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I spent my middle school years with perms, bad fashion sense, and an ailment called “Love Sickness”. It’s a serious condition. Symptoms include: Spontaneous giggling. Throbbing zits. Fall-Over-Your-Own-Two-Feet. Call-and-hang-up-as-soon-as-someone-answers-the-phone. Boy Crazy Syndrome. And all around uncool awkwardness.

I had it bad.

I could name the four handfuls of boys I adored in middle school. Seriously. I still remember all of them. But I’m friends with some of them on Facebook…and…it would be weird.

Anyway, I had the love sickies for this one boy so badly and I wanted him to know. Now, this was me being Don Quixote. Dreaming the impossible dream. This particular fella was the popular kid. He had the adoration of all the girls in the 7th grade. I had frizzy hair and warts on my fingers. Enough said.

I had my friend Sarah declare my affections to the boy. She asked if he liked me back. He did not.

My little 7th grade heart was broken for about 15 whole minutes before another boy caught my eye.

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By 8th grade, I still hadn’t figured boys out yet. Or how to tame a bad perm. But that’s beside the point. I’d write anonymous notes which my best friend delivered (um…hello? Miss Obvious?). These notes were the “I like you, do you like me” notes.

Love Sickness renders a girl without the access to logic or reason. Don’t believe me? Read Romeo and Juliet. That didn’t end so well for anybody. Oh. Oops. Spoiler Alert.

My friend delivered all of the notes back to me with a rejection.

Eventually, I learned to play it coy. I learned that right before I started dating my husband. At least I finally had a cure for love sickness.

Can I tell you something? At times the publishing world feels a lot like this. Writers have a crush on a publishing house. They write a letter (in the biz we call this a query letter) declaring our love…and talking up our good features. Oh, and downplaying our bad ones. If we’re lucky, we’ve got a wingman (agent) who delivers the letter…and who binge eats chocolate with us when we get a rejection. Eventually we have an editor or publisher who is interested in us, too. We try to play it cool. Force ourselves not to call and hang up as soon as someone answers the phone (because caller I.D.). Spontaneous giggling is unavoidable. So is the neurotic checking of email (refresh inbox. refresh inbox. refresh inbox). We get a big old tube of zit killer (seriously…I’ve got more zits in my 30’s than my teens! What’s with that?).

Difference is, I now know that my worth isn’t tied up in all of it.

Oh. And now it’s not a bad perm. This time it’s wonky, frizzy, grays.

 

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