I’m doing very well in my classes at Wharton, but I’m one of the few commuters, and one of a handful of married students, so I am not at all involved in the social life on or off campus. I can’t say I’ve made any real friends here yet, and I’m beginning to doubt I ever will. It appears that everyone else is neatly situated into natural groups from some commonality that I don’t seem to share with anyone. I certainly know people in my cohort from group projects and being in class together daily, and everyone is friendly, but that “ly” is a major modifier to the meaning of the word “friend.” The only student who ever calls me at home is looking for Economics help. All the advanced mathematics classes I took at SUNY have made much of the quantitative and analytical classes easy for me. Despite the fact that I actively participate in lecture discussions and know I have added value to and carried my workload for every group project I’ve ever been on, I feel the blood rush to my head and get a heavy knot in my gut every damn time a professor announces a group project and does not arbitrarily assign the team members. People turn to their friends first, and then to their friend’s friends, forming instant clusters. There is typically an awkward but painfully merciful point when the professor asks which groups still need people. I look among the “friendly” faces in the few remaining choices and try to quickly approach the open group I assess to have the most reliable contributors when it comes time to do the work. Sometimes the result turns out to be that my project group is entirely composed of what must also be a natural cluster: left-over misfits like myself. That would be fine except that not everyone is dependable to show up for meetings, actually do their parts of the work, or even spellcheck final papers.  Some people are absolutely fine with just passing grades, but I am not OK with just OK. In some of these misfit groups, I am the apparent anal-retentive perfectionist who says things like “No problem, I have free time to finish it up tonight before it’s due.” I can’t blame anyone but myself. And I do blame myself.

I’m frequently home alone, which is fine with me to concentrate on my schoolwork. When Lou’s here, I tend to do things with him instead, and I just don’t get as much of my stuff done. I help by editing his letters, reports and presentations, since he doesn’t have any staff in his one-man consulting business. I go to bed when he does rather than stay up late studying. I’d read in bed, but it’s kind of hard to focus over the television, and to work with just one arm. My other arm is usually tied up because Louie likes his “pets.” I have totally spoiled him over the years by scratching and rubbing his head while we’re relaxing together. Now when we settle in to watch tv, he’ll put his head in my lap and nuzzle it until I start scratching. Even when he’s driving, he’ll lean over toward me, and nudge like a needy dog for “pets.” I think all the blood flow to his head is going to help keep his hair nice and thick. It is starting to get grey, but in an attractive and distinctive salt and pepper kind of way. He’s afraid he’s going to turn all grey and start thinning out and balding like his father.

Since he is literally Louis William Joy, III, he is afraid that being their namesake means he will follow in both his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps in many ways. He doesn’t drink much because he is scared to death of becoming an alcoholic like his father. Lou’s dad seems to be disassociated from his father, stepmother, and younger half-siblings, and of course Lou and his dad have repeatedly been estranged since high school. He always talks about feeling like he carries a Joy family curse, but never gets specific about exactly what that means to him. I usually just compliment him on his own self-discipline that has enabled him to achieve so much in life. His business is doing great, he’s still going up north to Pennsylvania every week, and his daily consulting rate is far higher than the salary from any of his previous jobs. He can work fewer days and make more money. I’m really proud of what he’s accomplished.

My neck pain and headaches are relentless, despite trying just about every kind of medication and physical therapy imaginable. I refuse to take any meds that make me sleepy or dopey (or any of the other seven dwarfs) because there is no way I’m going to let this injury screw school up for me. Harrah’s isn’t the least interested in helping out with the medical expenses unless we sue, but I just need to keep my attention on what is most important right now.

Finding a summer internship is my current challenge. Recruiters come on campus from companies all over the country, and students bid and compete to get interview slots with companies of interest. Some students with stellar Pre-Wharton credentials get invited for interviews and are actively courted. My GED, community college and State School degrees and computer background do not place my resume in anyone’s “must interview” pile. Regardless, my choices are limited to jobs within commuting distance of Wilmington, Delaware, unlike the majority of students who can freely go wherever the best opportunity is to set them up for their ideal post-grad career. Playtex will always take me back.