Story last updated at 1/16/2013 - 2:16 pm
Ever wondered about someone you pass on the sidewalk, see in the grocery store, or heard mentioned in stories? This is our attempt to track those people down, and grill them, lightly.
I'd seen Lisa Morley around town a few times, most recently refereeing a leg wresting match at a winter solstice party. She seemed fun, spunky, cute. It wasn't a surprise that she commonly gets compared to Jennifer Anniston.
Whether Morley finds that flattering or not was hard to tell; she seems to just take most things at face value.
"I feel who I am and I'm grounded," Morley said.
Pretty remarkable thoughts for a woman who is currently dealing with a situation scary enough to create puddles of mush out of anyone else: Morley was diagnosed with breast cancer in August.
"You're seeing me right before my hair comes out," Morley said, adding, "I don't associate myself with illness."
She meant this more in the sense of "I will not let this illness own me," rather than implying she might be in denial.
"I look a lot like my grandfather," she said. "I'm going to have someone cut my hair like him, get some old man glasses from the 80s and do a photo shoot, a tribute to him. He's dead."
Morley grew up in Chicago, with one younger sister. They both were really into dance and music - Morley played the piano and the violin - and they spent some summers at the Interlochen Summer Arts Camp.
"I had the life of Molly Ringwald in 'Pretty Pink,'" she said.
She spent her high school years running around the city, listening to live music, dancing, attending football games; she even remembers a routine from her cheer leading days. But after high school? She was ready to move on. According to Morley, the rest of her family, extended members included, clung close to Chicago as if in an "invisible field that keeps them all there."
Morley graduated in 1985 and headed to Southern Illinois University.
"I was also looking for something new and different," she said. "That's not something that rest of my family is like."
She tended bar, made a bunch of friends, and then, she recollected, "Four years went by and all my friends graduated. I was so shocked. I had a great time. I made lifelong friends, and had all these new experiences like camping and canoeing that I had never done when I was growing up."
But she didn't have a degree.
"Well, I better move on to plan B," Morley said she thought.
She went to a massage therapy school in New Mexico, but it wasn't her thing. She started working at a Montessori school.
"I loved teaching, I thought it was great," Morley said. "I thought at the time it might be a life career. I love working with kids."
During one of her summers between school years Morley secured a job at the Taku Glacier Lodge.
"It was just such a great place to work, my first time seeing mountains and glaciers," she said.
After her second summer at the lodge she stayed in Juneau, and decided to enroll at the University of Alaska Southeast.
"This time," Morley said, "I actually went to school."
What helped, she said, was that there was a great group of other non-traditional students, either people just taking a class or two, or others who were older, including a man who would become her husband, ex-husband, and with whom she has a daughter. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in liberal arts in 2000.
Morley began working at REACH, Inc.
"I found out I really liked working with people who experience disabilities," she said. "I like the philosophy of helping people become independent, instead of dependent. And that was their philosophy: teaching them how to be more independent and overcome challenges."
After two years at REACH, Morley started working as a project assistant for the state. Her first assignment was to work on a grant that would secure funds to provide care for those experiencing dementia. She found it rewarding. Morley was good at the work. She began working on managing other grants that focused on services for seniors. She's currently working in the Department of Health and Social Services.
Morley, who is 45, still dances. She's a member of the local dance group Off-The-Hook Honeys. She said her friends would describe her as "goofy, outgoing, positive, and sarcastic."
After 16 years in Juneau, Morley hasn't let the weather darken her spirit.
"The people in Juneau are amazing," she said. "I like this size of town. Not too big, not too small. My whole outlook on life is that it's not perfect, but you can still enjoy it and have fun and have good friends. You might not get everything you want. But life is still good."
Amanda Compton is the staff writer for the Capital City Weekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.