Monday, April 23, 2007


I find myself setting aside my homework and obsessively reading about the Virginia Tech tragedy. Since last Monday, I've been engrossed. When I first heard from a voice message from Katie Sparks, I practically sped home to turn on the television. Of course my first thoughts were of Michael, my friend from home who goes there, and I started contacting anyone who might have heard from him. Eventually, I got a hold of Brandon who had just spoken with Mike and knew he was okay.

I couldn't focus on my homework all Monday night, nor could I focus in class throughout the day on Tuesday. Instead, I looked at the facebook profiles and news on each individual victim, imagining what Northwestern's campus would be like if something like that happened here. As more details emerged about the killer's bizarre life and his gross, unfounded anger, I became so angry one day that I literally broke a spatula.

I finally received an email from Mike on Thursday, assuring me (after my panicky email from Monday afternoon) that he was okay. I was sad though. Mike and I grew apart over the last three years, and although I hear about him from friends like Nick, I miss him. I guess that's what a tragedy like this does--it puts things in perspective. Mike and I may have lost touch, but there's a part of him that will forever mean so much to me since we were so close in high school and a part of me that feels like we could as easily grow close again as we grew apart. When I heard about VT, I couldn't help but think back to my senior year when Brandon, Michael, Katie Odell and I formed one big hug on my front lawn after attending the visitations of two girls in their class who had died two days before in a car accident. "I don't know what I'd do if I lost you guys," Katie said. It's four years later, but I still feel the same way.

I guess I had to get that out. I should get back to homework--a new website due on Thursday, a quiz on Tuesday, etc. etc. I tried to relax this weekend by celebrating John's early graduation, surprising him with a trip to the floatation tank center and then a crazy night of dancing at Smartbar for DJ Heather's new Om record release and birthday party. And today was gorgeous, although I spent most of it scoping out Marquette Park to find a new documentary subject (our subjects backed out yesterday, a day before our scheduled interview). We found one, thankfully, and the sun was shining.


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Northwestern on the Southwest Side

My feelings about the nearing end of college are not unique or original, but that's okay. I still feel anxiety, excitement and a bittersweet twinge inside when I imagine traipsing about Scott Hall's lawn following the Medill convocation. Maybe it will rain instead.

Still, how am I to know what I want to do? I write. That's something, I'm told. Professor-mentors pull me aside and tell me that I've got "it," but words of encouragement mean nothing if you don't believe it yourself--especially if you don't know what "it" is. Instead, I run from one thing to the next, hoping that something will click. If it's not service, it's narrative non-fiction. If it's not writing, it's film. If all else fails, I'll audition for the next production of Cats.

Before I collapse back into another six hours of sleep, I have to mention that my six hours on the southwest side today culminated into much more than almost two and a half hours on the road and some fruitless exploration.

Two of my groupmates in my documentary class joined me in Marquette Park today as we sought out what remained of the Muslim population there. We ended up poking our heads into a boarded up storefront whose door was open, discovered it was a "Social Club," and sat sipping tea with the owner Ah'med, a Palestinian immigrant, for almost two hours. We walked away from his shop with the beginnings of an amazing doc topic and, quite seriously, a new friend. We have made tentative plans to bring our cameras and empty stomachs for a traditional Palestinian meal at Ah'med's house during the weekend.

We were happy enough with Ah'med, but ventured on a bit further down the street to a Muslim community activism center. There we discovered yet another great topic for our film--this one involving released convicted armed robbers and murderers who have turned to the Koran for guidance as this community organization puts them on their feet. I'm basically psyched.

Can't college last forever? College makes experiences like I had today so easy to access (given that you major the right way, I suppose). I may have to work harder in my future to make these things happen in my life. But I do know that I will, no matter what I end up doing, keep seeking new these new places and people. It's what I love to do and what helps me breathe--especially when I'm anxiety-ridden about an impending job search. :)