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I’ve got an open position. I’ve got numerous applicants.

I haven’t disregarded any of them, because what if one of them is that diamond in the rough? What if the one I cut due to lack of experience, or a poorly put-together resumé is the one I should have run with in the first place?

The applicants are as diverse as they come. Not one can be pigeon-holed. (What does that even mean?) Not one can be ignored. There are some that seem perfect for the job, and I can’t wait to get to know them fast enough. Others have a lot of potential and I would love to see them grow.

So they are all invited to the Interview. I’m pretty sure their palms are sweaty.

Me: Thanks for coming in, Potential Best-Selling Novel Idea #1.

PBSNI#1: Thanks for having me.

Me: First things first, why should I get to know you better?

#1: Well, I’m smart. I’m funny. I’ll make you think. I can inspire, astound, and encourage. I have a very tight resumé. Everything I’ve listed under “Experience” makes sense. I’m complete, from start to finish. There are no holes in my job history, no unexplained three-year period between occupations that make you wonder if I lived in my parents’ basement wearing only my underwear and binging on Bugles.

Me: I love Bugles.

#1: Oh! So do I! They’re not too salty like potato chips, but just perfec–

Me: I don’t like suck-ups.

#1: Then you’ll love me, Sir.

Me: I’m a woman.

#1: I know. I mean, I can tell, you just, I mean, well, I just got nervous, slip of the tongue, that’s all.

Me: You’re sweating. That’s gross. Just relax, and let’s get back on point.

#1: Sorry, Sir.

Me: What makes you think you’re the right fit for this position?

#1: Applicants with my attributes are quite popular these days. I know how you think. The people in your position that you admire so much work with people like me everyday. Admit it, you find yourself thinking about me even when you’re with the others, don’t you?

Me: That’s what she said.

#1: [Silence] It doesn’t feel appropriate to laugh, Sir.

Me: You’re right. Let’s keep it professional. Okay, so I find myself reviewing your resumé in between other interviews. I can’t help thinking that given the chance to work with you, we could really make a great team. But there are a lot of other promising applicants out there. Why should I focus my time and energy on you?

#1: I’m very easy to work with.

Me: That’s true. But will we be able to create something transcendent? I’m looking for an Opus, #1, not a Temp.

#1: Fair enough. I can promise that I will work as hard as you do. And working with me will give you such a great sense of accomplishment. Not just as my boss, but as THE boss. You know what I mean?

Me: I think I do…

#1: Go with your heart, Sir.

Me: Sage advice. Will you make me a million dollars and land me on the New York Times Best-Selling List twelve weeks running?

#1: I don’t think that was in the job description.

Me: You’re right. Haha! April Fool’s! But seriously, see these heels? I call them my “professional” heels as opposed to my “mommy” heels which are really just fuzzy slippers. Well, I’ve had these heels since 2001. I could use a new pair…

#1: They’re very nice.

Me: Now here’s the Big Question: why would anyone else want to read you?

#1: If you genuinely enjoy working with me, then does it matter if no one else wants to read me?

Me: GOOOAAAAAALLLLLLL! Seriously, well done, #1, I’m very impressed with that answer.

#1: I’m blushing. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a few questions about the position you’re offering.

Me: Ask away.

#1: If you offer me this job and I accept, what kind of hours are we looking at?

Me: Well, I’ve only got about two hours a day to offer you. Are you okay with being a part-time worker?

#1: For now, I suppose. What will those two hours entail?

Me: I usually spend my allotted time on Facebook, or blogging, or reading all the other blogs that are wittier than me, or on Twitter.

#1: That sounds absolutely nothing like I anticipated. Do I still get paid?

Me: No. You don’t get paid until you make me some money. I can promise you at least thousand words a day, though.

#1: Done. I’ll start on Monday.

Me: Wait. Did I just hire you?

If I lined up all my plot ideas and fired questions at them like a high-profile job interview, which ones would hold their own? And which ones will go home in an ill-fitted suit they borrowed from their roommate and an empty briefcase because they just wanted to look the part and then spend money they don’t have on a bottle of Crown Royal to ease the pain of rejection?

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“Look at this, Sweets.”

My father points the green rubber hose toward the sky, the stream of water arching across the pavement. In between rinsing off the car and watering the holly bushes, he pauses to show me the magic of catching the sunlight just right within the tiny crystal prisms flowing from somewhere hidden.

A rainbow.

Without a cloud in the sky, but beneath the water’s arch, floating in the mist.

A rainbow.

I catch my breath and try to catch the colors dancing ethereally.

The arc of the rainbow running tangent to the arc of the hose, the faintest red and blue and purple shimmering within the waterfall, the rest of the world falling away to the colorless mundane, a realm of black and white.

I move closer, fingertips tingling, tickling the cold water, desperate to touch a rainbow. My hand breaks the stream, my hand breaks the magic.

“Don’t worry, Sweets.”

I inch away wiser, as he adjusts the hose ever so slightly, summoning the beauty back. The hues hover back into place.

A rainbow.

I stare through the colors transformed from the clear and watch my father’s hands, calling forth the enchantment.

And I realize that it is not the water mingling with the sun that is magic.

I realize that it is he.

[ Note: This piece was written as a part of The Red Dress Club memoir-writing exercise RemembeRED. This week’s promptThis week, we’re giving you a photo to take you back in time. In 700 or fewer words, show us where your memory takes you. Remember that this image is merely inspiration. Your piece needn’t have a hose in your piece but we need to easily see how you were inspired by it. The photo can be seen here. As always, concrit welcome/begged for.]


I breathe deeply. I fill my lungs with as much of it as I can, and I stop to hold it there.

The scent of my childhood.

No, not just my childhood.

But the scent of my culture, my mother’s culture, my father’s culture, a slice of island living in the middle of grits and cornbread and sweet tea.

Rice. With everything.

English mixed with Tagalog, Heinz ketchup over torta.

The aroma of vinegar and soy sauce and garlic simmering for hours.

Banana leaves lending zest, color, and the tiniest bit of tang that tickles the corner of your jaw.

Pillows of steam rising from stock pots holding chicken adobo and crispy pata, sizzling skillets of lumpia, pancit if it’s someone’s birthday.

The flavors of the Philippines mixing with American oxygen, floating down the halls of our house, shimmering against the walls, lingering in my mother’s hair, telling us, with every whiff, every bite, that we are sons and daughters of a culture rich and unique and satisfying.

A culture transplanted from the tropical seasons of a cluster of islands swimming in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where everyone is Auntie or Uncle, Tita or Tito, where friends are family gathering around lechon and who’s bringing the halo halo and leche flan?, a land I was born in, a land we left for American living, a land that runs through my blood and skin and memory, linking me to an entire population of tan-toned, black-haired, warm-hearted people insisting, “you eat, eat!”, a bloodline mingled with the blood of Europe in my own children, who love pizza as much as pulvoron, reminding me, over every bowl of fried rice, that we are all a part of this fragrant world.

[ Note: This piece was written as a part of The Red Dress Club memoir-writing exercise RemembeRED. This week’spromptThis week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory.  Don’t forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing! As always, concrit welcome/begged for. ]

Confession: I wrote a novel.

Confession the Sequel: I hate it.

Wait. Let me start over.

Few things were more satisfying, as a person who writes, than completing this novel. After months of writing during every free moment, and well into the night, I hit a 67k word count, typed up an Epilogue, emailed it to my sisters who served as beta readers, got a notebook full of praise in the form of smiley faces and points of ( v a s t ) improvement back, sat down to revise it, and thought, “Ugh. I’m bored with this.”

On one hand, I love writing. Often I will have a thought or a memory and start composing it in my mind. I think like a writer. Impeccable grammar comes easily to me. I’m good at subject/verb agreement. Once or twice I’ve even felt eloquent. Sometimes I get the notion that I just might get paid for it.

And that’s the other hand.

I don’t write for the craft of it. Well, I do, because I can’t help myself, but then I also really want to make some money doing it. I want someone to decide that my writing is tight enough to pay money just to read what I have to say and how I say it.

That, and I spend entirely too much time and money at Target.

I write.

A lot.

I have a dozen stories in my head that sound good until I start writing one. I get as far as the outline and character descriptions before I decide that it will be crap. I can’t commit myself to any one of them, because then I get bored, and I don’t have patience to see one through to the end. I jump around. I write the same line over and over again. I overuse favorite words. I don’t want to tack my name to something, because what if it’s crap? Then I will be a crappy writer, and all my friends will know it.

I can’t help it. If I don’t try, then I can never say that I failed at being a writer.

Then again, I also won’t be making some bucks.

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© Jessica Buttram and This Buttram Writes, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jessica Buttram and This Buttram Writes with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Don't make me cut you.