Who are you this time?

(Quoting Tom Waits before coffee is always good. I could do it in my sleep. Sometimes I dream about Tom Waits; it’s always some sort of message about myself as an artist. But that’s not what I was going to write about.)

I’m teaching this academic writing and discourse class at Antioch University McGregor and yesterday was the in-person kickoff. It’s filled with an amazing, inspiring group of students from several disciplines and programs, but the beauty was in how they found common ground, talking about an address given by Paulo Freire. The address was called, “The Importance of the Act of Reading.” (It’s great, you should read it.)

After the first part of the session, where I’d done a little spiel about Lynda Barry and my academic writing demons, this student asked me, “Rebecca, are you actually Tina Fey?”

I don’t know what prompted the woman’s question, was it because I was being amusing and silly? Was it my eyeglasses? My purple silk disco shirt? Or because I look like Tina Fey? (Do I?) Or maybe because I come across as anxious and neurotic? (Am I?) Whatever the reason, I will take it as a compliment. Tina Fey cracks me up; I think she’s pretty brilliant, though some episodes of “30 Rock” seem to be a bit like the creators are playing with their food, but I will forgive that. Everyone needs to play with their food sometime. And by the way, I wouldn’t mind Tina Fey’s salary.

But I said, “No, I’m Sarah Palin.”

I thought it was a funny and somewhat sophisticated comeback, which I’m not usually known for, but the student just looked at me. Which proves it: I am not Tina Fey. Tina Fey would have gotten a laugh.

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