So, yes, that is your faithful narrator getting whacked in the kisser by Hernan Valencia, illustrator supreme. Except that it was five years ago. And it was a play. We were ACTING. You can’t even tell, can you? That is because we are thespians. THESPIANS I tell you.
The play was called “With The Band.” I wrote it. And directed it. And inadvertently played a role in it after an actor or two dropped out. It was produced for the Men Rebelling Against Violence expo in 2004 at UNLV, where I was like a student or something at the time. The play was a little ham-handed, designed to bring awareness of sexual violence and other happy topics like that to the fore. I think 20 people showed up to watch it, 80 percent of which were family/boyfriends/girlfriends of the actors. But that’s OK. It was a fun little thing, and now I can say I wrote and directed a play. Can you say that? I didn’t think so.
But seriously, I ran across these photos while cleaning house this week and I almost forgot how involved I was during my five-year stretch at UNLV. Which is funny, considering I’ve never been much of a joiner, especially not in academic situations. I mean, I barely graduated high school. But I guess going to college when you’re in your mid-20s and doing so by desire and choice, not obligation, changes your perspective. Also, I was married at the time to someone very highly involved in activism, so it was sort-of unavoidable. But I’m glad I stepped up to the plate and at least tried to make an impact. I actually was honored with some sort of recognition from UNLV for my involvement in extracurricular activities.
I got to do some cool stuff though, throughout the course of my time there. In addition to the play above, I stage-managed two productions of The Vagina Monologues (and wrote an original monologue for one of them), designed all the marketing materials for a couple of Take Back the Night events (as well as the first Men Rebelling Against Violence expo), did lighting design and visual effects for a charity production of The Laramie Project, acted in another one-off play (I played a jock, of all things), and alternately served as a board member of and edited The Rebel Yell (UNLV’s student newspaper). And somehow I graduated Cum Laude with a dual major.
I’m not spilling all this to boast (though it is awesome, right?), but rather to remind myself that, as full as my plate is now, I managed to do all this while working full-time and writing freelance for multiple publications. And I look at how quickly I threw in the towel on my graduate work in sociology (despite acing my first two courses) and wonder: Why am I not doing more? I know, I know, I’m focused right now on not only the usual journalism-comics-marketing stuff, but also launching a new publishing company, something that not only requires a ton of attention, time and even money, but also has new creators depending on me, but it still seems a bit … selfish and insular.
I miss the community feeling of being on a college campus. Of being forced to think critically in ways I’m not used to. Of being involved with things that are bigger than me, and yet of which I can still make an impact. Plus, I just plain like school. What can I say? The first thing I did upon graduation a few years ago was write a syllabus and curriculum outline for a new journalism course I wanted to pitch to UNLV, with the intent to teach it, of course. I never followed through with that. I mean, I still have the cover letter to the dean of that college and the drafts in my Google Docs somewhere, just sadly sitting in neglect.
One day, I will find the time and/or will to return to academia somehow. I’m not sure if it will be finishing that Master’s in sociology or fulfilling my not-so-secret ambition to study and practice architecture and urban design. Or maybe I’ll actually become actively involved with the Alumni Association or another advisory board. Or maybe I’ll set up a scholarship fund to help kids avoid the massive student loan debt I’ll be repaying the rest of my life (that’s a discussion for another time). We’ll see. I doubt the hallowed halls of academia can keep me away for too long.
In the meantime, if you’re on Facebook, you can view the rest of those “With The Band” photos there.