Monday, April 30, 2007

Wherein I tell Bubs all....

In an effort for new material, I decided I wanted to join the interview circuit and asked Bubs over at The Compound to hit me with his best shot....and if you'd like to play, just follow the directions below.


1) As someone who reads travel lit like a freak consumes porn, I'm incredibly envious of your ex-pat lifestyle. How does an earnest midwesterner end up living and studying in the U.K. while jetting around to places like Oman and India?

Like most things in my life, my expat life is sheer fluke. Here is a step by step guide to how it’s done:

Step 1) Grow up in a small town. Develop an insatiable fascination with big cities, foreign lands, and anyplace without cornfields. This will give you a mindset that keeps you focused on the prize.

Step 2) Get a really useful major from a small liberal arts college…something like English or Art History. You’ll be well read and able to hold party conversation about the free-wheeling lifestyle of the German Expressionists, but will be virtually unemployable.

Step 3) This will force you into a slacker life of retail, but will give you lots of time to develop strong social skills and to throw parties for the disparate groups of people you know. You will learn to build rapport with strangers and to make small talk to even the dullest party guest.

Step 4) When this life starts to bore you, have drinks with a childhood friend who’s done well for himself. Let him seduce you into quitting your job and starting over in a place you’ve never been. If you’re lucky he’ll sell you on Seattle. You will fall in love with this foreign familiar place, and develop a restlessness that makes it hard to move back to your Midwestern roots ever again.

Step 5) Now that you live in a new place and have no specific skills, doctor your resume and temp for awhile. You’ll learn to think on your feet. Finally end up working for a start-up company where you will get to do everything, including planning trips to major sporting events for customers. Your party planning and social skills will come in handy, and you will get to go to Hawaii and Wimbledon, often entertaining people who have sinful amounts of power. Learning to be at ease with these people will make you appear confident in odd situations, which is more important than actually being confident.

Step 6) Stupidly fall out of love with Seattle. Move to DC. You’ll hate it. Then you’ll have to find something else to do, so you’ll move back home and live in your friends’ garret until you find a job.

Step 7) Now that you’re unemployed and desperate, network your way to a new job planning meetings and conferences all over the world. It may mean doctoring your resume, but by now you are a well-travelled bullshit artist and can blag your way into pretty much anything. This job is the best kept secret going...you get to travel to interesting places, stay in fabulous hotels, eat in world-class restaurants and do really cool things. on someone else's dime. (NB...if I ever marry, I've decided that I want to go someplace like here on my honeymoon. More likely, I'll drag Tom and George there in a few years for our birthdays, but it's nice to know it's waiting.)

Step 8) Using your well-developed skills from steps 1 – 7, establish a reputation as an ambitious sort who does good work and can get along with pretty much anyone. Convince them you are a strategic thinker, a “change agent” and a person willing to try pretty much anything once. Make it known that you’re looking for a challenge.

Step 9) Out of the blue, your company will ask you to move to the UK to help rebuild the proposal team there. You are the only one they ask, because your colleagues are all married with children and don’t have the sense of adventure or adaptable personality you do. Say yes.

Step 10) Once you’re living abroad, convince them they need to keep you there. They will offer you a permanent job. You will counter offer, telling them they can have you for a year, but then you and your skills and ambitions are going to move back to the states and go to get an MBA. They will counter by offering to assist you with funding for school if you will stay a bit longer and go part-time here. This gives you a long-term expat life, an education from a noted international business school and confirms the unlimited possibilities for your life.

Step 11) Say yes.


2) What's with the clown fear? And the swans?

When I was seven, a clown killed my puppy.

Not really.

And actually, it’s not so much fear as it is disgust. I hate all things in masks. Masks are a handy way to avoid taking responsibility for your own behaviour. I hate Halloween and I hate costume parties and I even hate people who create figurative masks out of their everyday faces. I also hate moronic humour, magic, balloon animals, tiny cars and ponies. Considering all of this, clowns never really had a chance, did they? And I believe I’ve already posited that swans are the clowns of the bird world.

3) Why did you start blogging? I see you got started back in 2004, whereas most of the people I find myself reading got started within the past year or two.

My entries from November 2004 coincide with my move to the UK. I am a horrific loser when it comes to sending letters, and Melinda June was originally meant for my friends and family to help them keep track of me. If any of you ever meet me, you will learn that the voice you hear on this site is, in fact, exactly how I am in person. I drag stories out like a bad dream, I’m slightly obsessive compulsive and fixate my energies on ridiculous things, and I really am this shallow.

For people who miss me, reading my blog is pretty much like having me over for cocktails and it helps them not miss me so much. It never occurred to me that strangers would ever read this site more than once.

4) Do you have any advice for aspiring MBA students? Like, say, for middle-aged burned out cops waiting to find out if they've been accepted into a 4-th tier program at a state university in the suburbs of Chicago, for instance?

DO IT!!! I love my MBA programme. It’s a lot of work, but it’s great fun and has completely changed my perspective.

Don’t worry about the school tier unless you want to be an exceptionally high-flier, in which case it pays to take time to get into the best programme you can. Otherwise just make sure that the people you eventually want to work for will appreciate the degree once you have it.

Find a programme with strong personal development courses…they’ll help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses and teach you to manage them, which will give you an advantage once you’re working. Go networking crazy, because it really is all about who you know. In fact, when you look at a school ask about the size and effectiveness of their alumni network. Buy a book on grammar. Buy one on properly citing references and writing bibliographies. Plan on not getting much sleep for a few years. Then dive in and get it over with.

By the way, have you thought about the modular programme at Cranfield?

5) What is your greatest pleasure?

Just one? Fool. You know me better than that.

I love lazy, convivial evenings with my family and friends. I love a mind-numbingly difficult Scrabble game. I love doing dorky crap with my nephews…they are delightful. I love a perfectly made slightly sweet Manhattan. I love going to Culvers with my Mom and Dad. I love watching TV with Coaster Punchman, reading the comics to my friend Susan over the phone, watching Twins games with the Poodles and spending a day doing nothing with my friend Bethany. I feel physically energised and emotionally calmed when I am by large expanses of water. I love walking on beaches. I love companionable silences. I love a sheltering arm casually draped across my shoulders. And no one will believe this, but I really love holding hands.

Want some questions of your own? Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me!”

I will respond by e-mailing you five questions (if your email is not on your profile, email me your desire to be interviewed so I know your address). I get to pick them, and you have to answer them all.

You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

12 comments:

Bubs said...

Well done, Melinda, well DONE! I had no idea I was standing in the presence of an accomplished bullshit artist.

I love your back story!

You make sure you stop in Chicago on your next trip back home, ok?

lulu said...

Min knows she has an open invite to stay with me, although it is freadfully uncomfortable here and she would do better to stay with Jane and Steve

kirelimel said...

Interview me, I dare you! It's been ages since I've been asked anything other than questions beginning, "Mom can I have a..."
Plus I need practice answering questions for my interview at the school. Or maybe that interview can be the practice round for this...

Beth said...

You became my hero about halfway through your first answer.

Marni said...

Ditto what Beth said. I am so envious...

Chris said...

I haven't been reading your blog for too long, but I'm really liking it. I'd be thrilled to answer your questions. My e-mail is listed in my profile.

Melinda June said...

Thanks for giving me good material, bubs. I'm serious about you considering Cranfield. You'd really like it, and if you do modular you only have to be here a few weeks a year. Miz Bubs can come to and we'll go have some fun while you study.

I'll be on my way through Chicago around Aug 24th and Sept 8th. Somewhere in there I'll be staying for a few days, so we'll have some tiki drinks then.

Beth and Marni, it's been equally fun getting to know you two through your own blogs. I'll be in Atlanta visiting my friend Susan sometime next spring...it may require a meetup. It's not fair that the Chicago folks have all the fun.

Kirst and Chris, I'm working on your questions and they'll be with you soon!

Dale said...

The more I read, the more I know. Okay, that was lame but excellent questions and an interesting interviewee. You and Bubs made it to my dreams as you've read on my blog.

Coaster Punchman said...

I would appreciate an interview. A real one, not the fake kinds that I give.

Melinda June said...

Five questions coming right up, CP! But you know I'm going to make them all about me.....

Tenacious S said...

Hey, wait a minute, I like Halloween, but not dressing up. It's just a good excuse to break out all of my old Bauhaus records, light a ton of candles and squirt the trick or treaters with the fog machine.

Megan said...

Lulu's been telling me for a while that I would adore you, and she's right.

I, too, hate masks (actually, I'm terrified of them) and I started my blog as a way of keeping in lame touch with friends when I moved.