Golden Years

My aunt's proclivity to violets and purple came to mind with this painting in our room at The Grand Hotel, a place she cherishes.-www.tangledpasta.com
My aunt’s proclivity to violets and lilacs came to mind with this painting in our room at The Grand Hotel, a place she cherishes.-www.tangledpasta.com

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Over Labor Day weekend we visited my darling Aunt Adelaide. She is now 97 years of age, yet she still sparkles with vivacity. Her blue eyes twinkle with laughter, and her hugs continue to melt my heart. While her health waxes and wanes, my cousins take constant care of her, diligently overseeing her medical care with love.

Aunt Adelaide holds a special place in my heart as my Godmother. As my mother’s middle sister, she shared adventures with Mama. My mother, Catherine “Kitty” loved to travel, and travel she did, inviting her younger sister along. Long after both sisters had married and bore children, they took along their offspring on trips. We traveled annually to Edge Grove, Pennsylvania, near McSherrystown, kind of near, but not terribly close to Gettysburg. My maternal grandfather’s three blissfully eccentric unmarried sisters lived in a two-story house with an outhouse wreathed in perennial flowers in Edge Grove. Those flowers attracted an endless stream of bees. One didn’t dawdle in that privy. While my grandfather offered them indoor plumbing time and again, his sister refused. The sisters, Rose, Anastasia “Anna”, and Mary “Molly” were close to their nieces Kitty, Adelaide, and younger sister Agnes. Driving from our hometown with my mother, younger brother, and grandfather to Detroit to pick up Aunt Adelaide and her two younger children, off we all went in our big blue Chevy on a lively road trip. Once with my great-aunts in Pennsylvania, we cousins roamed relatively freely in the hamlet perched on the mountainside, among extended family and friends. Mama and Aunt Adelaide’s laughter rings in my ears from those carefree visits. Reminiscing over bygone days of my great-aunts and their four brothers over copious bowls of corn chowder on warm summer nights lulled me into believing these idyllic times would last forever. Naturally, they didn’t, for the Grim Reaper ultimately demanded the last word.

One memorable road journey entailed chauffeuring Mama and Aunt Adelaide to Virginia. We had so much fun on that vacation! I had completed my undergraduate degree at Indiana University Bloomington in August. Off we drove in late September amid the early autumn color. I did all the driving, for I love the open road. We toured historic Jamestown and delighted in its pottery and artists. Williamsburg fascinated, but for me, the pièce de résistance of the trip was Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home set in the majesty of the Southwest Mountains adjacent the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding Charlottesville. Jefferson’s inventions, Palladian design of his home, and the flower, fruit, and vegetable plantings were all the work of a man ahead of his time. We also travelled down the mountain to the plantation next door: Ash Lawn-Highland, the estate of James and Elizabeth Monroe. We also visited Orange, Virginia’s plantation home of James and Dolley Madison, Montpelier. Three U.S. Presidents who lived in Virginia intrigued me, as did the peacocks roaming Ash Lawn-Highland!

Although Aunt Adelaide is spry no longer, in spirit she is. Remembering our annual summer respite together at our family cottage on Eagle Lake with my mother’s sisters and their families, our annual Christmas and Easter gatherings, and the humor, creativity, and love of my mother and her two sisters reverberate with me still. Visiting with Aunt Adelaide last weekend only heightened the joy we shared. Her golden years continue to beam gold over all within her orb.

Ciao for now.

 

Happy Birthday to You!

With a raspberry filling, how can a Whole Foods birthday cake taste bad?-www.tangledpasta.net
With a raspberry filling, how can a Whole Foods birthday cake taste bad?-www.tangledpasta.net

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

This morning I awakened to a Facebook notification: Today is Anjelica Violi’s Birthday! As if I could forget, but thanks anyway FB!

My darling dark-haired, brown-eyed girl is now a young woman who graduated from Law School in May 2016. She now hits the lectures and books as she hunkers down prepping for the Bar Exam. Her structure, study focus, and organization amaze me. Maybe I should not be surprised. As a toddler she manifested powers of concentration. I attributed this to her Montessori schooling, but the reality was it’s how she’s built. She concentrated for great lengths of time studying birds in the backyard, and then drawing them. Insects such as grasshoppers also fascinated her; she drew them, too. When she majored in Journalism and Classical Studies, I was not surprised. Those fields also demand powers of concentration and attention to detail, her forte.

Yet where have these past 25 years gone? To paraphrase Maria Montessori, a child disappears into an adult. Indeed. Every phase of her evolution, from birth on, has been a joyful adventure. I reckon I haven’t missed much of it. The first day of Montessori school, I pulled up to the entrance where the smiling directress greeted us. Off walked my little girl hand in hand with the cheerful directress. I drove to the end of the parking lot and I wept, for I knew at that moment life would irrevocably change. Now others would also influence her, in positive ways I hoped, but the world had now invaded our tight-knit family sphere. However, I knew full well she had to learn to live in the world, that I wanted her to breathe freely and develop her own ideas. What I did not want to see altered was the essence of her: Funny, kind-hearted, insightful, and a whole strings of other attributes.

What she has developed is a generally right calling a spade a spade detector. She doesn’t suffer fools well. While her radar is still in its evolutionary stage, it hums along quite well. Four years at IU Bloomington afforded her an education both inside and outside of the classroom. Pledging a sorority and living with 150+ females enlightened her no end. She gained knowledge of people and of the world, and made steadfast friends.

And then there was Law School. She came into her own in these past three years, fiercely forward in her thinking, committed to making a difference in the world for the better. I see the spirit of her grandparents and their “can do” attitude in her. I see how she chafes under the yoke of the “let’s play it safe” notion of conservative thinking. Instead, she asks “Why not?” She brims with youthful zeal and vigor. No, I would not have missed her Becoming Anjelica for a moment.

Happy, Happy 4th of July Birthday, My Beloved Daughter! Cent’ anni [100 years] with Love!

Ciao for now.

 

 

 

The IU Writers’ Conference

The second edition of my  first book, Spirited Constellations, will be published this week, as will my second book, Spirited Constellations: Travels. -tangledpasta.net
The second edition of my first book, Spirited Constellations, will be published this week, as will my second book in the series,  Spirited Constellations: Travels. -tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

I’m back. Valentino the black cat is once again putting on a full Broadway production to hurry me into serving him his Fancy Feast Primavera breakfast. Chanel, the black and white cat, seconds his enthusiasm. I don’t mind returning to my cats; they’re cool. After nearly a week at the IU Writers’ Conference surrounded by writers and the accompanying intellectual stimuli, returning to the mundane dulls the brain, and I do not mean the cats.

At the Writers’ Conference, I struck up conversation well-published author Wesley Chu. He shared with me his satisfaction of writing full-time. His winning over 6,000 entrants in a British book contest, thereby landing him a book contract, made this possible. He did not relate this history to me in a superior sort of way; rather, he relayed it in a matter of fact manner. A prolific writer, he is living the dream most writers can only envision. I purchased one of his books, asking him for a suggestion about where to start reading in his author’s list. The book is very, very good.

I also spoke at length with another award-winning author, Salvatore Scibona. He and I spoke in Italian about food, recipes, and books, pretty much in that order. While he is not as prolific an author as Wesley Chu, Salvatore writes about one book on an average of every eight years. His invigorating class on language, mind, and words heightened my already orbiting awareness of the critical use of words in my writing.

However, unchartered territory awakened in me throughout Amelia Martens’ class on prose poetry, which sounded like a literary oxymoron. She led us to explore prose poetry’s “resilient, subversive fluidity.” The more prose poetry we read, including hers, the more intrigued I became. Inspired, I began working on an epistle form of prose poetry that first day of the conference. By the time open reading night loomed large, after agonizing over revisions throughout the conference, I read my prose poem to the crowd at the Serendipity in Bloomington. I am generally unfazed by public performances, but by putting my new work in an arena in which I had never written previously, terrified me. Yet I plucked up my courage, took deep breaths, and jumped in the foray. Once in front of the audience, I summoned up my performance know how. Afterwards, Amelia urged me to keep writing prose poetry since I have a talent for it! Who would have thought it? Not I.

One of the most invigorating things about a writers’ conference is the synergy, the exploration new ways and means that revitalize the imagination. Surrounded by talented writers awakens creative muses within me. The art of writing satisfies a need in me, much like my vocal studies and performance did. I cannot imagine doing anything else. As I gaze down the time tunnel, I see light at its end, not death, but a full-time writing life in my imminent future with Valentino and Chanel in tow.

Ciao for now.

May 14, 2016

Anjelica Violi, J.D., May 14, 2016 - www.tangledpasta.net
Anjelica Violi, J.D., May 14, 2016 – http://www.tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

She did it! She graduated from Valparaiso School of Law, Class of 2016. She smiled the entire day, throughout the ceremony, reception, photos, luncheon, cake, and gifts. She deserved all of the happiness and joy. She had earned it every step of the way throughout the past three intensive years and internship summers.

Last night in the quiet of her abode as we talked, I shared with her my admiration of her accomplishments. My stance has long been to be the support, her cheerleader, but not her career path dictator. She has to decide the course of her life, not I. I told my darling daughter how courageous she has always has been, how she has always stood firm, and followed the path she decided would be hers. It has not always been a smooth journey, she has experienced doubts, anxieties, and confusion along the way, but her grit and determination have paid off time and time again.

Her choosing the local public over private high school, selecting IU Bloomington over the smaller private universities, pursuing degrees in Journalism and Classical Studies, and a minor in Art History, and then recruitment in a campus based sorority, were enormous decisions for this once shy child of mine.

And then, in her third year at IU, she announced to me she was going to take the LSAT and go to Law School.

Having taken a battery of career placement test in the spring of her junior year of high school, the renowned, Indianapolis based career counselor met with us to discuss in depth the results. After analyzing and interpreting the data, he announced what she would pursue at the graduate level.

“Graduate level?” asked an incredulous Anjelica. “I haven’t even graduated from high school!”

“No matter,” he replied. “You will get an undergraduate degree, and then,” he paused dramatically, “you will get a Law Degree.”

“What? You’re joking!” She was stunned.

“No joke,” he said. “It will happen. You. Law School.”

I reminded her of this conversation she had forgotten. Last night I brought up what he had said eight years ago. She smiled.

She smiled throughout the day.-www.tangledpasta.net
The new  J.D. graduate smiled throughout the day.-www.tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After eight years of stifling traditional elementary school, she breathed more freely in high school. At IU Bloomington, she truly came into her own through journalism, leadership in the sorority, via volunteerism at the campus Museum of Art, the Union Board, serving on the Student Judicial Board, and her decision of Law School.

The Law student organizations opened doors for her through the Women’s Law Student Association; Amnesty International; Phi Alpha Delta; and writing for the Law Blog. Holding offices in several of these organizations further honed her leadership skills. She has always been passionate about victims’ rights, animal rights, and human rights overall. On the Trial Advocacy Team she competed nationally. Her moral courage, compassion, leadership, strength of conviction, intelligence, humor, and heart have flourished, and will, I know, stand her in good stead as she continues to evolve.

The white cake with raspberry filling was delicious! - www.tangledpasta.net
The white cake with raspberry filling was delicious! – http://www.tangledpasta.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, as she sets her sites on the Bar Exam at the end of July, and turns her attention to the intensive kick-ass Bar Prep course, her command of what it takes to get her where she wants to be in Law will steer her onwards. She comes from a long line of self-starters and visionaries imbued with ideals.

I cannot help but smile over my daughter, my shining star.

Ciao for now.