Thursday, August 11, 2005
Amazingly enough, I do really well in interviews. It is a stunning phenomenon. Also, my resume looks pretty good. My career is something that seems to have happened while I was VERY busy making other plans—to riff on John Lennon’s phrase. Sometimes I look at my resume and I think: who the hell did all that stuff? Surely it wasn’t me! But it was. And I am not bragging or being arrogant, because that is not my way. It is so not my way that I had an epiphany, or more precisely a re-epiphany, about myself yesterday: I am terrible at self-promotion. Let’s just keep it that way. Except for this: I looked so good for the interview. I mean not my hair, of course, but I have given up on the hair part of life for now.
I dusted off ye olde Talbot’s blue claaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasic blazer, put on an opaque, cream colored lace shell and a navy blue column skirt—ankle length—with a subtle pattern that compliments the lace shell.
I was a little nervous about two things, which will reveal in no uncertain terms what a dork I am, and also that I live in another era and on another planet. My first worry was that I would be wearing sandals for the interview because I couldn't scare up a last minute pair of navy pumps from Nordstrom Rack the other day. Therefore, I would not be wearing stockings* for the interview! Zut alors! I thought, in my quaint another-era-way, does one wear sandals with no stockings and a blazer? Does someone go to an interview in sandals and no stockings? The agony.
[*Seriously, I just can't call them "hose," for the life of me]
Then, here’s the kicker, I was worried that I had not purchased a navy blue purse to match the entire ensemble. Clearly, I need a rest. From a lot of things, mainly from manners and good breeding. Because really, they have become like the appendix: obsolete.
I put on my fabulous, classic, tasteful pearl chocker and pearl earrings. Then I did something cataclysmic. I recently ran out of my regular perfume, so I went to the linen closet and pulled out eau de 1980’s, Ysatis by Givenchy. Oh yes, ladies and germs, full throttle. I think “Ysatis” actually means “Jungle Gardenia Ripple” en francais. I spritzed a spritz onto my neck and was attacked by a virulent strangular scent that was more than overpowering; it was post-atomic. It did not so much “spritz” as “detonate.” But this is what you do, you think, no one will notice. Right. So I go downstairs and Nidia, our nanny, says, “What is that perfume?” Uh-oh.
I get in the car and, honest to God, I have to roll down the window in the unforgiving August blaze to cut through the fog of the Gardenia Mushroom Cloud. With ylang ylang undertones. And I am running late, which does to me what germs did to Howard Hughes: it makes me c-r-a-z-y. Not that I need any help.
I frantically pulled into a parking garage and the guy demanded $14 UP FRONT. Of course, also like Howard Hughes, I never carry cash. I nearly went freak on the parking guy but he was calm, as many Third World habitués are when they deal with someone who is acting like an enormous child, and he quietly pointed me down the street to another garage. I backed up and nearly took out several pedestrians who all looked more frightened of my consternated face than they did of the imposing backside of my mini SUV.
I parked and walked the two blocks to the building. It was weird to be downtown again after all this time. I worked there for about 50 years, give or take. I have worked in every office building and on every single street of downtown DC. Seriously. If I ever, God forbid, lost my sight, I could honestly tap out the spaces to the Wachovia bank on Connecticut Avenue or the Borders on 18th and L. Or, more realistically, to the Post Pub at 15th and L. Goldfish and drafts!!!!
Anyways, I felt like a transported creature walking down the streets of my former city. I definitely “stood out,” what with the blue blazer in August and all. Because all the other people had already gotten their jobs and so they could wear linen burlap sacks and fuzzy suede bottomed comfort sandals. Ah, the loveable hypocrisy of America. In order to get a job you have to put on the monkey outfit and dance to the job hunt tune. Or maybe you don’t, but in addition to my Emily Post problems, I have superstition problems, and I will never be able to show up for an interview without being In Costume.
Navigating sidewalks in one-size-too-big strappy sandals is not so easy. And as I walked, I could see a cartoon white aroma cloud following me like the one that hovers over Pepe le Pew. Except instead of skunk, my scent was Jungle Nuclear Gardenia Travesty.
I got to the 7th floor, and the receptionist gave me a packet and told me to go to the 8th floor. As you might know from a previous post, the past week and a half has involved this sort of musical floors theatre of the absurd aspect. I was apprehensive that it was Not a Good Sign, but it ended up being fine. I loved the interview because I loved being asked questions I could answer and asking questions I wanted to have answered.
Seriously, this place is doing very, very good work. But I think I am overqualified for the job. C'est vrai. However, it would be nice to be offered the job and to maybe take it, because it will put me on a good path in terms of working on programs that help people in developing countries, something I would like very much.
It was nice getting out into the world and walking on city streets again. It was strange to see my face reflected on all the glass windows as I walked. It was older and different from the face of the girl who used to traverse those streets in the 80’s and 90’s. But the blazer helped out, in making me look sleek, fabulous, professional and weird and out of date.
But I had confidence! And that’s all that counts.
P.S. After the interview, I took the serendipitous time that I had available and went to see my mother in The Joint, as I like to call it. She's in an assisted living place, that is the nicest place in the entire universe. It is decorated like the set of Phoebe Tyler Wallingford's house on All My Children. Love it!
I found her in the dining room and it was custom omelette day. I walked into the room and you have to feel very self-confident to do that at The Joint, because ALL EYES are on ya. Here is where a blue blazer comes in very handy.
My mother looked up and threw her hand in the air delightedly and said, "I hardly recognized you!" This is why we love mothers. So proud when you have made the effort to look nice! Classic lines look so much better on you! Etc.
We had a lovely afternoon back up in her apartment with the sun shining through the bay windows. She looked so good and like herself. She walked me down to my car and said, "I thank God for you everyday, Lele."
Cynicism is another word for reality