional or fundraising purposes. This is all for them.
At the end, we were all in the garden, and while one woman was posing extravagantly against a tree and the rest of us were giggling, I put my arm around one woman’s shoulders, and she put her arms around my waist. It was such a touching moment, and it made me realize how every little moment is a healing opportunity – safe touch, laughter, freedom to choose how sexy or silly you want to pose – and I was overwhelmed by how much I love my job.
Bringing it down a bit, but that day was also a lesson in A Man Ruins Everything by Thinking He’s Funny but is Actually a Jerk. While taking pictures on the roof, a guy from the building next door called from his balcony, “Which one is the prettiest?” Luckily, the woman getting her picture taken only spoke Greek and didn’t understand, but I was ENRAGED. This is patriarchal idiocy at it’s core: the idea that women being pretty and happy is for a man’s enjoyment. He took a beautiful, fun thing and made it a dirty competition. UGH. Less of this in the world, please!!
On Friday, Ellen from Canada moved into my apartment! She and Olga are sharing a room, and so far, I think it’s going to be a good household. I really like having people around, and I love seeing other people’s things filling spaces in the bathroom. But this only works for me with certain people, and both Olga and Ellen are independent, friendly, introverted women. I don’t feel the need to care of them (thank God), and I know I can peace out and go to my room and they will understand.
It’s nice to have another American in the house, though I’m very jealous that Justin Trudeau is her leader and not mine. Already Ellen and I have had some great conversations about being outsiders in Greece (she lived here for a year a couple years ago), and she’s a life coach who is going to work with an anti-trafficking organization, so we will have plenty in common to talk about.
A Greek, a USian, a Canadian, and a cat share an apartment in Athens. We could star in a sitcom, though it would mostly show us reading books and talking about how we want to change the world.