I have been a bad bunny and have neglected my blog for nearly three weeks now.
Under normal circumstances I really do try to stick to my program, being a freelancer demands persistence and consistency. There are moments though when life just seems to become somewhat overwhelming and the only thing to do is simply stop everything and breathe.
I had been invited to guest blog on a wonderful site which showcases women writers. The piece was to be about losing a friend then rediscovering her through a journey with her mother to make arrangements for her monument: (see http://booksbywomen.org/losing-the-artist-saving-her-art-part-1-by-victoria-king-voreadi/)
It was a very emotional experience, accompanying my friend’s mother whom I had never met to visit her daughter’s grave for the first time and helping her make the arrangements for the rather macabre orthodox practice of having the bones exhumed and stored after 3 or 4 years. She returned to the USA on June 4th, at which time I proceeded with preparations for moving house which was scheduled to happen on the 24th, right after my daughter’s ballet recitals on the 21-23rd.
In the midst of everything else, one week after moving into the new place the landlord summarily informed us that he would NOT be making certain essential repairs and improvements he had promised and which were deal breakers for us. As such in the middle of a summer heat wave, a post nuclear house with half of our stuff still in boxes, I had to begin searching yet again for an appropriate abode.
I was really beginning to feel desperate and the chaotic state of our now temporary dwelling was really eating away at all of our nerves. It is bad enough having two teenage girls, but their being forced to share a room (as the 3rd bedroom was uninhabitable) meant that we needed a United Nations peace keeping force!
After a month of searching I still had no result. It seemed that the landlords were all measuring their houses the way some guys measure their members…wishful thinking. The owner of the place we were in was becoming increasingly more unpleasant, and I really had no desire to give him another month’s rent. Yes, I was distraught.
That period was also a nightmare for telecommunications: there was a huge waiting list at the phone company as it is the time of year when graduates are giving up their temporary land lines and new and transfer students are trying to get hooked up (there are several universities and post secondary institutions on Crete) so our only means of communication was our cell phones and the “Nightmare on Alexandrou Street” as I had come to regard it was a telecommunications black hole! I was constantly stepping into net cafes to try and keep up with professional obligations beyond the neighborhood and it was fraying my nerves unbearably.
One of my dearest friends Donald Schwarz was an urban hermit living on the island of Manhattan several thousand miles away. He also had no land line and no cell phone since his retirement. His only window on the world was the 67th street branch of the New York Public Library where he would sit for hours on the computers looking up things that interested him, writing flash fiction and e-mailing me. Because the library was closed at weekends if I neglected to send him an e-mail every Monday first thing I would get an e-mail Tuesday saying “SPEAK BEAST!” He was the one living alone in “Gotham” yet he worried about me so much I called him my Jewish mother.
On Monday August 20th I had a particularly uncivilized visit from our would-be landlord. Since the new classifieds were out I was off again in search of a humane dwelling for my family. As fate would have it I found one that looked promising and was swept away in the nitty-gritty. Before I knew it Thursday evening had rolled around and it suddenly dawned on me – I hadn’t heard from Donald. I immediately became very worried – in all our years of friendship there had never been a stretch of more than 5 consecutive days in which I hadn’t heard from him – even in the age of snail mail. In the electronic age I often had 3-4 e-mails from him per day.
I began calling and e-mailing everyone I could think of, I even sent him a post card saying “SPEAK BEAST!” At my wit’s end I finally got through to the 19th Precinct in NYC and after explaining the situation they patched me through to 911 (you can’t call 911 directly from outside the continental US). I was assured that they would look into the matter and get back to me. I nearly went mad over the weekend waiting. Monday morning I sent a new sortie of e-mails to every public service address I found online for NYC.
When I checked my e-mail that evening there was a very brief albeit polite note from an officer at the NYPD informing me that I should contact the Self Help organisation for information regarding Mr. Schwarz. You know that feeling when you aren’t sure where you are and you suddenly look around and realize the altitude and your stomach bottoms out?
On September 3rd my “loss & closure” piece about my friend Jovi went live (the link above), and just a few days prior to that I lost another dear friend and co-conspirator. As such I hope you will all forgive my needing to just stop, and breathe.
I miss you both very much…