Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, Paul Wood chats with Eva Jehle, office manager for the Champaign County Democrats who has been a state caseworker and guardian. In the April 22 paper, we'll have a chat with Monticello resident Christina Sanantonio, an activist against family violence, a mother and a collector of unique images.
Explain what it is you do.
I worked for the state of Illinois, first at public aid (now DHS) as a caseworker, then at the Guardianship & Advocacy Commission as a court-appointed guardian for legally disabled adults. Both involved intensive interaction with people in crisis. Currently, I am the office manager for Champaign County Democrats, a volunteer position. Also, precinct committee person and volunteer for several political campaigns. Oh, and leader of the Central Illinois Chapter of Progressive Democrats for America.
What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?
Definitely not a morning person, but I do try and get up before 10, unless I have appointments. Then it's basic hygiene, throw some clothes on and run out the door. Otherwise, a leisurely cup of tea and reading the paper, front to back.
What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?
Porcini-stuffed tortellini with a dribble of olive oil and shaved parmesan. Alone at home watching last night's Rachel Maddow show on Tivo.
Best high school memory.
Passing all the finals and getting the diploma.
Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.
Black suede high-heel Blahniks, brown medium-heel Louboutins or blue suede lower-heel Haute Footure by Taryn Rose. Since Ms. Rose is an orthopedic surgeon and shoe designer, those could be considered orthopedic heels. Around the house, I'm usually in my Fly-Flot sandals.
What can you not live without?
Books, newspapers, the New Yorker.
What do you have on your iPod?
Don't own one. I don't like running around with headphones on, being cut off from what goes on around me. In the car, I listen to WILL-AM 580.
What's the happiest memory of your life?
The birth of my children. Seeing them for the first time ... I still get misty-eyed just thinking about it. And it's been over 40 years ago.
If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?
Hillary Clinton, Pope Benedict XVI and Dan Olmsted.
What's the best advice you have even been given?
The Golden Rule. Do unto others ...
What's your best piece of advice?
What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?
Working as a secretary for a fashion retailer in Munich, Germany. I made 300 Deutsche Marks a month. With excellent health benefits, meal allowance and transportation allowance. That was the standard benefit package for salaried employees in Germany back then.
What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?
When faced with divorce, I knew I had to get a job, and I found two openings, with the state of Illinois, as a public aid caseworker and with the Vermilion County Health Department. With two small children, catching every sniffle going around, I went with the state of Illinois because they offered 10 sick days per year versus five per year at the health department. Sounds pretty mercenary, but I had to do what was best for my kids. And I worked very hard and was a darn good caseworker, even able to help change state law. The "Gudeman" decision brought about a much-needed change in helping disabled people get medical benefits.
Do you have a bad habit and what is it?
Being late. I have no sense of time, and I don't wear a watch. I think that's what most people dislike about me the most. Even the ones that really love me.
How do you handle a stressful situation?
A lot of mental hand-wringing, then I jump in. It has worked well for me, so far.
What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?
Brunch with Simon Rosenzweig and friends, then gardening.
Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish?
"The Leather Stocking Tales" by James Fenimore Cooper. Don't have that particular German edition anymore, but now I can, and do, reread it in English.
Where on earth are you dying to go?
Glimmer Lake, actually the lake near Cooperstown, N.Y.
Tell me about your favorite pet.
Hard to choose. They were all rescues, and I cherished them all. Maybe a corgi mix, Doogie. She was the sweetest, most patient dog. She died after a series of strokes last May. And of course, the survivor of my rescue dogs, Pimm, a Yorkie. He insists on going with me everywhere, and I can't say no. I seem to be the center of his universe, because I feed him.
What would you order for your last meal?
If I were absolutely sure that it would be my last one: everything chocolate ... mousse, truffles, candies, cremes, bars. And then more chocolate mousse, with lots of whipped cream.
As you get older, which of your parents do you resemble?
Physically, my mother. I think I also got my sense of adventure and can-do spirit from her. On her visits to the U.S., she used to take Greyhound to East St. Louis and Chicago to experience the "real" America. And while in Moscow, she ditched her guide and rode around on the subway system, searching for the "real" Russia.