Saturday, August 01, 2009

goin' goin' back back to Cali Cali

Well, folks, that's the end of it. I've been in Chicago for the fastest 5 weeks of my life, and now here I am at the airport waiting for a delayed flight. I have so much to say about the last five weeks that I don't know where to begin... except to say that hey, I really like teaching, and that this could potentially be something I'm interested in doing. Whether or not to pursue it is a debate that's been raging in my head for weeks now.

To change tracks completely, let's talk about how Northwestern always smells the same. You'd think that things might change slightly over time, depending on who lives in what dorm, what the weather is, how old the building is, etc, but no. No, every Northwestern building I set foot in this summer smelled exactly like I remembered it. Walked into the library and immediately felt like I was going to Opera and Betrayal class in the Media Center... walked into the dorm and immediately missed Martha, my freshman and sophomore year roommate in CRC. Louis still smells like stainless steal and watery sunshine, and Fisk still smells like radiator heat and rain. What is that? Why is smell such a strange sense? It's the only sense you can't readily conjure up to remember... or at least I can't. I usually can't remember a smell until I smell it again. Even the SIDEWALK at Northwestern smelled like it used to. It was comforting and strange and sad all at once.

Along the comforting/strange/sad lines, the best thing about this summer has really been being with my friends. They weren't all my best friends or anything, but it was awfully nice to be in that effortless environment of a college dorm with people you genuinely enjoy- Kevin and Jim and Kevin Welch, and all the others I either met or got to know better over the course of the summer. I think that was really the best thing about college, being so close to all your friends. It's a lovely little alternate reality where you don't have to pay for things, your friends are nearby, and everything is within walking distance. Where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came, etc. I'm really going to miss these people and the brief yet divine falling-in-love-with-new-friends period.

Anyway. Enough with the waxing nostalgic. You'd think it would be hard to be nostalgic about something you just finished today, but I (like many of the kids who were bawling as they checked out of the dorm today) am doing a bang-up job of it, thank you very much.

NHSI is a summer program where rising high school seniors come to basically take a one-semester college class over the course of 5 weeks... except that it's more than just taking a class, because the program occupies them just about 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We had Film Producting kids and Acting For the Camera kids, and despite their annoying habits (like staying up late and shrieking), I was very attached to them by the time they left this morning. I was the Production teacher, which basically meant that I taught them how to compose and light shots, use the camera and lights, and to record sound. Well, I did the best I could, at least, and I hope I taught them a few more things along the way. It sounds pretty obvious, but to teach something you have to remember what it's like to not know anything about it, and that's really hard to do. If I do this next year (and I really hope I do), there are a lot of things I'm going to change about how to approach teaching. It's hard to teach them things when you're not there looking over their shoulder all the time, but you also don't want to be hovering and doing things for them. I wrestled with how to treat them a lot, whether they needed me to babysit them or not-- and I realized that sometimes they do better when I'm not around to tell them exactly what to do. Granted, they also sometimes come up with the worst possible way to shoot whatever it is, but you take what you can get.

Jim and Kevin Welch are the directors of the Film program; Kevin Cannon teaches animation; Glen teaches screenwriting; Caleb Johnson (who briefly went to NU as a grad student) teaches editing; and then we have 5 Faculty Associates, or FAs- Marci, Adam, Dusty, Joe, and Melissa. Marci and Adam were students of Jim's at Montana State, Joe and Dusty were cherubs themselves three years ago, and Melissa just randomely applied for the job. We were a strange bunch, to be sure, but it seems like sometimes the strangest groups of people are the ones that end up getting along the best. Not that we were without strife, but for the most part the summer went pretty smoothly among the faculty.

I also got to do some random fun things with my friends from college this summer, although not nearly as much as I would have liked- NHSI sucked up a lot more time than I was expecting. Tim and Pat and I made screwdrivers and watched Mamma Mia! just to be masochistic; The three of us plus Jack, Kat, Mike Depilla, Kat's sister and a friend of Pat's went to a White Sox game (my 2nd of the summer- we took the kids to a Sox game in a rainstorm, too); Kevin and Tim and I met Jack and Kat at Jack's last ever Public Observing session at Dearborn Observatory (which he's run on Fridays ever since I've known him); Jennifer Welch and their baby Avelyn came up to visit Kevin, and we got to hang out a bit; I went to the Kane County Fair with Jill, Natalie and Alec; Kevin and Jim and I went mini golfing with Jamie Madison, Matt Repchak, John McGlothlin, Dan Peringer, and another guy, and Jim and I BOTH won free games on the final hole; I went to trivia night in Lincoln Square with Tim, Kreutzer, Andrew Linnehan and John Tsarouchas, Kevin Cannon and Amanda and I went to Harry Potter at midnight in Skokie, as you already know (first time I ever took the Skokie Swift!); and David, Jessica and Willa Marie came up to watch fireworks on the Lakefill with us for the 4th of July. Oh, I have so much to say about it all. I can't say it now. It's too late. I'm too tired. There's too much to do.

More when I'm back from Camp!!

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I'm sitting in Studio 105 in Louis Hall at Northwestern, waiting to tape one of the acting classes for the Acting For The Camera students we have in the NSHI Film program. I offered to help out with stuff for the end of the camp, because I had the afternoon free, and this is what I got stuck with... but I suppose it's vaguely interesting. Our acting kids are so much less annoying than the Theater Cherubs. Bane of my life, the Theater Cherubs! They sing in the dining hall and walk around in loud attention-getting clothing, hug each other and climb on each other and just generally make sure that EVERYONE NOTICES THEM AT ALL TIMES.

I HATE people like that.

Theater kids have always bothered me, even in college when I was friends with a lot of them. Hell, even at Lively Arts Summer Camp in 5th grade when I had to be in a play- even THEN I secretly knew it was all bullshit. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate a good actor more than you know- it's murder being on a film set with only bad actors, or even just one bad actor who throws things out of whack. But when theater people are grouped together, there's just this loud, impenetrable wall of PERFORMING that surrounds them and dwarfs all the normal people. Gag.

Random! Yes I know! I shall be coherent again someday!