OK, then. How my life changed yesterday.
If you follow that link, you’ll find me, hiding behind my married name, on a list of 12 of the luckiest people in my field, these days — the 2003-04 class of Knight-Wallace Fellows at the University of Michigan. We were all just awarded an academic year in Ann Arbor to study anything we want, plus a generous living stipend, plus overseas travel, twice-weekly seminars and a cool house to play in. Spouses invited and welcome, too. Those of you who asked what the Undisclosed Project I was working on last winter was? It was the application. That picture up there? I took it at my interview, earlier this month. I didn’t speak of it because I was afraid I’d jinx it.
It all starts in September. I can’t believe I actually got one.
Nine whole months to go to any classes I want, meet fascinating people, travel, rollerblade to Starbucks, use all available resources of a great American university and have enough money to buy beer? Pinch me.
Journalists are pretty well-acquainted with these programs. There are three of their kind in the country — the Neimans at Harvard, the Knights at Stanford and the Knight-Wallaces at Michigan. I applied for only this one because of aging-parent issues (since resolved, at least on my end — grim smile), and because, hey — it’s the University of Michigan, the school I would have gone to if I’d had some decent high-school counseling and, of course, the grades to get in. What girl raised in Columbus, Ohio, irritated by Buckeye mania, wouldn’t relish the idea of staking a claim to the maize and blue? I can hardly wait to wear a MICHIGAN sweatshirt shopping in Upper Arlington.
But mostly I can hardly wait to get there. If you’re the jealous type, I advise you to avoid the Fellowship website. (I avoided it myself, once my application was in the mail. It was like standing outside the world’s greatest bakery, hours before opening, and you weren’t even sure they’d let you in.)
Before you do, though, you all have to hold still for a minute while I distribute thanks all around. I truly believe I wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity without NN.C, which opened a world of possibilities. You’ll notice my study topic is old/new media synthesis, all the ideas for which came through running this site and corresponding with readers here. This — not NN.C, but what you’re doing now — is the future of our business, and the sooner we start claiming it, the better.
I also have to thank Ron French, 2002-’03 Fellow, who encouraged me to apply, wrote a "friend of the court" letter on my behalf and was extremely supportive and helpful all the way around. I knew I wanted to do this when I was in Detroit last December, and called to say, "So, you want to meet for a drink?" and he said, "Sorry, I’ll be in Buenos Aires."
Some of you might be wondering if NN.C will continue through the fellowship year. Are you kidding? Of course it will. Some things will be off-limits; the twice-weekly seminars, in which various speakers are brought in to edify us, are officially off-the-record. Individual privacy will be respected. But the rest of the experience would seem to be the richest possible fodder for my mission here — Daily Life, With Links, in case you forgot — and could easily support a reality-TV series, much less a website.
Speaking of which … 18 strangers and an eccentrically decorated house? I may have to rename it "The (Un)Real World: Ann Arbor." But we’ll see about that.
So, then. Go Blue.
As you can imagine, I’ve been able to think of little else over the past two days. Forgive me one more short entry, and we’ll be back to our normal schedule of blather tomorrow.