Thursday, April 10, 2008


For our upcoming reunion, my former classmates have been trading bios. It's an interesting exercise in creative writing, compressing 27 years of life into single email. Here's mine, with names and places altered or removed, mostly to prevent this from ending up in internet search results for a particular person:

I was waiting for someone with a life more boring than mine to step
forward, but so far no dice...

After an extended period of driving my parents nuts while "working on my portfolio," I decided to try my luck in Chicago. I got a job with a designer who is somewhat of a legend in corporate branding. Through him I mostly learned to love luxury, if not necessarily afford it. My boss lived in a high-rise condo with an expansive view of the city, owned a Porsche, wore Armani sports jackets and ate this special cheese called "Brie." I got to cut checks for his dry-cleaner, and occasionally he would let me design something. My feelings weren't hurt, since the creative director had to take the Porsche in to be detailed.

After that, I worked for an illustration studio on Michigan Avenue. One of the studio heads created the Keebler Elves, and we continued to get work with the characters. I did do some original illustration, but mostly I inked and colored many, many story-boards of those little guys. I also made quite a few animatics (right term?), storyboards with movable parts. I remember laboring over one featuring Mr. T. I pity the fool who had to write the copy for that ad. The firm's real bread and butter was airbrush photo retouching; they did most of images for the Virginia Slims account. Then, this technology called "digital photo editing" appeared. The studio invested in one of the early digital editing systems, and laid off a number of staff, including all of the retouchers.

I got out of commercial art because of a toothache. A friend at [ ] University told me about a clerical position open in the library. Along with a steady paycheck, they offered good dental coverage. After 20 years, I'm still working on my portfolio. Seriously, after being in various departments in the library, I realized that academe and me go together pretty well. I earned my MLS, and now work primarily at the business library. Although I still love and appreciate it, my drive to actually make art has all but evaporated.

I married my husband, J, in 1996; we don't have kids. He has an M.S. in Anthropology and is now an IT Project Manager, so we have both wandered rather far afield from our youthful ambitions. Last summer, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because lymph nodes were involved, I got the full barrage of treatment: chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.

Yesterday, I had coffee with a man I met at the cancer treatment center. He's 38 years old and has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. As I took a cab home, I called my mom, and started telling her about him, and then acquaintances who have been touched by cancer. I can only imagine what the conversation sounded like to the driver.."White blood cell count...Stage IV...radiation burn...cancercancercancercancercancer."

Anyway, it's easy to let cancer to take over your life, or at least most of the real estate in your brain. Remembering [ ] and laughing at the stories, especially ones from the unholy trinity of [ ], has been a great morale booster. Thank you.

Roger's story about being warned by Richard A. that only fatal van accidents would be excused, reminded me of one particular acid comment of his. That brought to mind other memorable quotes by faculty. If you think I misremembered any of these...well, prove it.

Richard A.: (to talkative girl in class):

"Continue to interrupt me until I hemorrhage."

Dean C. (at Freshman orientation, gesturing toward young men in
the audience):

"Girls...Don' trust these bums."

This was a prelude to a stern lecture about a certain STD that
allegedly spread through the dorms the previous year. Thinking I may
have imagined this speech, I got independent confirmation from a
classmate who was there.

Nathaniel L.:

"I smelled something funny, and realized that I had put the f.....g
ham in the f.....g oven with the f.....g plastic wrapper still on it!"

Having grown up in a sheltered home, I wasn't accustomed to hearing
obscenities, especially THAT one. Mr. L. came from the east
coast, and cheerfully cursed like a sailor while discussing, for
example, whether you should thin your paint with linseed oil or
turpentine. I had never heard so many F-bombs in my life. Now, I live
in a neighborhood where 10-year-old boys say it all the time. He was a
fantastic teacher, and almost turned me into a good painter.

Dennis D. (throwing a sheet of drawing paper on the floor and
leaving his shoe print on it):

"There. Now you have something to react to."

He wanted students to lose their inhibitions and fear of making
mistakes, thus the dramatic gesture with his shoe print. He made a
point of praising drawings which, although lacking in draftsmanship,
were well-designed, or displayed sensitive line and texture. A great

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