September 17, 2005

Call for submissions.

I'm chipping away at the difficult parts of my back-to-school paperwork: I've got the essay written, edited, and re-written, I've figured out my hypothetical schedule of classes to prove that I can finish my degree in two semesters, and I've answered most of the questions on the department application. I'm leaving writing my name and social security number on six pieces of paper until last, because (call me cocky if you like) I don't believe it'll be too difficult. But I'm finding myself slightly stuck on one of these damn department questions.

The first four are easy: why have you decided to major in anthropology, what areas of anthropology are of interest to you, what are your future career and educational goals, what's your background? I already came up with answers to those in my essay, so I just need to re-write them. But number five is, unfortunately, "Tell me an interesting/odd/funny/sad/cute/bizarre/... (fill in the blank) anecdote about yourself that will forever imprint the essence of your personality on my memory."

Now, I've got such an anecdote handy and it sums up the essence of my personality pretty much exactly. See, when I was a freshman I thought it would be a good idea to have my car up here in Berkeley, but parking at the dorms was insanely expensive. My sister lived in a couple of apartments with street parking that year, so I mostly left the car at her place. At some point, and I don't remember what prompted this, I had to move the car to my dorm and park it there. I drove it back from Katie's Oakland apartment one night, which happened to be a particularly rainy variety of night, and found a parking space on Hearst Avenue right outside my dorm. It was a rather steep space in which to parallel-park, but I could do it. I eased in forward, braked, and prepared to reverse so I could straighten out. "Now, Dianna," I said to myself, "you need to be careful so that you don't roll forward into the car in front of you when you take your foot off the brake. You know your car rolls a bit when it's on a hill, especially a wet and slippery hill." So I took a deep breath, concentrated, and moved my foot smoothly and quickly from the brake to the gas. I didn't roll forward into the car in front of me. No, since I had forgotten to put my car in reverse, I accelerated into the car in front of me.

My problem is that this is not necessarily the kind of personality I want to admit to having while I'm trying to impress the anthropology department into accepting me. It's memorable, yes, and it's a perfect answer to the question of What Is Dianna Like? But I think I might need something a little more, well, competent. Suggestions? Anyone?

Posted by dianna at September 17, 2005 04:38 PM

Hum. I'd love to help, but I'm not actually privy to many of the anecdotes of your life. You could tell them about how you competently and efficiently trained me in a short time for the clerk position, but that only really works if you feel the essence of your personality is "The sort of person who can competently and efficiently train people in a short time for a variety of somewhat complex tasks."

I think self-effacing works. They ask for funny, right? It's hard to be funny and also insightful about your personality without being self-effacing. If you were applying for a position as a parking valet, I'd leave the story out. But given the circumstances I think it's fine.

Posted by: Zach S. at September 18, 2005 08:13 PM

I concur. Good anecdote.

Only, at the end, add "and then later that day I drove around destroying fragile indigenous cultures by exposing them to MTV and capitalism. But it was totally by accident, I swear."

It'll be awesome, because anthropologists have a great sense of humor.

Posted by: poot at September 19, 2005 05:50 AM

I'm applying for archaeology, though, not social/cultural anthropology. So I'd have to explain that I was delicately and precisely excavating a culturally significant site with a backhoe (shockingly enough, that is actually done, including the precise part) when I accidentally reversed and drove over a mound of fragile human skulls, permanently obscuring their burial order and position. That's the kind of story that archaeologists tell each other around campfires and then lay awake clutching their blankets and trembling all night. It'll definitely get their attention.

Posted by: Dianna at September 19, 2005 07:17 AM

Archaeology? You're killing me Dianna, you're killing me! All my best anthropology material, down the drain!

Oh well, back to the drawing board.

Posted by: poot at September 20, 2005 05:56 AM

You're kidding me, right? There are way more jokes you can make about digging crap out of the ground and trying to figure out what it is than about going around asking people about their lives. Ever seen a book called Motel of the Mysteries?

Posted by: Dianna at September 20, 2005 11:09 AM

Dianna, why the hell aren't my underline tags working on your page?

Posted by: Dianna at September 20, 2005 11:10 AM