“Thinking and speaking are powerfully predictive actions” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Ileea Larente by ©Jeannette Breward

Ileea is a student at the University of Toronto currently completing her Masters degree in Physiology, with a focus on the study of synapses. Her undergrad in Psychology was also completed at U of T. For her portrait, she took me to one of the University’s three campuses, called the University College quad – or the UC Quad. This was a place where she spent a large portion of her time during her undergrad with many of her favourite people. It is home to the residence in which she lived during her earlier years at U of T, as well as the UC student paper The Gargoyle that she participated in for the duration of her undergrad. It holds a lot of sentimental value for her, and it was great to get to photograph her on such a special and beautiful part of the campus. – Jeanette B

Image © Jeannette Breward

An Interview with Ileea

Q. What is your best memory/moment from one of your past birthdays?

A. Honestly, I don’t do much to celebrate my birthday. As a result I don’t have any outstanding birthday memories. When I was a kid I always looked forward to the cake; most of my memorable birthday moments revolve around cake.

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. Again, I don’t generally do much for my birthday. The worst I can think of is that one year I made vague plans to do something, but I had to work and do a few other things first. Over the course of the day the plans gradually fell apart, and by the end I was left with this awkward felling that I’d missed something. Sort of like when you leave for work in a rush and you’re not sure of whether or not you locked the door.

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that most surprised you?

A. Once I completely forgot that it was my birthday until someone texted me a “happy birthday”. That definitely surprised me.

Q. Is there one food or dish that you insist on eating during your birthday celebration?

A. I will usually mark the occasion by indulging in some small pleasure, which is usually food. Whatever I feel like eating that day. There’s no better way to observe the fact that I’m still alive than by eating.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. My outlook on birthdays is parallel to my outlook on New Year’s resolutions and St. Patrick’s Day; if I want to celebrate, change something in my life, or drink myself stupid, I’ll do it when I please. That being said, I will occasionally treat myself to something small. It’s the little things, I guess.

Q. Do you/your family/culture have any traditions/rituals/ceremonies that are performed to celebrate birthdays? What is it?

A. Nope. I am/we are very laissez-faire in that domain.