Friday, June 20, 2008

Making the Cut

I worry about my hair a lot; then I worry that this worrying will cause my hair to fall out. The masochistic, endless cycle of hair stress is only temporarily relieved on the sporadic moments I get a good haircut. My head has been shag-city for a good six months. I broke down in May and decided to give myself a big birthday haircut but was too charmed by my hairdresser and the constant supply of mimosas to achieve any sort of drastic change. It was the kind of haircut you had to announce to people. Realizing they hadn’t noticed I’d have to think of ways to casually integrate it into the conversation. “I’m so sorry to hear about your Grandmother. . .maybe you should treat yourself to a great trim like I did…today.”

While British rock bands and California surfers kept subliminally telling me to stick with it, it’s hard to ignore evidence to the contrary when it’s literally in front of your eyes. An experiment with a straighter let me know that my hair had the ability to reach to the tip of my nose but sans iron my hair curled up after a few inches, as if altering its natural route and reaching for the heavens. I resembled less of the rock bands I pretended to like and more of a slightly disheveled Florence Henderson.

Like a crotchety old man I like to blame the weather whenever slightly applicable and in the current crux of a Boston summer I find it’s easy to do just that. Whenever I’d be a particularly shaggy moment in my hair history my styling regime would consist of simply putting on a tight knitted hat post shower. The beanies acted as a sort of cast for my recklessly thick mane. Seeing as New England enjoys 6 month long winters it’s easy to use this method and still look like a sane part of society, but once the hellishly humid summers come wearing a knitted cap in 85 degree weather is less ironic and more idiotic. Not only was my hair corset seasonally unacceptable but with the increase in temperature came the increase in amount of cold, drawn out showers. Plagued with another catch-22 I accepted defeat and made an appointment, determined to rid myself of the hair that was not only attacking my head but attacking my ego as well.

This particular summer I’ve taken up temporary residence in a charming Cambridge apartment with friends. Moving from the sheltered life of on-campus housing to that of a “real-world” apartment I barely noticed anything except the ability to drink whenever possible and a kitchen that included more than a trashcan sized fridge and overused microwave. What I failed to see was that most real apartments don’t include auditorium sized laundry rooms that are hooked up to your campus account. Doing laundry on campus was not only easy, fast and practically free but you could check the availability of the machines via the Internet and get a message delivered to your phone when your load was done. I wasn’t just washing my clothes with Tide, I was washing my clothes with technology. In the real world I discovered my Laundromat was almost five blocks away and held hours that would make the average bank complain. Needless to say I found myself three weeks into dirty clothes and sheets and running out of creative solutions to the growing underwear epidemic.

The day of my haircut my dwindling clean laundry had me wearing pants tight and thin enough to be considered long underwear and an old t-shirt that passed the sniff test, finished off with patent leather dress shoes because the only clean socks I had were dress socks. Immediately after my haircut I purchased a new pair of underwear because it was the only realistic way I was going to have clean underwear the following morning. When I arrived at my appointment with Manny I mortified when his first question was “Do you need a wash?” I didn’t want to respond in sudden Bridget Jones like hysterics “Desperately, myself, my hair and every item of clothing and fabric in my room.” Fortunately he asked this right before he ran his hands through my hair which gave him all the assessment he needed, I wasn’t quite sure because I was in the euphoric stupor of a professional hair wash but he might have triple washed my hair and then triple washed his hands after.

When Manny asked what I wanted done I simply responded, “I’m sick of having long hair.”
He translated what I said into what he assumed I meant, “Okay so you want basically the same thing but shorter,” to which I corrected him by saying “much…much shorter”.

When he was finished I had a clean, almost militarily clean cut. While I was beyond pleased with trading in Florence Henderson for Joan of Arc it was what Manny said in the beginning of my cut that really pleased me. As he began he asked where I normally got my hair cut. I told him I usually wait long enough so that I can get it cut when I’m at home. Manny, dear sweet Manny, responded by asking if I was in a band and tour a lot. I’m not sure if it was the eccentric clothing, the bad hygiene or the uncontrollable shaggy hair but I finally got the comparison to the dirty, indie rock bands that romanticize the look I had stumbled my way upon. The only sound sweeter than Manny’s mistaken assumption was the sound of his scissors making sure it would never happen again.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Classifieds Information

I’m not above peer pressure. I’m very much not above peer pressure. People begin to say that old adage, “if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you?” to me but stop because my feverous nodding already gives them an image of my flattened body grinning from the bottom of the Sahara. This is not to say positive peer pressure doesn’t affect me just as much as negative; such is the case with Emerson College and the internship panic that spreads throughout spring semester. The respective student body usually migrates to Los Angeles or New York. Once final grades were posted I was determined to avoid standing on Boylston Street holding a shameful retail time card with a single rain cloud of self doubt pouring down on me.

With impending homelessness, fleeting optimism and an empty inbox I made a decision about three weeks ago to stay in Boston, to stay with friends, and to stay employed. I accept not defeat for I’m currently still quasi-pursuing internships in Boston (Central Productions if you’d like to check your voicemail there are approx. 30 new messages from me begging to do menial labor) but I can honestly say I put up a valiant fight. Over the course of the internship battle I came in contact with an unforeseen enemy, an enemy I am forced to deal with and an enemy that will continue to be a presence in my life for an undetermined amount of time; I speak of the dreaded “cover letter”.

I’m not against marketing myself and in certain contexts I’m not against formality, but producing these detestable documents became the bane of my existence. It started to become a problem when I began applying to the—whatever-might-as-well—internships such as: writing intern on “All My Children”, animation podcast intern, and an ambiguous pilot involving Spanish people in a laundromat. Not only would I have to feign interest, but I would have to convince them that my film production background makes me the perfect candidate to write about Tristan’s love affair with her Grandfather’s cyclone business partner. I mastered the art of using one cover letter and simply substituting and cutting certain lines, like those thank you notes you’d write in the 3rd grade to relatives after a bountiful Christmas. “Dear _____ thank you for the _______, it was really great, how’d you know I wanted that!? Hope to see you soon!”. Instead these letters were written in the hopes of acquiring a gift, the gift of a (temporary) professional peace of mind. It goes without saying I place a bit of importance on cover letters. When the weeks would pass without reply I’d fear I’d left in a sentence or two from the previous draft and thus revealing my lazy application work ethic. I had roughly a dozen different drafts of my resume put didn’t want to name them according to the place I was applying to for fear of looking unprofessional and exposing my all-inclusive job hunt, so I devised a system of letters for differentiating. Let it be known I’m no Dewey Decimal, my system was more than confusing. So my fears were only intensified with the thought of sending the resume inflating my fine arts background to the writing.

Who knows the reason behind my lack of an internship: typo-ridden emails, resume goof, “better” applicants, racism…at this point the reason is unimportant. While I’ll be enjoying a relatively carefree summer I thought I’d keep my cover letter writing skills sharp, while using a new “fresh” approach.

June 2, 2008

Rodney Uhler
64 Pleasant Street Apt. 2
Cambridge, MA 02139

Anonymous Company
1234 Broadway Street
New York, NY 00911

Dear Jane Smith,

I’m currently a panicking senior film production student at Emerson College in Boston. I’m extremely interested in having some fresh additions to my resume in the hopes of it helping me land a non food service job post college, and your company was one of the many I found in a desperate search. Ultimately I’d love to work with film and writing, and as you can see by my bull-shiting abilities within this letter my writing skills are not to be ignored! On that note an opportunity at your company fits right into my ultimate career goals and would provide me with a terrific learning experience.

An internship with your company would be a mutually beneficial experience (I hope that sentence appeals to you because I got it straight from a sample letter!) My strong work ethic would allow me to be a valuable part of your team. Just this past month I’ve applied to countless internships spanning many different genres despite fleeting interest and feigned enthusiasm, but my work ethic, and fear of professional inferiority, drove me forward.

I am currently committed to being on campus until late May, for I’m a Resident Assistant which means I’m not only responsible and good with people but it also shows I’m not above jeopardizing a social life for a job. From June 1st to September 1st I am available any hours or days necessary save for an hour lunch break a day so I can gorge on food and call as many people as I can to complain about my work schedule. Please feel free—seriously I’ll use all caps if it will drive the point across—to contact me via e-mail or phone with any questions or concerns. If interested I will be happy to arrange an interview at a mutually convenient time and place. I have no issues with skipping class, dental appointments or family obligations.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you in the future. But I’m not optimistic, I’ll secretly wish today is the day you’ll call but I’ve been burned before and I know the sting of rejection.


Rodney Uhler