Thursday, January 23, 2014

"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others."*

   So, when listing my life skills in my head while trying to fall asleep at night, I rarely come up with more than a few solid entries. I have delightful penmanship. I can fry a mean egg. I know most of the cast and crew of just about any film from the 40’s. Yarl. See? Boo. Lackluster at best.
   But if there’s one thing I’m really good at, it’s correcting people. I do it all the time. It’s like I have a special government-issued license for telling people they’re wrong. And I’ve been consciously trying to NOT do that for…well, not very long. Maybe just the last month or so. It was a sort of subconsciously decided New Year's Resolution. And it’s really hard. Because I think I know better about everything than everyone. And it makes life super difficult for me. Wah.
   But the thing is, I don’t know much about much of anything, so I’m not entirely sure why I think I’m the proper person to correct someone’s grammar, or suggest that his/her way of making coffee is off, or point out why her/his opinions are stupid. 

   I’ve analyzed this shortcoming and I think it has a lot to do with my inherent feeling that people should think I’m really smart. Not that I’m the most intelligent person that ever was (read: not that I am ACTUALLY SMART), but because being passably smart has often been the only thing I felt I had going for me. You could say that I’m not quite pretty enough to model or funny enough for my own sitcom, and maybe you don’t want me on your soccer league or as a member of your band, but please think I’m smart! Please! I don’t know why this is so important, but clearly it is. And I maybe need more some therapy. 
   I’ve always been average. Average height, average weight, average hair color, average face. I hate average. I want to be AMAZING. At something. 
   So I tell you that you shouldn't eat your fish cooked past a sear or that you shouldn't shift into second gear until it feels right to me or that you shouldn't wear that shade of mascara with your skin/eyebrow color. It's so annoying, right? I thank my lucky stars every day that I have anyone that calls me their friend.
   I think I’m the classic case of the gal who could dish it out, but couldn’t take it. And part of that is my supreme sensitivity (I guess I’m above average in that department, but, again, boo, because who wants to be above average at being sensitive?). But part of it is also that I’m so easily discouraged. Fear often addles my brain and makes me inclined to do and say stupid, WEIRD things that I don’t even think about before they leave my mouth, but that if they were said to me by someone else would kill a little part of me.
   [Whispered aside: I wonder if Seth McFarlane or Rob McElhenney feel this way when people say shocking, offensive things to them. They’re hilarious, in my book, but they’re ridiculously offensive. When I’m offensive, I’m often just trying my best to be hilarious. But is it so offensive that it doesn’t work? I’m not a TV show. I’m just existing in the world, trying to maintain at least semi-healthy relationships with semi-regular people. Maybe the whole thing is just the setting? Like, if I were to channel all my “humor” into a book or an art project or TV show, would I stop being horrible in life?]
   Whoa, excuse me. That was a tad too much free styling, wasn’t it? I have issues, clearly. But the end-all-be-all is this: if I correct you, it’s not because I think I actually know things. I DON’T. But because I want you to like me. And, obviously, I just want to make you a better person.
*Ayn Rand.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"Death will be a great relief. No more interviews."*

   [After righting (really??) writing this and rereading it, I imagined it in a deep, emotional voice.]  

   It’s been a while.

   My life is a series of unimportant misadventures, so I won’t try to make this seem more epic than it is.

   But changes have occurred.

   No, I’m not majestically thin and one-chinned, like I hope for every year.

   And I do have new stories and drawings…but they mostly play on iterations of my failures at life, which is fair game for this blog. But still.

   Okay, enough. This post is veering toward what seems disturbingly like a Todd Rundgren song (not that there's anything wrong with Sir TR).

   I had the worst interview of my life the other day. (Just kidding I've had worse.)

   I’d been in Omaha for FOUR WEEKS (what?!?) and I’d only been back in Austin for a day when I received an email from one of the higher up professors here at school (we’ll call him Dr. W) saying that I’d been suggested as a viable candidate for a TA position (no idea who would have gotten that idea).

   These TA positions are rad. I mean, at the very least, you get in-state tuition, which would, if I were to receive it, significantly decrease the inevitable hell of debt I’ll face upon graduating from this super expensive lofty institution.

   So I pulled my hung over responsible, well-rested ass out of bed at the butt-crack of dawn to be at Dr. W’s office at 8:30. Okay, so it’s not really that early, but whatever, I was coming off 4 weeks of 13-hour sleeps. I was seemingly the first person in the building. The janitor was just getting started, classes hadn’t begun and I had on my most responsible looking ensemble (eye-drops, blazer, socks, etc..). Another gal was sort of sneaking in and out and around through the building, but I figured she was lost. Dr. W wasn’t in his office yet and so I had to be his first interview of the day.

   By 8:45, I was draped over a chair, my chin on the back, staring out the window at the fog.

   Dr. W stepped off the elevator with the creepster girl and started walking towards his office.

   I followed them.

   “I’m early,” she said.

   “No, I think you’re right on time.”

   “Maybe you’re thinking she’s me. I’m Lacey. I’m supposed to be your 8:30.”

   He turned and stared at me for a moment.

   “No, Lacey, I think I have you at 9.”

   The other girl said, “I’m supposed to be at 9.”

   He said, “Lacey, you won’t mind, will you?”
   I'm not gonna lie to you. I think he took her first because she's black. But whatever.

   So I slunk back to the lobby and read the 3rd installment in the Caroline B. Cooney’s The Face on the Milk Carton series for young adult readers for half an hour.

   When he finally ushered me into the room, everything seemed odd.

   I sat down.

   He got on his computer and typed for a few minutes.

   “So, do you have any questions?”

   We hadn’t spoken before, so I had several.

   I began by asking him to explain the class.

   He said that in addition to one graduate TA, he would have 5 undergrad GA’s who would effectively do all the work. Then he explained the online discussion forum, how they'd tried it 3 or 4 times, how he didn't think it was so great and he wasn't sure why the University kept doing it.

   I said, “And you’ve done this before?”

   He said, “Yeah. I just said that. Literally one minute ago.”

   I suppose I’d meant the question as more of a rhetorical one, as in "why do you keep doing a virtual discussion that you think is counterproductive?" but okay. I was shamed, in the way I generally feel shamed anywhere I go outside of grocery stores, the only place where I feel free to tell people how rude and inappropriate their behavior is.



   Then he talked some more about the class, and the program in general. He was mostly reading emails and looking out the door.

   “Do you have any questions?”

   I tried to explain what I felt the class was about, structured as a question. “It seems to be a class about the practical application of advertising in different career fields…?”

   “No. That’s not really it at all.” You could feel that what he meant to say was, "No, you fucking moron. That has nothing to do with anything. Shut your mouth when you're talking to me."

   I felt like I was in some sort of awkward shame spiral. I didn’t have anymore real questions to ask, because usually people ask me questions during interviews.

   “Well, do you have a syllabus I could look at?” I had asked him repeatedly to just tell me in plain language what the class was about and every way I approached it, he acted as though I were some sort of feeb who didn’t understand English.

   The syllabus cleared up a few points. But not many.
   But for some reason, we looked at it for a long time and then he started telling me stories about undergrads who'd tried to use this class to get into the advertising major and how they'd failed: Jason and Maria, in case you're interested. Yes, he was naming names. I was sweating in a weird, sick person sort of way. My face felt really hot.
   He asked me if I had any questions. I was very uncomfortable. I couldn't keep coming up with questions for a whole interview, could I?

   So I asked if he had any questions.

   He pulled out my résumé and stared at it.

   It was all misformatted (not a word), with a bunch of crapola HTML printed out in large type all over the top.

   “Oh no. That’s not right.” I pulled out a copy from my bag.

   “Well, now you know that this can happen,” he offered, throwing the ill-formatted résumé in the garbage. "And, so you know, you're here because what's-her-name Natalie bailed on me. Maybe you know her?"

   “I don't know if I do?"
   "Well, she flaked."

   Meek again. Who was I? Why couldn’t I speak? Why did he keep ratting people out?

   Long silence.

   “Why did you spell ‘copyeditor’ as one word?”

   I panicked. As you already know, if you read this blog at all, I AM A HORRIBLE SPELLER.

   “Um, I don’t know.” I crept behind him and read over his shoulder. “I thought it was one word?”

   “Hmmm…maybe it is. I don’t actually know.”

   He stared some more.

   “If you want to know, I’m actually a really bad speller. I mean, not bad. I’m a good writer. I write. I mean, I use the computer to help me when I’m spelling. I have a blog. It’s about how I’m good with ideas and not so much with spelling…?”


   “Are you in creative?” he asked.

   “Yes. But I just got in.”

   “Okay, so what was your answer to the question?”

   He pulled out the prompt from a month ago. The one that caused me a lot of sleepless nights and hard, hard work.

   I told him my answer to the prompt.

   He raised one eyebrow and shook his head as if to indicate that he had no idea why a big old dumb-dumb such as myself could have made it into Texas Creative.


   “Why don’t you send me a copy of that application?”

   I agreed to it, though I was scared he'd tell people all about how bad it was. It seemed clear that he didn't keep secrets very well.

   “You wanna see some really great résumés?” he asked.

   We spent the next 15 minutes looking at résumés on his computer, beautiful résumés clearly created by graphic designers, with timelines and pie charts and arrows and colors, and he said he’d email them to me, so I could make mine better.

   I felt thoroughly shamed.

   My résumé was bad. And it was not well formatted. I couldn’t spell. My creative application was awful. I’d arrived at “the wrong time.” And I asked a question he’d already answered a minute before. I couldn’t wait to get back into bed.
   He said he'd be in touch and let me know by the day's end.

   On my walk of shame home, I looked up “copyeditor." Chicago Manual of Style agrees with me, as does Word. Your basic Google search and this here Blogger: not so much.

   But She of the 9 o’clock appointment got the gig, even though it turned out all the words on my résumé were spelled correctly..

   Life is a game of whack-a-mole, as my friend Rebecca always says. And I’ll talk more about my insane blessings in a future post (yeah right, who wants to hear about things going great for someone? Isn't that just a blog about bragging?), but it feels good to be back and telling you all my troubles. 
Do you think my résumé really needs work?

*Katharine Hepburn. Dark, admittedly, but she has a point. Although I'm pretty sure she wasn't referring to job interviews.