Holding my breath

For 12 weeks my weekends have been bogus. My weekdays actually haven’t been so hot either. I’ve been holding my breath since Thursday, March 29th and over three months later I think it’s time to give up.

I’m sure there are more demoralizing scenarios possible but my mid-morning moment on March 29th emerged from its own twisted hell. I had just completed my first qualifying exam and I could barely maintain eye contact with my department’s graduate coordinator, let alone will myself to remain standing. It had been nearly four hours since I played with my phone and since I’d spent the previous three months obsessively checking my email why should my exams prevent that bittersweet compulsion?

The only email I remember reading informed me that I was an “alternate.” To quote Lady Mary Crawley that message “knocked the stuffing out of me.” Not to sound like a Tiger Mom but in my world there’s only one podium that anyone ever notices. If you want to call the two smiling fools standing next to first place alternates, whatever. They still lost. I hadn’t, not completely. That email ensured that my limbo would continue, right up to this moment when I still refresh my email praying for a status change.

There’s only one real week left in my vigil. They say that after June my chances of advancing diminish. There will probably be no glory for me this coming Friday. To quote Newland Archer, this application joins “a series of ghosts” of all the fellowships I aspired to but never achieved.

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