----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: Lessons From My Father

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Lessons From My Father

My father amazes me. He came to this country with nothing when he was 12 years old. Before that, he lived in a shack in northern Greece with his parents and his younger sister. He was a shepherd and his parents were farmers--his mother (my Yiayia) picked okra faster than anyone else in the village.

Once in America, his parents worked in a hotel and my dad learned English from the television in the lobby. He shined shoes to supplement the family income. He grew up in Watts and went to Manual Arts High School, where he was one of the few white students. He excelled at his classes and won a scholarship to Pomona College. There, he studied economics, but in his senior year, a professor encouraged him to go study law. "Mama, Papa," he said, "I've decided to go to UC Davis to law school. I am not going to be an economist after all." Well, his parents had never learned to speak English very well. "Son," they said, "We love you and we would support you no matter what you do. But we came to America to escape the old ways of life, so we are very glad that you are not going to be a communist."

It was at UC Davis that my parents met and fell in love. And while my father was not a communist, he certainly did have a liberal streak. I remember being 5 or 6 years old and asking my father what the difference was between Democrats and Republicans. He likened it to the story of Robin Hood. "You see," he said, "the Democrats take from the rich and give to the poor. But the Republicans take from the poor and give to the rich." And even now that he is in the highest tax bracket, his support for the Democrats has never wavered. And he never forgot his roots. His old shoeshine brush still holds a place of honor on his desk at work.

My father also taught me the importance of proper English. When I was very young, it was he who set me on the path to become a copy editor and writer. I remember asking him some childish question that began with, "Daddy, how come..." He said to me, "Never ask how come. Always ask why. How come is not proper English." And to this day, my father speaks better English than many who were born to the language.

Although he always worked hard, my dad always made time to be with his family. He made it to my dance recitals and spelling bees and awards ceremonies. And he always pushed me to do more. Sometimes I didn't appreciate it when he would ask why I got an A- in class instead of an A, but I know now that he always had my best interests at heart. To him, education was the most important pursuit in life. After all, it was education that took him from being a poor shepherd in Greece to being a successful lawyer in America.

My father believes that a true measure of a generation's success is whether the next generation will be able to surpass it. I worry that I may not be able to meet that bar, but he keeps me striving for success. I've taught him some things, too. Several years ago, he asked me what I thought it meant to be successful. I told him that I thought being successful meant living life with as few regrets as possible. And now, every so often, he'll raise his glass of wine to me and say, "With no regrets." I know just what he means. He has taught me that life should be lived with passion and gusto. Excessive caution has no place in a well-lived life.

I know that he wishes I had gone on to law school, but I hope that my chosen path is enough to make him proud. After all, he's worked hard to give my brothers and I the best life possible. The least I can do is attempt to live up to his standards. All I know is that when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding last year, I felt like I had the best father in the world. He has given me comfort and support throughout my life, both spiritual and material. I'm just glad that I had a dad who was able to enjoy life with his family. And I'm glad we still spend so much time together, even if he does have a tendency to become dramatic and sulky if everything is not exactly to his liking. (Gee, I wonder where I got that from?) He has guided me when I needed guidance and set me free when I needed my freedom. But no matter what, I can turn to him, whether I need advice or just a good laugh.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Here's to living life to the fullest...with as few regrets as possible.


  • At 2:27 PM, Blogger Bruingirl said…

    That was a very nice post about your dad... :)
    He's awesome! I think your dad is totally hilarious! He's great!!!


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