The other day my friend Anja (co-author of the sweetest dessert blog and creator of my favorite hot cocoa) texted me saying that she had an extra ticket to see her favorite artist ever in conversation with Ira Glass (host of my favorite radio show). She said she thought of all the people she knows who love NPR (the official radio station of U.S. nerds, in my opinion), and I was at the top of the list! I was honored. Flattered. Grateful. I felt like a super-nerd, and it felt great.
The only thing I knew about Maira Kalman prior to the event was that Anja’s wedding cake, which she baked herself like a boss, was inspired by Maira’s illustrations. It’s always nice to learn more about what inspires the people who inspire you, so I was excited to learn more about her, but I was completely unprepared. I haven’t seen much of Maira’s work, and already I love her art.
Hearing Ira and Maira talk to each other and make connections between their work, I was mesmerized. They were there to discuss Maira’s new book My Favorite Things and everything they said was so witty. I kept laughing and laughing and turning to Anja, thinking, “Did you hear that? How can they be so funny and insightful?” Especially Maira.
My favorite part of the night was when Ira introduced her by reading her introduction in the book: “The pieces that I chose were based on one thing only––a gasp of delight. Isn’t that the only way to curate a life? To live among things that make you gasp with delight?”
My jaw dropped when I heard that because that’s exactly what I do when I see something I like. Nobody likes driving with me in the passenger seat because I tend to gasp loudly, and without the context gained by being in my brain, it can sound scary enough to slam the brakes (sorry, Mom). And then I have to explain that no, there was no imminent danger. I just really liked the color of that house. Oops.
It’s nice to know that someone is able to dedicate her life to appreciating things and sharing them with others. (Maybe I’m not a terrible passenger, Mom. Maybe I’m just really good at liking things! I wonder if Maira’s family and friends have gotten used to her gasps? Apparently, she likes going on long walks and maybe that’s why…)
The second best part of the night was when someone in the audience asked Ira and Maira, “What is the last job you had that wasn’t connected to your current profession?”
Maira answered, “A maid in an Irish castle.”
And Ira asked her when.
“Oh, this was just last year.”