Here’s what last week was like: On Sunday I flew to Detroit and gave a speech at the Public Relations Society of America. Then I flew back to Madison on Tuesday and met with an investor who only wanted to talk about my blog even though I want him to put more money into my company. Then the farmer slept over Tuesday night, and drove me to the airport at 4 a.m. so I could fly to Ft. Lauderdale to give a talk the Electronic Recruiting Exchange. On Thursday morning I woke up at 4 a.m. again and flew to San Francisco and took a car to Sand Hill Road, venture capital mecca of the universe.
In the car, I called the farmer for fifteen minutes of fun. I should have been preparing for the venture capital meeting. But I was so tired, and I told myself the call would make me perky for presentation edits.
In that car, on that call, the farmer dumped me.
He has actually dumped me a lot. Five times in four-and-a-half months. In fact, he’s dumped me so often that he has already dumped me once when I’ve been on the phone in a car. And he has already dumped me once when I flew to San Francisco.
So you’d think that maybe this would be familiar and I would just plow through it like the other times. But there is a theme to the dumping. He wants something to be different and instead of telling me, he dumps me. So I convince him that if he asks for something then probably I can give it to him, but he has to ask. So he asks and we go on a few more weeks, and then he dumps me again.
This time, I realized that I should not keep convincing him to ask for something instead of dumping me. I think I realized this after I twittered that he keeps dumping me and it was like confessional because I hadn’t told anyone before, and the universal tweet response was that I should get out of the relationship.
So this time, when he dumped me, I decided it was really the end.
I said, Okay, and we hung up. Nothing else. You might think that being together four months would mean we have stuff at each others’ houses. But the farmer is 38 years old, and he’s never been in a relationship longer than four months, so I think we both knew that leaving anything at anyone’s house was too optimistic.
Which means it’s a clean, no-strings break.
Which would have been completely true if it weren’t that I was so sad. And if it weren’t that I had to give a big presentation two hours later. And on top of that, I didn’t have the sales numbers finished that I would need for the meeting.
So I took drastic measures. I could tell I was in shock and I was going to need to cry and I didn’t have anywhere to break down. So I got a hotel room, even though I wouldn’t be sleeping over. I sat on the bed and stared at the wall and got scared that I would never be in love again in my life.
But then I realized that I never fall apart. I get through lots of stuff and people always say it’s so much but really, what else can you do? People get through what they have to. So then I worried that I’d get through this but I’d be numb. One of those people who is great at work but checked out everywhere else in life. I worried that I wasn’t crying.
I didn’t cry. I opened my computer and realized that I didn’t even have the numbers I needed for making a slide. So I called Tim, the guy who helps me with my PowerPoint stuff. And I said, “Where are the sales figures?”
And he said, “Where is the email you said you’d send so I could do the sales figures?”
And I said, “Crap.”
So we worked on the slides, and I know my voice sounded like I was trying really hard to hold it together, but I hoped that Tim thought it was because I was nervous that I was missing the slides.
I said, “I hope the guy at [renowned VC firm] is nice.”
Tim said, “You don’t need someone to be nice. You need someone to be direct and honest.”
And then I started crying. I said, “Tim, the farmer dumped me.”
And Tim said, “Again? He dumped you last time you were out here, too.”
“This time I’m not trying to convince him,” I said. “And I do need someone who is nice. I’m sick of direct and honest. I want nice.”
Tim said, “I’m sorry.” He suggested that maybe I should move the slide about my accomplishments to the front of the presentation so I can feel good about myself right away.
So I redid my makeup to fix the teary mascara. And I put the slide in the beginning of the deck, and I went to the meeting.
I ate three chocolates in the lobby because I remember reading that kids who ate a chocolate bar right before the SAT scored higher.
I pitched the company. The guy said he was familiar with my site.
“You mean you read my blog?”
“Yes,” he said.
I told him that my company is not my blog. Then we ran through all the company stuff.
At the end of the presentation, this is what he asked me: “Who was your childhood hero?”
My first thought was that this was like a classic interview question: “What food would you be if you were a food?” And I decided that it was important to give an answer that I could talk about in a way that would be consistent with who I am. And who I want him to think I am.
I said, “Judy Blume.” As soon as that came out of my mouth I realize that I was going to have to talk about myself as a writer, and not as a CEO. And all investors want to grill me on my ability to lead a large company. Except the investors who immediately think their friend will run my company because I will be a blogger.
It’s times like this, paragraphs like that, when I think, what am I doing? How am I ever going to get funding when I write so often and openly about my dark, funding underbelly? I used to tell myself that the investors have no time to read my blog, but in fact, the investors are so enthralled with reading my blog that they have started asking for advice on starting their own blog.
And still, I keep writing. Because when I think about how I got though last week—the too-much travel, and the high-pressure meetings, and being dumped for the fifth time—the only thing I can think of that will make things better is to write about it. All of it.
And then I think that the investor is a genius for asking me my childhood hero because it does, in fact, reveal who I am. I just have to keep reminding myself that Judy Blume is not only a writer. She is an empire.