As of today, we have three weeks to go in the fellowship. Three weeks! I don’t know how I’m going to cope. Friday I swung through the Donald Hall Collection, the film/video/script library for students of the program, and exercised the faculty/Fellow perk of checking out items overnight. Five DVDs, specifically — “The Battleship Potemkin,” “Citizen Kane,” “Wag the Dog,” “Monsters Inc.” and the last volume of “My So-Called Life.” The student doing the checkout handled this last item reverently.
“This TV show,” she said, “is why I’m a film and video major.” And then we had a long discussion of whether “World Happiness Day” was the best single episode, or maybe “Weekend,” which I love for the look inside little Danielle’s head.
That show is 10 years old. So is, according to the anniversary journalism in my newspapers recently, the Rwandan genocide and the death of Kurt Cobain. NPR had a piece on the latter event this morning. People who were twentysomething then and are thirtysomething now expounded on why Kurt Cobain mattered, and I got it, sorta. I was thirtysomething then and fortysomething now, and while I appreciated Nirvana, the death of its creative center didn’t affect me much either way, except in that generalized state of regret we all feel for the prematurely dead. (“Wow, what a tragedy. Is lunch ready?”) Another 10-years-distant event: John and I standing as godparents for Deb’s son Patrick. Deb remarked afterward, “I heard some girl saying this was, to her generation, what the death of John Lennon was to mine, and all I could think was, oh, in your hat.” (Note: Others feel differently. Nauseatingly so.)
Was 10 years ago when we were all talking about Generation X? I don’t know. I do know that the other day I read, in a newspaper, a reference to today’s young adults as “Generation X,” and I thought, glad to see editing standards in the newspaper business haven’t gone anywhere but down lately. True, the more the years pile up, the easier it is to confuse “something I read yesterday” with “something I read 10 years ago,” but that’s why publications schedule multiple stops on the editing train. The people with the blue pencils are supposed to catch things like this.
Things get so mixed up. One year ago I had my interview for the fellowship. I drove to Ann Arbor Friday night in a driving rainstorm, which became, as the sun went down, a driving ice storm. I checked into my hotel and decided to drive the shortest possible distance for dinner, which was across the street to the Cooker. I had to wait for a table, and did so at the bar, where I struck up a conversation with a man with a pronounced African accent. “Where are you from in Africa?” I asked. He gave me three guesses. I got it on the third guess — Rwanda, after he gave me a hint. (“My country has suffered much heartache.”) He was wildly impressed, and predicted I’d get the fellowship.
(In my creative writing class, we’d wonder whether this entry uses Rwanda as a motif. Let me just say: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.)
Oh, well. Three weeks. This week is positively clotted with activity, and I’m behind on my script pages, again. Best get cracking. Ninety percent perspiration, and all that.