Yes, some women also abuse men

From Cathy Young at TIME Magazine:

Traditional stereotypes have led to double standards that often cause women’s violence—especially against men—to be trivialized…..

Research showing that women are often aggressors in domestic violence has been causing controversy for almost 40 years,

ever since the 1975 National Family Violence Survey by sociologists Murray Straus and Richard Gelles of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire found that

women were just as likely as men to report hitting a spouse and men were just as likely as women to report getting hit.

The researchers initially assumed that, at least in cases of mutual violence, the women were defending themselves or retaliating.

But when subsequent surveys asked who struck first, it turned out that women were as likely as men to initiate violence—a finding confirmed by more than 200 studies of intimate violence.

In a 2010 review essay in the journal Partner Abuse, Straus concludes that women’s motives for domestic violence are often similar to men’s, ranging from anger to coercive control.

The Surprising Truth About Women and Violence

I know from personal experience that women can be violent aggressors to husbands, lovers, children–not just in self-defense.  I witnessed Tracy hitting Richard, smacking the kids in the head, going nuts on the kids.  And Richard told me that she would go into rages and punch him, while he struggled to keep from fighting back. 

I also remember seeing girls hit boys back in school. 

Women abusing men really does happen, even though some try to say it doesn’t.  And it needs to stop, no matter if women or men are the aggressors.

 

A Date with the Vampire–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–January 1995, Part 1

On December 31, I got on the PanOptic Net around 5pm, hoping to see a Vampire message, but not really expecting him to be around to chat.  Yet there he was.  He and his girlfriend were currently “off,” and he wanted to meet me, so we made arrangements.  Mom watched our chat online, and found it funny.

We described ourselves to each other.  I said I wore no makeup, and he wrote, “Oh, a natural beauty.”

Then the Vampire called me on the phone, but I found it hard to talk to him without the computer.  I also kept giggling.  The Vampire kept saying, “You’re so quiet!” and feared I was some giggly, silly, giddy creature.  He was glad to find out otherwise when he met me in person.

He kept saying, “We’re coming to get you,” like he really was a vampire and was coming to steal me away.  As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t know about Internet safety, and neither, apparently, did my mother.

The Vampire also said he had an earring and was overweight, though women generally seemed to find him attractive.

He was taking me to a New Year’s party, so I dressed up a little.  The Vampire seemed to take forever to arrive as I sat there anxiously awaiting my first date in months, so I decided to go to the bathroom.

I did this because it seems to be a universal rule that if you go to the bathroom, your friend will come to the door then.  It worked: he came to the door while I was still in there.

Mom also anxiously waited for him.  She told me later that he looked for me as I came into the room, and smiled because he liked what he saw.

(By the way, in December 2001, hubby Cugan, Astrid and I were waiting for some other friends to arrive so we could go to Lord of the Rings.  I decided to go to the bathroom, just to see if they’d show up then.  And you know what?  They did. Cugan could not believe it.)

I liked the Vampire’s voice on the phone, and he wasn’t bad looking, but I did not feel instant attraction.  He looked “old” to me.

(Must have been the mustache: In 2014, I friended him on Facebook, saw some recent pictures, and he looks good now.  But I never have liked mustaches, which make guys look older and goofy.)

His friend or brother drove us to Elkhart in a pickup truck.  I think it took half an hour to an hour.  I felt a bit uncomfortable, since I still hadn’t mentally made a connection between the man sitting next to me and the Vampire I had long, deep conversations with online.

I felt even more uncomfortable because his friend seemed even older, and I was sitting between older men I didn’t know and didn’t have anything to talk about with.

(That’s funny considering that the Vampire was only three years older than I was, and Charles’ age.  Maybe I was just used to hanging around mostly college kids.)

The Vampire told his friend that my handle was Nyssa Of Traken, and they talked about Doctor Who.

At the Vampire’s sister’s house, where he’d been living, I met Vampette and the Vampire’s sister.  I don’t remember much about them, but I do remember his sister crying out when I walked in, “You’re so pretty!”  That was good for my self-esteem.  🙂

Once, I went to the bathroom and overheard the Vampire talking with Vampette.  I didn’t hear everything, but it sounded like I wasn’t as warm to him as he’d hoped.  He could tell I wasn’t as interested in him as he was in me.

(This is one reason why you shouldn’t get engaged to or agree to start dating someone you’ve only met online, even though some people do: because the chemistry may not be there when you meet in person.)

At one point we went for a walk around the Elkhart neighborhood he lived in, and he expressed his concern that he wasn’t attractive to me, that now that I’d met him I didn’t seem quite so interested in him.

I forget what I said, but I did feel more comfortable talking with him alone like that, and more like I did on the computer.

I soon discovered that this is just how I respond when meeting an online friend for the first time: It was the same with Tyger, with various people from TCB and Online Fond du Lac, and with Richard.  I may have shared my innermost thoughts with these people for some time, but stick me in the same room with them, and they’re a stranger I can barely speak to.

The shock of meeting slammed me into shyness and reserve for some time.  But once he put me in front of a computer to call PanOptic, and then coached me on how to have a little fun with this guy named Tyger, I finally felt more comfortable.

I must admit, I was half-expecting someone kind of weird-looking, but he wasn’t.  You know, some weird vampire guy with long, dark hair and pasty skin, perhaps.

The Vampire used me to play with Tyger.  I sat there typing whatever the Vampire wanted me to type, since I didn’t know Tyger or how to have fun with him.

The Vampire wanted me to play with his mind and flirt with him.  He had me type that I was blonde, tall, and 17 years old, since this would really get Tyger going.  He also had me ask about Tigress, Tyger’s girlfriend.  I also came up with a few things on my own.

I don’t remember when or how I admitted to Tyger that I wasn’t tall, blonde, or 17, but I don’t believe it was that night.  I don’t think the Vampire liked Tyger, and maybe Tyger had done something he didn’t like.  I don’t remember now.

It seemed like fun at the time, though now I wonder if it was really all that nice.  After he found out the truth, though, Tyger still liked talking to me, and wanted to meet me.  (We finally met in July.)

One of the things the Vampire had me write used the word “lamer.”  I first heard this term from him; its meanings are here.  Vampire used it with either the “cracker wannabe” or “annoying” meaning.  (In 1995 I learned of a bus company called Lamers, and found this funny.)

The Vampire told me a superstition I’d never heard of before: that whoever you kiss at midnight is the person you’ll be with for the rest of the year.

(It wasn’t true, of course: I kissed Peter at midnight on New Year’s just about a month before he broke up with me.  And we kissed not just once, but twice: once at South Bend’s midnight, and once at Wisconsin’s midnight, since they were on two different time zones.)

At midnight, as we sat at the computer, the Vampire brushed his hand against my shoulder, but could see I didn’t want him to kiss me.  He later thanked me for this, maybe because I didn’t lead him on.

The Vampire and his sister told me about Forever Knight, a Canadian, vampire TV show.  Later on, we sat watching it and eating pizza.  I also petted one of their pets, a dog who liked me a lot.

On the computer, misgivings about compatibility don’t seem to matter so much, and you can be seduced with understanding words typed on a screen.  But in real life, the misgivings were signs that we would have to stay friends.

His magic use was one problem; another was our different value systems, despite being Christians; another was his smoking; yet another was his on-again, off-again girlfriend.

On the drive home, it was just the two of us, talking about stuff, and I felt a lot more comfortable talking with him.

On New Year’s Day, I found the Vampire online and went into chat mode with him.  I told him I wasn’t not interested: It just was too quick for comfort, words to that effect.  But he said the thing with his girlfriend was still uncertain.

I thought he was through with her after she didn’t call by 8pm New Year’s Eve, but now he said they “kinda” patched things up, so I didn’t know what was going on.  His girlfriend was glad that, despite how she treated him, he wasn’t alone on New Year’s.

****

Since the idea of spending Winterim in Florida fell through because of Pearl’s surgery and a recovery full of pain pills, I signed up for a class called Celtic Roots.

Though on the one hand I wished I could have gone to Florida, on the other I did enjoy my class very much, especially learning about the people some of my ancestors (Kenneth MacAlpin, Duncan, Malcolm III (often called Malcolm Canmore), St. Margaret, St. David) ruled more than a thousand years ago.  Yes, my penname is similar to Nyssa (Nerissa) and the House of Canmore (McCanmore).

During one of the breaks, when Pearl was feeling better, Pearl’s family did take her to Florida and spent a short time there with her.  We roommies were jealous, of course.

According to my diary, I apparently returned to school on the fourth, even though that was the day classes began.  I had an afternoon class, one to four each weekday, so maybe this wasn’t so strange.

Apparently I didn’t have to start my morning shift in the library that day; maybe I hadn’t set it up yet.  I set my shift for ten to twelve, which made me get up early and see the sun during those short, mid-winter days, and gave me a chance to work with Sharon each morning.

The fourth may have also been the time my parents and I went through Port Washington on the way back to school.  I know this happened while I was still getting over Phil.

If it happened after Thanksgiving Break, I probably used the little trip as an escape from my problems; if it happened after Christmas Break, it was probably one of the many fun things that lightened my mood.

Port Washington is a cute little seaside town next to Lake Michigan.  We drove through the downtown, with its small shops and store windows (which had been drawn on with chalk).  I forget what the drawings were for, maybe a Christmas celebration or contest.  I think one drawing was of a pirate.

The show Step by Step on ABC’s TGIF Fridays was supposedly set in Port Washington, but never showed any of the actual town.  I thought this was a shame and a disservice to the many people who could watch and find local color and see the cute little town.  (By this time I had stopped watching TGIF Fridays.)

Sharon had cut her hair short.  She credited me for this, saying, “You taught me how to be my own person and do what I want to do and not what other people want me to do.”

You see, my friends sometimes said I’d look cute with short hair or a spiral perm, but I wouldn’t hear of it.  I liked my hair long and a cross between wavy and straight.  (At the moment it was wavy; how wavy my hair is after each cut seems to vary.)

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:

 

Meeting the Vampire, Part 2–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–December 1994, Part 5

 

Part 1

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!”

I cried.

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.

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:

 

Meeting the Vampire, Part 1–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–December 1994, Part 4

On the 21st, I wrote in my diary that “the thought of that psycho [Phil] often repulses me.”  A couple of days later, I wrote about still desiring him, and wanting God to take that away.

So I didn’t know what I wanted, was still vacillating between hating him and wanting him back.  Over Christmas Break, I wrote down all sorts of dreams about him, bizarre situations as my dreams usually are, where sometimes he was good and sometimes he was evil.

Christmas Break began.  As always, I spent a lot of time on the computer late at night after my parents had gone to bed.  I played games, and went on America Online (AOL) and local BBS’s.  (BBS’s, or Bulletin Board Systems, were the online playground of choice before the Internet, which, sadly, has caused their demise.)

I always found this time therapeutic, especially after a breakup.  Books, music and the computer–those were my counselors, and they did an excellent job.

They were better than the TV, which I often couldn’t watch at home anyway, since I didn’t have my TV and didn’t want to wake up my parents by watching the one in the living room.  When I could watch TV, I often had fun finding faraway channels on the antenna.

I believe part of my Christmas Break was also spent finishing up my typed copy of Jerisland for Counselor Dude.

I also had two outings: one with Becky and the other with The Vampire.  Vampire, you say?  You shall see.  This is quite a story, and not a bit of it is made up.  (Of course, nothing else in here is made up, either.)

On Thursday, December 22, my high school friend Becky and I went to see Addams Family Values in the Scottsdale Cinema, which was in the Scottsdale Mall.  It was at 2:30pm, and only $3.75, which was half-price.

It quickly became one of my favorite movies.  The part with the summer camp and the screwed-up play was surreal, unexpected and wonderful.  When the kids dressed up as ninjas, I whispered to Becky, “They look like Peter!”

We stopped at Becky’s grandmother’s house, which had a huge Christmas tree in the living room.  We watched Rudy and Plymouth Adventure, the one with Spencer Tracy.  I’ve told you in the September 1993 chapter that one of my high school classmates was the stand-in for Sean Astin in Rudy.

I saw Plymouth my junior year of high school, and kept watching for it around Thanksgiving each year, but after that none of the stations played Thanksgiving movies anymore.  Nowadays, it’s all Christmas stuff.  I’d always liked Thanksgiving pilgrim movies better than Christmas movies and looked forward to Thanksgiving.

Anyway, young people were in and out all night–cousins, friends, etc.  One guy came over during Rudy, stood there in his Notre Dame jacket, and said, “Good movie!”

Rudy, since it was a Notre Dame movie, was extremely popular in South Bend when it came out.  My dad even remembered the game in which the fans chanted “Rudy, Rudy, Rudy,” though he didn’t know then why they were chanting.

That night, Becky showed me AOL, as she flirted with some guy in a chat room.  After I went back home, I discovered that my dad had it on the computer.  So I logged in and became EstrellaRC, taking the handle from my letters to Mike.  That’s Estrella, Roanoke College, because there were other Estrellas before me.

People thought I was Spanish.  It was better than using Dad’s handle, which I used until I discovered I could put in my own screen name.  People kept asking why I had a masculine handle if I was female.  (My later screen names: Nyssa15273, and, even later, Nyssa and maybe Romana.)

I liked going into chat rooms, like Becky did, and joking around.  I liked the Star Trek one, “Starfleet Academy,” in which people talked about anything sci-fi, sometimes vampires, and usually spam.

We’d make jokes by adding “spam” to any word or phrase.  Then people would get mad about all the spam jokes.  It was fun.  Any chat room you went in on AOL, there was a good chance someone was going to start making spam jokes.

I didn’t know back then why spam was such a popular joke, that “spam” now meant junk e-mail.

Ever since 1985 or 1986, I had played on BBS’s.  First there was The Owl’s Nest, which was run by a friend of Dad’s who worked at Radio Shack.  We could play or download games for our Tandy (Radio Shack) computer, the CoCo2.

There were text-based games such as Hamurabi, in which you tried to run an ancient city, text- and graphics-based games such as The Sands of Egypt, and simple, graphics-based games.

I guess Dad and I were elites, since we were allowed into the section with pirated games.  Only text-based games could be played on the BBS.

In those days, a 300 baud modem was normal, but computers did so little in those days that you didn’t notice how slow they were.  When we got a new 1200 baud modem, that was lightning-fast.

When you logged into The Owl’s Nest, a figure something like this– ^/ –would fly down the screen, like an owl.

You could post messages in the forums, which were divided into different topics the same as now, get into the occasional flame war same as now, send e-mail to others who used the same BBS, and occasionally even chat with the sysop (system operator).

This was not the Internet, but a phone-based system, so you could only send e-mail to people who used the same BBS.  This also meant that people rarely used a BBS outside of their own phone area, because of long-distance charges, so you could easily meet fellow BBS users.

Until some BBS sysops started adding extra lines, only one person could use the BBS at a time.  For that reason, time on the BBS was limited per session or day, and if you left the system idle for too long, the BBS logged you off.  Most BBS’s were free, though in the 90s, some began charging if they had many phone lines.

Around 1986, when all BBS’s were still one-line only, I typed up a story based on BBS chats.  I used a word processor program which also was used for logging in, so the format looked just like a real BBS chat, rather than a narrative.

There were three characters, all logged in at once and chatting with each other, all teenagers, two girls and one boy (so there was also flirtation, maybe a love triangle).

This story was science fiction at the time; I imagined what it would be like if BBS’s began using party lines.  But soon it became science fact.

My handle on The Owl’s Nest was The Swatch.  I started out with the handle Princess Leia, since I’d just seen Star Wars for the first time on my brother’s laserdisc player, and was obsessed with it.  But that handle seemed cheesy, so I began wondering what other one to use.

I watched a game show on Nickelodeon one day, and one of the teams called themselves the Swatches.  (Swatches, a brand of Swiss watch, came in all sorts of designs and were popular with kids my age at the time.  I didn’t have one, though.)

When I logged into The Owl’s Nest and the owl flew down the screen, the screen read, “Hey, The!  How are you doing today?” (since it used first names).

Just as when I used my dad’s handle on AOL, people on the Owl’s Nest often thought I was a guy.  Once, I wrote, “I know the meaning of life!” (basing it on my religious beliefs).  Some guy wrote, “Yeah, and I bet you understand women, too.”  That’s when my gender was revealed.

All through high school I had played on The Owl’s Nest, The Pan-Optic Net, and various other BBS’s.

The Pan-Optic Net was based on Doctor Who.  The sysop (system operator) was called Rassilon, many people had Doctor Who handles, and a few sci-fi sub-forums were specifically for Doctor Who.

When you moved through the different menus and screens, you’d find Doctor Who-based language and themes.  This, of course, was my favorite BBS (or “board”), since I was a Doctor Who freak.

I kept changing my handle; once, I was Romanadvoratrelundar (the full name of the Doctor’s Time Lord assistant).  Some guy wrote to me in a forum that I shouldn’t be surprised if nobody writes to me, with a name like that.

I finally settled on Nyssa Of Traken, the name of my favorite Doctor Who assistant.

One site says the Pan-Optic Net started in 1990, but I don’t know if that’s correct.  Over the years, it got more sophisticated.  Fast baud rate was now about 14.4K.  And now, a few people could be online at the same time, talking in the chat room or sending each other private messages.

Because of college I hadn’t logged onto The Pan-Optic Net for years, but my handle and password were still effective.  We now could use taglines, which would show up at certain times, probably whenever someone checked to see who else was on the BBS.

Mine was worded similar to this: “Traken–where everyone is terribly nice to each other!”  (Yes, that was a significant characteristic of Nyssa’s home planet.)  At one point I playfully added “aack” or “ugh” or “shudder” or “puke” or some other such word.

One evening around Christmas, using my dad’s account, I carried on a flirtation in Starfleet Academy with some guy called VVlad, who was in Southern California.  I gave him my school address because I didn’t know much about Internet safety in those days.

He took on the role of Vlad the Impaler/Dracula, and was carrying on a spear battle in the chat room when he discovered this person with the masculine handle was female.  And legal, as one of the other guys so gallantly pointed out.

In the wee hours of the 27th, I was on Pan-Optic Net when a sub-op (suboperator), handle The Vampire, wanted to chat with me.

He ended up having the first “intellectually stimulating conversation” he’d had in a long time, with someone who didn’t care just about computer viruses and which hacker he could hook them up with.

He’d written a virus himself, you see, and he, at 24, was one of the top 10 hackers in the area.  (Yes, he used the word “hacker,” not “cracker,” though technically “cracker” is correct.)

But that wasn’t the weird thing: He also called himself a psychic vampire.  I’d never heard of such a thing.  They don’t go for blood, but for energy, he said.  He could leave people feeling very tired or with a bad headache.

Even though he was Methodist, he practiced white magic, and some other weird stuff, which I didn’t like.  But he really liked me, and made me promise to call up the board again soon and leave him my address at school.  He said if he was a stalker, Wisconsin would be a long way to drive.

Life began to take on more interest again.  I couldn’t just write him off as a friend because he practiced magic, but I did wish he wouldn’t.

Part 2

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:

 

 

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