Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 18. My stomach gurgles. This foreshadows one thing: an inevitable trip to the bathroom is in my near future. I stand in the middle of a mob of women—no idea where the ladies’ room is. Awesome. This is not how I envision beginning my experience with the Women in Film mentoring program—needing to take a shit! We inch our way towards a set of double doors. I had no idea there’d be this many women applying for a mentor. Even though my abdominal discomfort escalates I tell myself, “just relax, you can make it through.” I find it pretty much intolerable to poop in public bathrooms. I highly doubt I’m alone in this outlook just like I’m obviously not alone in wanting a mentor.
My system tends to react dramatically to pain and nerves. A few months ago, I pinched a nerve in my shoulder. The pain was so intense I basically passed out and relieved my bowels at the same time. Now that takes talent. I’m surprised my nerves are acting up tonight. I feel ready. I feel prepared. I feel quite confident about my plan for the year, my new venture, my career goals and my application for a mentor that’s about to be reviewed. Apparently, my head doesn’t know what my intestines are dealing with.
I spy a restroom sign as I make it to the checkpoint through the doors. I consider making a run for it but then a bald guy or a guy who purposely shaves his head, I’m not sure which, asks, “What’s your name?” “Kelli Joan Bennett.” He highlights my name with a green marker then gives me a smile. I take this as my dismissal and permission to walk on into the theatre where they’re holding this meeting. I choose a seat in the third row center—I want to see the speakers. I sit down and quickly realize I simply cannot make it through an interview in my condition. I stand right back up and make my way back out of the theatre in the direction of the aforementioned sign. I’ll spare you the details of what happens next. Needless to say, I return to my seat a new woman. I feel the excitement return of being a part of this organization, of being a woman in film.
What surprises me about the rest of the evening is that no interview or review of my application ever takes place. It’s a very informal transfer of information about the program and a question and answer session afterwards. I distinctly remember reading on their website about the program and that there would be an interview and a review of your application at this seminar. Where else would I have gotten that idea in my head? Apparently, they’ve done away with this aspect of the program—there will be no formal interview. I look at the web page I originally read that there would be an interview tonight and the language has been changed to read exactly what happened. I’m a little bummed considering what I just put myself through in order to be comfortable and present during said interview but whatever, I already love the women running the program. And, despite the bathroom hijinks, I feel my application speaks for itself.
Me and the other 179 women applying to the program casually toss our applications into two mail carrier boxes. We will hear from the program director in about a month whether we’ve been matched with a mentor or not. Yes, there’s a chance we might not get a mentor. During the Q&A, a woman in my row raises her hand. They call on her. “I presume you won’t take applications from anyone who didn’t come tonight? I flew in from northern California assuming this was an interview.” She sounds very bitter apples. At least all I had to do was go in a public bathroom.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…nerves and public restrooms reluctantly included.