Notorious Legend List: Random and Irrelevant facts about the Artist known as Annette Wagner

DSC_2996Why a Notorious Legend List?

Two reasons. First, my mentor and teacher Shiloh Sophia posted one in response to the upcoming LEGEND course being taught at Cosmic Cowgirl University (an awesome course).  Writing this list is one of the assignments and its a great way to get the ideas flowing. Second, well I was curious what I would come up with. Its been a while since I thought in these veins, so I started writing, remembering, laughing, chuckling, going 'oh no', digging, and musing.

There are way more than 25 things I could put on this list. I leave it to your imagination why some made it on the list and some did not!

1. I am the inventor on 21 patents for all sorts of computer and cell phones things. You very likely have used a device or a user interface based on one of them.

2. I was raised on 5 acres out in the country five miles outside of Watsonville, CA. There was a pick-your-own berry farm along one side, an apple and plum orchard down the other and a turkey ranch down the hill across the creek. We had horses, cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, ducks, and geese at various times. Cats and dogs. Tree forts. A creek down the hill, cottontail bunnies, lots of poison oak and a horny toad who lived in the back yard.

3. When I was around five or six, my younger sibling and I were out wandering about the lumber piles by my dad’s cabinet shop. We startled a quail off her nest and immediately went to investigate. We found this amazing nest of green and blue eggs that we very carefully touched and put back. Went home to lunch and told my mom who very gently asked us to go back and see if the mother quail had come back. Well, she hadn’t so mom sent us up to the neighbor to borrow the incubator and some weeks later 14 quail hatched on our kitchen stove. We gathered pigweed from the orchard to feed them.

4. I was one of the first people to ever to design icons for computers. Norm Cox was the first - he designed the Xerox Star icons. I designed the Apple Lisa icons. Met Norm some years after I created the Lisa icons.

5. I like corsets, the kind you wear on the outside of your clothes. They don’t fit me well - not enough up top but I still like them. Black, steampunk and lace are my favorites.

6. Sat next to a famous author once (maybe late 1980s?) in New York City at a bar on a business trip. Someone who claimed he had a play on Broadway. Cannot remember his name but his buddy kept trying to convince me that because he managed a well known football team in New York City I should go out with him. I was SO not interested I still can’t remember who either of them were. My work colleague thought I was crazy because they were both famous.

7. First time I ever went on a business trip, I went alone to Boston. It was the second time I had ever flown in my life and I was terrified. Had to rent a car, drive in downtown Boston, meet customers. Everyone thought I was adorable. They had no idea.

8. I once did a two week training class in Ann Arbor, Michigan. On the day I flew home, I headed out with 2 other folks one of whom was an employee of Boeing and worked in Seattle. We flew from Ann Arbor into Chicago Dulles Airport through a very nasty lightening storm and straight into an airport that had been closed for 8 hours. Mass pandemonium, cancelled flights, etc. My fellow student from Boeing took one look at the mess, grabbed both of us and worked the most amazing magic to get us all on flights to the west coast that left within 2 hours. He *knew* the system and worked it. Without his help I might still be there.

9. One of the first teaching jobs I ever had was teaching high school students in the local “special” high school (the one where the pregnant girls, druggies, gang members, juvenile delinquents and troublesome kids went). I had just graduated high school myself when I got this job. I showed them how to print their artwork on t-shirts. They scared the hell out of me and they loved me.

10. I had a job in high school at the local department store in the Display department. We setup all the product displays and the big store windows. When I left they gave me two bra/girdle light-up manikins. They were one of the coolest gifts I ever received! Alas, they were both stolen at various points over the years. One from my dorm room at San Jose State; one from the party I threw for my French housemate when he turned 21. That was one wild party!

11. I was the typeface designer on the Lisa computer at Apple in the very early days. At one point, I was evaluating this new technology called outline fonts offered by this tiny company called Adobe. Well, truth to tell, the examples of the fonts needed serious work – x-height, display versus body sizes, etc. I send all my comments back to Adobe and heard nothing for a while. Then when Chuck Bigelow, another typeface designer, came to visit us at Apple, he thanked me for getting him a great consulting job at Adobe. Someone took all my comments very seriously and hired him to fix them. The rest is history.

12. I once danced the waltz in a 1940s black satin/silver polka dot floor length vintage ball room gown at Rhode Island School of Design in Rhode Island. Still have the dress.

13. When I was in my twenties I published comic books with my boyfriend and another comic book artist for a year. I did the lettering and helped on the print layouts. In another world and another time - I worked with a group of 4th graders to publish a comic book.

14. I was on the staff of the alternative high school newspaper when I was a junior and senior. We told it like it was. We printed it all ourselves. We handed it out despite school policies. Our paper was the popular one. :)

15. When I lived in the dorms at San Jose State, a friend and I got into an argument with two other dormies about who could outdrink who. They were two male ROTC students; we were female and therefore lacking. We outdrank them drinking whiskey. We even made it all the way back to our rooms without losing it. There is a picture to prove it. The next morning was one of my least favorite ever mornings. I could not get my underwear on. Kept getting my toe stuck. My roommate laughed so hard she was late for class.

16. I raised two wolf hybrid dogs, Aeron and Lyra. They were the smartest dogs I ever had the gift of sharing life with. They had a raft of health issue dues to poor breeding choices and were rescue dogs no one wanted due to being wolf hybrids. I socialized them and trained them and never had any issues with them. They lived with me in the mountains and hunted just like coyotes - leaping high in the air over a potential patch of mouse homes. Coming down into a freeze where they held still until some critter rustled, and then they pounced. They cleared out all the mice near our house in just a few months.

16. I almost died a few years ago. My digestive system was slowly, surely, steadily shutting down. I knew my body was slowly dying, starving but no one had a clue why. The doctors kept sending me to see each other and scratching their heads. I kept getting this date in my mind. The date turned out to be the day they did surgery and discovered I had a ovarian cyst that had almost completed attached itself to my lower intestine due to scar tissue. They were able to remove it without complications.

17. The first time I got married was to my high school sweetheart. I wanted to move in with him and my father, who had anger issues, threw a major temper tantrum and threatened to disown me. So we ran off to Reno with our two dogs in the car and got married. Huge mistake. He turned out to be a drug addict and it took me a year to get out of there.

18. Early 80s, I created a perk for the Lisa software engineering team - a jacket made from goretex this weird new material that had just become available. I did some brainstorming and came up with this list of words to choose from for the back. The jacket was meant to be inspirational. The manager took one look at the list and said, put them all on there! It was very over the top but I did it. That jacket is still worn by folks from that team. And I just found mine again.

19. I’m a ocean baby, born in Santa Cruz county; the beach is my first choice of where to hang out. The first time I saw snow falling was in my late twenties in Chicago. I had only ever seen it on the ground up until then. I went out and played in it until I was almost frozen.

20. Steve Jobs once made me cry. Called me up when I was on the Lisa project at Apple and start berating me for working on something. Serious jerk back then. Years later our paths crossed and he gave me as much of an apology as I would ever get by shaking my hand and commenting, “lot of water under the bridge.” Once a jerk, always a jerk. 

21. I thoroughly corrupted my daughter with regard to technology. When she was very young I worked on cell phones and always had the very latest from Europe or Japan. I had one with a camera on it a year or more before they were available here in the US. So every time she wanted me to take a photo, she would point to my phone - NOT my camera.

22.  A rather large adult rattle snake got into our garage when I lived up in the hills which we tried to relocate several times and it persisted in coming back. My husband at the time decided the only way to deal with it was to kill it. I felt horrible he did this, so I skinned it and cured the skin, saved the rattles and did my best to honor the snake. I still have it. That spring we had little baby rattlesnakes all over the yard that we relocated away from the house. We wore boots a lot that spring.

23. Some years ago I had a very strong kundalini experience during a hands-on healing circle. I was the one receiving healing for a badly torn set of muscles in my pelvis. To say it was like my entire body was plugged into a 220V system is to barely describe the experience - tons of live energy washing through my system. I wrote about it in my masters thesis. I’ve never been the same since. That might explain the wild and crazy part, and then again, it might not. :)

24. My hair has been pink in some form or another for over half my life.

25. I owned, until very recently, a 1987 black Porsche 911 Carrera and knew how to drive it. Took it out auto crossing until I learned how to handle the car in both a 180 and 360 spin. The 360 was hilariously fun. I was learning how to be more aggressive with the brakes (was already aggressive on the gas) and had just come out of a slalom into a 90 right turn. Almost made it through. The instructor with me in the car was very proud of me and we laughed like lunatics once the car stopped spinning.

NOW, what is YOUR list? Do tell!

ArticlesAnnette Wagner