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Monday, Mar. 22, 2004 - 8:38 p.m.

I got a second rejection letter from a school today, making me 2.2 for 3 – of the three I applied to, two said ‘no’ and one said ‘only if the better people refuse’. My main solace is that the latest rejection is truly a beautiful piece of writing. It’s signed in real ink by the department chair himself, and denies me a spot in the program with a gentleness born of being part of a very good school, I suppose. Look at this lovely phrasing: “I am writing with considerable regret to let you know that we won’t be able to offer you admission to the PhD program in Linguistics at -----. […] The University has allocated us funding for only six people this year (out of 130 applicants). This limitation has put us in the unfortunate position of not being able to offer positions to many highly qualified applicants, such as you. […] We all sincerely hope that you will be able to pursue your studies at another university and thank you for the opportunity to consider your application…” The blend between familiarity (the contracted ‘won’t’; the tempering of ‘we’ with ‘all’) and formality is masterful. And that unexpected “such as you” instead of the more common and pompous “such as yourself” moves me. Worth the $90 application fee? Well, no.

I would like to pretend the letter had little effect on me, and it’s true that this one didn’t make me weepy or furious, but I did lose my desire to cook as soon as I read it. So I ate some chocolate pudding and a bowl of Grape Nuts, and here I am with my Miller High Life feeling pitiful indeed. There’s rapini in the fridge, beautiful red peppers and chicken breasts and mushrooms and green onions and tofu and whole milk mozzarella, all ready to be transformed into a perfect dinner, and I ate pudding and Grape Nuts. Such is my protest against the cruel universe.

I read a piece in Salon earlier by an anonymous author ranting about the publishing world, and I am unimpressed. I find her writing style both annoying and bad: the nervous structure and the cutesy acronyms are annoying; the inability of the writer to usher me coherently from point to point is really bad. So when she complains about the injustice of making far more money than I ever hope to, and especially when she describes her frustration at seeing worse writers than she get published, I am unmoved. I do want to know what Liz has to say about the piece, as she is on the other end (and maybe has the inside story on who this writer is…) [You have to watch an ad to read the story, but it’s brief. It’s also pragmatically bizarre: you have to click ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in answer to inane questions, and no matter which one you pick, it responds as though you’ve said ‘no’. “Is it possible to upgrade your mutual fund rating without hassles from the comfort of your own home?” “Yes.” “Wrong! Actually, it’s incredibly easy!”]

A while back I asked L what he’d made for lunch, and he responded with “I made that egg toast thing, toad-in-a-wet-eye-socket or whatever it’s called.” Yes: Toad-In-A-Wet-Eye-Socket. Mama’s good ol’ Toad-In-A-Wet-Eye-Socket. Ask for it by name.

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