Doctrina Lux Mentis

Failure, much like natural disasters, always happens to someone else. At least that's what I was taught in college. A scant ten years after graduation, I'm beginning to realize that this was just one in a neverending series of big lies. Reunion invitations just rub salt in the wounds.Right now, the alumni office's "request for biographical information" is mocking me from my in-basket. It didn't exactly arrive at a propitious moment. I was huddled under an electric blanket, waiting for the furnace repair guy and attempting to conduct phone interviews -- not that anybody could understand a word I was saying, between the chattering of teeth and the sound of gushing indoor waterfalls brought on by my rapidly decaying roof and box gutters. Emerging from my quilted cocoon to empty the rapidly-overflowing pails, I darted to the front porch for the mail, only to be greeted with: "Dear Reunion Class Member..." Surely not, I was thinking. Didn't I just go to a reunion? I glance down at my class ring for confirmation -- yep, that would've been about five years ago. Five years ago, I was more than happy to attend Homecoming and all the related festivities. Why not? I was livin' large for a gal my age. Or so I thought. I had a great job. wasn't really that great, but I made some lifelong friends and (perhaps more importantly) a lot of money. I was happily engaged. it turns out he was gay. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but some differences really are irreconcilable (though I still haven't quite gotten used to dressing myself without the benefit of his keen fashion sense).Plus I had just bought a big house in a great neighborhood. I didn't know then that there's only one contractor (who isn't a convicted felon or embroiled in litigation) within a 200-mile radius qualified to work on this particular type of roof.But basically, life was good, or more importantly (where I went to school anyway) it looked good. Under the accomplishments section of my class biography, I recklessly boasted that, five years after graduation, my hair was finally all one length.Then I got bangs, and it's essentially all been downhill from there. But of course this isn't anything I'd want to admit in a class biography. I have no interest in being the next Happy Meal for the piranhas I graduated with.Some of the categories are easily dispensed with: under "Travel," for example, I simply write "No.""Children?" Ahhh, my one undisputed category of achievement. Notwithstanding my dismal grades in the subject, at least I mastered the science of applied chemistry to the extent that I've avoided replicating myself. Professor Miles would be so proud.I ponder the "Spouse" category briefly. I write "No," but having finally recovered from my status as magnet-for-the-sexually-confused, I realize that I've slowly become less resistant to the idea of sharing my life with someone. I just have an unerring ability to waste vast (but increasingly finite) resources of devotion on the wrong someones. I don't like to brag, but I'm rapidly gaining on Mia Farrow in the category of bad judgment in men.Oh I could never outdo her tabloid status, but I keep valiantly barreling along anyway -- daintily stepping over the bloated, flyblown emotional corpses of those annoyingly considerate, thoughtful, monogamous, funny, mature, wealthy, intellectual grown-up-types, so I can better concentrate my efforts on perpetual passive-aggressive adolescents who will (if I play my cards right) treat me and my feelings with an extravagantly insouciant blend of disregard, indifference, and occasional cruelty.Under the semi-related heading of "Interesting Events in Your Life Since College," I leave a blank. Why bother? A classmate of mine already won the lottery. Other questions are more complicated. There's a lot of space devoted to "career," but not enough for me to explain the situation adequately. Without getting way too personal about my bank account, suffice it to say that I make substantially less money now than I did at my five-year reunion. And by substantially, I do not mean "no more Prada," I mean "Cheese Nips for dinner...again?!"As I fretted about this ad nauseum, one of my ex-boyfriends tried to reassure me with, "No one's going to ask to see your bank statement." Ha, that's rich! Is he kidding? Obviously he didn't go to the same college I did. They'll never be satisfied with a bank statement -- they're going to want tax returns. From the past five years. Of course there's a perfectly good explanation for my dip in income. After some soul searching prior to my last career change, I realized my happiness had never increased exponentially with my salary. I wanted something fulfilling, yet nothing that would advance the mission of morally bankrupt organizations and individuals. That cut down the field considerably.Further narrowing the options was my non-negotiable refusal to interact with rich, bored housewives or lawyers. I finally figured out enough about rich people to know that I don't have the stomach to be one of them. Or as someone once said, "To know what the good Lord thinks of money, one need only look at those to whom he has given it."Of course that rationalization doesn't satisfy my mother, my mortgage company, or the student loan people-and you can bet your ass it's never going to fly with the alumni association. This is a school where every ballgame concluded with the cheer, "That's all right, that's OK, you're gonna work for us someday!!" I'll be lucky if they don't revoke my diploma.

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