I got a rejection at 4 A.M. on Saturday. I’m not taking it too, too personally, but I like to pretend the following is what happened:
The editor read my piece on Friday night, and oooh, it sent them into a rage. They hated it. They hated it so much. But the other editors were slightly intrigued, so they decided to let the rage cool. Maybe they would like it better in the morning. They had a few beers and tried to watch The Walking Dead or Westworld, but my shitty, terrible words kept banging around in their head. How could I have dared to submit such trash to their magazine? Eventually, they passed out on the couch, but they woke up around 2 A.M. to too-bright overheads they’d left on. So they stumbled to bed, smashing light switches off as they went. They pulled soft blankets over their body and sank into their pillow. Their eyes snapped awake. They’d been so comfortable on the couch, but now, the heavy weight of sleep was gone.
Because of the stupid, terrible story I sent them about the judge and the rats and the lawsuit that made no sense. It began to rattle in their mind again. They tried to sleep. For hours, they listened to ambient music and even tried counting sheep. Finally, at 4 A.m., they gave up. They yanked open their laptop, skimmed the piece again, and stabbed at their keyboard until Submittable loaded. DECLINE DECLINE DECLINE. They sighed. My God, they sighed at the relief of shooting out that form rejection. Their eyes grew heavy; at last, they slept.
Obviously, that did not happen. I’m not delusional. The editor is probably just a morning person or a way-late night owl. My piece was probably unremarkable to them, so they simply declined and made themselves some coffee. But I like to imagine I could create that kind of chaos.
Now, you may be wondering about K.I.D.S. Radio. This is another Lena story. I made the delightful mistake of calling her uppity, and she shared a memory she associates with uppity. Here is what happened to her, in her own words, with my line breaks and punctuation for terrible poetic effect:
I want you to know that when I was in fourth grade
we did a school musical
called K.I.D.S. Radio
about a radio station run by kids.
And my character was called Longhorn Lil,
a member of one of the bands auditioning to
be featured on the station.
I had one line,
and a played a glass jug.
The radio station manager asked us what kind of music we played
The other [fourth-grade] woman in our band responded with
“The only kind there is, I reckon — country music!”
Which was the set up for my big debut,
and singular line,
which I delivered with a wonderful twang:
“Well now, don’t be uppity Trudy, there’s also Western!”
(Her name was Texas Trudy and she played a washing board)
And then the third bandmate,
a boy I had a crush on,
who played the metal basin with a string on it, chimed in
And then finally the final band member,
a totally banal fiddle,
got us all in order with the biggest line of
“Let’s quit our yappin’
and get on with it. We call this’n
My Good Ol’ Country Fiddle”
And then we played our song
OK, man, the internet.
Someone must have recorded another school
doing the same play on their camcorder
and uploaded it to YouTube.
But their version is
In their version,
all the band members all walked in carrying violins —
And when they sang their song,
they didn’t even pretend to play them.
For my part, I was blowing across that jug
with gusto the entire time
I was really jealous of Trudy
and her washing board,
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