On Love Lost and Found—Counting My Blessings

I am trying to practice the art of gratitude. For obvious reasons, what with Thanksgiving around the corner, and also because I’ve been so devastated by the examples of hate that I keep hearing about from friends and reading about in the news. I am trying to practice gratitude for selfish reasons, to light a […]

Some of the People, Some of the Time

I have a feeling President Lincoln wasn’t actually talking about family vacations when he famously quoted the poet John Lydgate to say, ““You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the […]

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 […]

From Pumpkin Spice Latte to Pitaya Juice: An Autumnal Journey

As a folklorist, I often feel that marketing messes with holidays. I don’t want to think about Halloween the day after the fourth of July, but the drugstore and the “seasonal” aisle of the supermarket and the forests worth of catalogs that arrive at my door want me to, because there’s really no big ticket […]

Act Like a Baby: Life Lessons from a One-Year-Old

A week ago my daughter Amalia turned one. One of the things that freaked me out about kids before I had one of my own was the way they serve as a physical manifestation of the passage of time. There are entire eras of my life where a year or two could pass without anything […]

Childhood, Revised

Over the course of her 11 months of life, my daughter has become the proud of owner of not one but two little teddy bears that say “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”, one dressed in blue pyjamas which recites it in English, and the other in pink jammy jams, speaking Spanish. I had […]

The Circle Dance: The Sacred and the Mundane

“Life is a circle,” my cousin said. Or maybe it was “life is a cycle”—you could translate the Greek word either way. We were talking about my daughter’s baptism, which took place on Sunday in Worcester, Massachusetts, where I grew up. My cousin came from the island of Corfu, Greece, to act as Amalía’s godmother, […]