Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: crush on teacher

Spring Break; My Drawings of Ann Radcliffe Characters; I’m Cold to Shawn and it Bugs Him; the Power Goes Out–and the Water–in an Ice Storm–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke: Or, How NVLD Affected My Life–March 1993, Part 2

Spring Break; My Drawings of Ann Radcliffe Characters

Spring Break was Saturday, March 20 through Sunday, March 28.  I had a lot of homework over the break, including a paper for my Space presentation.  But I also had time to start reading First Love by Turgenev, which I found in the Campus Shoppe in the textbook section, and The Italian by Ann Radcliffe, the same woman who had written Mysteries of Udolpho (from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey).

I drew pictures of the characters.  For The Italian, I based Vivaldi on pictures I found in a World Book encyclopedia article on Italy, and I based Ellena’s nose on a picture of a Grecian nose.  (This matched her description.)

My friend Becky saw the picture of Ellena and said she looked just like Eleni Andros Cooper, a beautiful, Greek character on the soap opera Guiding Light.  I had never seen this woman before.  (Cooper, by the way, was played by Melina Kanakaredes, who later starred in Providence.)  My pictures are below:

 

EllenaSmall

VivaldiSmall

Schedoni

****

I didn’t want to go back to school.  I didn’t know why.  Maybe I was just tired, and one week was not enough rest.  I was sick of my problems.

I wanted a guy, but at the same time I didn’t.  I wanted James, but at the same time I wanted to wait for things with Shawn to work themselves out.

Since Peter and I could now say “hi” to each other again, that wasn’t the spirit-zapper.  The culprit was probably the whole Shawn-situation, from start to present.  As I wrote in my diary, part of the problem was his judgmental attitude about me:

judging me to be what I’m not and/or certainly don’t intend to be, and saying his own opinion of me turns him off, even though his own opinion sounds so faulty to me and to so many others…

but just the fact that he’ll ask me over to play let’s-pretend-we’re-going-out, then tell me, as soon as he’s gotten what he wants, that he doesn’t want me.  How does he expect that to make me feel?!

Then he’ll criticize me for this and that, even when his own so-called ‘advice’ is probably not appropriate or even adapted to me!  How can he know what’s right for me?  I just get so angry.  I cry out to God for help and comfort.

So finally, I was furious at Shawn, which was necessary to help me break free of him.

I was so depressed that I didn’t want to do much of anything, except escape to the world of books.  Except for music, videos and probably writing, no other worlds appealed to me now.  I wished I could put studying and working on hold for a while.

But back to school I had to go.

It was time to apply for a work-study job for junior year.  To apply, you checked off the jobs you wanted out of a list on a form.  I did not check off Food Service.  I preferred the library, but had to apply for two other things as well.

I interviewed for all three.  The two clerical jobs didn’t interest me as much after the interviews.  I interviewed for the library job on April 27.  I was one of the first people to interview, if not the first.  The head librarian said she usually gave the job to the first six people who showed up.  So I was in, and of course, I took it.

It was just what I wanted: a job with my beloved books, where I could do homework when nothing was going on.  When I did have something to do, it usually involved books, magazines or newspapers.  And I could wear whatever I wanted to, even shorts.

****

MTV came out with a new cartoon, Beavis and Butthead.  Ren and Stimpy became more of a kids’ show, and was soon supplanted.

At first, I didn’t like Beavis and Butthead, especially after they executed a grasshopper with a chainsaw and sliced up Beavis’ hand.

I saw the infamous episode which supposedly inspired some kid to set fire to his house, and was never aired again.

It was funny to hear the fire-obsessed Beavis say, “Fire!  Fire!  Fire!”

In another episode, he watched a video of a fire-engulfed guy running down a street (“California” by Wax).  He could only sit there in convulsions.  After the show got censored, he said, “We’re not supposed to say that word.”

The show drew lots of criticism, even though it wasn’t meant for kids, so it soon got censored heavily.  Nowadays, after so many years of shows like South Park, you wonder what the fuss was about, why they gave in so readily to criticism.  So somebody didn’t like the fire references–so frickin’ what?

****

One day, in an 80s flashback show, MTV showed the Police video “Don’t Stand so Close to Me.”  Now I was old enough to understand it, and even knew that “the famous book by Nabokov” was Lolita.

The VJ said that when the song came out, there had been a big controversy about whether or not students should date teachers.  The final decision was that it’s okay if the teacher doesn’t have that student in a class.

This was only one warning sign against pursuing Wesley.  Along with what happened to Craig, there was another: An episode or two of Class of ’96 showed one character sleeping with her teacher and getting in trouble for it.

I don’t know when my friend dated Wesley–it could have been fall semester–but it’s funny to think I had so many warning signs, while she just went ahead and dated him.

****

On Friday, February 12, I wrote in my Media class journal about a new video Clarissa and I had just seen: “Funky Ceili” by Black 47.  VJ’s said the song was popular with young people, though I only heard it on MTV and Chicago’s Q101.

Clarissa and I loved it because Black 47 was an Irish band.  Here we’d just been learning about Irish culture over Winterim, and this video comes on using words like “da,” “porter,” “stout,” and “jigs and reels.”

The music mixed traditional Celtic folk instruments with modern rock stylings.  And the song was funny.  Clarissa and I got to watch the video quite a bit over the next few months.

The song was about the lead singer’s ex-girlfriend.  He lost his job, found out she was pregnant, and had to tell her “da.”  The da gave him two choices: stay in Ireland and get castrated, or go to New York.  (What about a third option: marrying Bridie?)  At least, that’s the story in the song.  The singer lamented over losing Bridie and wanted her to come to New York.

I thought it was sweet; I hoped the video would get them back together; I wondered if Bridie was the girl in the video.

Years later at Summerfest in Milwaukee, though, I picked up another CD by Black 47, and read in the lyrics to “Green Suede Shoes” that “Bridie” got the singer into deep trouble with Bridie and her family.  Also, reading the real story in the singer’s autobiography, showed that the only resemblance to reality was her name.

I’m Cold to Shawn and it Bugs Him

Diary entry for March 30:

12:09am
I’ve, just today, recorded “Jeremy” and “Ordinary World” (the videos), back to back.  Why do I like them so much?  Because they’re me, for one thing.

I like the second one because of Clarissa, first of all, but maybe my subconscious picked up on the personal meaning before my conscious did.

“Jeremy” is me in my childhood, especially elementary school and junior high.  “O.W.” was me right after Peter, but now it’s me with Shawn.

You should’ve seen Shawn tonight at Bible study.  I was half-hoping he would come.  About twenty minutes into it, he came, and I cringed.  I kept my jacket closely wrapped around me in the cold room, to hide my figure.  I had trouble looking at him or laughing at his jokes, especially at first.

Then he started a long speech that started off with, “The big trouble on this campus is acceptance.”  I looked at him as he talked–right into his eyes, because most of the time he was looking right at me.

I remember this more than what he was saying, but I think he was talking about such things as people wanting to be accepted, and people avoiding and not wanting to talk to certain individuals (even then, I didn’t see the connection).

Clarissa tells me that another time, when she thinks I was looking down instead of at Shawn, out of the corner of her eye she saw him staring at me.  Then he saw her, and looked away.  I might’ve caught this, even, by glancing up once.

I never greeted him or said good-bye.  I was thinking and hoping he might either try to talk to me afterwards or call me up later, but it’s 12:34 and he didn’t do either.

When I told a friend my plans to avoid him, she said, Yeah, treat him like you did Peter, and see if he comes after you; if he doesn’t, you’re better off….I think he might.

And she also said, when I said I thought I saw signs that he liked me, “You probably did.”  But she can’t figure him out, either.

Why do I believe him so easily?  I feel so gullible….Once, when I rushed downstairs (where he was) to go to the bathroom, he said “hello” (maybe to be funny; we’d been in the same room for 45 minutes already), and I said nothing.  –12:43am

–1:49am
It doesn’t matter how long you pray, but that you do it and that you get something out of it….

I have to act this way so I can see if Shawn comes after me and proves to truly be my friend.  But I hope he does so soon!

Oh, the agony of my heart, seeing him help Pearl with her crutches without being asked, and hearing them talk about a couple weeks ago when he lifted her scooter out of a snowdrift, with them not being around to tell him a much easier way to do it, pushing a certain button.

Seeing a guy do such helpful things, like when Peter helped the blind girl, seems to be high on my subconscious list of what makes my heart go pitter-patter….

Sometimes, the friends you’re always with know you better than you know yourself, or else why bother asking them what your faults are?  So I trust the opinions of my closest friends.

But Shawn isn’t with me so much, and he’s proven himself and admitted himself to be wrong about me in one way or another, so why trust him over Pearl, Rachel, Sharon or my roommate Clarissa?   –1:59am

Diary entry for March 31:

–12:19am
I saw Peter yesterday [by the Campus Center] and said hi, and I think he smiled and said, “Hi, how ya doin’?”–except I had my headphones on, and I don’t think I caught it in time to answer.

What I want is for Shawn to realize how much he’s hurt me and that it’s going to take something special to fix that.

Tonight at dinner, Shawn was sitting at the same table as I went to sit at.  When I got to my strawberry shortcake, everyone but him and Clarissa had left.  Then she got up, probably to take her tray up.  She thought I might not like being left alone with him.  She seemed to be away for a long time.

After a silent minute or two, during which I ignored him and ate my cake, he said, “So how ya doin’, Nyssa?”

I sat silent for a moment, contemplating whether or not I should answer, then I shrugged my shoulders as a half-answer.  Then, to make sure he knew I had answered, I mumbled, “not too good.”

After all, I’d just come from a meeting with the counselor, which mostly dealt with my relationship with him.

Then Clarissa came back, and she thought he seemed to want to get away.  (She also didn’t see him stare at me during dinner; it seemed to her that he was trying to avoid me.)

He said to her, “Are you going to stay here and keep Nyssa company, Clarissa?  ‘Cause I have to go.”  I grumbled, “Don’t let me keep you.”

Yes, I was offended.  [My translation of it was] “You’re not secure enough to eat by yourself; somebody has to keep you company.”

It’s not just what he said, but a compound of things he’s said in the past in different situations, that gave me such an impression, such an interpretation of what he said now.    –1:03am

My counselor wanted to talk with Shawn to get his side of the story, and he agreed it was a good idea.  He was supposed to show up at one of my counseling sessions, but never did.  He later gave some reasons, I forget what, but it upset me.

The Power Goes Out–and the Water–in an Ice Storm

On Wednesday, March 31, there was an ice storm.  At about 9:30 and right in the middle of the latest episode of Star Trek: TNG, most of the power went out, leaving on only our two desk lights.  Then even they went out.  Soon after that, the water went out because it came from a well and required a pump.  The rooms grew cold.

We all gathered into the suite lounge.  I brought my afghan and can of pop, put away the bag of M&M’s I was eating, and sat on the couch with my rechargeable flashlight ready for use.  Our suitemates put on coats and snuggled into blankets.

Daphne, the RA, got freaked out all alone in her suite, and came over to ours.  My suitemates lit candles, contraband but useful.  A couple of guys dropped by and kept going in and out of the suite.

Some guy we didn’t know looked in the window and said something.  Daphne told Clarissa to shine her flashlight in his face and ask what he wanted.  Clarissa did; he said something else and left.  It was funny.

I’ve mentioned before that Georgina, a sweet and beautiful girl with a gorgeous soprano voice, was unfortunately still hung up on her ex-boyfriend, the brother of my pledge sister Jennifer.  He called and told her about a tornado warning, so we searched for information on the radio.  We found none, so we assumed there wasn’t one.

This was Hell Week; the fraternity and sorority pledges kept shouting their little chants and making noise.  Somebody probably yelled at them to shut up, a common thing.

The ice storm had trampled down a wire, and a transformer blew up.  Only the emergency lights in a few buildings were on.  We were told the transformer probably wouldn’t be fixed until three or four the next afternoon!

We prepared for a night and morning of no electricity or water.  At least Clarissa had two milk jugs of spring water, so we could wash our hands after using the toilets.  The toilets started filling up and getting really nasty.

We played a game called Outburst, then went to bed, Daphne staying over.  I went to bed a little after 12, and had been asleep for about half an hour or more when light woke me up.

Was it morning already?  I looked at my watch–it was only 12:56am!  The power had come back on, after all.  I went and flushed one of the toilets, Clarissa and I plugged a few things in, and we went back to bed.

We expected our classes to be cancelled, the same as for the local public schools, but they weren’t.

 

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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Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD traits; School Scandal–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–March 1993, Part 1

School Scandal

On the 1st, I noted in my diary the one-year anniversary of the physical relationship with Shawn, since it started on Leap Day, 1992.

****

Crystal Pepsi came out around this time, and I tried it.  I believe it was much like Pepsi–but I didn’t like Pepsi.  I drank it just to find out if it truly tasted the same, despite being clear.  It soon disappeared from the market.

****

During one of my counseling sessions, I said Shawn always tried to change me, but I wouldn’t change unless I felt it necessary.  The counselor called that a healthy attitude.

I now read Hermann Hesse’s Narcissus and Goldmund, which I found in the Campus Shop.  This book was a great help.  I read it late at night, while Alternative Nation was on, the room was darkened, and my roommate slept without her hearing aid.  Sometimes, the window was open.

This late-night setting and the book itself took me to a place where boy trouble and other problems didn’t matter.  One character, Goldmund, made observations about life that I’d made myself, or agreed with.  I kept seeing myself in Goldmund, a budding artist looking for himself.  He wandered the German landscape, a metaphor for restlessness and wandering the landscape of life and self.

The book was set around the year of the Black Death, so Sting’s new video, “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” was timely.  (This video was set in medieval times.)  Funny how I didn’t much care for the song when I first heard it on the radio, but after I saw that video, the song became one of my all-time favorites.

Goldmund’s passion sounded like mine: He loved to draw things, such as people’s heads, and make up animals, just as I liked to draw heads and make up alien languages.  Like me, he thought love was more important than anything else.

The swarming fish on page 186, poking their heads up to eat a piece of bread, reminded me of the fish at Indiana Beach.

(Those fish would eat anything you tossed at them–even spit.  This is Indiana Beach, though in those days it was just a little amusement park with short lines and cheap rides, no resort, no water park, no campgrounds, no Adventure Point.  Though I see they still have some of the same rides, such as the Seadragon and the Galaxi.)

On page 195, his tendency to forget everything about the world while engrossed by his drawing and endless walking, reminded me of myself when I was deep into reading, writing, or thinking.

After one of these late-night readings, I wrote this poem:

The music of the night
drifts through my window,
The gentle wind and soft, earthy smells,
the warmth and the insomniac birds’ songs.
Each note carries a hint of oneness
with everything.
The song of the ages,
the melting together of all experience,
The one song all romantics hear.

****

We often found chalk drawings and messages on the sidewalks, advertising campus events or put there as pledge pranks.

Once, the Zetas made chalk outlines showing some pretty horrific things: heads removed, limbs removed, hands or feet removed.  They were also pretty comical, since it was obviously a joke.  One of these chalk drawings was of Paul and his dog Maizie.

The college now had a young social sciences teacher named Craig.  One day, we found chalk protests written all over the sidewalks: “Save Craig!”  The college had decided not to allow him back the next year.

I didn’t know Craig or the reasons for his dismissal, so I didn’t get involved.  I heard rumors, but they weren’t confirmed for me until 2006:

Rachel knew a senior girl who got involved with Craig.  He was single, she was about to graduate, and he was fresh out of graduate school (therefore, they were close in age), but the college refused to relent.

****

Darryl decided to leave the Zetas over problems he had with them.  I don’t remember now what all they were, but he was upset that minors at parties would be given alcohol.  There were probably other things as well.

It was a big surprise, and even my sorority friends were glad.  A week or two before, he and Steve even came to Bible Study.

Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits

On March 20, I wrote in a letter to a friend,

But it seems like, in the past couple weeks, [Shawn’s] mood has darkened and he’s even avoided me a few times and gotten upset at me for one thing or another.  If we were going out, I’d say we were headed for a breakup.  Instead, the friendship is threatened with breakup.

I do find it interesting that this happened after our physical relations had ceased.

On Tuesday (the 16th), when I was telling him the good news about me finding myself–through my time alone at night reading, writing and listening to music, and something he’d wanted me to do–he somehow turned the conversation to yet another list of my “faults.”

He seemed to have a gift for that, even though he didn’t seem to be such a good judge of character as he thought he was.

It was a long list, and I must say he later apologized for unloading all those things on me at once.  He said these were the real reasons why he didn’t want to be my boyfriend, and that the reasons weren’t going to change to different things, like they had so often before.

The things were very much condemning of me as a person.  It devastated me because I wanted to be a good person who cared for others, helped them, was considerate, was sweet and kind….

But he made me sound like an evil bitch who treats people like dirt.  I felt like a terrible person, and thought I recognized those things in myself, but he gave me a hug of support as I tried to “change.”

He told me I should ask my friends for the specific examples he didn’t have time to give, and suggested things I should say.  So you see I was in a receptive mood, willing to accept and change faults, wanting the truth and not people’s consoling words.  He did this now, so he said, because I had an outlet in counseling.

So, after class when I went to see the counselor, I told her what he’d said.  Her reaction made me begin to doubt him, but I still felt like a terrible person.  I even tried to convince her that what he said was true.

She couldn’t see me being those things, but I still felt I had to see what my friends would say before I’d completely change my view.  If I really was an evil witch, then I wanted to change it, not listen to people tell me I wasn’t really like that.

I talked to Pearl for three hours in the Phi-Delt room after my night class (Astronomy), and really began to doubt his impressions.  She said maybe some things were based on misunderstandings.

He’d said other people had the same impressions but were afraid to depress me by telling me, even though they were still my friends; Pearl said maybe he misunderstood them, too.

I also spoke to Clarissa, who knew me better than anybody else on that campus, being my roommate for many months now–and even she disagreed, felt that he was being mean to me.

I asked, “Do you see anything wrong with the way I treat you?”

She said, shocked, “No!”  I think she even cried a little.  She couldn’t figure out why Shawn would say these things.

I tried talking to him on the phone the next day, to find out who I was supposed to talk to and what I did to make him think these things of me, but he accused me of badgering, and it turned into an argument.

So I stopped speaking to him.  I just couldn’t stand speaking to him when I didn’t even know why he was friends with such an evil person as me, if he even was my friend in the first place.

He said he was, but the reason he gave wasn’t enough to reassure me: He just said, because I wanted him to be, otherwise he wouldn’t have bothered trying to be one.  So, I was such an evil witch that he wouldn’t have even been my friend in the first place if I didn’t want him to be?

And he couldn’t give me any concrete examples to make me understand what I did that was so evil, or give me any guidance on whom to talk to?

The one to speak to is the one I offended, not a whole bunch of people in a kind of Russian roulette to find them, that lets everybody on campus know what he said to me!  How is it “badgering” to get some answers so I can understand what I’ve done and how I can change it?

Because I had no intention of behaving so evilly to anyone, and had no clue how I possibly could have come across that way, no guidance, no memory of evil intentions or behavior to work with.  You can’t change if you don’t even know what you’ve done!

I needed the truth, I needed answers, I needed plain-speaking Rachel.  I didn’t want to get mad at Shawn for simply telling the truth, if it was indeed the truth.  If anyone would be blunt about my faults, she would be.  Even when everyone else would sympathize me about something, she would say, “Well, it was pretty stupid for you to do that.”

So next, I went to her, not telling her who the person was.  But she just widened her eyes at the list of faults and got upset, saying, “This person doesn’t really know you.  They’re probably trying to hurt you for some reason.”

She and, later, Sharon did tell me what they personally thought were faults, but they were things done by normal people, not evil witch crap like what Shawn listed.

Sharon thought he was playing with my mind.  Sharon said she could only answer for her own feelings, not for his; Pearl pointed out possible misunderstandings and how I could prevent them.

I figured these were the main people who would know, the ones I spent the most time with.  They gave me enough things to work with already, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself by going to people I didn’t know as well and telling them what Shawn said.

Rachel said not to take the things to heart, that he just didn’t know me very well, but I still cried myself to sleep Wednesday night.  

I loved him, both romantically and, most of all, as what I thought was my best friend.  But this made me feel so upset and betrayed that I couldn’t talk to him.  I didn’t want him to even come close enough to touch me.  

My heart was broken again.  I think I loved him far more than I ever had loved Peter.

He had also complained about me writing in my diary everything that happened between us.  He thought special memories should be kept in the head and not written down.  

It was an odd idea that I’d never encountered before, because even special memories begin to fade over time.  In fact, if I hadn’t written these things down, these memoirs would be far less detailed, because I had forgotten so much!  

His objection also came from his time in the mental hospital, though I won’t explain how; I had no such experience.  He asked if I worried about anybody finding it; no, I did not.  If they did, they’d realize I wasn’t as innocent as people thought, and I didn’t mind that.

After writing in my diary what happened between us Valentine’s Day and the following Monday, I wrote, as if I were addressing Shawn,

See, Shawn, I wrote both things down, finally.  And if you’re going to be like this, I hope they’re the last ‘rendezvous’ I’ll ever have to write about concerning you.

Maybe math-brains just don’t understand the writer’s need to record even the most special memories–which we don’t want to fade….

Besides, these memories are all a part of me–so I’m not about to burn them or let them fade.  I’d lose a part of myself that way….Let’s see what kind of a friend you really are, Shawn.

The things he accused me of, can also easily be explained with NVLD:

Perceptual cues serve in the same capacity as traffic signals; they govern the flow, give-and-take, and fluctuations in our conversations.

The child who cannot “read” these nonverbal cues is frequently determined to be ill-mannered, discourteous, curt, immature, lacking in respect for others, self-centered, and/or even defiant. This child is none of the above.

Like the color blind driver who cannot respond appropriately to traffic lights, this is a child who is utilizing all of the resources available to him in order to try and make sense of a world which is providing him with faulty cues and unreliable information. —Sue Thompson, Nonverbal Learning Disorders

One of his complaints over the past many months was having to wait a long time for me to answer a question.  That would probably be the NVLD, Asperger’s, and/or introversion, all of which can cause this trait, which I had always had; I have to think of what I say before I say it.

There was the time he snapped at me and called me rude for not picking up his hints that it was time for me to go home–when I caught none of them, and only heard him continuously ask me, “So what else is up?”–making me feel obligated to come up with some answer, until I finally snapped back that I was going to bed now.

He was always criticizing my shyness and reserve, when to me this was all I had ever known, and it was just as impossible for me to change it, as it is for a horse to take on zebra stripes.

He was always criticizing my hair, when I wore it that way (plain and long) because I liked symmetry, hated the feel of bangs, hated short hair, loved long hair, and did not like perms or the other hairdos of the time.  (Hair back then was still very much 80s-big hair.)

He criticized me for not wearing makeup, as if my own face were not pretty without it, when I did not like the time it took to put on makeup, and felt fake with it on.  (This was coming out of the 80s, when makeup looked very artificial, unlike now when it’s more natural-looking.)

He criticized me for not dressing sexy, when I had always been so modest that even my mother told me I should show off my figure more.  I was raised Nazarene; I did not like to show too much skin.

He criticized me for not wearing jeans, when I found jeans to be too rough against my skin, and could not stand that (an NVLD thing, with hypersensitivity to clothes).  I also did not binding, constricting or tight clothes because of how they feel against my skin, so I could not dress “sexy” in the way he would like.

And because I was not just like all the other girls, did not look like the other girls, did not dress like the other girls, did not act like the other girls, I was somehow not attractive to him, this person who could not look beyond the surface and see my natural beauty and uniqueness–but would use my body whenever it suited him.

He could not appreciate me for me, a creative, sweet, smart, loving, caring, loyal person, with a different perspective on life, who would spend my summer drawing genies and reading books and writing about desert islands, rather than reading romance novels, hanging out at the beach, working on my tan, or partying.

He could not appreciate that I would not be the kind of girl to take all his money, or be jealous of his female friends, or spend all my time at the beauty parlor/spa, or yell and scream at him and blame it on PMS.

He could not appreciate that I could spend my summers happily translating German rather than running around on him, that I would be a cheap date happy with fast food and a movie rather than some expensive restaurant.

He could not appreciate that I had faith just as he did, that my mind was full of wonder and questions about that faith, that I would study theology for fun.  Instead he said he couldn’t love me because I believed in ESP (even my pastor believed in ESP) and was too “tolerant.”  He wanted me to be like all the other girls rather than like myself.

And now he was making me into a horrible, selfish, self-centered, spoiled brat as well.  All I knew was that I tried to be good, tried to be nice, tried to think of other people, left the biggest piece of cake for the next person, just went on my merry way thinking I was harming no one, only to get accused of all these horrible things by Shawn.

I knew that I tried to let him take the lead in our relationship because of his ambivalence, out of respect for him, but then he would come over or ask me over and want me to get physical with him, so I would give in to all sorts of things he wanted me to do, to please him.

Then he would accuse me of starting things and get angry with me and tear me down, treating me like some kind of evil seductress.

It felt like what he thought was me, was actually some other person, not me at all, no matter how much I tried to protest his unfair opinions and analyses.  And it was both baffling and heartbreaking.

So if his opinions of me were totally unfair and showed a lack of knowledge of who I really was, then the thing keeping him from dating me beyond a “friends with benefits” relationship, falls down flat.

I think Shawn, for all the times I thought we had talked about ourselves and connected, closed his mind to the kind of person I really was.  He rejected me for things he said I did, but which I didn’t do at all.  He was prejudiced against me for something I was not.

The biggest question is why he would do this: Was he afraid of falling for me and then having to leave me as he did his ex-girlfriend?  Was it because of his brother’s illness?

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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