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Letter From Dan

Posted by on July 28, 2003

Those of you interested in the progress of our most fascinating friend Dan will probably enjoy this slightly abridged email from him (and I hope Dan will not mind my sharing it). Once you’ve read it, kindly put your brain to work in figuring out which organ I ought to sell to raise the money for my upcoming trip to Greece.

Dear Kristen,

Right. That was a good first try. We will go ahead with this communicating thing slowly, without any rapid scary movements.

Hmmm� It is summertime in Greece. That means: heat, beaches, swimming, sun, cicadas buzzing all day long, crickets, siestas, cold beer in the afternoons, cold wine in the evenings, outside rooftop cinema visits, tavernas with live music, and a general hum of activity, for people visit people in summertime, and foreigners come to Greece in summertime, and Greeks are happy in summertime.

I am probably happier in wintertime. But summertime is nice too.

Up the dirt road from Katounia, about twenty minutes walk, is a secluded beach at the end of a narrow valley with a stream trickling down the middle of it. No one is ever on this beach, which means I can go there […] for many hours on end.

I have a job now. It requires me to spend two weeks out of every month in Athens, and Athens, despite what fantasies the word conjures up in the imaginations of the uninitiated, is a horrible place. But jobs mean money, and money means, well, money means something important, or so it�s been hammered into me. This job is interesting enough: I am the assistant to a woman who works for the Archbishop of Constantinople. She organizes bi-yearly cruises on environmentally endangered seas and oceans. Scientists, philosophers, social activists, and clergy assemble on these cruises and for a week or so travel around whatever sea it is they are saving, visit the cultural centers on its periphery, and talk about ecology and theology while indulging in seven-course meals twice a day. An interesting sort of thing I�ve gotten myself into. A weird mix of idealistic charity and irony-inducing hypocrisy. This is the West. This is our lives.

My monastery ambitions are now on hold for a while. I am thinking of returning to the States at the end of next summer to go back to university. I think I will try to get into Princeton. We�ll see.

[…]

I mentioned outdoor rooftop cinema visits. Limni, the local village, has a rooftop cinema in the summer, and I�ve gone a few times, and have seen so far: The Two Towers, which sucked; the latest James Bond, which sucked; Harry Potter 2, which was dubbed into Greek, but looked good; a movie called Simone with Al Pacino, which was okay; The Hours, which was both good and awful; and maybe another one which I�ve forgotten. All the movies they show here are Hollywood movies from last year. Hollywood movies just seem to get worse. Why do you think that is? Why do you think Greeks don�t seem to want to see movies about their own country in their own language? Why do you think they see movies about Americans made in America one day, and throw tomatoes at the American embassy the next day? Why do you think that is? But rooftop cinemas are wonderful. You can drink beer and smoke at them, the stars are a good way of making a bad movie better, and there are lots of children scampering about being Greeky.

[…]

What is the friend demographic like over there these days? I mean: where do people live, who are people seeing most often, what are people doing, where are they working?

[…]

I love you, Kristen, and remember: you always bring out my quirk. I don�t know why. Imagine what would happen if I started e-mailing Michele.

Dan/Thomas, always on the run.

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