Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The Mask of Defeat

Before I begin, I will say that I intend to use my digital camera a bit more dynamically in this article. Be prepared for photos without captions.

I titled this entry "The Mask of Defeat" for a good reason: I could not reasonably call it "Defeat" alone or even "Hope for a New Tomorrow" because neither is how I feel.

Perhaps I should back up. Give the exposition first--like Star Wars does with the scrolling yellow text disappearing into the stars. If I knew how to program flash text, I could do that (and in fact power my own website without the help of Blogger.)
Rather, I'm going to move forward, like a lot of other good movies. They start mid-action, without any kind of explanation, hoping the audience does not leave after paying $8.50 to get in. (Sarcasm should be detected here.)

Lynné asked me if I wanted to walk to Safeway with her. I declined. I'd rather write to you people.
There are many good things happening to me. How strange it is that a single bad thing has covered my entire perspective.
I think it's time for another picture.

I've waited a long time to hear news from the Eastern Washington University writing program. Nearly two months. One friend of mine has submitted ten applications to schools (ten of those) and received letters of acceptance and refusal in the time it has taken me to hear a refusal/acceptance from Eastern Washington.
I drove to their campus to talk to one of the deciding faculty members to get some kind of verdict.
"So, you haven't heard anything?"
"No one wrote to you, right?"
This is May and the selections for the Teaching Assistantship I applied for--the assistantship I need in order to fund my graduate college career--have been made. Already. All seven positions, filled.
"Well, there is one person who hasn't accepted yet. But the chances are slim still. Not many people drop out at this point."
I don't imagine they do. I wouldn't.
I leave the offices more than a little disappointed. I am wearing the said "Mask of Defeat."

I drafted them a letter. This is a letter aside from the one I wrote to the program director. What I wrote to him went along the lines of "I read your book. It spoke to my soul. Can we talk about it?" No response to that one. I'm not imagining I'll get much response from this one.

To the Attentive Staff at Eastern Washington University's Inland Northwest Center,

I sincerely thank you for accepting my application and offering me a place as a student in your program. I regret that, due to financial concerns, I cannot register for any courses unless a Teaching Assistantship becomes available to me. Please, retain my application in the event that such an assistantship appears, for then you will see me in classes the coming fall.
I will brag to all my friends that I was accepted into your prestigious program.

-Youssef Sleiman

Well, the letter was necessary since I'd sent them a note saying I would attend classes. Now, I'm amending that to a would-if-I-could note.
There was something particularly cathartic in writing that note. From the standpoint of a writer, I really enjoyed telling them "I regret" and "No, now drop dead" since so many little magazines (okay, just a couple) wrote notes like that to me. BUT Still... they are dreaded notes, and I hope that even colleges don't like receiving them.
What you may notice though is a gentle shift in tone. Since there is still a slim chance, I don't want to ruin it! So I say things like "Please" and "I brag about you." Instead of being the vengeful victim, I turn into the pedantic pleader. Some sympathy can't be too hard to garner--but not like I want some sympathy from a talent-blind trio such as those professors.
In 4th grade, I witnessed a boyfriend/girlfriend break-up. She went up to him, with one of those pre-meditated sighs that denoted she decided he was a loser but connoted that she thought he was a loser all along--and gave him a note. He read it. "Hey, you're not breaking up with me. I'm breaking up with you." And he stuffed the letter into her locker and left.
I feel like that, writing the note. I feel like that now.

Having the head-knowledge of a mature Christian robs me of a full-range of emotions, I think. As soon as I approach my disappointment, phrases pop into my head.
Silver Lining.
Close a door--open a window.
He has plans for you.
I am still disappointed that I did not receive the job. (and yes, I thought of it as a job before I thought of the learning potential.) These phrases really don't lessen that, but it prevents me from dwelling on it. I prayed all this time that if the Lord had something better for me, that he would show it to me. That He would re-direct me from whatever course I deemed worth my time, to something He thought was worth his time.
I could give a bunch of Job-inspired lines.
I want to.
But they're not true for me, any more than it was for Job to curse God and die.

The truth is that I am left in the middle. I'm not stranded half-way between anything, but staring, seemingly confronted with the face of defeat--but some part of me knows it is only a mask.

One day, hopefully soon, I'll rip it off.


Joel A. Shaver said...

Communication... You'd think it would be so essential to a writing program.
BUT... At least the current mask is better than a masque of red death.

stephen said...

this is completely unrelated to your post, but there's a link you should see:

Rachel said...

I'm sorry that it's not looking like you'll get the TA position. I hope something else opens up for you in the near future.

Youssef Sleiman said...

Stephen... you crazy.