I have been working at 24 Hour Fitness in Pacifica for almost 4 years and Saturday was my last day. I am beyond excited for my new opportunity in publishing but it has really been sad to leave the place that has been my second home throughout these years. When I first started at the gym, I was lucky enough to have some of the best coworkers anyone could ask for. They were the reason I stayed so long at 24. Going into work was basically just hanging out with my friends and that is honestly the greatest feeling. Although some people didn’t work with me the entire time I was there, we still keep in touch and hangout to this day. The one person that has been there basically since the beginning was Lena. Through the power of pizza, Star Wars, food and more food, Lena has become one of my best friends. My years at 24 would not have been so amazing without my twin and I’m seriously going to miss working with her so much! There are a crazy amount of people that I want to mention as well but they know who they are and I’m going miss you all as well. On top of having the best coworkers ever, I had the pleasure of being surrounded by the most amazing and caring members. Every single day there would be snacks and goodies at the front desk. Most of the time it would be the greatest member ever, LJ, who would always make sure to bring us little presents. It was incredible how much stuff she spoiled us with and I can’t thank her enough. She even got me a going away gift which I really appreciated. One of the members, Fred, went and bought me a book, which if you know me is the perfect gift. I am just blown away by the generosity and love that all the members at Pacifica showed me during my time there. I’m going to miss all the members that I talked to daily, like Grace and Elmo to name a few, and those that I talked Game of Thrones with. One of the worst parts about this is having to leave all the little ones from Kids Club. It is literally heart breaking that I wont be able to hangout with Finley, Parker, Brandon, Harper and all my other babies. I was able to watch them all grow since they were 6 months old, they are the sweetest kids. Aside from the amazing people I met over the years, the things I learned at 24 will help me in my career and life. Before I started working there, I was pretty shy when it came to talking to people I wasn’t comfortable with. The constant interactions with the members allowed me to grow immensely in that regard. I really do believe I grew up while at 24 and am beyond grateful for my wonderful four years there. This particular blog was really tough for me to write because I have so many fond memories that I wanted to talk about but I cant possibly mention them all. It was also tough because I absolutely love my family at Pacifica 24 and leaving them is so difficult. Actually writing everything down was sad but I am so grateful for everything and everyone. I’m going to miss the gym more than I ever thought I would when I started there. I love you guys, you’re truly the best. Thank you for the most incredible 4 years! Miss you already!
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love getting together with everyone and just having family time. It’s the perfect day of catching up with family and friends, watching football, and eating everything in site. This year was no exception. My family and I went to my Theo, Thea, and cousin’s new house. It was a great place to have Thanksgiving and to enjoy everyone’s company. One of the best parts about Thanksgiving however, is the insanely good food. We have the usual turkey and cranberry sauce but the real star of the night is the stuffing. God I love stuffing. So much. My plate this year consisted of a little bit of salad, two pieces of turkey, and then four different stuffings. That’s right, four gloriously delicious stuffings made with pure love. My yiayia makes her stuffing, my Thea makes stuffing of her own, our friends Christo and Remy make their stuffing and of course my moms stuffing. Each one had a distinct flavor but each one was bombsauce.com/sauce. My mom’s stuffing is made of cornbread. Isn’t that the greatest thing you have ever heard?? Cornbread stuffing is what Game of Thrones is made of. I basically had two plates of stuffing and I was stuffed (see what I did there?). I honestly don’t know if I have ever been more stuffed in my life. It was an instant food coma with no light at the end of the tunnel. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breath, I just sat there in my disgusting Thanksgiving form, wondering what I had just done to my body. Epic food coma’s are the only problem with Thanksgiving but they are unavoidable. We just have to live with our bloated selves until we hit the gym. Other than that though, Thanksgiving gives us amazing family time, some good football (sometimes), and endlessly delicious food. There’s really nothing more I could ask for and I am thankful for my family because they are the reason Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a great time as well. Happy Thanksgiving!
I’m pretty sure Netflix is slowly ruining my life. I started suspecting this a couple months ago when I realized that I wasn’t watching television anymore. All the shows I was watching were starting to pile up on the DVR because I was insanely behind on them. Ever since I got a Firestick (allows my not smart TV to become a smart TV) the only thing I do is watch Netflix. I never change the TV to actual television. There’s just too many shows on Netflix to ever possibly get bored. I’ve watched both Parks and Rec and The Office twice all the way through. After finishing Stranger Things (which was amazing) I have moved onto The Last Kingdom and The Punisher, only waiting mere hours before starting them. Netflix is ruining my life because it’s starting to take precedence over other things. Do I want to go to the gym or watch Tropic Thunder? The gym can wait, that movie is hilarious (Tom Cruise for God’s sake). I’ve got to go to the bathroom? We don’t pause in this house, have to wait another hour. Go out with my friends? Nope, Netflix is my greatest friend. You get the picture, I watch too much Netflix. I mean, sometimes after work, the most conversation I have is when Netflix asks me if I’m still watching and I respond with “don’t judge me” while pressing yes (always yes). It’s even starting to mess with my reading. I started A Song of Fire and Ice (the Game of Thrones books) like 3 months ago but I’m not even passed book one yet because of stupid Netflix. At this point, I watch movies on there that I actually own in Blue-Ray just because I have the power (so much power) to do so and they are downstairs which is rough due to the fact that I don’t gym anymore. I think I have to go all Punisher and hit my Firestick with a hammer. Maybe I’ll finally be free from this prison that is my bed after that. Until then though, I have 12 more episodes of the Punisher left I can’t wait to watch them!
My favorite tradition is right around the corner. It has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or Christmas, although I love those holidays and am so excited for them. The tradition I love the most is going to the Guns N’ Roses concerts with my dad. I’m pretty sure my father is the biggest GNR super fan there is. Last time I checked he had at least a thousand GNR songs on his iTunes, even though they only really had like 5 albums. I grew up listening to GNR (with my mom constantly getting mad at the swear words) which is the main reason I listen to rock music so I owe all my favorite songs now to my dad. We started going to GNR concerts together when I was a teenager. I’ll never forget one concert where Axl Rose, being the boss that he is, was supposed to be there at 9 o’clock but didn’t show up till at least 12. The opener, Sebastian Bach, had to perform a second time. My sister actually fell asleep during his second set which is literally impossible with how loud Bach is. Axl eventually came out to put on a killer concert and blow us all away. Even though GNR was without the legendary Slash (my favorite guitarist of all time) and most of the original members, Axl still had the GNR magic. Since then I have seen Guns N’ Roses 10 other times with my dad. We have seen them every where from San Francisco to Las Vegas, in big arenas to smaller venues. Half the time we go to these concerts we grab tickets to back to back nights. We fly to Vegas, see the concert on Friday night and Saturday night, then fly home and listen to GNR on our phones. Basically there’s no such thing as GNR overload for us. The best part of these concerts is hanging out with my dad and enjoying the music that we both love. For the last couple of concerts, to everyone’s surprise, Axl and Slash, as well as most of the original band, came back together to make our dreams come true. There is nothing like hearing Axl sing and then Slash starts shredding your face off with his solos. The latest installment in the GNR tradition with my dad is coming up next week. I couldn’t be more excited for us to rock out together again. If you happen to be at the concert, you can find my dad and I with smiles on our faces, singing into the night.
Often I find myself walking around a Barnes & Noble for an hour picking up random books that catch my eye. I’ll read the back of each book to see if I want to read them and I usually end up with 3-5 books every visit. This is how I found Red Rising by Pierce Brown. The red wing on the cover caught my eye so I picked it up and turned to the back of the book to see it was reviewed as a mix between Game of Thrones and Hungry Games. I’m not gunna lie, once I saw Game of Thrones on it the book was bought already but then I opened the cover to read the description and I had to have it. Red Rising is about a boy named Darrow who lives in an underground community on Mars. Darrow and his family are called Reds and they mine the depths of Mars to help terraform (make livable essentially) the surface for the rest of society to live there. Darrow finds out that his people have unknowingly been living as slaves for hundreds of years and the rest of society has already been living on the surface. Darrow then decides to rebel against the rest of the society. Now, I enjoy most dystopian novels and have read most of the Young Adult novels that everyone has heard about (like The Hunger Games) but Pierce Brown’s series is a cut above them all. From the first page of Red Rising you get hooked. The customs of the mines where Darrow lives are just plain brutal and Pierce Brown brilliantly weaves the setting to the point where you feel as if you’ve been living with the Reds for your whole life. The events that take part in the mines completely surprised me because it seems as if the story will unfold similarly to other dystopian books but it swerves in different directions. Once Darrow begins on his rebellion, Brown effortlessly increases the size of his world, from a small mine to vast space, as Darrow discovers more and more. You never want to leave the Red Rising universe once you’ve immersed yourself in it. I still use words that Brown created in my everyday speech! Although the world is amazing, the thing that sets Red Rising apart for me is the characters, particularly Darrow. The growth that Darrow goes through adds so many depths to his character it is astounding. He doesn’t start out as someone who knows what to do in every situation like other books and main characters. Darrow learns with every impossible situation, sometimes making the right decision but a lot of the time making the wrong one. He is not perfect which in turn makes him perfect. Throughout Red Rising and the rest of the Red Rising series, Darrow consistently battles with the ramifications of his choices because there is no easy route. He is one of my favorite characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about. One of the characters is the coolest character ever written so just prepare for it (you’ll know who I’m talking about when you read it). If you want to be fully lost in a world that keeps you in it’s grasps long after you’ve put down the book, then Red Rising is the book for you. This whole series is amazing so hurry up and read it, I promise you’ll love it!
Every year at St. Nicholas Ranch in Dunlap CA, we hold a Cretan Weekend for everyone to go to the middle of nowhere, get a break from “real life”, and celebrate our culture. The Ranch, as it’s called among the few blessed to walk it’s grass (or everyone), has basically no service or contact to the outside world. This means there is only three things to do: chill, drink, and eat. At The Ranch this weekend, that is precisely what we did. During the day, we hung around talking and playing catch until things got serious in the annual Cretan Weekend Football Game For The Ages. It was a back and forth affair between two teams likely to beat any NFL team, especially the 49ers, filled with many rivalries including brothers pitted against brothers. We played for hours, each team scoring in fantastic fashion but only to see the other team score mere seconds later. You had everything from your unlikely heroes, to blood and sweat marking the battleground. Seriously, I cannot explain to you the intensity with which this game between football gods was played if you weren’t there. Most of you weren’t there so you just have to believe me. There was even a Game of Thrones reference and if you know anything about me, I live for Game of Thrones references! Every single time the bell would ring we would all yell “shame”, it was glorious. Unfortunately my team ended up losing the battle and it will haunt me for my whole life. Night time at The Ranch was a great as well. Roughly 200 of us would surround the cooking meat, I’m talking pork belly, ribs, befteki, sausage, and love all cooking right in front of your face throughout the night. We would chill, drink, and eat till 3 or 4 in the morning just enjoying life as Greek people. Some of us even packed in the bed of a truck to go “hunting” rabbits at the lake hoping we could have stifado but never getting a good shot off. The Ranch is always a great place to hangout with your friends and listen to Greek music, play an epic game of football, drink, eat, and ultimately be Greek. I hope to see you all there next year. To The Ranch! Dilly-dilly!
I have figured out why I struggle to keep weight off and its something that has been right in front of my face this entire time. I love food too much. I have gone months, even years, on a diet but in the end food lures me back with its deliciousness. A person can only endure so many meals of chicken and rice you know? Imagine you bring your boringly bland chicken and veggies into work fully prepared to eat healthy and lose weight but then you see it out of the corner of your eye, a box of donuts. You proceed to look down at your chicken and suddenly regard it as cat food. Every ounce of your being tries to resist but its utterly impossible, the chocolate covered donut is already in your mouth. I have to deal with this scenario almost everyday at work and I’m lucky if I don’t eat a donut more than two days out of the week. This is just at work though! When I’m out, the fight to not be fat grows harder. There’s an insane amount of good food out there just calling my name, whispering to me. Pizza is literally my kryptonite. I am completely worthless when the pizza surrounds me in a dense smell-field of cheese, meat, (sometimes veggies if I’m trying to be a little healthy) and bread. Honestly a sack of potatoes would be of more help than me with pizza around. One time, while I was watching Game of Thrones, I ate a whole extra large combo to myself. At the time it was amazing but hearing it out loud makes me feel like I’m Jabba the Hutt. I think eating food is like a great adventure. I would rather go to a restaurant and stuff my face for two hours than go out to a club, which is a big problem my friends. When ordering a double whooper with cheese, large fries, a drink, and two dollar menu burgers is your idea of fun something is seriously wrong. I’ve been trying to cut down on the good old nights at the restaurants so wish me luck guys! I guess dreaming of a BBQ Chicken pizza with an egg on top will have to do for now. Damn I’m hungry…
By now, the majority of people who wanted to watch the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s “IT” have seen it so I thought it would be fun to talk about it, no pun intended (I’ve always wanted to say that). First I want to say that I haven’t seen the other adaptations of Stephen King’s novel in years and I don’t remember much so this discussion is solely about the new movie. With that being said lets begin. I went to see this movie twice so that already tells you that I enjoyed it but the reasons why may be a surprise to those who didn’t check the movie out. “IT” was advertised everywhere as a scary movie and while it is scary, they focused more on other aspects of the story than any other scary movie I’ve seen. Now, I am one of those weirdos that doesn’t get scared at all in these types of movies but both groups of people I saw this with were hiding (one of my friends was hiding behind his sweatshirt half the damn movie, you know who you are) and jumping throughout the movie so it definitely accomplished that goal. What I loved the most about this movie however, was the dynamic of the group of friends. The kids in “IT” were played by amazing young actors and they were portrayed like actual kids. Sometimes movies will have children characters that are too perfect and can’t really be seen as real, meaning the way they talk and react is more pristine than an actual kid would be. In this movie though, the kids swear up a storm and make hilarious jokes about each others mothers because there are no parents around to hear. Seriously this could be considered a comedy because I was laughing my butt off the entire time. The chemistry of the kids and the focus put on their relationships was amazing. Each kids individual fears were explained and for most of them, the fears made perfect sense. We even got scenes that had no other goal but to show the kids enjoying their summer vacation. It was refreshing to watch a scary movie actually take time to slow it down a bit and build it’s characters. Aside from the kids, another star of the movie was Pennywise the Dancing Clown played by Bill Skarsgård. Pennywise was creepy as hell I’m not gunna lie. I know I said I don’t get scared but there was one scene in a bathroom that made me jump out of my seat. His voice and the way he moved gave me goosebumps a couple of times. The clown was definitely the scariest part of the movie. The one problem I have with “IT’ is that Pennywise wasn’t in the movie as much as I would have wanted. It would have been much more scary if he was utilized more. That being said, that was really the only issue I had with the movie it was that good. On a scale of 1-Game Of Thrones it was a solid 2 which means it was fantastic. If you haven’t already seen it go check out Stephen King’s “IT”, you won’t be disappointed.
I don’t enjoy gambling like my friends do. Call me crazy, but losing a bunch of money just doesn’t seem fun to me. The one act of gambling I do participate in, however, is Fantasy sports. This is when you and your friends create a league and usually have an entrance fee to get in. You then precede to draft players and pit your teams against each other till there is a champion. I don’t really know why I still play fantasy sports since I inevitably lose every year. Maybe I like the “fantastic” feeling of losing every week due to the worst luck imaginable which I will now document here for you. It all started when we decided to play Fantasy Basketball. I had the first pick in the draft so of course I picked Lebron James. Throughout the season Lebron carried me from victory to victory with relative ease. Then more of the same happened in the playoffs as my team cruised to the championship. This is when Lebron James, for the first and last time, announced he would sit out the final two weeks of the season. My team got destroyed in the championship and I lost hundreds of dollars in the process. You might say, “that’s just a bad coincidence it doesn’t mean you have bad luck”, but it gets worse, much worse. We moved on to the real deal, Fantasy Football. My first inclination that my bad luck would continue was when I was winning a matchup by one point with my kicker to go and my opponent had no one playing. For anyone else this is a guaranteed win, but not for Harry. My kicker ended up missing a couple of kicks to go for a whopping -2 points and hand me a loss. There have been so many instances such as this one throughout my Fantasy Football career that my friends have an on-going joke about my unluckiness. It was all fun and games until people started getting hurt. That’s right, it literally became dangerous to be drafted by me. I almost ruined tight end Jordan Reeds football career. I drafted him for the first time one year and he kept getting injured. He is a great player so the next year I drafted him once again. This time my luck was forcing him to get concussion after concussion so I dropped him for his own good. The year after that he was having an amazing season so I made the terrible decision to trade for him and what happens as soon as he’s on my team? He gets ANOTHER concussion and I felt so bad that I dropped him again. Since then he has enjoyed a wonderful career unhampered by being on my team. By now your undoubtedly thinking, “how on Gods green earth can this possibly get any worse?”. Well, my friends, I just suffered a week straight out of Game of Thrones. I drafted the best player in Fantasy Football (David Johnson) this year with the number one pick and what do you know, he gets hurt in the first game of the year and wont be back for four months. Isn’t that just wonderful! Another one of my players is gone for the year and I apologize to both David Johnson and Allen Robinson for drafting them. These events aren’t coincidences, this is the work of the Fantasy gods who enjoy to watch me cry. Now I’m starting to figure out that I hate Fantasy Football because as I said before, there is no fun in throwing away money. At this point all I can do is laugh as my friends, to their extreme delight, take my money and my happiness. Hey, maybe this all means I’ll win the lotto some day, who knows.
I am not writing to bash other cultures but instead to explain why mine is so amazing. I am a Greek American who is extremely proud of my heritage. Being Greek is one of the most important facets of who I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way. First off, our illustrious History is second to none. From actual events to Greek mythology, the stories of our past helped shape our world today. Even our recent history is full of memorable events like the fact that the island of Crete withstood Germany for two weeks during WWII while full countries lasted mere days. Aside from our History however, there are a multitude of other reasons why I write this. Growing up Greek is something you have to experience to truly know but Greek school and church are where I spent most of my time. For what seems like my entire life I have been participating in massive gatherings of Greeks to celebrate our traditions. At these events, like FDF (Folk Dance Festival as I know it) and the Cretan confrences, hundreds of Greeks get together to enjoy the songs and dances everyone was taught as a child at dance practice and by Yiayia and Pappou at home. These places have helped shape me and I cannot express how thankful I am to have gone to them. I met friends there that will be my family forever. Our language is yet another reason I love being Greek. The words are just so beautiful and convey so much more emotion than other languages. If you listen to a Mitropanos song then you’ll know what I mean. Don’t even get me started on the food though. There is nothing better than a Gyro in Greece at 4 AM to fuel up for the rest of the night (besides Game of Thrones!). Pastichio, souzoukakia, bougatsa, makaronia me kima, and everything else in between, my mouth is literally watering at the thought of the delicious food that Greeks have perfected. These are just a few of the hundreds of reasons to be proud of being Greek but instead of reading about it you should go out and experience it yourself. There truly is no substitute for being Greek.