[Intermezzo] Happy Birthday, Momma! Or, This is Where I Review My Mother’s Job Performance…..

I’m taking a break from my work to wish my sweet, lovely mom, Kay, a Happy Birthday! I started by searching the web for appropriate “mom/mothering” quotes. I came up empty. Oh, there are thousands on the Internet. Most of them are quite nice, inspiring even. Perfectly appropriate. Unfortunately, they just seemed…hollow. Not right. Then it occurred to me. “Duh! You’re a writer. Doing a ventriloquist act with someone else’s words is not good enough for your mother. Do it yourself.”

So here I am, feebly attempting to explain how wonderful she is in (almost) every way. I decided to add that ‘almost’ qualifier because no one is perfect. Not even my mom. That’s alright, because even her imperfection is inspiring. When I was growing up, her humanity empowered me. It still does. She’s stronger than she knows, more beautiful. She grew up at a time when suburban assimilation was expected; she raised me to be my weird, larger-than-life self. To revel in my uniqueness, because that uniqueness was my ticket to an interesting life.

She’s always been fun (and funny!) and open. She’s adventurous but won’t admit it, even when she’s in the middle of doing something totally awe-inspiring. She’s wickedly creative when it comes to this thing called life; always has been, always will be. She’s shy, like me, but passionate and vocal about her convictions (hmm, also like me). She gave me my love of reading and tea and art and half of the other important, beautiful things I hold so dear. My mom, this woman named Kay, has made it possible for me to look in the mirror and say, “I like who I am.” It’s true: I like who I am. But I love her. Mom, you are the best: the best parent, the best friend, the best role model I could ever hope for. You still inspire me. Happy Birthday!

Why, yes, it was the 1970s!

Why, yes, it was the 1970s!

 

Also born on 25 April: Al Pacino, Ella Fitzgerald, Oliver Cromwell, Edward R. Murrow, Renee Zellweger, William J. Brennan, Jr., Edward II and Guglielmo Marconi (which is odd, because I was born on Tesla’s birthday).

A Year in Books/Day 114: Camille Pissarro Letters to His Son Lucien

  • Title: Camille Pissarro Letters to His Son Lucien
  • Edited by: John Rewald
  • Year Published: 1943/This Edition: 2002 (MFA Publications)
  • Year Purchased: 2006
  • Source: Half Price Books
  • About: Camille Pissarro, the “father of Impressionism”, was the heart and soul of that loose collective of friends and acquaintances. Every week for twenty years, he wrote his son Lucien a letter. Read together, they are better than any art history class on Impressionism could ever be. His intelligence, dedication, humour and wisdom burst from every page. He was a quiet rebel who deliberately chose to live outside the bounds of acceptable society, knew everyone within the art community that there was to know, was never complacent in his search for artistic growth- all while remaining a rock for his (slightly) younger artist friends. The landscape of art history (ha!) would be entirely different without his very serious contributions.
  • Motivation: Starting when I was a girl-very young, just a few years-I would spend hours flipping through my Mom’s books. My favourite was a handsome folio of Impressionist paintings. It was then that I formed a connection to the work of Camille Pissarro that has never waned. He remains the only Impressionist painter whose work I truly love. Bonus: We share a birthday.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 132: “I had a long conversation with Renoir. He admitted to me that everybody, Durand and his former collectors attacked him, deploring his attempts to go beyond his romantic period. He seems to be very sensitive to what we think of his show; I told him that for us the search for unity was the end towards which every intelligent artist must bend his efforts, and even with great faults it was more intelligent and more artistic to do this than to remain enclosed in romanticism. Well, now he doesn’t get any more portraits to do.”
  • Happiness Scale: 10
    Landscape at Pontoise, 1874

    Landscape at Pontoise, 1874 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

     

A Year in Books/Day 113: Maria Callas

  • Title: Maria Callas an Intimate Biography
  • Author: Anne Edwards
  • Year Published: 2001 (St. Martin’s Press)
  • Year Purchased: 2004
  • Source: Unknown
  • About: I’m always skeptical about any biography with the word ‘intimate’ in the title. It holds scuzzy connotations for me, as if I’m about to read the unnecessarily shameful details of a dead person’s life. If you’ve been following my Project 366, you know that I love, love, love a good biography; just not the sordid kind. As it turned out, there was nothing to worry about: there is no enumeration of distressing personal habits or focus on gross minutiae. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything to celebrate either. This book is entirely middle-of-the road. It is neither offensive nor illuminating. It’s a quick, surface study of the great singer. If you don’t know much about Callas , it’s probably a perfectly utilitarian introduction. The photo section is the best part.

    Publicity photo of Maria Callas (December 2, 1...

    Publicity photo of Maria Callas (December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977) as Violetta in La Traviata by Houston Rogers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Motivation: I needed 7 or 8 books for a long vacation. I bought this to round out the more intellectual fare I’d already purchased. This was my “easy, fun” read. Maria Callas was a diva when being a diva was something more complex and less hollow than it is now: talented, dynamic, demanding, always-changing, never boring. A great subject for the dull leg of a long car trip.
  • Times Read: 1
  • Random Excerpt/Page 53: “Maria knew no one on this boat, or the SS Stockholm, and had not yet learned where her father or Dr Lantzounis lived. She could think of no one else to contact in New York. In her purse were $100, her entire personal wealth. Yet she felt free for the first time in eight years. She was saying goodbye to Maria Kalogeropoulou. As her American passport stated, she was now Maria Callas.”
  • Happiness Scale: 7