Thursday, February 25, 2010

bravada, mi querida

Chile is a combination of all the scary things I've ever done in life, times 10.

Language barrier & distance of Spain + lack of friends of Port Townsend + new job with high expectations of Seattle Times + pressure of wanting this to work out more than any other job in the past = one very frightened Molly.

I know I need to remember that all those previous times worked out - look how successful I was in Spain, and Port Townsend, and the Times! - but this feels different. Spain, I had friends and English speakers in my school program. I had the beach to go to and be surrounded by people. In Port Townsend, everyone is a crazy hippie and proactive in making friends. At the Times, I was only the part-time intern and the expectations weren't that high, plus I had a host of editors, teachers and former interns offering me guidance. I knew what I was going into with that one. I know the routine of a newspaper by now.

But Reuters is different. I don't know what writing for a wire service is going to look like. Do I write one story a week? a day? an hour? I don't know that much about business. All the other writers, I've been told, are native Spanish speakers. What if I go out on a super-important assignment and don't catch any of what the source is saying? What if I can't write fast enough? This is the gateway to my dream job - my foot in the door to getting where I've dreamed of going since I was in high school. What if I get down there and they realize they've made a horrible mistake? What happens when they realize I'm not as fluent as I ought to be and that I have no business-writing experience and that I can't churn out stories on as tight of deadlines as they expect me to?

And who do I go to when I'm stressed out and scared and unsure of myself? I don't know a single person on the entire continent. My parents can't come down and comfort me; it's a $1000 plane ticket for any of my friends who want to come visit. (I can't find any cheaper, Ella, I've looked, I'm sorry!) I know this is going to be a good teaching experience, and that I have to learn to fend for myself sooner or later, but I don't think I'm there yet. I'm not grown-up enough or brave enough or strong enough to be this independent.

I'm lonely just thinking about it.

Love always,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

hola! tienes bigotes?

I think I'll blog about things I want to happen more often. 2 hours after writing that last one, I got an email from my professor. He forwarded me the message from the guy at Reuters, who said:

"...our LatAm editors have decided to accept Molly and send her to our Santiago, Chile bureau..."

Santiago??? I didn't even think it was an OPTION!

I'm going to Chile! For 10 weeks. Starting as close to June 14 as I can swing it.

Chile. Que guay. I don't know ANYONE in Chile. Pero bueno. I didn't know anyone in Port Townsend, either, or really in Spain, and look how that turned out.

I'm looking forward to Skype parties with everyone, especially with Katie, who will be in Paris for a month and has insisted that our Skype calls be "Mustaches Only!!" oui oui, senor!

Love always,

Friday, February 19, 2010

waiting, sweetheart, just waiting

Still no word on where Reuters is going to send me. I'm pretty sure the only two options are Mexico City and Buenos Aires, and after the stress of thinking I wasn't going to get it at all, I'd be happy going to either one.

Overall, though, Buenos Aires would be my first choice. (Aside from the fact that it would be winter. Stupid Southern Hemisphere. I don't want a whole year of winter!) But really - my friend Nate studied there a couple summers ago, and told me that he'd connect me with his host brother and all his futbol-playing Argentinean friends. Chya! (Except they all have mullets. No love for the mullet.)

The thing is, Mexico City in July and August would be miserable. Sweltering and sticky and 20 million people and horrible pollution and people getting their heads chopped off. I'm kind of partial to my head and don't want it chopped off...

...but Mexico City is the cultural and historical capital of Latin America. It'd probably be way more exciting than Buenos Aires.

We shall see. God's plan has been pretty good so far; I think I can trust him to pick my location for me.

Love always,

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Yesterday was an emotionally tumultuous day. My goodness.

After not being able to fall asleep/waking up every hour during the night, I got up at about 7:45 yesterday morning, so that I could move around and be alert by the time my 9:00 interview rolled around. Right - interview - on Tuesday or Wednesday, the people from Reuters e-mailed me to set up a phone interview.

Now, this interview was supposed to be just a formality. The head of the COM department, who has been incredibly reassuring through all of this, told me it was going to 90% proving that I speak Spanish and 10% affirming that I have the "journalistic drive." So on Thursday night, I went to a friend's house and spoke Spanish for a couple hours, to make sure I was in the zone. Didn't really reassure me, as my lack of sleep showed, but it was good practice.

Okay. Ever since I got the stamp of approval from the COM department, I feel like everyone around me has been much more certain of my success than I have been. I love my mom, but I felt like she was jinxing me when she approached everyone at church with, "Did you hear what Molly's going to be doing this summer??" MOM! Might be doing this summer, MIGHT! Anyway. The COM dept. guy continued to profess his belief that I was going to wow them in the interview, which made it really hard to not get my hopes up.

Then the interview. This was a conference call with 4 people, working out of 4 different countries in South America: Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Chile. I hate phone interviews. Isn't it only 15% of communication that comes from what we say? Without a face-to-face, I had no body language cues to go on. Which makes Spanish even harder...

...but then, they didn't seem too concerned with my Spanish. No, they preferred instead to quiz me on my knowledge of South American foreign policy. "If you were Mexico, and you saw that perhaps the U.S. wasn't the best partner, who would you trade with--which countries would you look to?"


Maybe if I were a political science major focusing on Mexico, I would have an intelligent answer for that. But I'm not. And my answer did not seem to impress the British woman on the other end. British accents sound so incredibly condescending! My heart sank a little more every time she asked me a question, or responded (after a long pause) with, "Well, all right then....anyone else have any questions?"

I was only called upon to speak Spanish for about 25% of the interview. That, I wasn't worried about. Spanish is comfortable. What's not comfortable is being asked, "If you were in an elevator with the president of Argentina, what would you ask her?"


No, I didn't say that. I said something about how she's encouraging other women of Latin America to work toward higher positions in the government and combat the ever-present machismo. Not very politically savvy.

We all said "ciao," I hung up the phone, and leaned my head down on the table and started to cry. I felt so inadequate and if I hadn't prepared for a final exam. I could hear the conversation taking place about me after I left the call. The nice Brazilian woman would say, "Well, she was very nice; her Spanish was very good." Then the British woman: "She didn't know anything." "Yes, but did you know all that much when you first came here?" "Well, if I really wanted a job like this, I think I would have at least researched a bit. She clearly doesn't want it enough."


Katie (roommate) took me out to Chipotle, which was nomtastic but couldn't quite make me feel better. Talked to my dad, my mom, my editor at the Times...all still wanted to be optimistic, which frustrated the hell out of me. They hadn't heard how stupid I was on the interview! I didn't want to hear more parent-like conviction that it was all going to work out. It's nice to have people believe in me, but I felt they were prolonging the inevitable reality.

I went up to talk to the COM dept. guy, before my Spanish rehearsal, and he was very surprised to hear about the interview. He hadn't expected anything like that, he said; maybe they got mixed up in what they were supposed to be testing me for. Reuters has a deal with the UW, and a few other universities, where they take one of our interns every year. This interview, again, was supposed to be a formality. Domke said I should email the main Reuters guy and tell him that I wasn't prepared to answer questions with the level of knowledge they asked me, but that I was more than willing to familiarize myself with those things.

I left his office feeling a bit better; he said, "I know you're really anxious about this, but I'll fight really hard for you...Don't worry, we're gonna get you down there." I drafted the email on my phone, and sent it to him, to check it. As it sent, however, my phone loaded my new emails, and I had one from Domke:

"Molly: Don't send that email! Or if you did, don't worry. I just got an email from Greg; he said you did well!! We'll discuss placement next week."


Placement. As in, JOB PLACEMENT. As in, LATIN AMERICA. As in I GOT IT!!

Joder. A sudden, unforeseeable end to 6 of the most hellishly stressful hours of my life. But it all worked out in the end.

This is a really long, very journal-y blog post. Hopefully my next post will be just 2 words: "Buenos Aires." It'll be cold, but I'd much rather go there than Mexico City. 20 million people and pollution during the hottest part of the year? No, gracias...but of course, I'll be happy no matter where I go.

Hola, dream job. No more running off, okay? Let's hang out for a bit, you and I.

Love always,