An (Honest) Interview

AMY MROTEK | OPINION COLUMNIST

“Tell me a bit about yourself.”

Well now, where to begin? Ex-Milwaukeean with painted black nails, an affinity for Frank O’Hara. Time has me down at 21 years old but somehow that seems both unsatisfying and cosmically cruel—an age I’m expected to align my bits and serve them to you on a glinting professional platter. I don’t sing in the shower, I don’t do well in confinements. I’m allergic to routine. I skip class to take walks and revel in solitude, wondering with every step what keeps others up at night, what crawls with them to bed, what they carry with closed eyes, what makes them ache.

“Why should we hire you?”

I’ve listened as a friend relayed she didn’t want to live, her words the shards pointed down at her wrists. I’ve hugged another whose mom died only moments before and still she mustered her muscles for a grin. I’ve held hands with someone who’s rearranged the rooms of my mind, whose presence hovers, paper thin, always against mine. Oh, and I’m about to graduate college, so I’m pretty desperate.

“What do you consider your greatest weakness?”

Morning breath. Too-pale skin. Emotional fits that are counterproductive at best.  Idealistic to a fault. An unrelenting need to be around others, yet once there, an itch to retreat, to go home, to sleep. Attracted to shiny new things. An aversion to answers with its parent symptom—an OCD-caliber teeter tottering between the head and a heart – that has led me down a path overgrown with doubt’s hedges. Is that enough? Shall I go on?
“What do you consider your greatest strength?”

A middle-class, existential ennui that burns duller and more clichéthan any Woody Allen film. Also a love for dogs.

 “Tell me about a challenge or conflict you’ve faced and how you overcame it.”

Waking up every day, putting on socks and lurching myself out of my own mind.

“What are your salary requirements?”

Enough to buy lots of books and ride lots of planes, with just a pinch leftover to try fancy cheese.

“Do you have any questions for us?”  

What placed you here? What star do you wish on for meaning, for self-peace? What’s the nightmare you long to forget and the dream you don’t dare remember? Whom along the way have you neglected to thank, and what words would seep from your tongue if they stood before you in the pouring rain? Which is worse, obsessing over the right thing or keeping things right? How often do you replay past lovers? Do you believe in the power of the white lie? Do you tell them to yourself? On what street corner did you lose your curiosity, your childlike sense of wonder? What annoys you the most when you think of tomorrow’s to-dos? What sports team do you fetishize? What weather do you observe to avoid meaningful conversation? What’s the longest you’ve gone without saying I love you? Without hearing it? If the only thing we know is that we can never truly know anything, do we still cling on to knowing something?

Will you hire me?

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