In the end it was a clean sweep. Five schools, five rejections. A bitter pill for a guy who’d always figured out how to earn an A.
They never give you their reason, though, so I was left with a bunch of presumptions. The only one that made any sense is that the schools didn’t like the ten-year gap between master’s degree and the phd application, a gap in which I was dealing with batshit family trauma and actively trying to stay alive.
I’m tired of counting the costs of depression. It’s taken nearly everything from me. But I’m still here – words I had tattooed on my left arm as a reminder to myself of that mysterious accomplishment.
So good bye to that little daydream of academia. I have no interest in hanging around knocking on a closed door. I’m left with plan B; find a job that doesn’t suck in a city that I like. I miss California, and though I’ll never be able to afford another modest home on the gleaming hills of San Francisco, there are still cities in the southern half of the state where a writer could eke out a living.
But moving from Boston takes cash, of which I had none. I quit working with dogs because dogs just don’t pay. While scraping the bottom of the money barrel I got recruited on a six-month contract to work for the world’s largest online retailer, on a project I can’t even disclose.
Mostly a remote job, which the Little Girl loves because she gets to sleep in the gap between my calves as I type away on the bed. Two days a week I go into the office and work alongside a bunch of other nerdy English and Linguistics majors. I enjoy their company, and find I need my bunker less these days, even though I spend 90% of my free time there. I guess that’s progress.
I’ve had insomnia since leaving Portland, and am possessed by nightmares in which I’m rejected by family or my ex-husband, over and over, most nights. Some of the nightmares are so real I find them tough to shake. I carry them through the following days.
While waiting to hear back from the grad schools I submitted excerpts from my book to a slew of literary magazines, something I hadn’t tried in years, and then collected a slew of rejections.
Out of forty submissions I got one acceptance, a couple of finalist awards for contests, and five or six near-misses, where they tell you they like your writing, would like to see more, but not this particular story, please. A pretty standard writer’s haul. The trick is not to fight the misery of rejection. The trick is to revel in it. The trick is to endure.