Cincinnati’s Findlay Market resembled normal during the pandemic.

It’s Spring of 2021. Standing in the biergarten of Findlay Market, one of the country’s oldest operating public markets, my eyes fall on the square sail cloths strung from poles. Right now, they act as masks, hindering the longed-for sunshine. There are other masks too. On the faces of customers and vendors to protect from the spread of the coronavirus.

On the whole, interactions appear normal. I feel normal, safely shopping at the market whose reputation is that of Cincinnati’s community gathering spot.

For a while in 2020, we all felt this…


12 Lessons from a Year inside My Head

In the midst of the pandemic, whenever my husband and I argued, I called our disagreements quarantine quarrels. Light-hearted or heavy-handed descriptions of them populated my journal kept over the past year.

Twelve months later, re-reading those entries, I discovered the disputes were, thankfully, less about my husband, and more on figuring out my role in the wide, yet suddenly narrowed world. For some, allowing our hair to grow out along with the gray was the extent of revealing our imperfections. For others living in close quarters, imperfections played a starring role.

From the beginning, my standard line was, “There’s…


A Tribute to Michael Stanley

In the early ’80s, when my girlfriends and I were old enough to drive, we flipped a coin over whose parent’s car we would borrow, scraped up enough quarters to make the gas tank gurgle, and drove into downtown Cleveland. Downtown was a frequent destination for us. Oftentimes, we had more in common with Cleveland than our hometown of Amherst, the two locales a thirty-minute jaunt apart.

We wore Cleveland proud on our lips and our sleeves, singing to lyrics written by Michael Stanley and wearing his band’s MSB logo on our tees.

When night time fell, we took to…


Taft Museum “Walk this Way” exhibit a reminder of a grandmother whose work went largely unrecognized.

Droplets rained down on my front stoop. I couldn’t decide what shoes to wear for the mile trek to the Taft Museum Footwear in Step with Labor Activism, Suffrage, and the Sexual Revolution exhibit.

What shoes to wear: the prevailing question for women, for bad weather and for someone raised in the family business of Januzzi’s Shoes.

Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, we couldn’t turn the transistor radio dial to WEOL without hearing the jingle All over the street / to happy feet / Get your shoesies at Januzzi’s. The family motto, if one existed. …


A former food and arts editor, collage artist, and soulful friend, Sara knew how to draw out the light.

In 2017, in the middle of a hushed January night, my husband dropped me off in a parking lot behind the Mariemont Theatre. I boarded a bus teaming with mostly women, bound for D.C., and in dramatic fashion, rose up the rubber tread stairs, nerves hopping out of my skin.

Donald J. Trump had been elected president, and I joined the throngs of voters across the states and around the world for a protest deemed the Women’s March. The nephew of my traveling companion had died suddenly, and my dear friend backed out of our shared trek. …


We can bridge the divide by upholding the right to vote.

(* Originally published in Cincinnati Enquirer: 11/23/2020)

The man instinctively took a seat behind the plastic divider as I discussed his voter record over the phone with someone working the Board of Elections (BOE) help desk. His tired eyes met my dry, itchy ones each time I explained the man’s predicament.

It had been busy opening for our small polling location, based in a public school’s library. Those who had worked the previous presidential elections insisted many voters wouldn’t show up due to absentee ballot mail-ins, yet frequent lines snuck up on our staff’s conversations, jokes, and coffee breaks.

Late…


On a Sunday morning, craving a hike in Appalachia.

With street names like Bacon Flat, Tater Ridge and Plum Run, I’ve come to think of Chalet Nivale Nature Reserve as a comfort hike. And on this Sunday morning following the time change, it’s what I crave.

Nestled between dolomite cliffs and a few rural traditional homes, the turnoff for the preserve is marked by a sign that appears more homemade than produced by an official organization such as the Arc of Appalachia Preserves (ARC) which owns and manages the land.

The parking lot is graveled and more suggestion than a lined lot. There is ample room for four or…


Fever, not from COVID, but from hope.

In Norwood, I sit amidst the yawn of morning, in my bronze Venza, a car as old as my memories. The lot where I’m parked is empty. An asphalt desert engulfs me. Where once prosperity grew from a GM plant, now retail and corporations rise up in the air like Lego blocks.

I am early for my Board of Elections training as a Precinct Election Official (PEO).

After slipping my 2020 absentee voter ballot into the drop box, my car instinctively veered toward a former bank building nearby. …


A year’s journey into recovering the self.

Three weeks ago, I sat around an outdoor table at a home on the Oregon Coast, visiting with friends, Franny and Jerry. Mid-conversation, my 24-year-old son said, “In case you didn’t know, she got hit by a car,” mimicking my standard lines no matter the situation over the past year.

He and my husband chuckled whenever one of them, including me, uttered that line. But how else would I tell people I was hit by a car?

Franny turned to me and asked, “How are you?” Both husband and son rolled their eyes.

A pause filled the smoky air swirling…


The Rebirth of Birthdays

(Reprinted from The Art Academy of Cincinnati Literary Journal, Volume 1, Spring, 2020).

When I turned 54, my birthday passed with little of the hoopla typical in my younger years.

Friends asked how I marked the day. I used the phrases, “low-key,” “acid reflux,” and “Schitt’s Creek on Netflix.” To the outsider, I hadn’t appeared to celebrate at all.

But on the inside, I jumped for joy. As if walking into a surprise party, I was astonished — that I was alive.

Many of my birthday customs originated from the family calendar. In the month of January, my parents had…

Annette Januzzi Wick

Award-winning author, writer, blogger. “Rooting people to place, through my words and my work, will bring us closer to humanity.” More at www.annettejwick.com.

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