Friday, January 29, 2010

Weekends don't count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless. ~Bill Watterson

When we were younger weekends were for sleepovers, play dates, parties and sleeping in. Now I feel like weekends are for waking up before 10, running errands, paying bills, doing all the stuff you couldn't do after work during the week and if you're lucky, going out for a few hours to do something fun.

Growing up means entering the zone of schedules and internal clocks. Schedules that rarely allow for spontaneity and clocks that occasionally backfire on weekdays but will have you up bright and early on a Saturday morning, urging you to get out of bed and "seize the day"!

Should I be happy about this initiation into adulthood? I know, I'm getting too pensive, but weekends don't feel like weekends anymore. Maybe it's the cold, or maybe I'm suffering from seasonal affective disorder...who knows but I think it's time to take back the weekend.

We're given 48 hours to fill with fun things that should not evoke stress...I'm definitely going to take advantage of that...starting next weekend.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


1. the habitation of a hermit
2. any secluded place of residence or habitation; retreat; hideaway.
3. (initial capital letter) a palace in Leningrad built by Catherine II and now used as an art museum

When I was in high school, I used to be better about carving out me-time. I did this to counteract the overachiever in me so I wouldn't go crazy. I would unplug my phone, sign off my AIM, lock my bedroom door, and curl up on my bed with a good book or a good movie. Something I affectionately called my hermitage.  It wasn't a reaction to a bad day, or teenage angst, or a fight with a friend; I just needed some time to recharge. As I've gotten older, this "recharging" has fallen by the waist-side.

I live in this constant battle with technology. I love having access to everything, but then that access becomes too much and I want to shut it all down, at least for a few hours. So today, during my lunch break, I ventured to the Grand Central branch of the NYPL, and while I was settling into my new book, Her Fearful Symmetry, I took a moment to weigh the pros and cons of indulging in something sinful: turning off my cellphone.

No email alerts
No gchats
No text messages
No facebook notifications
No app upgrades
No interruptions

I won't be able to check the time
What if I get an urgent work email?

I know what you're thinking, clearly the pros outweigh the cons, but it involved a heated back and forth in my head for about 10 minutes. BUT, finally, I settled on my decision:


I mean, are we destined to be badgered my our cellphones' constant tweets and chirps? If someone calls us, must we answer, every time? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Do we eat to live, or live to eat?

Ground-breaking stuff here people. Think about it. Or maybe you already took my advice and disconnected yourself......after you finished reading this post of course, don't forgo the necessities. Obviously.

Monday, January 25, 2010

"Food should be a source of joy, not agony. Exercise should be about enjoyable movement, not penitence. We should respect our bodies' wisdom."

I am not going to get all preachy and tell you that you should love your body. Because I would be a hypocrite. But, you should try to focus on the positive things about yourself, and not what you perceive to be the negative. I know it's hard...Lord knows, I know...but as soon as I find myself grimacing in the mirror, I really do try to find at least one thing that I am proud of. Like maybe I feel fat, but my hair looks luscious and shiny... when I'll think to myself, "DAMN, I am HOT!" and it makes me feel great ;)

When I was in college, I was determined not to gain the freshman 15. That dreaded number that every mom, aunt and grandmother warned me about before I went off to Boston. I took to going to the gym everyday for hours, eating only Special K for breakfast and dinner, and having a salad with chicken for lunch. Yogurt and pineapples were my "binge" items. By the time I went to bed, my mouth ached because of all the pineapple I devoured during the course of the day. But that is neither here nor there. I had an unhealthy relationship with the need to get skinny and the need to burn calories.

I was at my thinnest during my sophomore year. All that exercise had paid off! I was down to my goal weight (give or take 5 lbs). I wasn't emaciated or anything like that. I was not a bobble-headed girl, who was dead to the world. But something was happening. I looked good on the outside, while I suffered on the inside; until one day, my brain and my body went on strike.

Now, I can go back and forth attributing this crash to many things, but the one thing I know for sure is that my perverse lifestyle had caught up to me, and I needed a break.

That break has lasted for almost three years. And there have been times where I have been miserable because I stop and think, "Why did I just let it go?" I naively "remember" being the happiest I ever was, when I was squeezing myself into a size 4. But I guess hindsight is 20/20.

I was happy, because I didn't have to hear comments from my well-meaning family, about losing "5 more lbs", and I was happy because I could go straight to the size 6s and 4s in any clothing store. I was proud of the body I had sculpted. All that hard work, all those hours! It was great. That wasn't the problem. The problem was that I was obsessed. It wasn't my weight that was harmful, it was my mindset.

If I didn't go to the gym at least once a day, I felt miserable. I would beat myself up all day, trying to come up with ways to make up for my "laziness". I knew exactly how my clothes were supposed to fit and if there was anything that I thought was out of place, I would rush to the gym and try to make it right again. I couldn't think of any else. It consumed my every thought.

It has taken me a while to get to a place, mentally, where I am now going to the gym on my own terms. I am not doing it for my family. I am not doing it to prove anything to anyone. I know what I am comfortable with, I know where I want to be, and I know what is healthy for me. If I miss one day at the gym, I don't beat myself up. I balance it out, in a healthy way. I no longer have that aching pit in my stomach, that mean voice in my head telling me I'm not good enough. I feel even better than I did back then, because my joy and acceptance are genuine.

Reading Hungry, it was like having an opportunity to look at who I was back then. Like I said, I wasn't emaciated. I didn't stop eating altogether. So I can not go as far as to say that I know what Crystal Renn went through. But when you have that obsessive body-dismorphic mentality... it's like you are part of a club. A club that has no parties, because you'd then have to worry about whether or not you should eat that awesome guacamole or those delicious empanadas.

The writing is a bit elementary in this book, but the story is compelling. Renn is given an opportunity to model, if she loses weight. On her quest, she enters the obsessive world of anorexia. She slowly realizes modeling is not all it's cracked up to be. She loses her motivation, her hair and herself. And then she has, what Oprah likes to call, an A-HA! moment. She's not happy and doesn't want to suffer anymore, so why not become a plus-size model? Once she makes that decision, her career skyrockets. She gets more photo shoots then she ever did as a "straight-size" model. And most importantly she's happy.

Do you remember this ad? Her story is inspiring for women who have struggled with weight and she is role-model for girls who are suffering in the "straight-size" modeling world. And to top it all off, she is doing her best to break down the barriers for plus-size models.

"It's essential to see that size is only one of the battlefronts. Those of us who want to see more plus-size women represented in fashion should also be supporting the use of more women of color and age. There's strength and solidarity in numbers. Diversity helps us all. And thin people are not the enemy...We have to change the culture by rewarding and applauding diversity in all its forms, not by vilifying individual women."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

100 Breakfasts, Coming Right Up!

Yet another goodreads giveaway!! Gotta love it when your friend* wins something and you reap the benefits! The responsibility of reading a giveaway book and writing up a review for others to use as a reference on goodreads makes me feel super important (simple pleasures, simple minds, I guess).

Here is my second effort at being a "critic" for

If the first sentence of a book doesn't immediately draw me in, it can go one of two ways. Usually, if it is highly recommended by a friend, I will try my hardest to get past the first blunder, but if it doesn't get better after the first 50-100 pages* I have to make an executive decision about whether or not I want to continue torturing myself. More often than not, I will trudge my way through the bad pages and end up liking the remainder of the book.

That being said, I really enjoyed The Secret of Everything, even if the beginning did drag through an immense amount of foreshadowing. It was overpowering, but eventually I started cracking away at the actual story. Luckily, after I started to bring down those layers, I was rewarded with something that was both heartbreaking and uplifting.

What I loved about this book was the tight-knit community with small town superstitions that weaved through each chapter. Los Ladrones is marked by its past, but each character is concerned with moving forward. I really liked that eventually every one's story intertwined in some way. I do think that some of the story lines were a bit far fetched, but even with that they still managed to be refreshing. This book was both guarded and open, fresh and comforting.

Each instance lead someone to a turn of self-discovery. It didn't matter how hard or trying it was, the characters embraced their new findings with grace and awareness. People helping others with no expectation of something in return. You know, that's been a recurring theme in my life these past couple of weeks. Is it the universe telling me to be less selfish? Or more appreciative of the wonderful friends that I have who are truly that genuine in their selflessness?

There are two definite reasons I recommend a book. One is if the matter makes me stop and think about something bigger than myself. The other is if I find myself trying to avoid the end of the book. The first reason enables me to do that reflection thing that "adults" do so little of, due to life and other pressing responsibilities; and the other reason usually means that I don't want to leave the world I've encountered. I don't want to let go of my new friends. With that being said, I would probably still be reading this book, if I had been able to stretch out those last pages more than I already tried.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Life in France - Julia Child

If we go back to my first post about Julia Child, you will remember that one of my ambitions was to read My Life In France. I was enchanted by the relationship Julia shared with her husband, with France and with la cuisine française. So as soon as I finished Julie and Julia, I requested the book (during the summer) from my library......and waited until December to actually read it! And once again, the love affair between the Childs sent my heart aflutter.

Their quirky sense of humor and the way they manage to understand each other's every peccadillo astounds me. It got my brain thinking...that's what I want...someone who is going to understand all those little things about me, that may annoy an innocent bystander, but that will make them love me even more. I believe that you have to find someone who is going to love your imperfections even more than your "perfections". And I feel like that's what Julia and Paul had. When you read about their adventures and their's like they brought out the best in each other, in their own unique way. It's a modern day Romeo and Juliet, minus the dying and plus the good food, good friends and good humor.

One thing that I learned, that made me fall in love with them even more is that instead of sending out Christmas cards, they sent out Valentine's Day cards. In the book Julia says that Christmas was too hectic, it always crept up on them and they could never send out the cards in time. So their tradition was to take "lovey" pictures of themselves and send those out to their friends in time for Valentine's Day. A sample of their Valentine's Day cards is in the photo insert in the book, and they are priceless.

Since I've started working in publishing, I've realized how difficult it can be for authors to find a collaborator who is going to bring out his or her real voice in their book. Sometimes, an author is not a writer, and finding someone who is going to stay true to his or her own voice and personality is essential. Julia was reticent about writing her story, but when she finally did decide to put it all down, she could not have found a better person to help her. Alex Prud'homme, Paul Child's great-nephew captured Julia in a way, that even though I didn't know her personally, I could feel her presence and fun-loving charisma resonating off the page.

If I closed my eyes, I could hear her high-lilting voice booming joyfully; sharing each one of her experiences with me. I savored the French dishes that changed how her palate tasted life. And I felt my heart leap every time she described her marriage and interactions with Paul.

Her story is inspiring to say the least. Moving to France and diving into doing something that I love, with no regrets? Sounds perfect. When I was in high school my sister used to joke that I was like Gertrude Stein. She'd say that like Stein, “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” Lucky enough to visit Paris more than once, I was always romanced by the people, the art, the language and the lifestyle. It felt right when I was walking down the street, baguette in hand, Eiffel Tower in the background. French pastries are my weakness, but unlike Julia, my affinity for French cooking is nonexistent.

I guess growing up in a Greek household, my love for olive oil trumps my French ancestry's butter-loving butt.

A bientôt, mes amis!

For a great book review of My Life In France check out this link:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Happy New Year!.. I know I'm late!

It has been a busy start to the new year. Christmas came and went, New Year's was a blip on the radar and then came my birthday (with a pretty AWESOME birthday weekend full of fun -- post to follow).

I had to go to work and I started going to the gym....and my beautifully handsome nephew was born!, do you see where I'm going with this??

I'm giving you a laundry list of excuses as to why I have not posted anything since 2009.

I really thought that I would catch up on my reading this holiday season. I mean what else is there to do then to catch up on made-for-tv movies with your family and snuggle up with a good book by the Christmas tree....or Menorah, I don't discriminate ;)

Well I was WRONG! One day it was Dec 1st, I blinked and it was the 24th and I was scrambling looking for presents for my whole family (umm that's like 12 people right there). Either way, it was great spending quality time with my crazy family, playing board games, watching movies and eating way too much. But it did not leave a lot of time for some "relaxing reading" time.

However, now that I'm settled into my NEW apt in Astoria (oh yea! and I moved!), I have had some time to get used to my new (30 minute!!!!) commute and have been able to pick up my biblio-addiction again.

Therefore, I still hold my New Year's resolution to be true, I will try my hardest to write a post at least every other day and at least once a month of them will be about my wonderfully unique family.....I'm just starting my new year a little late.....due to.....the Mayan calendar??

And just so you aren't left wanting, I will tell you that I did manage to squeeze in a few reads, one I won't bore you with (Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler) and a few that I will --posts to follow-- which include:

My Life In France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme
The Secret of Everything by Barbara O'Neal
Hungry by Crystal Renn

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm a Boy!

Dear Mason Alexander,

We've been waiting a really long time to meet you!

Your mommy went into the hospital on January 12, 2010 and while you were working your way out to be here at 7:05 a.m. on January 13th, 2010, I would like you to know that I too was working myself out (at the gym) we already have so much in common. (i.e. I'm your favorite aunt, right?)

It has been 8 1/2 long months that we've been waiting to see your handsome face, coming up with silly names to call you and wondering what you'll look like. Your big brother Jac could not stop telling all his friends and teachers that he was going to have a new baby brother.

When Jac was born, I was away at college so I didn't get to see him or hold him at the hospital, and I was pretty sad about that. But today, I drove with Tia Margie and Uncle Paul all the way to Long Island, and I got to see you up close! All bundled up, smelling good and looking peaceful. I got to witness your little lips turn up every time your mommy spoke and feel you wiggle in my arms as you found the best position to keep sleeping.

Your daddy sent us pictures of you throughout the day and I couldn't stop myself from smiling. Just thinking that we were going to have another little person running around, with the same mannerisms as one of your parents, had me bursting with joy.

FYI: We have a HUGE family, and although at times, it may seem overwhelming, you can never forget that we love you and Jac more than anything in the whole world. You have a lot of aunts and uncles who will be there for you whenever you need life advice, stock tips and a changed diaper. Use us, that's what we live for.

Are you wondering about your grandparents? Well, they're there to love you and spoil you rotten. You'll figure it out once you get a little older and Jac will be there to guide you every step of the way. And I don't know if you're worried or know all that time to think in the womb...but rest assured, Jac and you are going to be great friends. It might be a little rocky in the beginning, but he will always be there for you and he will love you unconditionally. Just remember what Grandma Yoli always says: Siblings are irreplaceable and irrevocable and they are your best friends for life.

Jan 13th will forever be one of the happiest days of our lives.
Welcome to the world! I love you :)

Your Tia Christy

P.S. Try not to confuse me with Tia Margie...we really don't look that much alike!