I start dating Charles–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–October 1994, Part 7

Mike’s driving was now a byword, and we had just had a debate in the Journal about it.  Astrid told us about the time she wanted to say, “Pick one lane and stay in it!”  There was another time he scared her half to death by nearly running into a truck.

But now we had to deal with Charles’ driving, as well.  He sped like a maniac and called everybody who didn’t a “putz.”  (That’s the first time I ever heard that term.)  He spent so much time getting mad and flipping people off and saying “you putz” that I worried for the safety of us passengers in his little, black car.

On Sunday, October 16 at 5pm, he took us down to Milwaukee to see Pearl in the hospital.  At least I wasn’t in the front seat watching, but in the back seat with Sharon.  She liked to zone and muse in the car and not talk, just like I often did; on the way back he thought she’d gone to sleep.

(But when I went to KFC and a movie with him on the night of the Shantytown, which I will describe later, I had to sit up front and see firsthand how he drove.  😛  )

At least I didn’t have to deal with Phil’s driving anymore.  He was an inattentive, erratic driver, possibly worse than Mike or Charles, often taking his hands off the steering wheel and dancing around.

That’s why Persephone and I both laughed when Persephone told me one day that he offered to drive a group of people to Fond du Lac for dancing.

And one time junior year, Carrie told me she was waiting at a stop sign when she saw Phil and me in a minivan; Phil took the corner and almost hit her.

We planned to go to Florida over Winterim with Pearl, whose parents would help pay.  But now Pearl couldn’t go because of her surgery, so her parents decided not to help us go to Florida.

At some point during the year, however, possibly Spring Break, they took Pearl to Florida as a family trip.  We were jealous, of course.

As it turned out, though, my taking a Winterim instead of going to Florida helped lead to meeting my future husband (and we went to Florida on our honeymoon).  But more on that when the time comes.

Pearl loathes Barney.  The nurses got their wires crossed somehow and thought Pearl liked Barney.  So they gave her a purple dinosaur balloon.  Pearl said to us, “Death to Barney!”

We all sat down in Pearl’s big, private room and watched some show about ways people got engaged and married.  I felt a bit uncomfortable, thinking of Phil, probably wondering why these marriage shows were everywhere now, but tried to hide it.

Charles said he liked tradition, and would go all out for his engagement and wedding: a buggy ride in the park, top hats, tuxedos.  My other friends weren’t too sure about tradition.  I said, “What’s wrong with tradition?” and Charles smiled at me.

****

I sat with Carrie and Elaine one evening at dinner, possibly Tuesday the 18th.  My roommies hadn’t shown up yet.  Carrie was Catherine’s roommate sophomore year.  They didn’t get along, so Carrie ended up with Elaine the following year.

Elaine’s parents used to be a priest and a nun!  (They went from being celibates, to being so lovey-dovey that Elaine couldn’t stand it.)  Carrie and Elaine often hung out with the Group.

Carrie said, “Persephone and Phil O’Hara have been going out.  I’ll have to warn her about Phil.”

No, I never talked to Carrie about Phil; she said this all on her own.  Maybe she heard things from Pearl, Sharon or Catherine.  Or maybe she always disliked him.  But it was comforting that other people saw him this way, after I was abused and unceremoniously discarded by him.

Then Persephone sat down with us and said, “Phil and I aren’t dating anymore.  He said something really bad at a really bad time.”  She wouldn’t tell us what it was, or what the situation was.  I didn’t ask; I didn’t want to know.

That evening, we had an IV meeting in the gazebo by Jubilee, probably an executive board meeting, which we had at 7pm each Tuesday.

It was a warm evening, lit by a moon which would be full the next night, a beautiful background to our meeting.  Charles leaned up against the inside wall of the gazebo and looked through the openings at the moon, saying how pretty it was.

I started back to my room after the meeting, but Charles asked me to go for a walk instead.  I was suspicious.  We walked along the side of the road in the moonlight and down to the lake.  We sat at the picnic table by the lake and he asked me on a date.

The subject of Phil came up for a moment and Charles said, stroking my hair and caressing my back, “You deserve better.”

I said, “I don’t want a serious relationship.”

“I didn’t say it would be serious.”

I was reluctant to take his hand, so he said, “You’ll set the pace.”

Charles walked me back to my room and my roommies soon discovered why he’d asked me on a walk.

However, even though I’d dreamed of this, and even though I’d been attracted to him ever since I met him, it started to fade as soon as he asked me out.  I didn’t know why.

But then, I’d felt that way soon after I started dating Peter and Phil.  It went away both times.  Maybe this would go away, as well.  Maybe it was just shyness, or getting used to a change, going from liking a guy to actually dating him.  It’s not as if that happened often.

One day in the next week, I sat with Catherine and Kay at a meal.

Catherine said, “You and Charles are a better match than you and Phil, because you’re both ‘royalty.'”

Through my paternal grandmother, my line goes back to King Duncan, immortalized in the play Macbeth.  Charles said he was descended from a Sicilian noble–a duke, I think.  I believe he also said he was a reincarnation of some noble or royal.  (Yeah, right, but anyway.)

Catherine and I spoke of Phil and I said, “I’ve decided Phil is a jerk.”

Kay got very quiet.  I later learned that Phil had been confiding in her.

I also said, “Charles and I are going slow because I don’t want this to be a rebound thing.”

Charles and I started sitting next to each other at meals (he usually sat with my friends, and had become a part of the Group).  He came over to my apartment in the evening and hung out.  We always watched Alternative Nation at eleven and Mystery Science Theater:3000 at midnight, which in those days was played in hour installments.

We cuddled up, but no kissing or anything else.  I didn’t want to fall into sin, you see, as badly as my body missed what Phil and I used to do.  Charles was soft and cuddly like a teddy bear.

We got along very well, having several things in common, such as a love of alternative music.  We talked a lot and enjoyed each other’s company.

We were both Republican, though his views were more conservative than mine, which did make me nervous at times (he could be loud with people).  (I eventually became a moderate Independent, and around 2004 or so, turned more liberal.  Around 2010 or later, I realized I was a Democrat.)

He was 24, which seemed old to me.  He was a senior when I was a freshman in high school.  “You’re one of those old seniors!” I said, and laughed.  He made a sound of fake annoyance.

Sharon didn’t hide from Charles her annoyance that he was always there in the evening.  Later on, my roommies and I thought he had a crush on her because he liked women with opinions, she wasn’t afraid to give him hers, and he acted like he liked her.

****

Sharon and I began straightening up the microfiche drawers at the library, making room for new microfiches, putting them in order, etc.

It seemed tedious at first, but with both of us doing it, it became a chance to talk on and on about guys and life and things like that.  Many of the microfiched magazines were short-lived, and Sharon started calling them “failures.”  “It’s another failure,” she would say as she put one into the drawer.

I think I listened to alternative music as early as elementary school, about 1983.  I remember listening to a little-known station that soon got replaced by Sunny 101 (shudder).  It was great.  They played songs U93 didn’t play, such as Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom.”

Then there was the stuff played on the Notre Dame University station late at night, which I discovered back in my junior year of high school and listened to all through college (on breaks).

And I also liked the alternative tapes that the weird, redheaded, leather-jacketed skinhead brought in to Drawing class my senior year of high school.  He played Misfits and Faith No More.  Everyone else at our table ripped on them, and said, “These Misfits don’t know how to play their instruments!”  But when one of the guys asked me if I liked it, I said I did.

Of course, now alternative music was turning oddly normal and boring.  102.1 overplayed a lot of so-so songs but played little of the really good stuff, such as “Deliverance” by Compulsion (which I saw on MTV).

Alternative, suddenly popular, became too popular for its own good–which eventually ruined it.  It became a cliché, a joke, and lost a great deal of its popularity, just as heavy metal had done in the late 80s and early 90s.

It was replaced by electronica, techno, even swing for a short time.  By 1998, listeners lamented that all the bands sounded alike now–and, for an example, named several bands which all sounded like Matchbox-20.

It took the fusion of metal and alternative, forming a new style of music around 1999, to breathe new life into alternative.

****

The night of the annual Shantytown, Charles and I went to see Only You, a cute movie about a young girl who grows up believing her future husband’s name has been revealed to her on a ouija board.

Charles and I loved the Italian scenery, Charles especially because of his descent.

I wondered if Charles and I were meant to be together, because at the time we seemed more suited than Phil and I, and he was kinder.

We had a wonderful time, both at the movie and at Kentucky Fried Chicken, where we went afterwards and talked about many things.

He told me about his time in the Air Force, which I thought was cool.  He didn’t want to join a frat because he’d already been through boot camp.

(Unfortunately, he changed his mind for some reason in the spring semester, and joined–can you guess which frat?–the Zetas.  Why did my exes keep joining the Zetas?)

We got back to Roanoke and went over to the Shantytown, which, as usual, was on the large lawn between Old Main and Krueger.  Almost everyone in the IV group was there, since they were all sleeping in either the IV shanty or the Phi-Delt shanty.

Clarissa slept in the RC-Cab shanty.  I think Pearl, back home from the hospital and on pain medication, was in the Phi-Delt shanty.  Mike, of course, was sleeping in the IV shanty.  One other person, a woman, slept in the IV shanty.  Of course Mike and this person would never do anything naughty, but it looked bad enough to joke about.

The shanties, as usual, were all cool, some cooler than others.  Astrid decorated the IV shanty with various Christian designs, crosses, fishes, trees and verses.  She was very proud of it.  The rest of us may also have helped.

Charles and I joined our friends in roasting marshmallows by the bonfire on pointed sticks.  Carrie or Elaine said one of us had a crush on a guy, but wouldn’t tell me who.  I feared, of course, that it was Phil.

I don’t remember who had the crush or if I ever found out who it was on, but I doubt it was Phil; she was probably just shy.  As a group, we entertained someone’s young son with ghost stories.

Charles and I went back to the apartment for a while, since neither of us were sleeping in the shanties.  Then we went to the door and exchanged a good-bye kiss.

It was the first and only kiss we ever shared, and very long and sweet.  I was enchanted by the evening and felt attracted to him at the time, and like I was really starting to fall for him.

It was a pity I didn’t feel that way for long.

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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Phil cuts down whatever is special to me (Bits of Abuse Here and There)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 5

Soon after quitting his job selling vacuum cleaners, probably late June or early July, Phil found a job at a Mishawaka factory, second shift.  Second shift in Wisconsin, he said, usually meant two to ten p.m., but in South Bend it meant three to eleven.  (I think those were the times, but my memory could be a little off.)

Since he now missed Picket Fences on Friday nights, he had me tape it for him.  Whenever he wanted to see it he said, “Ficket Pences?”

June 22, my 21st birthday.  It wasn’t celebrated some mundanely typical way, like my friends taking me out to get smashed.  No, it was quieter and what I wished.  I said if I got any special drink for my birthday, it would be sparkling grape juice.  I didn’t get that, but I don’t think I cared.

I did get a pleasant dinner at a restaurant with my parents.  To my surprise, Phil gave me nothing, despite having a job, but gave no apology or explanation.  I just let it go, but it seemed odd to just dismiss your wife’s 21st birthday.

****

I loved Q101.  U93, and every other Chicago and South Bend station which played pop, played Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You)” every hour or two.  Even good songs can get on your nerves if they’re played too much.  But Q101 played it maybe once, if at all, each afternoon.

My favorite song that summer: “Shine” by Collective Soul.  I didn’t care how much it got overplayed on U93.  I told my parents about the line “Heaven, let your light shine down” to impress them with its spiritual content, since they hated rock music.

Other good songs from Q101: “Millennium” by Killing Joke, “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails (though I didn’t like the lyrics), “Emperor’s New Clothes” by Sinead O’Connor, “Possession” by Sarah McLachlan, “Everybody’s 1” by God’s Child, “It’s Over Now” by Cause and Effect, “Burn” by the Cure, “Insanity” by (Oingo) Boingo, “Come Out and Play” and “Self Esteem” by Offspring.

****

Once, Phil and I took an IQ test on the computer, which claimed to be the fairest and most accurate you could find.  It wasn’t: It was biased in favor of mathematical brains like Phil’s, not NVLD brains like mine.  The questions I missed were all math questions, and Phil got the same ones right.

He bragged that he scored around 140 while I scored only around 130, but I said it wasn’t a true test of my abilities.  A year or two later, Cugan and I would take another IQ test.  This time, I scored around 150, and Cugan scored around 130.

****

My old jam box’s CD player had been broken for quite some time, since just before I got the newest Alice in Chains CD, Jar of Flies, in the spring, so I hadn’t heard it yet.

I had that box with me since my junior year of high school; sophomore year I had to spend a few months without it because my dad kept it at home and had the radio and antenna fixed at Radio Shack.  (That’s when I got into MTV and a Walkman.)

I really missed playing my CD’s, since some of my best music was on them, such as my other Alice in Chains CD’s.  I’d been waiting and waiting for the new jam box my parents got me for my birthday.  It had everything I asked for: CD player, tape player and recorder, radio.

I was desperate to listen to my new CD, and I guess I didn’t get a chance until late that night or the next, when Phil was home and we were about to play D&D.  I’d waited for months and I just couldn’t wait any longer.

But Phil hated Alice in Chains and kept saying, “If you play it, I’ll go somewhere else.”

I kept trying to make him understand how important it was to me to listen to it, and I wanted him in the room because I hadn’t seen him all day and because I wanted to play D&D.  I finally did get to play it, despite what he said, and I think he gamed with me at least part of the time, though he may have left the room for part of it.

It was strangely mellow all the way through.  He protested so much and it wasn’t even the hard “made in hell” stuff he protested.

But note the way he tried to withhold from me something I very much wanted.  He also hated my music, something that was important to me, and criticized it.

He even said that, had one of his friends not introduced him to some of the harder music and gotten him used to it, like hard rock and heavy metal, he’d break up with me just because I listened to it!

He said in the spring that in time he might learn to like alternative, because of me.  But he didn’t like it much.  However, once he said it was the popular trend in music.  I smiled in surprise and said, “Really?”

He said the alternative songs crossing over into Top-40 were the best ones on the radio these days, because regular pop music had become so dull.  But as a whole, he didn’t like it.

(Note that the following spring, when I was out of the picture, and alternative was popular with everybody now, he claimed alternative was his “favorite” music.)

I told him why I liked Alice in Chains, that the music took me to another place.  He said it was a place he didn’t want to go.  But I thought/think of it as a good place, a place in the mind or another part of consciousness, which only in-the-pit music can reach.  That place was special to me, but all he did was cut it down.

He also told me that the only good Christian music was a tape he owned by Michael W. Smith.  Obviously he had never heard much of the genre.

I had been listening to Christian contemporary, rock and pop for 8 years; there was far more, and once you sifted out the wheat from the chaff, real talent began to come through:

Mastedon, Undercover, Guardian, Whiteheart, Holy Soldier, Matthew Ward, Charlie Peacock, Steve Taylor/Chagall Guevara, Mike-E, The Choir, etc. etc.–bands which I bet he never even heard of.

But of course, he had to be right–and cut down whatever meant something to me.  Just as he cut down my friends, or my religion, or my Sunday School, or the church I liked best in S–, or even said my beloved childhood diary was “boring” because it talked about 9-year-old things like spiders walking across the ground.

It wasn’t just my perception: His next girlfriend, Persephone, went through the same thing, him always cutting down her participation in the campus newspaper, which meant a lot to her.

As Dad suggested, Phil said he was going to read the Bible so we could talk about it on an even level.  But he started and didn’t follow through on that promise.

Yet he wouldn’t even let me quote verses to him or tell him anything about the Bible, because then he wouldn’t see much point in reading it if he already knew what it said.

How could that even be likely, considering how much is in there and how little of it I could/can actually quote, in comparison?

Dad told him devotions can be just prayer, but of course, Phil used that as an excuse–that, since it doesn’t matter if you don’t read as long as you still pray, he didn’t have to read the Bible.

I don’t think Dad meant it that way.  It is important to read it, and Dad did so every morning; he suggested Phil read it so he and I would be on the same level of knowledge about the faith.

Phil’s flippant disregard of this advice, while also forbidding me to talk about the Bible, showed how little he cared about resolving our religious differences in a healthy, equal manner.

Phil even took issue with my use of the word “current,” though I checked the dictionary and found nothing to say it was wrong.  Phil said you can only use the word in the present tense, and can never say a song “was current in the past.”

But when you say a song “was current in the summer of 1992,” I see nothing wrong with the usage.  Songs are current, then they’re old and not current anymore, but at one time they were current.  I’ve never seen anything that said I can’t say “current” in the past tense in this context.

Phil’s objection sounded pedantic and nitpicky.

A quick Google search shows that people use it my way all the time.  On 3/11/14, I found it used my way in Green Suede Shoes by Larry Kirwan, page 217: “To my surprise, I already knew them all, for they [19th-century songs] had still been current in the Wexford of my boyhood…”  HA!

Trivializing and undermining: abusive behavior which makes light of your work, your efforts, your interests, or your concerns. —The Verbally Abusive Relationship

 

Verbal abuse can include:

  • yelling or shouting at you
  • being sarcastic or mocking about or criticising your interests, opinions or beliefs —Emotional Abuse

****

I read The Thorn Birds that summer and found, to my surprise, that I wasn’t alone: Meggie, on page 329, had a similar experience to my own–a horrifically painful first time, plus terrible pain that she felt every time she had sex with her husband.  Mine went away eventually.

****

On the 25th, I wrote to a friend that

Phil’s been spending a lot of time at the computer, beating my brother L–‘s scores at one-player and two-player games.  My smug brother has finally met his match, and he’s not happy about it….

Phil beat him at computer Risk, so L–stayed up late one night with his friend D–, trying to win before the night was over.

…My little Hazel [cat] has been glad to have me around, but I don’t know what she thinks of Phil.  I think she likes him, but not always.

The other day Phil, who was asleep, started petting me and calling me Hazel.  I said something, which surprised him.

He talks in his sleep too, and said, “Hazel, I didn’t know you could talk!  Why do you hate me, Hazel?” and I said, “I don’t hate you.  I just don’t like it when you tease me.”

We kept trying to contact a natural family planning clinic here, but nobody ever answered.

It was beginning to look hopeless, like I’d be forced to go by that rhythm method that doesn’t have a good rep, and end up the stereotypical Catholic wife with a brood of children.  But then I found the information I needed in a book right in the house!

 

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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Spring Classes; Crush on a Teacher; Lit Teacher Becomes My Writing Mentor; “Ugh” Poem–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–February 1993, Part 1

February came, and it was time to start working in Food Service again.  I signed up to work lunch, still avoiding weekend hours.

Apparently I cut back my hours so my arm wouldn’t be put under needless strain, because these were my hours: 11 to 12:30 on Monday and Wednesday and 11 to 1:30 on Thursday, a grand total of five and a half hours.

I found myself with different people.  One was a woman with brown, wavy hair and glasses, a married non-trad who was a few years older than I was.  Clarissa sometimes worked with me.  One was an elderly woman.  One was a sweet, blond guy with sky-blue eyes and a mustache.  I had a small crush on him.

The atmosphere was totally different now, and I liked it better.  For one thing, people didn’t complain about my music, shut it off, or block out all non-rap.  Most of the bossing around came to an end.

Grapes were popular missiles, especially with the brunette, who loved to throw them at the guy and the rest of us.

One day, the guy found a big crack in a bowl.  He hurled it across the room and it crashed into the wastebasket, shocking us all.  “Cracks like that are full of germs,” he said.

****

On Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 3:40pm in a cold room in the basement of Old Main, I attended a class (World Lit) which was so pleasant that I dreaded the end of the year.

One reason for this was the handsome young teacher, Wesley, fresh out of graduate school and maybe 26 at the most.  He had short, dark hair, glasses, and a cute face, and he seemed tall.  I spent many a lecture happily gazing at him as he spoke.

And they weren’t really lectures, either: they were open to discussion.  In fact, because of his youth he brought a fresh perspective to the dusty old literature of the past.

Rather than spending all our time dissecting metaphors, we spoke about the things none of our other teachers did: sex, for example.  We read Lysistrata and Lolita, after all.

When we read The Odyssey, he noted that while Odysseus’ wife got praises for her fidelity after all those years apart, Odysseus himself would end up in some woman’s love-nest and then say, “Oh, but I didn’t enjoy it.”

When we read Lolita (that “famous book by Nabokov” about a pedophile, mentioned in “Don’t Stand so Close to Me” by the Police), some of the students in the class got together.  They chose a young man as spokesman and he said,

“We just have to wonder about you because you say this is your favorite book.”

Wesley insisted he didn’t assign the book because of the “Long Island Lolita” stuff which had recently gone on.  (The story of teenage Amy Fisher trying to kill the wife of her adult lover, Joey Buttafucco, had been all over the news.)

Wesley kept pointing out a theme throughout the books of “Who are you.”

He was divorced already, I forget why, and had a son; but he told us that if he had it all to do over again, he probably would still marry his ex-wife.

I remember one day seeing a squirrel outside a window, and another day, a baby frog.  Since we were in a basement room, the animals would be sitting on the ground above us, which seemed strange.

Wesley was a victim of the cryptosporidium epidemic which hit Milwaukee and, I believe, surrounding areas that year.  He said that, as a single man, he ate out a lot, and one night at a restaurant, he drank far too much of the water which was set out before he got his meal.  It made him very sick.

This parasite was a serious problem, and we were all worried it would come to Roanoke.  It didn’t.

On the day we were to discuss Franz Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” which I had read in German class back in high school, we walked into the classroom and Wesley wrote this quote on the board: “Sex with you is a Kafka-esque experience.”  I believe it was a line from a Woody Allen movie.

Around February 27, we read Lysistrata, the ancient Greek play about the women of Athens stopping a war by refusing to have sex with their husbands.  My classmates said there was no way the old men in charge of Roanoke would ever allow this play to be performed there.

We all laughed at this.  (The irony of this was, only a year later, a play which was much, much worse really was performed there.)

We read Lolita around April 30, and saw the movie from 1962 in the Jubilee faculty lounge at 4pm on Thursday, May 6.  (I also remember us watching Kenneth Brannagh’s excellent version of Henry V in that room.)

Domino’s Pizza had just mailed to everyone an announcement that they would deliver to Roanoke, so Wesley ordered some.

Since the movie was written by the author, Stanley Kubric, and had a slightly different treatment of the tale (for one thing, Lolita was as old as 16 in the movie), you had to both read the book and watch the movie to get the full experience.

The movie had nuances that only someone who read the book would appreciate, and the movie added jokes and things here and there.

This was the first time I ever allowed myself to admit, much less have, a crush on a teacher.  I wanted to see what it was like, and figured there was no harm in it.

I wondered sometimes if he felt the same, but never said anything about it, never made any moves.  After all, young and unmarried as he was, he was my teacher.

It was wisest not to get involved, since that could get us both into major trouble with the college.  Another teacher was booted out that year because of an affair with a student; I didn’t want to see the same thing happen to Wesley.

Even now, I believe I did the right thing, and don’t (usually) feel like I missed out.

The irony is, one of my friends did indeed go on a few dates with Wesley, though I had no idea it was her for a couple of years.  The rumor mill caught wind of it, but for some reason, he didn’t get booted out like the other teacher did.

From what she told me, I figured I was better off.  When I heard of this from Pearl the following fall, I had no idea who the girl was.

I often talked to Wesley after class, especially about writing.  He said that teachers talk about students, and when they found out I was in his class, they said, “She doesn’t talk much but when she does, she says good things.”

He said he would love to see some of my work, so in May I brought in some stories and a poem about the pump blowing up (more about that when the time comes).

He said, “Maybe we could go to the Student Union and get a Coke and talk these over.”  (He often joked about how weird the college was for calling it the Campus Center instead of the Student Union like every other college supposedly did.)

He also gave me a copy of part of his novel-in-progress to read.  I still have it.  He said that readers kept saying the protagonist seemed numb.

He said, “Your writing is better than most undergraduate writing I’ve seen.”

I showed him a rewrite I’d just written of a story I wrote in high school, The Last Night.  I feared it hadn’t gone well, but he loved it.

He said, “When I first began reading your pump poem, I thought, ‘Oh, no, don’t rhyme it!’  But the rhyme worked really well with the humor.”

He said I was good at dialogue, making it sound real, that I had a good ear for it.

He told me these things in his office, not in the Muskie or Pub, apparently completely forgetting his suggestion to go to the Muskie.  He even left the door open.  I didn’t say anything: He may have been worried about his job.

****

Frontiers of Space sounded like a fascinating course, especially after the fun I’d had in Astronomy class in high school.  However, it was dull, dull, dull.  (At least I got to keep the textbook this time.)

The teacher said he was an astronomer by profession, not a teacher–and, well, it showed.  Even worse, the class was from 6 to 9:30 on Tuesday nights.

Clarissa taped the college drama Class of ’96 for me.  (Ironically, the critics said this show was nothing like college–when I felt it was the closest to real college life of any show I’d ever seen.)

How did I get through the class?  Christopher (a.k.a. Penisman) from Poetry class and two non-trad women sat behind me.  Christopher kept making funny little comments and cracking up the three of us.

I doodled a lot, my usual pictures of women of various time periods and planets.  One evening, a discussion of Nereid inspired me to write some sort of plot summary for a book based on my stories about the Solar System.  (All the heavenly bodies were actually living beings with ethereal bodies; what we saw was the head.  I would act out and sometimes write down the stories as a child.  See here.)

One night, we all went outside Chase and looked through a telescope the teacher set up for us.  I believe we saw Jupiter and about five moons.  This was cool.

Also, on the way back to our room on the first floor of Chase, we passed a greenhouse room full of plants.  I think the teacher joked (was he joking?) that there were man-eating plants in there.

We had to do presentations which involved models.  For mine, I made planets out of the Play-Doh my Dad had once used to exercise his hand and arm after he broke his arm.

I spent a good amount of time trying to get them the proper size, and wondering how to show Jupiter and the Sun with what I had.  After all, my materials were limited by what was available on campus.

The teacher graded every presentation harshly.  Even Bill, a study-aholic with an impressive presentation, couldn’t get an A.  He may have gotten a C.  He was frustrated.

I don’t think my grade was better than a C.  Everyone in the class complained to the teacher about it.  I don’t remember if it made a difference, though.

The teacher showed us a videotape in class one evening.  A friend had made it.  This friend had spoken of selling it to PBS, but it had to be a certain length, and was longer.

It was a tape of the solar eclipse in Mexico in July of 1991, and showed not just the eclipse but the various types of people who were camped out in a field waiting for it to happen.  It was fun to watch.  In the summer of 1993, I found it on PBS one evening.

****

Introduction to Mass Media was taught by Bill, and a requirement for my Writing major.  We met Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:45 to 1:50 in Old Main.

In this class, I learned why USA Today was “McPaper” (because it had snippets of information for the busy person to read instead of full news stories),

the history of radio and TV programming,

that TV programs and radio playlists were supposedly intended not to broadcast music and programs but to sell advertising,

and that the writer of our textbook loved alternative music and independent stations.  These stations, such as college radio stations, didn’t have to follow some commercial idea of what was popular.

The writer didn’t like Top-40 stations for this reason, and because they filtered out quite a bit of new music into maybe 10 to 40 songs which got played all the time.

He loved Siouxsie and the Banshees (who, until I read this, I thought was a new band), the Sex Pistols, and the fact that MTV made bands like Duran Duran popular.  (I already knew they made alternative bands like EMF and Jesus Jones popular, which, in the late 80s, was highly unusual.)

I also learned about Rush Limbaugh.  Bill brought in a tape of one of his radio programs one day, and showed us how Rush would quickly talk down any dissenting opinions from his callers and get them off the air, while anyone who agreed with him could talk longer.

Rush was good at making sure his point of view got through and nobody else’s.  I didn’t like this, though I admired his abilities.  I wasn’t sure what to think of what Rush Limbaugh said, but I didn’t like how he said it.

One guy in the class, would take any chance he could to talk (in his fascinating Eastern accent) about Rush Limbaugh.  It was Limbaugh this, Limbaugh that: he adored Limbaugh.  It did get annoying after a while.

One day, Bill asked each of us what our favorite music was.  I probably listed: hard rock, metal, dance, pop, alternative, Celtic, classical–whatever I felt like listening to at the time.  Bill smiled and said my tastes were “eclectic.”

Bill loved the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, and hated to see it end.

We listened to a chilling tape of the famous radio news broadcast of the Hindenberg crash.  We also listened to Orson Welles’ infamous “War of the Worlds” broadcast.

The students each did a media presentation.  Catherine did hers on the roleplaying game Dungeons and Dragons.  She handed out copies of a few pages of Dragon Magazine and passed around a 100-sided die.

A Japanese girl brought in copies of a Japanese newspaper, like the ones you could find at the library’s circulation desk.  I was shocked to turn to page 2–page 2!  where everyone, including little kids, is likely to look!–and find ads for strippers in various stages of undress!

What kind of advertising is that for a respectable daily newspaper????!!!!!  To my surprise, the “page 2 girl” is actually common.

My presentation, on alternative music, was on April 23.  Here are my notes for it:

“Alternative music–what is it?  How to define it?

“Alternative is a music style that can’t be defined.  As MTV puts it, when the music stops changing, it’s no longer alternative.  There are, however, a few common characteristics I’ve noticed: its difference from the mainstream, its content, and its oddballness.

“Content: death, love…

“Alternative stations are the place to go to see what’s probably going to be popular later on.  For example, U2 and REM were first on alternative stations.”  I first read about this in a teen magazine a few years before.

“Once the music listened to by the ‘scary’ people in your school” (that got me some chuckles); “now for anybody; I would listen to it sometimes on the Notre Dame station, late at night, back when I was an upperclassman in high school.  It was weird, I thought.  (Mention A.T.’s tapes in art class–other people’s comments.)”

This A.T., a “scary” person with a buzzcut, leather jacket and sullen attitude, brought alternative music tapes to be played in Art class senior year.  The other kids ripped on it.  For example, when A.T. played a tape of the Misfits, the other kids said they didn’t know how to play their instruments.  I liked the music.

“I did like the alternative songs I heard on the regular Top-40 stations, but I didn’t really listen to it again until recently, when I discovered Alternative Nation on MTV, and some alternative stations along the way from South Bend to Milwaukee.  I liked listening to it then because it was something different for the road, and they had some weird videos with weird music by weird bands on Alternative Nation.

“This music gives us something different to listen to, like when regular rock is boring or unimaginative.”

“Names: Butthole Surfers,” this one got me some grins, “Gin Blossoms, Belly, 10,000 Maniacs, Pearl Jam, Sun Scream, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Non-Blondes, The Beloved, Green Jelly/Jello.”

Jell-O forced Green Jello, the band which did “Three Little Pigs,” to change their name because Jell-O didn’t like the association with their green Jell-O.  So the name became Green Jellÿ, though it was supposed to be pronounced the same as Green Jello.

I also showed a videotape I made from MTV of various alternative songs.  Since the whole thing would take too long, I showed the ends and beginnings of songs.

Bill was happy to see the acoustic trend, such as in the Belly song, something he hadn’t seen since his youth.  These were the videos I showed: “Feed the Tree” by Belly, “The Right Decision” by Jesus Jones, “Love My Way” by Psychedelic Furs (which I thought was new; also, I loved the lead singer’s long nose), “Connected” by Stereo MC’s, and “Sleeping Satellite” by Tasmin Archer.

Someone complained, were they actually alternative, since he’d heard most of them on the regular Top-40 radio?  But just because Top-40 picked them up and liked them, didn’t mean they weren’t alternative.  The music landscape was changing; the following year, alternative would be big on Top-40 stations.

One girl did a video montage of the history of music videos.  I wondered where she got all those video clips, all together in just the right order.  You can’t just sit in front of MTV and do that, especially with videos that old, which rarely get played.

She mentioned the boring concert videos which filled MTV in 1985, and said MTV soon realized this needed to change.  A clip of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister excited giggles of nostalgia.

In various class discussions, students complained about pop music or Roanoke College life.  Marc the Zeta said he turned the radio off a few years before and now only listened to the music he owned.  This included Pink Floyd.

I didn’t think popular radio was quite that bad, not anymore.  (In my opinion, popular music still had the occasional good song until the late 90s or turn of the century.)

Marc and others complained that college life at Roanoke was nothing like the kind their friends enjoyed at their colleges.  They wanted to leave.  There was too much apathy.

But I preferred Roanoke’s life to a place like UW-Madison, which everyone said was very liberal, had protests on various things, and was very P.C.  (I was still very Republican in those days.)

I was sick of protests: anti-fur, PETA, abortion for and against, don’t eat meat, etc. etc.  I only saw protests on TV.  I wanted everyone to calm down, get along and treat everybody nicely.

At this point, the thing that mattered most to me was InterVarsity (IV).  I wanted to help get the word out that we were on campus.  I wanted IV to make a difference in people’s spiritual lives, and maybe even transform the spiritually dead atmosphere of the Christian campus.

I liked the quiet of the Roanoke campus, and had plenty of homework, TV, music, writing, reading, and socializing to do without campus events to fill my weekends.

****

Advanced Poetry, which combined Advanced and first-year students, met with Counselor Dude in room 24–yes, the Honors room again–of Old Main on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:15 to 10:50am.

This was my only morning class, so this was probably when I started skipping breakfast and making lunch my breakfast, instead chewing gum to help me get through my one morning class.  (I sure couldn’t do that now.)

I don’t remember how many of us were in it, but it couldn’t have been more than 20.  Darryl and Julie were in there.  One day, I signed Julie’s petition to get Latin taught at Roanoke.

I had always expected to learn Latin at college, thinking it was as much a part of college life as the food and fraternities.  But RC didn’t have it, and even after the petition, didn’t offer it.

Having gotten over the whole Peter-poem thing and now wanting to write about other things, I wrote a bunch of poems which even Counselor Dude thought were much better.

He said that I had been the love-poem person the year before, but now another girl or two had taken over that distinction, complete with complaints about her ex.

Catherine and Zeta Marc were also there.

I had a hard time coming up with comments for poems.  I didn’t like some of them, such as gross ones or sex poems, but that was all I knew–and I didn’t want to say that.  I never read much poetry.  I took the class for the credits.

Counselor Dude noticed I paid attention to sound.  I probably did this because metaphors and images were harder for me to deal with.  My poems also were easy to understand.

The Farrago staff specifically asked for my werewolf poem.  That poem shocked people, and Julie said she did not expect it from me.  So at least something good came out of that crap with Shawn!

Counselor Dude had me read the title to my “Ugh” poem, because he said only girls/women could say it in that particular way.  This was that poem:

Ugh

Spring’s coming;
my room is warm.
The flies are awake,
filling my room,
buzzing on the walls,
contaminating everything.
I grab the flyswatter.
The war begins.

My other poems are too big to reproduce here.  I wrote them in various genres: science fiction, gothic, fantasy, humor.

The Poetry final exam was actually an oral exam on 5/18.  I don’t remember if we had a final class for everyone, or just did our exams individually in Counselor Dude’s office.

I do remember Counselor Dude telling me in his office that he hoped I would continue to write poetry.  However, I never had a huge interest in poetry, so I would generally use it privately as a release of emotions I had no other outlet for.

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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