- Band-Aid Wrappers at the Bottom of the BinA Soliloquy
So it’s late afternoon on a Thursday and I’m two minutes away from finding out that this certain piece of mine is going to be published in a literary journal that I admire. For most of the people in my life, this will cause a reaction something along the lines of “That’s so cute,” but for me this will be a big, hairy deal. This will be emotional. In two minutes and five seconds I will let rip a nerdgasm of a shriek while alone in my office, and in two minutes 35 seconds I will shamefully begin to think that I am God’s gift to the literary world and somebody better get me an agent quick because an editor somewhere admitted that he liked one of my pieces. A number of emotions will course through me in Planck time; I will quickly grow hot and then cold, and it will also make me require the use of the bathroom, as my mind and my bowels don’t seem to have the separation that they should. This event will be significant because, at this point in my life, I’m trying to figure out how to live as something other than a mother, trying to do what I have back-burnered for 20 years, and I’m uncertain, tentative, about things and don’t know where I stand. I don’t know if I’m being stupid.
This particular publication is a sort of Holy Grail to me, first because it’s in print and they still mail out tangible, paper copies of their issues straight to the real mailbox nailed to the side of my house, only accepting paper submissions in return, but more important, because a writer I freak out over treats it like a favorite niece or nephew, sending it little poem- and essay-presents in [End Page 53] the mail whenever he thinks of it, even though he can publish his stuff anywhere he likes. Let’s call this writer Uncle Boldgarth.*
I mean, Uncle Boldgarth is who he is and he churns out beautiful work like the magic mill churns out salt at the bottom of the sea and I love him for it. I am operating under the possibility that if Uncle Boldgarth writes for this journal—let’s call it River Stacks*— he might read it from time to time, and my piece might be something he happens to lay his eyes on, and this idea sets me to envisioning a ruby-encrusted chalice of modern literature and makes my eyes gleam. I am greedy with want.
So, I sit down to check my e-mail and I get a painful thrill in my throat when I see I have something from River Stacks, and I click on what I am certain is a rejection, and as I scroll down, I discover that they want my piece, which is only a little ironic to find out through e-mail because I created a subtle ceremony, underlain by nervous hope, of printing out my work and folding it and stuffing it into an envelope and licking the envelope, and addressing it in my most neutral handwriting, in case the person who receives the envelope knows how to do handwriting analysis and can tell from the way I shape my e’s that I share traits with serial killers and will decide to reject the piece based on that alone, and sticking on an extra stamp just in case, and walking it half a mile up to the blue government mailbox at the entrance to my neighborhood.
By the time I dropped the envelope into the mailbox, the experience had become elevated and mystical and old-fashioned, and I could imagine a room full of people dressed in 1940s garb, tapping on typewriters, marking up piles of letters, calling for the errand boy to haul a sack of self-addressed stamped rejections back to the post office, so this hand-stuffed, hand-written envelope, with its thick heft and its promise, the one that fell into...