working saturday

It’s Saturday. It’s raining. Downtown, there’s the Cherry Blossom Parade, but the blossoms peaked last weekend and then we had rain and wind all week, so you know … I came into the office.

I have another month of work left and besides cranking out magazines, tabloids, newsletters, workbooks, and other things, the one last big project I’m designing is a book that my association’s School Health Programs department, in a partnership grant with the CDC, is publishing about students affected by HIV/AIDS. I’m really honored to be working on this project. It’s first-person accounts from 10 students (ages 12-20) of how their lives have been affected by HIV/AIDS. Most of them are HIV-positive, or have AIDS, but a few are affected by their parents’ deaths. We gave them cameras and asked them to take photos of their friends, their families, their lives, and to include pictures of themselves, too. We wanted to see their lives through their eyes.

So then last month I sat down with hundreds of photos of teenagers, kids, dogs, grandparents, parents, friends, sweethearts, on picnics, on skateboards, getting their blood drawn, playing soccer, in the sun, in the snow, on mountains, on beaches, in school, in the hospital and each and every one broke my heart. We made our choices and sent them to CDC for approval. (Lots of levels of control and confidentiality in this project.)

Now today, I’m laying out the pages of the book. Styling the text, placing the pull-quotes, working with these photos. Reading the essays over and over as I copy and paste the pull-quotes, or select the opening words to restyle the font.

The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m a normal kid. Some people forget that.

I was born with HIV, but I didn’t find out about it until I was five years old.

I was supposed to die when I was six, but I’m 15 now, and still going strong.

It’s still embargoed, so I shouldn’t really be quoting at this point. I’ll put up a link to the site where you can see/buy the book when it’s done.

Meanwhile, if I have to live in a world where 12-year-olds are philosophical about their HIV status, I’m so glad I also get to live in a world where THIS is happening, too.