On Thursday morning, I have to climb into my “very important suit” and drive down to Ft. Worth for an interview. Apparently, the application for a fellowship that I turned in before Spring Break piqued someone’s interest, and now they’d like to see me face to face. Guess I should at least comb my hair for this one. You’d think that someone gregarious such as myself would have little problem in interview situations. Hell, those of you that know me well know much I love to hear myself talk, as awkward as I may be about it sometimes. The idea of this interview unnerves me, if only because whenever conversations have higher stakes, I tend to crumble.
Shooting the shit about the finer points of bassoon reed making? Not a problem. Discussing my future plans in music education? Completely tongue-tied. I turn into King George VI, complete with the mild bouts of cursing. My brain decides to leap out ahead of what I’m saying and triumphantly take the lead; unfortunately, that just causes me to trip over my words. I go from being eloquent and charming to annoying and frustrating.
My tendency to talk too much gets in the way as well. Back in the day, when I was living in Washington, DC and eschewing music for the political life, I once filled up an interview for a think tank position with my thoughts on 18th century opera. I’m not kidding. I did get the job, however, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because of my musicological knowledge. Fortunately, I was always known as the weird one in that office, so it wasn’t like they didn’t have precedent for that opinion. They could have hired another wonk if they’d have preferred.
Honestly, to this day, I believe the only reason I was hired was that I listed James K. Polk as my favorite president.
This interview, though, is not for a job, but for a fellowship/cash. I have to convince a panel in 30 minutes that I’m the person that needs the money. I’m the most dynamic, the most intelligent, the one that will save the minds of all children and make them all sing ala “Sound of Music.” Surely, having the extra money would make my life a lot easier; I could devote more time to my schooling and less time to teaching private lessons to pull in extra cash. I could actually make progress on my dissertation as opposed to leaving it unloved and in the corner.
“Come write with me,” it says, calling out. “We’ll have fun! We can do all sorts of great musical things together!”
“Go to hell,” I cry out, surly and biter. “I have 1,000 other minute tasks that seem more important because their deadlines are more pressing.”
“You’ll see who’s more important,” it says haughtily, like a rejected lover.
And I haven’t even picked a topic yet.
Yes, I want your money. Yes, I’m probably going to be able to focus more on studying and doing music education with your money. Yes, the other candidates are probably more attractive than me. Should that matter? Now give me mah moneh!
Probably should come up with a more convincing argument than that.
Keep my mouth shut, don’t prattle on, don’t make awkward jokes, be clear, slow down, and above all else, tell them why the money would help you more than anyone else. Simple things that, if I do, will help me get this thing and move forward with my work. Or I’ll just spew verbal vomit until they wave a white flag.