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February 28, 1997

"Looking forward to your retirement party?" My colleague, Jon, clearly meant well by the question he asked me when our paths crossed in the office corridor this afternoon. But in my current mood, a retirement party is the last thing I want to hear about. So my response to Jon was a bit crusty-a response that left him looking a little less bright-eyed than usual, especially since I didn't feel like going into a long-winded explanation just then.

How could I tactfully explain that such parties usually give me the creeps? They seem like a thinly veiled form of explusion, complete with going-away gifts and celebratory farewells. So, a few years ago I wrote a note to Dee, asking her not to plan any such thing for me. No luggage, thank you, or emotional baggage, or anything else to send me on my way. I should have known that she'd urge me to reconsider and I wouldn't have the gumption to refuse, especially given Dee's irrepressibly genial and earnest manner. Now, I'll have to write her another note, asking once again to be spared the ceremonies and the remembrances and all the other stuff that sometimes make me feel as if I'm at a memorial service rather than a retirement party. For I don't want to be buried alive, don't want my story to be told until my story is complete, and certainly don't want to hear it being told. Especially when I'd much rather stay on as an unpaid editorial consultant to the nonfiction program. Maybe I should propose that idea to Dee as something I'd much rather have than a party or a going-away present.