Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Another Horizon.

Had a busy week, both activity-wise and thinking-wise.

I've begun an internship with a medical illustrator at the university vet school here. Medical illustration is "simply" portraying medical and anatomical visual information in hand-done, extremely accurate pictures using a variety of techniques. It's what I've wanted to do all my life, and now, somehow bizarrely, after 25 years of marriage and child-rearing, I'm going to actually do it.

This has been a long, long road for me. When I left Boston University, I had two places call me for immediate interviews: one was the Lahey Clinic in Boston, which specialises mostly in cancer treatment, and at the Smithsonian in D.C. , which wanted a book designer. My father almost flipped when he fielded the calls for these interviews. I hadn't solicited them. But I'll tell you what did make him flip: when I told him neither one would be in the offing because I had a man to marry. He was very, very angry with me. Even my mother wondered aloud if my education hadn't been a waste of time. But I was too happy for it to bother me, and I still am. No job could possibly have been as worth it as the one I have had serving Rich.

Still, I often wondered if I would ever have a chance to make a go of the thing in my life. When we moved here, I actually called the university to find out if there was any chance I could do some studying with the illustrators there at the vet school. There wasn't. I interviewed at a graphic design firm for a part-time job, and they offered me a full time one, which I felt I had to turn down, wanting to be with my son. And that was a relief, in a way: it freed me to stay with my year-old son without feeling like I had to have "career accomplishments". I really was content to stay at home. I could go slowly through life, and concentrate on doing one thing well: home life. It suited me.

As the years rolled by, I heard from many people that I "really should" be doing something with my art. Off and on I would try, but I never really had the heart for it. There always seemed to be something more that I ought rather to be doing. Laundry, ironing, bathrooms, laundry, cooking. Reading! Talking to my hubby. Some of my friends even pressured me, but it was not time.

This past year, with my youngest as a junior in high school and beginning to look at colleges, and my oldest in his junior year of college, I began to think of how I might use my time in other ways. Getting through the housework was no longer that hard; I could pretty much accomplish it in a couple of days every week. In a wild, rather random thought, perhaps even a little desperate, I called the university again, and to my astonishment was told that an internship was a real possibility.

And so here I am, with my own space in a college full of vet-to-be folk, friendly scientists, down-to-earth veterinary professors, and one extremely kind, erudite and dapper professor who is going to walk me through doing medical illustation. I showed him some slides of what I did 25 years ago, and I fear he has rather high expectations of me, which I keep warning him about. But I can hardly believe I'm doing it. All the people who would be whooping anf hollering (besides me, of course) are dead: My father. My mother. My art anatomy professor from B.U., Jack Kramer, who referred me to a dentist in Boston for whom I did my first illustrations. And probably at least one if not both my painting professors, who barely knew what to do with me because I wasn't going in a direction they were familiar with...

May I be worthy of them all.


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