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PROMPTuesday #233: Tell Your Story

January 28th, 2014

“I don’t think you love me!” She twisted and turned and flailed in her bed. She was tired, I knew that much, and a touch sensitive that day, but here it was again: questioning our devotion.

 

Many times I respond with irritation as if it should be obvious – of course we love you, you’re our daughter, now stop this ridiculousness. I’d walked in and out of her bedroom several times that night, not quite ready to stop the conversation because she still needed something from me, but refusing to indulge what was a ploy for attention.

 

Soon enough, my husband joined the fracas and tried as I did to shut the emotional outburst down and away, hoping like me that it would end with no indication it had ever been a thing, quite like it had started.

 

After a melange of raised voices and collective frustration, something stopped me from a third exit from her room. I saw her face – a red, exhausted, puffy, yearning reflection of my own and entered another room from 30 years ago. This one with yellow flowers papered on the wall, matching heavy curtains pulled aside to show a peeling blue swing set in the yard below, and a canopy bed strung with green chiffon. I heaved against the door.

 

“You don’t love me!” I shook a bottle of saline pills I dissolved in distilled water to rinse my contacts. “I’m going to kill myself and you won’t even care!”

 

My mom stood uselessly outside and didn’t say the thing I wanted to hear – whatever it was; but a thing nonetheless, more than strung together words, a monolith of meaning, or something. A thing to make it better that was ethereal and nonexistent.

 

She threw her irritation and parental despair back at me, not violently or even convincingly, more like you’d throw a snowball that fell apart in mid-air. “Open the door!” She yelled it, still a snowball.

 

She didn’t say the thing, because she didn’t know the thing.

 

I left that memory and entered another: another door, another bottle of pills. This time I was pregnant with my second daughter and upset with my husband. I rattled some Advil and threatened to take them all, a lie and a fake promise. It’s just that I wanted a reaction. And for him to say the thing.

 

My husband picked up the phone and called my dad. The one person who knew so well what I did, and although he would never be able to articulate it in soul words, why I did it.

 

Several refusals to open the door later, I took the phone. There was no recrimination nor judgment, although his voice shook a little. He’d witnessed countless play acts just like this one between my mother and I, and knew to wait it out and be there.

 

I could never be loved enough. I could never be loved enough. Why don’t you love me? Why don’t you love me? Say the thing.

 

These words shoot into my brain as I moved to leave my daughter’s room. A threshold, a line I could cross or not, and be the person who doesn’t understand when I know down to the molecule that I do.

 

I returned to her bedside.

 

“I love you.” I admit it was hard to say because I was so angry that it had to come to this, when I tell her I love her every day, and these outbursts demand another affirmation so irrationally and hard fought.

 

“No you don’t!”

 

I remained there, and said it with conviction because it was true, “I love you.” I saw her eyes and her face and her needing the thing. I didn’t look; I saw.

 

She looked ashamed, maybe, or just needful. “Really?”

 

“Really.” I ran my fingers under her eyes and along her nose with the seeing and the thing.

 

She settled under the blankets and my husband re-entered her room, safe now.

 

Something tiny and elusive had happened: I’d realized the thing wasn’t what you said, it’s how it’s believed.

 

The outbursts will happen again, a genetic deficiency of some sort, perhaps. Only now this beautiful and fragile mirror of my weakest self has someone who understands in soul words she can’t quite articulate. A person who always understood, but just finally discovered that the thing is real and big and just the same, easily knocked to the ground as brought up and given a hand.

 

******************************

What’s your story? 

 

Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.

 




PROMPTuesday #232: Facing the Fear

January 21st, 2014

I’ve done an informal observation of the first few weeks of 2014, and have noticed many people moving past their old beliefs of themselves and pushing the boundaries. This might mean returning to the core of who they are, or fighting beyond self-imposed restrictions and self-limiting perceptions that keep them tied to the same old things. I’m not an astrology person, but if I were, I’m sure there’d be some cosmic planetary alignment anomaly going on that’s causing the collective unconscious to redefine itself.

 

I know it’s happening to me.

 

For the past many years, I’ve pretty much coasted along from thing to thing and allowed myself to get swept up in this or that, which defrayed my focus on the one true thing: the book I’m writing. I’m sure it’s unconscious and there’s a million reasons why I’ve distracted myself (I’m quite certain “fear of financial success” is not one of them), but whenever I’m speaking to someone about the this or that (blogging, let’s say; or my writing existential crisis), I hear: you need to finish your book.

 

Now I know that’s true, but there’s so many other things: making a living, taking care of the kids, worrying about why there’s so much dust in my house – and then dusting it. However, there are fears behind the lack of manuscript completion that I’m avoiding facing.

 

I promised myself I’d march past those fears this year. Then as if to cement my promise, I received an email from a mesothelioma survivor who told me that after she’d had her left lung removed eight years ago, she created “Lung Leavin’ Day” to commemorate the day that changed her life forever and tackling the fear of surgery and her disease head on.

 

To celebrate, she invites her friends and family over every year on February 2 and asks them to write their fears on plates and then smash them in a spectacular bonfire made of phoenix pixie dust (I made that last part up).

 

Smashing fears - PROMPTuesday

 

I’ll smash my virtual plates in communion.

 

Here they are:

 

1) I’ll finish my book and it will blow ass.

 

2) I’ll never finish my book and just keep writing posts like this saying how I need to finish my book.

 

3) My plotting sucks and my story ideas are ridiculous.

 

4) I’m nothin’ special.

 

5) I can’t write anyway, so why bother?

 

6) What if this is my only idea ever, and I finish the book and I’m dried up?

 

I’ve been stuck in the middle of my book forever.  I have 100 pages and 25,000 words written. Given that most middle grade novels are in the 40,000-word range, I’m more than half done! I mean, COME ON. Of course, there’s the revising and the editing and the culling and the curating and the darling killing, but I could have a shitty first draft in one month if I wrote 500 words from now until February 21.

 

I don’t know, like I said, things feel different this year. Sort of as if my fears and will to distract are being bowled over by the Universe’s intention.

 

So, I’ll go with it, and SMASH. Smash it hard.

 

What fear plates are you smashing this year?

 

Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.

 




PROMPTuesday #231: My Weird Quirks

January 14th, 2014

It occurred to me the other day as I was triple-checking the locked status of every door in my house, that I have a series of mild OCD routines that may or may not be big-time OCD routines. I don’t particularly get freaky if I can’t perform these little “quirks,” but I just thought about it as I wrote those last few words and I’d get freaky if I didn’t perform these little quirks.

 

So in an effort to deflect and make my borderline nutso-ness fun, I’m listing my behaviors – those little things I do daily – and calling it the cutsey “My Weird Quirks.” Do you have some of your own? Add them to the party!

 

Meanwhile, those “things” I do are listed below:

 

1) Inspect my shoes:

Every morning before I return my slippers or shoes onto my feet, I must shake them first  in case any errant spiders crawled inside and are waiting to eat my big toe. Or poison my bloodstream with killer venom.

 

2) Lock the doors:

Like I said above, I check and re-check that my doors are locked. I want to say this all originated because I had a stalker, but he kicked the locked door down in the middle of the night, so I really should have a routine where I brick up all entrances to my home nightly. And I don’t do that, so I must not have PTSD!

 

3) Vacuum:

Sure, we all do. But is it that insistent, incessant vacuuming where you’re trying to cleanse the soul of your carpet? If the sight of even one crumb on the floor twitches your face, you can join my club. BYOB! (Bring your own Bissel.)

 

4) Hoard items in my purse: 

I have 72 purses and each one is filled with receipts, lint carnage, and paper straw wrappers. I’ve gone smaller and smaller with my purses so I am physically incapable of putting more into them, but I find ways, like taping “clean your purse” reminders to the outside. And if you saw my big purses, you’d pitch TLC to make a show about me, possibly titled “Can’t Get Enough Pursey.”

 

5) Keep the lights off when I go to the bathroom:

I just don’t like to see what’s in bathrooms. I have a toilet thing, too, so I pretend I’m not on one when I’m peeing and if I keep it dark in there, I can almost believe the “I’M NOT SITTING ON SOMETHING THAT’S WARMED 1,000 BUTTS BEFORE MINE” fantasy.

 

6) Touch my face:

You know how people tell you not to pick your zits? I don’t listen. If there’s anything looking even close to congested to my skin, I must let it out. Also, I love pus. Don’t tell anybody. (And for the love of spiderless slippers, don’t even Google “pus videos.”)

 

As for you, any weird quirks of your own that you can list to defray the blinding light of CRAZY I just shined on myself, write them down!

 

Here’s how!

Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.

 

 




I’m Staying

January 6th, 2014

I keep coming back here to write a response to the death of “old school blogging” and it’s all sounding the same: I miss how it used to be online; I’m not interested in marketing over making; and what happened to personal blogging for God’s sake?

 

I’m reading more and more people saying similar things and going so far as to close blogs down and sneak out of the social media space because apparently, stories have no place anymore over selling.

 

I’ve read these laments again and again and nodded my head and even crafted my own dirges, but my responses fall flat.

 

Because I finally realized: IT DOESN’T MATTER.*

 

If you’re here to tell your stories, tell your stories. Who cares if Blogger X sold out? Or Blogger Y isn’t as real as she used to be since she worked for Brand Z?

 

IT DOESN’T MATTER.

 

Why does it mean anything if someone OTHER THAN YOU chose to do what he/she chose to do? You might hate it, you might hate them, but that’s all sound and fury. Your seething doesn’t change what they’ll do. So give up the bellyaching and change (or keep the same) what you do.

 

I’m a master navel-gazer, believe me. But I’m sick of navel gazing. Do or don’t. Show up or leave.

 

But STOP complaining about the way it is now, and make it your own.

 

Or go. That’s fine, too.

 

And for the record? I’m sorry to see so many stop writing the words that heal or make whole or sustain just because the landscape around them has changed and they’re mad about it. Be tired, be over it, be done for now, go in a different direction. But bitterness never accomplished a thing. Sure, you must adapt. But if you’re here to tell your stories? Tell them and let the landscape around you do what it will.

 

Nothing can change what you’re here to say.

 

*In case it wasn’t clear? I’m talking to myself here.

 

 

 




PromptTuesday #230: The Surprise

December 10th, 2013

Deb at 21

Happy 21st!

 

I’d always been the youngest person in my grade, which didn’t particularly bother me until I made it to college. I transferred to a four-year liberal arts university halfway through my sophomore year, and by then everyone was well on their way to 21 (or had a fake ID). Most of the time, I did just fine – borrowing friends’ IDs, sneaking in the back door, paying someone to alter my ID for $45, or even borrowing a birth certificate for a phony driver’s license of my own. That is, until I got on the BullDog’s bad side. He took a disliking to me after he realized I’d been using a 35-year-old Irish immigrant’s ID to get into the Avalanche (the most fine and disgusting of all Milwaukee bars and home to the “naked beer slide”).

 

BullDog was a 35-year-old bouncer who always wore a black leather coat, jeans, and dirty white tennis shoes. Every weekend night, he sat with purpose on a bar stool outside the illustrious ‘Lanche entrance. He had sandy blonde hair, an aquiline (but crooked) nose and exhausted eyes. But he had a job to do, dammit, he had a job to do. After he confiscated Irina Irish’s ID, I went into desperation mode. The ‘Lanche wasn’t the only bar on the MU circuit, but it was the best and where everyone ended up after quarter shots night at Murphy’s or a more proper few drinks at O.D.’s a short distance away. Call it stupid hubris, but I really believed that I could get back into the ‘Lanche with the right phony credentials and so set myself to the task. I furiously soaked my existing California driver’s license in coffee, microwaved it, and applied white crayon to the “8″ in 1968, making it a “3″ in the process. He took it away the very first night of use. I again borrowed a birth certificate and went to the DMV with a thumping heart and guilty face, and procured myself an illegal Wisconsin state ID. He threw it in a bucket of other illegal IDs that sat at his feet. I had a friend let me in the dirty back entrance. He found me inside the bar, tapped me on the shoulder and made the “get out of here” international signal with his thumb.

 

He didn’t talk much, but I read shouts in his eyes. He wasn’t going to put up with me much longer.

 

So my nights began to end after my seven rowdy roommates made their way to the ‘Lanche and I sat outside the entrance bidding them farewell and making sad face at BullDog. Then I walked a few doors at the street to Amigos and drowned my lonely sorrows in deep-fried tortillas filled with meat. I called this time my “Fake ID Fifty.”

 

The months slowly turned into senior year. Most of my friends at that point were legitimately 21, and I was the last to celebrate the milestone. So, as my November birthday approached, my biggest goal of the evening was to triumphantly stroll up to the ‘Lanche entrance, present my real ID to BullDog, and play “I Shot the Sheriff” on the jukebox while pointing drunkenly at his fake ID bucket.

 

My roommates agreed to this birthday plan, but first they were going to a classy bar on the east side, while I would catch a movie with another more sedate pal. I remember my friends borrowing each other’s clothes, observing themselves in the mirror while trying them on, and crimping their hair. I felt a little hurt that they weren’t joining me early on, but didn’t belabor the point. Because I was going to a movie, I donned a comfortable two-piece pants outfit with a navy and white star pattern, and flats. I still recall the juxtaposition of my roommates wearing leather skirts and tight jeans with white pumps as I stood next to them wearing an ensemble my mom would have bought. I still felt like the “young one,” but figured I’d come home after the movie and change into more appropriate “I just turned 21!” attire.

 

I was ready. My friends planned to drop me at my other pal’s apartment on their way to the cool part of town, and take us to the movie. We drove the short distance to my girlfriend’s place and I hopped out of the car to get her. She opened her front door wearing a jazzy outfit herself and as I contemplated my obvious youth on the way back to the car, I almost missed the bottle of champagne and glass now sitting in the passenger’s seat of my roomie’s Nissan 240X.

 

As I stared dumbly at the bubbly, shouts of “Surprise!” came from all corners. Why, this was a surprise party! For me! A happy 21st birthday surprise party! My friends weren’t cold bitches who would let me go to a sad movie on my special day as they partied somewhere more better!

 

That night, truly, was the first time I remember being honestly and completely surprised by something.

 

I looked down at my pants suit and flats.

 

Oh well.

 

We made our way to Bermuda’s, a dance bar with neon lights, downtown. The rest of my roommates were inside and guess what? It was Chippendales night! And I was wearing the aforementioned pants suit with flats! It was so unChippendales! Not to mention, not at all formidable looking for when I pulled off my jukebox plan at the ‘Lanche later.

 

You can imagine what happened. There were many drinks with many straws, much Janet Jackson played, a spotlight on my outfit when it was announced it was birthday. Dancing. Chippendales underwear in faces.

 

Best 21st birthday ever.

 

Around 11, it was time to head back to campus and the ‘Lanche. I anxiously stood in the line to enter the bar, like I’d had in years gone by, but this time with the proper identification. Soon enough, I was flat-to-tennis-shoe with the BullDog, who gave me his best tired-shouty-eye look, took my ID, looked ready to toss it, then gave me a begrudging half-smile. And a wink.

 

The BullDog winked at me.

 

Forget my plan. He’d just been doing his job! He was a nice guy! He hadn’t been trying to ruin my social life all these years!

 

I entered the crowded, sweaty, pissy, amazing bar.

 

A few hours later, as the strains to the National Anthem began to play, partiers raised their plastic glasses full of Red, White, and Blue and threw them on the floor, and Slooch took off his clothes for the nightly naked beer slide, I looked over at the BullDog and raised my thumb in the international symbol of “awesome.”

 

And if he’s still around when my kids are trying to be 21 before their time, he better be the bouncer.

 

*****************************

What was your biggest surprise?

 

Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.

 

 

 

 




PROMPTuesday #229: Slow it Down

December 3rd, 2013

Slow down

 

I spent some time over Thanksgiving in dark rooms with candles trying to calm my head. There’s something about the flickering light that my brain waves try to emulate, which ends up slowing us both down. Overall, I find myself withdrawing more to the quiet to shut out all sound and time demands. I imagine the outside world in those times as a hundred people knocking on my door with me behind it pushing palms against my ears. In silent rooms with small flames, I can rest a little and put my hands down.

 

I wish I knew how to make that last. Of course, I have a family and deadlines and the holidays and nothing will change that – nor do I want it to – but if there was just a way to have it all without losing in the process, I’d proclaim it from the rooftops.

 

But for now, it’s one foot in front of the other. Small steps, heaving mind made occasionally smooth, and candles.

 

Candles. Both ends. The irony is not lost.

 

How are you slowing it down? Bullet points and how-tos are appreciated.

 

Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

To bone up on PROMPTuesdays, read a bit about it here.

 

 




Uncomplicated Style with J. Jill, and the Worst Photographer Ever

November 12th, 2013

I’m obsessed with easy fashion because for years, I was certain it existed but somehow eluded me, like Paris Hilton’s intellect. I mean, “easy fashion” surely couldn’t be an urban myth, yet why couldn’t I grasp it? It’s supposed to be simple and uncomplicated. Still, I get confused. I’m not sure what goes with what or how to mix and match and number one – not wear the same thing all the time because a stylish friend once put an outfit together for me and it’s reached uniform status.

 

I’ve done a lot of research on the subject and I’m not kidding. I’ve since learned that there are neutrals – gray, brown, olive, black, and navy – that can be worn with virtually any color. I’ve discovered that black doesn’t always have to go with black accessories, that denim is not my only go-to pant, and that brown and black together isn’t violating some kind of fashion code (in fact, it can be downright cutting edge).

 

Since I’ve worked to grasp some fashion basics, I’m a little better with putting outfits together. I even wore gray skinnies with a denim shirt and tan booties the other day. TAN BOOTIES. With gray. It can be done. (But you probably already knew that.)

 

In the spirit of paying forward what I’ve learned about uncomplicated style, I share with you what I now know (based on hundreds of hours of poring over fashion websites and a lot of error in my trial):

 

1) Buy pieces that can be worn with at least three other things.

I absorbed this little tidbit over and over before I actually implemented it. For many moons, I bought things I loved but could only wear with one shirt or pair of pants. However, I also learned that I probably could wear what I bought with more than one thing if I used a little imagination. For instance, print pants can also be worn with print shirts (if one of the prints is more subtle than the other, like pinstripes with florals). If you buy an item you can envision with at least three other pieces in your closet, you are the queen of mix and match.

 

2) Do not underestimate the power of accessories.

I never spent my money on accessories. I went for the “bigger” thing (in surface area) like shirts and dresses. Smaller pieces such as earrings and belts seemed a waste of cash. Then, it sunk in: entire outfits can change by adding the right necklace, belt, and/or scarf. The other day, my friend wore an emerald green tunic with tribal-print inserts on the sleeves, a medallion, and a faux fur vest. And it was amazing. Still cool when she took off the vest, but exponentially SHAZAM when she kept it on. Also, the fur vest-less look was dressier, and the be-furred-vest look was funkier. Different vibes, same pieces.

 

3) Buy quality basics that can be dressed up and down.

I buy inexpensive, trendy stuff to punch up outfits, but I want my basics (the black pants, the sweater coat, the boots) to be quality because I’m going to wear them a lot and they provide the canvas for the rest of the stuff I put on my body. I need the fit, fabric, and function to be top notch because they’re the foundation. Also, quality basics do double duty: they can be dressy or casual depending on the accessories. This means they need to last extra long and be in timeless styles and materials.

 

4) Get some pieces that can be worn in a variety of styles (i.e. belted, untucked, layered).

This tip is a combination of the three before it. The key to easy style is to complicate it – in a simple way. Let’s say you buy a shirt that can be worn with a minimum of three other pieces in your closet. Then, let’s say you can change the look of those three outfits by donning a necklace, layering a jacket over it, and/or wearing a fur vest. THEN let’s imagine you can also belt that shirt, untuck it (or half-tuck it – still not sure about that trend), and wear a tank under it. Those are like 12 different looks (someone else do the math) for one shirt. And that’s super-maximum-velocity-turbo-uncomplicated style.

 

5) Look other places for pieces.

Like you, I have my “shops.” And at the same time, I’ve found the most wonderful things at stores I never imagined would have what I want or need. I recently shopped J. Jill for this post and I didn’t know what to expect because J. Jill was one of those places I didn’t have in my usual suspects lineup, but I found my quality basics there in spades and I never would have figured that out if I hadn’t stepped outside my “zone.”

 

So here’s where the rubber meets the road. When I took a look at the J.Jill site for the purposes of this piece, I focused on its Pure Jill line because it included a line of neutral colored basics that met all my prerequisites above. I found the following essentials:

 

  • Kimono Sweater
  • Tee
  • Pants
  • Flats

 

If you’ve at all been following my expert advice (I can hear you!), you’ll know that those pieces above are a) mix and matchable b) can be dressed up or down c) changed with accessories; and d) worn with several other things in your closet.

 

I bought the Pure Jill Ribbed Kimono Sweater because it was super quality, a neutral color, and styled on the website so I could get more ideas on how to wear it (but I already knew! said the defensive still-learning fashion neophyte). Also, there’s an online stylist you can chat with as you’re making purchase decisions (said the REAL experts).

 

So here’s what I did. I got the sweater and attempted to show you how to mix it up with accessories. Except that my pictures are horrible and so are my thighs. But I will forge on.

 

This is the sweater with “skinnies” and my tan booties:

 

 

And then here’s how I “accessorized” with a scarf. You see the funky difference, right?

 

 

 

 

 

This same sweater can be worn with leggings and skirts and all manner of three-items-in-your-closet. And don’t forget to accessorize.

 

If I bought more from J. Jill, this is what it would be:

 

(in order:)
Pure Jill Marled Topper

Pure Jill Suede Slouch Boots

Ankle-Length Leggings

Woven Trim Short Boots

 

 

Just FYI. Oh! And fun fact: my birthday is in 10 days. But that’s so not even related to this post pretty much.
Meanwhile, here’s a little something special from J. Jill:

 

30% off a single full-priced item from 11/5-11/24 using code: JJSTYLE (use when ordering). Offer valid through November 24, 2013, on a single full-priced, in-stock item, excluding markdowns. Discount taken at the time of purchase in stores (outlets excluded), at JJILL.COM or via catalog. For retail store purchases, this code must be mentioned. Limit one coupon per person for one-time use only. Full-priced UGG® brand styles excluded. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer, except the J.Jill credit card discount. Discount not valid on previous purchases or gift card purchases and is exclusive of sales tax and shipping fees. No cash value).

 

Look, in all honesty, I’m still getting the fashion thing down, but I think I’ve embraced that it’s about keeping a few tips in mind while you naturally gravitate to what turns you on. Because if what you wear doesn’t reflect YOU, there’s no point in wearing it.

 

This was a sponsored post on behalf of The Motherhood and J. Jill. All opinions are my own. Unfortunately?)




PROMPTuesday #228: The Job Interview

November 5th, 2013

 

The human resources manager tried to warn me in a roundabout, politically correct fashion that the woman who was about to interview me for a public relations position was structured and by the book. I took the news with a grain of salt because by that time, I’d been interviewing for two months and run the gamut from speaking with everyone from sexual harassers to inept company owners to an entire college board. Besides, I tended to adapt well to different personalities and wasn’t too worried about this particular one.

 

That thought became the pride before the fall. I knew it was going to be a tough interview the second I spotted her walking toward me in the lobby. Thin and purposeful, wearing a smooth, hair sprayed bob, pink sparkly lipstick that collected in the corners of her mouth, a skirt to the knees, buttoned-up blouse, panty hose and low-heeled navy pumps, she strode over to me, stuck her hand out, and led to me to the conference room without a smile. We sat and talked for a brief moment before she pushed a series of papers my way along with a couple of sharpened pencils, and asked me to complete a grammar test and writing exercise, and edit the provided press release.

 

It struck me how basic the tests were, and not because I was a grammarian or exceptionally good writer, but because these tests had obviously been ripped from a textbook. Still, I found the pencils charming, because it was 2002 and I hadn’t properly used one for years. I finished the work and waited.

 

She popped her head into the room and directed me to hand her the tests. I did, and the door closed again. Several minutes later, she re-entered the conference room and took a seat. She tried to smile, but it came out a grimace born from years of not knowing how to relax or properly interact with people. She sternly asked me the types of questions neophyte interviewers ask (what’s your greatest weakness? where do you see yourself in five years?) and didn’t really seem to assimilate the answers beyond this was a routine and she must follow it to the letter. But then, the rest of the interview followed in quick suit: “tell me how you’d develop a PR campaign for our company” “we need eight press releases a month and two articles placed – can you do that?” and “how are you with working late?” The whole time I knew she was analyzing my internal reactions and tangentially – didn’t let people in easily. I fast forwarded my brain to actually working with her and realized it would be a daily struggle to meet her expectations, which seemed misaligned with business reality.

 

After the interview she attempted to converse, but the interaction was stilted and fumbling. Her laughs sounded staccato like rocks hitting the pavement and she never fully opened her mouth, even though I suspected she would like to at some point. It just showed too much emotion to laugh wide, I guess.

 

My heart went out to her, and I think her sense of that got me to the next stage.

 

She finished the interview with, “Just so you know, the CEO is a tough cookie.”

 

I chose to believe that one and spent a week preparing for another challenging personality. In the interim, I met with all the company principals. Most of these supporting interviews were spent in their offices, awkwardly and standardly, but I didn’t let myself relax. The CEO was tougher. The other tough one told me.

 

When at last the day came to meet with the company’s owner, I wore a white blouse, which turned out to be a poor, sweaty choice. I swore that my moist shirt was a bad sign and I literally shook in my seat with fear and being tired of interviewing and survival instinct. I needed this job.

 

I waited in a bigger conference room than the one I’d initially waited in and shrunk in the leather seat. This whole process had taken weeks of preparation and unnatural amounts of nerves. The door opened. A short, dark-haired man walked in and didn’t even shake my hand.

 

“So,” he began in a British accent. “I hear you’re a writer.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“What have you written?”

 

“Well, lots of press releases, and bios and sales copy and…”

 

“No,” he interrupted. “What have you written?” The emphasis went on the last word.

 

“Um. I’m writing a book about witches and magic and…”

 

He stopped me again. “Send it to me.”

 

Those words marked the end of the interview.

 

I left dumbfounded, emailed him my creative work in progress, and accepted the public relations position the next day.

 

********

 

What was your strangest job interview?

 

Please post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

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