if you panic, you will drown.


yesterday, i wrote an email to the hiring manager at the department of corrections & rehabilitation. i told her that i wished to cancel my interview, since i had read the duty statements and felt that i didn't have the necessary experience to qualify for the position. honestly, i had just received my umpteenth rejection letter for an office assistant position, and i felt that another failed interview and subsequent rejection would be another blow to my already twisted sense of self-worth. i even called the hiring manager and left a message, essentially stating the same thing: "i am under-qualified. i don't have the experience. why don't you just save time and turn me down now?"

but my aunt, a state worker, insisted that i show up to this interview. she said that the hiring manager was out today and yesterday, so she probably didn't even receive my message or email. she hasn't called or written back, so i assume that this was the case. anyway, i dragged myself out of bed, and went to this interview. these two older women interviewed me, and i was able to convince them, and almost myself, that i was a super qualified candidate, and that my two years as an americorps volunteer actually meant something. i described myself as a "self-starter," "innovative," and "responsible." they bought it. at the end, the woman herself said, "good interview," and as she passed another coworker in the hall, she said, "let me introduce you to this very talented, young man." even if i had just interviewed for a crappy job i will end up hating, at least it gave me a sense that someone was willing to hire me for a crappy job i will end up hating. i haven't even had that yet.

at the relax inn and suites in el centro, ca, meagan and i jumped in the swimming pool after spending a long, hot day wandering the stinky san diego zoo. the pool actually closed at 8, but the front desk attendant said that we could swim for another hour. there was a family of swedes in the pool, and i remarked to meagan that this was something straight out of a raymond carver story. who finds a family of swedes swimming at night at a hotel swimming pool in el centro, ca? the swedes said they were on holiday for a month, and that they had gone to sea world, disneyland, and universal studios. they were also going to visit new york, and some other places while on holiday. i was pretty envious of them. they, after all, had universal health care, their money was worth more, they got to travel, and they looked healthier and happier than i did. also, their children, two girls, knew how to swim.

i never learned how to swim. when i was younger, i thought that it was because i was fat. fat boys can't float. in the deep end, i always clung to the side of the pool. people would offer me the same advice, and at the swimming pool in el centro, meagan repeated most of what i had heard all my life. "keep kicking. use your arms. don't panic. if you panic, you will drown." in truth, i can doggy paddle and swim rather ungracefully from one side of the pool to the other. but i can't stay stationary in the deep end. i tried for a little while. i kicked and swooped my arms up and down like a bird, but each time, i went under. there were moments when i felt like i was really getting it. i could float for about ten seconds, and then i would think, what am i doing? i can't swim! consequently, at these exact moments, i would go under. there was a time, too, when i really thought it was all over. water rushed through my nose and i swallowed a lot of it.

i was doing fine, but i can consciously remember precise moments of self-doubt, and how that self-doubt physically pulled me under. maybe one day i will learn how to swim, or at the very least, how not to panic.

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