POCK-MARKED GIRL BABY
I had a feeling today would be the day, and sure enough, the envelope was waiting there in my mailbox when I came home from the office. It felt sort of thick and solid, which seemed like a promising sign. “Ding” letters usually only entail one sheet of paper, but really . . . one can never tell for sure with these sorts of things.
I pinched the envelope for a bit to contemplate its relative heft and to wonder what it was going to say inside, then put it on the kitchen table, took off my coat, and went to the bathroom. My heart was pounding and I really felt as if I wanted to throw up.
I thought about how I didn’t want to open the envelope, because even though I’d deliberately tried not to get my hopes up, it had been hard not to fantasize about the possibility. I decided to assume that it was a “ding” letter and to remind myself how good I’ve had it lately, and how I’ve been luckier than any person has a right to be. I reminded myself that I already won a prize this year (which is so lucky — like winning-the-lottery lucky) and that as a result my second book’s coming out, for which I signed the contract just today. I reminded myself how happy I was to be teaching, especially after having spent three years in an inner ring of hell overlooked by Dante known as Corporate Legal Secretarial Hell. I reminded myself that I have kind, laid-back, occasionally-funny-as-hell colleagues who, in a field which is occasionally guilty of vicious departmental politics and petty back-stabbing, weren’t out to get me. I reminded myself of my plans to go up early for promotion to Assistant Professor next year. I reminded myself of all the really terrific students I work with, and how I was looking forward to teaching the graduate poetry writing seminar in the fall. Okay, I said to myself, it’s a “ding” letter in here. I’ll just say that it’s a “ding” letter. And that’s okay, because things are basically really good for me right now. I’ll open the envelope, get dinged, and then just get on with it. Then I wondered for awhile if the past tense of ding is “dinged” or “dung,” and thought that it would be somewhat appropriate if it were “dung” because “ding” letters make you feel like shit. And then I thought about how some species of dung beetles roll up feces into an enormous ball of shit that they then wield in front of them as defensive armor against predators. Not a bad plan at all, I thought.
And then I finally tore open the envelope and it gave birth to a Pock-Marked Girl Baby! Her weight is $44K, her exact time of birth is One Whole Year Off From Teaching/Working To Do Nothing Else But Write, and her name is Bush Artist Fellowship. Un. Fucking. Believable.
It’s seven hours later, and my heart is still pounding, and I’m in shock! I periodically get up to do the Happy Dance. The Happy Dance entails kicking up my heels behind me one by one and slapping them vigorously with the palm of my hands, a la Abbott and Costello. (I can’t believe I just admitted that I do that.) It pretty much defines me as being the Biggest Gork In The Whole Wide World, and even the cats look on with quizzical expressions as if they’re embarrassed for me.