There could only be one thing shipped for me in a foot-long brown cylinder from the University of Maryland. I skipped out on almost all of my graduation ceremonies and refused to buy a cap and gown. I did the same in high school and never got my diploma. Ceremony is not my thing. But here was a piece of ceremony I wouldn’t have to deal with; my dad has – in return for my agreeing not to light it on fire – agreed to keep my diploma somewhere safe on the off-chance that I want to use it for something someday. I understand symbolism, but I don’t understand people getting so worked up about pieces of paper with their names on them. Still, I decided to suck this one up and not take a symbolic stand against symbolism. When I got the tube in the mail, its aluminum ends and $1.90 shipping price conveying the value of its sacred cargo, I decided to have a look:

My middle name is not “Alise” and I did not study criminology. This is not my diploma. After three years and thousands of hours of work, the bastards send me the wrong piece of validating paper. Perhaps this is a far more appropriate symbol of my time at the multiversity than a diploma with my name on it would be. I briefly contemplated becoming a professional and hanging this in my office to see if anyone would notice, before I looked up the true owner. We share, in addition to a last name, 18 Facebook friends. She doesn’t have my diploma. I don’t much intend to search for it.