Sound the trumpets! Here’s something I never dreamed would happen to me: I’ve been awarded a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts! Mike, Whitney and I take off today for a couple days vacation in Canada, and on Sunday morning Mike will rent a car and drive Whitney and me from Montreal to Johnson, Vermont. Thanks to fellow writer Jeff Flodin, who encouraged me to apply for this fellowship, I’ll be spending the entire month of April with 50 other poets, visual artists and writers at the Vermont Studio Center, where I hope to make some progress on a manuscript I’ve been working on.
That manuscript is about all I’ve learned leading memoir-writing classes for senior citizens here in Chicago, and I got the perfect sendoff yesterday afternoon: Chicago Public Radio aired a piece on All Things Considered featuring the writers in my Wednesday class. WBEZ has been doing a special series on what was going on in people’s lives the year they turned 25: scientific studies have shown that the frontal cortex area—which governs judgment, decision-making and impulse control—doesn’t fully mature until around age 25, which can make that year a transitional one for many people. After hearing a few Chicago celebrities interviewed on WBEZ about their 25th year, I assigned “Being 25” as a topic for my own celebrities, the writers in my classes. From the WBEZ web site:
In this installment of the Year25 series, WBEZ Producer/Reporter Lauren Chooljian visits a memoir writing class for senior citizens at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Their assignment? To write 500 words about where they were at 25.
Lauren stopped by to hear their essays and talk to the students about their stories. She came to find out their teacher, writer Beth Finke, also had quite a story to tell about her 25th year. It was not only the year she was married, but it was the last year she could see. Finke has been completely blind since she was 26 years old.
If you missed hearing the piece on the radio yesterday, never fear: you can still hear it online. Mike will fly home from Burlington this Sunday after dropping Whitney and me off in Vermont, and he has generously offered to keep up the Safe & Sound blog while I’m away. You’re in good hands.
All for now, folks: we gotta plane to catch!