Page High School
Class Of 1988
Eric J. Landsperger
|Angwin, CA USA|
Questions & Answers
Since '88 I've been keeping my southern accent in my back pocket, keeping my mind open, and doing my best to pay attention. Currently I am working on my third career: nursing. Career number one was music. Career number two was pastry chef.
In '89 while a sophomore at NCSA I began earning my living playing bass around NC. I played in jazz bands and orchestras around the Triad, and in Salisbury, Statesville, Hickory and so forth. After I graduated from NCSA in '92 with my BFA in Music Performance, I began wandering the Earth with my bass strapped to my side. My first gig out of school was in a country-western show at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA during the summer of '92. Then I gigged around NC for the remainder of that year and into '93. In March of '93 I landed a gig on The Delta Queen, an old riverboat out of New Orleans, LA. For a year and a half I lived on the DQ and played in the band as we traveled the Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, Cumberland, and Arkansas Rivers. It was a wonderful time. I saw the US in a most unique way, living a life cut off from reality it seemed. Life on the river was unlike anything elsr I have ever done. Eventually though I felt the need to move on. In late '94 I left the DQ and moved to New York City. Shortly after landing there I got a gig with The Glenn Miller Orchestra. For about five months I traveled with them around the eastern US, Central America, Japan and Guam. I played "The Chatanooga Choo Choo", "In the Mood" and all the other Glenn Miller hits nearly every night for those five months. The old folks LOVED us! As did the Japanese teeny boppers. The gig was gruelling though and eventually I hung up my "Little Brown Jug" and returned to the steamboat company, this time playing on The American Queen. I was back on the river for another 8-9 months. During all of these years after college my lust for playing music for a living had been quietly and gradually waning. It was late 1995 and I was very unhappy. In need of a fresh perspective I left the AQ and moved to Asheville, NC where I leaned my bass in a corner of my little apartment and ignored it for almost a year. During my self-imposed sabbatical I worked in the restaurant business. I cooked pizzas. I sold hotdogs from a vending cart in downtown A'ville. I worked the counter of a coffee shop in a lesbian bookstore. I even washed dishes for a fancy downtown establishment. Eventually I landed a job at a bakery and discovered within me a passion and talent for making bread and pastries. I felt I had found a new career path. Soon after having this realization I felt the need to play again, so I gave the music biz another go. I joined the A'ville Symphony, and started picking up gigs in local jazz groups and nearby orchestras. In '99 I joined a band that was created by some of my friends from college and moved back to Winston-Salem. In Fall of 2000 the band relocated to NYC.
Soon after arriving in NYC things in the band began to fall apart and I was once again feeling dismayed with the business of music. However I was in love with NYC. It was then that I decided to enter cooking school with the intention of becoming a pastry chef. I entered Peter Kump's New York Cooking School on W 23rd St in the heart of Manhattan. I completed school in a few months and then began working in restaurants around town. The first restaurant I worked at was Babbo, Mario Batali's 3-star Italian Enoteca off Washington Square Park in the heart of Greenwich Village. Mario Batali is the big redheaded chef on American Iron Chef, for those of you not in the know. He was one fat dude! Celebrities came to eat at his place all of the time. One night I was crossing the kitchen to get something from the walk-in and in walks The Fonz. I plated desserts for Gwenneth Paltrow, David Letterman, Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, and one of those other "lesser" late night guys. It was a trip. I was sweating balls and scooping ice cream for fucking David Letterman. So I eventually left Babbo and spent a couple of years plying my new trade in NYC at a few other fancy restaurants. Then in the summer of '03 I moved to Napa Valley to work with a talented pastry chef that I had met in NYC. I spent the next 4 years making desserts. I worked in three really great restaurants here in the valley. Then last summer I came to another occupational impasse. I was exhausted, depressed and up to my ears in debt. I had started an online specialty food business while working as a full time pastry cook. The business was not making any money, and my profession was wearing me down. My future in the restaurant business was looking bleak. I was(am) 37, working 60-70 hours a week and just barely getting the bills paid. Something had to give. And then it did. I was caught drinking on the job one night and that was that. I looked for a new full time cooking job and found nothing. The truth is I did not want to cook anymore. I had no heart for it. So I asked myself, "If not cooking, then what?" The answer to my own question was "I want to be of service. I want to help people." Well that was a meaningful answer, but it was pretty vague. Playing music and making ice cream was being of service to people. I was still unclear about which direction to take in life. So I told the universe, "You show me the way and I promise that I will go there." A month later I ended up in an emergency room with an unprecedented asthma attack. While in the emergency room I noticed the people working there. There was something attractive about the way they were going about their duties. I liked the vibe of the place. They fixed me up and off I went, not even considering my pact with the universe. A couple of weeks later, on Thanksgiving of this past year, I was at a friend's house for dinner. A last minute guest arrived. It was a friend of my friend's. I had never met her before. She was a nurse. Right after I met her something compelled me to ask her, "Can you be too old to become a nurse?" She laughed at me and said no. She then told me of a man who had just started working in the unit where she worked. The man, she told me, was in his late 30's and had previously earned his living as a pastry chef. Hearing this my mouth fell open. I turned to my friend who simply shrugged. This nurse knew nothing of me. My friend knew nothing of my conversation with the universe. (By the way if you are still reading this, God bless you. It's about to get even better.) The next day, Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, I was in a coffee shop reading a book, sipping joe, and passing time until I went to work my part time job. A guy I sort of knew from the coffee shop came over and asked me how I was doing. I said my life was way up in the air and I was waiting for all of the pieces to land so I could decide what my next move was going to be. He looked me in the eyes and said, "You know what you should do Eric? You should become a nurse!" And there it was, the way was shown. And it was as clear as daylight. I had put it out to the universe and the universe had come back in stunning fashion. I was indeed stunned. Me? A nurse? No way. But I had said I would follow the way if the universe would simply point. And if this wasn't fateful enough this guy Joe goes on to point out that one of the best nursing programs in the U.S is a 10 minute walk from my little apartment in the small unheard-of village of Angwin, CA. I'd been living here for over 3 years and had no idea. So the following Monday, four days after Thanksgiving, I went over to the school and began the process of enrolling. Within two weeks I was enrolled at Pacific Union College as a pre-Nursing student. I began '08 as a 37 year old college freshman. You are never too old to change it all up.
I love my life. There is so much to be grateful for. There have been so many ups and downs along the way, so much craziness, fun and tears. And all of that has brought me right here, telling my story to you. That's enough out of me. Perhaps I'll see you at the reunion.
Love, peace, and hair grease,
Everybody was fucking but me.
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