Open Letters to People or Entities Who Are Unlikely to Respond
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An Open Letter to My Abandoned MA English Degree.
BY Liz Skoski
Dear Abandoned MA English Degree,
We could’ve been big, MA English Degree. God damn huge! Working together, our forces finally combined with BA English Degree to form that ancient tripartite power of analysis, critical thinking, and original content. We could have taken the world by storm. There was no shortage to where we could have gone: non-paying internships at publishing houses, a PhD program, the list… well, the list kind of peters out there, but man, what we could’ve done in either of those, it would’ve really set the world aflame! But alas, here is where we must part ways. Two semesters into our supposed two year relationship I must take my leave from you.
Ah, just thinking about all we’ve done together, and all we could’ve done, makes me get a little misty eyed. We had grand plans. Together we were going to finally shed light on the latent homosexuality running through the short stories of Flannery O’Connor. And our thoughts on why the Harlem Renaissance was actually BAD for African Americans… man, that really would’ve zinged ’em!
But these are ideas for another time, another student who comes to you full of piss and vinegar and a new way to read the great works (was Shakespeare really a woman?! Now, the world may never know…) But it won’t, nay, it can’t be me, not anymore. I’ve finally realized that I can no longer change my life or myself for you. You see, MA English Degree, I want a real job, one that lets me wake up and go to sleep at a reasonable hour, gives me health insurance and grants at least the possibility of future employment. No longer can I pretend that I’m satisfied with what you offer. You try to seduce me into staying, offering teaching assistant jobs with possible adjunct professorships to follow. Perhaps, you say, I can publish my original short story in the campus lit magazine or sit in on a creative writing class, even though I’m not an MFA student? It’s tempting, but no, I must stay strong. Don’t make this any harder than it is.
Will I regret abandoning you? After all, we were so close to finishing. How does the old song go… “Didn’t we almost have it all?” Yes, MA English Degree. We almost did. And perhaps, thirty, forty years from now, when I’m in the twilight of my life, I will look back and feel a sadness in our unfinished business. Standing in the door of my English classroom as the high school English teacher I will inevitably become, I’ll wonder what life could have had in store for us. Giving papers at academic conferences in South Dakota? Uprooting my family and relocating for a job at a small community college in Ohio? Maybe even a book, something with a ridiculously long title and a colon or a semicolon thrown in, like Home Sweet Home: Domestic Violence in the Early 20th Century and its Affect on Children’s Literature; Looking at the Adolescence of Young Girls in A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and To Kill A Mockingbird, published at a university press? Who knows the wonders you could’ve opened up to me. Like the genie (who, as you’ve taught me, is actually a metaphor for the oppression of the mystical practices of various indigenous tribes in the Middle East) you could have granted me riches beyond my wildest imagination. But I’ll never know for sure.
So it is, with a slightly heavy heart, that I abandon you, MA English Degree. It’s not as callous as you might think. I don’t regret our time together. And whenever I read a book, I will think fondly of how you taught me to stop at every word and wonder, what does that mean? But I cannot care for you anymore, not in the way you want, the way you need. I’m sorry MA English Degree. I do hope you find someone else, someone who can give you the time, patience, and obtuse thinking you so desire.
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