Thursday, October 1, 2015

Dear Jerome Foundation

Dear Jerome Foundation:

I know that you have some kind of normal, set path for applying for a grant. It's probably thoroughly outlined on your website, carefully constructed, and completely sensible. I would go look at it right now, but I know it would just depress me. Those kinds of grants are for sophisticates, adults, players. I am not a player. Success is not my bailiwick. Professionalism merely tenses me up. I am just an writer in need of stamps, postage stamps. And maybe some envelopes.

Look, as a professional working in an arts/grants organization this is likely all very hard for you to relate to. Professionally you observe the necessary forms. You encounter people all the time who observe the necessary forms. Even artists, who are notoriously unstable, if they want to have any impact on the world, any audience, need to figure out how to observe the necessary forms. And if they want grants they need to be pretty good at the necessary forms.

I'm not very good at the necessary forms.

One could make the argument that my repeated, quixotic requests for exceptions to be made; writing in strange formats, taking unconventional views that no one is supposed to say out loud, is a kind of counting myself out. One could suggest that I am setting myself up for failure, that I make "yes" virtually impossible for people. But I try, against all the odds, to hold true to the idea that my relentless request for exception is not a pursuit of a dark prophecy, is not a psychologically based futile endeavor, is not some strange form of trolling. No, I try my best to always understand that my request for exception, my chatty difficultness, my pursuit of the bespoke interaction, is, indeed, the soul of my work itself.

Let's just say this today: Any person can process grant applications. Any grant committee can filter through the properly executed, elaborate, authenticating expressions of artistic intent. And while it's a grand system that supports administrators more than artists, it all works. But only you can read this and do it all outside the lines. I know that's extra work, probably impossible, and possibly touches uncomfortably on the borders of silly, but the fate of the Universe secretly hangs in the balance.

The fate of the Universe always hangs in the balance. The fate of the Universe is almost pitifully delicate, don't you think?

I need $250 in stamps, a box of manila 9 x 12 envelopes, and a box of business envelopes. I have tons of letters like this to send people, hopeless, quixotic, unconvincing letters, and I don't really see at this point why I would have to use my fancy cheeses money to do it. As you well know some of the most interesting cheeses now cost over $20 a pound, though thankfully one can still find a decent chunk of, say, bleu d'auvergne for under $10.

Hmm, maybe I should ask for a cheese grant. 

No, no, I must stay on point! Though it does set one dreaming, doesn't it?

Anyway, I am certain this stamp investment will be the best investment the Jerome Foundation has ever made, I mean on a dollar for dollar basis. I also believe this will be essential for the health of your organization because it is always a good idea to step out of one's comfort zone. Which is what I'm all about.

No, this isn't a joke. Why does everyone always think that?

I am not particular about what kind of stamps, the fact is there are so many good ones it would be hard to choose. Peanuts Christmas? Flannery O'connor? Hudson River School? I'd actually prefer you pick it out, like a present.

I thank you in advance for your generous grant.

F. Calypso

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