Wensdy Febuay 2, 01 //Th Stte en
Wednesday, February 26, 2014 // The Statement7B
A DAY AT THE FAIR AMY HENSON
For writers, it's a hard-knock life. Seriously. The world is funky,
and the world is also filled with rainwater, chocolates, glue
sticks and star fruit. Which is to say, the world is filled with the 5 T I R !
visual, the brave. We write so we can remember. We write so
we can press the eye's detail to the page; so we can make and ER I K A
shift and save and carve. It's not magic, but it's something that N E STO R
levitates, touches gravity and enfolds both brain and heart in
a delicious way. It's a difficult duty to do justice to the planet's
wondrous weight and gold. Yet, writers somehow manage to
cause sparks with the alphabet.
This year, The Statement's Literary Issue attempts to introduce
you to writing that uproots and imagines. We hope these pieces
cause readers to rethink the familiar into the strange. We hope
they turn the common into the fresh. Here at The Statement,
we are incredibly in awe and proud to feature the creative work
of such talented student writers. We hope the readers will find
that the poems and prose in this issue cradle, flit, unsettle the
dirt and do work in the world.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY AMY MACKENS AND RUBY WALLAU
After the fever
I only remember waking up to find everything
my pale n ightmare
of the sun in a rainstorm
and my mother moving in and out of sight
stumbling and laughing,
the messy relief of night-watch survived:
my baby chanted,
whispered, a thousand times. The bundle
of my body under three blankets, rolling over
and over again. Hot dry tongue, purple sky
becoming pink & how the room
grew larger as it spun.
My father sat sitting by the door,
his fingers curled around a cup of coffee.
Close enough to touch, the lines of his mouth
pulled down, my sister's grayjumper drip
dripping on stained wood. The floor shook
when he stood up, and touched a single finger
to my glassy skin. Behind me the rocking chair
was creaking, someone's dog
Beyond the great green incline
of the couch I saw my mother's fingers
twitchingover buttered toast, smelled
her sharp familiar perfume like the aftermath
of fear, In my dream, my mother turned
pursuer, and I woke up with a stitch in my side.
And yet: I sawher only
in profile, as I dreamed-
it migh t have been
OP Ar 00 0
'm an imposter in my blazer from eighth grade.
Waiting in line at (Fortune 500 Company X), I'm
mentally prepping for the eight-or-so minutes Iwill
have to make an impression, and my brain just won't turn
off. Be natural. Be exceptional. Be funny. Be relatable. Be
cool. Be smart. Be interested. Be interesting. Just be your-
I wipe a sweaty palm across the back of the leather
resume holder I felt compelled to buy junior year. It leaves a
smear, and I debate blowing it dry with my mouth. instead
I open the thing up, looking at my resume for the millionth
My resume. The story of me in a neutral serif font, size
10. Complete with a professional summary, list of experi-
ences and strong action verbs for each bullet point (not
forgetting to show the results of my responsibilities with
The result of hours of frustration with unaligned indents
and bullets and headlines, this 8.5" by 11" sheet of paper has
become my "foot in the door." Kind of.
"I look at resumes for new hires at Puma, and we real-
ly just go through the database and search certain buzz-
words." My cousin, the Global Product Group Manager at
Puma, helped me with my resume last year. "Not higher
than a 3.5 GPA? Gone. No retail experience? Gone. No lead-
ership experience? Gone."
"How many people get hired based on their resumes?"
"Barely any. It's all about networking."
So, I learn the art of the palm-to-palm handshake
(Remember: only two shakes! Any more than that and
you're stuck in a handshake-death-spiral with a recruiter
who will probably dismiss you as unemployable while you
incessantly shake and smile and shake and smile). I learn
about selling myself, about dealing with recruiters, about
"networking." I learn because I have to, because those
around me are also learning, because this is what it takes to
become a successful adult, right?
I imagine the career fair from above looks like a hellish,
business-casual picnic. The 48 company recruiting tables
are draped in brightly colored tablecloths, swarmed by
eager-for-employment University of Michigan students -
ants in formal attire. We crawl, we schmooze, we shake
hands. Employ us, we beg. We take our promotional pens
and sunglasses and water bottles and move on. Except in
this ant colony, we don't work together. In this, it's every'
ant for himself.
As a senior at a competitive university like Michigan, the
job hunt is both exhilarating and exhausting; we hate it, but
we love it. All of us aren't sure what we will really be
doing at these companies. but we go for the big jobs
anyway. We want the great salaries. We want to hK
successful and we want to be happy. But at what point do
perfected elevator pitches, strong handshakes and font-
size-10 resumes make us stand out"
Finally, the recruiter smiles in my direction, indl-
eating that my turn has arrived. She is no older than
24. fresh-faced and happy to have her day away Fron
the office. I go in for a firm, doubie-pump palm-to-pain
handshake, and the dance negins.
"Hi! I'm Katherine. Great to meet vou..'"
"...Amy. Hi! Great to meet you, Katherine. (insert
small talk here. i.e. 'It' sto hot in here, how are you
"(Insert response small talk. i.e. 'I know right? So hot.
But hangin' in there!'). So tell me a little about yourself,
Tell her about myself. Tell her that I am always, always,
always on time. That Iam naturally curious, and love work-
ing with smart, creative people. That I am a writer. That
I love making people smile. That I am an English major
who isn't planning on teaching or going to graduate school,
actually. That my favorite sections of the New York Times
are Technology, Opinion and Books. That I would give 100
percent to this company because I've given 100 percent to
all of my activities since I started dance class at four years
old. That I really want to find a job that I love, but fear I
never will. That I hate recruiting, hate this blazer, hate that
my palms are sweaty, hate that I'm second-guessing my lib-
eral arts degree. That no job offer will be better than these
past years as a student and that I never want to leave this
place for the real world.
Myself is me, sitting in my Michigan sweats talking with
friends about our obscene Oreo intake, laughing at Drake
on Saturday Night Live. I am an empathetic listener with a
dry sense of humor and naturally decisive tendencies - but
somehow couldn't get all that onto my resume.
Just be yourself but I don't see how I can.
Especially when I'm wearing this outfit. Why this is
called business casual, I'll never understand. Casual is
jeans and a tee shirt. Casual is sneakers. Casual is com-,
fortable, and I feel anything but. I notice with envy that
Recruiter Katherine and all of her recruiter buddies from
(Fortune 500 Company X) are wearing jeans and company-
logo T-shirts. "We don't dress up for work. Really, we would
never wear something like you're wearing." This comment
makes me feel weird, but okay. Conversation continues.
Eventually, we end up discussing the job posting I found
online for a writing-based position. I'm feeling pretty excit-
ed about it, and ask about the recruiting process for full-
"Oh, I don't really
kind of work.
I recruit for
you can go
talk to Jessica!
She knows more
kinds of posi-
move over to Jessica, a girl I swear I have seen walking
through the Diag over the years. She is wearing her blue
jeans, standard-issue logo T-shirt and a pair of Converse
sneakers, and looks more like the college student in this
exchange than I do. I go through the hand-shake-small-
talk-tell-me-about-yourself routine, and then ask about
that same writing position.
"Oh, interesting redirect by Katherine. I actually just
started three weeks ago, so I don't really know much about
anything other than Sales. You should go to www.(fortune-
500companyx).com/careers and check it out though!"
Yes, I have checked that out, actually.
"Great, thank you for your help."
"Would you like a stress ball?"
Yes, I would like a stress ball.
I don't give her my resume, and my foot remains firm-
ly outside the door to (Fortune 500 Company X). I crawl
onward, shoving my new stress ball into my purse.
I wait in another excruciatingly long line for a different
company, and start to chat with the guy waiting in front
of me. His blazer hangs folded over his right arm, and the
rings of sweat pooling around his armpits make my thank-
ful that my nervous sweating problem is in my palms.
"Yeah, I'm a sophomore. I'm here for internships."
"Cool! What's your major?"
"Computer Science. I just built my own server this sum-
mer. I can access it from anywhere in the world. It's dope.
What's your major?"
Holy shit - what am I doing next to this kid?
"I'm studying English and New Media," I tell baby-
"Like blogs? Wow, they have classes for that? I thought
anyone could blog."
I decide to disengage, reaching for my iPhone to shut
this kid up. He puts his blazer back on and taps his foot
impatiently, waiting for his turn. Later on, I can hear
baby-genius talking with a recruiter from a huge
technology company. His voice sounds different;
his hands are working it; he's doing the dance. I
close my eyes. He's a sophomore.
"NEXT!" My turn.
I wish I could say I didn't know what it was that marked me, A
that when the boysyetlI insults as they pass me on State LEX KIM E
or from the other side of the sidewalk,
I would notknowhowthey found out.
but I do.
Iam aware of the way myvoice sounds,
what my gestures look like,
the unconscious paintbrush switch of my hips as I walk down the street,
the brightstreaks i miy asyminetrical haircut.
a groupofdrunken frat boys isan alert.
every muscle becomes st iff, every tai ecomes raised,
I am never more self-obsessed than ' those moments,
aiialyzingwhat I look like:
am I wearing tight pants''
am I wearing bright colors?*
are my nails painted'.'
do I have glitter in my hair?
tave they' heard iy voice'
how readableam 1iin this oment?
is it likely they'lI revisit ch dhood,
decide to play
it Ilend, it doesn't mat..
I was wearing a baggy \Miciga in hoodie
with my painted nails in mypockets and a hood over my sale
they still saw me,
even from a movsingcar.
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