by Christina Michael
Tick tock. The day of my “prom” interview has arrived. Recall, I had finally gotten a job interview after nearly a year of searching, day after day, night after night, job board after job board, and after attempting to reinvent my career wheel (law jobs were not the desired gig for a mom needing flexible or part time work). Also, though I had to look presentable, I had absolutely nothing “hip” or modern to wear. And, I needed to sound halfway awake, intellectual, current, and ready to be a “value-add” type. What was becoming my job search mantra came to mind again: Uh oh.
To prepare for this “oh so fun” job interview, I diligently attempted to learn about the organization, practiced my dialogue about my (eons old) job history, and do so after the kids went to bed. To be honest, all I wanted to do after 9:00 p.m. was watch my TiVoed shows (I admit, my TiVoed show of choice was MTV’s “The Hills” until I realized the mother of the main starlet was my age and the starlet was young enough to be my daughter -- depressing), eat some ice cream out of the container (isn’t the new Hagen Dazs Light half the fat so I can eat the entire pint instead of just half of the pint, or does it not work like that?), do a face mask (though I am not the age of “The Hills” starlets, I still break out like a teenager), and close my eyes for just a few minutes until the next day of the same kid-centric life demands.
Having completed my research on the internet, having studied the relevant laws and regulations (somehow I had touched back into the world of law though I thought I had reinvented myself), and having squeezed into a dated outfit with the waistband grinding into me (O.K., I left the corsage at home), I arrive at the “prom” interview. A woman behind a glass partition sizes me up and then takes me to a room alone. In the room, she hands me a formal job description and a list of questions, begins a timer, and leaves. Tick tock. I quickly review my resume, the questions, take a few notes and, 15 minutes later, the nameless woman returns. She seizes the contraband (my chicken scratch notes I had just taken) and escorts me to the interview.
I enter the interview room (a.k.a. the chopping block) with a large table across which 3 women sit, name placards before them. The women looked very official, very serious, and were not wanting to chit chat about the latest Brittany Spears/K Fed scandal in the tabloids (my typical reading while checking out my groceries at the Safeway – it’s the American way, isn’t it?). I am introduced to the three women by the HR Rep, who is on my right, armed and ready to shoot the questions. Immediately after the formal introductions, the questions begin. My goodness, thrown into the fire, the questions come at me like bullets and I have no bulletproof vest. Of course, the panelists add their own questions, too. After the 30 minute interview (that felt like 3 hours), my mouth is dry, my head is pounding, and my only white blouse has sweat stains that will never come out (right, I know, I need to update my wardrobe anyhow). On the way out, I am informed I will hear from them regardless in 10 days. Tick tock. Again, as I had felt after leaving the Real Estate Broker’s Exam a few months earlier trying to reinvent my career wheel, I feel unsure and defeated.
I go home and change out of the ‘90s pantsuit into my uniform of shorts, t-shirt, and flip flops, and run to get my kids. I really need a hug from my sons and want to have a kid-centric afternoon (you know, the type I am attempting to replace with an adult-centric job). Never before has running errands or going to the park with the kids and the dog sounded so appealing. I am content, for the moment, to let my brain be a little soft and mushy. Maybe we will have a play date at the park followed up with some ice cream, even though it is so close to dinner that I should distract the kids, put mufflers on their ears, and race to the car to avoid the approaching ice cream truck (does the carnival music on the ice cream truck need to be so piercing that my children suddenly become search and rescue dogs running to find the missing ice cream truck?).
All of a sudden, the human condition of appreciating things once they are about to be snatched away struck me. What a strange affliction, the one from which we all suffer. We want to hold on to something (health, loved ones, and freedom, to name a few) so very tightly only once it is about to disappear. All I can think about this beautiful afternoon is the Latin phrase, perhaps overused, but so on point: Carpe diem. For a moment, I will “seize the day” and enjoy one of the best play dates on record with my two boys. I will worry about the rest tomorrow.