Lockdown in Lia: Larger than Life Days in Our Tiny Village

After a whirlwind three weeks of weddings (my cousin’s on the Peloponnesian coast), ruins (the Byzantine city of Butrint in what is now Albania), and beaches (too numerous to mention), I thought we’d end our annual trip to Greece with a few relaxing days in Lia, the quiet village where my father was born, which […]

The Metamorphosis in Miami: On Motherhood and “the Mati”

When I walked into this bathroom this morning and saw the dying cockroach, flailing it’s little feelers and all six legs, that’s when I knew I needed an exorcism. I know what you’re thinking: an exorcism is a bit of an overreaction. Surely some Raid would do the trick? But the cockroach was just the […]

The Littlest Critic–What My Toddler Taught Me about Writing

When I wrote my first novel, Other Waters, I was a graduate student in the Writing Division of Columbia University’s School of the Arts, so I had the benefit of hearing lots and lots of other people’s opinions about my work. The core of the program was the workshop, a weekly seminar in which you […]

See No Evil: Easter, Facebook, and Where the Bodies Are Buried

This past weekend was Orthodox Easter, which Amalia, my husband, and I spent with my parents in Worcester, Massachusetts. Amalia’s arrival was greeted with delight by her grandparents/rabid fans. But somewhere amid the flurry of preparations for the holiest day in the Orthodox calendar, we learned that there was another visitor in Worcester, one who […]

We’ll Always Have Granada: A Less-than-Dramatic Farewell

I’d never been described as low-key until I moved to Greece at age 28. In the U.S., I could be shy or bookish at times, but I always thought of myself as having a mild flair for the dramatic. Once, when my mother tried to stop my whining by saying, “Well, what are you going […]

Season’s Eatings: Les Miz, McLent, and Hollywood’s Latest (Imaginary) Diet Craze

I’m not a psychic, so I can’t make predictions. But as a fiction writer, I can indulge in the occasional fantasy. And having been both a Sunday School teacher for first graders (“What it Means to be an Orthodox Christian”) and the first-ever beauty editor for People magazine, I’ve got a fantasy-slash-prediction about the upcoming […]

Laptop-Packin’ Mama

When I was a senior in college, taking a class called the Literature of Social Reflection, the teaching fellow leading my discussion section of the course introduced herself by saying, “I’m a writer…and, a mother.” At 21, I thought this was the most hilarious phrase I had ever heard. And so did all my friends, […]

All My Found Saints

When it comes to cultural events and spiritual uplift, I love church and I love dancing. But you just don’t often get to do the two together. Except in Diriamba, Nicaragua, where I just attended the Reese’s Peanut Butter cup of community events, the last day of the festival for the patron saint of Diriamba […]

I Saw the Sign: On Feet and Fate

Yesterday we lost power, and I thought it might be a sign that the Lord wanted me to get a pedicure. I know this is the kind of thing that only a crazier-than-crazy person thinks, much less says out loud. I know that the Lord probably does not spend much time thinking about my toes, […]

And a Little Animal Shall Lead Them

When you live in a place where December is as hot as July is elsewhere, Christmas imagery depends a lot less on snowmen, sleigh rides through the wood to grandmother’s house, and chestnuts roasting on an open fire. There’s a Christmas tree in our complex in Granada, Nicaragua, but it’s fake, as are the ones […]