Dreaming of Dayton, Part II

St. Mary's Hall and the Immaculate Conception ...

St. Mary’s Hall and the Immaculate Conception Chapel at the University of Dayton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

One of the pleasures of traveling to the Land of Dayton was the time spent with family.  While the overt reason for our journey to Ohio was to visit the outstanding School of Law at the University of Dayton, the covert one was family.  We are rich in family, and the opportunity to enjoy the company of Aunt Agnes proved irresistible.    In fact, Zia joined us in what proved to be a full day of U of D’s law program experience for admitted students.

I had not visited the campus since my Uncle Joe, a U of D Professor of Chemistry, passed away.    Knowing Uncle Joe’s love for the University of Dayton, it warmed my heart to know that we were able to explore his former turf.  He would have been pleased to know that his beloved university has grown so, while retain its academic essence.  Sharing the law day with Aunt Agnes was fortuitous too: She was elated to highlight aspects of the campus she knew well, for she herself was a U of D graduate.  Her reminisces of the life she and Uncle Joe shared with the U of D family topped off a tremendous day.

One portion of the day was devoted to a mini-class on complexities of the IV Amendment of the Constitution.  The law professor was not only witty in his discussion of the subject before the U. S. Supreme Court, he offered razor-sharp analysis of the fine line between salient facets of arguments regarding “search and seizure”.  I feared that my aunt might have been weary, yet this was not the case.  In fact, like us, she felt invigorated at the intellectual exercise the afforded by the mini-lecture.

After the law day, we drove around and through as much of the campus as we could. We noticed that quite a few of the fraternities and other residential houses’ occupants had spilled out on to front lawns to celebrate the Eve of St. Patrick’s Day.  Irish flags waved from porches rooftops as beer flowed freely.  While late on this Saturday afternoon, we steered the car to our aunt’s home in happy anticipation of her daughter and granddaughter’s arrival from Cincinnati that evening.

Ciao for now.

Dreaming of Dayton, Part One

A beautiful femme fatale - tangledpasta.net

A beautiful femme fatale – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

This past weekend we traveled to Dayton, Ohio.  My daughter was participating in a law school safari for admitted students.  This tour de force at the law school was enhanced by the fact that we would be staying with a beloved aunt.

We set out on a sunny Friday mid-morning to journey to the Land of the Buckeyes.  This was the last weekend of Spring Break, which meant we needed to drop off my daughter’s roadster and Harvey the Fish with my brother and sister-in-law en route to Dayton.  After a quick-lunch of zuppa di minestrone, Italian bread, and a chocolate-covered shortbread cookie with an IU seal on it, we headed east.  The trip clocked in around five hours total from our domicile in northern Indiana.  Our conversation was filled with the pros and cons of the other two law schools we had visited over the past several weeks, college graduation in less than two months, and my niece’s pending June wedding.  Before one could say “graduate school”, we were pulling into Zia Agnesi’s driveway [Zia means “aunt” in Italian], in front of her well-appointed house.

Zia has always been mad about Persian cats, and she certainly has had show-stopping ones over the years.  Her two current Persians, DeLora and Molly proved no exception.   DeLora is a stunning Smokey Tortoise Persian; Molly is a blue-eyed Himalayan Persian.  I remember years ago when Zia had two blue-eyed white Angora Persians named Mitzi and Muffin.  After interacting with DeLora and Molly, I thought our own Fellini and Coco Chanel seemed to possess more pointed, fox-like noses compared with the pushed in noses of their high-falutin’ Persian cousins.

An evening full of conversation, a delicious dinner of tuna fish and noodles and mushroom casserole, and Waldorf salad washed down with vino bianco, we retired late night.  Tomorrow at the law school promised to be a busy day.

Ciao for now.

A Farewell to Arms, Apparently Not

 By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Searching for Balance - tangledpasta.net

Searching for Balance – tangledpasta.net

In the past years we have witnessed, experienced, or read about senseless deaths due to gun violence.  As the litany of Columbine; Paducah; Virginia Tech; Aurora; Tucson; Newtown; and a host of other deaths lesser in numbers, like Tinley Park, but by no means of lesser importance.  As a nation, we wring our hands in disbelief; we clamor for tighter gun control laws; we pray there will be no more shootings.

And yet a powerful lobby pulls out all its stops with the idea that classroom teachers should be armed, as should the administrators.  As if that were not ludicrous enough a notion, the Governor of South Dakota signed such a law into being this past week. What happens if an administrator or teacher or counselor goes off the deep end and starts firing at living targets within and without the school?  How do we know whether of not there is a stable mind inside the school personnel stroking the trigger?  The sorry truth is that we do not know, until a rampage is unleashed upon innocent victims.  The only rational voice heard is the one crying out for improved mental health evaluation, treatment, and oversight.

The U. S. is no longer the wild, wild, west.  We are not battling the Revolutionary War, or the Civil War.  If a person wishes to dine upon venison, then the individual may purchase the deer meat, like one does the beef.  Anytime I hear someone babbling about our Second Amendment “right to bear arms”, I blanche.  I expect to choke quite a bit this year as the Senate and House attempt to shape different sorts of arms policies.  We have amended our Constitution since its inception, yet we are paralyzed when it comes to amending the “right to bear arms”.  Some perceive hunting as a “sport”.  Even the British have curtailed their “riding the hounds” for the blood sport of killing a fox or hare.  It seems silly to hunt animals.  What sort of achievement is that?  Hemingway and his promoting “going on safari” in Africa looked ridiculous gunning down lions.  The gruesome bullfights of Spain provoke more sympathy for the bulls than for the toreadors.  Where is the art in torturing and then killing a corralled beast?

A far better question is, Where is the humanity?

Perhaps we would do well to ponder why any civilian needs guns at all.  For what purpose does one possess a gun, except to kill life?  All humans of every color, shape, and culture, all creatures great and small deserve better than we have offered through our twisted view of the nature of the “right to bear arms”.  A better phrase would be, “all deserve the right to live”.

Ciao for now.

Letting Go

Sorority Formal - tangledpasta.net

Sorority Formal – tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

 

Today I sit in the library of the law school my daughter is again visiting.  I am the chauffeur for the second look at this law school located less than ninety minutes from our home.  While she has several other schools to visit over Spring Break, this law school feels like coming home, not only because of the geographical proximity to our hometown, but because of the impression the students, faculty, and staff have made.

I am seated next to a series of large windows overlooking a forested area surrounding   the law school.  The beauty of the landscape is impressive.  Even the adjacent 1870’s building, recently refurbished, exudes a classical aura.  The gray squirrels scampering across the courtyard between the law buildings struck a piquant note with me, perhaps since only chunky chestnut colored squirrels raid our bird feeder at home.

This whole experience has a curious sense of déjà vu about it:  Over four years ago I accompanied Anjelica on a return visit for prospective admitted undergraduate students at the university she ultimately attended.  She was excited and nauseous at the prospect of going away to college.  In spite of her trepidation and tears, she forged ahead.  That first semester was rough emotionally.  Her cadre of high school friends had scattered; only she had opted for the gargantuan campus downstate.  But once she hit her stride, she thrived; once she pledged a sorority, went to London and Paris with several favorite professors, she never looked back.

We arrive again at a crossroads.  Four years older, more poised, more confident, ready to tackle law school, she begins to pursue her dream. Gazing at her, I remember when I decided to chase a graduate degree in linguistics. That same fire blazes in her about studying law.  Sometimes she worries maybe she will find law school is not her cup of tea.

“If it’s not, then you go with your Backup Plan.  The world won’t end,” I tell her.

I do not need to reinvent any perceived thwarted academic aspirations through her.  While we talk or text almost daily, I understand that she has begun to live her life, knowing I am her familial anchor, come what may.

I continue to learn how to gently let go as she soars into becoming the Anjelica of her own invention.

Ciao for now.