Portrait of Herself

My temperament is as unpredictable as the weather. Although I attempt to be optimistic, far too often I blow insignificant annoyances out of proportion. I enjoy laughing and making others laugh more than anything in the world, thought on the whole I believe I am far too serious. I rarely feel comfortable talking about myself, and usually defer conversation to those who don’t mind hearing their own voice. I am considered a good conversationalist, not for my riveting pontifications, but for my ability to be genuinely interested in conversation that does not revolve around me. My disposition greatly depends on my comfort level. When I appear aloof or disinterested, it is often because I am feeling self-conscious and painfully shy. 

Savor the Cosmos

My science teacher told me the Geminoid Meteor Shower was scheduled to make an appearance in our corner of the world. It’s rare for the cosmos to be aligned to allow stargazers in northeast Ohio to experience galactic phenomena in the own back yards. Usually, comets, meteor showers, and the like are best seen from obscure islands in the South Pacific, where the only inhabitants are high-powered telescopes. The newspapers show breathtaking views of sights most people never see. 

Beyond the Classroom 

This year has been unlike any year before it. I’m finally comfortable in my own skin. I’m no longer worried about being the best, or the most popular, or the most involved. I do activities that matter the most to me: theater and band. I make a conscious effort to talk to people and find our what they have to say I consider school my second home, and as much as I’ll enjoy graduating and moving on with my life, I will miss the people who walk the high school halls.

Choosing Fun over Practicality

Being in elementary school band means giving up recess. Being disinterested in kickball, football, and soccer, and having spent more than my fair share of time on the swings and jumping rope, skipping recess was not a problem. I chose to play the flute. My mom had played the flute and she still had hers. I don't remember even considering any other instrument. I didn't so much as try out a trumpet or a sax at the information night. My mind was set in stone, and I would not change it. I’m stubborn once I made a decision, and I blind myself to options without one iota of consideration. I wish I were more open minded. 

Mis Viajes 

The rich and extensive history of Spain is exhibited in countless breathtaking edifices. Churches and castles were plentiful on the touring agenda. The dark, quiet space inside a cathedral is inexplicable. I have no words for the awe I felt looking up at the mural-covered ceilings, high-vaulted arches, and football-filed sized sanctuaries. Here was this extremely holy place, where people come to pray and hear sermons, take communion, and praise God. I was merely a tourist. I came, not to repent some deep sin or pray, but to gawk. Among countless others, I was an ugly American with a camera and a tendency to talk to loudly and too often, who came on vacation to stare at the lavish decor and experience the culture. I felt sorry for God, who had to share his home dedicated to Him with people like me, who wrote it off as another stop on the tour de Spain. 

Acrimony for the Human Race 

I am irritated by most of the human race. Humans are appalling creatures. How we ever became the high beings of our planet is far beyond my comprehension. We are lazy, self-centered, arrogant creates, and most of us are rude, ignorant, and unhappy. People are so cruel to one another, and yet we claim to be social creatures. Man complains by nature, but no one seems to do anything to solve the issues they are complaining about We are destructive; we’re ruining our planet. We are intolerant of both innocent mistakes and those who are not exactly like ourselves. Most days I’m sick of the human race. My harbored contempt often goes unnoticed, but on occasion, I can not help but speak out against behavior that annoys and irritates me. 

Creating the Perfect Edible House 

Molten sugar is the perfect adhesive when it comes to holding the gingerbread frame together. The deep-brown, boiling liquid lends itself to two main methods of application. The first involves dipping opposite ends of the gingerbread into the hot pan and scooping it onto the piece. I find the method to be the more dangerous of the two. Burns seem most frequent when one side already has the sticky hot sugar on it and the opposite side needs dipped into the pan.

You are not your Job

What we so often forget is our work is not about the product, but rather, the process. We insist we are only successful in school if our answers match those printed in the back of the book. The content of what we write doesn’t matter as long as the commas are all in the right places. Everyone is brought down to the lowest common denominator and then told they’re not working to their potential. My work at school is to engage my mind, and to familiarize myself with the world outside my frame of reference. However difficult it may be, my job is to ignore the pressure to “just get and A” and instead, learn for the intrinsic value knowledge has. 

Thank God it’s Friday

Fridays are usually a blur. From August through November, football games fill the evening to the brim. Of course, the only reason to watch high school football is the halftime show. Marching band is by far the most amazing extracurricular activity I have had the pleasure of participating in. Something extraordinary happens when 200 kids line up underneath the stadium lights, wearing feather in their caps and march to the music of their own making. Playing my piccolo on Friday nights, riding the bus ride to away games, wearing the wool parts, traipsing through the muddy fields, and attending the band parties afterwards create a perfect end to hectic a week and a nice segue into the weekend. 

One Girl’s Dream

Day of cramped quarters and crowded decks left Giovanna longing for the signs of land to the west. On August 8, 1920, the first glimmer of Lady Liberty’s shining torch pierced the blue sky, awing the masses that passed beneath her. Giovanna felt the most difficult part of her voyage to an American life was behind her, but in reality, it was only beginning. My great-grandparents, like the millions of other immigrants from Europe, entered the country through Ellis Island. Neither one spoke any English, which made their transition into the country all the more difficult. 

Dubrovnik

Today a fancy cable car takes visitors to Fort Imperial where a gift shop and panoramic views of the city and sea can be seen peacefully. A museum display shows artifacts and photographs from the Balkin’s Conflict and a BBC newsreel on a loop shows the devastation and destruction much of Europe ignored until it was too late. Craig and I walked down a pebbly switchback path with cast bronze sculptures dedicated to war heroes. We ate lunch looking out over the city. I struggle to comprehend that Craig has visited the country before and after a war. We haven’t had a war on American soil in a long time and the impacts of armed conflict can feel so far away.

The Return to Milan

We walked through the high end stores in the Galleria admiring the mosaic murals and architecture and we walked around the Duomo cathedral. It was mid afternoon and this was supposed to be our day to really see Milan but we weren’t feeling it. We had done and seen so much in the month since we’d last been in the fashion capital of Italy and decided that what we really wanted to do was Netflix and chill. So we went back to the AirBnB, stopped at a store for beers and snacks and camped out with my iPad and binged watched Narcos Mexico in bed. It was the perfect, if anti-climatic end to the most epic month-long fourth date.  

Milan: It Gets Worse Before it Gets Better

The police told us we needed to go to the tourism police station near the Duomo. I wanted to see the famous church anyway so Craig bought two train passes and we went to the square. The officers were sitting in a booth seemingly not doing much of anything. The waiting room was brimming and I knew we could wait for hours just to report a wallet that likely would never be found, and if it was, where would they send it? 

From Maine to Milan, a Harrowing Journey

I walked around the station and found a cafe with free wifi. I called Craig. I told him where I was. He said it was a few miles away. I asked him to come find me, that my bike was broken and that my phone was going to die. I hadn’t brought a European charger. I felt defeated. I didn’t want to rely on him. I wanted to be strong and independent. I wanted to put my bike together myself. I wanted to find the station myself.

Out of Milan and on the Road

The sun starts to set and we know we’re no where near where we planned to be. We will wild camp tonight. I’ve never done it. Neither has Craig. I’ve never set up the new tent he bought for this trip and I’ve never been so brazen as to camp on someone’s property. We’re in a green area on the navigation which means wild land or farm land. My stomach doesn’t feel good. The milk has caught up to me. I do my business in a little ravine by a gravel road. The road runs next to a river and we decide to cycle down it a bit to see if we can find a camp site. 

Same, same, and same… but oh, so different

Friends come in all shapes and sizes, in varying degrees and depths. Cinco de Mayo of my tenth year on earth, a tiny bundle of joy entered our family, evening our the count of boys and girls and without my knowledge giving me a new perception of myself, another conscience and the most truthful, honest friend I could ask for. Marah is my twin. She says we are “same and same.” If time were not a factor, it would be eerily true. Not only do photographs of me in my early years resemble her physically, but I’ve been told that she sounds, works, and thinks as I did at her age. Marah is incredibly intuitive and far more sensitive to her environment than many children her age. She speaks blatant truths that stop me dead in my tracks or simply make me smile. On her first day of first grade she told me that she could not invite friends over in the afternoon anymore as she did in kindergarten because she is now at school all day. She ended her thought with, “I guess that’s just how my life’s gonna be now.” 

A Croatian Artists' Squat

Organizations include a daycare for children with disabilities, a community radio station, artists’ studios, yoga, magic, martial arts, dance and theater. Each organization pays only for it’s electricity use, the rent in the building is free. The building is owned by the City of Pula and co-governed through the Rojc Alliance and sees roughly 1,000 visitors per day.