Holy moly, I went to Greece & it was ALL OF THE THINGS & then I got back and didn't know how to process it until weeks after my return, so that said...I don't mind that this blog post is 3 weeks late, because let's face it:
It takes time to separate real lessons from nostalgia.
So please remember this stuff, future Chrysanthe:
- Pack more shirts next time you travel in the summer. Fewer jackets.
- If you have an absurdly large suitcase, make sure your AirBnb apartment has an elevator -- or at least not a perilous, narrow, marble spiral suitcase.
- Embrace JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). Remember how you skipped the final group outing, and how it was totally okay. You saved yourself from developing insidious, unintentional resentment, and your non-participation didn't affect your relationship with your colleagues.
- Whipping out your violin and jamming with the performing musicians at a cafe is never a bad idea, especially if it's a Vamvakaris song.
- Remember how upset you were about the slow album progress at first. Then fast forward to the final days when you had all those new revelations and ideas that wouldn't have been possible to implement had you rushed the process. Stop freaking out about productivity the whole time.
- Just accept the siesta hours. They're not gonna go away, no matter how much you wish they would. Seriously though, Syros is a ghost town from 1-5pm, and there's no use fighting it.
- Pay attention to the status of your luggage at international layovers. Apparently, bags don't always automatically meet you at your destination. Thank god for the one incredible Philadelphia Airport employee who gave my suitcase a second chance to make it through with me.
- Bringing Lysol spray, a power strip, Tupperware, and tons of batteries = the best idea ever. Good job. Pat yourself on the back and do it again, always.
- Set small, manageable, imaginable goals, because it's really easy to feel disappointed and lost when you're deep in the middle of work. You're never sure if you're living up to your expectations if you don't set a realistic, concrete expectation to begin with. You always fall into the vicious cycle of progress without acknowledgment, which certainly contributes to your rampant artistic malaise and insecurity.
- People don't ALWAYS suck. Remember that you actually had some nice moments. Highlights: learning Greek phrases from my colleagues, interviewing people about home/having a couple of unexpectedly deep offshoot conversations sparked by that, randomly hanging out with the drunk Greek band at Apano Hora.
- Never forget the time you got really lost on your run and found your way back operating on pure instincts (!?!?). Your instincts aren't always broken after all!
- No matter how hot the climate of your destination is, dress for the Arctic on the plane.
- Always have cash on hand for cabs. Drivers don't always take card like they do in the US.
- Remind my cat-sitter that he should refill the litter when it gets low...I shall never make this mistake again...
- Staying with an AirBnb host who is actually present can be nice if you're new to a city and want insider tips. I learned so much from Eugenia, my Syros host, and she even came to my presentation at the residency!
- Speaking of presentation, why do you always think you're a terrible public speaker and articulator? You walk around telling everyone you can't talk, you're too awkward, no one will understand your gibberish, but maybe it's time to acknowledge that sometimes you're actually very good? Your Syros residency presentation is where you found the sweet spot in terms of preparation + confidence + trust in the moment. You were certainly prepared -- that's for damn sure -- but not over prepared. Your material was very strong. You had all the goods, so there was no need to feel like an imposter. And your usually annoying tendency to think everything to death came in handy when having to speak about your process and inspiration. (I have acquired a few minutes of footage from the presentation, which I'll be privately sharing with my patrons.)
- Being in a different time zone than everyone back home is the best thing ever. I LOVE BEING OUT OF REACH and missing out on live updates. I wouldn't want to be without internet at all, of course, but catching up with things on my own time is really one of the secrets to calmness.
If you're curious for some footage from the Syros Sound/Word Residency, here are several video diaries I posted during the trip. They are linked here in chronological order.
Carob tree, yellow split peas, midnight snack hunt, impromptu drunk musician hang
Ocean views, Greek coffee, emo art thoughts, cats, vegan food.
Cats, class, colleagues, cooking, emo art thoughts
Mysterious rye bread, Greek coffee, musical preview, midnight Vamvakaris concert
Sanitizer, salepi, spoken word, sleepy composers, deadly delicious rye bread
Water, hills, bread, split peas, work, emo art thoughts
Last day of the residency, colleague presentations, group improv performance
Athens, Acropolis, travel lessons, perilous staircase
For more blog posts about this trip and my new (in progress) album, click here.