Tag Archives: moving and identity

How I Spent My Name Day

31 Dec


For my name day, my family took me to Delray Beach, Florida. It’s a cute little oceanside town with lots of restaurants, antique shops, surf shops, and galleries. My favorite part of the trip was looking in the display cases at the antique store with my mom. When I was a little girl, she used to always take me with her to the antique stores we both loved so much. When we all moved, we had to give up a lot of our family heirlooms. Tea cups from my grandma’s side of the family. Handmade doilies from my yiayia’s side of the family. Exquisite purchases my parents had made when decorating their own home. I loved reminiscing with my mom in Delray Beach.


Photo via Cupcake Couture.

We also went to a super adorable cupcake shop my sister loves called Cupcake Couture.  All the cupcakes are named after fashion designers. I got the Jean Paul Peanutier, pictured above. So yummy! The frosting was a light whipped peanut butter. Oh my gosh, I’m salivating just thinking about it.


Photo via Wags to Riches.

We also stopped into a fancy pet shop called Wags to Riches. It was the type of place that sold rhinestone collars and designer-looking clothes in miniature form for dogs. They had some adorable puppies. I’m currently looking for an apartment right now that will allow pets because I’d like to get a dog of my own. I’m thinking of getting a Maltese. If you’ve ever had one, let me know in the comments section if they’re easy to train. Otherwise, I might get a poodle, which is what I had growing up.

After Delray Beach we went out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. It wasn’t my choice, and it was bittersweet for me. The last time I’d been to that particular Cheesecake Factory was with my grandma, who has since passed away.


Writing Wednesday: Memoirist Patricia Volonakis Davis on How Cultural Identity Changes after Marriage and Moving

13 Jul

Happily ever after wasn’t the case when first-generation Italian Patricia V.–as in Volonakis–Davis married a Greek national.  The author calls her book Harlot Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece “a tragedy written as a black comedy,” in her interview with Jane Friedman for the article “How to Find a Direct Line to Your Readers” in Writer’s Digest.

In the interview, Davis alludes that her sense of self shifted when she experienced another culture:

…Harlot’s Sauce was about how being raised first generation Italian-American affected my worldview and attitude about myself, then how these both changed as a result of my marrying a Greek national and moving to Greece with him, in an attempt to save our failing marriage.

As a memoirist writing about identity and culture, I’ve often reflected on how being raised Greek American affected my worldview.  For me, though, it wasn’t just about being Greek–it was about being Other.  Or rather, being Something.  I wasn’t just plain Jane American.  My family did not come over on the Mayflower.  I was more than American.  I was Greek American.

However, I did not fully understand this until I moved to California.  I grew up in a pretty diverse town in New Jersey.  Most people were “ethnic.”  When I moved to California, I was suddenly surrounded by blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white Americans.  They weren’t white like I was white, though.  They were American.  Their family had been here for generations.  It was in moving that I came to a better understanding of who I am as a Greek American and who I am as someone who grew up in Northeast America.

I’ve never lived abroad, like Patricia Volonakis Davis did, but I did wander around Europe for about three months one summer, and I gained further understanding of my identity through these travels.  People were quick to make assumptions about my American-ness.  People didn’t really care that I was of Greek descent.  Being raised in America trumped ethnicity in terms of my identity.

It seems to me that identity is fluid.  Depending on where we are and who we’re “comparing” ourselves with, our identity can shift.

For women especially, identity changes with marriage.  Most women still take on their husband’s name, and our names signal a lot about who we are.  For instance, I saw the name Volonakis, and I immediately assumed the author of Harlot Sauce was Greek, even though as it turns out she’s Italian American.  And yet in some ways she became more Greek than I simply by virtue of living in Greece.

I wonder how many women become culturally Other to what they were raised as because of marriage?

Check next week’s Writing Wednesday for more on Patricia Volonakis Davis.