A New York State of Mind

My mom subscribed to the New Yorker Magazine for my entire life. This girl from Winfield, Kansas, mother of four, read it cover to cover every month. She knew which plays were performing on Broadway, what the critics said about the plays, and which were Tony Award worthy. She read Talk of the Town, every guest essayist, all the cartoons, the poetry, and the book reviews. Heaven help me if I got to the New Yorker first and read the cartoons – the only part I was interested in. And, although in later years she traveled all over the world with my dad, I don’t think she ever made it to New York, other than to pass through La Guardia or Kennedy airports, on her way to adventure.

Which brings me, somewhat obliquely, to a secret I have been keeping for 6 months or so.

In April of this year, in a semi-inebriated state, I wrote a pome (no, not a mispell, an attempt at humor).  It was about my mom, and I thought it was good, so I shared it with my sibs, and, my brother, who is my biggest supporter, fan, encourager of my writing, urged me to submit it somewhere, because he thought is was good, too.  My sisters further cheered me on (at that point, I’m pretty sure we were all a touch inebriated), and The New Yorker was the only magazine that we knew of that accepted unsolicited material.

So I did.  I went to The Google, which sent me to the Poetry Submission website, and I submitted it.  Part of the deal is that you don’t publish it anywhere else. The rest of the deal is that the editors put it in a queue, to be read at their convenience, and, if you check back regularly, you can see where you are in that queue: submitted, up for review, reviewing, reviewed, accepted or denied.  And they were upfront – it would take six months.  They must get a huge amount of poetry submitted, the poor bastards.  Reading it all, every day, poem after poem, some good, some astonishingly bad, would drive any one over the brink. I bet they don’t last long in the job – either they get burnt out, or get brain freeze, cease to function, or they are promoted out of pity or admiration, to review plays and essays by James Joyce or Steve Martin (who is an amazing writer, even if I can’t stand him as an actor).  Or they are sent to The Home For New Yorker Reviewers, to have their diapers changed regularly and their apple sauce spoon fed to them.

The poem I wrote was, ultimately, rejected.  But, strangely, I am ok with that, because I was considered for publication by The New Yorker. How cool is that?? I have to say it again, because it sounds so amazing: I was considered for publication by The New Yorker Magazine. A real-life editor read my poem, and considered putting it in the magazine. Ultimately, of course, he, or she, the rat bastard, decided not to publish, but, STILL.  For six months, I was in a state of…wonder.  I wondered if they, he or she, was reading right then, as I toasted my english muffin, or entered another purchase order, or washed the dishes. (I never wondered while exercising, because that just didn’t happen. And if I was exercising, which I wasn’t, I wasn’t thinking about my poem being published, I was cursing the world for the necessity of exercising, which is so ridiculously unfair)(but I digress. Again.)

So, at the end of October, I received my response, and it was a big ol’ No. I’m okay with that.  At the doctor’s office the other day, there was a months-old New Yorker, and I flipped through it, imagining my poem printed on the slick magazine page, in the New Yorker font, and smiled sadly to myself; what might have been. And how I would have jumped around and yelled “In Your FACE!” to everyone who has ever poo-poo’d my love of writing, imagining my buying 50 copies and sending them all to now-long-dead English Professors, especially that bitch TA my first year of college that GAVE ME A C- on my first paper, I HOPE YOU BURN IN HELL, but also to those who love me and wish me only the best in life. It was a wonderful fantasy, but, alas, not to be.

So, you, my faithful 30 followers, get to read it first (well, after my family)(which makes up a large portion of my readership), and form your own opinions on my poetic abilities.  Just be thankful I am not bombarding you with the poems I wrote when I was sixteen, and Edgar Allen Poe was way too prominent in my life,  or 18, when unrequited love held sway on my pen and ink.  No, wine is the sole source of my artistic abilities at this point in my life, my muse, as it were. Be gentle with your reviews, dear reader, after all, I’ve been reviewed by The New Yorker Magazine…..

Checking In

I thought I was calling

to check up on you

Every evening,

A cheerful end to the day

How are you, Mom?

How was your day?

News of grandchildren, work

good and bad

Turned into life advice,

problems solved,

recipes parsed.

I thought I was calling

to check up on you

But I was calling you

to check up on me.

 

4 thoughts on “A New York State of Mind”

  1. Ann…still drying my eyes after reading your poem “Checking In”. I spent the last 11 years of my Mom’s life doing the very same thing. Before my Poppa passed, I’d call them every Sunday and visit. There were no topics that were off limits. Lord knows, we had our share of “heated conversations”. But we connected. After Poppa passed, I called Mom every afternoon or evening. Our schedule was built around her TV schedule. Interruptions during golf tournaments and football games were not allowed. After being abruptly told “I’ll call you back” several times, I learned to check the TV Guide. The important thing was that we connected.
    I needed that connection as much as she did. Maybe more.
    She’s been gone for 6 years now and I still find myself wanting to pickup the phone and connect…..

    1. Kim, just now saw this! Had to laugh about checking the TV guide. We never realized how lucky, lucky, lucky we were with our parents, did we? Maybe that’s part of growing up – the part that sucks because it’s too late to tell them. Much love –

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