Doodle of a Memory

I found myself doodling on a notepad at work one morning. It was a slow day and I spent most of it waiting for information from others before I could complete the few projects I was working on. I spent an hour filling up the page with random shapes and lines, little creatures, bits of body parts, anything really. I found myself so enraptured by what I was doing that before I knew it the whole morning had passed me by.

I’m not an artist. Sure I can draw things and it mostly looks like what I am aiming for but something is always off. The parts don’t quite add up to the whole, the shadows and highlights never quite end up where they should be, one eye is always bigger than the other, giving the subject a very startled look. But I’ve always doodled and drew and while I wasn’t going to have an art show any time soon it’s fun to do.

I’m whiling away the morning drawing when a coworker comes up to me and asks what I’m doing. I’m bored, I say. The words escape my mouth before my brain and pull them back, back behind my teeth and down my throat, where they will die in my lungs. But they ran out my mouth and into the world, dancing on the quiet air. I looked up at my coworker, my eyes were wide in my own surprise. She laughed and made a joke of how hard I was working and that was the end of it. But it wasn’t the end of it because as things do the words triggered a memory and I was off down the rabbit hole of my own mind.

For some unknown reason I thought it would be a good idea to take a 6:40am math class. I would always say that I’m never good at math, I don’t like math, my brain just doesn’t understand math. But that’s not true. It’s more honest to say I don’t care about math even though it was at it’s heart the core of everything I was studying. Chemistry was math, Biology was math, I loved Biology and the math never bothered me the way it would in my math class.

I was late almost every day to that class, often pulling into the parking lot as the class was starting. I showed up with wild hair, still in pajamas half the time, trying to remember if I brushed my teeth. I slid into my seat by the door and she would always have a comment.

Her name was Ms. Tanaka. At the time she was the bain of my existence but looking back she is one of those teachers I remember fondly and if I could go back in time I’d slap myself for being so mean. She was young and perky and she was so good at explaining math and making it understandable that if I had tried I could have enjoyed myself. But I was 18 and trying too hard to be cool in a school full of people who were also trying to be cool and no one cared and no one went on to do anything better.

I had my notebook open and I was doodling something down the spine of my notes, barely following what was going on when she called on me. In my memory she knew my name and I was called on a lot. But I’m sure the reality was that she didn’t know my name, the girl who was always late and sullen. But she did call on me and I remember not looking up from my desk and just stating “huh” to the class.

“What are you doing? Are you taking notes?”

“I’m bored.” I remember freezing as I said it, chastising myself. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I repeated as a mantra to myself. I looked up at her then. Her eyebrows were raised.

“I’m sorry this bores you. If you don’t like the class feel free to not take it.” She finished her example and the time was up. Everyone gathered their things, giving me glances. I was the girl who said she was bored and I wished that the ground would part and swallow me whole. It didn’t though. I had to walk out the door, I had to face her.

“I know you are probably taking this class as a requirement but it would be nice if you could act like you care while you are hear.” She said the words to me but not to me. She said them to all the students who were disrespectful of her time. After all she was here every morning too, ready to teach and answer questions and help us learn. Help us be the adults we were supposed to be.

I failed that class and had to retake it. I retook it with her and did really well the second time. It would be many years before I doodled again. I often found myself drifting in and out of lectures but I never took pen to paper quite the same way I used to. Something had changed. I wouldn’t say I became a better student, in fact as the years dragged on I became worse and by my senior year I was terrible to have in class. But I never displayed such outright boredom for a class since that experience.

It’s funny because the experience itself is nothing really, a small exchange between a crappy student and a teacher. In the grand scheme of things there are bigger memories, bigger moments, defining times, but it was this memory that came to me on a quiet Monday morning.

That memory led to others and I was winding through my late teens/young adulthood in no particular order, hopping from year to year going forward and backwards in a lazy zag.

My memories don’t work in chronological order. If you asked me what happened when I was three and four and five I’d have a hard time answering you. But if you asked me what happened with the pinata on my birthday I could tell you all the details about that, I was three I think. I could tell you about the time I tried to feed a bone to my dog and she bit me because I was a dumb kid who didn’t understand how she worked. I could tell you about the time I had to change my other dog all over the playground at school because he followed me there one afternoon. Or the time I lost a lens from my glasses and didn’t notice until an hour later. Or any of the number of times I had to climb in through my window or the bathroom window because remembering to take my keys was the most difficult thing as a kid. But these don’t come in order but rather they flit around, hover at the edges until a seemingly innocuous thing as a doodle brings them roaring to the surface and I am reminded of just how interesting life can be.

Flowers

“I’m such a cheapskate.” The thought tumbled through my head as I was pricing flowers online for florists in Reno Nevada. I searched by clicking “low price to high price” and grumbled that very tiny bouquets were over $50. Surely there were nicer, cheaper options.

I was picking out flowers to send to my friend who had surgery and would staying in the hospital for a couple days. We had talked a couple days before her surgery and she was really anxious about it and sad that her local friends were bailing on visiting her in the hospital. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve never had to stay any amount of time in a hospital (other a few hours here or there) but I know it can be scary and lonely and I was angry that her friends took something that she was looking forward to away.

It’s not fun to go to a hospital, even if you are just visiting. I get it, no one wants to be there, but don’t make your visit someone’s highlight after their surgery (which they are terrified about by the way) and then bail because plans with your boyfriend sounded better.

So back to the flowers. I was looking at all of these frankly, shitty, arrangements and realized I had forgotten her favorite flower. I knew it wasn’t a rose but that’s as far as I got. So I settled for something with a mix of flowers and just hoped I’d be in the ballpark. I’m simultaneously complaining about the price and berating myself that I should have planned ahead, planned better, planned to be there. I mean what does that say about me that I can’t take 1.5 hour flight to visit my best friend in the hospital? (Other than the fact that I have zero money for spontaneously flights.)

The flowers I sent Jenai in the hospital. Photo by Jenai.

I picked the bouquet that sucked the least and waited to see how they looked in real life. She got them the next day and after the grogginess of everything finally wore off she sent me a picture. It literally made her whole time there and I was so happy that I just sent them.

In the end it wasn’t much but it was something to show her that I do care that she’s going through this major life thing that involves surgery and lots of healing time. I suppose in the end it’s always the small things that make us feel loved and appreciated and those are the things most often overlooked.

 

Interview Stories

Job interviews are funny things. Sometimes you interview for a job and walk out confident you got it only to receive a rejection a day later. Sometimes you leave the interview more confused than when you went in. Sometimes you walk out believing there’s no way you are getting the job only to have it offered to you a few days later.

As odd as an interview can be the lack of interviews can be quite disheartening. My average interview success was about 1 interview for every 14 job applications or so. The odds were not great. Perhaps it was my cover letters or my lack of certain things on my resume. Or perhaps it’s simply that so many qualified people are applying that it’s hard to get seen when everyone is so qualified.

To keep my spirits up during this time I decided to write down some of the weird interviews I’ve experienced and how they eventually panned out for me.

Job Interview #1:

This was for a home care aid, I mainly did it as a favor for a friend. She had set it up with her boss and I felt guilty saying no outright as it was during a time I was unemployed and she knew I was looking for work.

After the initial questions the woman interviewing me asked, “would you ever hit an old person?” I was taken aback but then realized the job I was interviewing for. I said I obviously wouldn’t. But she then elaborates, “what if you were very frustrated with the patient, they were being angry and yelling, would you hit them then?” The questions just kept getting more and more intricate as she went on. “What if the patient hit you after you said something they didn’t like and if you did hit them would that be self defense?” “What about if they came charging at you violently, would you hit them then?” The more I said no the more disappointed she became. While this could simply be a way to rule out people would eventually snap at her for the questions it was a little bit unnerving that we spent 20 minutes on this question.

After that she told me her life story but the time she came to America with her parents, to her marriage, to her kids, and her grandkids. She told me her beauty secret, although I can’t remember it now.

She did offer me the job before I left the interview but I turned it down for several reasons.

Job Interview #2:

I got a call from a company asking if I was interested in a specific job with them that they had my resume on file and felt I would be a good match if I was looking for a job. I hadn’t been but was at the time frustrated with my current work. I had a pre-interivew phone screening and was set up with an interview. The woman I interviewed with loved and me and said I would be the perfect fit for the job. The job sounded amazing on paper. I had one more interview with three gentlemen later in the week.

The first two men I talked with sang my praises. I’m not joking about that. They basically said I was the perfect person for this job and based on my work history and education I’d love this job. I was so stoked because I was excited for this job.

The final man walked in and threw my resume across the table at it and uttered, “well I’m not hiring you.” I hadn’t even stood up to introduce myself when he said this. After some back and forth it came out that he thought I’d be better suited as a temporary admin worker than the job I was interviewing for. He also didn’t notice that my resume had a back page.

I left that interview extremely angry and sad. I let myself believe that I would walk out of that interview with this fancy new job. I didn’t and after contemplation I can say that I dodged this bullet. The universe was helping me out with this one. The only woman in that office was the receptionist as the woman who initially interviewed me was with another office out of town and filling in for her (male) counterpart. I believe that it didn’t matter if I was qualified or not that I was not getting that job.

Job Interview #3

This job also had a phone interview component. After chatting for a few moments the lady I was talking with said she loved what she was hearing and wanted me to come and meet the team. I had an interview on a Sunday morning with a group of three women. I didn’t prep for this interview so I know I fumbled a bit. Working in a team environment was important so I answered a questions with, “when I finish my set tasks for the day I always try to help my team members with extra work,” or something to that effect. It did not go over well.; neither did my other statement of, “I try to find the most efficient way to solve the problem and I look for ways to make work more streamlined.” This caused one of the women to say that my looking to streamline things could infringe on others work and make them not feel valued. It was something I hadn’t heard before in an interview.

There was more fumbling and lots of things I said were viewed as combative and once I left I was just left with a feeling of strangeness. My weaknesses weren’t weak enough and my strengths weren’t strong enough. I just left with the attitude of “this is what I’ve got to offer and if that’s not enough then so be it.” I sent a silent prayer to the universe that if this was meant to be it would work out.

The next day I got an offer letter and ended up taking the job.

Interviews are strange and hard and sometimes they lead to new adventures.