Q: HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE YOUR LAST NAME?
A: Eye-REEN GLAY-zohs
Q: IS IT TRUE YOU ARE RELATED TO ONE OF GREECE’S NATIONAL HEROES, MANOLIS GLEZOS?
A: Yes, both my parents are from a small Greek mountain village called Apiranthos on the island of Naxos. Manolis Glezos, one of my relatives on my dad’s side, famously climbed the Acropolis in the dead of night in Athens along with his friend Apostolos Santas to tear down the Swastika on May 30, 1941, just weeks after the Nazis had marched into Greece. He inspired resistance fighters everywhere. The Nazis had not expected the level of resistance they encountered in Greece, particularly on the island of Crete. Because of this, the Nazis arrived in Russia later than they had anticipated and had to face the brutal Russian winter for which they were unprepared. In this way, the Greek resistance helped the Allies to win the war. What a great heritage but when I was growing up in suburban Maryland, teachers would painfully try to pronounce my birth name, Erene Glezos, on the first day of school. Invariably it would come out: “Air-Uh-KNEE GLEE-zuhs?” and there was always a question mark at the end like they couldn’t believe someone could have such an unpronounceable name. I would muster my courage and raise my hand. “Here!”
Here’s my name pronounced in Greek:
Q: DO YOU SPEAK GREEK?
A: Yes! I understand everything and after spending a week in the company of Greeks, my spoken Greek gets very good too. My mom moved to America when she married my dad and she often spoke to us in Greek. My grandmother Erene from Greece for whom I am named lived with us in Washington, DC until I was 5. At a very early age, my mother would give my sister and I Greek lessons at home. She would dictate and we would have to write down what she said in Greek and she would check our spelling and if we put the accent mark in the right place!
Q: DID YOU REALLY RUN YOUR FIRST MARATHON WHEN YOU WERE 14 YEARS OLD?
A: Yup. I had a crush on the track coach in 7th grade and determined not to be chubby anymore so I became a long distance runner and ran the Marine Corps Reserve Marathon in Washington DC. In preparation, I would run 9 miles every day discovering endorphins and the beauty of peace and quiet, but 9 miles is not 26 and I was apprehensive for weeks about how steep Capitol Hill was going to be. In reality it wasn’t that big a hill after all. I finished in 4 hours, 32 minutes and was the first female under 16. The first 18 miles and the last 100 yards were easy.
Another really memorable running experience in high school was the Fort Meade 24 Hour Relay where for 24 hours you alternate running one mile AS FAST AS YOU CAN passing the baton to your 9 other teammates. Our women’s cross country team who were state champs did it as a little pre-season warm up fun little training thingie. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that 3 am mile.
Q: DID YOU PLAY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT GROWING UP?
A: I played the viola from Grade 5 all through high school. I had wanted to play the trumpet but apparently my lips weren’t thin enough and they needed a violist so they recruited me. The viola doesn’t get the melody all the time like the violin and it doesn’t announce itself like the trumpet, but what I learned was the beauty of being part of an ensemble and how the music you make together is far greater than the sum of your parts. I can still recite the viola part for Bizet’s Carmen, the Theme from Brian’s Song and Violin Solo in D Major by Fritz Chrysler in the style of Paganini!
Q: WHAT ARE SOME COOL THINGS YOU’VE DONE?
A: I climbed to the top of [UNDISCLOSED HIGH UP LOCATION] even though I just googled it and found out it’s technically illegal and even though I’m scared of heights. When we got to the top of [UNDISCLOSED HIGH UP LOCATION], I had no idea how I was going to make it back down (I repeat — fear of heights!). So what did I do? I took out the chicken salad sandwich I’d packed and ate it quietly while my plucky unconcerned compadres reveled. I’ve also gone trekking in Nepal to the entrance of Everest Base Camp surviving on a diet that included Pringles and rice wine, traveled through India for 4 months by bumpy bus and crowded train, played blackjack all night at a casino in Kathmandu called the Yak and Yeti, gone on camel safari in Bikaner near Pakistan with an amazing guide named Ganesh using only our Point It book to communicate through pictures, gone on a lion safari in Kenya (they had just gotten a new cook because the old cook had been eaten by an alligator the week before), galloped on a stallion in the Sahara Desert and, as the still photographer on a documentary about the Sphynx (thank you, Boris), got to stand respectfully atop the Sphynx’s left paw while Hollywood Heard, the sound guy, kept yelling at me: “You’re IN the shot!”, backpacked through Europe by myself on a Eurail pass staying at youth hostels, rode a bike all the way around the Ring of Kerry stopping to sleep in a B&B in Sneem where Bernard Shaw wrote St. Joan, skied on Chamonix in summer as a novice and remember them telling me to “watch out for the CREVASSE!”, white water rafted down the Ganges from Rishikesh (did I mention I couldn’t swim), FINALLY learned to swim in 2012, sat under the Bodhi Tree in Bodhgaya, hiked into the Volcano off Santorini purportedly the site of the lost civilization of Atlantis, visited the Taj Mahal at dawn, and slept all night in Central Park to get tickets to see Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Seagull.