Milwaukee Chronicles Part 2: I am a person with a hat.

Hey team. Welcome back.

It’s been awhile! Unfortunately the job that pays me takes precedence over the blog that doesn’t, but I’ve missed you guys.

Some news! And before we go any farther, let me say, this is going to be a very important blog post. This is basically breaking news.

I am now a person who owns a hat!

Milwaukee is home to local millineries, the Hen House and Brass Rooster, two connected shops that make hats for women and men respectively. After two years of perusing the hats as a curious shopper, thinking they were too expensive for that particular trip, snapping a picture for Instagram, and running out the door, on my recent birthday extravaganza, I decided it was time to make a purchase.

 

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Milwaukee Chronicles Part 1: How to Exhibition Review

This weekend I went on my very first completely self-funded vacation.

I had really grand plans for this trip. At one point in the planning, I was just going to go for it. I was going to spend my entire tax refund on a plane ticket to Scotland, a dream of mine for years now.

And then I remembered my student loans.

And then I was going to spend a little bit less, and buy a train ticket to California! Stopping in cities along the way, seeing the best of America’s national parks.

And then I remembered my student loans.

And then I decided to spend the night in Milwaukee, a little over an hour away. And when I get back sit very very still as to not spend any money.

Yeah, that sounds about right. I could even listen to a whole episode of Fresh Air with Terry Gross on the drive, and not have to spread it over three commutes like I usually do! That’s the dream right there!

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Justice Pesto: When Pesto-Hipsters get too Big for their Skinny-Britches

When I moved to Wisconsin, it was still Winter and this thing called the Polar Vortex was still very much a concern.

For those unfamiliar with the Polar Vortex, all you need to know is it was crazy cold, and some meteorologists gave it a cool name so people wouldn’t be so sad about how crazy cold it was.

For years later, Wisconsinites could say to newcomers, “you think this is bad? In 2014 we survived a Polar Vortex.

It was not what I would call the finest chapter of my life. It hurt to go outside, and one doesn’t realize how much a person needs fresh air until you are robbed of it.

I, of course, thought it was my civic duty to tell everyone how much it hurt to go outside- a foolproof way to make friends in a new state is definitely complain a lot!- but because Wisconsin people are pretty much the nicest people, they tried to make me feel better about the seasons that were coming, instead of roll their eyes and walk away. Which I couldn’t blame them for doing if they had.

One of the main arguments people made for enduring Winter and staying for Spring was the Farmer’s Market.

Now I’d been to Farmer’s Markets before, both in my home state of North Carolina and during my two years living in New York. So what was so special about this one, guys? If we’re judging by the markets of my past, they’re mostly crowded and expensive and it’s cheaper and easier to go to the grocery store.

What’s so special about this Market that I would forgive Wisconsin for this wintry torment? 


My three-year report: The produce is reasonably priced. If you get there early enough the crowds are kind of fine. The flower vendors don’t judge me too harshly for Instagramming their merchandise (I buy stuff. It’s fine). And there’s cheese. Lots and lots of cheese. Personally, I think it’s worth the hype.


Mostly.

For you see, I was wronged this week. Farmers’ Market betrayal!

And I think if we’re ranking betrayal, Farmers’ Market betrayal is pretty high up there. After drug store betrayal, but before pizza delivery betrayal.

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Snow Day #2: Same song, second verse, more flames

My current job is the first experience where I’ve ever had to log time.

Log when I’m in meetings. Log when I’m checking emails. Log my morning hour of wistful sighing, or “admin”, as I like to call it.

It’s a weird process, and I hate it, and am also very bad at it. (“Why should I log my time?! I’m a free bird! Like a steel horse I ride! You’re never going to bring me down! I’m defying gravity!”) But talk on the streets is they’re cracking down on accurate time logging, so it’s something I’m trying to be, at the very least less bad at doing. So much so, without thinking too much about it, yesterday morning as I was trying to build momentum, still in my pajamas, and trying to beat one of the pirate levels of Plants vs. Zombies 2, I thought to myself, “how am I going to log this time?”

Then I remembered it’s Saturday, and my job has ruined me. It occurred to me though, there are worse things than being accountable for your time.

But only on weekends. During the week, I’ve gotta make my own kind of music! If I want to sing out, I’ll sing out! Nothing left for me to do, but dance! Or something…

After thinking that, I actually got out of bed. Yes, be proud of me.

So having hypothetical HR might actually be pretty handy. Especially when it snowed for approximately 29381209 hours, and you’re stuck inside. Would my imaginary HR approve of 6 hours of Plants vs. Zombies 2, even if you are really determined to topple the piano playing zombie that makes all of the zombies faster and jazzier?

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Unshrinky-Sink: That Time I Became a Sweater Wizard

Like any person who has devoted 8 years of her life to the study of textiles, I am very bad at taking care of textiles. Naturally.

Simply: I am bad at laundry. Not in an active, “this sweater will probably be fine, so I’m going to throw it in the hottest dryer cycle!” way, but more in a lazy “I was day-dreaming about a music video to the tune of “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO, and wasn’t watching what I threw in the dryer” way.

And then the righteous anger that floods me as I pull my now child’s sweater out of the dryer dies quickly when I remember that A) I am to blame as I have no roommates and have not yet been able to summon woodland creatures to do my chores for me like I saw in the documentary Cinderella, and B) I should absolutely know better.

It became an issue this week, however, when the temperature plummeted, and I started to unpack all my winter clothes. The first sweater to emerge was my ski-man sweater. I shrank this one hard.

Sigh.

I metaphorically laughed in the face of the care instructions, and this sweater now appears to be for the new hipster American Girl Doll. (She also comes with a  collection of plaid blanket scarves and a box of tissues for when you want her to cry about her student loans! Her story is about writing her young adult novel in a coffee shop in Brooklyn.*)

I didn’t want to get rid of it because I was sure when sweater weather rolled around again, we would have the technology to fix this.

I kept pulling out sweaters, and they kept being weird.

I have, what is logically and reasonably described as: the longest torso on any human ever by roughly three feet.

My actual proportions:

Believe it or not, this is a pencil sketch and not a picture of a real human.

When I packed up these sweaters last Spring, I don’t remember saying to myself, “these will be perfect when I have my torso-reduction surgery.” I do remember hating to get rid of my sweaters in bulk, when the fact was, through various laundering methods, they were all a little too short for my Godzilla-torso. I guess I kept them.

Who knew you’d get to read so much about another person’s torso today?

But here we are again. On the cusp of another winter, and I’m still in Wisconsin. Conclusion:  I need sweaters that fit.

I’ve also been on this crazy kick of not spending money when I don’t need to. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. I think it’s technically called, “saving money.”

Exhibit A: I mended all my socks yesterday. I’m basically a pioneer. A pioneer who isn’t very fun to be around. My past times include talking about fiscal responsibility over the butter churn and drinking water, but not being happy about it.

So, as God as my witness, I do not want to buy more sweaters! I needed to find a way to unshrink these guys.

And as it turns out, the technology to do so has been around for awhile.

Being a serial sweater-shrinker, I’d heard mention of the fabric softener unshrinking method (letting a sweater soak in lukewarm water and fabric softener and then stretching it out) through various friends and Pinterest boards, but in my trademark reaction to things found on Pinterest boards, I sighed, said “that probably doesn’t really work,” and moved on.

And then, unpacking my sweater collection, I remembered that new clothes are expensive. A quick Google later, I realized a person can also use hair conditioner!

See!? Totally different than fabric softener. I can continue to resent Pinterest for always trying to make me download their app and making me forget my password to my account I made that one time and for my friends suggesting it all the time which is never something I take kindly to.

But we’re not here to discuss my weird aversion to Pinterest. The question: can you unshrink a sweater?

Let’s try it, and if we’re careful, we just might learn a thing or two on the way!

Don’t worry. I hate me too.

Supplies:

  • A sweater
  • Hair conditioner
  • A sink or basin
  • Two towels

1.Start by filling up your sink or basin with lukewarm water. If sink is your water receptacle of choice, consider the really hilarious name of “unshrinky sink”!

It’s funny because it rhymes with shrinky-dink….eh, I give up.

2. Add half a cup of hair conditioner.

Warning: Conditioner doesn’t naturally mix with water, and 
will initially look like alien. 

One can only assume this is an absolutely accurate representation of alien larvae.

One can only assume this is an absolutely accurate representation of alien larvae

3. Add your sweater to the water, and soak for 20 minutes.

Textile fact #1 coming at ya!: Wool is naturally water resistant!
You’ll have to help submerge the sweater because wool is just too good at its job and will float on top.

See you on the side, sweater.

4. When you’re pulling your sweater out of the sink, gently squeeze out the
excess water. Don’t wring  it. Why? Get excited…

Textile lesson #2: Wool has a couple natural factors that allow for shrinking and stretching. Wool fibers are covered in tiny scales that lock on to each other when heat is applied and the fibers are agitated (like in a dryer!). Shrinking happens when the scales lock onto each other. (In extreme cases, sending a sweater through the dryer can felt the fibers, and there’s no hope for unshrinking) As you dry it, wringing it puts too much pressure on fibers that are still currently locked together and could potentially break the threads. Squeezing gets the excess water out while still being gentle on the fibers.

Are we having fun yet?

It already looks like it’s made for adult humans again, even if those humans are tiny and also probably pretty boring. Also, that towel is owned by a grownup.

5. Lay the sweater flat on a clean towel, and roll up the towel with the sweater inside to absorb excess water.

6. Once the sweater is damp-not-dry, lay out another clean towel on a flat surface, and place your sweater on top, gently stretching the sweater as you flatten it.

Textile fact #3: Wool has a natural “crimp.” That just means there is a waviness to the fiber that allows for stretching and resiliency. Since we’re stretching the fabric as we flatten it, there’s less pressure on the fibers, and we can take advantage of the stretch that comes with the wool’s crimp and the sweater’s knit.

Living in a tiny apartment, my flat surfaces consist of kitchen table (covered in folded laundry) and an aerobic step next to a box from Amazon.

7. Keep the sweater flat as it dries. I returned every few hours to stretch it out again.

Did this method fix everything? For my ski-man sweater…not everything. It still feels pretty snug, and doesn’t quite cover my torso like it once did, but I can wear it! And I don’t  feel like I’m dying. Which, let’s face it, is an admirable goal for all sweaters. It looked like it was almost felted though, so it was asking a lot for a full return to normal.

Before and after

Early on in the process, I saw that the worst that could happen here is the sweater doesn’t un-shrink, so I went through the same thing with one of my other sweaters I didn’t wear anymore (still technically fit but seemed to only shrink vertically, like a weird winter crop top), and it was immediately successful. That sweater was never sent through a full cycle in the dryer, however.

So I guess the takeaway is: soaking a sweater in hair conditioner to undo shrinking is not a science, but it is relatively successful depending on the sweater.

Optional takeaway #2: pay more attention to what you throw in the dryer.


*I call dibs on this idea! I could totally see hipsters who don’t know they’re hipsters buying the dolls to make fun of hipsters. They’d sell them at Urban Outfitters.

Recipe Review: Ovenly’s Stumptown “But I don’t want to” Shorty

Tonight at roughly 6:30, I got the classic “Tomorrow is Monday” stomachache.

The pit in your stomach, knowing that tomorrow you have to pull yourself up, wear clothes that aren’t sweatpants, and do things that aren’t first, second, or third on your list of fun things for at least ten hours. And then repeat that four more times.

Make no mistake, she just finished openly wailing.

When you experience the “Tomorrow is Monday” stomachache, you have a couple options on how to tackle it:

  1. Openly wail until you get to your office the next morning.
  2. Realize that having a job is just part of growing up, and accept the fact that pouting won’t help or change anything.
  3. Fake your death. Go on the run.

Considering my neighbors that have expressly asked me to cut it with the open wailing, my refusal to believe that pouting won’t eventually do something, and being out of fake blood, I had to figure out option 4.

I went with the always healthy method, distraction. I decided to make the “I just cleaned my kitchen, so I’m not burning sugar, but there’s no time that’s a bad time for shortbread” version of Ovenly’s Stumptown Shorty.

Who can be sad about Monday when you could bake instead? Yes, you’ll only postpone the weeping by an hour, but you can weep into your baked goods.

The regular recipe calls for tiny burnt sugar bits mixed into your dough. Having made this recipe once before, the caramelized sugar adds a nice flavor/texture combo, but like I as the title of my recipe says, I just cleaned my kitchen. I’m not burning sugar. Sorry, team! No house-fire-potential this time!

The thing I always forget about shortbread is, at its essence, it’s flour, sugar, and butter. That’s a hard sell in the health department, but as I was kerplomping (the actual sound a stick of butter makes when it lands on other butter) THREE sticks of butter into a mixing bowl, I was a little horrified.

The building blocks: (You could follow the ingredients included in the previous link, OR you could follow these. Ingredients for normals, I say.)

  • 3 sticks of unsweetened butter, plus some other butter for greasing the pan
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar Basically a cup of confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold-brew coffee (We’ll learn soon that “cold” is up for debate)
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons very finely ground espresso  half a cup of coarsely ground coffee that you already have in your kitchen

Yes, I sure did avoid messing up my clean kitchen.

What should have happened…

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together the sugar and the butter. Keep an ear out for the aforementioned kerplomping.
  3. Slowly mix in the cold brew to the butter mixture
  4. Whisk together the flour and the ground basically-espresso
  5. Mix in half of the flour mixture until incorporated. Mix in the other half.
  6. Spread the dough on a greased baking sheet.

What happened…

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. (YES! DONE!)
  • Mix together the sugar and the butter. (Kerplomped as promised!)
  • Realize that you haven’t made the cold brew, so you throw some coffee grounds and water into your french press. Don’t check the ratios! That’s for squares! Put the french press in the refrigerator, and decide that it will be cold enough by the time you whisk together the flour and the ground coffee. (Yes. This is fine.)
  • Whisk together the flour and the ground coffee. (DONE! I AM GREAT AT THINGS!)

I’m just really great at baking.

  • The cold brew isn’t ready. You then make space in the freezer, and decide the time it takes to grease the pan will allow it to get cold enough. (I crunched the numbers. It pans out.)
  • Grease a baking sheet to use once the dough is ready.
  • The cold brew still isn’t ready. It’s actually still hot. It’s hot brew. I have hot brew coffee. (Basically the same as cold brew. As Paul Abdul says, “Opposite attract are the same.)
  • I decide to just go for it, and add the hot brew to the butter mixture. (Nope. Nope. This is not fine.)
  • Watch as the butter mixture loses all structural integrity, and say to yourself, “this will be fine.” (I wonder if I should worry about how easily I lie to myself.)
  • Throw the flour mixture in there before you actually have to look at the disaster your butter has turned in to. (This fixes everything!)
  • Slowly mix the flour and butter mixtures.
  • Once mixed, spread evenly over the baking sheet. (This actually looks pretty good.)

And that, my friends, is the designated spot for the snowman spatula.

  • Scrape the batter back into the mixing bowl so you can work in the extra, while also not at all extra, but in fact very required flour.
  • Spread dough over baking sheet. You’re really good at it from that other time where you go to practice.
  • 16. Pop it in the oven!

It couldn’t be easier!


Review: Even my cliff-notes version of this recipe is really very tasty. It’s a nice dessert or an afternoon snack. With my last batch, I crumbled it and served it on ice cream.

I do kind of miss the burnt sugar, but isn’t that a tale as old as time? Made coffee shortbread to distract myself from having to go back to work, but because I don’t want to dirty more dishes, I didn’t burn the sugar for the recipe and now I regret it. If I only had a nickel….


Bonus: If we’re being honest with ourselves, my blog is 80% driven by recipes that go wrong. Earlier today I made what might be the prettiest thing my kitchen has ever seen.

Most food bloggers take beautiful pictures that can be easily pinterested (pinned? I don’t know. At 28 I’m almost 75). As a more nebulous blogger, I like to think I bring an extra element of dirty stove and trying my best to the table.

If you need any dinner ideas, may I recommend one pot lemon chicken and rice?

  1. It tastes fancy.
  2. It looks fancy.
  3. You can cook it in one pot.
  4. When you’re working with these ingredients, the recipe is yours to ruin.

These are beautiful things.

 

The Greatest Story [I’ve] Ever Told

I so rarely have a really great story.

Most of my stories are about:

  • Running through airports
  • People at the library
  • People at the coffee shop
  • People at the grocery store
  • I cooked a thing

But there’s one story that I swear by. It’s the story of how I got my job.

It was December 2013, the month my loan provider started expecting me to answer for my decision to go live in New York for two years. I still didn’t have a job. I really needed a job. Where were all the jobs? Job? JOB!! JOOOOOOB!

After 6 months of applying for jobs, 6 months of inching through cover letters because there is nothing worse than writing cover letters, 6 months of silence and wondering if something was wrong with me when in fact online job applications are a broken system, I broadened my search. “I’d love a job in my industry, or a job adjacent to my industry, or a job that looks like my industry if you squint, or a job that is not at all in my industry.”

I applied to a software company on the advice of a family friend. And lo and behold, they were the only company to contact me for a phone interview.

Obviously they had excellent taste, and it definitely wasn’t some oversight in HR.

Being my first, only, and endlessly treasured nibble, I leaped at the chance to interview, but the emails arranging the interview were increasingly and suspiciously intense.

I hadn’t had any post-graduate job interviews, but I had previously interviewed for internships, summer jobs, and grad school. People mostly talked like people, but these emails seemed as if this company was actually the government, and there was a secret team of assassins deployed when people waste their time in the interview process.

And no, I’m not being dramatic.

Make sure your phone interview will not be interrupted. Make sure your signal will not be dropped. When they call, pick up the phone quickly. Be prepared with your standardized test scores and GPA starting with high school (“I was told those wouldn’t matter after college!”), and going through your most recent education (“I was told no one cared about GPA after graduation!”). Tell us when you’re available to call, but it’s best if we call at 1:00 or 4:00. (Weirdly specific, team!)

But, guys…job. I’ll follow the rules.

I arranged with HR-Tracy, as I called her in my head, to interview on a Tuesday at 1:00 Central Time, 2:00 where I was.

I was in North Carolina. I was living with my parents and being aggressively unemployed, broken up by small bouts of dog-sitting for family friends. And it just so happens, I was dog-sitting on this Tuesday.

Gadget, a squeak of a dog, belonged to a family friend from church. Church-family-friend did pretty well for himself, so his house was, to the eyes of an unemployed textile historian, pretty impressive.

It was nestled on the side of a hill that it shared with four or five other houses. At the base of the hill, there was a large flat stretch of grass- I would later learn that field was used as a runway for their two seater airplane and the field was speckled with these giant bulbous hay bales.

This is Gadget. Also a hay bale.

I would never learn the origin or purpose of these hay bales in the field. I wasn’t on a farm. I’ve seen those. I’ve seen a lot of those. The only other option is aliens. I was, after all, watching Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura on the couch of this man who actually made something of his life for most of the morning of my interview.

The house I was manning was the closest to the base of the hill, while still having enough space for a view: grassy fields, hay bales, a distant but pretty populated two lane road, and then the rolling green hills you find in the foot hills of the Appalachians on the opposite side of the road. The back of the house had a long, winding patio where you could sit and appreciate your surroundings.

this lake will become important

It was quiet and peaceful and late Fall, so the air was crisp from the rain that fell the day before. This, I decided looking down to make sure the dog is still alive as it seemed like it had been comatose for at least two hours, is where I would conduct the interview.

I was sitting at the outdoor table, wearing a navy cable knit sweater, and navy and maroon plaid silk pajamas pants, the pants from a set that I got for Christmas the year before.

Let’s remember that it was roughly 1:30 in the afternoon. I just finished an episode of Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, eating the homemade Chex Mix from another family’s kitchen, and I was still wearing pajamas.

In hindsight, I think that says so much, and by “so much” I mean it says “unemployment.” At the time, I sat on the patio, looking out over the saturated green, distinctly thinking, “This shall be what I wear when I am a writer, living in a hideaway of my own. Sipping coffee, wearing silk pajamas, and writing my books. Real writers don’t wear flannel polka dots.”

…what?

  1. They probably do. And FYI, past-Meredith, you currently own a matching set of flannel gingerbread man pajamas that you love because they keep you warmer than any other pair you own, a fact that’s important because of where this interview will eventually take you.
  2. It’s okay to write wearing pajamas of any kind. I’m doing it now. It’s less okay to write wearing pajamas at 1:30 in the afternoon. Or do most things wearing pajamas at 1:30 in the afternoon.

In preparing for the interview, I tracked down even my most obscure test scores. I took notes on the company. I took notes on my grades, my previous jobs, and my major school assignments. I took notes on the CEO of the company. I took notes on Wisconsin. I had a pencil and paper in case I needed more notes. I had tissues set out in case I sneezed. I had water set out in case I was parched.

The dog continued to be alive, yet comatose on the patio beside me.

I was ready for the 2:00 interview. Just try and shake me, Interview-Efficiency-Assasin-Army.

“OKAY!”- Interview-Efficiency-Assasin-Army

At literally 1:59 p.m., Gadget, the same dog that had been sleeping in a tiny black mound for at this point two and a half hours, lifts his head, sees something (I’m still not sure what), and as fast as his tiny little chihuahua legs will take him, goes flying towards the two lane road.

Over the course of the next five seconds, my brain crunched the numbers, and came up with the following: “Theregoesthedog,Ibethe’sfine,butthosearedefinitelycarsandhe’sasmalldogGADGET! GADGEEET!!!”

I grab my phone, and go sprinting after the dog, still in my pajamas, but no shoes on my feet. Gadget and I make it a collective 50 feet before my phone starts to ring.

Because of course it does.

I am not a person who is in shape. I prefer a steady mosey, or even a purposeful stomp to running, so 50 feet later, I am already winded and know that I can’t keep this pace. Luckily, having the leg-length of a human woman and not a tiny dog, I already caught up to Gadget who had now decided to happily prance through this muddy field, his previous mission since forgotten.

The phone is still ringing. I looked down at the phone. I looked at the dog who is almost cartoonishly hopping above the dewy grass. If I keep this dog within 10 feet of me, close enough to interfere if Gadget got any crazy ideas, I think I can pull this off. I answer the phone.

Almost three years later, I know the type of person the company choses to conduct phone interviews. They’re typically very lovely people. At the time, all I heard from Marissa, my phone interviewer, was an aggressive geniality that aspires to phone-based efficiency and absolutely no dead zones. No dead zones.

I’m only now realizing it wasn’t aggressive at all, but it just wasn’t quite on my “STOP MOVING, DOG!” level because I was now winding my way through a grassy field that on closer inspection was mostly mud from the rain the day before.

A recreation of the route Gadget and I took:

Just a really great map drawn by a professional cartographer.

For the next 45 minutes, Marissa asked me about my previous positions. What I did. What I learned. How I think a job doing historical research for some costume designers translates into writing technical notes for customers consuming our software.

Spoiler: It doesn’t, but Marissa didn’t need to know that.

And for the next 45 minutes, Gadget continued to prance, and I continued to hover, roughly ten feet behind him, trying and failing to dodge the mud.

It was when Marissa asked me if I would be willing to travel that Gadget discovered we had been circumventing a fairly sizable lake. And he promptly tried to prance directly into it.

It was late Fall, almost Winter. I just saved this dog from running into the road. I was not about to let him go swimming when it’s mid forties outside.

I was able to scoop him with one arm, but didn’t get a good enough grip to put our field trip to an end. I was, however, able to redirect him away from his impromptu pool party/potential-puppy suicide.

Marissa and I began discussing company culture, and Gadget was, surprise, still prancing and dancing and, if we’re being really honest, laughing at me, and as she was telling me “we have a slide! We have fun!” I look up to discover Gadget and I have wandered from a sprawling residential field into a construction equipment parking lot.

I would have been less surprised if we wandered into Narnia.

I have never been more acutely aware of my place in a space than the moment a man came slowly strolling out of the open garage to see a small pipsqueak-dog, standing no taller than a foot dancing around his construction equipment, while a 25 year old wearing pajamas (at this point it was 3:00 in the afternoon) and muddy feet, speaking on the phone about  employee retention, mouths, “I’M SO SORRY!” jogs up behind the dog and tries to scoop him up with her free arm, almost dropping him only once thanks to a well-timed squirm. The man looked confused. I didn’t blame him.

I finally get a grip on Gadget, and of course that’s when the interview starts to wrap up. I should hear something in two weeks. If they think I’m a better fit for a different position, I may have to take tests for that position as well.

“Yes, that’s fine. Thanks so much. Ok. Please just let me get off this phone.” Now that I could tell the interview-heavy-lifting was over, my sentences were getting shorter, my death grip on Gadget tighter.

I was finally and blessedly allowed to hang up the phone, and on the vastly-less circuitous route back to the house, I saw that Gadget’s lake also had a very small pier.

The dog still in my arms, I sat down and I sighed. I sighed twice. I took a selfie with the dog, and then I sighed again. I am a member of my generation, after all.

I was certain that I bombed this interview. I was not getting this job, and it was at that point, my one and only chance at being a card-carrying job-haver. Later that night, when I met my grandparents, my aunt and my uncle for dinner at Ruby Tuesdays, with a plate full of salad and ham cubes that only the Ruby Tuesday salad bar can provide, I would tell them I wasn’t going to get the job, and I would cry.

I would cry into my ham cubes.

But as Gadget and I got up from the pier, the dog immediately trotting in the direction of the house, because of course he did, and I saw my pristine notes, tissues, pencils, and water still sitting where I left them an hour ago, shoes sitting beside my chair, I could only think, “well, there you go.”

After stuffing my muddy feet into my shoes because I knew enough not to walk in someone else’s house with muddy feet I grabbed a handful of Chex Mix and found an episode of Ancient Aliens. I sat back down and I watched TV.

Did you guys know that there are underwater structures that were definitely constructed by ancient aliens? The science is there.

Much like the ancient aliens, I’m a big believer in sticking the landing. When I’m working on a project, I can stumble. I can mess things up. I can take a long time and ask a lot of questions. I can get stuck trying to catch a dog on a phone interview. None of that matters because I know that I’ll also put in the time and the effort and the energy to get something right. I’ll stick the landing.

I type this from my bed in Wisconsin because I evidently stuck the landing and I got the job. And I realize now that slow-speed chasing a dog through a field while remembering what originally interested me about Scottish folk culture as a thesis topic and gauging the distance to the road and assessing Gadget’s mischievous gleam in his eye was really great practice for my job.

I have to make choices, and I have to prioritize on the fly. I have to chase down some weirdos, and sometimes I wish I was dressed more professionally.

I guess the takeaway here is: just worry about sticking the landing, and if you don’t land just so, I bet your landing is still on the way. Your flip is just a really long one. Till then, stuff your muddy feet in your shoes, get some Chex Mix and find some horrible TV show on History Channel. You’ll be amazed what you can learn about the Denver airport actually being a front for the Illuminati. Or something like that.

Just don’t cry into your ham cubes. They don’t need the extra sodium.