|S.R. Karfelt/The Glitter Globe|
HOME SWEET HOME
That should read Home Sweet Chaos. You know what it's like to leave your real life to travel a few months out of the year? It's like you're now hopelessly behind in everything.
You will never catch up. Not unless reincarnation is a thing. Accept that you need to downsize your life in order to travel. Take a deep breath. Dig up some patience that connecting flights and the TSA hasn't already stolen from you. There you go. Now start going through everything and getting rid of all the stuff you don't need and while you're at it clean off and organize your computers too.
Have some nice family gatherings and take the time to cook real food at least once a year. Also, order a magic wand off Amazon. Check reviews because you're gonna need a real one this time.
GREECE HIGHLIGHTS AND LOW-LIGHTS
Highlights. A monk seal on the public beach. Why is seeing a wild animal up close and personal out in the world so amazing? Maybe it's because their eyes are not sad and they look right into yours. A night swim under the dark moon. The Aegean was so cold I froze. The locals ran into the sea and immediately back out. It was perfection just the same. Nights I sat on my balcony and wrote by candlelight. My nose nearly touched the page I leaned so close to see my scribbled words. But I loved sitting there in the warm night breeze and listening to the sounds in the port.
Even low-lights were highlights. While taking a meandering walk in Skiathos I wound up at the edge of an airport runway when a jet was taking off. I learned all about jet blasts. I'm happy to report I didn't die. I'm sure it will be useful in a novel someday. AGAIN getting tagged by the TSA as a person of interest. Now I know what it feels like to be profiled, AGAIN. Searched. Slowed-down. Felt-up. It's annoying, but once more it's good novel fodder. Let's pretend I mean that last bit.
Sofitel Hotel Restaurants make their own freshly baked gluten-free bread. In a month of traveling I only stayed at one. I easily ate my month's allotment of bread there. It was so good.
Eating gluten-free is a pain. It turns you into a difficult customer as soon as you walk into a restaurant.
I'm pretty sure I've heard the wait-staff's eyes rolling when I say I have to eat gluten-free. I sympathize. But since they're not the ones who have to pee blood if I get gluten, I'm wildly and annoyingly cautious.
Eating out isn't appealing to me anymore. In Greece I cooked my own meals as much as possible. I even skipped my free breakfasts most of the time. Mostly I ate salad without dressing, yogurt, fresh fruit, or vegetables and grilled fish. Also gelato, because balance.
If you contact airlines ahead of time they offer gluten-free meals via their websites. Trying to find a simple banana between planes became a quest. Rome's Fiumicino Airport is one of those airports crossed with a high-end mega-mall. Who the hell decided to splice the stress of airport travel with the labyrinth torment of a galleria? Ugh.
I never did find any fresh fruit but I only had FOUR HOURS to look. They definitely didn't have any in the Gucci, Prada, or Billionaire stores. Nor in the gluten-packed pasta shops. Can you hear the creak of my eyeballs rolling? To be fair I did purchase an excellent Leonardo da Vinci Vitruvian Man notebook there and a seven euro bottle of what I think was water. It tasted a lot like it, so there's that.
BOOKS I READ
At the last minute I had to toss my hardcover copy of The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu out of my suitcase. I should have also tossed out my laptop because not only did I not use it in Greece, but it almost cost me all of my toes as I dragged two roller-bags onto a wildly rocking ferry.
Instead I read The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. Thanks to a kind stranger I even had all my toes intact while I did it. At the advice of my editor I'd put it on my kindle app, and I read it in stolen moments here and there. Mostly while eating breakfast yogurt and drinking Greek Mountain Tea. It's about female spies in WWI and WWII, but it's also about not fitting in and being yourself. I'd rate it four stars and recommend it. It's a good read.
A friend on Alonissos loaned me a copy of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and I finally at long last became a Gaiman fan. It's about a man revisiting his family home while on his way to a funeral and discovering long-forgotten secrets and well-hidden memories. For me this book held the kind of magic I found years ago in Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and Many Waters. I loved it. If you've ever enjoyed any Fantasy book, read it.
On my flight home I couldn't settle on a single movie and shelled out for in-flight WiFi, but even that didn't do it. So I looked through my Kindle App books and ignoring all my high-brow selections like Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy I went with a little Urban Fantasy book called Protecting His Witch by Zoe Forward. I can be a real snoot about editing and was in a persnickety and tired traveler mood and nearly shut it down early on, but then the story grabbed me. It's about a veterinarian dimension-hopping witch who turns out to be one of the seven Pleiades and her hot druid-sentry born to tend to her needs. I kinda need one of those myself. If he knows Excel and can also sort my Outlook email mess that is. I liked it.
Back to reality. I'm writing my vampire book and talking to a story
My attic is mostly cleaned up. The mice who have secretly been living there have been evicted. I've sorted through decades of stuff and sworn off buying things. It was a tough job for me. Giving away so many books felt like saying goodbye to old friends. Cleaning out stuff from when my kids were little or papers I wrote ages ago hurt. But I did it. I lost at least a dump-truck sized pile of excess. I feel lighter already. Hanging onto your happiness takes real work, have you noticed that? It's so worth it.