I belong to the Association of Personal Historians and have been invited to share a bit of personal history, starting with a questionnaire.
1. Where I lived @20: Fargo, North Dakota
2. What I did @20: Full time undergraduate student at North Dakota State University. Like a lot of people, I worked through my college years. I juggled three part time jobs when I was 20. I was a lowly camera operator for the evening news at the CBS affiliate KXJB. I worked a split shift and would punch out after the six o’clock news. Sometimes I would leave the studio and run across town to run camera at my second job at the studios of Prairie Public Television. At the end of that shift, I would punch out and run back to the news station to make the ten o’clock news. Crazy. By contrast, my third job was intentionally quiet. I worked at the university art gallery monitoring foot traffic in and out of the gallery. My boss let me do homework in the gallery. Talk about a cushy job!
3. What I dreamt @20: traveling abroad, documentary filmmaking
4. My favorite song @20: Another Brick in the Wall, Pink Floyd
5. What I wore @20: Preppy
6. Who I loved @20: my big family of sorority sisters. Over achievers and lifelong friends...
7. What made headlines when I was @20: The Iran hostage crisis. John Lennon’s death. And the defeat of President Jimmy Carter by former California Governor Ronald Reagan. I vividly remember that somber night, November 4, 1980. I worked election night at the news station. CBS and The New York Times miscalculated the election polls and predicted President Carter would win in a tight contest. Later that night, the network was humiliated by bad data. It was a glum night in the newsroom. And so began my life in the Reagan Era, which begat the Bush Era. Tough times for a liberal cat like me, but great fodder for decades of spirited conversations with my father, a conservative Republican.
What I didn’t know @20: Journey into self
When I saw Apocalypse Now@20, I realized how little I knew about Vietnam. How little I knew about anything at all, really. I'm afraid Francis Ford Coppola’s genius was lost on me.
@30, I revisited the film with a grad student I was dating from the University of Minnesota English department. He urged me to read Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, first published in 1899. He promoted it as being one of the greatest short stories ever written. I followed his advice and as I read it, my understanding of the story grew immeasurably.
A few years later, in1991, I saw the documentary Hearts of Darkness. Directed by George Hickenlooper, the documentary came out more than ten years after Apocalypse Now was released. It provides an inside view of the making and madness of Coppola’s film. It includes footage and sound secretly shot by Francis Ford Coppola’s wife, Eleanor Coppola, who also narrated the film. Stories are crafted together skillfully to reconstruct the fear and vulnerability the team experienced during the making of Apocalypse Now, revealing a tumultuous time.
In the documentary, Eleanor Coppola said, “The film Francis is making is a metaphor for a journey into self. He has made that journey and is still making it. It's scary to watch someone you love go into the center of himself and confront his fears, fear of failure, fear of death, fear of going insane. You have to fail a little, die a little, go insane a little, to come out the other side. The process is not over for Francis.”
Journey into self was foreign to me when I was 20. By 30, I understood. By 40, I really understood.
What were YOU like at 20? Create your own Me@20 blog post today, or share the
Me@20 questionnaire in your social networks.
See more Me@20 blog posts from personal historian colleagues:
Michelle Beckman - Sunday Dinner Stories, I Have a Confession
Tom Gilbert - Your Life is Your Story, Me at Twenty
About Me@20 Day:
Me@20 Day celebrates personal history and the 20th anniversary of the Association of Personal Historians on May 20, 2015. APH supports its members in recording, preserving and sharing life stories of people, families, communities and organizations around the world. #APH20 personalhistorians.org
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