There was a woman, a very good looking young woman, actually, who had a small business running after-school programs and seemed to grasp the educational and group dynamics potential of the student-run animation workshop. When I increased the price to about double what the first after-school program was paying, she barely hesitated before agreeing to pay it. Her assistant was a great and supportive fan of the workshop, she urged me to organize the little mini-animation festival I put on for the kids and their parents. One day a week or so before the festival the usually cheerful assistant came in and told me her boss had died the previous day. Cancer she never revealed to anyone she worked with had ended her life at 34. Her business winked out of existence a few months later.
Fast forward a few challenging months and, temporarily (or permanently) out of public school programming, I am conducting a four session workshop for women with chronic serious diseases. Some are in recovery from cancer, others show up straight from chemo, some show up once and not again, others make half the sessions. A core of four is there every week. These first time animators all produced very cool animation, worked beautifully together, got more and more demanding about seeing the day’s rough cut before they left, high fived each other at the end. One woman in particular, Liz, was a great innovator. She came in with brilliant and ingeniously different ideas week after week. Her animation for the four sessions is here.
She was excited about assisting at the recent Stevenson workshop, the first I’ve done since last summer. The day before the workshop she was hit by the flu and couldn’t make it, she expressed her sincere regrets. I assured her there’d be more sessions, promised she’d be at the next one, whenever I could arrange it. A few days later I sent her the clip from the Stevenson session, telling her how difficult it had been and that she hadn’t missed much fun. I didn’t hear back. I wrote again a few days later, telling her I hoped she was up and around and that I’d be sending her the new website soon.
When the website was done I sent her the link, since she had grasped the idea so well and run with the ball so enthusiastically, once she’d had her head down on the table for the first forty minutes or so of each session. I emailed her once more after not hearing back, and was beginning to fear the worst for this talented woman I barely know. I have gleaned that she is living with cancer, and that it is not easy living.
When I got a smart phone I texted her that I’d joined the 21st century, hoped she was over the flu and feeling better and added this picture.
Several days passed, and hearing nothing from her, I imagined the worst. A gloomy thought twisted its way into my head: this workshop is the accursed kiss of death to the rare women who really get its potential and find it compelling.
Then tonight, at 1:35 a.m. a tiny bell in my pocket sounds, and she’s texted:
Congratulations! Sorry for the delayed reply. I’m so so happy flowers are growing (emoticon of red flower) Rain makes it happen (yellow umbrella) Happy Spring!
I wrote back:
Thanks. Good to hear from you — and happy Spring to you, too!
I hope you don’t have any objection to this wonderful bit of work being here (and I sent her the link)
3:42 a.m. I’m glad you sent this. I’m very upset and can’t sleep. Seeing this animation was uplifting. Thank you . … (emoticon of girl holding up hand)
3:45 a.m. I’d share this on my Facebook (emoticon of two people holding hands) except one thing. If it’s not too much bother, I’d like an edit…
Here I had an actual laugh. A small one, yes, but genuine (nobody here to impress with a fake laugh) and, like I said up top, I’ll take me larfs where I can get ’em.
3:49 the part with the butterflies has the cat jumping in. (Cat head emoticon) At one point its head changes to a dog. That’s not my taste (slightly disgusted looking emoticon)
3:52 I’d post your page without hesitation if that part were eliminated (a series of emoticons animating a round yellow face bursting into a laugh)
3:55 Thanks for replacing maddening thoughts with delightful ones.
She made my day with that one.
4:08 I enjoyed Jesse’s project! (gold star emoticon) The patterns in the beginning are well done. The tumbling guy has fun hair. (emoticon of a thumb up)
4:14 I will try to sleep and think of (emoticon of rowboat, I think) being inside (angel fish emoticon) animation (some kind of water emoticon). Thank you. (emoticon of little angel head with halo).