Well I did it. I went on my first job interview since 1999. I had one after that but it was more of a brainstorming session on a beach in Nantucket with two friends when we conceptualized Peter Blair Accessories. Doesn’t feel like that should count, even though I learned more about small business at Peter Blair than anywhere else. To prepare for today, I printed out my updated resume, using regular computer paper rather than creamy 24 pound stock which seems stuffy and outdated. (I wonder if people actually print resumes anymore or just email them.) I selected two writing samples and brainstormed story ideas. I googled my interviewer to see what sort of topics I could hook him on; everyone loves to talk about themselves after all. I did my homework, asking Scott Mason of the Tar Heel Traveler his advice. David Crabtree the WRAL news anchor gave me an encouraging pep talk and opened the door for this meeting. I got the kids to VBS and met a friend at the pool to swim a mile. I felt taking a step towards my training goal -a half ironman in October- would give me confidence for this other big step in a new direction. Two people assured me I would knock him dead. My friend Allison even said my dress selection said “I don’t want to be forgotten.”
The lobby was vacant, the receptionist desk protected by a window and empty chair. It felt like the corporate version of a ghost town. A sign said dial extension 4040 to speak to a human. I knew it was a bad omen. My contact quickly came out and gave a friendly smile and handshake as he walked me back to his glorified cubical. I looked around at the people we passed on the way to his office. They looked as if they needed babysitters to be there. Everyone frantically typing away on a computer, looking busy if not engaged. There was no verve but it’s absence may have been caused by the monotone battleship gray interior and fluorescent lighting as much as a lack of inspiration.
I “made myself comfortable” across the desk from my new firing-squad/friend and we talked. He told me how news was a tough business for anyone (especially as old as you is what I heard) It requires long hours, holiday sacrifices, the ability to do all levels of production from script writing to editing to production and even camera work. I admitted feeling silly providing a resume with no experience in the field I was interviewing for. He told me I might as well rip it up and realize I was competing with 21 year olds who probably had more experience than I did, working on a college newspaper. When I asked if he was telling me I was too old he said no, but it’s a long road without any guarantee at the end. I think he began to feel guilty for being such a pessimist, not asking me one thing about myself. He should have said, you have a real face for radio. He is not looking for a 41 year old wanting to finally follow her dream. He doesn’t care I am smart, or accomplished in other things, or did really really well at the one time I got to be a color commentator on a sports show. I guess this was more for me than for him.
Twenty five minutes later I was done. I swung the door open as graciously as I could, said thank you for your time, and headed to the minivan as quickly as possible. I hoped he did not see my car, fearing it would only secure his opinion of a Mom trying to find her next calling. Luckily I made it to the car before bursting into tears. I am not sure what I expected: Robert Redford to discover a diamond in the rough like Michelle Pfeiffer in Up Close? I mean who tries to break into tv at 41? Thoughts of self doubt and loathing swirled in my mind. Why didn’t I find a mentor in an interesting field and run with it when I had all the time in the world? Why wasn’t I a better decision maker when I was young? Why didn’t I pay my dues, suck it up, climb the corporate ladder? Why can’t I win the lottery?
I have never submitted my writing to a publisher for fear my trump card will be trumped. If my writing is rejected than I don’t know what my secret dream could be. It used to look like chatting with Oprah or Katie Couric about my great american novel. But I haven’t written it yet and both anchors will be dead if not retired by the time I start the process. Maybe I could find a political angle and get on the Rachel Maddow show. She is a year younger than I am and broke into tv in 2005. Who cares she had a radio career beforehand and a Rhodes scholarship? This sports tv thing felt like a calling, something my whole life has been working towards without ever being in the field. I tried not to get “political” when we talked about the all male 6 person sports staff or the plan for covering more girls sports now that Wake County has agreed to work harder to comply with Title IX, the 41 year old FEDERAL LAW requiring gender equity in sports. But the ideas were futile. It felt like I was stuck in the worst blind date imaginable (which by the way did you see an eharmony customer just won a $900,000 lawsuit for contracting herpes while “dating” a fellow customer-next blog topic thank you!)
Here’s the juggernaut: I feel like I am at my best ever. My windy life path with stints as a teacher, a brand builder, tie guru, missionary, Mom, ref, and exercise instructor seem to be coming to a pinnacle. I can speak in a microphone, multitask, solve problems, and accomplish things in double time of my 30 year old self. I have enough confidence to hold my own and enough wisdom to laugh at my many faults. So what if my time is not the same as your time?
I do have some good news. I have always been negatively motivated. My lacrosse coach used to tell me all the things I did wrong and I would get angry and do them right just to prove my -well her- point. My conversations with God go something like: you can make me fall in love and marry a minister but you cannot make me be a cliched preacher’s wife. I think it’s the little sister in me who constantly tries to keep up. Or maybe it’s my inner- rebel or the way my Mom raised my brother and me to be risk takers. After about 15 minutes of crying, and the help of a very consoling preacher, I hatched my own idea. I will do my sports features as part of Notyourpreacherswife. I want to give female athletes a voice -probably because I hear a bit of myself in them. All I have to do is…well…everything. Story ideas, writing, filming, interviewing, editing, posting, advertising. No big whoop. I guess you have to do it all to have it all. Well I do anyway. If you have any story ideas, send them my way. Who knows, I may realize this dream afterall.