Jason Kelly '95 | December 20, 2018
I am greeted in the entryway by the dogs of the house, friendly rescues Everly and Trastu. Everly’s local, a South Bend townie, wary but willing to give a visitor the benefit of the doubt. Trastu’s moved around the world in his 13 years — Italy, Barcelona, Mallorca, South Bend — and exudes composure in new company.
Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi, the author and Notre Dame writing professor, hustles them off to the kitchen, a situation that Trastu, the cosmopolitan elder, accepts with a grudging equanimity. Everly objects with more urgency, an approach that springs him within a minute or two, and back into the living room he comes, content to share the space. I’m grateful for the hospitality, canine and human, and happy Everly didn’t have to stay holed up on my account.
“Dogs are a big thing for me,” Van der Vliet Oloomi says later, amid a happy reunion after Trastu has been turned loose, too. “They’re my best friends and I love rescuing them.”
This personal infatuation has little to do with her writing, except insofar as nothing in her life can be separated from the compulsive act that has been her emotional respiratory system since she was a teenager, if not before. “It’s kind of like breathing air for me,” she says.
Her literary exhalations have led to a productive and successful “career” — a word that seems not to sit quite right when applied to such an innate and essential undertaking. Writing is who she is, not what she does.
“It was just kind of the state of things. I always was writing,” she says. “I always considered myself and my identity as being deeply entrenched with writing and the career just kind of evolved as a result of that rather than the other way around.”
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