I’m not going to Hollins. I’ll be in LA for the foreseeable future, which means at least a year, but more likely much longer than that. I do not think I will reapply to any MFA programs this year. Financially, it just isn’t viable.
I was really lucky for a while, but I think even the best luck has to run out eventually. Nevertheless, I’m not abandoning my writing. Far from it. The MFA was never as a crutch, only an opportunity to leave the situation I’m currently in, which involves, dare I say, emotional abuse, a pair of lying, racist family members, and the nearly impossible task of finding a job.
Let me qualify that allegation of emotional abuse. I don’t know if I really want to call it that, but I have to face the facts. There’ve been multiple occasions when my father has told me that he wishes I’d never been born. Two days ago I was shouted at and cursed at over Skype (my father’s in Russia) and told that if I don’t get my act together, he will have no problem throwing me out of the house. This evening he calmly told me that I was acting like “a nigger.” Surprisingly, I’m not offended by the name-calling; the most painful thing for me is to see the people I once idealized so much come down so far. It is a truly terrible thing to realize that you have absolutely nothing in common with someone who is supposed to love you.
A couple of days ago, my mother told me straight out that my degree was worthless, that I shouldn’t be going into the MFA because it’s a waste of time and money, that I’m useless. These are familiar themes in our relationship. Most of the time I can put up with comments about about being useless, but it was shocking to actually hear the words out of her mouth – that she could care less about my art, that she actually looks down on me for being an artist, as opposed to someone with a profitable future.
Besides their attitude towards me, they also neglected to mention that my mother is going to have some sort of operation. I wish to fucking god they’d told me about this before. The lack of communication within my family is profound. My parents never tell me anything and then say that I don’t care about them. All they care about is money. What upsets me more than their concern for money is the perpetual state of dishonesty surrounding this family.
There’s nothing wrong with caring about money, but when you lose all semblance of character and goodwill towards people you were stupid enough to create, it becomes a bit frustrating. I have every intention of paying them back for the money they spent on tuition and rent at Berkeley. I’m not the type of person to just take people’s money if I can help it. I feel terrible about the two people who actually gave me money recently, and now that I’m not going to school I will be paying them back as soon as I can.
Like I said before, I don’t need the MFA to be a writer. In the back of my mind, I rationalized it as a pathway to a teaching career, but in reality, I needed to leave Los Angeles. I have no friends here and it seems as if I’m slowly losing whatever familial ties I once had. The worst thing is that my sister, who is turning 23 this year, is the complete opposite of me, and no one ever says anything negative about her. It doesn’t matter that I went to a good school and have two degrees. She’s obviously a much better person because she got her green card and now has a job at a bakery. She’s obviously better than me because she’s attended three different colleges off and on for six years and has yet to declare a major. Meanwhile, every single thing I do is micromanaged and criticized, I have no one to turn to or talk to, and unfortunately, talking to people online just isn’t a good enough substitute for seeing someone and giving them a hug. And I really need a hug right now. Really.
I’ve tried to live up to my parents’ expectations my entire life, but now I know that it is an exercise in futility. It will never work. Not when my father says that I can reapply to programs this year. Not when he doesn’t realize exactly how much effort and money and time went into doing this the first time around, how lucky I am to have been offered some good options. I’m going to say something for myself right now, because no one else will say it to me: I have done some good things. I deserve at least to be happy.
I don’t feel entitled to anything. I’m sorry for giving some people that impression. I’ve tried to explain my motivations and limitations as best I could, and that’s all I can do.
I’m going to start living for myself. Living for others has accomplished nothing and I desperately need some small vestige of self-esteem if I am to make it through the year.
I forgot to mention that the most depressing and embarrassing thing about this situation is not the fact that I’m staying in LA, but that I’ve had to continuously email the director of the program to ask for various extensions and to beg for favors. I also had to tell her last week that I was going to the program after all, and now I emailed her to say I won’t be going. I can’t help feeling like I’ve exhausted all of my goodwill with this person, who wasn’t very forthcoming with goodwill in the first place.
I guess I can stop worrying about everything now and get back to the business of finding some sort of job. I have a feeling I’ll be getting lots of calls for tutoring this semester, which would be fantastic.
Finally, thank you for those people who have supported me, and thanks to all my newfound MFA friends. You’re all amazingly talented and kind and I sincerely wish you the best.