Articles from June 2012

And wave to the stalkers….

It’s almost become a game: Will the stalkers come today?  What will they read?  Will they show any interest at all in my posts about NVLD or my college memoirs or the rich variety of my childhood stories or anything?  Posts which are generating quite a bit of hits just in the past couple of days?

Uh–nope.  All they’re interested in is themselves and what they think might be about them.  Which is probably how they were before, too, but I didn’t realize it at the time.

Their computers and cell phones were blocked from coming here, but they’re using an RSS feed with a proxy server to check my blog.  When I check the dynamic IPs with http://whatismyipaddress.com/, I get, “We are confident this IP address is the public IP address of a proxy server.”

They sure are persistent, sure are interested in reading my blog.  Why?  I wouldn’t want to read their blogs, if they had any.  They’ve already read what I think about them and what they did; why do they keep coming back for more?

[Update 6/3/14:]  IP addresses are each computer’s unique numerical address on the Web.  The more I learned about IPs, RSS feeds and blogs etc., I discovered that their AT&T cell phone naturally used a proxy server.

Yes, they were using an RSS feed, which I confirmed based on various records, but the RSS feed was not the reason I couldn’t block them.

The problem was that Blogger blocking power is limited to Toolator, which does not work for dynamic IPs unless you upgrade your account.  But upgrading your account has been impossible for some time, as the owner of Toolator has gone missing (while still taking your money).

To my amusement, after my stalkers got new cell phones/providers and I got a new phone which could surf the Net using AT&T, my own IPs began showing up exactly the same as theirs used to, with the exact same octets.  But they had new IPs now.

Switching to a self-hosted WordPress blog also finally gave me the ability to block them no matter what kind of IP they use.  So now I block and unblock them at will, which is fun.

 

Orientation & Meeting a Ninja–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–September 1991, part 2

Orientation 

There were three days of orientation.  The first was Labor Day, which, of course, was a Monday; classes began on Thursday.  The suites’ RA, Daphne, and two guys awaited the freshmen on chairs set out in the courtyard, to help us move in.  I thought they did this to every freshman every year.

I now met my suite-mates.  It seemed like they had all been there for a few days already, though this was supposedly the move-in day.  It seemed that non-freshmen moved in earlier than freshmen did, so I expected to be able to do this myself the following year.  Tom had been there for at least a week or two because of football training.

It felt like summer camp.  I went to orientation events with the theme “diversity.”  The orientation speaker told us that all of us freshmen were new here.  Outgoing or shy, we had our friends at home whom we had made over the years at school or wherever else.

But now we were all newcomers with no friends and probably anxious.  She said that though we were diverse, if we talked to each other we’d probably find something in common with everyone.

I met people, went to their rooms to visit and get acquainted, and saw how people unlike me were like me.  I began to adjust.

This is when I met Julie, a sophomore and Muehlmeier RA.  She and her boyfriend, Darryl, loved many of the same things I did: Monty Python, Doctor Who, Black Adder, and other sci-fi or British comedy shows which I either watched or would soon discover.  They were also writers.  Both worked for the school newspaper.  More about them later.

The Muskie was the mascot.  “Go fish!  Muskies, Muskies! Eat ’em up, eat ’em up!”  the cheerleaders would cry as they moved their arms up and down, apart and together, like the jaws of a fish.

On Saturday I went to my first and last RC football game, with some new friends.  I had this erroneous idea that at college everybody would go to the football games, unlike in high school, because there was nothing else to do.

There were so many fumbles and so few points on our side that we left at half-time and didn’t return, Mona and I feeling bad about leaving.

In Mona’s or Jennifer’s room we talked about accents.  A guy asked if I’d ever heard of a “brat” (bratwurst on a bun) or “bubbler” (a drinking fountain).  I hadn’t.  He laughed.  One of the girls said I had the “TV accent.”

One day, Tom relayed a message from Daphne: “There’s an orientation party at ten to two.”  Ten to two?  Huh?  It was from ten o’clock to two o’clock?  Finally, I said, “Oh, ten till two!”  It was at 1:50.

“Didn’t I say it right?”  Tom said, confused at my confusion.

The S– dialect took some getting used to.  More about that later.

Oh, yay, a Christian college!  No more cussing, no more dirty jokes!

People probably wouldn’t like my devilish Christian rock.  When students from Olivet Nazarene University visited my church or sang at church camp, they seemed to prefer Christian Contemporary or Southern Gospel.

For a shy person who had trouble getting dates, period, let alone Christian ones, here I’d find Christian men galore!  Therefore, plenty of men here would be good husband material–I only needed to pick one.

There were probably no dances, only Christian entertainment.  Even if there were dances, they would have Christian music and certainly no dirty dancing.  There’d be no more boasting about kegger parties or how much alcohol somebody drank or how many girls somebody bedded.

I used to hear this all the time in art class senior year from the guys who sat across from me.  As I tried to ignore them, I kept thinking how wonderful college would be, that in a short time, I wouldn’t have to listen to this sort of thing from anyone anymore.

Most of the college students would be virgins saving themselves for marriage, they certainly wouldn’t be drinking underage (if at all) or going to wild parties, and they wouldn’t be making dirty jokes.

Teachers would pray before classes just like at Olivet, and they and suite mentors would also be spiritual advisors just like at Olivet.  They would help me to stay on the right track and to deal with the tough questions.  And on Sundays, I would go to the local Nazarene church.

Yeah, right.  It only took a day or two for these illusions to crash down around me like shattered glass.  I cried myself to sleep one night.

I often hear about Christian colleges that match what I’d expected, but Roanoke was not one of them, being only loosely affiliated with the U.C.C., a church I’d never heard of before.

I was spending all this extra money for a private Christian college in order to be in a Christian haven where I could easily find a Christian husband.  I felt betrayed.

There was no Christian extracurricular group on campus.  There wasn’t even a Nazarene church listed in the phone book!

In my high school, the kids did not say h–l or d–n.  Kids cussed (f–k and sh–); they never just swore.

Here at RC, they did both.  To me, it was odd to hear people my age say, “What in the h–l” instead of “What in the f–k.”  I’d figured cussing was for the young and swearing was for the middle-aged.

In January, my boyfriend would tell me a lot of people didn’t even consider it swearing when you said h–l or d–n.  I could not believe it.

Where I came from, h–l or d–n were considered swearing; how could it be otherwise when you’re applying the words for eternal torment and eternal condemnation to people and things?  Was Wisconsin really so different?

I knew no one yet; no one from my high school was there.  There was only one other South Bender on the whole campus, and I only knew his first name–I didn’t know him.  More people from South Bend would go there over the following years, but not many, and none from my high school.

I’d met my adviser, Counselor Dude, back in March on an early enrollment day for prospective freshmen.  To a shy seventeen-year-old, he was an imposing figure: pipe-smoking (already a shocking thing to find on a Christian campus), and all-around–well, imposing.

Nonchalant, apparently amused by my shyness and nervousness, but without laughing about it, barely even cracking a smile.  You could see the amusement in his eyes.  More about him later.

The school did special meals all week for us.  On Tuesday morning they played cool dance music during “Rock-and-Roll Breakfast.”  “This is a journey into sound” the dance song said as Heidi bent her knees to the beat, while I waited behind her in line.

I’d never heard the song [“Paid in Full” by Eric B and Rakim, “7 Minutes of Madness” remix by Coldcut] before: It came out while I only listened to Christian rock.  I would only hear a snippet of it during the next 9 years at least, but I did remember the repeated phrase and the beat.  The guy playing it, whom I will mention later, was in charge of the radio station.

On Wednesday the 4th from 8 to 9pm, there was a comedian in the Muskie, some guy whom nobody had heard of before.  I went with Candice and her friend Laura to see him.

He was vulgar and cussed a lot. He said any of us (men and women both) would sleep with so-and-so if offered a million dollars.  I said to Candice that this is certainly not true, and how can he get away with saying these things on a Christian campus?

His only good joke was about Wisconsin weather.  He said that no matter what the weather, if it’s not snowing, people will greet each other with, “At least it’s not snowing!”  I remembered this line over the years, and sometimes still use it.

In 1999 or 2000, I flipped to Comedy Central and saw Drew Carey doing stand-up comedy.  Not only was he terribly vulgar and cussed a lot, but he said that any of us (men and women both) would sleep with so-and-so if offered a million dollars.

What the heck?

Some time later, while working on these memoirs and going through my Orientation Week schedule, I discovered the Muskie comedian was Drew Carey!  How strange–I hated that guy’s routine, yet I now loved the shows Drew Carey and Whose Line Is It Anyway!  Of course, those shows were tame compared to his stand-up.

We had Playfair in the Wehr Center, the gym.  The name sounds like “where,” so frequently through the years people would say, “Where?” as a joke.  The speaker was a much wilder woman than the first speaker, demonstrative, with playful dress, hair, and voice.  She told us how to make friends, and gave us icebreaker games to play to acquaint us with each other.

Whenever someone broke a glass in the cafeteria, they would be applauded and cheered, especially by the jocks.  In Playfair, the speaker told us, “Around here, you get cheered if you drop a glass in the cafeteria.  But whenever you’re feeling lonely or down, instead of dropping a glass, yell out, ‘I need a standing ovation!’  And then everyone will give you one and make you feel better.”

I don’t think anyone actually did this, though they did occasionally break a glass.  Even I broke a glass once, and yes, people did applaud.

Afterwards was ice cream and hot chocolate.  I met Jennifer here.  She, a pretty blonde with delicate features, was just as shy and nice as the rest of us freshmen.  We hit it right off and had a long chat.

I went to the bathroom, and came back to find that Heidi had already left, along with almost everyone else I knew even a little.  I had to find my way back to Friedli in the dark.

I had a map but–whether because of a nonverbal learning disorder or because of freshman unfamiliarity–it confused me, so I wandered around for a while.   In the dark, I didn’t see the suites so well–even though they were right across the parking lot from Wehr.

I finally got “home” to find Heidi, her friend Paul, and Paul’s hearing-guide dog, Maizie, on the lawn.  Heidi got upset with herself for not watching out for me.  I tried to say it was all right, because getting lost so close to the suites made me laugh.  But she didn’t listen to me.

Meeting Shawn–and a Ninja

On the afternoon of Friday the 6th, “Picnic Dinner” was outside the Campus Center and on the lawn between the Center and the library.  I sat with Heidi, Nicole, an Asian woman, and a freshman named Shawn.

He went on and on about the movie Terminator 2.  The complexity of the time-travel plot made me want to see what Shawn called T2.

Shawn said, “Here I am, surrounded by foreign girls, all listening to me, when usually people don’t listen to me.  And you,” he said to me.  “You’re from France, right?”

“No, I’m from Indiana,” I said.

I think he later said I was so quiet he thought I didn’t know English very well.

“Here’s something that’s supposed to help you remember things.”  He went over to a pole and hit his head against it.

In one of these mealtime conversations, as we sat with some foreign exchange students, Shawn said, “Now I’m internationally known because you guys know me.”

My first impression–later proven to be wrong–was that he seemed like a guy I had a crush on in high school.

Just like that guy, Shawn liked Christian music, the same kind I liked (rock and metal), and sci-fi.  That guy also liked Doctor Who, so I asked Shawn if he watched it.

He said he watched it with his brother, but they didn’t show it around here.  Life without Doctor Who?  It couldn’t be!

(It wasn’t: The Wisconsin PBS stations in the area did show both it and Blake’s Seven every Sunday evening until 1992 or 1993.)

I started asking him questions, wondering if he had any other similarities to my old crush.

The others eventually left.  The two of us moved into the Campus Center lounge after dinner, standing near the doorway and talking about various things, such as Christian rock.  He did most of the talking, which was usual for him.

This was the first person like me I had found, someone who shunned cuss words and listened to Christian music, the type of person I’d expected to be far more common on a Christian campus.

Impressed, I wondered what my future was with this guy: friend? boyfriend? classmate?

I found a strange state of things in my years there: In a way it seemed less Christian than even my public high school, but in other ways it seemed easier to find Christians.  Maybe we sought each other out.

Shawn began analyzing my personality, uninvited–and was right on target, even though he’d just met me.

He told me I reminded him of his ex-girlfriend with my shy, reserved ways.  He could tell from the way I sat that I was a new, timid freshman who didn’t know anybody yet.  You could also tell the freshmen because they stared at their shoes while standing, he said.

(I thought of a time when I went to a meal with Tom, who I sort of liked already, but as he stood talking to his senior friends, I only looked at my shoes to make sure they weren’t untied.)

He tried to tell me how to change my timid ways.  Shawn said he wanted to see me at the dance tonight, saying hi to people I didn’t even know.  He wanted to see a different me.  Already he was dissatisfied and wanted to change me into someone I was not.

As a person on a Usenet forum once commented, telling a painfully shy person to start talking to strangers is like asking her to sprout wings and fly.

What Shawn said made me uncomfortable, especially since I’d felt so outgoing and proud of myself the past few days.  Just look at how many strangers I’d already chatted with since I came on campus!  Did I really need such advice?

But I didn’t know how to make him stop.  I was attracted to him with his dark hair and Irish blue eyes, so I didn’t want to walk away.

(No, I wasn’t attracted to every single guy on campus; I’m just not telling you about everybody I met.)

Shawn and I later moved outside to the drive by Grossheusch, probably so he could get to his room and do homework.

Having lied about being sick to get out of work that night for the dance, and having decided to come to the campus early because his parents bored him, another freshman drove up into the nearby parking lot near Grossh.  He told his parents he was going to campus to study, not telling them his true plans to dance.

He drove a blue Lynx, probably at least five years old, FYZ on the license plate, which he read as “Fine Young Zephyr.”  (He and his mom had this game of making words from people’s license plates, which you can do in Wisconsin.  Indiana only has numbers on its plates.)

In the first two days of classes, this young man had met Shawn in Freshman Studies.

The young man saw us.  He wanted someone to talk to, and thought I was pretty.  (Up until 1994, when a hair stylist cut several inches off and I had to grow it out again, my hair reached my waist.)  While Shawn was still giving me unwanted advice about going up to people I didn’t know, the young man came up to us and Shawn said,

“And here’s someone taking my advice, right here.”

The new guy gave us his name: Peter.  He, too, reminded me of somebody I knew in high school, though he was actually nothing like him.  Peter loved my long hair.

Peter and Shawn had Expository Writing class together, and talked a little about that.  Peter jokingly accused Shawn of “diarrhea of the mouth,” or incessant talking.  Peter kept looking at me, so I could tell he was attracted to me.

Though many times I thought a guy liked me when he did not (probably because of NVLD), a few times I knew that a guy liked me.  This was one of those times.

First he thought, “Boy, is she shy.”  Then later on he thought, “Boy, is she nice!”

I preferred Shawn, though: Peter cussed a lot and at the oddest times, which I didn’t like.  However, Peter had gorgeous brown eyes that slanted like a cat’s.  (I later found that like cats, he could even see in the dark when there was some light.)

His hair was jet-black at birth, turned blond, and was now a very dark brown which looked black when he used hair spray on his unruly locks.  When his bangs came loose to cover his forehead, he looked like a high-school boy.  When they were combed off to the side and still held by hair spray, he looked his age, almost 19.

“Have you heard of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?” Peter asked us.

Of course.  Everybody had.  It was a cartoon which was so popular among children that it really annoyed adults.

“You know what a ninja is?  I am one.”  He was third-degree black belt and had been studying for five years.

As Candace would say, What the heck?

He took us over to his little car and showed us the ninja staff, throwing stars and sword in his trunk.  He had made all these things himself.  Shawn picked up one of the stars.

“This is a little off-balance,” he said.  You’re a little off-balance, he might have thought, setting the tone of their relationship for the next two years.

Two young black men walked by the parking lot.  “They made fun of the way I was dressed earlier,” Shawn said.  He called to them, “Hey, is this better?”  He joined them.  (He later said he could see the “ball and chain” in my eyes, and passed me off to Peter instead.)

Peter and I looked at each other.  He walked me back to the suites as we kept chatting.  He told me he took German once.  “Are you going to the dance tonight?” he said.

“I don’t know,” I said.  “I might, just for something to do.”

He thought the dance was at 8:00, though it was really 8:30.  “If you’re not at the dance by 8:30, I’m coming to get you,” he said.  We said good-bye in German.

He went to the commuter suite, and I went to the German suite.  He knew where I lived, but I, alas, only knew he was a commuter and might be found in the commuter suite sometimes.

That evening, at the last minute I realized I didn’t know how to dress for a dance.  I’d been raised in the days when Nazarenes weren’t supposed to dance, though some did.  Recently I’d begun to think that dancing and going to movies weren’t so wrong, depending on how you did it or what movies you saw.  And even the Nazarene Church now let people make up their own minds about it.

I enlisted Latosha’s help.

We went through my closet, finally choosing a white shirt and red skort.  Latosha rolled up one or both of my sleeves halfway, and bloused my shirt by pulling it out of my skirt a bit.  She said this was the fashion.

I needed dancing shoes, since my white dress shoes were too tight for dancing all night.  My only other shoes were boat shoes, which didn’t seem proper for dancing.  (Never assume that every woman has a shoe fetish, despite the stereotype which even women believe.)

Heidi wandered in, wondering what was taking us so long. She lent me a pair of dancing shoes.  They had sole inserts, one of which kept slipping.  It gave me a bloody foot.

Latosha lent me a white, cloth headband, one of those 60s fashions which were so popular in 1991.  (Maybe Deee-Lite started it?)  I told Heidi and Latosha that it wasn’t a date, just two friends going to a dance.  Time went by so fast that it got late.

We set off, meeting Peter along the way.  He complimented our clothes.  Heidi gave me a knowing look; she could tell Peter wasn’t just a friend.

“I was just coming to get you,” he said to me.  “Frank was waiting for Heidi.  He told me so, and I said, ‘I’m waiting for someone, too.’  Where were you?”

We went in the Campus Center, which was in a straight line from the suites.  On the top floor was Bossard Hall, the cafeteria.

During meals, a stool and cash register sat by the food line door, where a Food Service worker sat to check ID’s.  She pushed a little counter-clicker if you had a meal plan sticker on your ID, or took your money if you were a commuter.

On the bottom floor was the Campus Center Lounge and TV, where you’d find Ren and Stimpy (sophomore year), MTV (which often played music videos in those days), soap operas, or game shows playing.  I heard a soap opera club would meet there every day to watch Days of Our Lives.

Now we all went into Bossard, which had been cleared of tables and darkened.  A DJ from Chicago, Mirage, played cool dance music such as “Groovy Train” by the Farm (if that song had come out yet).  He also played songs I had never expected to hear on any Christian campus, such as “I Wanna Sex You Up” by Color Me Badd.

Peter and I walked over to the refreshment table.  “Do you want to dance?” he said.

“I don’t know how,” I said.

“I’ll teach you,” he said.

I ignored the songs I didn’t like so he could teach me how to dance.  He said I was so good I could go on Star Search, though I felt awkward and kept watching our feet to see if I was stepping right.  He was a crazy dancer who liked to show off.

Once, we got drinks again, Mountain Dew for me, then went outside to cool off and sit.  We talked for some time.  I asked his name again.  I laughed when he told me.  I said, “When I think of the name ‘Peter,’ I think of this guy at my church who plays the saxophone, leads the music and has big muscles.”

Mist began rolling over the campus in the darkness.  Peter said it looked like a sea.  Unknown to me, he had begun to really fall for me during our first or second dance.

While dancing, I saw a tipsy Candice near the front of the cafeteria, spinning around with her arms outstretched to the song “End of the World” by REM.

I loved the music played at the dances in those days, which was usually dance and Top 40.  Rap was played as well, but Peter didn’t know how to dance to that, so we sat out during those songs.

But rap music began to take over the dances.  I remember one dance later in the semester when we sat out every song until we finally got up and left.

To my shock, in among all those secular songs and sex songs, “Addictive Love” by BeBe and CeCe Winans began to play.  Peter told me it had crossed over onto secular stations.  I wasn’t sure I liked this song about God’s love being used like a human love song, but hey, at least people realized that it was just as good as any secular song.

We danced our first slow-dance to this.  (Because of this, I’m not entirely sure if this was the September 6 dance or the next dance we went to, after we became a couple.  It was probably the latter.)

To our shock and disgust, we saw couples practically having sex on the dance floor as part of their “dance.”  This was far worse than the kind in Dirty Dancing.  About ten years later, I learned that it’s called “freaking.”

Later, we went to the Muskie Inn, a fast-food place in the room next to Bossard.  Peter got a sample of my ravenous appetite.  I wasn’t fat, though if I kept eating like that I soon would be.

He bought me some fries because I was already hungry, unlike him, and we both got some pop–or soda, as he called it.  In the future, we would often have a friendly war over words, saying “pop” and “soda” or “jam box” and “boom box” to each other as if the loudest one won.

Above the counter in the Muskie was a trophy muskie fish.  In the middle of the Muskie was a fireplace.  In the front, by the windows and opposite the counter, was a stereo TV.

All around on the walls were black-and-white and color photographs blown up and put on large, wooden mounts, depicting Muskie Inn and campus activities going all the way back to probably the 50s or 60s.

Peter and I sat in a booth along one wall.  One picture from the 50s or 60s showed students in one of these booths.  One showed students getting muddy during Homecoming or May Celebration activities.  This may have been the one with the pig.  One showed someone with a clown-painted face.

The big stereo TV had all the newest amenities, such as a digital control panel.  But you had to sit in certain places in the room to see it properly, places which centered the picture for you and weren’t on the left or right.  If you went too far in one direction, you saw red lines around everything; too far in the other direction, blue lines.

Shawn found us there and, to my discomfort, joined us.

“I see you two have hit it off,” he said.  To his relief, as I learned later.  He seemed to think I needed a weird guy “to take care of.”  He was oddly perceptive, because I did want a weird guy–probably because I loved Tom Baker’s Doctor Who so much.

After the dance, I followed Candice and her friend Laura to Krueger, where Laura lived on a floor below a noisy freshman floor (third floor) where girls stomped on their floors in the middle of the night and kept her awake.

Peter hoped to go to my suite, but I didn’t know this.  When he saw us going toward the women’s dorm, he said good-bye for the night.  Of course, he could have come with us, but I guess he didn’t know this at the time.

I still insisted to Candice and Laura that it was not a date, but then Candice said, “It took me what, a year? to find Jeff.  Laura still hasn’t found anyone yet.  You’re lucky, Nyssa: You found someone right away.”

I had a crush on Shawn despite the discomfort and even one on Tom, but you know, I did kind of like this guy Peter, after all.

 

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

A Story-Game From my Childhood: I Was a Moon in the Solar System

A Story-Game From my Childhood: I Was a Moon in the Solar System

In my childhood, not only did I act out “Wizard of Oz,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Star Wars,” but I also invented various elaborate stories which I would act out while outside or on the school playground.  I normally played them by myself, since other people didn’t know how to do their parts “right.”

Though I do recall pretending to be foxes one winter day with Chad, Keith, Danny and another little boy, on a day when even the snow was very icy and you could barely walk on the playground without slipping.  Our “den” was one of the play tunnels, which was painted like a hollow log….

I was also mostly by myself as a child, since my brothers were much older and liked “boy” stuff, and while there were a few kids in the neighborhood, they didn’t often come over–and a few of them were too mean to play with.  But with my stories, I barely noticed that I was the only one.  I intend to write a series of posts on my different stories.  I also mention some of them in my posts about life with NVLD.

One of my stories started when I was 8 years old and in third grade.  The teacher took us out on the playground one day and assigned each of us a planet, a satellite, or the sun.  Then she had us all stand in various places based on where the sun was and where each planet was, to demonstrate to us just how large the solar system is.

I was a satellite, Nereid, and went to stand by a girl named Jessica who was Neptune.  I also remember the girl who was the sun, though I don’t remember her name; she had a pointy, knit cap with a ball on the top.  It was winter, so I was wearing a certain beige coat which I really liked, which had a hood and a cloth belt, and I wore black boots.

I was so enchanted by this game the teacher had us play, that I began acting it out by myself, whether at home, in the church basement while my dad set up the microphones, or at the playground.  In fact, I associate that old church basement–the square-shaped hallway with the drain on the floor–with these stories.

I also wrote stories about it and drew pictures, with myself as Nereid, in the same coat and boots, and with little curls in my hair that I didn’t have in real life.  Nereid had to wear a coat because she was in the outer reaches of the solar system, far from the sun.

Every such being, or heavenly body–whether planet, moon, sun, asteroid, or comet–was eight years old, just like me, and always would be eight years old.  The Asteroid Patrol was the police force.  The beings would walk on metal walkways in space, so they wouldn’t fall into nothingness.  Instead of “Martian,” beings on Mars would be called “Marslings” (as in “Earthlings”), and same for the “lings” of any other planet.  Sun-chips and star-chips, flashy bits taken from suns and stars, were used as money.

nereid

Nereid was constantly getting separated from Neptune, unlike the other moon Triton, another girl, who behaved and stayed nearby.  So on the one hand Nereid was always looking for Neptune and would be happy and relieved when she found her.  But on the other hand, she had all sorts of adventures.  I wish I could remember even half of them.

One of my classmates, Keith, also ended up in these stories, even though I don’t recall him actually playing this game with me in real life.  He had somehow ended up trapped on the planet of Mouseooine, named after Tatooine, where everybody dressed in mouse costumes (yes, like furries), and the young princess was in love with Keith–but he, typical boy, kept trying to put her off.

Venus was a beautiful girl surrounded all over her head and body with chilled silver jewelry (what showed up to Earthlings as clouds), which kept her cool near the Sun.  The ringed planets had rings either around their bodies or around their heads, depending on how I felt like drawing it that day.

Earth was a boy whom Nereid had a crush on, but he had a crush on Venus.  Earth’s creatures were like an infestation on his head, since the head was the planet itself; the other planets were fascinated by them.

Mars was a redheaded girl.  The little ball on the Sun’s hat (her sun-hat) is what provided the fire and heat of the sun.  She could take off the hat and point it at Nereid, a ray would come out of the little ball, and Nereid would then shrink to human-size, and go visit Keith on Mouseooine.  Then the Sun would use her sun-hat on Nereid again so she could go back to normal moon-size.

In middle school, I drew a daily comic strip which was, in a tragic accident, somehow lost during one of our moves in adulthood.  It was silly and bizarre, the sort of humor middle school kids might love, set in an alternative reality of my middle school, with Star Wars and other strange fashions instead of actual 1985 fashions, monsters, a woman who was literally stick-thin, a news anchor named Pretty Face who had 1985-fashionable hair and had to fend off suitors, magic, genies, a resurrected Cleopatra, a 50s-style soda shop in the air where all the kids hung out, and various other things.

In college, I found these old strips and began writing a more adult version, only I called it “Sol-Sys Blues” and based it on a version of the solar system game; the characters were now growing up.

I found two story fragments written about the solar system when I was a young child, probably no older than 12.

My mom was a cleaning lady, cleaning the houses of people at our church, and also a bank in a nearby town, and other businesses; she would take me with her.  Later, one of my brothers helped her as well, but in the beginning it was just her.

Probably when I was around 8 or 9, she started bringing home boxes and boxes of discarded form letters from the bank: usually letters which scolded for non-payment or were sent with loan coupons, letters which were blank on one side and perfect for me to write stories on.

I recall checking the Encyclopedia Brittanica at one house, probably when I was no older than 9 or 10, looking up information about the solar system, and writing stories on the old bank paper about Nereid, as my mom cleaned the house.

These are the two fragments.  Based on the references to choosing school courses, French and handwriting–which is legible (to me, at least, because it’s mine), in cursive, and full of strange little variants I had developed to make my handwriting pretty and interesting, unlike everybody else’s cursive–I must have been 12 when I wrote the first one.

I believe “earliest Hebrew” was chosen because I thought that Adam and Eve must have spoken this.  I was a very religious child, raised in the Nazarene Church, with no smoking, dancing or drinking, and with a premillennial dispensationalist, creationist theology:

Chapter 1

The Sun was the name given to all the suns, girl or boy, firstborn, middleborn or lastborn, or origin.  It was in the language of the most important planet’s inhabitants, of course, because that was the language of the solar system.

If the important planet’s inhabitants spoke more than one language, the first language ever given, or the majority languages, were given; but they all could speak all the languages in the universe!

But this particular system spoke earliest Hebrew; and so their words had to be written in English in this book.  Besides, I don’t know earliest Hebrew.

Each sun was created by God and put in the care of the galaxy ruler.  This galaxy was the Milky Way.

Our sun was, of course, named The Sun; she was a girl with brown curls for hair.  When she was three years old she had to begin her training.

First she had to know what kind of star she was.  The galaxy ruler, or garu, took a small, metallic object with a scale and put it on The Sun’s head.  The scale had three points–Large, Middle-Sized and Small.  The scale moved and the arrow pointed to “Middle-Sized.”  Under each point was a number, and under The Sun’s point was the number “8.”  That meant, when she was eight she’d stop growing.

She was given a textbook and, when she learned to read all words, she read the book whenever assigned in her school.  It was written in the fastest-writing and -reading language in the universe–Sheeshu.

The school near the middle of the galaxy for Milky-Way Students was a space station orbiting a substitute sun.  The Sun got there by riding a bullet-shaped capsule, and lived in the room she was assigned to.  Now let me tell you about her first ractul, or seven days (to her each day was 30 hours, school time):

The first day was exciting and unsure and unsettled.  The Sun had to be given a school name, Misa.  That was because every sun there had the same name!  The language was Milky Wayan, and “Misa” meant “sun on the edge of the galaxy.”

“Misa” landed in a large room with asteroid-workers everywhere.  Some of them helped her get out, and her bag of clothes and oral hygiene supplies were put on a cart that moved along a metal track leading to the office.  When the cart came back, The Sun got on it, but near the office it turned on a fork and went into the office door.  The baggage had gone into a smaller door on the side of the room.

The Sun got up and stood at the desk.  The secretary asked her questions, and this form was filled out:

school name:  ___________
from what galaxy?  Milky Way
what part?  very edge
name of system  Solar System
home room no.:  123
age:  3 years
type:  Middle-Sized
age to stop:  8
meaning of school name: ________

“So you’re a misa,” said the secretary, and wrote next to the words “school name:” “Misa,” and put its meaning in the blank for it.

“Your school name is ‘Misa.’  Here’s your form, and you have to fill out this paper.”  The secretary put a black paper and yellow pencil in front of her and told her to choose her classes.

“I can’t read this; I haven’t been taught!”

“Oh, yes; I forgot!  Now here’re your required courses:

“Math; Spelling; Writing; Reading; Universal Science and Universal Studies.”  She told the same thing to the computer, which typed everything she said.  “Now your courses to choose from are Home-ec, which prepares you to be a Sun;–”

“I’ll take that.”

“–Singing; Art; Gym; Educational Games and Job Study, which tells you better about all the jobs in the universe.  Everybody seems to like to take the last one; I’d advise it.  Choose two of those for this seven weeks.”

“Um–Job Study and–Singing.”

“Okay.  Uh–Computer, type in ‘Job Study and Singing.'”  The tiny screen of the computer got three more words on it.  It had a keyboard, but that was only used when necessary.  A switch was flipped and the computer was able to understand voice commands.  [Here is a picture of a computer which looks like your typical 1985 computer.]

“Computer–shuffle around.”  The computer mixed around the subjects and they turned out like this–Reading, Writing, Spelling, Universal Science, Math, Universal Studies, Singing and Job Study.

Then she said, “Computer, add times.”  The screen showed:

Reading=8:00-9:25
Writing=9:25-10:50
Spelling=10:50-12:15
Lunch=12:10-13:10
Universal Science=12:15-13:40
Math=13:40-14:05
Universal Studies=14:05-15:30
Singing=15:30-1:55
Job Study=1:55-3:00 (1 hour 5 minutes)

“Computer, add teachers and rooms.”

Screen:
[repeats the schedule on one side, and has on the other:]

Reading, HR, Mrs. Mara; rm. 123, speaks Misan
Writing, Mrs. CShCeer (kush-keer); rm. 124, speaks Sheeshu
Spelling, Mr. CShCeer; rm. 125, speaks Sheeshu
lunch, rm. 130
Universal Science, Mrs. SunCeer; rm. 122, speaks Maranoid
Math, HR, Mrs. Mara; rm. 123, speaks Misan
Universal Studies, HR, Mrs. Mara; rm. 123, speaks Misan
Singing, Miss Eeshatu; rm. 121, speaks Sheeshan
Job Study, Miss Tu-Ee Shatee; rm. 916, speaks Saturnionionun

“Computer, print.”

When the computer had printed in yellow on a black piece of paper, the secretary tore it…

[next three pages are missing]

…were trying to figure it out.  “In Sheeshu,” she said, “the letter stands for the sound ‘kuh.'”

“‘Kuh’ is no number.”

“Oh–numbers!  Then the letter could be ‘8’!  Do you have a room number with that number in it?”

“I don’t remember.  I think so.”

“Check the room number ‘128’!”

So they walked over to room 128, both dragging their luggage with them.  Misa knocked on the door, and a man opened it; they shoved the paper toward him and asked if there were any 8’s in the room number.

“No,” he said; “but your room number is 123.  Must be one of you reads Sheeshu to know this is 128!  Well, go to room 123; that’s your homeroom number!”

“Dut dut!”  Sheesheetu called, which meant several things–this time, “Good-bye” and “Thank you” at the same time.

They looked for room 123, with Sheesheetu reading the Sheeshu numbers.They came to a room numbered: [marks resembling 118] which didn’t match the sheet, which said: [marks resembling 11S] but it was “123” in Sheeshu.  They knocked, and the woman named “Mrs. Mara,” who spoke Misan especially, answered.  Lucky for them, they found their room, because after half an hour it was already nearing 8:00!

Mrs. Mara had told them to put their things in the corner of the room where others had put their own, and take out the following materials from their own luggage–textbook, pencil, pen, paper–and go to their desk.  Written in Sheeshu, the placecards were easy for Sheesheetu to read.

The others were shopping around with their eyes on the fifth floor, and should be back pretty soon.

When it was 8:01 and everyone was back in their seats, they were told to open their books to the part labeled (it was written on the board):  [Sheeshu writing]  It was the sixth section.  [scribbles meant to represent Sheeshu writing]

They were taught a few paragraphs from the first section, each sentence written differently but meaning the same.  For example: [sentences in French, English and Sheeshu]

Each book was large and written in small letters.  This was so all languages in the entire universe that ever was and ever would be would fit on a quarter of the page!

These, if you’re interested, were the Sheeshu sentences for the two sentences described in four languages:

[English-based letters]

They would be pronounced: Kuh-ee olg kuh-eye bhft.  Kuh-ee gol kuh-eye bum.

Sheesheetu, of course, had no problem reading those Sheeshu sentences!

Mrs. Mara was especially interested in Misa, because they both spoke Misan (most ancient Hebrew) as official languages.  She was concerned she couldn’t read her own language, and the rest of the class could!  So, she wrote on the board:  [scribbles representing Misan writing]

That was the way it was written at the time.  Then it was written the way Earthlings would someday write it.

By 9:20 everyone in the class could read a paragraph from every single language ever!  They took their book, paper, pencil and pen to whatever their next class would be (except for those who stayed in the same class, of course!).

Misa and Sheesheetu had Mrs. CShCeer (KUSH-keer) next, rm. 124, Sheeshu-speaker, for Writing.  Sheesheetu was her favorite student because they both spoke and read the same language.

That day they practiced making all lines and rounded lines.

Next for Misa was Mr. CShCeer; for Sheesheetu his wife, Mrs. CShCeer.  In that class the lesson was on spelling rules for Sheeshu, which was mostly used in the TB and was important to know.

At 12:10 was lunch.  Mr. CShCeer took his class to lunch.

There was a lunchroom on every floor; for the fifth floor, it was a real good restaurant that costs the cheapest monetary unit for all–the raktuluh–for each meal.  There was a real rich sun named Tuka (“rich sun on side of galaxy”) who liked to insist on using a sun-chip (the highest monetary unit of all), so eventually all meals were free.

solsyssunpic-573x800

Everyone ate in the small lunchroom for Mr. CShCeer’s class until 12:15, the time to start the next class.  Then they were all to go to the room for their next teacher’s class.  Misa couldn’t understand.

She went up to Mr. CShCeer with her shere in her hands, holding it by its two handles.  “I don’t know where to go,” she said.  “I don’t have my schedule with me.”

This was an experience!  Misa could be late to class!  And how’d she know where to go?

She met up with Sheesheetu, who was going to the lunchroom reserved for Mrs. SunCeer’s class.

“Well, let’s see if you belong in my class,” she said, leading her away.

The sphere-tray was a shere colored different colors each with two handles on its sides to carry it.  It was split down the middle, and you opened it and flattened it down, and the food and everything was put in attached boxes all over the tray.  Milk and silverware was also put there.

It was finally 3:00!  Everyone returned to HR (homeroom), but for a bit it wasn’t exactly like home because:

For one thing, everyone had half an hour to finish homework because with those just going to school it’s not easy to get a lot of homework!

For Misa, there was no homework until Universal Science.  All that was was finding the distance a certain bawling ball (slight version of “bowling ball”) would roll until it hit the gitter (gutter).  (With this study, it’s no wonder those schools turn out so many good heavenly body-bawlers!)

In Math, Misa had ten simple-simple! addition problems; for Universal Studies just to read about what different jobs there are in their galaxy; and in Job Study, to read and answer five questions about the Asteroid Patrol.

All answers were written in either pen or pencil in the book.

At 3:30, Mrs. Mara asked if everyone was done with their homework, which they were, and then took them to the rec floor–the fifth floor.  Everyone was put into the large elevator to go upstairs.  The doors were opened by a push of a button, and closed the same way.

The bawling alley was something like a bowling alley; mechanical setting of pins, ball returns; but lines marked where the gitters were.

At 5:30 they all filed into the free, mall restaurant in the south wing.

[Schedule:]
30 hours
10 hours of sleep
9 hours of after school
therefore, 10 hours of school

8:00AM-3:00PM–school
3:00PM-12:00AM–after school
12:00AM-7:00AM–10 hours of sleep [sic]

3-3:30–homework
3:30-5:30–bawling
5:30-7:30 (at the latest)–dinner
7:30-9:30–shop or browse at mall (at 7:30 give allowance)
9:30-10:30–free time
10:30-11:30–bosketball (basketball)
11:30-12:00–free time
***END***

 

The following is a fragment depicting Keith’s adventures on Mouseooine, where he, like the natives, dressed in a mouse costume.  It was probably written when I was about 10.  I think they had to hide that they were Earthlings, and pretend to be from Mouseooine, probably so they wouldn’t get killed:

 

…”Hysterical, not histerical, isn’t it, Gary?” corrected Trera.

“Well, I say it histerical,” remarked Gary.  So both pulled until Mike was up.  She had forgotten the buttons, so she pushed the top and bottom ones, then stepped very cautiously unto the stand.  The crocodiles swam away, clicking their snouts angrily, a good dinner lost.
****
“Yes, King Zrooine, is who we want to see.”

We?” the messenger puzzled, then saw the four children.  “Yes.”

After hearing that, King Zrooine, a 12-year-old, asked 10-year-old Princess Zango (zayng’go), “Zango, should we send my messenger or you to tell Keith to come here?”

Keith?”  Then Zango glanced at the waiters, then replied, “If it’s so; me.”

“Then you shall be it.”  So Zango walked over to them, and jumped at the sight.

“Huh?  I thought only you were here, Keith!  Who are these people?  I never saw them before!  Oh, well; King says you may go to him.”

So Keith came and kneeled, the employees following.  “Do we have to kneel on one knee?” asked Mike, reluctantly.

“No; you’re not the one presenting the employees!” answered Keith, whispering but snappishly.

“So; Keith; I see you brought four boys with you.  What do you want?…Speak!  Don’t wait when I tell you to answer!”

“Oh…These four boys here want royal jobs.  Uh…Uh…”

“Mike Grindstone,” prompted Mike.  “Pilot.”

“Mike Grindstone, here, wants to be pilot,” replied Keith.

“I heard,” said King Zrooine.

“Uh…Uh…,”  Keith fumbled.

“Tom Sanders,” prompted Tom.  “Gun-maker.”

“Gary Lang,” said Gary.  “Navigator.”

“Trera Baker,” said Trera.  “Co-pilot.”

[missing pages]

“Yes.”

“And so did Gary and Tom.  So come with me to the King.”

They followed, and the King said, “So?  Did all pass?”

“Yea,” answered Keith.

“And so, Keith, take them to their next stations,” said Zrooine.

“Yes, sir,” replied Keith.  So he took Mike and Trera to their starcruiser, Gary to her [sic] navigating test, and Tom to her [sic] gun-checking point.

On the way to the star cruiser, Mike asked, “Now what’s the name of this star cruiser?”

Keith put his arms out and cried, What do you care about the name?  It’s just a test!”  There, he said, “Now, Mike, you’re the pilot; climb up the co-pilot’s ladder, and stand by the controls.  Trera, you are the co-pilot, sit there.  I’ll be a passenger.”

So Mike climbed up the co-pilot’s ladder, Trera after her.  She stood by the controls, Trera held fast to the controls by her, and Keith sat in the first passenger seat.

Mike pushed a top button, a bottom button, a middle button, and a button for medium.  Then she gave a signal by pounding the controls on top to Trera, and the ship went up.

Then, when they were down, Keith said, “So, that’s all?”

“Keith!” cried Mike.  “What if I’m forced to be co-pilot?”

“And I’m the only person on the ship?”

“Oh, all right.”  So the test went in reverse.

Keith brought them to another ship, after Mike slid down her controls, and had them drive that.  Trera went in, and Mike and Keith on top.

At Gary’s place, she navigated correct, at Tom’s, her guns were correctly checked.

On their way to Zrooine’s palace, Gary said, “Sand people there–or worse!  Hurry!” as a joke.

“So!” said Mike.  “You saw Star Wars on Earth, huh?”

“On Earth?” said Keith.  “Oh, yeah.”

Trera whispered to Mike, “You dummy!  You’ll get us into trouble by-‘n’-by!”

***END FRAGMENT***

 

When I was twelve and in seventh grade, I wrote a story about Earthlings going to live on Mars.  I used my already-established universe of living heavenly bodies, in this story.

The people were in some vehicles which were suddenly lifted into the air and put on Mars; they could hear around them:

 

“Yes, Mars, my girl, put them on you and they can live!  Trust me, I know these things!”

“Aw, but Nereid, I wanted them to be enlarged by the Sun’s sun-hat and let them live like that while I pray of God that he change my obliquity to 30 degrees and I prepare the air around me!”

“I’m Nereid, Neptune’s moon!  Would I ever steer you wrong?!”

“Well, you sure seem to steer yourself wrong a lot in that you never seem to stick with Neptune and/or Triton!”

“Yeah, well, Earth always steers me right again!  I go to him for his superior advice!”

“Ya know, I think you have a crush on him!”

“I have for the last thousand years had a crush on him!”

“Then it isn’t a crush or infatuation, it’s love!  Go after the boy!  He’s God’s pick for you!”

“But I’m shy!”

“Well, then, it’s simple!  Earth doesn’t like you yet, but what you do is go on that planet-moon picnic with him next picnic day!  Have you noticed?  You two have been paired on the schedule!  Impress him; act sweet and nicely yourself!  When he’s started to notice you, write a note a week later and put it in his mailbox–ask him to go with you!  Simple as all that!  Remember, I caught the tenth planet, Ihfundit, that way, about three of Venus’ years ago, and notice we’ve been married a year so far!”

That gave hope to the one voice, Nereid, as she said:

“See me married to Earth in two Mercury years–176 Earth-days!  For Earth, less than a year!”

Then it sounded like someone was walking away on metal.  Then the person came back, saying: “Oh!  I forgot!  Give this to the Earthlings!  Open your hand!”

“No; they’ll die if I do!”

“Then move a finger a little!  Now, you wouldn’t want those Earthlings to become Marslings just yet until they have their explanation!  Here, lings!”  And something black fell what seemed out of the space there.  Then the walking-on-metal was heard again.

Someone got the paper, which was written on in white chalk.  It must be whoever wrote it knew how to write American or something, because that’s how the words were written.  The person, Cyndy Ferraro, read out loud and very loudly so all could hear:

You lings obviously are wondering what’s happening here, so I’ll tell you.  You see, to someone small like you, the universe looks as you imagine it.  But grow to our size, and you can see the planets as people.

We used to call each other our own name, but your names for us are so nice we call each other by your names for us.

Well, you know Mars is barren.  Earth isn’t.  Mars saw you on Earth and asked God what you were up to.

When she found out, she asked God for permission to get you from Earth and be her own lings, which Earth allowed.  You can’t see us, but Mars had to put you in her hands to keep you safe.

When you’re put on Mars’ head you can build even spaceships if you want!  If you wonder how I know, that red planet told me.

Neptune’s moon besides Triton,
Nereid.

A scientific breakthrough!  The planets obviously were alive, though drilling like for oil or digging or such didn’t hurt them!

They were now free from planetary laws, but not from human laws, so the Bibles, until the Judgement, would always be studied.  Well, now it was 70 degrees on Mars’ equator, and everyone was put on the equator.

They found a pile of boxes, labeled in Sheeshu (a fast-writing and saying language in space), and on top was a booklet of instructions written by the planet and translated by the moon.  It told everyone about the money in the boxes, sun-chips and star-chips.

It was easy to collect in space–asteroid workers were always producing the money and sending it into space to just float around.

The universal money was also used as food and building materials, and such as that.

(Oh, if I forgot to tell you; the lings were given oxo-hats, hats that fasten to the neck with a drawstring, and have two “antlers” on the top to convert air with plant-like mechanisms in the balls.

(It was also explained how to make more of this, besides how to build a “sunbuilding” (building made out of sun-chips) in an hour because in about 90 minutes the temperature would start to drop to dangerous temperatures.

(When it was read how long they had, everyone who could, started immediately to build!)

***END***

 

On August 29, 1986, when just starting eighth grade, I had to write sentences to go along with vocabulary words.  I wrote:

2. Citizens of Mouseooine were noted for their steady practice of deceit when it came to the moons and planets.

6. Mouseooinelings capturing moons and/or planets was a frequent happening.  [This explains why Nereid kept ending up there with Keith.]

19.  The moon finally had triumph over the planet Mouseooine.

 

Meet the Suite–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–September 1991, part 1

The story begins in September 1991 in a little college in Wisconsin by a little town called H–.  Roanoke College is officially by the small city of S–, but H– and unincorporated A– are much closer.

1991 was a great year for me: My generation saw its first war, but we beat them bad; I graduated; my eighteenth birthday was on June 22; and now I would have a new life in a state I first visited in February.

I came from South Bend, Indiana, which is twice the size of and a different world than S–, Wisconsin.

I was a writing major with a Fessler Writing Scholarship, a naive young girl who thought that I would support myself with a novel writing career and German translation, and not need the internships or resumé writing classes.

I also thought that “Christian college” meant a college full of Christian people.

There were roughly 1600 students at Roanoke (the size of my high school)–around 400 on campus, the rest commuters and Lifelong Learning (night class) students.

This was a campus in the middle of cornfields in a state that has two seasons: winter and under (road) construction, as it is said, when the orange signs are in bloom.

The comedian during freshman orientation week said that, no matter what befell you there, you could console yourself and others by saying, “At least it’s not snowing!”  Despite how vulgar he was otherwise, this one phrase stuck in my mind throughout my time at Roanoke.

In the October 1991 issue of the campus newspaper was a cartoon: A car marked “New Student” is driving down a road with nothing but cornfields and signposts on either side.  On the left-side signposts you find: “Out there –> ,” “The corn –> ,” “<– The old tree,” “Roanoke College –> ,” “Absolutely nowhere –> ,” “Millers Farm,” and “Over there –> .”  On the right-side signpost you find, “H– Pop. 14.”  A speech balloon pointed at the car’s driver reads, “I guess the college is just down this road?”

I arrived on Labor Day, 1991.  There were a couple days of orientation before classes began.  The earliest class was at 9:15 AM!  For someone used to starting school at 7:45, this was luxury.  As I told my roommate, I liked this better than high school, which I had loved.

I saw this guy in February on SEED Day, a day of testing and orientation for high school seniors who were about to become Roanoke freshman.  He had blond hair and sky-blue eyes, joked around, and smiled at and flirted with me.  The rare eye color of sky blue was my favorite, and I figured my future husband probably had them.

Where was this guy?  He’d said he was a junior; I should see him again.  (Once or twice I thought I spotted him during the fall semester, but wasn’t sure.  Finally, I saw him again, and his name was Ned.  He was in his mid-20s, I believe.  More stories about him to come.)

I was a Nazarene girl, so I didn’t dance or drink alcohol or smoke or cuss or go to movies, though the denominational restrictions on movies and dancing had recently been lifted.

I had royal ancestors–Duncan of “Macbeth,” Saints Margaret and David of Scotland–and folk-hero ancestors–John and Priscilla Alden of Longfellow and Mayflower fame.

I had been in (as a teen magazine termed it) a love drought–plenty of crushes but all unrequited–since sophomore year of high school.

I took German for three years; French for two. I wanted to continue in German and learn Latin, as everyone at college always did, I thought.  But there were no Latin classes at Roanoke.

I would be living in the German suite, an honor only now opened to freshmen.  Only one other freshman lived in the two suite buildings, Friedli and Hofer.  Hofer was mostly fraternity suites, day care and the commuter suite; Friedli was language and honor suites.

In between was the main suite lounge, a little building with a lounge, couches, chairs, TV, bathroom, a microwave and a pop machine; half of the building was even a living area for a campus official.  That part was closed off to us.

Though suite usually means luxury, here it did not.  We got four tiny bedrooms (mine was largest), a bathroom (two stalls, two sinks, two shower stalls), shelves, no air conditioner, little heat from an ancient steam heater, and a little lounge that got compared to a waiting room.  This insulted Heidi, who said she tried to make it look more liveable with plants, a German flag over the couch, and posters.

In this lounge was a TV (a neat digital one, provided by the school) and furniture with no arm-cushions. We would take the cushion from another chair to make a comfortable neck-rest when lounging on this couch.

On our doors were little, Swiss mice next to cheese bearing our names.  Heidi, our German suite mentor, made these cute mice out of construction paper.  I still have mine.  But then, that’s hardly remarkable, considering I put most of my college memories into boxes when each year ended, and never got rid of the boxes.

Since it was tacked up against a concrete-block wall, the flag would often fall down.  My freshman year boyfriend, Peter, thought it had something against him, since it often fell on him as he sat on the couch.

Also living in the suite were my roommate, Candice; Latosha, whose door faced ours; and Tom.  Yes, the suite was co-ed.

Heidi was a German-speaking Swiss miss of twenty-five.  She had a birthday in the fall semester, I believe, that made her twenty-six.  Frank, a balding, non-traditional freshman, was twenty-five and became good friends with her.

Heidi seemed so old to us, and once complained about that.  But once I got to my mid-twenties and thought back, she didn’t seem quite so old after all.

I believe she once tried to get a license which would allow her to drive in America.  Her Swiss license wasn’t enough to drive here, and international students were often trapped on campus without cars or American licenses.

Heidi’s sandy-blonde hair was distinctly European: short, longer on one side than on the other, no perm.  (As a girl in my high school German class had said after going to Germany, over there nobody got perms.  They just cut their hair in different ways.)

Heidi arrived at this school the same year I did, with a strong Swiss accent and frequent trouble with the language.  Lots of words she didn’t know, like sassy, I looked up for her in the pocket German dictionary I carried for her benefit.

She lived in a room at the back of the other end of the suite, near the little balcony with its iron railing.  Each upper-level suite had a tiny, back balcony.  I believe some people put grills on their balconies.  The lower-level suites just had little porches, if anything.

I had thought the suite mentor in a Christian college would be a fellow Christian and a potential spiritual adviser.  I had expected to have many profound discussions with her about following God.  The reality was that I didn’t know what she was.  The French mentor, Nicole, didn’t even believe in God, though she liked to go to church for the ceremonies and the values.

Heidi amused my ears with her accent.  My favorite of her sayings was, “My GOOD-ness!”

I got along well with Nicole.  She was sweet and fun to talk to.

As for Heidi–we had some sort of personality clash that I never understood.  I’ve heard that European cultures look down on shyness; maybe it was simply a culture clash, worsened by my nonverbal learning disorder (NVLD, to be explained later).  Or maybe being chronically late like I was in those days is considered a grave offense in Switzerland.

Considering both she and my German teacher, who was Swiss, had problems with me, while most teachers liked me, it could very well have been a cultural issue which I did not know about.

In any case, I was grateful to Heidi for helping me polish my German, such as when she taught me that nicht was supposed to be said as one syllable, not two.  (It is difficult and takes practice.)

I enjoyed reading the 19th-century German story Undine (Friedrich de la Motte Fouqué) with her.

She told me that when you don’t know a language totally fluently, you can’t let yourself get hung up during conversation on words you don’t understand.

This surprised me because, when she said, “Now when I first came here, did I run for a dictionary every time I didn’t understand a word?”  I said yes, because I had the impression she did.  She often seemed to want my help with words, and I looked them up in my German dictionary.

But she said that no, she didn’t always run for a dictionary.

Heidi knew both French and Italian, since in Switzerland both were spoken along with German and a special Swiss dialect, Räto Romanisch.  She had conversations in French with Nicole.

One day, while sitting with me and somebody else at a meal, she reflected that our generation didn’t seem to drink coffee, while hers did.  The younger people didn’t seem to like the taste, and at best drank cappuccino, with its various flavors.

As many of the international students did, she had a problem with American sarcasm.  I’d thought sarcasm was universal, but non-English-speaking international students had a hard time understanding sentences with the opposite meaning of what they seemed to say.

Also, while watching TV, there would be commercials roughly every ten or fifteen minutes.  For the rest of us in the suite, this was normal and expected.  We read something, went to the bathroom, got something to eat, or just sat there bored as the commercials played.

But Heidi would cry out, “So many com-mehr-cials!”  In Europe, the commercials were only aired between programs, not in the middle of them.  (When do Europeans go to the bathroom during movies?)

Another of Heidi’s phrases was, “What is that?”  She didn’t just use it when she heard or saw something unusual; she would say it when talking of somebody’s inexplicable behavior.  For example, she might say something like, “And then when I came over, he was rude to me.  What is that?”  (This is not a quote, by the way, just an example.)

Another phrase was, “It doesn’t work.”  This applied to all sorts of things, not just mechanical devices.  For example, she might look at an improperly constructed German sentence and say, “It doesn’t work.”  Or she might look at an intended solution for a situation and say, “It doesn’t work.”  She also had an accented way of saying “It doesn’t matter” that made it, too, seem like a Heidi-ism.

Nicole, also about twenty-five years old, was her best friend.  Late in the school year, when visiting our suite, their friends would sit and count how many times they kissed each others’ cheeks when saying good-bye, because Nicole and Heidi didn’t bother to keep track.  The count once got up to ten.  Nicole was a fun one to talk to, and I liked to try out my sparse French on her.

Heidi was impressed those first few weeks by what German I knew, like the slang terms toll and Mensch.  She also told me that Ach Mensch was dated, and now people generally said only Mensch.  But “Ach, Mensch!” is so much more fun to say when you’re upset.

My first day at Roanoke, I went up to Heidi–the lounge full of Heidi’s international friends–and asked her when we were going to dinner, thinking everyone in the suite naturally would go at once.

In those first few days, college seemed like summer camp.  And in summer camp, everyone in a cabin went to meals together, so this is where I got the idea that everyone in a suite in college would do the same.

We all went to dinner together, Heidi and her friends and me, and I impressed myself with my outgoing, cheerful demeanor–such a contrast to my shy, high school self.

Not that I came out of my shell for good.  But at dinner I kept laughing and talking and showing off my German and French.  I felt like a new me.

Another time that week, Paul showed up at the suite door, asking for Heidi and saying he wanted to go to dinner with her.  I asked if I could go with them, and he said okay.

I felt so outgoing; I was very proud of myself.  Paul seemed like a nice guy, too.  He was, or soon would be, a Zeta.

Once I sat in the Spanish suite and taught the phrase “not just yet” to Nicole and a girl from Costa Rica.  That’s also when Nicole told us she doesn’t believe in God, but believes in the values of church-going.  I took the opportunity to witness to her in a simple, non-intrusive way by saying I do believe in God.

I had been told that everyone in the German suite was supposed to be taking the language, and speak in only that language with each other for an hour every day.  But my roommate Candice only took German once, back in high school.  The other students didn’t know German at all; Latosha was taking French.

Candice was a talkative, pretty sophomore with auburn hair.  She was on the tennis team, which practiced on the court right outside our window.  Her boyfriend, Jeff, went to Roanoke over the summer with her, but now went to UW-Lacrosse.

Latosha was an African-American sophomore from Kansas City, MO.  She always seemed confident, strong, and mature.  I greatly admired her and respected her advice.

Latosha had an ex, E–, who’d been her boyfriend for three years.  It was a crushing blow when he fooled around and left her for another girl, but he was the possessive one, following her car when she went on dates and calling her up all the time from his new college in Chicago, even though he’d broken up with her a year before.

We all wished he’d leave her alone, especially when he called her at three in the morning and she cussed him out: Those suites had concrete walls, but you could hear everything.  Plus, her door faced ours.

As for the new girlfriend, she was in a class with Latosha–and was very afraid of Latosha.  This made things difficult for either of the two girls when they had to do class work together (I think it was a science class, and they had to do labs together).  Latosha called her E–‘s ho, at least when speaking of her to us.

This E–, by the way, was the grandson of a famous black man.  If I told you who, I’d probably be subject to a libel suit for accusing this man’s grandson of stalking, even though what I tell you is true.  Through E–, Latosha met other famous people, and even got a tour jacket which only band members or roadies could get.

Tom was a flirtatious first-year senior and a football player.  He had two roommates that year, Tim first and then Stefan.

The immaculately clean Tim took one step into Tom’s smelly room and sprayed air freshener with a loud “hsssh!”  The next day, he was gone.

Stefan came later in the semester; he was a German lawyer, here in America until the end of Winterim.  Somehow, he survived Tom’s room.

Tom and Stefan seemed to get along pretty well, and whenever Stefan came in the suite while Tom was in the lounge, Tom cried out, “Roommie!”

Stefan was tall and sweet, and always seemed to be happy.  He was from K–, Germany, and my boyfriend was from K–, Wisconsin.

Stefan and a short, pretty young woman became great platonic friends.  It had to be platonic because she was married.  No, I never heard of a scandal.

One day, Stefan said goodbye to my boyfriend and me in the lounge as he left the suite, and one or both of us said, “Auf Wiedersehen!”  He practically fell over in his surprise that we knew some German, and cried, “Whoa!”

Tom had a crush on Candice the year before, not returned by her.  She’d known about it.  Her best friend would have taken him off her hands, if only Tom would’ve let her.  I heard Tom and Candice argue about this once.

Tom constantly went into Candice’s mini-fridge in the lounge and drank her milk without permission.  One day, Candice told me she was getting him back.

On a friend’s suggestion, she put shampoo in her milk.  Tom came into the room and asked if he could use her milk for a mixed drink he was making.

She said okay, then confessed to me that she felt really bad about putting shampoo in it.  Tom didn’t even seem to notice or get sick from it, so that eased her conscience a little bit.

Each suite had two outside doors, one to the balcony and one as a main entrance.  The upper levels doors led to the balcony-like walkway and stairs, with a railing along the side of the walkway.  The lower levels doors led to a walkway along the side of the building, and to the courtyard.

The suites had no set visiting hours.  If your suitemates decided on special rules, that was your business.  But it was different in the other halls, which did have visiting hours and quiet hours.  I heard that visitors after hours were to go to the Main Suite Lounge, but no one ever followed this, and the RA’s (Resident Assistants, or the people in charge) didn’t care.

Heidi talked about quiet hours and such, but said that rather than conform to the rules of quiet hours which applied to the other dorms, we should all be adults and ask each other to please turn it down if someone played a TV or radio too loud.

With two stalls with working doors in the toilet area, two shower stalls with curtains, and a man (sometimes two) living with a bunch of women in the suite, we thought nothing of men and women using the bathroom at the same time.

During the warmer months, probably September or October when yellow jackets are really bad in Wisconsin, we discovered a hive of them living right outside Heidi’s window.  They tormented us until the cold finally killed them.

With the TV on the same wall as the outside window showing the head of the stairs, you’d sit on the couch watching TV, and people could see you as they came up the stairs.  And people would invariably look, whether they were coming up the stairs or just walking by.  It made me uncomfortable.

The best thing about the TV: it had cable, basic but better than nothing.

Besides the suites, we had Krueger Hall (women), Muehlmeier Hall (co-ed), and Grossheusch Hall (so-called hall of men, as the RA wrote beside a chalk drawing of a Playboy bunny on the front window that year).  Krueger is pronounced “KROO-ger,” Muehlmeier is “MULE-my-er,” and Grossheusch is “GROSH-iss” (otherwise known as “Grossh”).

Gross “Grossh” was disgustingly kept by its inhabitants (some would even pee in the hallways), noisy, and frequented by high school girls on weekends, a.k.a. “pop-tarts.”

Also, the cleaning crews hated cleaning Grossh, especially when they did major cleaning over holiday breaks.  So we girls laughed when the hall director drew a Playboy-style bunny in chalk on a window near the entrance, and wrote, “Hall Of Men.”

Muehlmeier looked like Grossh structurally, having been built about the same time, and both had carpeting in all the rooms.  But Muehlmeier was a little less scary and had women living on the top floor.

Both halls had two floors and a basement; Krueger had three and a basement.

Krueger, the oldest, also had huge rooms, compared to the cells in the other dorms.

Certain floors in each dorm were alcohol-free, probably based on where most of the upperclassmen and underclassmen lived.  The suites had more lax alcohol rules: basically, no underage drinking.  One improvement the next year: all the dorms went alcohol-free, excepting the suites, which mostly held upperclassmen.

But wait–they’re not dorms, they’re residence halls!

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

How to Deal With Narcissism in the Church

For Christians who have encountered narcissists inside the Church, we’re often baffled at how to deal with them.  We keep hearing that we’re supposed to love and pray for our enemies, not judge others, etc.

But what about the ones who we can’t deny keep behaving in evil ways?  Are we to ignore what our eyes and hearts know to be true for the sake of some veneer of a happy church family?

I have found these posts from Narcissists Suck by Anna Valerious to be especially helpful, because they address these questions directly, and take support directly from the Bible:

From Such Turn Away
No Contact: Because Their Evil is Contagious

Quotes from the above links:

Romans 16:17-18. Notice that those who are co-opted by the “divisive” ones are called naive. Other versions use the term “simple” or “simpletons”.

The Bible marks those Christians who can’t discern the evil acts of their brothers in Christ to be simpletons. Remember that when one of those simpletons come to you to accuse you of being ignorant! Oh, the irony of it.

Also remember that the Christian church is called a family and its structure is modeled on the family. What applies to the church family can be rightly applied to the family you were born into.

1 Corinthians 5:9-13. As in Paul’s instruction to Timothy where he says “from such turn away” Paul is very specific about whom we should be shunning in his letter to the Corinthians.

He says that if he told God’s church to turn away from ALL evil doers then the Christian would have to leave the world. Paul says this is obviously impossible so obviously he wasn’t telling Christians to avoid all the evil doers in the world. He was telling them how to deal with those in the church.

This is entirely consistent with the view of the contagiousness of evil. That evil which is closest to us is the most dangerous form.

Paul was much more concerned about prospering evil doers in the church than in the world at large because evil disguising itself in Christian garb is much more persuasive to other Christians than some stranger outside the circle of the church family.

He concludes his admonition with this unequivocal command which is a quote from the Old Testament (Deut. 13:5), “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

There is no special clemency for evil doers just because they are in the family. The very opposite is true. Paul is clear that we are to judge those closest to us…not those furthest away.

Those who call themselves family (church or birth) are the most accountable to us for their behavior!

Back to Paul’s instruction concerning the churchified narcissist:

“…from such people turn away!”

Obviously, Paul doesn’t want us to hold out that we can convince such people to turn away from their wickedness.

It isn’t our job to reform them. It isn’t our job to hang around while holding out hope for their reform. It isn’t our job to stay in close proximity to them as if our love can somehow separate them from their wicked ways.

Paul is unequivocal and crystalline clear. “From such turn away!” (KJV ) Some reasons for this instruction can be found here, and here.

1 Tim. 3:1-5 is solid Biblical counsel to go “no contact” with those who persist in being evil. Ignore Christians who ignore this counsel. They haven’t “known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation…” (2 Tim. 3:15)

Paul instructs Christians that the peril of end times will largely be because of evil persons disguising themselves as being godly. The course of action in such peril is to walk away.

The concern shouldn’t be for the salvation of such individuals; the issue becomes your salvation both temporal and eternal. Save yourself, your family, your church by turning away from those dedicated to their evil agendas.

Here are a couple of very relevant verses from the Bible as well:

Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.  And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.  (Luke 17:3-4)

Note the IF.  And note that narcissists have a tendency to not repent.

As one commenter, Barbara, noted in the “No Contact” post,

Sandra Brown has mentioned that years ago when she was treating psychopaths (she only treats their victims now) they TOLD her…

they PURPOSELY TARGET X-tians, churches, church groups & Bible study because these people are the most likely to look the other way at their exploitive behavior. They go out of their way to use scripture to give them the air of believability & goodness.

And now for verses straight from the Bible, the ones which the author of Narcissists Suck noted above:

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.

People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,

without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,

treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—

having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these teachers oppose the truth. They are men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.  (2 Tim 3:1-9, NIV)

In the New Living Translation:

 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.

They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.

They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.)

These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.

This quote from Princess Fi’s BETRAYAL, DEFIANCE, LIES, DENIAL, INJUSTICE, FORGIVENESS ISSUES sounds especially familiar:

It’s very hard when people are deliberately and defiantly non repentant and hard faced – turning up in church as if nothing is wrong and nothing has happened.

Having to cope with your abusers turning up in church whilst deliberately sticking 2 fingers up at God is beyond the capacity of describe. Having to cope with your abusers continuing to use the church as their cover story is beyond awful and beyond hypocrisy.

Having them do all of that on that back of having lied and denied to prevent justice and to prevent exposure is disgusting and distasteful at the very least.

It is utterly appalling for me as a victim, for those who gave evidence against them to the police and for the church leadership who now know the truth about them. It’s totally ghastly and repulsive to be brutally honest.  It is as if they have no conscience at all.

Sometimes when people have lied and denied for long enough they actually believe their lies and denials to be absolute truth regardless of evidence to the contrary. Thus they worm their way out of it and can be incredibly and frighteningly convincing in their true lies….

Without confession, repentance, admission of guilt or other things which lead to closure surely it will always be there at the back of your mind. Having to watch your abusers behaving as if nothing untoward happened and all is normal fuels the fire.

When people have been so deliberately cruel to you and are so defiant when faced with the truth where can you go? How can such defiance be coped with, processed and gotten out of your mind.

It is in reality and in all truth extremely difficult. It’s almost impossible to forgive cruel people who lie, pretend all is normal and do all they can legally to silence you and keep their evil deeds secret.

“Domestic Violence: A Quick Q&A” in the June 2007 issue of Presbyterians Today stated,

What is the most important thing a church can do in ministering to victims?  Listen, while providing safety.

Victims are most vulnerable when they begin taking steps to leave an abusive situation.  Give them information about abuse hotlines and shelters.  Listen without judging or pressuring the person to act.

The typical abuse victim “will try to leave five to eight times before they [finally] do,” says abuse survivor and advocate Bonnie Orth.  “One of the hardest things is walking with someone through that journey.”

What is the most important thing a church should do in ministering to perpetrators?  Hold them accountable for their actions.

“To offer cheap grace would be totally wrong,” says Black Mountain (N.C.) pastor Kevin Frederick.  “You can’t just forgive without facing the full impact of what they’ve done and seeking restitution.

Insist that they take responsibility for their actions and get the help they need (by attending a treatment group, for example).  This can be done without “painting the perpetrator as beyond redemption,” Frederick says.

I am just a personal blogger trying to understand what I’ve been through, NOT an adviser or counselor. 

For more information about dealing with narcissists in the church, and a better place for advice, go to Grace for My Heart (run by a pastor).  If your narcissist is the pastor, see Spiritual Sounding Board.

 

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