I was going 80 on the 215, heading home from a 48. 80 mph is an acceptable speed at which to be traveling on Highway 215, especially when you’re running late for a Walking Dead date with your current boyfriend because you lost track of time at your ex-boyfriend’s 48-hour film festival.
It was just past the Decatur exit that Penny Lane (my 2005 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible) began to wobble. A wobbling car going 20 mph is scary. A wobbling car going 80 is terrifying. The smell of burning rubber filled the inside of my car and nostrils as I fought a wave of panic to make my way over to the shoulder without dying. Cars and trucks zipped by on either side of me, oblivious to my impending doom.
Before the flight attendant can finish her sentence, “Okay folks, we’ve been cleared for departure,” the pilot jams the plane into high gear and the people and trees and buildings beside you whiz by until they become nothing more than a blur. The front end of the plane ascends into a cloudy sky. The tail end follows but your guts remain somewhere on the ground, whirling about the blur of people and trees and buildings. Your head feels as though it’s being squished with a panini press. It takes a moment to come to, at which point your organs reposition themselves in your stomach and your ears go “POP!” You wonder what feels better, that ear-popping thing or an orgasm. You come to the conclusion that an orgasm probably feels better, but that ear-popping thing feels really good. It feels so good that you are finally able to breathe for the first time in what must have been at least ten minutes. You are higher than the clouds now, but only just literally. You learned your lesson about flying high high last time.
The seatbelt light dings. You are now free to move about the cabin. The flight attentant comes by and takes your drink order. Red wine, please. You unfasten your seatbelt and reach for the carry-on items you’ve stowed safely beneath the seat in front of you. You take out your book. And a Valium. You look out the window and feel a brief moment of spirituality as the metropolitan city you felt so small in just an hour ago fades into nothingness. You think about how magical airplanes are, but don’t get much farther than “airplanes are magical!” because you know nothing about airplanes. Window seats are the best. Unless you have to pee. Or unless you’re on the wing, right next to that propeller thing, which you are. You wonder if a human has ever got caught in one of those propeller things and come to the conclusion someone must have. You think about all the blood that would entail and almost puke. You take the Valium.
I’d been looking forward to the Las Vegas Greek Festival since last October. I missed last year’s festivities (and the year’s before that) so it was really important to me to find the time to make it this go ’round.
I grew up in a family where each of my grandparents was 100 percent something—Hungarian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Greek. And while each of their parents was fresh off the boat (from Hungary, Portugal, Spain, and Greece), the only one of my grandparents to carry on any of her family’s traditions to our generation was my Yiayia.
Each year our extended family would gather to celebrate Greek Orthodox Easter. A group of 50 or more of us would rent out entire campgrounds and spend whole weekends feasting. Each night we would pile our paper plates high with lamb, slouvaki, pastitso, moussaka, spanakopita, loukomades, baklava… We’d drink warm Ouzo straight from the bottle, and sing Greek songs by the campfire about the Rising of Christ and the sounds farm animals make. (It continues to puzzle me why animals in Greece sound so different than they do in America. For example, why hell does a kokoraki (rooster) say “ki ki ri ki ki” in Greece but “cockadoodle” here?) We would boil eggs and dye them red, which I guess represented the blood Christ, then crack them over the tops of each other’s. This seemed kind of morbid to me, but whoever’s egg remained in tact at the end was declared the winner and received good luck for the year. We were a very fortunate family indeed, and I will cherish the many memories I made during those times for the rest of my life.
Anyway, as someone who grew up with the Greekest of grandmas (and in combination with my disappointing experience at the San Gennaro Festival earlier this month) my expectations for the Las Vegas Greek Festival weren’t very high. Don’t get me wrong—I was exited to check it out. I just wasn’t banking on it blowing my mind or anything.
But it did! It totally blew my mind!
It’s not very often we get tolerable summer weather in Vegas. So as not to take for granted these lingering rain clouds offering reprieve from the 110+ degree bone-dry heat, I have been enjoying my days off eating lunch and/or sipping cocktails on a few of my favorite patios around town.
First up was Culinary Dropout at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino (4455 Paradise Rd Las Vegas, NV 89169).
I dig this place. From the casual servers with tattooed skin and rainbow streaked hair to the funky-chic décor and laid back patrons, Culinary Dropout is my vibe. It’s even situated directly adjacent to the Hard Rock pool area, a gem in and of itself. From our cozy couch on the restaurant patio, we were able to people watch at the sandy “beaches” that line the lower level pool next door.
I just met up with Steve (not his name), the Lebanese guy I was dating before my current beau, to bid him farewell before his big move to Los Angeles next week for some software engineering job that will likely earn him the millions he’s always dreamed of/deserves.
Steve is really good with money. I always admired that about him, mostly because I’m so terrible with mine. Sometimes he would vocalize his concerns with my financial habits, which, while completely legitimate, ultimately only contributed to the demise of our relationship. There was actually quite a bit Steve and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on; Still, he was always one of my very favorite humans. That’s why today, when he said to me over cappuccinos topped with foamy leaf patterns, “Some of my best memories in Vegas are ones I made with you,” I almost broke into tears. (I held it together until I got into my car, at which point I totally lost it. But I think that had more to do with an existential crisis that is actually the topic of this blog post and will be discussed further in a moment. #foreshadowing)
I got my first tattoo on my 17th birthday as a consolation prize for my parents’ divorce. I went with your standard tramp stamp, which I flaunted by wearing tee shirts a size too small for me and pants a size too big. I was one of the only kids at school with a tattoo, which made me really cool for about a week. Since then I’ve gotten a dozen more, each of which I promised my mom would be my last.
Of all my tattoos, I only regret one. (Not a bad track record considering I’m like THE most impulsive person ever.) On a drunken whim after a painful breakup a few years back, I stumbled my way into the nearest tattoo shop and asked one of the artists to draw me up an Old English F. “It’s to represent a vow I made to myself to remain single forever,” I told the artist. “F for Farkas–the name I’ll bear for the rest of my time on Earth.” He nodded unenthusiastically, then charged me $80 for this blob of ink: