Reflections of an Unlikely Oracle
By Carole Murray
had more important issues. My weight was going up and down faster
than the elevator at Macy's. I memorized calorie counters and binged
on Metrecal. Dramatic weight losses were followed by equally stunning
gains. I needed two aunts to zip me into my senior prom dress. The
Good Sisters made the prom compulsory upon pain of expulsion. Girls
paraded out their brothers, cousins and uncles so that no one would
be dateless. We were advised not to wear white prom gowns because
their similarity to bed sheets would inflame the boys with desire.
I wore a white prom gown.
relentless caloric research convinced me that I should be a dietician.
Already I could tell the difference in food value between a green
grape and a purple one, between a Twinkie and a Snowball. I was
obsessed with food; why not make it a profession? Before graduation
I had a session with a career counselor. After reviewing my aptitude
tests he was unequivocal. I was not a dietician; I was a budding
mortician. He said that being a mortician would allow me to push
people around without resistance. I'd almost rather be a saint.
was everything. It was the Summer of Love, the Age of Aquarius,
the Season of the Witch. It was the '60s! (Brace yourself) I was
still in a Catholic institution, but the University of Dayton was
a faux-Catholic school, named for the town that housed it. The Good
Marianist Brothers replaced the Good Sisters; many of them so confused
by their closeted sexuality that they bailed out during my four
future as the world's grooviest dietician floundered when I attended
my first chem class. I had aced the course in high school, so what
were these hieroglyphics that the professor scribbled on the blackboard
with such gusto? Fearing nothing more than getting my knuckles split
open again, I dropped the class. I drifted around campus dressed
completely in purple -- jeans, jacket, sunglasses, and Indian shoulder
bag from Azuma. I joined the "Occult Book of the Month Club"
and with the help of unlimited cuts, was able to devote myself to
metaphysics, a subject that wasn't unilaterally focused on punishment,
dread, and unworthiness.
the astrologer Linda Goodman came to my campus to promote Sun
Signs, I was among thousands of students who filled the field
house to hear her lecture, a crowd worthy of Hendrix. Linda was
able to take an arcane and archaic system and make it fun. The next
day I bought her book in hardcover for $10, an extraordinary commitment
when you consider that paperbacks then cost fifty cents.
first astrology teacher was a computer named Astro-Flash who resided
in Grand Central Terminal. During holiday breaks I would pilgrimage
with friends to buy my six-month forecast. The computer was programmed
in France and the translations were sophisticated. "You may
feel your passions and emotions rise to the surface, your cravings,
needs and appetite for life reach a new high. A frame of mind such
as this may incline you to greater intimacy with your nearest and
dearest, and to put new life into your relationships. On the other
hand, your changing status quo could cause a problem in your love
life. In short, there will be a temporary acceleration of your amorous
proclivities, a happy form of aggression when it is only passing,
but apt to complicate things if it lasts too long." Oh those
French with their cravings and amorous proclivities. I went to the
head of the class.
I acquired the tools of the trade -- a Tarot deck, a Ouija board,
biographies of Edgar Cayce, a collection of charts I had done for
my guinea pig pals, a hardcover I Ching. My greatest scholastic
coup was getting an A on an English lit paper I called "Twain,
Crane and Poe: How Astrology influenced their Fiction." For
my birthday everyone gave me crystal balls. I listened to Joni Mitchell
sing about "the zodiac and Zen" while memorizing the planets,
the houses, the transits and how they affected us. If there is a
heaven I was in it.
with a BS, incomparable friends, and a comprehensive lack of plans
for the future.
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