Rain, Rain Go Away

The past few weeks we have been getting soaked with continuous rain in the greater Denver metro area. However, I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until last night when I saw our dog Darcy put on floaties and a snorkel to go outside to pee. He came back in drenched, poor guy. Needless to say he now holds it in until absolutely necessary.

My dog Apollo hated the rain. He would poke his butt out of the dog door only as much as necessary and when done he would jump back into the house. If he happened to get a drop of water on him in the process, he would run around the house until he was dry. Then he would crawl under the nearest, thickest blanket and shiver until he got the expected amount of sympathy from me. ( Of course a nice peanut butter cookie also helped him recover from  his awful ordeal ).

It’s interesting that we have the state of California under drought conditions and water restrictions. Contrast that to Colorado where folks are now swimming or going by boat to work. We would gladly give California all of our new ” liquid gold”. Denver was originally a plains, semi arid desert region. ( I am so glad we aren’t experiencing climate change ).

I had always heard that it was good to teach children to swim at a young age. Parents in the Denver area are getting a chance to test that theory. They put a pair of floaties on their kids, shove them out the door and let them swim to school. I just hope the rain has stopped by June 19th ( The beginning date of the Greek Festival ). Can you imaging wet Greeks being even more pleasant than they usually are welcoming people and telling them to enjoy and have a good time? OPA!!

Do I Put This On My Resume?

So, I started a part time job last week. It ended in a week. Originally it was supposed to last from one to six months and then the agency would have something else lined up for me. The woman at the agency was furious ” This is the third time they have done this to us.We are dropping them as a client”. ( It’s a shame they didn’t drop them after the second time). I am a bit of a job jinx , so I may still get my revenge.

It started when I went to work as office manager for a box manufacturing company. The headquarters was in New Orleans and a branch office in Denver. After 6 years they went bankrupt. ( The awful part – besides losing my job – was the company policy of getting a free weeks paid vacation in New Orleans after 6 years. Guess who didn’t get his vacation?). Next came working for the State of Colorado at the Student Loan Program.

Sure enough after 6 years, the state legislature decided that Colorado should no longer be in the student loan business. They closed the division, along with my job. I took a year off and got a Medical Coding certificate. I went to work for a company that did medical coding for many of the ER’S in the greater Denver metro area. The jinx was finally broken. They didn’t outsource the coding jobs until after my 7th year there. I was told at this last week long job that the company had been around for 41 years. ( That’s about to change ).  I am betting that my being there a week will be good enough for the job jinx to kick in. Besides they’ve had a good run.

Aunt Connie

Aunt Connie passed away this last Thursday. She was the last living sibling of Yiayia and Papou Georgelas. For me growing up , they were all larger than life – they were super heroes. I was incredibly fortunate to have them all as a part of my life. Aunt Connie always reminded me of a Hollywood movie star with looks, glamour and grace. She could light up a room with her smile and her love for her family was boundless. She never knew a stranger and everyone was always welcome in her home.

I am very grateful that her family and friends were able to celebrate her 90th birthday with her. I wasn’t able to attend, but from the pictures that I have seen on face book and from my cousins that I have talked with, she had a great time being surrounded by her family and friends. Plus, for the people that did attend , they will have memories that will last a life time. While there is a great sadness in her passing, I feel so blessed to have known this beautiful ( inside and out ) woman. May her memory be eternal. I know for me it will. Love You Aunt Connie!!

Colonoscopy

Doesn’t it sound intelligent when you can use medical words? Of course , you sound even more intelligent if you actually know what those words mean. Last Friday I had my second colonoscopy. ( One of the many privileges of getting older ). The procedure itself takes only about 10 minutes, yet you may spend between 3 and 4 hours in the hospital. They also request that you have a responsible adult drive you home ( this of course excluded any Greek people that I knew, so a non-Greek friend drove me home).

I was thrilled this time because they didn’t knock me out ( I was able to hear everything – pretty cool ). Of course I didn’t understand half of what was being said. I attribute this to the drugs and not my lack of knowledge. In the recovery room, the doctor came in to tell me about the number of polyps removed and where they were located. He also proceeded to give me advice on my eating habits. I was a bit reluctant to take nutritional advice from someone who makes a living probing people’s butts. Apparently I am to reduce the number of cokes that I drink ( at least he was smart enough not to use the word eliminate ).

Not only did the doctor tell me what had been done, he gave me colored pictures to take home. Most people have pictures of their children and pets to show, I have pictures of the insides of my colon and intestine. I was hungry the day of my procedure since they only allow a liquid diet the day before. Seeing those pictures seemed to cure my hunger.

You Have a Hole in Your Sock

Last Thursday Katie , Toni and I went to a candlelight vigil at St. Marys Ethiopian Cathedral. The vigil was held for the 30 Ethiopian Christians killed in Libya. Now the service itself wasn’t much different than the one we attend every week at Assumption Cathedral. ( You know, a two to three hour service , in a strange language and you are standing most of the time). However there were two differences that I was unaware of. First, there is a rack in the front of the Church. Hanging from this rack are hundreds of plastic bags ( like grocery store bags ). These bags are to be used for your shoes, which are to be removed before you enter the Church.

So we take our shoes off , put them in the bags and enter the Church. Then I notice that everyone else is carrying their bags with them. My first thought was ” Oh great, someone will pick up the bag and donate our shoes to some homeless shelter”. Much to my relief, they were still in the lobby as we left the Church.

The second difference was the seating arrangements. Men sat on the left of the Church and women on the right. As a gay man , I found this quite appealing and I may suggest this same arrangement to the Church board at Assumption Cathedral. I did meet a nice man ( Tesva ), who fortunately spoke some English ( My Ethiopian is a bit lacking, like nonexistant ). Tesva translated much of the service for me. Of course this meant that I actually had to pay attention.

 

Being Greek Orthodox

“Christos Anesti” – Christ is Risen. ( And yes that is the extent of my Greek ). I spoke nothing but Greek when I entered kindergarten and even learned Spanish and Latin in school. Now I struggle with English. Too much of that Colorado pot, I guess my brain cells are dying.

Looking back it seems that I spent half my childhood doing something in or with the Church. There was GOYA, Cretan Youth, Greek School, Sunday School and best of all Altar boy. I served in the Altar when Father George Neofotistos  was Priest in Denver.  He was a very nice, religious man but very conservative. We would often have very lively “discussions” about social and political issues. We learned to respect each others opinions, even though I feel that Father George was wrong most of the time.  When I graduated high school and left the Altar, Father George wanted me to go to the Seminary. ( Rumor has it that the Church is considering making the day I left the Altar a Church holiday).

Father George had it all arranged for me to fly to Boston and see what I thought of the Seminary. I told him that I would not be happy there and needed to go to someplace with great academics and very liberal ( My three choices were Columbia – New York, Cal – Berkeley and my favorite CU – Boulder. Of course I got my admittance to CU last – figures right? ).

So, I went to CU and Father George wouldn’t speak to me for two months. We patched things up eventually and remainder close until he left Denver. ( To run the Seminary ironically ).  One very cool thing about being Eastern Orthodox is that our Easter is celebrated the same as everyone else only once every 4 years. This means we get Easter candy at reduced prices most of the time – pretty cool huh?

Infection!!!

Catchy title right? A while ago I had a prostate biopsy done. It was really cool. There was a big screen in the room and I got to watch. I keep trying to convince the doctor to do the same thing with my upcoming colonoscopy but he keeps on insisting that you have to be totally sedated. If someone is going to be poking and probing around inside of me I want to know what is going on. I come by this naturally, my dad keep on asking the doctors if he could watch every time they did heart surgery on him. To his disappointment the answer was always no.

When they do the prostate biopsy , they tell you that there is a one in a million chance of getting an infection. I soon found out that I was one in a million ( I always knew I was special) . The really bad part was that the infection decided to locate itself in my left testicle. The men reading this will all understand and sympathize with the pain. The women will probably refer to child birth as being more painful. I will say that passing kidney stones was the worst pain ever for me. At one point I kept asking the doctor to just shoot me and put me out of my misery.

I have been to the ER twice now as the doctors try and find the right pain medications and `anti bacterial medications. I have also been groped by more people than I care to mention ( All in the name of medical practice). I can hardly wait to see what happens with my colonoscopy.

Holy Week

Holy Week has me thinking about my dad. Not only did we attend Church every night  ( the only excuse for missing a service was death – your own ), but we always got there early ( an hour early usually, because ” How else will God know we are there if we aren’t sitting in “our” pew? I did not know God was so easily confused.) One family did sit in our pew one Sunday. The next Sunday I was told that they had moved out of town. I will miss them.

My dad also liked to keep attendance after we arrived. For example: 6:15 – about 30people in Church. 6:30 – over a hundred people in Church. 6:45 – the Church is almost full. 7:00 – Standing room only “This is why we come early, to sit in “our” pew and to have a place to sit. ( Ignoring the fact that you stand during most of the service).

My dad was also in charge of cooking the Agape meal after midnight services for several years. And I happily “volunteered”. “Don’t put the lamb in that oven. You call those potatoes, they look like mush. What did you do to the vegetables? Thank God someone else made the Baklava.” Constructive criticism , you know just in case I should ever want to become a chef. The way i looked at it was: at 2:30 in the morning these people were getting a free meal. If they didn’t like what was served or the way it was cooked, they could go home and cook their own damn meal – Happy Easter!!

In Addition

Last week I mentioned my Papou Steve forming a posse after my Papou Pete was shot. Well there are several other stories connected to this. The first related story is about Mr. Gerakis asking my Great Grandfather Seradakis if he could marry my Yiayia Helen. Apparently Papou Seradakis told Mr. Gerakis no because ” You only have one arm. How will you provide for my daughter with one arm? Plus, I can’t imagine looking over the dinner table at that stub.And don’t forget you have killed two men”. ( I found it interesting that the killing of the two men was the last thing mentioned. I guess we all have our different priorities).

The second story involves my mom and a field trip that she took. The way the story was originally told was that when she was 5 my mom took a field trip to the prison where she saw Mr. Gerakis and it scared her. When asked about this Papou Seradakis replied ” I am an uneducated man, maybe this is what they do in American schools”. My Papou Tony responded ” I am an educated man ( University in Athens) . I can tell you that American schools do not take 5 year olds on field trips to prisons”.

What we finally concluded was that yes my mom did take a field trip. Her school bus probably did pass the prison and Mr. Gerakis was out in the prison yard but the field trip was not to the prison. ( Unless this was the beginning of the scared straight prison program in the US).

Papou

We recently discovered that my Papou – Steve Kelaidis – led a posse to try and capture a man named Tony Gerakis after he had shot my other Papou Pete Regas. ( Kind of like an episode from the TV show Dynasty ). Gerakis managed to avoid the posse and hid in the mountains . Several days later he turned himself in to the sheriff. He confessed to the shooting and told the sheriff that he wanted protection from Steve Kelaidis, because he was deadly with a gun. He also told the sheriff that he was afraid that Papou Kelaidis would still be able to get to him inside the jail.

Now, I had always been told by many family members that Papou had a slight Cretan temper. However, I always remember Papou as a very kind and gentle man to his grandchildren. We would sit on his lap and help him play cards. Sure he was loud and cussed a bit ( he was Greek – right?). My mom would always tell him ” Dad you shouldn’t say those things in front of the kids”. He would answer back ” It won’t be the first time they hear such things. Better they should hear them at home first so they can ask questions” . ( Greek logic ).

My parents and other family members have often said that I remind them of Papou. I take that as a compliment. Papou was just an “average uneducated coal miner” but his love for his family and loyalty to his friends knew no bounds. If at the end of my life, I have accomplished even just half of what Papou did then my life will have been a success. May His Memory Be Eternal ( With stories like this I am sure it will be).

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