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 […]

VirginMaryPalooza—Nine Crazy Nights!

Last week I went around the corner to buy baby wipes and saw Jesus Christ coming down the street. I didn’t get the baby wipes—you can’t buy those on the street corner pharmacies or in the corner stores, which are called pulperias here in Granada, Nicaragua. You have to go to the big American-style supermarket […]