Vonnegut in Indianapolis

 

This dice mug reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's artwork. - tangledpasta.net
This dice mug reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s artwork. – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Last week I traveled to the Indianapolis area. It felt liberating to spend time with family Monday through Friday during a non-holiday time. My dear sister-in-law and I zipped around having fine adventures. One place I had longed to visit was the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library in downtown Indianapolis. The Mayor of Indianapolis declared 2017 the Year of Vonnegut, in Vonnegut’s hometown. Each month events related to the writer and artist take place in various venues across town: http://www.vonnegutlibrary.org/year-of-vonnegut/.

We set out on Tuesday morning with high expectations, all of which were met.It is a wonderful museum, full of light to cheer visitors, and with a knowledgeable tour guide full of Vonnegut lore. We learned several facts about the Vonnegut family, too: Grandfather Bernard Vonnegut was an architect who designed several prominent buildings in Indianapolis: The Athenaeum, The Fletcher Trust, and the Indiana Memorial Union [IMU] on the campus of Indiana University [IU] Bloomington. I spent a lot of years on the IU Bloomington campus, unaware of Kurt Vonnegut’s family connection to the IMU. Kurt was a prisoner of war [POW] during World War II, held captive in Dresden, Germany during the bombing of Dresden. He survived by hiding in a meat locker in the slaughterhouse where he was held prisoner. When Kurt returned to the United States still a soldier, he went to his family home, on leave for Mother’s Day in 1944. He soon learned his mother had committed suicide the night before.

First editions of Vonnegut’s work such as Slaughterhouse-Five, based on his POW experiences in Dresden, Breakfast of Champions, and my personal favorite, Cat’s Cradle, are housed in the museum. Other works abound in the museum such as an impressive online resource of all Vonnegut’s work, created several years ago by a group of Ball State University students under the aegis of their professor. So It Goes is the annual Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. The typewriter on which Vonnegut wrote his books, plays, and poems is one of the more intriguing holdings; he never did compose his work on a computer. Equally enthralling were his original works of art on the museum’s walls. Two tickets also on display were to a speech he was to have given at Butler University several weeks after his 2007 death. While I had seen some of Vonnegut’s art, as well as letters of rejection at the IU Lilly Library on the Bloomington campus, the museum in Indianapolis proved a further treasure trove of Vonnegut’s work, of his family, and of the wonder that was Kurt Vonnegut. His messages of tolerance, acceptance, and peace ring true today.

Ciao for now.

Songs My Mother Taught Me

Here's to my mother, a protean woman of  strength!-www.tangledpasta.net
Here’s to my mother, a protean woman of strength!-www.tangledpasta.net

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli 

On this sunny Mother’s Day, I think of how much I miss my mother. She died in June 2002, yet not a day goes by that she is not somehow present in my thoughts. Had she had been one of those scary mothers one reads about in unnerving headlines, my memories would be troubling ones. However, she was a larger than life persona who imbued my character in valiant and courageous ways.

Her baptized name was Anna Catherine, but all who knew her called her by the childhood name her father bestowed upon her: Kitty. My parents had longed for children, but I did not arrive until they had been married for 13 years. Prior to my blessed birth, they delighted in their nieces and nephews, of which there were many since my mother had come from a family of nine children, and my father from a family of six. I remember relatives around me, lively and full of chatter. Dinners, though, were sacrosanct times with my parents, later with brother, and my maternal grandparents [my fraternal grandparents resided still in Italy].

What remains vivid in my mind is love, for my parents loved me dearly. They had waited so long for children, and when I was born, they were overjoyed, so the relatives and my parents told me. More than the homemade snacks that met me on the kitchen table as I came through the back door after school, more than her listening to the stories I penned, more than the travels we took together, more than the delicious home cooked meals, more than the Barbie doll clothes she stitched, more than the exquisite dolls cakes she made and decorated, more than the piano lessons from which she transported me to and fro, more than the pretty clothes she sewed for me, and more than the elegant formal gowns she created for me, my mother taught me the art of invention, the trajectory of reading for its own sake parlayed into writing. With wit and verve and boundless humor, my mother showed me a better way to cope with the travails and joys of life. Until I had my child, I do not think I fully realized the sheer magnitude of her greatness. She used to tell me, “I call them as I see them” and she was nobody’s fool, nor did she suffer them well. An intellectual, a kind and compassionate soul, a magnificent role model, a stylish woman, she was all of those, but most of all she was my Mama, my best friend, my confident, my role model my guide, and my mentor throughout this labyrinth of life.

The songs of life she taught me transcend even death. With love, I say, Happy Mother’s Day, Mama, in the celestial heaven, from your earthling dream-weaving daughter below!

Ciao for now.

 All Bets Are Off This Mother’s Day

Dreaming of Mother's Day - tangledpasta.net
Dreaming of Mother’s Day – tangledpasta.net

 

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

First, I would like to go on record as stating that I am not bitter. It is important that I share that tidbit of information.  As I sit here alone pushing leftover fried rice from dinner last week at my favorite Japanese grille, I am trying to focus on how Tuesday my daughter and I are celebrating two events:  Her finishing her first year of law school, and a belated Mother’s Day.

Why, one may ask, am I spending Mother’s Day alone for the first time in 22 years?  The answer is two-fold.  It begins with some calendar-challenged individual at her law school scheduling the last of the final exams for first-year students the day after Mother’s Day, at 8:00 a.m., no less.  Never mind that the second and third year students finished their final exams last week.  I guess I had grown accustomed to celebrating the end of her undergraduate school years on Mother’s Day since those final exams occurred earlier in May each year.  She wanted to come home for Mother’s Day, if even for only a quick meal together.  However, that “quick meal” would likely go on for some hours, resulting in her returning to her law town infinitely later than she originally planned.  I urged her to stay put, remain in the final exam study mode, and come home on Tuesday.

Sometimes I loathe being noble for my child, all the while knowing it is the right and decent thing to do.

The second-fold reason I am flying solo this Mother’s Day is because on Thursday I had out patient surgery at my dermatologist’s.  No, it was not a chemical peel, a Botox injection, or any of the other beautifying techniques that clever doctor knows how to do.  Alas, it was something far more mundane, yet vital to my health and well-being:  The removal of pre-cancerous formations on my face.  Thank God for my talented hair stylist, for I have been able for sometime to hide these manifestations with my vogue haircut and makeup.  However, I began to grow fearful, and I also wanted to pull my hair back from my face in the warmer weather.  What I did not count on were the two black eyes and scary-looking dark red and brown-blistered aftermath on my face of the heat and freezer techniques used, although today I must admit that I resemble more of a psychedelic raccoon with purple rings around my eyes, instead of black ones.  I fancy The Beatles could have used me on the cover of their Sgt. Pepper’s album. At least the raging swollen redness on my face of Thursday and part of Friday has abated.  The pain has subsided too, thanks to Motrin and heaps of ointment I was instructed to apply on the wounds. Had I known I would resemble something from a fright night movie, I would have scheduled the surgery for well-after Mother’s Day.

Frankly, I was not keen on my daughter or any member of my brother’s family seeing me in my present condition [no makeup either until I am completely healed in six more days or so].  Consequently, my incredibly quiet Mother’s Day is somewhat self-induced.  I have little cause to complain:  My daughter called me, as did my brother and his family, which all buoyed my spirits considerably.  Taking care of my health and well being is also something to cheer me up too, though I would prefer to be celebrating this day with my family face to face [no pun intended].

I think I have a bag of P.F. Chang’s frozen Orange Chicken in the freezer for dinner tonight…

Ciao for now.

 

 

A Mother’s Day

A Happy Mother's Day! - tangledpasta.net
A Happy Mother’s Day! – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Salve! Salve! Today is Mother’s Day, the meaning of which still perplexes me.  Should we not honor our mother 365 days of the year, instead of on only one day?  The common custom has become to take dear Mummy out for brunch, or lunch, or dinner on Mother’s Day.  This in itself requires a bit of quick-footed planning in the art of making the reservation itself weeks ahead of the Day of Dear Old Mum.  Flowers abound, children in their Sunday best, delays in seating at said restaurant, and we will not discuss the perils of parking the motorized chariot in which Mother rode with family members.

Whilst me thinks it a lovely gesture to set aside one day in May for we of Club Mother, I would like to give pause to contemplate these grandiose overtures on one Sunday each year.  If we honor our Mothers on this day with a lovely meal at home not prepared by our Mamas, and we lavish glorious flowers upon her, for our forbearers told us never to plant anything prior to Mother’s Day, and we surround our dear Mamas with love and affection, then I would like to ask, What are we doing for her the rest of the year?  If she has taught us well, then we should demonstrate acts of kindness to her throughout the year. Random acts of kindness to she who bore us that remind her of our devotion.  As Mother myself, I can attest that there is nothing more I cherish than spontaneous hugs from my daughter, her sweet kisses when she walks through the door, and her thoughtfulness at even making my bed or doing the laundry [tasks I loathe, yet are necessary evils, at least the laundry is].

My idea of a perfect Mother’s Day on the government designated day in May is simply to have nothing planned, beyond setting out and arranging the porch and patio furniture, and later sitting down that night to watch a movie with my daughter after enjoying a meal that she herself has prepared for us.  If Mother’s Day also includes celebrating the day with my out-of-town brother and his family, then that is always joyful too. I miss my Mother every day these past 12 Mother’s Days.  We should keep our Mothers in our hearts, and if flowers are included for her, all the better. I take solace in the fact that I did for my own Mama, flowers were always included.

Ciao for now.