It’s finally time for me to admit it. I’m my mother’s daughter. Usually women have to wait until they have kids or a husband to realize they’re turning into their mothers, but I got a jump on the game. My mom likes to tell the story about when I was four and she was leaving her job at a craft supply shop. As we drove away on the last day, I turned to my mom and asked “What are we going to do for our new job, Mommy?”
I was reminded of this last week, when I took a day off of my job selling art supplies, to interveiw at an art museum. (In case my mom forgot to tell you the story, “our new job” ended up being in an art museum) I’d reapplied to work on restoring the Antioch mosaic at the Worcester Art Museum, because my mom says if you don’t suceed, you have to try again until you do.
So I got called in for an interveiw, and I was LATE getting there, I called and said I was stuck in traffic which wasn’t true, actually I am just a crappy driver and I got a little lost and I needed to stop for gas and there was a little traffic. When Squeaky and I finally got there, I came clean about my driving issues to the first interveiwer (K) and promised that it wouldn’t happen again, she said she hates driving too and how her daughter makes fun of her because she has to shut off the radio to change lanes. I blinked a few times and asked in a whisper, if her daughter could really change lanes with the radio on, and which ivy league school her obviously genius daughter would be attending.
Then K said “Let’s just do your paperwork now because I’m pretty sure you’ll be offered the hours.” Score!
So then K introduced me to P, and she hadn’t actually seen my resume so she asked me a bunch of questions. It was like a dream sequence, everything that I thought was going to be a problem turned out to be a strength. My scattered interests seemed eclectic instead of just weird. I expected to have to explain that I have no memory for dates but can spot a shift in artistic style from miles away. (It was only recently that I realized that not everyone can do this. And when I was younger I thought Van Gogh and Picasso were adjectives. I suppose you have to live with my mother to get that) Apparently, there’s a lot of controversy regarding dates, so serious scholars use contextual clues.
My bizarre employment history sounded like perfect preparation from this job. One summer I worked as a housepainter, and that translated as “eye for detail, hand-eye coordination, color matching” instead of “needed money”. Part of restoring the mosaic involves matching the colors. I almost failed a driving test by identifying the colors on a traffic light as cranberry, amber and sage. This is a genetic flaw. When I was a kid, the worst fight I ever saw my parents have involved my father calling something blue when it was clearly periwinkle. It turns out that the former curator of Greek and Roman art at WAM became a curator at the Boston MFA, so I knew her name too. No credit for my mom here, I just happened to go on the Best Date Ever at the Boston MFA.
Then I got to go see the vault, and ask lots of questions about their methods and materials and she showed me how I can tell what’s original and what’s reconstruction (and from which reconstruction)! And there’s also a way to tell what’s what by how the materials respond to UV and sometime I can stay after closing and we will look at it with a blacklight! And I start on Friday and it’s so cool!
It was so cool that the first thing I did when I left was call my mom.