The online magazine Folks by Pillpack is closing down, which published several of my profiles over the last several years of my career. Their mission was to publish stories about and by "remarkable people who refuse to be defined by their health issues." It turns out that I really like finding and talking to remarkable people who refused to be defined by their health issues. For Folks, I spoke with people in my community who are blind, have lupus, a rare eye condition called PXE, facial paralysis, or Crohn's Disease.
With the exception of Salmaan Choudri, whom I read about in the newspaper, the other sources were women I knew already. I enjoyed the angle of getting to speak with them about their health conditions, how it affected their lives and careers, and how they defined it within their lives, and then doing the work of telling their story in a short piece.
Here were the pieces I posted on Folks if you just want to read some profiles about interesting people.
- The Goddess with the Blood Red Eyes: If a rare disease steals your eyesight, you might as well drink good wine. (Written about Diana Hamann, owner of the Wine Goddess in Evanston, and the shots she got in her eyeballs.)
- Putting A Face To America's Ableism Born with facial paralysis, the work of author, feminist, and public speaker Sarah Hollenbeck strives to get America to address the uncomfortable truth of its prejudices (about another local businesswoman, this one the co-owner of Women and Children First in Chicago.)
- Agent Lupus in the FBI: As an FBI agent, Shahna Richman was trained to handle everything from bank robbers to serial killers, but it never prepared her for lupus. (About my friend and neighbor Shahna, who has had an extremely fascinating career and is reassuring proof that there are good guys out there.)
- Putting A Funny Face On Crohn's Disease -- Samantha Irby has made a career out of being witty about the unmentionable: what happens when you have problems on the toilet. Samantha has been interviewed a number of times (including by me), so it was interesting to hone in on her Crohn's, which has figured a lot in her writing.
- Daredevil -- This blind athlete loves being noticed. I went to the library and looked up back copies of my local paper, searching for story ideas, when I learned about the Salmaan Choudhri and the Chicago Blackhawks Blind Hockey Team. I found him online, reached out to ask if he'd be willing to be interviewed and he did and here it is.