Date Night

  Thursday night, Hubs and I had a 'date night.' A real date night out---not just one of our weekly, sit across from each other at the local pub, chew on burgers, and talk to the nice waitress more than we talked to each other. No, this was the whole enchilada: I was in full, 'going-to-a-wedding' makeup, and he wore something besides Levis, tennis shoes, and one of the free T-shirts he gets at baseball games. We decided a night like this was long overdue. Okay---full disclosure---I decided it was long overdue, and he went along with it. And the evening took a surprising turn. First of all, let me set this up for you: Sometime before my last birthday, I started noticing that I can … [Read more...]

It’s NOT Love

  Here are two conversations from my real life---one that I had with my husband earlier today, and one that I had more than twenty-five years ago, with my ex-husband. I'd actually forgotten about the latter, long-ago conversation, but it was the current day one that jogged my memory. You'll see why:   CONVERSATION TODAY: Me:         (Texting Hubs from car) Going to be late. A tire's gone flat. AAA says one hour, at least. So annoyed. Had so much to do today. Hubs:    Where are you? I'll come there. Me:        No, it's fine. I already called AAA. Hubs:   You said you have a lot to do. I'll come there and we'll switch cars. I'll wait for AAA and then go get a … [Read more...]

Triangle, Triangle, Triangle

Triangulation. Loosely, the term means, “making a triangle.” I thought it was a geometry application. Then I learned that it’s the perfect word for a devastating mind game. Triangulation is a tactic in which one person (Party One) manages to manipulate a relationship between two other parties by controlling their communication, causing a rift between them that suits his (or her) own needs. This I’ll call “Triangulation Type I.” It can also be a cowardly ploy when Party One doesn’t have the courage to speak directly to Party Two with whom she or he has an issue, and so she engineers a set-up by crying to Party Three, who then jumps in to “save her” from Party Two, thus forming a triangle. … [Read more...]

Don’t Believe It

  I wonder if the younger people here in the USA have noticed, or will notice, that the current dreadful political climate has been carefully engineered? Here's what I see, because I've been on the planet for a while: The middle class has less and less buying power each generation, as the real tax breaks, opportunities for education and advancement, housing, a comfortable yet affordable lifestyle, and other perks of "the American Dream" are systematically being siphoned off from them by all politicians and corporations, who are working at the behest of the mega-upper class. Yet, politicians, with the help of their campaign managers and the media and their donors, are telling us that … [Read more...]

So, How Did You Meet Your Best Friend?

Let's talk about this "newspaper," pictured above. First of all, it's not genuine, but generated to promote my novel, Cooking for Ghosts, by my very clever publicist. (Thank you, Jane.) However, what is genuine is the photo, which is of the real-life Cynthia Taylor who inspired the character of the same name in the novel. Cynthia and I only met once in person, at Piccadilly Station in London where we had a very noisy drink along with Alexandra Roumbas Goldstein, my husband, and Cynthia's daughter, the real-life Sarita Taylor, whose name I also use for a character in the novel. It was the first and only time I'd met Alexandra in person, too. But we are friends. All of us. Genuine friends for … [Read more...]

God and Immigrants

  My son's Greek grandfather hid young Italian soldiers when Germans came looking for them to sink Italian ships off the coast of Rhodes after Italy surrendered to the Allies during WWII. Some of those Italian soldiers were only teenagers, and I know, as was the case with my Italian uncle who deserted the army, that many didn't want to fight on the side of fascists, but would have been faced with treason otherwise. Some would say my uncle was a traitor. Some would say my son's Greek grandfather was harboring the enemy. Others would say they both did the brave and decent thing. Both of these men, Italian and Greek, later became US immigrants. And I wonder how that generation of … [Read more...]

Careless Whispers

Everyone we love will frustrate us now and again. I'm not talking dysfunctional relationships here -- I'm talking the relationships in which you get along splendidly most of the time, you feel happy and secure and heard and understood most of the time. But humans make mistakes, so that "most of the time" is underscored. And it's what we do the other times -- the time an important person in our life lets us down -- that can make or break that relationship going forward. Here's something I learned the hard way: I'm now careful. I'm very careful about who I air my complaints to about my best friend, my partner, or my children. Once those thoughts of disappointment, annoyance, anger leave your … [Read more...]

If You’re Feeling Depressed, Please Read This

  In light of recent heavily-publicised celebrity suicides, I'm concerned for some of my online friends and readers who I know deal with depression. Please remember that certain news outlets have become sensationalist in order to generate 'clicks.' Remember that your life is valuable. Remember that feeling depressed is nothing to be embarrassed by. Remember that there are those who care about you, and would want you to reach out. Life can change in a snap -- it can go from bad to good, good to bad, and back again. It's part of the human condition, and it can be confusing and stressful. We can't do much about the capricious natures of life and death, but we can do our best to combat … [Read more...]

The Same

Some people are hostile because they're afraid of everything and everyone that's not familiar. And some are hostile because they feel disenfranchised from the good things life has to offer, and must find someone to blame for that. Others feel a threat everywhere new they go, but they never seem to figure out where that threat's coming from, so they're suspicious and cautious where no suspicion or caution is necessary. It's people like these --- hostile people --- who seek their sole comfort in clans and enclaves, customs and rituals. The sameness of the faces, the language, the songs, the prayers, the viewpoints, the dogma, makes them feel recognized and understood. They need to be … [Read more...]

On Poker and Publishing

So, Hubs and I do this thing that I'm wondering if other couples do it too -- we allow each other to bore each other with our favorite subjects. I like to talk about publishing, and he likes to talk about poker, and no one besides ourselves wants to hear what we have to say about each of those subjects, because we go into minute detail that would make friends and other family members swallow poison, gladly, just to make it all to stop. "New amazon review rules ... blah", "the guy sitting next to me had two kings ... blah, blah," my publicist hasn't called back yet, and I need to ask her... blah, blah, blah," "Never got a bad beat like that in my life ... blah, blah, blah, blah." But we need … [Read more...]

I Remember the JABBERWOCKY. And Mrs. Marino

  A Post For Teacher Appreciation Day: Thank you to Mrs. Jill Vohringer Marino, wherever you are. You're the only person who believed in me, who was kind to me when I was a child. I never forgot you, nor how brilliantly you read "Jabberwocky" to us. Your 7th grade English was the only thing that got me through some dreadful times. You saved my life, and you don't know that. How I wish I could find you and tell you so. I doubt it's a coincidence that I became an English teacher too. And to my former pupils: Thank you to those of you who put up with my terrible teaching that first year. Okay, and admittedly, that second year too. Your patience and kindness made me determined to … [Read more...]

Just Say the Word

  In this old photo, I was about to marry my Greek husband, the one who inspired my memoir, Harlot's Sauce. Take a close look at my father's face, and you can see how he felt about my upcoming nuptials. Only two minutes before this photo was snapped, he and I were in the church vestibule, and he said, "It's not too late. I will take you out of here right now. Just say the word." How would you remember that moment if it happened to you? Would it be a humorous moment, or a nightmarish one? I chose to write it as humor. As one reviewer said about Harlot's Sauce, "So many horrible things happen to the protagonist, and yet I found myself doubled over in laughter at the same time I was … [Read more...]

Thank you, Readers and Reviewers!

My publicist (her name is Jane) asks me to please not read book reviews.  "Let me worry about those things," Jane says. That's a tough request to agree to, naturally. Although I'm doing my best to take Jane's advice, The Secret Spice Cafe Trilogy are my debut novels, so I can't help but peek once in a while. Today, however, I got an email from her to which she attached the graphic above. "Go ahead and look," she wrote. Both Cooking for Ghosts and Spells and Oregano have achieved the above ratings, from real readers and reviewers -- not just, you know, from my favorite aunt or my best friend.  So, thank you. Thank you to those who are reading, for taking the time out of your busy life to … [Read more...]