Jeff is a lapsed Catholic. Jill was a CCD kid. Both were born and raised on the south side of Chicago. They met. They married. They mated and birthed three kids. He’s a writer. She’s a designer. This is their blog.
They met on a blind date in 1997. At the time Jill was in college studying graphic design and Jeff was a Teamster working as a warehouseman, stacking boxes on a pallet and then pulling that pallet around with a pallet jack as he dodged insults. So obviously one of them had a future.
They started dating. Jill graduated college. Jeff saw Jill graduate college and decided he wanted to get some college for himself. He started going to community college. Jill started working for her former college professor and had incredible clients like Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Motorola, and Whirlpool. Jeff received the only promotion he could have received. He became a salesman—instead of pulling a jack, he pushed a pen while dodging insults.
As time oozed by, Jill called Jeff whenever she needed words for her designs and Jeff gave them to her between 13-hour shifts selling oranges and studying. Usually over the phone. Usually while driving. Usually while punching himself in the legs to stay awake.
Jill’s boss noticed. And she asked Jill: “where the fuck are you getting these words?” She might not have said “the fuck.”
So Jill told her and her boss was pleased and her boss gave Jeff a couple of freelance jobs that would form the very beginning of his portfolio.
Jill and Jeff got engaged. So then Jill talked Jeff into being crazy. “You need to quit the produce business, go back to school full-time, and become the writer you already are.”
Jeff said “Fuck no.” He had a mortgage. A MORE-GAGE! And then 9/11 happened. In the time it took to watch the towers fall, Jeff realized life was too precious to be wasted hating it.
They were married three weeks later and immediately started putting all of Jeff’s checks in the bank and forcing themselves to live off of her salary. The following June, on a Wednesday, Jeff decided it was to be his last Wednesday—or any day. He quit. Walking away suddenly after giving them all of his years between 19 and 30. And they let him go without a word of protest.
Jeff left Chicago’s historic produce market. Historic means old and dead. Which is exactly what his career would have been had he stayed. And basically begged UIC into taking his community college credit hours. Because he called every day and talked to an amazing person he can’t remember, they basically did.
So he was a student and she was promoted to design director. Things were going smoothly considering they dropped from two incomes to just one. Simple people can pull that off easily enough. Then Jill quit her job to start her own stationery business. Now instead of having two incomes, they had about 8 months of savings to live off of, some of which they were using to buy things for the business—like a $3,000 printer.
What happened after that, happened quickly. Jill became pregnant, the business failed, they bought a house, Ian (their first son) was born, Jeff graduated college, Jill became pregnant again, Jeff was a freelance writer, Jill was a freelance designer, money was tight, Jeff landed a job with a marketing agency, Elsa (their daughter) was born, Jeff was promoted twice, Jill became pregnant again, they became homeschoolers, Ben was born, chaos ensued for almost two years. Here we are.
Now you’re all caught up more or less.