The Business Card :)

So, Friends, there is this thing here in the Capital of the Free World (and environs) called “Networking.” It’s not necessarily for finding a new job or getting something published/produced/filmed/manufactured–it seems to be more of a sport. Like most of the puffy-clouded jack-assery that goes on around here, not one thing might happen, except your LinkedIn requests will potentially spike and you might get a little drunk on free well drinks. Since I’ve stumbled into a 9th row seat to witness the 21st century version of the Fall of Rome, when my neighbor-friend invited me to one of these events I said, “Love to!”

Then I didn’t go. Apparently, you have to have business cards.

Hm.

Commence analysis paralysis. I’ve spent a year-plus out of education, but most of my experience is in education. I’m not actively looking for a new job, but I’m open to opportunities. What do I put on this card?

Suzan Pitman–Girl Wonder

Suzan Pitman–All That & a Bag of Chips

Suzan Pitman–Sort of Funny, Kinda Nice

I was advised to stick with the basics, so 100 very basic business cards are being printed even as we chat so that I can go with my friend next time. I did come up with something I think is totally genius–on the back they have “It was nice meeting you!” then below that “We met at:” so I can quickly write in where I met the person with whom I’m exchanging business cards so there’s a better chance of being remembered a week later when they clean out their wallet/purse.

Now that the cards are taken care of I have to come up with something called “an elevator speech.” It was described to me as something I might say about myself to someone who makes eye-contact with me on a 15 second elevator ride. Dear God! I don’t have enough internal filters to shut that particular monologue down. Weeks later I am still randomly having Tourette’s-ish outbursts of snorty giggles at all the things I could say to someone about myself in 15 seconds, and then, in a mind-numbing 180, freaking myself out because I’m not sure I can fill 15 seconds with anything notable or worth sharing. “I knit a little?” “I make an amazing frittata?” “I like to ride my bike?” “Sometimes I do volunteer work?” “I used to teach but now I don’t?” “I spend my days in a basement?” This level of summarization has thrown me. I guess I need a professional 6 Word Memoir.

What this boils down to is how do I present my best, most polished self without losing myself? Not everyone finds ex-pat Texans charming around here (you should hear the ration of shit I take about Rick Perry). I haven’t been here long enough to know the Code, not sure if I even want to know the Code, and I do not have a string of credentials behind my name. I have absolutely nothing to hide behind (except, possibly, a couple of rum-and-cokes). It’s just me and me. And, last thing–by D.C. standards I AM OLD! That’s right–O.L.D.

All that said, me and my plain-Jane business cards are going to saddle up in the next few weeks and git ‘er done. I will meet 32 year olds who were out saving the planet at the same age I was when I ran off to Mexico with David Pitman and fixed coffee for former governors at a book store coffee shop for 6 bucks an hour. They might have 3 creds behind their name, but I have a nice clean space behind mine for drawing smiley faces, which is how I’ve decided to think about it.

Thanks for listening!

I Don’t Know Anything About Basketball

The opposing team all were wearing yarmulkes, except for the two huge black boys who could not possibly be in middle school. It was game three of way too many for one summer, and the high school gym, where these boys dream of playing for real one day soon, was soupy.

The last buzzer sounded and as the gym began to clear I leaned over to David and whispered, “This is when you politely ask the parents to ‘give you a minute’ with the team and rip every single one of those boys a new one. But what do I know, I don’t know anything about basketball.”

I don’t know anything about basketball, but I do know when people are phoning it in, and I know when the adults have abdicated to kid-rule. I am beginning to think that “Oh, you’re going to LOOOVE the coaches! They’re so nice!” is mom-code for “Your child will not be pushed, and no one will make them feel bad by correcting their bad sportsmanship and poor manners.”

I wish I was talking about the opposing team, but I am not.

If only the two boys who play the entire game EVERY SINGLE TIME were asked to actually run down the court when they are given the ball (which is always).

If only they would actually look at where their teammates are before chunking the ball half-heartedly somewhere away from themselves.

If only there were more than three of the eight of them willing to actually RUN AT THE BASKET, breeze past the flailing arms of potential foulers, and take a fucking shot.

If only they were told, in no uncertain terms, that they would be shaking hands and making eye-contact, at the very least, when they congratulate the other team at the end of the game.

If only someone would worry more about building a team rather than taking a time-out every 7 minutes to make yet another sketch of the play the kids are supposed to be running. A play which does not seem to be working for them, at all. Like never. It was so predictable last night that the other team seemed to be shaking their heads about it, as if they regretted stealing the ball from the same lazy kid, half-heartedly running the same unsuccessful play every.single.time.

David kept forgetting that we were the “orange team” and started clapping for the “black team.” Except for the four minutes Matt played. He looked terrified. He is the only 6th grader on the team, and these boys are a terrible example. We’ve had to come down hard on him about his attitude.

After the game, Matt described the other team’s play as “beautiful.” He was in total admiration of the team who, despite coke bottle glasses, double hearing aids, and the glare off their sisters’ barrettes holding their yarmulkes in place, beat them like a native drum circle. Good. He should be.

I don’t know anything about basketball, but I know a team of winners when I see one. They were passionate–which is what made them better. They moved widely and freely, and owned the space like a 26-year-old owns their first home. Matt was right, it was beautiful. What if our schools felt that way? Our people? Our government?

I’d settle for my son and his team moving in that direction.