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tales of something simple - “screw barbara walters”

i believe

Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.

all types of chaos

“screw barbara walters”

The summer before my freshman year of college I was hired by a media company to do an online reality show for AOL.  Basically, I would tape my life as a first semester freshman, they would edit it through a series of flattering and unflattering clips that made up 2-7 minute “episodes” of my life.  When the shows aired throughout my months away I laughed, I cried, I cringed hard.  Particularly when they had a still image of me, mouth gaping in mid sentence in the pajamas that my now husband would someday propose to me while wearing, with my hair wet and slicked back from the shower in an advertisement on AOL’s website.  However, the low points in the season began in my introductory show where I showed off my uncanny ability to be completely uncensored and off the cuff in my speaking.  I said and I quote


I want to be a news anchor.  I want to be the next Peter Jennings.  Screw Barbara Walters.

Ugh.  Who says that?  What young, aspiring person with any brains would publicly diss the queen of journalism?  To my credit, Peter Jennings had just died and I was feeling a little on the sappy side but still.  Not like Babs was ever going to give me a leg up in my would-be career in journalism, but one never knows.  I repeat this scenario because a very important final job interview from last week reminded me of my naive, driven, 18-year old self.

I sat in the office of the Senior Vice President of Operations who basically told me that my previous conversations with other staff and higher up’s all had an impeccable impression of me and I only really needed a pulse and a smile in order to uphold their (and I quote)

absolutely glowing impressions (of me)

A pulse and a smile is all I should have offered so as not to tarnish this pretty picture.  Instead, I brought my sassy, mouthy, 18-year old with me with a big mouth and a lot of umph behind it.  I’m not sure if I was off my game, getting my period, needed far less coffee in my blood stream or a glass of wine, but I basically took a good thing going in and shit all over his desk.

Actually, it might have been better if I had just shit on his desk and left.

He asked me why I was out of a job.

I shared, very matter-of-fact, that I left a job where I was happy, secure but going nowhere for a position that promised more money, more responsibility and a leg up to bigger things.  And then they shit the bed and laid my ass off while on maternity leave.

One point for honesty, negative two points for dissing the hell out of my former employer.

Then he says “Would you offer your most prior employer as a reference?”

I think about this for a moment.

Sure.  I’d direct you to human resources, they are a neutral party.

In so many words I just told this guy my former boss hated me and would probably shit on MY desk if she wouldn’t get fired.

He blah blahs for a bit about the company.  He tells me up front that if I am looking for a 9-5 job this is not the place for me.

I nod, half shaking my head “no” because this does not appeal to me.  I would have to drive 45 minutes in 0 traffic conditions to get to this place, leaving me no choice but to leave my house by 7am, drop my baby off at some daycare (that would probably feed her sugary snacks and juice that would rot her teeth and she wouldn’t nap and would get sick from all the germs and grow up believing I was the worst mother ever because I would have a blue tooth in my ear on our commute, my iPhone in my hand while I nursed her to sleep because “getting back online” after hours would be required and I would have to work overtime, all the time just to pay for all the therapy she would need) just to get to my desk by 8:30 and pump in some bathroom every two hours getting no milk because I would be so stressed about pumping and working and providing and balancing and by 6pm would be ripping of my pantyhose and unbuttoning my bra for what would look like some pre-dinner romp in a motel with a lover, but instead preparing for a potential 75-minute commute toward an angry, hungry, tired baby who would smell milk the moment I was a mile away.  I literally had this scenario run through my head as I watched his mouth moving but with no sound coming out.

Let’s not even get started on how much of a stranger my husband would look like, who would rarely have a full weekend or evening off and we would both be so tired from working we would collapse into bed before even kissing each other.

I painted the most miserable of pictures.  I longed to be out of this stupid office covered in McDonald’s advertisments, wrappers and cups strewn neatly about because he wanted employees to feel welcome, like it was an open drive through.

I get the joke dude and I am not laughing.

And neither was he when he asked me a few words to describe myself as a professional and I used “driven and persistent” and when he commented that they were the same I replied “No they aren’t.  Look them up.”

The kicker I think was when he asked me to tell him about a difficult time or situation at a job that disappointed me and how I handled it.  I awkwardly laughed and said “give me a second to think of one that is appropriate and that I actually want to tell you about.”

Who WAS this PERSON?  I can give a good interview.  Not because I am good at interviews but because I am a good person, a quick learner, a passionate human being with a drive for success, knowledge and a loyal employee and it SHOWS.  Just not on this day obviously.

I literally could think of no circumstance to share with him.  I felt so far removed from the employment world I could barely remember what I used to do.

So I chose probably the most inappropriate example I could think of (unintentionally of course).

I told him I had a super shitty six month review at my former job and that it was completely unfair, blindsided me like a bolt of lightening and sent me into a total panic attack.  These are all true things…just not things you say out loud to someone this important.  It felt like ten minutes that I droned on for, explaining why I got a crap review, how I got the crap review delivered and the stellar and positive things I did as a result.  My goal (I thought) was to show how I took a bad hand and adapted to the needs of my boss and therefore my company to change gears, perspective and take action and do something positive even in the face of adversity and poor management.  I think I just showed him that I am fully capable of talking too much when I am uncomfortable, that I hated my previous company and management, poor direction and was bitter about being laid off.

I think we were at negative 45 points by now.

And then…the kicker.  The mother of all questions, the one that is supposed to tell this person about ME, the to-the-core, honest, real me.

Tell me.  This job aside, obviously you are interviewing for this role out of interest.  But if you could do absolutely anything you wanted, what would it be?

I could have told him I wanted to be Peter Jennings.  I could have told him before I found out I was pregnant I was enrolled to get my certificate and then Masters in Drug and Alcohol Counseling.  I could have told him I wanted to rescue endangered species or organize food drives for the homeless.

But I guess I told him either the truth or a version of it.

There was barely a breath of a pause between his question mark and my answer.

I would be a stay-at-home Mom.

He looked like I had lit my eyebrows on fire and said “Sexy huh?”

He gently closed his folder, smiled uncomfortably wide and said “OK then.”

You can put the last nail in the coffin now.  It’s OK.  I know,  I know, I know.

I am not sure why I said it.  As a current stay-at-home Mom who is lucky enough to have sort-of kind-of regular part-time freelance work I consistently say that I would love to work.  But I also say that I would love to work PART-TIME and this usually only comes out of my mouth after a scary night of teething with my baby, or a napless afternoon or an evening full of throwing healthy home cooked food all over the floor underneath her high chair.

In reality, my dream job is the job I already have.  I am Marley’s Mom.

Being Marley’s STAY AT HOME MOM is my dream job for now.  But eventually she will get older and need to be around friends and go to school and spend majority of a day in a classroom that is not our backyard, the zoo, the library, or under the covers after nap time in my bed.

But for now she is this sweet, innocent, perfect sponge of a little person and these are moments I will never get back.  They cannot be relived, they cannot be replicated.  I spent an hour driving to this interview that was slaughtering my reputation of being good at ANYTHING professionally EVER, I spent an hour playing “insert foot” with this dude who clearly thought I was a joke and then another hour driving home in the rain crying.  I wasn’t crying because I knew I didn’t get the job or because the impression I just made was completely horrifying, though not totally far off from who I am (honest, but not a moron for God’s sake).  I was crying because those were three hours I could have sat on the floor with my kid playing peekaboo and raspberrying her neck and making her laugh that sweet, contagious laugh that makes me want to raspberry her until it isn’t fun anymore. I was crying because if they were dumb enough to hire me I would miss that, I would ache for that, a piece of my heart would be in her hand every single day that I dropped her off and let someone who wasn’t her Mommy raise her.  Because that’s what this job was going to require in terms of hours, demand and need…another person to kiss her boo boo’s, feed her breakfast and lunch and sing her songs and read her stories and challenge her mind.

I regret that I did so poorly in that interview.  Not because I didn’t get the job but because I let unpreparedness and emotion and “being out of the game” get the best of me and it showed.

But still I say it.

Screw Barbara Walters.

Screw that guy who interviewed me.

Because eight months ago I was hired for my dream job and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Neither would I…for now.


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