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October 04, 2012

Here's how you avoid epic disappointment and self-loathing. Try not to know that the 2012 MacArthur "Genius" grants are announced and avoid realizing that your name is not on the list. Especially after the presidential debates last night, I wish I had followed this simple wisdom today.

       Let's start with the Who's Who in America Registry, to which I have been invited for inclusion numerous times. That was an honor I was forced to pass up because I could not quite the cover the fee for the plaques, coffee mugs and and logo materials the company so generously offered. It felt very nice to be honored, for my accomplishments to be recognized, especially by people who appear to know who - in America - is actually who. These people found me and singled me out to be mentioned alongside countless other accomplished people, all of whom seem to be doing a little better than I am since they were able to come up with the money. And then there are the Who's Who Online, Who's Who On The Web, and Global's Who's Who, where you will also not see my name for the same reason. I thought I was over this until this morning.

     The MacArthur genius grant winners for 2012 were announced today. I have to admit that after last night's Presidential debate I was looking for a boost and should have waited to read the press release until I felt I bit stronger. The debates set me back emotionally, mostly because Mitt Romney reminds me of a guy I once dated, a handsome bundle of heady promises who struck me as masterful and in command until he, well, struck me. With his golf club while practicing his putt. Like Mitt, he was blind to many things, one of those things being that I was standing 3 feet to his right. It is painful to relive that relationship: the lies, the self-doubt, the reconstructive surgery. But this isn't about me. According to the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, nothing is.

    One moment in the debate that really bothered me was when Mitt Romney compared Barack Obama to one of his five "boys" who are, in reality, "men." Mitt's youngest son is 34 years old. But there was the very-relatable, whitest-man-in-the-universe Mitt Romney not in any way referring to our first African-American president as a "boy" as any kind of racial code. As much as I tend to believe that line was intended to "bait" the President into a rumble about race, I'm still giving Mitt the some benefit of the doubt- 47% to be exact. Like my ex, the Mitt Romnney that showed up at the debate may be gone by morning, and the stress of not being able to trust triggers my most powerful compulsions - for fatty foods and fact-checkers.

   The real issue for me is being overlooked, once again and for my entire life, by The John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation. Maybe I'm not a "leading voice in American fiction" like Junot Diaz whose This Is How You Lose Her kills with humor and grace. I'm no fancy, uber-creative photographer who takes unusual pictures of ordinary things like Uta Barth. I'm no neurobiologist or microbiologist or community developer like the geniuses on the list. But I could get something special with that $500,000 "no-strings-attached" grant. Starting with a listing in every one of those Who's Whos.


Jude Treder-Wolff is a writer, trainer and performer currently doing her storytelling show Crazytown: my first psychopath. The next performance is Sat. Oct. 6 at The Charles B Wang Center at Stonybrook University, 7 p.m. Click here for more information.