“What do you want?” The HR grilled me.
I segwayed by asking who else has been interviewing for the job and their portfolios.
“Just curious. Why did you ask that question?” The Chinese woman switched to her accented English, as if to mock my failed attempt to conceal my purpose of the meeting.
Truth is, I don’t want or need a full-time job. I can’t do 9-to-5. I’d rather D-I-E…
But why did I take the meeting? Out of curiosity, yes. Out of boredom, yes. Out of self-promotion, hell yes. But most importantly, I want to introduce myself to their creative/development team as a screenwriter. And thus, it made the whole meeting weird.
The HR started to poke holes in my resume:
To be honest, you’ve done a lot of different things, but with scattered focus.
I’d suggest you put in the year you graduated from college and from grad school.
So you are a thirty-something now. I’d suggest you ask yourself what exactly that you want (independent or cooperate, artist or support).
It seems to me that you are on a filmmaker track whereas we’re looking for someone who can focus on the company’s own slate.
And how dedicated would you be if you’re hired?
Would you make personal sacrifice and drop your own projects?
The knot in my stomach tightened when she came back to the “What do you (fucking) want” question over and over again with her Shanghainese passive-aggressiveness.
“I’m a writer-producer. I want to seek ways to collaborate with your firm if there is an angle there, as writer, or as consultant. I don’t plan to waste your time, but I’m intrigued to learn about your firm for quite a while now.”
A knowing beat.
“Okay. It does seem to me that you need a lot of control over what you do. We’ll pass your resume to our creative/development team.”
I thanked her. But whether she’d really pass on my resume, I’d give it a grain of salt, per my own mixed reception in LA. But the animosity in the air seemed to abate a little.
As I recalled this bizarre job interview now, I’m still trying to iron out the knot in my stomach. Honesty is indeed the best policy. To be honest about what you want. And to be honest about your craft. Over and over again, I’ve come to this single conclusion: Be so fucking good so they would be morons to dare to ignore you.
But of course, I barked at the wrong tree today. It’s an embarrassment when I was forced into the corner to reveal my true purpose. But hey, I also need to thank the HR to force me to face my own demons and desires and come to the other side, undeterred and unscathed.
One thing I’d say is: Once you go solo, you can’t go back, almost. When the wolf pack smells your independence, you’re excluded from the club. You have to endure suffering and starvation before you can find your own edge, your own turf while the pack boos: Let’s see how truly independent you are.
“You’re thirty-something, you’d better figure out what you want.”
“You’ve done so many different things, it shows lack of focus.”
“Why didn’t you mark the year you graduated on your resume?”
“Why did you go to grad school a few years after you graduated from college?”
“What’s the gap between this job and the time you graduated?
The HR spoke on behalf of the society, the majority, the people, the firm, the tried-and-true quote-and-unquote wisdom, except for herself, who’s downgraded to a lobotomized social programmed machine. “If you come work for us, you can’t do your own thing. I don’t think you would find time for it.” Probably. But in LA, everybody has side gigs. No, it’s Shanghai. I reminded myself while I sat in this chic space that oozes taste, that was supposed to trigger ideas and creations.
No, there is no “to be or not to be” in my case. Only that I let my desire of meeting their creative team to muddle my judgement. I couldn’t breathe. She and her belief system tried to choke me. My ego threw me off the bus, undid what I’d tried so hard to gain…
It almost succeeded.
I was judged by a corporate specimen. And she was judged by a wild card, me. I’m the round peg in the square hole. Since the meeting, I realized one thing: there is NO turning back now. I’m an independent thinker. I’m an independent artist. I’m an independent human being. I’m responsible for my own status quo and hence, my future and my fate. And that’s the small price I’m willing to pay to be a free agent of my soul.
The good news are, I landed the coveted teaching gig for the fall semester. They like what they see and the students seem to like me a lot.
PS. It was impossible to use VPN for the last couple of days. Glad to be back. Glad to have a voice. Glad to have a life.