It was a beautiful day for swimming, so naturally, the pool was packed.
While I waited for a lane to open up, I decided to do my warm up in the open area of the pool, where all the swim classes take place. As I would learn soon enough, sometimes it’s better to wait on the sidelines…
“Music. Wine. A cigar. The small luxuries of life are how we survive what the mind can’t fathom.”
Mark Sullivan, Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel (p. 90).
Pino got a faraway look in his eye, and after a long hesitation, said, “I’ve never told anyone about my war, Bob. But someone very wise once told me that by opening our hearts, revealing our scars, we are made human and flawed and whole. I guess I’m ready to be whole.”
Mark Sullivan, Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel (p. 502).
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about World War II, but the first time I’ve ever read one from an Italian perspective. Mark Sullivan’s Beneath a Scarlet Sky is based on the true story of Pino Lella, an Italian spy for the Allies. When he was 18, Lella became the personal driver for one of Hitler’s top men, a Nazi named General Hans Leyers. Crazy, right? It’s really no wonder that Beneath a Scarlet Sky has risen to number 3 on Amazon Charts this week.
You are graduating from college. That means that this is the first day of the last day of your life. No, that’s wrong. This is the last day of the first day of school. Nope, that’s worse. This is a day.
Since I recently wrote about my college apartment by the cemetery and my current “noisy neighbor” (who is still singing every night, by the way), I thought of an infamous college dorm I lived in my junior spring. Enjoy!
I arrived late at night. I pulled my luggage through the snow and ice, the cold air hurting my eyes. Spring break in New England—delightful.
I stood in front of the white, shabby two-story building that would be my home for the spring quarter. The dormitory resembled a two-star motel, the kind you might invest in bedsheets from a local Walmart before spending the night. As I stared in disapproval, I promised right at that moment, that if I ever became a rich alumna, I would donate a whole bunch of money to tear this building down, build a beautiful new dorm, and slap my name across the front.
“Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
“Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
A mockingbird has taken up residence in our neighborhood. I finally understand why Atticus had to tell people NOT to kill mockingbirds… you know, aside from all the literary and metaphorical implications, of course.
In case you’re either not familiar with the mockingbird’s cacophonous call, too lazy to look up bird calls on Google, or prefer my hyperbolic and hardly technical description, you should know that mockingbirds are nature’s car alarm salesmen (salebirds?). Every 5 to 10 seconds, they change their song:
Beeeeep, beep, beep, beeeeeep, beep, beep;
WEE-woo WEE-woo WEE-woo;
(in rapid succession) tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet;
awk awk AWWWWK awk awk AWWWK;
toot toot CHIRRRRP CHIRRRP;
chip yip yip chip…
Bird watchers, Harper Lee, and others are under the impression that this qualifies as “music.” And I guess I agree (if you’re using a very loose definition of music). It’s as the saying goes: one person’s squawking is another’s Justin Bieber.
“Memory and thoughts age, just as people do. But certain thoughts can never age, and certain memories can never fade.”
~Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
A few years ago, I had the pleasure of teaching vocational English to Iraqi refugees. The following is taken from a longer reflection paper I wrote about my experience. It’s been adapted for this post.
New England in the fall, and also the quintessential Instagram picture. I’m so proud.
“You can see how this book has reached a great boundary that was called 1900. Another hundred years were ground up and churned, and what had happened was all muddied by the way folks wanted it to be—more rich and meaningful the farther back it was.”
John Steinbeck, East of Eden
“The years go by, and I’ve told the story so many times that I’m not sure anymore whether I actually remember it or whether I just remember the words I tell it with… At this point, what difference does it make whether it was me or some other man that saw Moreira killed.”
Jorge Luis Borges, “The Night of the Gifts” (Trans. Andrew Hurley)
My senior year of college, I lived in an apartment next to an old cemetery.
The cemetery had headstones and crypts that dated back to the 18th century. Several of them belonged to the college’s first students. I always wondered whether they willingly chose to be buried there out of devotion to the college, or whether academic rigor got to them before they could graduate. I typically assumed the latter.
The cemetery was mostly green and wooded. Parts of it were steep, and it even had a ravine dividing it down the middle. With its tall trees and eery voices, the graveyard was hauntingly beautiful. During the fall and spring, I used to take a shortcut through the cemetery. I was drawn to the tranquility and quiet, and of course, the dining hall on the other side. I told myself it was a shortcut, but I still doubt if it actually was. I had to climb down a sharp incline then up another hill to get across, usually taking about as much effort as just walking around the cemetery. I never dared to take the path during winter, lest I came across winter gnomes, shout in surprise, then slip, break a leg, and freeze to death. Continue reading
I’d like to congratulate you. Your passive-aggressive way of ending our friendship took some real guts.
Well, well, well. You thought I’d never find out what you did, huh? You didn’t count on me having that “Who Deleted Me” app on my Chrome browser, didja? Well, I do, so joke’s on you. I know EXACTLY what you did. You unfriended me on Facebook, and I’m never gonna forget it.
If you feel like your Starbucks barista is silently judging you based on your order, it’s because they are.
Last week, I got a strange phone call, and I still can’t make heads or tails of it. Maybe you can help… Looking for any leads.
Janis: Gretchen Wieners knows everybody’s business. She knows everything about everyone.
Damian: That’s why her hair is so big; it’s full of secrets.
Mean Girls (2004)
The opinions expressed in this blog post are the author’s own and do not reflect the views and experiences of all people with naturally curly hair. Please be advised to remember that curly-haired persons face unique challenges associated with their hair on a daily basis.
I spent half my childhood crying whenever anyone brushed my hair. Thus began the longest love-hate relationship of my life.