It’s Showtime!

Another school year is peeking around the corner, and this year I begin a new role as a high school English teacher.

I will be teaching Honors Sophomore English, Journalism, and an Academic Transitions class to freshmen.

Major God-incidence on this unexpected but blessed job change.  But first, here are some photos of my new digs, ready for my 94 new female students!

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I love the transom windows on the hallway side of the classroom, which let light flow in. The opposite wall has wonderful big windows looking out into the woods!

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This is the back of the room.  I have a small library appropriate for high schoolers, and a collection of crosses which are gifts from former students.  Of course, the Vatican flag had to move with me!

This close-up of my bookshelf reveals some transferred books I purchased for my junior high students as well as some new additions from Half Price Book’s summer sale.  I am excited about sharing adult novels with my students – introducing them to Kristen Hannah, Fannie Flagg (what a hoot!!), Agatha Christie (Murder on the Orient Express is coming out as a movie this fall), and some good non-fiction reads.   I will be adding to this collection like the crazed bibliophile I am!  20170811_123134  This quote from Dr. Seuss was painted by my daughter as a birthday gift a couple years ago.  I’m proud to include it in my new classroom!

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Don’t you think this is a fitting message for teenage girls?

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My dad was a high school Journalism teacher and managed the newspaper and yearbook for 26 years.  I feel I am becoming my dad, and I hope I can do justice to his legacy.  I am including these photos from back-in-the-day.  I love how diverse that student body was, and nobody made a fuss.  They simply worked as a team.  1960’s-70’s.

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This drawing of Our Lady was done by one of my sweet junior high students, and I am really glad I had him sign this artwork in May.  I had no idea it would hang in a different school.  I have his permission to hang it!

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Here is the front of the room; I am excited to have a document camera in my new learning space!

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Here is a close-up of an OWP poster and a quote from Kurt Vonnegut.  “Go into the arts.  I’m not kidding.  The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

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Next to last, two treasures from my retired partner, Christy Taylor, and a very special gift from my friend Wasseim in Bethlehem.  They will be the first things I see when I turn on the lights, and the last things I see when I walk out the door.  I hope they inspire my students to be kind, loving, and faithful servants to all fellow people on this planet.

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And, last but not least, this lovely lady graces my doorway.  At first glance, people may see a homely little nun.  Get to know her.  She is an amazing, strong, faithful, fiercely loyal servant of Jesus, who did great things while being paralyzed for 22 years.  Once she recovered her ability to walk, she trail-blazed for Jesus in spite of threats from the French Revolution. St. Julie, pray for me!  Watch over my students and pray for them, too!

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Choices and Consequences

Today I had a LONG overdue annual check-up (of the unpleasant kind, ladies).  By long overdue, I mean the last time I got in the stirrups was when my son was still in diapers.  He’ll be 15 on Friday.

Why the delay?  My last two babies were delivered by midwives, and the Cincinnati community has this sort of passive-aggressive relationship with CNM’s.  Consequently, midwives move among practices.  A.  LOT.  So, since my midwives were constantly moving targets, I just stopped trying to track them down for annual exams.  Life was busy with 3 kids and working full time, so I simply stopped going.

Finally, at my age, I decided its time to make my health a priority, and I returned to the kind, warm, well-mannered, and skilled OB/GYN who delivered my first baby 25 years ago.  He welcomed me, and made me feel special.  He gave me his full attention, and listened to me.   Although I can not imagine he actually remembered me after caring for thousands of pregnant women, he sure made me feel like we were old friends.

After the doctor’s visit in Clifton I had just enough time to cruise downtown for 11:30 Mass at the cathedral. I have been praying non-stop for a high school classmate battling cancer, and I wanted to offer mass for her, as she entered hospice last night.

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It is my nature to be last minute/late to everything, and I got the last spot on the street outside of St. Peter in Chains at 11:29 AM.  I had about 60 cents in loose change between my car and my wallet and quickly fed the meter…buying me only 33 minutes and no spare time to root through any crevices in the upholstery for any mystery cash or insert a credit card!  I made a choice.  Go to mass, hope for a short homily, and risk a very expensive Cincinnati City parking ticket.  I took the risk and entered church with the opening hymn blaring on the big pipe organ.  The kind  presiding priest delayed his entry up the aisle to let me go first!

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During mass I focused on Teresa, my classmate, and did not fret about getting a ticket.  Her cancer is a far more traumatic experience than a citation!  The message today:  be humble, and open up your heart to God’s purpose for you.

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I walked out of church to the little red light blinking on the meter – a beacon of lawlessness summoning the ubiquitous city meter attendants.  Parking citations are a huge revenue for the city.

No ticket.  Whew.

I am so blessed.   In many other countries around the world, citizens can not risk being so cavalier about disobeying minor civil rules.  If I were a Palestinian in the West Bank, a parking ticket could be an excuse to arrest me or seize my home.  In North Korea, people get tortured and killed for watching an American film.

My choices made today had pretty minor consequences – my choice of a GYN check-up, and my choice to deliberately run out of meter time.   America is great.  Always has been, and it still is today.  We can not truly appreciate our right to individual liberty until we travel where it does not exist.

PS:  If you could, please offer up prayers for my classmate Teresa.  She is a beautiful soul on a difficult journey.

Play Ball!! Or, a Cincinnati Holiday

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Today, April 3, 2017, is a holiday here in the Queen City,  when our Cincinnati Reds play the opening day baseball game AFTER our big parade!  On the rare occasion that spring break falls on Opening Day, the Bohlens are at the parade.

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Instead, today I tried to bring the parade into my classroom.  First, we sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” as I paraded around the room in my Reds regalia.  Two very different responses from my reading classes:  7B humored me by timidly singing along, and 7A rocked it.  Find the song and lyrics here.

I was so surprised that my students were luke-warm to our beloved Cincinnati Reds.  Such short memories!  Yes, last season (okay, seasons) = abysmal failures.  YET.  The Reds!  The FIRST professional baseball team in the history of America!  THE team (until recent history) to ALWAYS have the FIRST game of the season.

It’s my job to get this generation educated on the magical days of THE BIG RED MACHINE.  Sparky Anderson managed the “Great Eight” All-Star team of Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, George Foster, Dave Concepcion, Tony Perez, Ken Griffey Sr., and Cesar Geronimo.  Because I was a kid in the 1970’s, baseball will always have a special place in my heart.

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In this spirit of Opening Day in Cincinnati, we read the narrative poem Casey at the Bat by Earnest Lawrence Thayer.  Find the poem here.

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James Earl Jones has an amazing narration of this poem, complete with theatrical background music.  Listen here.

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My students really liked the poem and “got” the message.  They were crestfallen when Casey struck out, and very annoyed at his arrogant showmanship.  They got the message.

It was a good day in my Milford classroom, in spite of my Redlegs losing to the Phillies later in the day.

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Lord, I Am Not Worthy to Enter Under Your Roof, but Only Say the Word, and My Soul Shall Be Healed. 

Last night I was warmly greeted by my host family.  Puppy Chanel  jumped into my arms,  Issa made me delicious coffee,  and later tea,  and my teacher partner, Mirna, showed me my comfortable guest room, and we sat and chatted about all sorts of topics, as girlfriends do.

Soon we joined the other teachers and pilgrims for a delicious homemade meal in the school multi purpose room.

Lots of laughter was shared between bites of hummus, pita, seasoned vegetables, and juicy grilled  meats. The parish priest wrote my name in Arabic on my dinner napkin and explained many things abut Arab ancestry.  My dear friend Waseim once again tried to give me a lesson in pronouncing the kh blend.  Another epic fail, but we keep trying!

Our tired little group from Ohio was renewed by exceptional hospitality and fellowship. 

My homesickness vanished because I was reunited with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Just as Christ feeds me in the breaking of his holy body, just as Christ forgives me in the sacrament of reconciliation,  the Palestinians have nourished me by their hospitality and healed my soul in their total acceptance of who I am.  What would Jesus do? Come to the West Bank to find out.

Baptism and the Living Stones.

We celebrated mass at the baptism site of the Jordan River, and also renewed or baptism vows. We will soon cross the Allenbey Bridge checkpoint and head to the West Bank.

This is what my soul longs for; to be with my loved ones in Beit Jala.

To be with the people who live out their baptismal promises every day;  the Palestinian Christians who are the Living Stones of the Church. 

We Are Officially Pilgrims

Fr. Chris celebrated mass with us in the smallish prayer room of the Paris airport. A Muslim man came midway through the mass and said his prayers on the other side of the partition. God is good to all and made known to those who desire him.  

Today’s Gospel, Luke 19:41-44 in part reads:”If this day you only knew what makes for peace-but now it is hidden from your eyes.”

Thank you, Lord, For opening our eyes; you are the only way to true peace.