Saturday, February 22, 2014

It's Greek to me - spanikopita, an epiphany, and an excerpt

Last Thursday (of course I'm posting it late, look at the title of the blog!) I made spanikopita and I had an epiphany. Both words are Greek, ergo (ha!) this blog post almost has a theme. And since I was going to post about spanikopita before I had the epiphany, to fill it out, I thought I'd add an excerpt from my only WIP with a Greek character. Actually, his family is Greek, but according to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it's really the same thing. :)

First, spanikopita. It's been awhile since I made it, but the feta I'd put in the freezer was getting old. Of course, I managed to use the slightly less old package. Oops.

It might be less labor-intensive if I did it the way the recipe calls for -- layering the sheets of filo, spreading the filling, layering more sheets, continue until done -- but I'm used to making them for people to have at get-togethers while you stand around chatting, rather than using a fork and knife, so I wrap them individually.

Spanikopita recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook. My sister gave me a copy even before I became a vegetarian.

It usually takes me about three tries before I remember how to fold them into neat little triangles, but I must have been exceptionally tired on Thursday, because the entire first batch came out like this:

And then something clicked, and the second batch came out like this:

Maybe that was actually my first epiphany of the day.

The big epiphany was about marriage. I think about it a lot because of all the marriage equality battles going on in the world right now. I think about how to counter the argument that marriage should be between a man and a woman only. And that day, my train of thought somehow led to the male's biological imperative to spread his genetic material as widely as possible.

Does anyone else get concerned about the number of sperm and egg donors these days, and kids resulting from those donations not knowing who their biological parents are? That these kids may grow up and fall in love with their half-siblings and they won't find out about their backgrounds until their kids are born with real problems? Yes, I worry about stuff like that, even though I don't know anyone with that background.

We all know that incest is taboo because of the potential for birth defects in children whose parents share too much genetic material. Could that also be the reason for marriage as an institution to have begun in the first place?

If a man has children with every woman in his community, those children will grow up and not be able to marry anyone in that community, because they are all related. So at some point in human history, someone must have hit upon the idea of binding a man to one woman (or a small group of women) and requiring him to reproduce with only those women, as a method of keeping his DNA close to home. This would also explain why bastards were so frowned upon and fornication was right out.

Of course there's the emotional aspect -- that wives and husband get hurt when their spouse cheats on them -- but if you look at the proscriptions of the Bible, especially the Old Testament, most of them are meant to keep believers healthy. I would bet that moral judgment was attached to these proscriptions thousands of years later. (For example: the Hebrew word that most bibles translate as "abomination" really means, according to our rabbi, something more along the lines of "things we Jews do not do". So rather than the finger of God pointing at you with wrathful fury and Condemning You To HAYULL!!!!11one!, it's more like "Friends don't let friends eat pork." It still doesn't explain the mixed-fibers one.....maybe someone foresaw the rise and the evils of polyester???)

So that's my epiphany about marriage -- society decided it was best that all children within a day's travel not be related to each other, therefore, men had to learn to keep it in the marriage bed. Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. I like to think I'm a genius, though. :)

My short story with a Greek character, "Fiscal Cliff" is still unfinished. Of course it's still unfinished. See the title of my blog.

It was meant as an experiment, something to toss up, self-pubbed, on Amazon to see how it would do. I got the idea for the title from a 99-cent e-book called "Binders of Women", published on Oct. 24, 2012, which was a week or so after Mitt Romney unttered the now-(in)famous phrase. It was about as good as you'd expect a 99-cent e-book would be, but I thought it was pretty smart, really, to title it with a term that people would be searching on. So as you can probably tell, my story was supposed to be published back in 2012, when the fiscal cliff was a thing. But of course it blew up to 20K words instead of 10K and still hasn't been revised. SEE THE TITLE OF MY BLOG!!!!

Anyway, here's the beginning of "Fiscal Cliff". Warning: first draft! first draft!!!

 “Nice suit.” The guy sitting on the end of the bar smiled at me, then he took a sip of his PBR, lifting his chin as he tipped back the can so I could see his throat working. The lenses in his glasses weren’t prescription, but he was pretty cute, so I didn’t care about the pretentiousness

"Thanks." I tossed back my shot of Johnnie Walker and set the glass on the bar. “Wanna take this someplace more private?

“Hell, yeah.” He slid off the barstool and pushed through the crowd, stopping outside the bathrooms to give me a sloppy kiss before continuing on to the back room. Once inside, surrounded by heat and bodies, he kissed me again, holding me against him by pulling on my tie.

“Watch the goods,” I warned, tugging it out of his hand. I gave him a little push and he stepped back until he hit the wall, grinning.
“What do you like to do?” he asked, undoing the first button on his fly.

I smoothed out my tie, then loosened it. “Just about everything."

He stepped forward, tugging my shirt out of my pants and then shoving his hand up inside of it it to touch my chest. When he did, he froze. “Whoa.” He pushed up my shirt and stared at my chest. “Have you never heard of manscaping?”

Jesus, how many times could I have this discussion? Sometimes I wished I was living in the 1970s. “Yes, I've heard of manscaping. But look, I’m Greek, so what’s the point of shaving, trimming, whatever the hell else, when it’s just going to grow back in two hours?” You’d think the heavy five o’clock shadow on my jaw would have given him a clue about what to expect below it, but maybe he thought it was just an artfully cultivated scruff.  

Being from a Greek family, I knew it would be a Sisyphean task to keep myself smooth. It was easier to just find men who didn’t mind body hair, which wasn't hard to do, even if my 5'7", lightly muscled frame wasn't usually a draw for those who liked bears.
“It wasn’t a criticism.” He ran his hand up my chest, scratching his fingernails through the hair there, then he sank to his knees.

Well, at least one thing in my life sucked in the good way.


And now back to work on my Project Fierce fundraiser story! Deadline is in one week, ACK!!!