A Storm of Words Can Bruise

  This is a true story. Back in the 1980s, when I was teaching at a private school in New York, a former pupil of mine, a young woman who had graduated the year before, came to see me in between classes while I was sitting alone at my classroom desk. It had only been a year since I’d seen her, but I knew, immediately, that much about her had changed in that year. She was more poised, more confident, and, though I can’t be sure of this, but I hope it’s true—she seemed happier. Here’s what she said to me: “Ms. V,” (I was Mrs. Volonakis then) “I’ve been thinking about this since I graduated. I owe you an apology for the way I behaved in your class. I was a brat and a baby, and you … [Read more...]

You’re Not Alone, Girl

  One in five grown women have a mother who actively dislikes them.  So for every 100 women you meet, 20 of them have had their hearts broken, not by a lover, but by their mother. Remember that percentage if this is what you're dealing with this holiday season. You're not alone in feeling unwanted by the one person who was/is supposed to love you unconditionally. Also, as an aside, mothers in general, even the kind ones, are twice as likely to be critical of their daughters as they are of their sons. So, though it stays with you forever to some extent, it truly helps to know that you're not defective or unlovable. Women who shouldn't become mothers do so anyway, for a myriad of … [Read more...]

A Matter of Taste

  A long time ago, I met a Greek priest. He was not the kind of priest we hear about too often in the news. He didn't condemn "sinners" only to go out and secretly sin himself. He welcomed everyone into his church. One day, I had the opportunity to speak with him alone, and here's what he told me about religious people versus good people: "A religious person will follow the letter of religious law, not the spirit. So, for example, if it's fasting time, the religious person will fast strictly no matter where he is. If he's welcomed into the home of someone not of the same religion or mindset, and is served a meal, he will pick through it, saying, 'I can't eat this,' I can't eat that.' … [Read more...]

How is a Terrorist Made?

How is a terrorist made? In other countries it's a combination of things: Abject poverty and the desperate sense that there's no way out of that poverty. [Note: Did you know that young people who blow themselves up are paid to do it, and the money goes to their very poor families? So in essence, they really are worth more dead than alive to those they love.] There's also a despot in charge of the country---either a fanatically religious one or a dictator. That despot was usually put in place due to powerful foreign interference. [Note: Most of the people coming in to the US as illegals now? Take a look at the history of their countries. If you follow the breadcrumbs, you'll discover that … [Read more...]

If You’re Under Age Forty

  A message today for anyone under age forty: People who have another ten to twenty years left on this planet, if they're lucky, are making decisions that will affect your life and the lives of your children long after they're dead and buried. Who are the people I mean? They're people who, after living in one town all their lives and knowing the same thirty people, people who are clones of themselves, are now in a senior citizen community in Florida with the same thirty people. Or, they're people who spend their days driving around in their golf carts, and their evenings drinking imported wine and single malt scotch at their club. They're people who won't admit that the only … [Read more...]

Colin K. and ROBOCOP

  So, we had a football player who refused to stand for the national anthem. He said it was in protest of racial injustice in the United States. Immediately the backlash began: Disrespect. It was disrespectful to the men and women who fought for Flag, Freedom, Country. Thousands of war veterans stepped into the fray — vets who had actually seen combat, who’d lost years of their lives in places such as Vietnam, and Iraq. Even surviving WWII vets — men who battled Hitler — stepped in. They said, “No. No — I fought for this right — this right to protest. That’s what my country is. That’s what I want my country to be.“ But they were ignored in favor of the rhetoric of politicians, Jim … [Read more...]

Sad Kitty

Friday nights, when we're in Nevada, Hubs plays poker on the Strip. While he's gone I'll be writing, and afterward, I'll clear my head by watching some silly fluff on Netflix--any 'girly' thing I can find that I know he'd heckle at if he were sitting next to me. The one I found last night was called "The Keeping Hours," and I have to tell you---it was pure schmaltz. In fact, it was so schmaltzy that if Nicholas Sparks were to see it, he'd say, "My god, this is schmaltzy---who writes this kind of schmaltz?" And get this---even though this film was made in 2017, the recurring background song was Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face." Yep. Really. The last time I heard that … [Read more...]

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...]