Head…..spinning……

A brief interlude from family and Greekness. Yesterday (Thursday) I had an early 7am flight down to NYC for work. Per usual, I set my clock for 4:45, giving me 15-20 minutes to get ready and 45-50 minutes to get to the airport. I have found that plan to be optimal in terms of not feeling rushed. Wednesday night I had a hockey game and luckily we had an 8:30 game, so I was home by 10:15. I got some last minute presentation work done, laid out my clothes and computer bag for the next morning and went off to bed about 11:15.

I woke up at 4am, thanking my lucky stars I’d have another 45 minutes. You know you all do this. It’s wake-up roulette. Often times I don’t even look at the clock when I wake up in the middle of the night, for fear that it is actually time to get up. But on a day where I have to fly and do meetings, I have to check the clock just in case. And I was alright. So I drifted back to sleep and I woke up again – at 5:24! Holy shit, I said.

I was showered, shaved, dressed and walking out of my bedroom at 5:31. Seven minutes! That is a personal record for me and yes, the thought crossed my mind. I grabbed my bag and turned on the car, 5:32. That was, perhaps, the most important eight minutes of the day – the part you can control. The rest was a roll of the dice – traffic could be bad, parking at the airport might be a nightmare, security line could be long, blah blah blah. Well, it truly was my lucky day. I blew through it all and walked into the airport at 6:12. Was at the gate by 6:18. Time to spare! Got myself a bagel and a Boston Globe. Was on the plane at 6:30.

One time or another this happens to us all. But for me to open my eyes at 5:24 and be at my gate by 6:18 is pretty unheard of, given I live 20 miles from the airport. That’s 53 minutes from eyes-open to airport gate. A personal best that I don’t really care to try and beat anytime soon. So…..what happened, you ask? Well, the alarm didn’t go off, that’s what happened. This is the first time in a LONG time that this has happened to me. I am usually VERY focused on making sure everything is ready to go – clothes, bags, alarm, etc. In fact, I can’t remember any time where I’ve missed an alarm for a work trip. So what happened, you ask? Upon my return home at about 2pm yesterday, I discovered that “someone” changed the alarm from AM to PM……

On my way back to LaGuardia after my meeting, I passed something called the Karen Horney Clinic and I thought “I really don’t want to know what that is.” I tweeted it and soon enough and via Facebook found out that it was a place for “adult treatment programs, child and adolescent services, foster care programs and a treatment center for incest and abuse.” Most definitely good causes all, however, if your name is Karen Horney, you seriously may want to reconsider using your name as the beacon of the treatment center. Just saying.

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More Understanding

Continuing from yesterday:

When the internet came along, suddenly you could look up people anywhere in the country, even the world. Yellow and white pages went online. Personal websites and blogs started to flourish in the early part of this decade. Suddenly, the world got a hell of a lot smaller overnight. As millions of others did, I set out on an expedition in this relatively new frontier and started plugging “Copetas” into as many websites as I could and was surprised to find that there were indeed many of us out there. Far more than I ever imagined! Most of them were in Pittsburgh, some were in Ohio, Washington state, Illinois, D.C. and a few other places. We Copetas’s in Massachusetts were suddenly a small part of a much larger group and I needed to find out more.

Fast forward to 2006 – email contact had been made with a few people and I had regular correspondence with a couple of them. A few didn’t seem terribly interested in trying to understand how we were all related, but a few did and enjoyed hearing from the little island of Copetas’s in Massachusetts. I came to find out that each year at the big Greek Orthodox church in Pittsburgh, they actually held a dinner for the descendants who came from the little Vlahokaishota village in Greece (mentioned in yesterday’s blog post) – and plenty of Copetas’s attend it. The dinner every year draws about 250-300 people, all of whom are tied to one small village in Greece. Of course, I thought this was something I needed to attend. Where else would we find a place where we could attempt to get a better understanding of who we are and try to “re-connect” with family? No better place than a dinner where a lot of us would be in one room! I wasn’t able to make it in 2007 or 2008. But 2009 was a different story. More on that later this week.

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Understanding

Genealogy is a topic that interests me a bit. For the last few years, I’ve been able to connect with other Copetas’s on my dad’s side simply because of the internet. Finding distant relatives before T1 lines came along was simply too herculean a task. You’d have to a) have time and b) rely on older relatives to tell you who was where and how they were related, because you couldn’t just call up the Pittsburgh white pages on the internet. Our only source to finding out more about our family was through my grandfather and according to my dad, he never was very forthcoming with the details. We don’t know why. It was either he just didn’t know them well enough or there was some fallout. Of course, today nobody would have any chance at remembering such things.

Here’s the story, best I know it: my grandfather came to Pittsburgh in roughly 1918 via a small village in Greece called Vlahokaishota (can’t confirm spelling). Many Greeks came to Pittsburgh from this village and their story is much like the millions of immigrants who came here from all over the world. My grandfather took a job as a butcher and apparently gained quite a reputation for his skill. He eventually came to Massachusetts (for what reason, I do not know), met his wife and stayed here.

From what I can remember, he spoke to some Pittsburgh folks, maybe on big holidays. I can distinctly remember he and my dad pulling out of our driveway and driving to Pittsburgh in the late 1970s to visit his cousin and some other folks, who have long since passed away. That’s really it. As a kid, I never really thought about it. I believed us to really be the only Copetas’s in the country, frankly and I remember thinking more than once that I was the only one who could carry on the name, given I didn’t have any brothers. I also never worked to confirm it.

Here we are, some 30-odd years later. I spent four years at Kent State in Ohio from 1990 to 1994 – just two hours from Pittsburgh – and never bothered to take the drive down there to find out more. I will forever regret that decision, but at the same time, I didn’t have a car for much of my time at Kent, nor the money to be renting cars or hopping trains and buses on a whim. Still, I could have made it happen somehow and I didn’t – abd the truth, which I’ve been discovering over the last couple of years, was that WE were the ones who were isolated from the rest of the Copetas’s!. More on this tomorrow…..

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You Can See It’s All Lies

One of the things I love about music is that once in a while somethnig comes out of left field and just gets me. Something that nobody would ever imagine I would like. Yes, I’m posting about Lily Allen again. I thought maybe when I wrote about her back in August that it was just a quick appreciatation and eventually I’d get over it and be on my merry way. I call this my Aimee Mann Syndrome. Mann released exactly one album that I find almost perfect – and the rest of her albums I just can’t stand.

So I thought I’d be putting Lily into the Aimee Mann Syndrome folder, but she’s released a new album recently and I’ll be damned if it’s not just as good as her first! There’s just something about Allen’s cheerful, joyous, deep pessimism that stays with me. Yes, I said “cheerful pessimism.” Allen makes it possible. I need to share two videos with you.

The first is her appearance on the Jay Leno show earlier this week, where she NAILS her new single, called “The Fear.” Just listen to those lyrics……she is good. I can’t believe I’m saying it. She can’t dance, though.

The next one is a perfect example of “cheerful optimism.” It’s the video for a song called “LDN” from her first album. A few things I love about this video/song. The opening bit in a record store kills me. The song itself is so toe-tappingly cheerful you can’t even imagine it’s about crack-whores and muggers. It’s the curve balls that I like so much……and Allen’s got a 12-to-6.

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The Visitor

Do Something
Do Something

This past weekend was one of the rare occasions that Steph & I got to see an entire movie. Really! Like, we sat down on the couch and watched a WHOLE movie on Saturday night! We decided to just forego the making of a meal, save some time and grab some takeout at the IndianĀ  place which we really like here in Maynard. For the record, she had Butter Chicken. I had Lamb Dosa and Chicken Chaat.

There is a big challenge in picking movies these days. Before kids, you could roll the dice and rent something and if it was bad, no big deal. Not now. Oh, no. You have to make sure it’s a movie you absolutly want to see. Or a movie recommendation from a friend whose movie taste you implicity trust. Nothing feels worse than being able to see a movie like once every six months, then to have that movie be a dud (sad trombone, anyone?). Luckily, a friend of Steph’s recommended “The Visitor.” The basic plot is that of a depressed windowed college professor, basically living out his days, who travels to New York City to attend a conference. He finds a young couple, who turn out to be illegal immigrants, living in his apartment. That’s all I’m going to say about the movie, because you need to see it.

Let it just be said that most often, it’s these less heard-of movies that really hit you most and think about how you live your life and use your time. It also makes you think quite a bit about the U.S. Immigration Policies, especially in a post-9/11 world. The lead part is played by Richard Jenkins, one of those guys like John C. Riley who you recognize from 50% of the movies you see but you can’t remember a single damn movie title that he’s been in. He was nominated for an Oscar in the leading actor role for this film and he was spectacular!

This was a Verizon Fios On-Demand movie, so I assume it’s available on most On-Demand systems. See it.

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