Anthesteria 2017

One of the things I want to bring to this blog is a candid image of what Hellenism is like for a career person. The polytheistic blogosphere is much like the rest of the Internet: Many people are experts at doing meaningful ritual and have deeply awesome connections to their gods that they can wax poetical about for years. However, they’re also usually devotees and/or priest(esse)s of gods who have made time management choices in favor of all of these things.

One of the reasons I came back to blogging was to offer a grounded look from a very different vantage point. I am not a priestess of anything. Beyond household worship, I really don’t have tons of divine obligations or restrictions. I am a career-oriented person. My career goal is to be an awesome librarian. My other career goal is to have people read my creative writing because I think it says something important. I make offerings to gods when appropriate.

So, I’m going to share a very frank post about this year’s Anthesteria. I’m going to start with one enormous confession:

I really, really, really don’t like alcohol.

I hate every drug except caffeine (unless one includes chocolate.) Hard cider is the only alcoholic beverage I tolerate, and even then, I don’t like the cognitive effects of alcohol because I am hyper-aware of them, which makes me anxious. I drink at professional conferences, which works out to 4-7 days per year. I also traditionally have forced myself to gag down at least one glass of wine during the Anthesteria. Ice wine is the closest wine I have discovered to cider, and that is my first choice. The most important point is that I do not just have alcohol on hand.

2017 is shaping up to be a weird year. I’m a science librarian, and my responsibilities include research data. The political environment has basically made the research community run for every federal data archive and mass download everything. This is not without warrant. During Canada’s last conservative government, a bunch of environmental data was trashed because apparently data is political now, and few outside of the research community understand the norms and practices of science. 97% consensus in lay-speak means, “We’re fucked, but we’re still arguing about how many millions of people die horrific deaths, and I hate ler data reduction methods, so don’t look at ler study, look at mine.” We don’t want the Canada situation to happen here, so for the next few months, work-life balance is going to be sliding towards work. The big uptick happened this week.

In high-stress times like these, self-care takes priority because I want to safeguard my physical, mental, and emotional health. Resting is really important.

  • I do not miss yoga if I can help it.
  • I go to bed before 11 PM.
  • I work on my creative opus on Monday and Wednesday nights, plus early Friday evening before my girlfriend gets into town.
  • I maintain a healthy diet and take adrenal fatigue supplements.
  • I make time for people close to me. Also, my cat.
  • If my head is screaming and I need to decompress, I decompress.
  • My apartment needs to be clean because I am prone to obsessively organizing things when I am stressed.

The reality of my life this week is that I left work late on Tuesday, and I clean my apartment on Tuesday nights. I have about two hours of discretionary time before I need to sleep. This Wednesday, I had a board meeting at the UU. Because it’s close to my workplace and I have no car, that meant staying on campus late. I left for work at 8:30 AM and got home at 10 PM.

On Tuesday night, I went to the store because I knew that I would need healthy snacks to get through the rest of the week with my schedule. A grocery store is on my way home, but a liquor store would have required a detour. I keep no alcohol in my apartment because I don’t drink. I bought grape juice. I got home, cleaned, and realized that I was too wired from work to effectively be present for Dionysos. Plus, I was dirty from cleaning, and I would have wanted a shower.

On Wednesday morning, I preemptively covered my shrine after the incense burned down from my morning prayers — on the 11th, this means to the Fates and to the household gods — because I knew I would be home late, after Khoes started. I built a new shrine: I took out the image of Dionysos I use, read incense and a few Orphic hymns, and opened the grape juice. I made a sponde and drank some of the rest. I wondered briefly if I could walk home, do worship, and take Lyft to my church board meeting. Lyft can be expensive. Instead, I stuck to my original plan. I read from Epiphany in an empty room for a few hours after work and headed over to my board meeting. I wondered if I would be back at 9 or 9:30, which would mean that I could definitely find time in front of the shrine. (LOL) I wondered if I could go to bed early and wake up at 6 instead of 6:30. (LOLOLOL) I realized that I would have to leave work early, at 8 instead of 8:30, because I was teaching a workshop at 9 this morning, and the forecast was snow.

My best hopes did not happen. When I arrived home at 10, I was starving, so I scrambled some eggs and decompressed my brain with journaling and talking to friends for about an hour before I felt tired enough to sleep. This morning, I made a fast offering to Dionysos: incense and another sponde. The weather outside looked awful. My girlfriend texted to say that her city had closed. I told her that my private university only closes when the state closes the highways and buses. I chugged my morning coffee in about half an hour — the fastest I can drink it — and left.

Tiny pellets of ice and snow slammed into my face. The snow had made dunes against the sidewalks in some places, but I diligently walked along in my Icebugs (a brand of winter boots with built-in spikes). My glasses fogged and I let them go down to the tip of my nose so I could see the Impressionist, whiteout city around me. I canceled the workshop.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the ideal of how an Anthesteria would go while I tried indexing the number of times we had had a snowstorm on the holiday. It happens often. Today, the snow was so bad that the university closed at midday. I trekked home through higher dunes and got snow in my shoes.

The irony of the situation is that I now have more time to give Dionysos his due, but I still couldn’t get out to buy wine. The other hilarity is that I realized about three paragraphs into this post that my mother gave me a tiny, single-serve bottle of Peller Estates Ice Wine a few years ago. It’s in the back of my pantry. There’s a date on it, 0608151146. I don’t know if that is the bottling date or the expiration date. This would have been great to have remembered on Pithoigia.

My plan is this: I will give Dionysos a better ritual. More hymns. More incense. And I even have wine (well, probably not, because I don’t know if that’s an expiration date and I don’t know if ice wine gets botulism bacteria?)! And then, because the sun has set and the Khytroi has begun, I will say prayers to my ancestors, offer water to the dead, and read one of my grandfather’s WWII letters aloud.

All the same, I wanted to say at least something for the benefit of every other professional out there. Sometimes, it does not work out. Sometimes, a snowstorm shuts down the city and you find questionably-in-date ice wine in your pantry. It all really depends. We are not all professional priest-types, and it’s important to be realistic when one has a career.

Io evohé!

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