Look to the future, but don’t forget the present (Miki Johnson column)

Miki Johnson

Reading over Cindy Chang’s review of the “My So Called Life” DVD on page 7 I was hurled back into that tender pre-teen year when my week revolved around Angela Chase and her high-school tribulations. Though still too young to relate directly to the high-school scenes in this instant cult classic, I hunkered down weekly with my dad (who was equally addicted to the show, oddly enough) and imagined that I would be just as endearingly awkward and gratifyingly unpopular when I moved on from middle school.

Then there is the poignant story of freshman Paul Baumbusch on page 8 who recently won a young playwright award for his one-act that deals simultaneously with the “disabilities” of autism and homosexuality. In his hope that college will provide expanded romantic possibilities and that key connection most fail to find in high school, I heard echoes of my own — realistic and ridiculous — expectations of my now rapidly ending four years at Northwestern.

And suddenly I find myself worried that my post-graduation years could find me ending up as jaded and disenchanted with my Evanston experience as The Lawrence Arms frontman Brendan Kelly seems in his interview on page 4.

I’ve always assumed college would loom larger and brighter in retrospect — but what if, instead, I come to the equally common conclusion that academia breeds dangerous tunnel vision while rarely eradicating small-mindedness? High school, after all, ended up seeming much less life-and-death than “My So Called Life” promised, and I already couldn’t tell you a single character name from any book I read freshman year here. Remembering all those jumping-off points in my life often leaves me dreading the forgetfulness moving past them spawns.

Luckily, there are few better ways to distract yourself from inevitably advancing time than with some good ol’ fashioned entertainment. And our page 3 story on the Chicago International Film Festival is a perfect place to start. Put your feet up, let the darkness sink in as the opening credits roll and live in the now. The festival even has added a retrospective for its 40th anniversary, reminding us of the importance of honoring where we have been along with where we are going.

Then maybe catch a show — either the category-defying “Gomez” featured on page 5 or hold off like I am for the A&O Rufus Wainwright show next weekend right here on campus (and the interview in our music section next week).

Because, ultimately, that’s what PLAY is here for: We try to help you make the most of your precious time and to make sure when this academic bubble finally bursts you won’t look back and wonder what you were doing here and why you had gotten so excited about it all in the first place. 4

Medill senior Miki Johnson is the PLAY editor. She can be reached at [email protected]