Just a note to say… “Happy Birthday, Ruthie Lu!”

Dan Page reflects on his career and friednship with Reel Chicago founder Ruth Ratny

Dan Page reflects on his career and friednship with Reel Chicago founder Ruth Ratny

RuthieLu:

Happy umm (39th) bday, my friend!

Can’t believe we’re already here?!? You turning (__) just 5 days before I turn 45.

I know you want me immediately to check out our Saggi horoscope at AstrologyZone.com to see just what this auspicious month holds for us.

From Dec. 9 onward, we’ll “seem happy to be secluded and working quietly on a project that still needs some tweaking before you’ll be ready to show it.”

That could describe just about any month in your case, my most prolific friend—who could write more in a single year than most writers do in a lifetime.

I know you have a script you are still polishing right this very moment. I want to be the first to read through your work in progress, just like Mahalia and Borders of the Heart.

We still never got around to actually doing our birthday dinner for last year, though I know we tried a few times to find the perfect date, when we were both looking and feeling good enough to go out and about on the Mag Mile.

I haven’t spoken to you since January and I have so much I’ve wanted to share with you…

This consulting project at BP that I was working on a few months back had me leading a team of a few millennials straight out of undergrad. Reminded me of just how young I must have seemed to you when I started working for you back in Summer of ‘96 at the old Screen Mag digs at 16 W. Erie (when I was just 23!).

The day I had my first interview with you, I was so intimidated, sitting across from THE Ruth Ratny, whose magazine I bought at newsstands during undergrad, and copies always graced the reception area at Daily Planet and Elias Music where I interned. My start-up film biz right after college went bust within a year, but my luck had changed … Ruth L Ratny wanted ME to join the staff of SCREEN!?!

I left that sublime day amidst sunny skies, cruising down State St. in River North, radio blaring rock anthems, truly dreamy—One of the best days in memory.

It never felt a matter of level or age, you judged us on the merit of our ideas, hard work, good writing. Cover stories were coveted prizes, recognition that we nailed it! I think I had 5 total before it was time I moved beyond SCREEN, Cool Whip spots, and jingle houses (to Windy City Times) after our birthday celebration in late ‘98.

I’m glad our friendship only got stronger as the years moved on. Your support and encouragement helped me navigate a career amidst many challenges and triumphs.

I am so honored to have been your pal and confidant for these past two decades as we both pursued our dreams—in your case, more screenplays; oh yeah, and lest we forget, burying your baby SCREEN with the bigger, better, sleeker ReelChicago! (Drop the mic.) You nailed it.

You never wavered or slowed down, even for a day, except maybe that week you fell down the elevator shaft. Not cancer, nor bad boyfriends, nor confines of the calendar year, you’ve been an inspiration to me personally for carrying on—one who not only persists, but prevails by sheer force of will. Your 1,000s of words per week made even the best of us feel like laggards.

I’m glad we got our two hours of catch-up time when we connected on the phone in January. I only wish it’d been longer, and that I’d pushed you to make a lunch date.

I am honored to share my birthday week with you once again, RuthieLu. I bought you an orchid, as is our tradition, I just don’t know where to send it this time. I’m a deep sleeper and lucid dreamer, so the door is always open. I miss you dearly. Let’s catch up soon!

Love & Peace always,
—D

Chicago-based journalist Dan Page is a former staff writer and production manager for Screen Magazine, a publication that Ruth L. Ratny founded, operated, and sold before launching Reel Chicago in 2004

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