The Therapeutic Effects of Bar Trivia (January 6, 2011)


It is no secret to anyone who checks in with my blog from time to time that I am going through a rough patch, to make a huge understatement. Long term unemployment and the psychological fuckery that goes along with the job hunt process, family troubles and insomnia have conspired to sap me mentally and physically. I paid a second visit to my doctor yesterday, in the quest to get a good night’s sleep, and she asked if I thought I might be depressed. Um, yes.

I have been doing a lot of withdrawing and avoiding lately. I don’t feel like explaining to people why I look so awful, and often stare off into space during conversation. However, there are still some invitations that prove too irresistible for a zombie to decline.

Along with my good friends Timbo and Di, I am the third member of a roving bar trivia team known as Three Dimes Down. Timbo borrowed the name from a song by the band Drive-By Truckers, which incidentally, would also make for a great trivia team moniker. Although three is a small number for a typical group, we are streamlined, which makes for quicker, less argumentative decision making. By contrast, check out the tables of 10 on a crowded night sometime. Drunkenly shouting and shoving each other is not an effective strategy. The members of Three Dimes Down all have their own unique category specialties, which is another recipe for our usual success. Di is the subject matter expert on music, art and philosophy. Timbo takes on sports, geography and a good chunk of the history questions. And I of course bring up the intellectual rear with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things pop culture.


My teammates and I played quite a few times this past Fall, but as I am certainly not at my sharpest these days, I have been loathe to suggest a rematch. But when Timbo sounded the call last night, I found myself experiencing an excitement I thought dormant.

I am a VERY competitive person. One of my worst qualities is that I want to be the best at everything, and if I can’t be, I sometimes don’t want to engage in said activity. Vain and childish yes, but my intensity can also be a huge asset when fully in charge of my faculties.

I arrived at little after 7:00 last night to meet my friends. We usually have a drink and some eats before the trivia starts, and that allows us to get all the personal catching up done away with so we can fully focus.

I won’t bore you with a lengthy play by play, but it was not Three Dimes Down’s night. After screwing us twice when we had narrowed the options down to 50-50, my teammates and I have decided that we now hate Brazil (ah Carnivale, I barely knew thee!). The round involving state nicknames was likewise a total bloodbath. On our worst days, Tim, Di and I typically finish in the top four. Last night we didn’t even crack tenth place. I need to study an atlas, like yesterday.

Anyway, the poor performance, which would normally cause a solid day’s worth of second guessing and rumination, is beside the point. It’s the strangest thing, but for the first time in an entire month, I slept like a lamb. I conked out around midnight and woke up just short of 11:00 AM. I almost forget how wonderful it is to be rested, so long has the experience been removed from me.

And I think I know why. I have been unemployed for some time, and though I have been interviewing a lot, I have yet to close a deal. My confidence has taken a huge hit. I used to be the girl who knew that once the face to face round arrived, I was unstoppable.

But now? Just this week, I had what I thought was a great conversation with an HR Manager at a travel outfit. She was so enthusiastic about my background, and assured me that I’d hear from her no later than the following morning about returning to meet the VP. Well the morning arrived and instead I received an email informing me that they had “decided to pursue other candidates.” A part-time media writer position I interviewed for two weeks ago? The CEO emailed me from Florida, where he was vacationing for the holidays, to say he enjoyed me and my samples, and would definitely be in touch when he returned to Chicago. Of course I found that same job re-posted on Craig’s List yesterday.

All this bullshit, the lack of integrity, especially when putting forth all one’s effort and very self, can be tremendously debilitating. It’s an employer’s market. They know it and we can suck it. All the rejection can lead you to question every strength and talent you once believed you had.

It may seem silly, but last night’s camaraderie with my teammates demonstrated that my competitive spirit has not been broken, just badly wounded. And just as soon as I can find a venue for my skills with Sex and the City trivia, 80s television and music, and the filmography of Jennifer Jason Leigh, I’ll be all set.



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