Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What is Cleveland?

I never intended to go to Cleveland. At least, it wasn't high on my list of places I wanted to visit in my lifetime. Not that there is anything wrong with the city. It is very nice, actually. And it has a gorgeous public library in the heart of downtown. But, I can honestly say I would not have discovered this fact if I had never had a chance conversation at work with my good friend Shelley. I am not sure how we got on the topic of Jeopardy, but I remember the conversation spurring me to check out when the next online test was going to be. Strangely enough, it was only a couple of weeks away, and I since I had nothing better to do that Wednesday evening, I went ahead and signed up. A quick reminder was added to my calendar, and I didn't think much of it.

The night of the online test, I made sure to let my grandma know that until I came back out of my room, I was not to be interrupted (I wanted to take it a little bit seriously, and I admit, I wasn't really sure how long it would take). I sat at my desk, eagerly watching the minutes tick by until I could log in and the test would start. At exactly 7:00 p.m., the first of fifty questions popped on the screen. The test was over in less than 15 minutes. There were only three questions I knew I had missed. Still, 47 out of 50 wasn't all that impressive in the context of Jeopardy, right? So, with this thought in mind, I relegated it to a fun experience that maybe I would repeat in another 18 months if I even remembered to do it.

Three months later, I am sitting at my desk again, reading some article or another online when I clicked over to my email. Immediately, I saw something I never thought I would see: "Jeopardy Contestant Search." My heart already beating quickly, I opened the email inviting me for an audition in Chicago on May 18. And with that, I laughed a little as my heart sunk. Of course, they would be in Chicago when I was going to be in Peru. Although being on Jeopardy has long been one of my (unvoiced) dreams, I couldn't rearrange my trip to Peru for something that may not ever amount to much. In a last ditch effort, though, I responded back explaining why I couldn't make this particular audition and practically begged for an invitation to any other audition they had available.  Three long days later, I received an email that I would be considered for auditions in Cleveland. The fact that they were still considering me was encouraging, but no date was set, and I wasn't sure if I would even be able to make that audition. I gave it a good shot, but perhaps Jeopardy was just not meant to be.

Fast forward a couple weeks later when I am at my desk at work, doing a quick check of my email (a bad habit I am trying to break, I swear), when I saw another message from Jeopardy. I almost bounced out of my chair I was so excited. I saw the date, calculated that I could slip away from work on those days, and emailed my RSVP within ten minutes of receiving the email. I was giddy. Ridiculously giddy, to the point that I was beaming ear-to-ear and could not sit still. I popped out of my chair and told my co-worker Alison right away. I was going to audition for Jeopardy! How was this happening? I had always been under the impression that this kind of thing never happened to me, but it seems that this is going to be my year for a lot of great things happening for me, so if I am going to get on the show, this will be the year to do it.

And so, with a great deal of anxiety (but also a great deal of support from the world's best friends and co-workers) I found myself in Cleveland on a warm, humid day. After killing as  much time as possible by walking around the downtown area, I finally headed to the hotel where the audition was being held. I found my way up to the suite, and there I was amid all the other hopeful contestants. I don't know why exactly, but as I listened to the conversations around me, I worried that I was hear on some fluke--surely I didn't belong in the same class as these people. After shaking off this crazy notion, I headed into the auditions ready to do the best I could. After a short explanation about what to expect and a brief video from Alex himself, we began our written test. Overall, I think I did alright--really, it boosted my confidence pretty high, actually. The producers went out to grade the tests, and we were left to wait for our "mock" game assignment. Some idle chatter ensued, but really, I think all of us were just ready to get to play with the signaling devices.

The producers came back in, all of our applications now carefully organized by whom they wanted to see first. As it turns out, I was the second contestant called, so that meant I got to get my turn out of the way immediately. The game itself was a blur...I remember holding my own on the literature questions and maybe a couple of others, but it was done in the blink of an eye. Then, it was time to go through the personality interview. When my turn came up, the first thing I was asked to do was sing. In Welsh. I knew I shouldn't have put that down as one of my interesting facts, but since I came here to prove I was Jeopardy material, I put aside all humility and sang one of the only Welsh songs I knew. I got a little bit of applause, so I guess I did alright with it, and that was that. I got to sit back and watch the rest of the people go through their games and listen to them answer questions about themselves.

I left feeling pretty good about the whole process. Knowing that the likelihood of my being picked is pretty slim (of the 2,000 to 3,000 people auditioning, only 400 will be selected), I figure I won't be hearing from anyone in the next 18 months. Still, I did well, I think I did my friends and family back home proud. And, if nothing else, it helped me realize and appreciate just what a great group of friends and family I have supporting me. It has been a long time since I have felt such overwhelming love.

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