Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Am I The First Purina Cat Chow Correspondent?



"Purina Cat Chow has kicked off a nationwide search to find the first-ever Purina Cat Chow Correspondent, an individual who will travel the country and connect with fellow cat owners. The Purina Cat Chow Correspondent will earn a one-year, $50,000 compensation and will share his or her experiences on catchow.com and Purina Cat Chow’s social media channels.

The Purina Cat Chow Correspondent should be a passionate and knowledgeable cat owner with a vibrant personality and interest in learning and sharing about the cat-owner relationship. No formal training or expertise is required to apply!"


When I first saw the posting for the Purina Cat Chow Correspondent position, my heart skipped a beat. Could this be the dream opportunity I was hoping for?

For the past eight months, I've dedicated every spare moment of my life to working on Catsparella. From researching and coming up with ideas for new posts, to taking the time to connect with fellow cat writers and animal lovers, the life of a blogger is like an extra full-time job, without any pay. So while Catsparella is not currently generating any type of income for me, what has kept me going is the fact that I truly love what I'm doing, and believe that it can only lead to good things in my life. I have said before, and will say again that one of my favorite parts about running this blog is getting to meet such wonderful people, and learning the stories behind their awesome kitties through my interviews, and weekly Caturday posts. It often blows my mind to think that something I do by myself, often in the privacy of my bedroom, has allowed me the opportunity to connect with so many amazing people from around the world!

But back to the contest. There were several ways listed to apply, such as through an online written application with a picture, or with an uploaded video. I also learned that there were going to be five in-person casting calls at various PetSmart locations across the country. Unfortunately, the closest one to my home in New Jersey was going to be in Boston, Massachusetts the following weekend.

My best friend James is a video production pro, and I hurriedly emailed him about my plans to create a memorable video for the contest, while all the while another idea was formulating in my head. I have a Great Aunt who lives just outside of Boston, and quickly decided that I needed to find out if I could come stay with her. This was my life, and I was going for it! I emailed James back telling him that the video shoot was off, and with only a week to go before the February 26th audition date, arrangements were made to stay at my Aunt's house. My Dad offered to come along on the trip for moral support, which I happily accepted, since I also had more practical (if not slightly embarrassing) motivations for wanting him to tag along: I've never driven further than New York City or Philadelphia by myself, and needed someone to show me how to pump my own gas! (NJ is one of two states where pumping your own gas is illegal).

On Friday February 25th, relentless downpour through every state turned our six hour drive to Boston into a nearly eight hour endeavor. My Aunt, who was thrilled by our impromptu visit, prepared us a wonderful welcome dinner, filled with delicious food, wine, and laughter. When I finally peered out the window a few hours later before heading to bed, I was stunned to see everything in sight covered with a fresh, thick layer of snow. Even worse, the large, fluffy flakes showed no signs of stopping, and after the hellacious East Coast winter we've been experiencing, I was prepared for the worst. "Oh, no!" I thought! "Please let me not have traveled all this way to be thwarted by a snowstorm!"

I retired to the guest room, still anxious about the snow, despite reassurances from the local news that the forecast for Saturday was mild temperatures and sunshine. Exhausted from the long day of driving, I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly, but was up bright and early the next morning, excited and nervous for what was in store.

After a filling breakfast of bagels and cereal, and confirming that the snow had melted, all three of us piled into my Aunt's car for the 20-minute drive to PetSmart in Everett, MA, the site of the casting call. They dropped me off at the front door and went to look for a parking spot, while I nervously entered the store, unsure of what to expect.

In a wonderful stroke of luck, as soon as I walked in, I was greeted by the smiling face of Tonia Evans, The Feline Aficionada, who I had met just two weeks ealier at the Pet Writing Conference in New York City. Hugs were exchanged, and Tonia, who had arrived early and already auditioned, gave me the scoop on the process. I then proceeded to the registration table, where the line was deceptively short. After providing a few basic details, such as my name and how I heard about the event, I was given a number (#87), along with a few sheets of paper that I was instructed to give to my interviewers. Next, I was pointed towards a different, much longer line, that snaked around to the back of the store. Amidst aisles of cat food and ferret accessories, I would spend the next two hours waiting until it would be my turn to audition. My family circulated around the store far away from me, in an effort to ease my nerves, so I spent the time getting to know some of my fellow contestants and cat-lovers, also waiting in line. We shared pictures and stories about our beloved kitties, exchanged cards, and I got to know more about what had brought each of them to the event.

While the two hour wait was torturous at times (I had to pee, but didn't dare leave the line), I was comforted by the fact that the judges were taking their time meeting with each applicant and actually listening to what they had to say. While the interviews were conducted in the middle of a busy store on a Saturday afternoon, large panels allowed for a sense of privacy. Standing right outside the interview area before my turn, I couldn't even hear what the applicant in front of me was saying to the judges.

Finally, it was my time to go, and I nervously waved to my Dad across the store before taking my place in front of the two judges, and one cameraman (I believe there were four judges in total at the event, two were on the other side meeting with different contestants).

"Wow, a real cameraman!" I thought to myself. This contest is pretty legit! After exchanging firm handshakes with the panel, I was instructed to face the camera and hold up a sheet of paper in front of myself, that had my name and number on it. Once that was taken care of, the judges encouraged me to relax, saying that the most formal part of the interview was now complete. As the camera continued to roll, I faced the judges and pseudo wiped my brow, before answering questions about my cats, and my motivation for trying out for the position. Between the long, spontaneous drive (a week before I had no idea I would be in Boston on a Saturday afternoon trying out for something), the pent up emotions from waiting in line, and just my pure passion for cats and blogging, I burst forth with enthusiasm and excitedly explained why I was the perfect woman for the job.

The entire process went by like a blur (it was probably 10 minutes or less, but I can't even really say), and when it was finally over, I left the interview feeling happy and relieved. After saying goodbye to Tonia, we drove back to my Aunt's house so I could put on some pants (I was wearing a dress, and it was obscenely cold in Boston!), and headed to a Barnes and Noble so I could quickly put up the latest Caturday post (a cat-bloggers work is never done!), before heading to a celebratory dinner at Durgin Park, followed by the most heavenly pistachio cannoli I've ever eaten in my life from Mike's Pastry in the North End.

A photographer from The Boston Globe was also at the Cat Corespondent casting call, and quickly came to admire my unique, sequined cat dress. He snapped several photos of me throughout the event, and I gave him my card, which he luckily ended up passing on to the reporter who covered the story. To my delight, I was featured in a brief online article, and my picture, along with the short blurb, appeared in the March 2nd print edition of the newspaper (My Aunt promptly called my parents at 8 a.m. to let them know, and has since mailed the clipping to my house.)

I know I don't typically write personal posts like this, but I felt like it was important to share this experience. It is in part, because of all of you, that I continue posting to this site every day and have have not given up on my dream of turning this passion into something bigger.

I wish the best of luck to everyone that has entered the contest, and no matter what happens, I am proud to say that I at least took the chance to go after something that means so much to me.

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35 comments:

T said...

Stephanie how exciting! I've been contemplating applying but the video portion has me freaked out! I think it's GREAT you went in person for the interview. i was surprised they didn't have one in NYC. good for you for traveling to go in person. And how wonderful of your family to be so supportive! GOOD LUCK my friend!
PS - not sure how i managed to miss out on meeting Tonia. Will subscribe to her blog asap!

Catsparella said...

I was surprised they didn't have one in NYC or Philly, too! Thank you so much for your kind words and support, Tamar!

Daisy said...

You would make a great correspondent. I'll cross my paws for you!

Catsparella said...

Thank you, Daisy!!

Cat Chat With Caren And Cody said...

Keeping our paws crossed for you!!!

Catsparella said...

Thanks, Caren! p.s. Love your new profile pic! :)

Marg said...

We sure are sending lots of purrs that you get that dreamy job. I saw that and thought, what great opportunity. But I have too many animals to leave plus the video stopped me cold. Good for you to go after that opportunity. Please keep us posted.

Catsparella said...

Hi Marg! Thank you for your kind purrs of support! I really admire how you have dedicated your life to taking care of animals, and am so happy we had the opportunity to meet through the Cat Blogosphere!

Wendy @ iwuvwes.wuvtags.com said...

I really hope you get it! But first, could you please share a photo of you in the cat dress? I was hoping the online article would have it, but no such luck. :)

Catsparella said...

Thank you, Wendy!! You can see a pic of me wearing the dress here!: http://ihavecat.wordpress.com/2011/02/14/unexpected-valentine/#more-6110

Ingrid King said...

I'm rooting for you - you would be purrfect for this!

Catsparella said...

Thank you so much, Ingrid!! That's so nice if you to say! I'm still really happy we got a chance to meet at the Pet Writing Conference! :)

Mr Puddy said...

I think you get for sure !!!
Because you are Tuxie !!! we are the best !
xoxox

Marcia said...

Wow, You Go!. I saw this also, and well, since I am officially "retired" from my profession (nurse), it sounded exciting, but not the travelling! I couldn't tote my precious and pampered neurotic Kittys along, and then again, what about my Cat toys business? So, it was not realistic for me, but it sounds like a fab chance for you!! I sure will keep fingers, toes and cat paws crossed for you (that's a lot of paws!) and thank you again for all you do here. My FB friends think I am cat obssessed and I try to do dammage control at times, but hey! a CaT Woman is a Cat Woman!

RowanRaven said...

Oh, wow!! I hope you get this gig! Sounds fabulous. Love your blog... thank you for all that you do and write!
--Kimberly

Catsparella said...

MOL, thanks Mr Puddy!! You're right..Tuxie power!

Catsparella said...

@Marcia Thanks for all your support! It's been an honor featuring your kitties (and amazing cupcakes) on the site!!! And you're absolutely right - A Cat Woman is a Cat Woman! ;)

Catsparella said...

@RowanRaven Thanks, Kimberly!! Your words means a lot! :)

Cindy Martin said...

You go girl!, best of luck and no matter what we will all be here waiting for the blogs...you will always know you really went for it!

Catsparella said...

Aww..Thanks, Cindy!! :)

Cloon said...

Oh we hopes you gets this job, that would be so excellent! We are rooting for ya and sending good vibes and purrs in your direction!

Catsparella said...

Thank you, Cloon! Sending lots of num-nums your way!!

Debbie said...

Good luck! It would be a fabulous year!

Catsparella said...

Thanks, Debbie! I can use all the luck I can get, lol! :)

Anonymous said...

You seem like you'd be purrfect for this opportunity. I hope you're chosen!! The cats said "Good luck!!"

Catsparella said...

Thank you so much, Anon! :D

Wendy @ iwuvwes.wuvtags.com said...

LOVE the cat dress. Thanks for the link!!

Nadbugs said...

CATSP!! CATSP!! WE WANT CATSPARELLA!

Bugs here. Just wondering:

Would it help if I pull the maneuver on the judges that I did on Human? this morning at an unspecified time because Human was sound asleep? the mystical light-ball in the sky had not yet shown . . . .

SPANG! Let me SPANG 'em! They will yield to my powers of -- persuasion! You will win! We will be happy!

MROWL!

Catsparella said...

@Nadbugs LOL! Thanks, Bugs!!! That would be great!! <3

Perfect Litter said...

Good luck and congrats on being featured in the article!

Catsparella said...

@Perfect Litter Thanks so much for your kind words!

KokoroPurrs said...

Good luck, good luck, good luck. OK that should insure your win. They can't pick anyone else. It HAS to be you. I know this, because I'm a cat. You will let us know, right? *pawhugs*

Catsparella said...

Thank you, Kokoro!! <3 *hugs*

Feline Aficionada Tonia Evans said...

Loved reading your post from that day! It was exciting seeing you and your family there as well-thanks for sharing my link with your readers!

Catsparella said...

Thank you, Tonia!! I'm so glad we ran into each other!! It was purrfect timing :)

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