On December 27, I dreamed that Phil, Pearl and I were in the same youth group. We were supposed to play a game. Phil stood at the door as I went into a house, and we began snapping at each other.
Pearl said after one bout, “Nyssa, that’s surprising, especially for you!”
I said, “Yeah, we argue about stupid stuff!”
Phil pulled Pearl aside, and wanted to go upstairs to her room and talk. I tried to pull Pearl aside first and find out why he wanted to do this, since he didn’t hang around with our group anymore, but instead I ended up working with Phil on one of the game’s questions. We got along while we were working together.
Around the time I had this dream, in real life, Phil reportedly called up Pearl and asked, “What’s going on that Nyssa sent me this letter?”
The Vampire had lived in Germany, a place I wished I could visit, and he was fluent in more languages than I dabbled in (I have some knowledge of French, Spanish, and German). He had picked up German coins, which he promised to send to me, though he never did.
The Vampire believed that he could be a Christian and still do white magic. He wrote spells that called on angels for help, and he didn’t call on demons. However, he didn’t convince me that what he was doing was okay.
The Vampire was a writer. He spelled “writing” as “writting”–which I see a lot online. The day after I first spoke to him, I found his love poems (about his girlfriend) in my e-mail.
He also left an urgent e-mail saying he needed to talk to me. He may have come online and talked to me right after I read it. He had an uncanny knack of logging on just minutes after I did, practically every time I logged on. I logged on at various times throughout the day. He said he could see my aura through the computer screen, even when he wasn’t online, and would watch for me and log on whenever I did.
I told him about my own troubles with Phil, that he was “borderline abusive,” and about the spiritual marriage.
When we said good-bye, the Vampire would type, “CU L8R” or “CU L8ter”. I liked it and started using it, and would soon find other people in Wisconsin who liked to type that online.
For those of you who don’t remember the old-fashioned BBS’s, in chat, the screen cleared and all you saw were things you typed and things your friend typed.
You watched everything as it was written, which meant sometimes someone would try to interrupt the other if there was a misunderstanding. Usually, though, when you finished typing, you hit <enter>, and your friend started typing.
The nature of chat was the same on BBS‘s in Indiana and Wisconsin. Outside of chat, however, Indiana BBS’ers communicated with OLMs, or Online Messages, and Wisconsin BBS’ers paged messages to each other. (Of course, I discovered this later, having never used Wisconsin BBS’s before.)
OLMs gave a loud beep when they arrived, and the recipient had to type in whether or not he wanted to respond. Pages had no such thing; you just ignored it or sent your own page in reply.
I forget the command for OLMs, but to send a page you typed “/p,” the handle of the recipient (or at least the first three letters), and then the message. It was much easier to use.
Indiana BBS’s had dot commands for a time, which you used by typing a period and then a letter, and I liked these a lot. Wisconsin boards didn’t have them, and I guess in time dot commands became obsolete.
One night, somewhere between Wednesday the 28th and Thursday the 29th, I went on Pan-Optic Net and found the Vampire in Teleconference with Vampette.
This BBS had three lines now (rather than the one line it used to have), so three people could be in Teleconference at one time. You’d type in a message and push <enter>, and your message would show up onscreen.
You could also use action words, which ranged from innocent (clapping, blushing) to risqué. You’d type in the action word, and “Nyssa Of Traken is blushing” or “The Vampire is clapping” showed up onscreen.
I joined the Vampire and Vampette, who named herself after him. The Vampire was drunk, and acted very lecherous with Vampette and me. I felt a little jealous of Vampette, probably not realizing she was only fourteen.
We both played along, flirting right back at him. At least once, he “cyber french-kissed” Vampette, and I believe he did the same thing to me.
However, I had to rush to the bathroom. I had to log off because, unlike Wisconsin boards, if you left an Indiana board idle for a few minutes, it logged you off.
I said I had to leave, but the Vampire begged me not to. He thought I was mad at him, though I tried to explain that I wasn’t at all: I was too embarrassed to tell him what I had to do.
I logged off and took care of the emergency. A little while later, I tried to log back on, but couldn’t: the line was busy.
The next day, I logged on and found a panicky letter from the Vampire, asking what he had done. He thought he offended me by being drunk online.
I either left a reply or found him online and said he had done nothing, that this had absolutely nothing to do with him. He said he told me not to go because Pan-Optic got very busy that time of night, when the schoolkids got online, and he knew I wouldn’t be able to get back on again.
Of course, staying online and making a puddle just was not an option….
The Vampire also frequented another BBS, ye olde connection. Only real names were used there, but he had a female handle for an extra account he used. He allowed me to use it one night so we could keep talking after I ran out of time on Pan-Optic (and didn’t have an account anywhere else). I scratched out the password after using it.
One night, I went on ye olde connection to set up my own account. However, it was the wee hours of the morning, so I couldn’t ask Dad what to type in for “Computer Phone Number.”
My dad had changed things and I had no idea there was a different number for the modem, so I typed in my parents’ home phone number, which it used to be.
I also didn’t understand what would happen when I told the BBS to verify my account immediately (done to screen out people who used fake information). I don’t believe BBS’s used to do that.
The connection was terminated, and the BBS called back. The phone started ringing. I tried frantically to get the Procomm program to pick up the call. (Procomm was used to connect the modem to BBS’s.)
It didn’t work. Mom soon came out into the family room.
She was surprisingly understanding, and didn’t yell or scold when I explained what had happened. Then she said there was a different number for the computer. She looked like she was about to laugh.
I got back online, and the sysop, apparently a night owl, noticed what was going on. The Vampire later told me, “The sysop called me up and said, ‘I think we’ve got a hacker here.’ I said, ‘Oh, no, she’s okay!'”
So I finally got my account set up and everything was fine. That’s the only time I’ve ever been called a hacker. 🙂
I found an old friend, Josh, via another BBS, FlagNet. I wasn’t even looking for him: I saw he’d logged onto the BBS just before I did one day, and was going to leave him an e-mail, but he’d already left me one. (This BBS only allowed real names, not handles, so it was easy to identify each other.)
So we sent messages back and forth for the next few days, and I even got to chat with him on the BBS one day. I loved talking to someone who was in my class in middle and high school and knew some of the same people I did. I had dreams about those people sometimes, and wondered how they were doing.
FlagNet was a pay-to-use BBS, a rarity in those days, and I think it had several lines. It was popular and even had a flame war shortly before I checked it out.
I read in the forums that the war was nasty; I think some rules were put in place to prevent future ones. I hadn’t heard of flame wars before; it’s netspeak for “nasty argument.”
During our online chat, Josh and I spoke of many things: where our lives had gone, my broken engagement, Josh’s own broken engagement. We spoke to each other on the phone once during Spring Break; he sounded much older, with a deeper voice, but still had the lisp.
He remembered the talks we used to have in junior high, and that we seemed to understand each other, though all I could remember was that we used to love to talk with each other.
For months afterwards we wrote to each other on the Internet. We both had access to AOL for the rest of the school year, and after that I wrote to him from my Online Fond du Lac BBS account.
One guy, Chris, whom I met online in a Christian chat room, wrote me at least two letters. He’d asked for a Christian pen pal of about his age. I wrote him at least twice. The last letter he wrote said he would write again when he had time (I think he had become a youth pastor or something like that), but he never did.
More about the Vampire adventure is to come in the January 1995 chapter.
I told my mom, “Things have gotten so interesting I don’t want to go back to school.”
She said, “I don’t blame you.”
Charles would go on and on about Animaniacs, a Steven Spielberg cartoon, so one afternoon as I flipped through the channels, I found Animaniacs and decided to watch it. I hadn’t watched cartoons since Peter used to watch them on my TV.
I saw the episode in which the Warner kids went to a celebrity party. One guy kept talking and talking and talking, and the kids kept trying to get rid of him. It was funny, but when I went back to school I didn’t see much more of it for a while.
Music could be healing, especially Christian music. It took me away from the pain of losing Phil and the pain of the many cruel things he’d done to me, and helped me think about other things besides romantic love.
These are some of the songs and albums I loved in the fall, over Christmas, and after Christmas Break:
“In the Name of the Father” by U2 and “You Made Me the Thief of Your Heart” by Sinead O’Connor. In the Name of the Father was an excellent movie. I got the soundtrack in a big music store, probably in Milwaukee, when the Group went there. The 70s songs grew on me.
The newest tape by Iona, Beyond These Shores. (Pearl would sing “Murlough Bay” at my wedding.) This put me in the proper mood as I wrote a required story for Celtic class.
Celtic class, the tin whistle, and the studies and activities of this class helped me to forget Phil and think about the wonders of the world’s past. It also led indirectly to me meeting my husband. But more about that later.
Steve Taylor’s Squint. It was new to me, though it was actually from 1993, and I believe Shawn had it. But I think it was Taylor’s newest one. I recognized “Bannerman” from a funny video I saw once, with a guy running around flashing a John 3:16 sign.
“Doll Parts” by Hole. Since Courtney Love is a lousy singer, this is the only Hole song I like. At the time, the lyrics reminded me of Phil (“I love him so much it just turns to hate,” “Someday you will ache like I ache”). Now, it reminds me of Charles, not because of lyrics but because we both liked it–and Charles hated Courtney Love.
“Fade Into You” by Mazzy Star, which came out just after the breakup. She told of her loneliness and desolation at being left by her boyfriend.
“Zombie” by the Cranberries.
The Shape of Grace, a 1992 CD by Out of the Grey that I’d had since the summer after sophomore year. I bought it because Pearl had it and I liked it. Now it helped me escape, soothed me during the initial and subsequent pain, and reminded me of the summer after sophomore year. Now, it reminds me of fall semester, senior year, because I played it so much then.
For Christmas, my parents gave me a beautiful necklace-watch with a colorful, tortoiseshell design on the face, with browns, greens, yellows, blues and reds. There were no numbers, just diamond-like gems in the places of the 12, 3, 6, and 9.
On the back was a circular design with spirals, circles, and other curved shapes. It wasn’t Celtic knotwork, but reminded me of it, making it appropriate for my Celtic Roots class.
On the evening of December 29, Mom got a call and then rushed off to the hospital: My sister-in-law Pam was in labor. During Thanksgiving Break, November 20, we had a baby shower; during Christmas Break, the baby was born.
I don’t think Dad was there; he may have been away on business. I guess Mom didn’t need me to come along, because I stayed at home and waited. A healthy Jenna McCanmore was born.
The baby was probably in the hospital for a day or two, but she was brought home in time for me to see her before I left for school. My parents took my other brother and me over to Jake and Pam’s house.
Dad took picture after picture of Jenna, his first grandchild. Someone put Jenna in my arms, and as I sat there with her, Dad took pictures of the two of us together. I felt a little silly, since I’ve always hated having my picture taken.
One day, either then or on Spring Break or after graduation, Jenna was brought over. I was out in the family room and Mom put her in my arms. Mom left the room for a few minutes, and I sat there, not sure what to do with Jenna.
Babytalk didn’t come naturally to me, and I may have been too timid to try stroking her. I didn’t want to break or hurt her. I just sat and lightly rocked her.
I don’t think she cried, though I don’t remember now. I sometimes wondered if I’d make a good mother, since I was never a “baby person.”
The funny thing is, once I had a baby of my own, I became a “baby person.” I didn’t feel like a natural, but I did finally pick up how to take care of a baby–and soon had no trouble playing with him.
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
July & August 1994: