The Child
will take before the resentment comes back.”
    “You’re probably right,” Eva said, still hungry. Actually she knew for a fact that he was right. She could feel her own resentment already rising. Why didn’t he ask her about the significance of my little prick? She missed her niece/nephew so much.
    “Pricks,” Eva said, drinking her tea. “I hate them.”

12
    When Mary Elizabeth Morgan was six years old, she inscribed her future into a first-grade composition book: When I grow up, I will write plays.
    This vision had been revealed to her as Mrs. McKenzie’s class performed Hansel and Gretel . It made her high. From then on she organized the Morgan family and neighbors into Christmas plays, and wrote the class show every year at Del Sol Intermediate School. After graduating as a theater major from San Diego State College, she moved to New York City with her first girlfriend (also named Mary) and discovered the invisible, under-skilled, under-the-radar world of unknown theater. She put on shows in apartments, rat-infested parking lots, and lesbian bars. Her plan was to work her way up. But she couldn’t locate the next step.
    Then the day came when Mary finally realized that no one in New York City enters from below.
    So she tried a new approach. She now spent half her paychecks on postage and started laboriously sending out her scripts to literary managers, directors, anyone remotely connected to a real theater. She’d bring home playbills and scour the phone book, find every name that was listed and send them a script. But there was still no result.
    She had come to accept the sad truth that there were people in New York City who really mattered, but she didn’t know who they were. This realization dawns on many people at different points through their journey, and this was the moment it had dawned on
her. These special people knew one another’s certain ways and she didn’t know those ways.
    She had to act specifically. But what was it?
    She had to meet these people. But it had to be under very particular circumstances. What were they? Seeing them on the street and saying “hi” wouldn’t do it.
    She had to get in. But how?
    These questions became central to her existence, and by sheer brainpower, total immersion, and focus, she began to find some answers.
    At this point in the process she turned thirty. How to learn unwritten rules?
    She had to be twice as good to get half as much, four times as good to get just as much, and five times as good to get ahead. Once she’d hit on these odds, Mary started workaholicking like a racing demon. She never gave up and she never stopped going. Ambition was her pep pill.
    After three more years at this pace, Mary was desperate. By age thirty-three she felt–as very few people ever do–that she had taken every possible avenue to better her condition.
    So finally, at this point Mary realized she was completely dependent on the recognition of strangers in order to achieve her goal. She was dependent on their grace.
    She didn’t need her own grace, because no one was dependent on her.
    If anyone really important ever noticed her, she had to be ready to maximize it. So when she would find out about something that mattered, she would incorporate that thing into her vocabulary.
    Example:
    STEVE
    I like your play, but it needs work.
     
    MARY
    Would you be willing to apply with me to the Sundance Theater Lab?
     
    STEVE
    Yes.
     
    MARY (Happily)
    Great! I’ll call you in September when the application is due. And Steve?
     
    STEVE
    Yes?
     
    MARY
    If you decide that you don’t want to do it, or that you want to apply with someone else, will you call and let me know?
     
    STEVE
    Yes.
    Then when September rolled around, Mary called him, faxed him, e-mailed him, and he never, never, ever, ever, ever responded. She left messages like: “If you don’t want to do what you said you would do, just tell me .”

    But he would never say no.
    Finally, she dressed up as a

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