Blog entry: "I Wish My Life Were an Austen Novel, but I'm Living in a Dickens World" by Helen Walko

Helen lives in Pittsburgh.  Visit the rest of her blog here.


© 2009 Helen Walko


I knew getting up this morning that my day was not going to be pleasant, because I need to consolidate my loans, and, of course, this can't be easy.

In order to fill out the forms online to consolidate, I have to know what my educational pin is, something of four numbers that is apparently more important than my social-security number. I go on the Department of Education Web site to retrieve this omnipotent number, but (of course) since I've already tried to do this years ago, I'm not allowed to do it again. So I call them up, and they tell me to do something which I don't really understand as the lady on the line was talking fast and obviously didn't want to talk to me. So I try to do it on the Web site, but then a security question comes up: What is your mother's maiden name? I put in Nichols. Nope, wrong. I put in Nicholls. Nope, wrong. I'm starting to believe that I don't know what my mother's maiden name is. I try it again. Oh, three times is not the charm, and now my pin is disabled.

I refrain from calling the Department of Education again, for fear of getting that lady who, through her tone of voice, will only verify how much of a moron I already know I am.  So I'll call back tomorrow. And go through the torturous process of getting my pin un-disabled, and then trying again to find out what the elusive four numbers are, just so I can put it in a little square box on my loan page, so they will let me consolidate my loans, so I don't have to pay the 600 dollars they want me to pay every month. 

Life is like the Circumlocution Office in Charles Dickens's Little Dorrit, a place where one goes to find information, but is continually placed in circles instead, where "forms need to be filled in to request permission to fill in more forms," and in the end no information is attained, but only a sort of soul-crushing defeat is felt. 

I think we all wish our lives were like an Austen novel, where the rules of love are the only complex ingredients in life. I know I do. Especially since I don't really believe in love, and so, by process of elimination, I would have nothing to worry about at all.








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