Come September

School should start after Labor Day. -

School should start after Labor Day. –

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Each year around this time I am reminded of those days of yore when school began after Labor Day. It still does in a neighboring state, but that is because commencing school earlier would impact its lucrative tourism industry. Since my home state lacks that kind of tourism, our children slog back to school in August. Indeed, some school districts began the first week of August.

The chief reason why school begins so early now is standardized test scores, which still remain in the dumpster [The fact that these scores do not align with the 49 other states is another discussion]. Schools have eliminated “study hall” in high schools; we have also seen a lengthening of the school day. Now governors in other nearby states want to eliminate the ubiquitous “teachers’ lounge”, as if educators were slackers hiding out, instead of utilizing the place in which to clear their heads before heading back into the classroom foray.

Not to romanticize my own elementary and high school history, but it did seem a kinder, gentler way of bidding adieu to the summer by initiating school again after Labor Day. The long Labor Day weekend gave families a chance for one last hurrah together before the start of the school year. That Labor Day weekend was akin to the caboose on a train. It served as the exclamation point at the end of a summer of my family’s time at our lake house, of cookouts, of time spent in leafy local parks playing volleyball and doing arts and crafts, and of short trips hither and yon. Like trains that no longer have a caboose, thereby creating an eerie sense of incompleteness, so too has this state shoved children back into the classroom cage long before Labor Day.

I have not noticed students getting any smarter for all the increase in the school year and longer school days. Nor have I noticed young people stampeding to become education majors in college. Quite the reverse has happened. Who would want to work for low pay, long hours, little respect from parents, and a fractured teachers’ union? Small wonder more are engaging in home schooling. In creating a sense of summer closure by starting school after Labor Day, I am thankful for those halcyon summers with my family before the scourge of the state’s testing mania created a School of the Absurd.

Ciao for now.

The Arm Chair Traveler

I have fond memories of travels on particular Greek

I have fond memories of travels on particular Greek

By Mary Anna Violi |@Mary Anna Violi

While I am grounded due to the chaos in my back, I find myself watching Netflix more than ever before. What I am watching revolves around movies and television series set in foreign locales. Since my back issues thwarted my travel plans for the month of July, at least I am able to travel vicariously through film.

One program I am now addicted to is from Australia: “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”, based on the Phryne Fisher Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood. The setting is 1920’s Melbourne, Australia. Phryne Fisher, played by Essie Davis, who portrayed Vermeer’s wife in the film “Girl with a Pearl Earring”, is a wealthy, independent, brilliant, seductive, female sleuth. The support cast is outstanding too, as are the mysteries themselves. The period music, clothing, World War I references, and conflicts of those who served in the Australian military are amazing. I highly recommend both the books and the television series.

I watched a 1980’s film I had seen years ago: “Shirley Valentine”, with Pauline Collins portraying Shirley Valentine. It began as a stage play and then was parlayed into a movie. The heroine is a “housewife” in Manchester, England whose life has become a mundane routine of drudgery, and whose marriage has deteriorated into one of whose husband thrives on predictable meals on certain nights of the week. A turning point in the story is when Joe the husband becomes enraged that Shirley serves his Tuesday eggs and chips again on a Thursday, instead of steak and chips. Shirley’s friend has won a two-week trip for two to the island of Mykonos, Greece, and Jane insists that Shirley travel with her. Filmed on location on Mykonos, the scenery is breath taking. Seeing Mykonos this way, reminded me of my various travels to the Greek islands of Crete, Thassos, and Skiathos. Shirley Valentine’s experiences on the island proved to be as cathartic as mine were on the Greek islands.

Another film I liked, though not as much as those mentioned above, was Steve Coogen’s “The Trip to Italy”. I feasted on the panoramic Italian countryside where I had spent much time, while reliving the gustatory delights of local Italian eateries. Coogen’s “The Trip” was filmed in England, but I preferred the second mockumentary in Italy. Both films are humorous, though I found them tedious at certain junctures.

There are worse ways to pass the time at home recovering than enjoying Netflix flix. Today I am looking forward to seeing “Bicycling with Moliere”, which is set in France. I am inclined to pull out my DVD of Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris”, a film that zigzags between contemporary Paris and 1920’s Paris. This calls for a glass of French wine.

Ciao for now.

The Front Porch

The view from the porch at The Grand Hotel is quite beautiful too, yet I like my small square porch at

The view from the porch at The Grand Hotel is quite beautiful too, yet I like my small square porch at

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Having retrieved the Sunday New York Times from the front yard, I decided to sit on the porch and thumb through the Magazine section. Perched on the weather-resistant rattan settee, I glanced at the PVC porch railing. After the numerous storms that have blown through lately, the dirt accumulation on the railings was noteworthy. As I wiped off the railings, I could not help but cringe at the filth covering the outside windowsills overlooking the porch. Egregious back problems not withstanding, I believed I could at least manage to swab down the sills and railings. Armed with numerous moist paper towels and determination, I set about the task at hand. My meager efforts were rewarded: the PVC whiteness shone through once more on the porch.

The front porch is dear to my heart. During the warm weather months, it functions as another room. On one side, hanging baskets of ferns over the blooming Rose of Sharon, next to the porch, add privacy on the north side. On the west side, a pot holding a twisted orange-blooming hibiscus tree, and a prolific hanging basket of lavender geraniums, face the white Dogwood tree in the front yard. Several months ago I purchased a large outdoor rug to place under the porch chairs, side tables, and settee. A square pot holds mixed greenery atop the larger side table. A miniature rose that continues to bear pale pink flowers adorns the smaller mosaic side table.

Our small, square front porch is a haven from the cacophony of daily life. It is a sanctuary in which to heal and envision life during the spring, summer, and early autumn. On these long, languid days of summer, I am to be frequently found on the front porch. It is my answer to those days of yore when I lounged, swinging back and forth on the swing on the large, screened in porch of our family’s lake cottage. Overlooking the lake and the pier, I watched the world go by, envisioning my future. I thought those expansive days would go on forever. Though it has been fourteen years since my mother and her sisters sold the family’s lake headquarters, I have managed to capture the spirit of those lake days, albeit minus the water and paddleboat, from my front porch. I cherish my porch window on the world.

Ciao for now.

Where is That Silver Lining?

My wish is to return to yoga and greet the morning minus back

My wish is to return to yoga and greet the morning minus back

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Seven months into 2015, let us recap my experiences thus far:

January:  The periodontist performed bone transfer and tissue replacement on three teeth, or I should say, in the areas of those three former teeth. The aftermath of prescription blue mouthwash and restricted food [read that as all soft food and smoothies, but no straws]. On the upbeat side, I lose weight.

February:  A tooth suddenly fractured, a tooth that had never even had a filling. Intense pain sent me back to the periodontist, who performed another bone transfer and tissue replacement procedure. Thus, no crunchy food, blue mouthwash, and biting my tongue and the inside of my cheek reared their heads. Increased weight loss kind of pleased me, but how I wanted to eat a New York Strip steak.

March:  I am unceremoniously told the large administrative portion of my job would be eliminated, effective July 1, and that I would get thrust into more advising when I would have preferred more teaching. At least I would still be teaching a bit. Oh, and no one thanked me for my twenty-two years of immense program growth and development. Depression kicks in at being treated as a commodity, and not as a human being. Furthermore, my dear friend and colleague resigned out of frustration and accepted a job in a far-flung, albeit beautiful state.

April:  I have to pay the government an enormous sum of money for tapping into my own IRA money. I realized it was not really my money at all, but the government’s for the taking. I decide to update my curriculum vitae and do a systematic job search to help me keep my sanity in a chaotic, toxic, work environment.

May:  My beloved cat Fellini dies suddenly of a blood clot. The periodontist’s engineering feats result in three screws being surgically implanted in my mouth. Implant caps to follow, after allowing six months time to heal. Once more I rinse with prescription blue mouthwash that tints my teeth a pale blue. Soft food rules once more. My dental insurance maxed out; it will not kick in until January 2016. The fourth implant is now on hold as I question going through the pain and aftermath again.

June:  Coming home from the grocery after work several nights, I lifted four bags of groceries and balanced my purse and keys in my hands. Opening the side door to the garage, I saw the neighbor’s big gray cat, a sweet fellow, looking for his kitty kibble treats. He barreled towards the open door. I had one foot inside the garage, and the other down the lone step. Suffice to say, it was a bad comingling of groceries, door, feet, keys, and cat. The upshot was that I tore the membrane around my knee, which now laid me up for some days. The pain has been mind-boggling. Physical and psychic pain has become the norm the past six months. I have grown weary of pain.

July:  Actually, this latest installment began the last week of June, but has forcibly impacted July. Through a series of ill-timed, forced, work events my back went so far out of whack that I am uncertain what the outcome will be. It is beyond a ruptured disc, coupled with several other new egregious back problems. With potent medications, various tests, increased acupuncture, and physician appointments, I feel as if I am trapped in a Cheech and Chong movie from the 1970’s.

Question:  Can 2015 improve markedly for me, or am I to be some sort of contemporary Job from the Old Testament? Forgive my self-indulgence, but this has been an aberrant, puzzling year.

Ciao for now.

Nostalgia Food

This is delicious comfort food from

This is delicious comfort food from

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi | @tangledpasta

Today is Day 4 of coping with a ruptured disc in my back.

Instead of indulging in a succumbing to pain, I re-focused on my daughter’s arrival this afternoon. We had tickets to a Chicago Cubs minor league baseball game tonight, followed by fireworks to kick off her 4th of July birthday weekend. These plans altered when it became clear that my disc would a slow-healing process. As much as I had looked forward to the ballpark tonight, I urged her to ask a friend to take my ticket and go with her. Off they drove in her friend’s boyfriend’s big, new, shiny Ford truck. While the two girls are feasting on hot dogs, chips, and drinks at the game, I’ll console myself with a salmon patty.

I wanted to have a homemade treat for Anjelica. My thoughts turned to Brownie Pudding, a favorite childhood dish of mine my mother used to make. Ever since Mama’s death 13 years ago, I’ve come across some of these favorite recipes she used to make in my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. This cookbook staple is also where I chanced upon the recipe for cream pie – coconut, chocolate, butterscotch, vanilla, and for rice pudding. Thumbing through the cookbook, I took a deep breath. Lo and behold, there it was! I served us up a small bowl full. It reminded me of the warmth of family dinners, of the nostalgia of an easy recipe with great taste in spades, of laughter over dinner with my parents and with my brother.

I have most of The Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, which I use frequently. Martha Stewart cookbooks are now appearing on my shelf, too. Like any rabid foodie, I have Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, worth the money alone for her classic Bouef Bourguignon and Quiche Lorraine recipes. Yet for the comfort food of yore, I find myself turning to my trusty Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook for its Brownie Pudding of 1944. Serve it warm with a dollop of whipping cream and a sprig of mint for a taste of Heaven.

Ciao for now.

Eulogy for Fellini

Ever since he was a kitten, Fellini loved sitting in large pasta

Ever since he was a kitten, Fellini loved sitting in large pasta

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Thirteen summers ago, in July, a month after my darling Mama’s sudden death, my sister-in-law and I were walking across the lot of the Zionsville Outdoor Market. Under the umbrella of a shady tree, a mother and her two young daughters stood over a blue laundry basket that held two kittens. One was black and white female who seemed a bit shy. The other one, a vocal male, had the markings of a Maine Coon cat. Both kittens were longhaired, with glossy coats; they had obviously been well cared for. Picking up the noisy fellow, he nestled into my arms and began purring. I inquired about the price. The mother asked only that I take good care of him and love him. I tucked the little fur ball into my woven basket, and that is how Fellini Tomasso Amadeo burst into our lives.

Fellini also liked nothing better than sitting atop a basket of clean

Fellini also liked nothing better than sitting atop a basket of clean

I have had a cat ever since I was three years old. The enigma that is a cat has always intrigued me. For thirteen years, my market kitten behaved more as a kitten than a cat. He was my feline muse. Fellini possessed the soul of a poet and the sensibility of an artist. He proved a testimony to love and affection. His almond-shaped green eyes were as expressive as those of any I have ever seen. He lifted our spirits that summer of immense loss; Fellini made my father smile at his kitten antics at a time when my Papa’s world had fallen apart. My young daughter doted on the kitten and tried to have her older cat, Sparkle, make friends with him, for both were indoor cats. Fellini roused us momentarily each day from the halo of grief that enveloped us that summer.

Fellini derived great pleasure from rolling around on the

Fellini derived great pleasure from rolling around on the

On Wednesday evening this week, Fellini raced up and down the stairs and through the house with Coco Chanel, our four-year-old cat. They played together, stalked each other, and pounced on each other, all very much as usual. Later that night, I gave Fellini his coveted bit of Greek yogurt, and then I went to bed. Fellini was in and out of my bedroom throughout the night, as he was wont to do. At 5:30 a.m. he jumped up on the bed, and settled down beside me as I rubbed his chin and tummy. About thirty minutes later, he jumped down from the bed, as usual. At some point, he wandered back into my bedroom. During his nocturnal rituals, he brought me his big, fuzzy, pink and black toy mouse. I finally rose at 7:15 a.m. Coco Chanel and my daughter’s visiting cat, Shelton Rae, came running out to the kitchen for their morning serving of Fancy Feast Primavera. When Fellini failed to appear, I called his name. He responded in repeated low moans. I located him behind the living room sofa in a place I had never before seen him. I crouched down and patted his head, yet he continued his throaty cry. He looked at me with his luminous green eyes, and I realized he could not get up, and then understood he could not walk. He dragged his limp hind feet behind him as I called for my daughter. She took over tending him while I hastily brought him water and Fancy Feast. He took only a couple of sips of water. Since Fellini’s own veterinarian does not work on Thursdays, another noted veterinary clinic had us bring him in as an emergency.

Fellini was neat and fastidious about

Fellini was neat and fastidious about

The veterinarian announced that Fellini had suffered a blood clot in a back artery. His temperature had now dropped to 94 degrees [normal for a cat is between 99 and 102]. She began to outline several scenarios for dealing with the clot, but first she injected him with a pain medication that helped him relax. Maine Coon cats, unfortunately, have a genetic predisposition for this particular kind of blood clot. In short, x,y, and z could be done, but the prognosis was less than promising: Another clot would likely form. Not wishing him to ungergo medical procedures when the long-term prognosis was grim, reluctantly I authorized euthanasia. She told me if he were her cat, she would do the same thing because of the gravity of his condition. Fellini raised his paw high for me, a ritual we had. I took his paw and stroked it, then gently laid it down. His paw was cold to the touch, I remarked to the vet. She said his hind feet were like ice. I kissed him on the head. Her assistant took him away for a few minutes.

Goodnight, my Sweet Cat

Goodnight, Fellini, my Sweet Cat

Fellini returned to us with a purple elastic bandage around his right front arm with an IV attached. The veterinarian told us to take our time with him and to press the red button on the wall when we were ready. We had been crying over our beloved Fellini throughout the time with the veterinarian. I knew he would never walk again. I could not bear seeing the pet I loved more than any other waste away or endure prolonged treatments that would come to nothing in the end. I pulled myself together, kissed him three times on the head as I did each day before I left for work, and forced myself to press the red button. She injected the narcotic into the IV opening. Crying over him, stroking him, kissing him, Fellini died within moments, peacefully staring at me.

I am heartbroken.

Ciao for now.

Horsing Around

It is fitting that the sculpture honoring Barbaro should have him racing with his feet off the ground, as he did in life.

It is fitting that the sculpture honoring Barbaro should have him racing with his feet off the ground, as he did in life.

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Growing up, the first Saturday in May was sacrosanct to my late Mama. For the first Saturday in May meant thundering hooves at the running of the Kentucky Derby. While we cheered on the magnificent thoroughbreds from our living room, the anticipation of which steed would win was palpable even in our corner of the Midwest. As much as my beloved Mama adored watching Saturday college football, her ardor for the Kentucky Derby was unequalled.

Mama, my brother, and I were riveted to the television screen when Secretariat galloped into Kentucky Derby history by finishing the race in 1:59 2/5, a record that remains unbroken. Secretariat went on to win the Triple Crown in 1973. I can still see that huge, red chestnut horse thundering down the 1-1/4 mile track at Churchill Downs to victory, his three white socks and white star blaze looming large in the television screen. Secretariat had an iron-like body, a drive, coupled with a presence that seemed of another world, an unequaled anomaly. My family thought Secretariat the Gold Standard of Horses, and indeed he was. He embodied hubris, and deservedly so, for he was magnificent.

The beauty of a thoroughbred's eye have always captivated me.

The beauty of a thoroughbred’s eye have always captivated me.

Until Barbaro appeared at the Kentucky Derby, I had not been enamored of a horse since the legendary Secretariat. However, there was something about Barbaro – the fire in his eye that was simultaneously sweet and noble – gave me pause. Barbaro won the Derby in 2006 by 6-1/2 lengths, leaving his competitors in the dust, literally. Tragically, two weeks later during the Preakness Stakes, his left hind leg shattered. He was euthanized in January 2007 due to the spread of laminitis, this after he had heroically endured at least six surgeries. The hope had been that Barbaro would live out his life tranquilly on a bucolic horse farm. After Barbaro’s death, I could not watch the Kentucky Derby. Barbaro’s heartbreaking injury and subsequent death reverberated deeply within me.

Yet today I will once again view the Kentucky Derby at 6:24 p.m., (EST), on NBC. Dortmund is the favorite, but I’ll be thinking of Secretariat and of Barbaro as I cheer today’s Derby thoroughbreds.

Ciao for now.

Italian Food Cravings

No matter which version one makes, Pasta e Fagioli is delizioso! -

No matter which version one makes, Pasta e Fagioli is delizioso! –

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Lately, I have had a penchant for the traditional Southern Italian food of my parents’ preference. Talk about cheap eats: pasta, fagioli [beans], greens [endive, mustard greens, chicory], marinara sauce, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, peppers, potatoes, asparagus, eggplant, sardines, anchovies, olive oil, and eggs, all add up to fabulous meals, and none with meat. In fact, it is food I rarely tire of because it is possible to reinvent Italian dishes using these deceptively simple ingredients.

I was sixteen years old before my gustatory senses were awakened to the fact that not all pasta was drenched in a red sauce. This revelation occurred when my parents took my brother and me to Italy for the first time. In Northern Italy I at pesto for the first time, as well as green lasagna with béchamel sauce. In Tuscany I feasted on Linguine with Clams, baked fennel with potatoes and cheese; all my previous notions of Italian food underwent a catharsis. By the time we arrived in Calabria, at my father’s family’s doorstep, I was back to pasta with marinara sauce, but it tasted very good after several weeks of Northern and Tuscan cuisine.

On this Sunday afternoon, I am making a Calabrese Pasta e Fagioli [pasta and beans]. There are numerous variations on this peasant classic. It may be as thick as a stew, my personal preference, or as thin as a zuppa [soup]. Some years ago, my brother was in Manhattan on business. When he saw Pasta e Fagioli on the menu at a swanky New York restaurant, his interest was piqued. He declared the purchased version inferior to our mother’s, and it was expensive to boot. Among its shortcomings: the restaurant version was like a thin soup. In my family, we like to cut our Pasta e Fagioli with a knife, for it is as thick as can be.

Pasta e Fagioli

2 tablespoons olive oil                               2 15-oz. cans Cannellini beans, drained

I medium onion, chopped                         8 oz. ditalini, or small shells, or elbows pasta

3 garlic cloves, chopped                                        Salt and pepper to taste

1 28-oz. can Italian crushed tomatoes                Grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon Italian herbs,                                       Italian bread

or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 cups chicken stock, or less for a thicker consistency

Bring a large, heavy pot of water to a boil. Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil, and add the ditalini. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

In a large, heavy pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, and then add onion and cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional minute. Add tomatoes, oregano, and chicken stock. Cover and cook until heated through, 5-8 minutes. Add Cannellini beans and bring mixture to a simmer, approximately 10 minutes. Add ditalini, and then cook for 20 minutes to meld the flavors, and to finish cooking the ditalini. Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle the Pasta e Fagioli into pasta bowls. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and Italian bread on the side. Buon Appetito!

*Variation:  Add 1 small carrot, chopped; 1 rib celery, chopped; and 1 large dried bay leaf; saute the carrot and celery in olive oil until tender, then add to the pasta e fagioli.

Ciao for now.

Easter Bread, Eggs, and Lamb

Easter Lamb Cake is a tradition in our family -

Easter Lamb Cake is a tradition in our family –

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

While in a local Italian bakery this afternoon, waiting patiently as the server carefully placed several large loaves of Italian Easter bread into white boxes, we noticed the bakery hummed with activity.

“What is all of this?” one woman asked, as she waved her arm over the various shapes of Easter bread.

“Look at the colored eggs in the bread!” exclaimed another woman.

At this point, an Italian friend entered the bakery; immediately, we began speaking in Italian. The two women stared at us. He and I talked about Easter weekend, Easter food, and family.

In Italian, I asked him, “Are you going to buy that ring of Easter bread?” I gesticulated at the enormous circular bread with multiple pastel-colored hardboiled eggs.

“No, no. My wife baked Easter bread, but we did buy four loaves of Calabrese bread here on Holy Thursday,” he explained. “Did you bake Easter bread?”

I laughed. “No. That’s why we are buying two loaves. I used to make the Easter bread; instead, I roast lamb, make a Torta Pasqualina [Little Easter Torte with Swiss chard, spinach, and ricotta cheese]. I let our fine Italian bakery do the Easter bread honors!”

We wished one another a “Buona Pasqua!” Happy Easter! Had the bakery not been so busy, I might have explained to the two women the significance of the Easter bread. My daughter remarked how taken aback she had been over the women’s ignorance of Italian Easter bread. She understood that not every one is of Italian descent, but she forgets that when we are with family and Italian friends, and in Italian bakeries. The similar instance occurred several days before at Whole Foods. In that discussion I a server wondered about the significance of lamb cake among Italians. This cake is in the shape of a lamb.

Coco Chanel inspects our newly dyed Easter eggs -

Coco Chanel inspects our newly dyed Easter eggs –

In regard to Italian Easter bread, other cultures have particular kinds of Easter bread, traditionally eaten on Easter Sunday. The bread can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Bread was, and still is, a staple in these cultures. What sets Easter bread apart is that the bread is sweet. It is usually baked in the shape of a cross to symbolize the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The egg embedded in the bread is usually baked with pieces of dough in the shape of a cross. The egg used to be dyed red to symbolize the Blood of Christ, and woman’s fertility. In the Roman and Orthodox Catholic Churches, Easter is about the Resurrection of Jesus, of renewal, and a rebirth of faith. In contemporary society, we now see Italian Easter bread in the shape of an Easter basket with colored hardboiled eggs, or as braided loaves with or without eggs, or in circular loaves with eggs. The cake in the shape of a lamb symbolizes the ultimate Sacrificial Lamb, Our Lord. By the same token, the lamb cake is also synonymous with Spring, a time of re-awakening of the Earth after a long Winter.

We prefer our Italian Easter bread without hard boiled eggs embedded in the bread -

We prefer our Italian Easter bread without hard boiled eggs embedded in the bread –

We embrace our Italian Easter traditions and foods. Tonight I am roasting a leg of lamb with potatoes. The lamb is covered with rosemary and garlic placed in slits. It is then basted with white wine and butter throughout the roasting process. We will eat the lamb and potatoes with fresh asparagus. Many Italians roast lamb for Easter, as do Greeks. It is, after all, tradition!

Buona Pasqua!


When one cannot see the forest for the trees, a new dawn eventually appears. -

When one cannot see the forest for the trees, a new dawn eventually appears. –

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

A blue dress. A jaunty beret. A predatory President. A starry-eyed White House intern.

Remember? The twenty-four-year-old women’s pictures appeared in newspapers, in tabloids, and on our television screens. She was vilified, pejorative labels heaped upon her. Late night talk show hosts cast aspersions in reference to her. Rappers made millions mocking her in their “music.” Through their misogynist lyrics they earned big bucks off her humiliation. Yet nowhere did I read about him being called That President, in the same way she was referred to as That Woman. No one called him a tramp, slut, or whore in the media. She had also confided in someone she thought was her friend: Linda Tripp. This “friend” recorded phone calls she had with the young intern, unbeknownst to Ms. Lewinsky. Tripp proved to be as black-hearted as Shakespeare’s Iago in Othello. The snake-like “friend’ also earned greenbacks off those calls that landed the intern in a political maelström, into a Congressional investigation.

Monica Lewinsky was a twenty-two-year-old intern when President Bill Clinton began his sexual affair with her. He was old enough to have been her father, at the very least. The word “Ick” reverberates in my head now as it did in 1998 when the story was ballyhooed around the world. When all was said and done, he remained President, and she rode off into the Land of Infamy.

What was and is still wrong with this picture?

Was she naïve about the potential consequences? Yes.

Was she vulnerable? Yes. [President of the United States equals Power; White House intern equals Subordinate]

Was her then twenty-something life ruined? Yes.

Has she rebounded? Yes.

Listen and watch Monica Lewinsky’s inspiring TED Talk. [TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. These talks that began in 1984.]

For any young woman or young man who has erred in matters of sex, then one can appreciate how Monica Lewinsky has risen, like a Phoenix from the ashes to address her past and present in her TED Talk. Watch, look, listen, and learn.

Ciao for now.