I really want to be Robert De Niro’s friend. Have you ever had that? One particular celebrity that you’d just like to meet and become friends with because you imagine that they quite possibly might be the most interesting individual that you could ever meet? I’m still waiting for Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig to be my new BFF’s, but Robert De Niro is some other kind of beast. He’s that dude. That dude that’s supremely talented in multiple genres, has an extensive career that keeps growing and has such an interesting background that you would love to listen to him talk about it. He’s that guy that if he were 20 years younger you would jump his bones and even though he’s 20 years older, you still might. He’s that guy that you want to call you on a Wednesday to ask if you have plans on a Saturday because he’s having a small gathering at his place and wants YOU to be a part of it. You say yes, of course, because he’s also that guy who potentially has the greatest group of friends; not a huge entourage of keener’s but real friends, true friends that he loves and is loyal to and you’ve become one of them. He’s that guy who’s still standing, the guy that you want to ask, how do you do it?
I’ve just recently gotten news that out of the 17 invited applicants, my application was rejected to be one of the 4 participants in a month long artist residency in Scotland. I’m a painter by trade, so I hope you’ll forgive any bad writing that may occur throughout these posts, and was invited to submit my portfolio. Their invitation was disguised as a great compliment stating that I was one of the few Alums who had been contacted to participate. I thought the Universe had aligned. I was just talking to my mother a few days prior about how I couldn’t really afford a vacation right now and how wonderful would it be to go on a partially paid residency and then what do I find in my inbox but that invitation.
Couldn’t they have just looked at my website? Couldn’t they have just looked at the images, i.e.: my portfolio on my website? Couldn’t they have just looked at my CV that is on my website? Did they really have to tell me that I was one of the few Alumni chosen to apply only to be rejected? Couldn’t they have chosen their favorite participants, narrowed it down to 4 top “stars” then emailed said “stars” and if one couldn’t participate, sent an invitation to the runner up? My old school had a tendency of doing that, of giving the students false hope. I asked about it once and the only answer I ever received was, “That’s the way it’s always been and it’s not going to change.” What an answer. Not going to change indeed. Maybe it’s my own fault for thinking that the politicians in said establishment have grown souls over this last year. Robert De Niro would know what to do. Robert De Niro would know how to feel. Robert De Niro would have the words that would make me feel better about questioning my entire life’s path because of one teeny tiny rejection.
I’m in the art industry and have been for a while now, so rejection is not a new thing for me. Normally, I would be disappointed for about a minute, then say, “Oh well.” to myself, maybe in public, pick up my bootstraps and keep on truckin’. On to the next as they say, but there is something deeply unsettling with this particular rejection. Maybe it’s the leftover PTSD from the trauma of that 2 year program. Leftover BS that I still have yet to shake. I barely attended school events after graduation because I had residual panic attacks any time I came within a certain physical proximity to the school. Don’t get me wrong, the teachers were brilliant and my work entered into a new and wonderful stage while I was there. It’s just that there came a point where it all was too much and I really had to ask myself whether it was worth it.
I don’t know if there was ever any malicious intent in the hearts of these judges or if any part of them gets pleasure out of “rejecting” the students, but I do know that it sure feels that way, which, in some cases is just as bad as actual intent.
And so, as I get ready to go to the gym and sweat out all of my tears, I ask myself, where is Robert De Niro when you need him? I’m still waiting for my diner invitation.