Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's personal story day here at Pinking

So most people I know who major in English have a very unique take on why they've chosen that particular educational path. They are not good at anything else. Today, in fact, I got a four-page email from a high school senior who's thinking of coming to my college and majoring in English, and she had oodles and bundles of questions about the English classes here, the professors, and my personal opinion on whether or not the program has fulfilled my interests. And I was like, "Shit, are you not good at anything else either? Trust me, you have found your people. All our interest(s) are very fulfilled. I like how you stretched one thing into four pages, though. You will write wonderful essays." 

You hear an author or a student or something go, "Yeah, I had to do this, I'm not good at anything else," and every other literarily-minded person laughs. But that's totally a joke. The thing is, we're just obsessed. English is a very broad thing, and we've decided to major in all of it and then also really study Medieval Literature or Creative Writing or Women Writers in Renaissance Italy. We don't have time to be good at other things. We usually don't really care about other things. We're totally weird people.

So in high school, I realized this about myself. I was one of those weird people. And I decided to become a writer and also either an editor or a literary agent. Something with books. Anything with books. I started interning for a literary agency last summer, and I'm interning with a publishing house in New York this summer. I get hate mail from authors when I give them notes on a full we requested and then passed on. I read them out loud, and usually in an accent. It's fantastic.

When I was interviewing for this internship in New York, I realized I had an actual problem.

Interviewer: Well, it seems like you'd be a great fit for our company, but we can't hire you without meeting you. How do you feel about coming to New York?
Sara: I feel great about it. I shall board a plane at once.
I: Really? It's a long way. And we can't pay for your flight.
S: That's fine. I have student loans already. I don't think a few hundred extra dollars makes a difference at this point.
I: Um. Well, I'd feel really badly if you came down here and it didn't work out for some reason. You know, we've had people who sound great over the phone, but then in person we--
S: Shut up. I'm perfect. I'll be there next Friday.

It occurred to me the day before I left that this was not the wisest choice I could have made, and that I should tone things down for the actual interview. "DON'T TONE THEM DOWN," a man selling me interview heels told me while I explained the situation that had brought me to his store. "Keep them at this exact intensity level. RAISE THE INTENSITY LEVEL." I'm easily impressed by loud, passionate statements. "OKAY," I said. 

I still don't know how I got that job, really.

Anyway. None of that is really the point. The point is I successfully talked Casey into ditching a class today for the first time ever, and while we were eating ice cream in the eight billion degree weather, she was explaining to me why she hadn't ever ditched a class and how she felt dedicated to them and then, somehow, how she wished she could Google stuff for a living because she's really good at it, and I was like, "I think I only get along this well with people who are as weirdly intense about crap as I am."

Victoria is, too. You should have seen her in high school. There is a blog post floating around somewhere on the internet about watching her check to see if she'd gotten into her top choice college. She and I spend days and days having panic attacks over our careers (which haven't started), and obsessively winding and unwinding plots (for books, not world domination).

But my intense love of intensity was driven home when, after explaining to Casey how I had once accidentally dropped a billiard ball on a girl's head and how badly I felt about it and how the girl hadn't graduated from high school and I always wondered if I was responsible for that, she went:

C: I once gave a girl stitches.
S: How?
C: I hit her. 

There was a whole story, of course. But that sentence was magical.

So what are you passionate about? I think everyone is secretly super intense about something. What's that thing for you?

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