Thursday, July 22, 2010

Meanwhile ... Back on Amanda's 18th Birthday

My bad!  It's been over a month now since Amanda's 18th birthday and graduation and I've yet to do any posts on it - gasp!  That's it; I've gone and lost Mother of the Year yet again and I've got no doubt that I was really going to be in the running this year, too!  Oh bother!

Anyway, in an attempt to catch up on the blessed event(s), let me back up to Friday, June the 18th, the date of not only Amanda's high school graduation but also her 18th birthday - the type of occasion that only manages to happen once in a lifetime when the planets align in the proper order ... or something like that!

Knowing that this was an event of historical proportions, I had begun thinking early about what sort of gift to get my off-to-art-college-in-the-fall-wannabe-illustrator daughter.  What could possibly be good enough for this sort of monumental occasion; what could possibly say "I'm proud of you for making it through high school with my sanity intact and oh by the way, welcome to adulthood!"; what gift would stand head-and-shoulders over all gifts?  Wait!  I know!  How about a one-of-a-kind, drawn-just-for-Amanda, none-other-like-it-in-the-world piece of art by her most favorite illustrator Gris Grimly?!?

For those of you who have been devoted followers of this blog (and I thank you all!), you probably remember that Amanda had the chance to meet Mr. Grimly at a book-signing in Baltimore last October when we made our second trip of the year to Charm City to attend the slightly-late funeral for Edgar Allan Poe - an event that was being held due to the fact that Poe had never had a proper funeral when he first died in a Baltimore hospital back in October of 1849.

Amanda & Gris Grimly
In addition to meeting her favorite illustrator at the book-signing (where I exercised my parental right to embarrass her as much as possible), Amanda also had the chance to hear him speak at Poe's funeral being that Mr. Grimly has illustrated two books of Poe's writings - Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Madness and Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Death and Dementia - and he had been invited to speak along with other people who had been influenced by E.A. Poe such as H.P. Lovecraft, Sir Alfred Hitchcock, and (the still-alive) Ellen Datlow! I know it probably sounds a little strange but it really was a very cool event and I'm really glad we went.  Not many people walking around today can say they attended Poe's funeral but I can!

HP Lovecraft, Alfred Hitchcock, Ellen Datlow, Gris Grimly
However, I digress - as per usual!  Knowing that one of the things Amanda wanted most in the world was to someday own an illustration of her own by Gris Grimly, I decided to send him an email and see if he would be at all available to do a commissioned piece for her birthday/graduation.  I was a little leery of him having the time to take on an extra project being that he had been hard at work on illustrating the original 1818 story of Frankenstein as well as bringing his version of Pinocchio to life on film but when I received an email back, he said that even though he was swamped he'd be able to do a cool ink sketch for Amanda that would indeed be a special gift.

A few more emails back and forth hammered out the details of when I'd need it by as well as ideas of what Amanda might like - heck, I figured he could draw two stick figures and she'd be thrilled to pieces but obviously the man is a professional and there's no way he's going to put his name on something like that!  Wanting to make sure that I knew my daughter as well as I thought I did, I consulted with her brain twin and best buddy Sami and together we worked up a list of probably way-too-many ideas for the poor guy to sort through!

Shortly after that, I was emailed a pencil sketch of Gris' planned artwork for Amanda so that I could make suggested changes if I wanted to before he inked it in.  Changes?  Oh heck no!  Even just looking at the rough pencil sketch I knew that Amanda was going to be totally blown away by the piece which I had mentioned she was probably going to want to get as a tattoo someday also.  He took that into consideration while he was sketching and what he had shown me was perfectly Amanda!

While waiting for the final sketch to arrive I took the time to order what I hoped would be the perfect picture frame and archival matting to display her one-of-a-kind gift and then I had everything shipped to work so that Amanda wouldn't be the one to get the mail the day any of it showed up. She wouldn't have been suspicious about yet another picture frame arriving but a delivery from Mad Creator Productions would certainly have raised both eyebrows! There were a couple of times before the big day that I thought about giving the artwork to her early as I was pretty excited to see what her reaction was going to be but somehow I managed to wait until the morning of her birthday/graduation.  As a matter of fact, I even managed to wait until she had returned from her "reunion" breakfast with her father - an event she hadn't exactly been looking forward to but which she got through without any of the problems she anticipated.

For those of you who missed it on Facebook, I feel it's my obligation to post the video that I took of Amanda opening her gift even though it embarrasses the heck out of the kid (again).  After all, I can't possibly violate the Code of Parental Ethics that requires us to embarrass our offspring as often as we can and besides, I don't think her reaction is embarrassing at all - I think it's priceless! The only thing that would have made it better is if I didn't have to listen to my own voice. Ew.

In conclusion, I think I'm going to have to say that I chose wisely and that Amanda was really quite happy with her gift. A big thank you once again to Gris Grimly for taking the time out of his incredibly busy schedule to make my daughter's day and then some. All I can say is that it's a good thing I've got four years before I think about a college graduation present because I'm not sure how on earth I'm going to top that one!

Amanda & her Gris Grimly artwork
*I'm not posting a bigger/better picture of the sketch itself which is titled "Crypt Courtship" as Amanda doesn't want someone liking it so much that they copy it and get their own tattoo before she does but trust me, the detail is amazing and then some!


  1. Wow! That is one very cool gift! Amanda is one lucky gal to have you for a Mom!

    I'm trying to picture that as a tattoo... Ow. Never mind.

    big hugs :)

  2. Anonymous7:12 AM EDT

    oh, you are just about the coolest mom I know! I would have loved to have gone to the EAP funeral! I live in Baltimore but I am so out of the loop, I never even heard about it. I love it that Amanda has such a unique soul and you are constantly encouraging her to be the best that she can be. Your love for her is clearly apparent, Linda.

  3. Anonymous9:03 AM EDT

    I second what Miles said. I just loved her expression when she figured out what it was. Just priceless!

    BTW, I'm really digging Amanda's new hairdo!

  4. Mother of the year award nomination! Who'se going to second?

    What a thoughtful and amazing gift. It's a true blessing to have a mom like you. I hate to say it but mine wouldn't have a clue if I was into something that much, nor even consider a gift as thoughtful. Great job!

  5. What a totally unique gift - no wonder Amanda's reaction was so excited! You're a great Mom. x

  6. I'll second that Lisa. Okay, with that really great gift you've reclaimed your Mother of the Year standing.

    I remember this visit and I remember how much she wanted a piece of his art. Way to go mom.

    Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)

  7. I remember sweeing that Amanda video. Thanks for the the close-up of the sketch.

  8. wonderful gift!!! really wonderful. i tried the productions link but it doesn't work. i know amanda will always love this and remember this day.

    smiles, bee

  9. Amanda is a lucky girl, that was a cool gift.

  10. You are brilliant. I can't imagine a more inspirational gift for Amanda.

    Well done!

  11. Oh wow, I think that officially wins the prize of the most awesome gift ever. Totally blows the 1988 Chevy Barretta I got as a graduation gift!

  12. I saw this on Facebook. A classic post, Linda, and one you will cherish always. I love the genuine smile on her face and I see the happys! (is that a word?)
    It is now.


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