Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Typical Terina

Terina didn't know she'd be seeing us on Saturday. How could she when it was her surprise 50th birthday party!  I had been invited at least three times by three different people, and my mother had received an invitation as well from Terina's husband -- they had met on our school trip to Italy.

Terina was set up for even more of a surprise than just the unexpected gathering.  After all, the last time Terina saw my mother -- not counting pictures sent over text -- was when my dad picked us up from the airport.  At that time, my mother's face was extremely swollen from the broken nose she had brought back as an unfortunate souvenir of our Italian adventures.

Seeing Terina's face light up when she walked into her house was priceless.  Her eyes widened and even from across the room you could see she was tearing up.  I've known her long enough to hear it in her voice too -- she was touched.  I think she forgets sometimes just how loved she is because so often all she hears is negativity and complaints as the school librarian.

She circled the room, taking in each guest in turn and offering hugs to nearly everyone present.  She stopped when she saw my mother. Terina's hands reached out to cup her face, "Oh my gosh you look so beautiful."  She pulled her into a hug, pulled away, and then cupped her face again as she marveled over the healing that had occurred in just 2 months time.  

While others were confused, I was just amused: typical Terina.  Of course, she was more concerned for others when this was supposed to be HER day.  But that's what I love about our librarian.

"I want a hug too!" I chimed in and Terina happily obliged.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

A Peek at Poetry in my Classroom

"Ms. Johnson, does this make sense?"


"Can windchimes frolic?"

I look up from the paper I am reading, wondering if I heard her correctly.  I start to tell her no, but then remember.  My other classes may be working on research papers and arguments, but Creative Writing is working on poetry.  I smile.

"The windchimes frolicked," I say, testing the sound, "Well, technically it doesn't make sense for windchimes to frolic, but the nice thing about poetry is you can play with language and meaning.  What are you trying to say?"

"Well, I wanted to have them dancing, but I liked how frolicked sounded."

"Then use frolic.  I like how it sounds too."

She beams at me and returns to her poem.  I pull my notebook over and jot down the phrase.  I want to save it for later.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

9 Moments to Remember and 1 Moment to Forget (SOLSC 30/31)


Here is a highlight reel of moments from Italy.  Nine moments I want to cement into my brain.  One moment I want to erase from happening.

  1. Playing Uno on a patio with our Italian tour guide as the sun slowly drops over the Mediterranean in the distance.
  2. Walking out onto a pitch black pier over the Adriatic and watching as a group of teenage boys plunged into the chilly spring waters.
  3. Taking a bite of seafood risotto under the fairy lights of a restaurant tucked away in Venice.
  4. Tilting my head up to look at ceiling after ceiling with paintings of heaven and briefly remembering what it was like to be in awe of the divine.
  5. Sitting outside, sipping wine, and watching a horse drawn carriage move towards a grand basilica.
  6. Watching so many people try different ways to support the Pisa tower as it leans precariously—never to fall.
  7. Strutting down an alley straight out of a post card and feeling like a model as I get my picture taken.
  8. Discovering that there is, in fact, gelato on every corner in many parts of Italy and going for the shorter line.
  9. Feeling the chronological dissonance of ancient buildings right next to technology and realizing anything built after the 1600s is “new.”
  10. Remembering lines of Shakespeare’s tragedies (of all things) as I wipe the blood from my mother’s hands.  I wish I could wipe the accident that brought forth the blood just as easily.

Better Late (SOLSC 29/31)


I was doing so well, but now both Day 29 and Day 28 have slipped through the cracks.  I suppose that is what happens when you travel backwards in time — days go missing.  It’s like luggage at the airport.

Day 28 is gone because there was never time at the airport.  We dashed from one terminal to the next — constantly getting there just as they were boarding.

Day 29 is gone because I didn’t make time for slicing.  I rested and recovered from travel and time changes.

I am posting it late, but I am still posting!

Monday, March 27, 2023

Never Go to Naples (SOLSC 27/31)


A poem for my final day in Italy that might go down as one of THE worst days ever.  I don’t have time or the emotional capacity for details so don’t ask right now.

Graffiti all around
and no gelato to be found.
Suddenly my mother hits the ground, 
blood on the pavement abounds!
Swelling up, knot like a small mound.
The ambulance is inbound, 
Italian and English, mixing sounds,
This is a nightmare most profound.
I am now grateful we are tomorrow home bound.

Sunday, March 26, 2023

A Religious View (SOLSC 26/31)


I am not religious, but I can appreciate religious art.

We stand together beneath a ceiling, bodies pressed together.  All our eyes are wide — trying to take in as much as possible.  No cameras, no video, just you staring up at a ceiling meant to represent our very creation.  The tilt of our heads is probably a slight revenge from Michelangelo who had to paint this ceiling in the most agonizing positions. 

A voice bellows from above.  It is not God, but it booms all the same: Silence.  Respect the silence.

The voices drop once more, but never for long.  Voices whispering in a hundred languages.  I look up in awe and feel myself tear up.

I am not religious, but I can appreciate religious art, especially when it comes to the Sistine chapel.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

When in Rome (SOLSC 25/31)


As much as I love postcards, they really don’t do anything the justice of what it looks like in person.  I think that has been most true in Rome.

Everything is so much bigger and brighter in person; everything is SO much more crowded.

I have to squeeze through and it is so easy to lose sight of people.  Luckily, despite my own “short” comings we do have some tall people in our group.

The worst spot yesterday was the Trevi Fountain.  I knew we needed to toss some coins in per the myth, but I almost didn’t because of the small mob of people surrounding it.

But my mom plunged in and I knew to follow.  Before I knew it we were directly in front of Neptune and I was digging some coins out of my purse.

One to return.  Two to find love.  I noticed no one threw in the third for marriage.

After we emerged from the crowd, I muttered: “If I return to Rome, it will be through the airport on my way back to Venice!”