Category: nonverbal learning disorder

Aurora Borealis, Ghosts and Promises of Marriage–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–November 1991

Promises of Marriage

Here, find a full treatment of the nonverbal learning disorder I keep mentioning.  It will soon become a major player in the story.

On November 1 in my 1991 day planner, I wrote that it was three years and six months until graduation, which was the earliest Peter and I could get married.  I have written that he and I were already talking about this.

We felt that we were meant for each other, and planned to make it official shortly after graduation.  We even discussed what we’d do at our wedding.

I was accustomed to Nazarene weddings, with a reception in the church basement or fellowship hall with people sitting around, eating cake and drinking delicious, non-alcoholic punch, and chatting away.  Rarely, there might even be a meal.  This is what I expected, even wanted, at my wedding.

But Peter said that in his family, weddings were huge affairs, with dancing and all the family members gathered together.  I wasn’t so sure I wanted a big wedding, but probably figured I had to go along with it.

Peter dreamed of me wearing a wedding dress in the turn-of-the-century style with leg-of-mutton sleeves and a heart-shaped neckline.  When he told me, I said this was the kind of dress I always wanted to wear!  We saw this as another sign that we were meant to be together.

(The funny thing is, when I did get married, my dress was in the Jane Austen style.  But for years, I wanted the turn-of-the-century style often seen at 80s weddings.)

So on November 1, I told Peter that we had to wait only three years and six months, not four years, until May 1995, when we could get married.

After this, whenever Peter said good-bye to me, he cried, “Three years and six months!”  I sometimes did this, too.  As the months passed, we would say, “Three years and five months,” then “Three years and four months.”

I had heard that men were afraid of commitment and marriage and even the words “I love you,” especially if their girlfriends mentioned them first.  But here I had a man who not only said “I love you” within the first several weeks and expected me to say it back, he also wanted to marry me as soon as possible!

My dreams were reality.  I had found the One at last, without going through a bunch of boyfriends first.

Peter and I also discussed where we would live.  He, a computer major, said it was his dream to live in Silicon Valley, which was in California.  I had never heard of it and couldn’t find it on the map; he assured me it was there, and he knew where it was.  He said it wasn’t dry like Southern California; it was warm, well-watered and beautiful.

(I have since discovered that it’s the area around San Francisco, not marked on a map because it’s a nickname for a region, not a city.)  He made it sound like a paradise in which we both would be happy.

So every day when I watched The Weather Channel for the local forecast and South Bend’s weather (usually 10 degrees warmer), I also kept an eye on California, my future home.  Candice said she did the same thing: She kept an eye on the weather in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where her boyfriend went to school, since she sometimes drove up there to visit him.

I discovered in 1999 that Silicon Valley was far too expensive for most people to live in, too crowded with small houses and minuscule yards, cold even in the summer, and overrun with spiders, so I would have been unhappy there. Not that it mattered, because Peter lives in the Midwest to this day.

Peter and I could not be formally, officially engaged yet, complete with rings and announcements and engagement dinners and registries and a wedding date: Our wedding was still too far away because we wanted to finish school first.

But we had an “understanding.”  If we’d known about promise rings, which signify a promise to be engaged, I would’ve had one.  These days, it’s often called a pre-engagement.

***

With the approach of winter, our room began to freeze.  My roommie and I didn’t know at the time that it was because Candice had pillows lining the bed which were shoved right up against the heater, blocking it.

We thought it was because the school had an inefficient heating system.  Well, it did, but that was only part of the reason.

I was so glad I brought my flag afghan, which my grandma McCanmore had made; I often wrapped myself in it.  When I crawled into bed at night, the afghan lying over the sheets, I would spend several minutes shivering before patches of warmth began to crawl up around my legs and body.

This was an awful time, especially when the days got colder and the room began to freeze even more.  I believe that at some point, I brought another blanket to school so I wouldn’t be so cold.

***

On the afternoon of Sunday, November 3, as I read an article on Buddha for my Freshman Honors class, Peter slept beside me.  (Fully clothed and on top of a made bed, you dirty-minded people.)

I don’t read out loud, and wasn’t marking my place in the article.  But Peter started talking in his sleep, reciting lines or phrases right as or right after I read them!  He later told me that he was reading the article in his dream.

Some time soon after I arrived at Roanoke, I began reading one of the books I’d brought with me.  It was Wideacre by Phillippa Gregory.  My mom’s sister had given her this and the sequel, The Favored Child, for Christmas or her birthday (which were the same day).

They looked interesting, and Mom didn’t show much interest in them, so I took them with me to school for something to do when I had spare time (which did happen a lot).

(Unfortunately, the third book in the series, Meridon, wasn’t with them.  I don’t know if it had come out yet when Mom got them.  It took me at least four or five years to find it, and that was by ordering it through Waldenbooks.)

I had no idea when I started Wideacre that the heroine of this strange book, Beatrice Lacey, slept with her brother and did all sorts of unscrupulous things just so she could secure the estate for her own.

(This was in the days of entailments, when women weren’t supposed to inherit property when there was a man in line for it.)

I had to skim over the sex scenes, just as I did with the Earth’s Children (Valley of Horses, Mammoth Hunters) books.  They made me uncomfortable, and I felt they weren’t appropriate for an unmarried Christian to read.

It surprised me that Beatrice went and slept with a boy at fourteen, when she hadn’t really done anything else with him before.  How can you just jump into bed with someone before you’ve even gotten to second base?  Don’t you have to build up a level of comfort and lust first?

I wasn’t sure what to think of the book, but it did hold my attention until the very end.  I believe I finished it over Christmas Break.  I told Peter about it, and he teased me about the racy book I was reading.

****

This vague memory keeps haunting me but never quite takes shape: Nine years have passed since it happened.  It seems that it happened in Peter’s living room one day while his parents were out, in the late fall or early winter.

I remember the little dog Petey being there and maybe even involved somehow.

Peter was at his mom’s computer, which had a printer.  Her computer was probably as old as Peter’s.  Peter sat there doing something, and I believe I tried to get his attention.

He got angry with me.  The next part is shadowy.  He may have raised a hand to me, though I don’t think he hit me.  Or he may have threatened to hit me.

I remember being very upset.

But this is all I remember, which concerns me.  Could I have blocked something out?  I would be certain that he never hit me, except for this shadowy memory.

****

One day at his house, for some reason I now forget, Peter showed me a piece of paper printed by this printer, and said something about a black ribbon.  I looked at the print and said it was gray.

He said no, it was black, because it was a black ribbon!  But I looked at it, and it was a definite gray.

It may have been a black ribbon, but the ink had faded away.  When black fades, it turns gray.  It’s just the way the light spectrum works.

But he got mad at me for contradicting what he said, and then said as a sort of apology? that he gets mad whenever people try to tell him things are one way when he knows they are another way.

But, well, maybe I do, too: I knew that it was gray, yet here he was yelling at me for what my eyes told me was the truth!

His “apology” basically accused me of lying, basically blamed me as if I were deliberately trying to annoy him, when all I did was speak the truth!  What is this, gaslighting?

Aurora Borealis

On Tuesday, November 5, we were supposed to go to a Bible study at church, but there was too much snow.  I had just put Peter on my nightly prayer list for protection; on Tuesday, the snow caused him to have a near-miss with his car.  He was fine.

***

During late fall or early winter, I saw my first-ever shooting star.  Actually, I only saw it out of the corner of my eye.  Peter and I were standing outside his car in the gravel driveway to his parents’ farmhouse.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a shooting white light.  Before I could turn to see it, it was gone.  It was beautiful and seemed almost supernatural.

Peter faced me, not the star.  He sensed it, and knew it was there because he read my mind, but he missed it.

On November 8, a gorgeous aurora borealis surrounded us as Peter drove us through the night countryside.  I had never seen one before, and asked, “What’s that?”

Once, it was very red.  Another time, it was red, yellow or orange, and blue.  Peter had never seen one like that before.  He had to stop the car and get out and gaze at it because it was so beautiful.

****

At 7:30 on November 19, Dave Wopat (brother to Tom Wopat, Luke on Dukes of Hazzard) played some good and funny songs on his keyboard.  From what I gather from a Google search, he’s still doing the college circuit to this day.

The concert was in the Muskie.  There weren’t a lot of people there, but there were enough.

One of his songs is “I’m in Love With a McDonald’s Girl.”

Our favorite was about sadomasochism; it went, “Hurt me, hurt me, whip me, chain me,” and he moved his arms as if he were being chained up.  This became a popular catchphrase between Peter and me, even though we weren’t into that stuff.

Ghosts

As they did for every break, Peter’s parents invited me over for Thanksgiving Break, which was November 23 to December 1.

After class on Friday afternoon, the 22nd, Peter drove over in his mom’s black Volkswagen bus rather than his Mercury Lynx, because it could hold my valuables (word processor, TV, etc.) as well as my luggage.

This thing was from the 60s or 70s, and looked it.  It had few amenities, no tape deck and maybe even no radio, and I think the seats only had lap belts.

I laughed, and when we drove out, I put my jam box on my lap to play a Newsboys song.  This song, “One Heart,” was from a 70s-themed album released in July of 1991, Boyz Will Be Boyz.  That’s the closest I had to 70s music at that time.

I was put in the spare room; a space heater was put in there to keep me warm.  I barely felt the warmth, which only came out when it heated up, and the noise of it starting up was so loud that I had trouble sleeping.  But at least I had a comfortable double bed with lots of blankets.

I put the jam box in this room.  98.5 FM came in very well there, so I cranked up my current favorite dance songs: “Live for Loving You” by Gloria Estefan, “Too Blind to See It” by Kym Sims, “Change” by Lisa Stansfield.  (I was later unable to listen to these songs for a few years, because they reminded me of this time and made me sad.)

We could never close Peter’s bedroom door or spend time together in my room: house rules to keep Peter chaste.

I put my Brother word processor on a table next to the computer table in Peter’s room.  One afternoon we sat there working, Peter on a word processor program for the Coco 2 and me on my desert island novel Jerisland.

I had already written the manuscript by hand, and was now typing it up, so I was typing away fast and loud, probably at least 50 words per minute.  (In 1995 I was clocked at about 70 words per minute.)  Peter’s mom came in with an astonished smile and exclaimed about “all that pounding!”

Peter and his parents told me that when they moved into their house, it held a ghost.  They figured he was the man who built the house, so they called him John.  Occasionally things would turn up missing; they would call out, “Okay, John, put it back,” and then find them again.

Once, they had been sitting around complaining about the way the house was built (for one thing, the spigots in the bathroom were backwards).  Soon after, they discovered a big hole in the wall of the stairwell down to the basement.  Peter’s parents thought Peter did it in a fit of rage, but he insisted it was John, not him.

They knew a family with a ghost named Elizabeth.  One evening, the two families went to a restaurant together, and left two extra seats for the ghosts to sit in.  They told people that their ghosts John and Elizabeth were sitting in those seats.

Finally, Peter’s family fixed the roof, which involved taking off parts of it; I think they may have replaced the whole thing.  After that, they had no more trouble with John.  Peter’s mom figured that raising the roof released his spirit at last.

During this time, Peter’s family took me to Green Bay and the mall in a suburb of Milwaukee.  This may have been Mayfair in Wauwatosa.  In Green Bay, Peter’s mom took us to a thrift store, where she found me a book written in Old German letters.

The racks of books in that thrift store made my mouth water.  As for Green Bay, it looked like a big city, but I believe the population at that time was only about 50,000.  This surprised me because I had always thought it was big, like Milwaukee or Chicago.

Peter and his mom told me that Green Bay was the Florida of Wisconsin, with lots of retirees.  It had a really cool mall with five wings, like a star.

We visited Peter’s aunt and uncle.  The house was surrounded by lush, beautiful greenery.  We sat in the living room, which had a beautiful clock on the wall.  We went out to see the uncle’s baby, a Corvette Stingray which he was restoring.  Peter’s mouth watered, and he kept saying, “I’ve gotta get my Charger fixed!”

This Charger was a pretty little car, white with a thin, pink stripe along the side, but at the time it wasn’t driveable.  That’s why Peter drove the Lynx instead.  I think he bought it really cheap because of its problems, and had always meant to fix it, though he didn’t get around to it until January or February.

As we drove through the outskirts of Milwaukee, I noted that the houses were spaced together so closely that you could practically reach out from a window in one house and touch the wall of the next.  I wondered how people could live so close to each other.

These houses also looked different from the ones I was used to; I believe it was the coloring and the German influence.

Peter and his mom showed me a little shop run by nuns near K–, where you could get things for dirt-cheap prices.  I got several good Christmas presents there, including a tin with cat pictures on it and cat toys inside, for my cat Hazel.  Peter found a glass nativity set, which he bought for me.

One evening over Thanksgiving Break, they told me stories of John, and Peter’s mom told me with an impish grin that her painting of a horse (on the wall of the stairs) would sometimes come to life.

I knew it wasn’t true, but late one night as I went up those stairs to the spare room, it freaked me out anyway.  I believe I heard a strange noise, as well.

Once, Peter’s family introduced me to Cornish hens.  I first saw these in the surreal movie Eraserhead:

On the last day of school for seniors in June of 1991, a finals day, my art teacher showed the first half of this movie.  When the protagonist Henry cut into a Cornish hen, it started writhing and bleeding.  Since I’ve always been squeamish, I kept having to remind myself that my hen was thoroughly cooked.

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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Deadly Nightshade and Pressure to Love–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1991, part 2

Peter used the computer lab in Chase a lot for his assignments, including papers, and we liked to spend that time together.  We still hated to spend time apart: We were in that honeymoon stage of relationships.  (My friend Pearl said she’d heard that in the first two months, couples don’t like to be apart at all.)  I would sit on a chair or stool next to Peter as he worked on a computer.

He introduced me to computer Solitaire, that omnipresent Windows game, and to Windows itself, a wondrous new operating system.  (He later loaned his Windows discs to my Dad, who used them to load Windows onto the computer at home.)

Once, while I was playing Solitaire, Shawn came in and said to us, “If you’re ever lost and in the middle of nowhere, just start playing Solitaire.  Pretty soon somebody will come along and say, ‘You should move that card here,’ and ‘You should move that card there.'”

Unfortunately, we soon discovered that we weren’t supposed to play games in the computer lab.  It was for schoolwork, and though the room was full of computers (Apples and IBMs I believe), they needed to be kept free for the many students who didn’t have word processors, computers or typewriters in their rooms.

(I think the college students of today would consider that to be living in the Dark Ages.  Now, not only do dorms have computers, at least at Roanoke, but some colleges apparently will lease computers to all the students who need them during the school year.  It seems computers are now as much a part of one’s school supplies as a notebook and pencils.)

Peter got angry and talked back when the lab aide told him this rule in a near-empty computer lab one night.  The aide told the teacher in charge of the lab.  The next day, Peter saw the aide in line and apologized, but whispered to me that he didn’t really mean it, just didn’t want to get into trouble.

One evening, Peter wanted to go with me from his house back to campus, but his parents (who hadn’t quite realized that he was almost 19 and a legal adult who could do whatever he wanted) didn’t want him to stay there for very long.

I heard him lie to them; I think he told them he had to study in the Roanoke library or do some other thing, which they okayed.  In reality, he just wanted to spend some alone time with me.

On the one hand, they should’ve loosened their reins once he turned 18.  On the other hand, he shouldn’t have been lying to them.

This bothered me.  It also should have been a red flag that he could lie to me as well, but I foolishly believed he would never do that.

I would either watch as Peter worked on the computer, or I would do homework.  Sometimes, Peter was allowed in to a certain office which had a modem, the only modem on campus (again, today’s college students would call this the Dark Ages), and he would download things from BBS’s as I watched.

Through January, it became standard procedure many days for me to sit beside Peter in the computer lab.  Strange how, with college boyfriends, I kept watching them play on the computer.  Even now, a computer geek friend might come over to my house and start playing on the computer as I watch.  But no, I don’t do that with my hubby.  I’ve got too many other things to do!

***

On the 23rd, I wrote in my day planner,

The weirdest things happened–Once, when I came back to the room from the bathroom, Peter had turned on the TV with Candice’s remote and was pointing it at it at arm’s length in his sleep!

Another time, I think before this, he opened his eyes several times, first wide, then half-closed (when I moved my finger and he didn’t see it) several times, then wide again, when I tested his senses by seeing what he’d do if I held my hand over his eyes and caused a shadow and then moved it closer to him–then he woke up.

My sophomore-year roommate would also open her eyes in her sleep.

***

For a while, the International students and whoever else was interested could watch a foreign film in the Muskie every Thursday night at 7:30.

For American and British students it meant reading subtitles, but the subtitled, rather than dubbed, versions were probably chosen on purpose because there were students who spoke the original languages as native tongues and would prefer to watch them with subtitles.

It was probably wonderful for them, after being immersed in English for so long and often struggling to understand it.

On the evening of the 24th, Peter and his parents went with me to see Das Boot, the movie about a German U-boat in World War II.

Before we went, Peter’s mom presented me with an apple cake; I put it in Candice’s little fridge in the lounge.

Unfortunately, we only got to see the first half of the movie.  Peter’s parents had to leave for something, or he had to go to work, so we left.

When we got back to the German suite, one of us went to get the apple cake, only to find it missing.  Naturally, we first thought of Tom, who was sleeping.  Peter asked him if he knew what happened to the apple cake, but he didn’t.  So finally Peter and his parents left.

They returned a few minutes later to tell me: On passing by the Japanese suite, they happened to look in the window and see a whole bunch of people–many from other suites–all sitting around and eating my apple cake!  They were partying with my apple cake.

Heidi had found it in the fridge and taken it down there to serve at the party.  I’m not sure why she thought she could do this, since it wasn’t hers.

Anyway, I think Peter and his parents stayed a bit longer so we could all go down and have some of my apple cake.  At least I had one piece before it all disappeared.  We all thought it was pretty funny.

***

Around this time, I met Julie’s boyfriend, Darryl, in the Mirror suite while helping Peter in the dark room.  He was tall, fair-haired and handsome, though he always wore a Batman baseball hat that year.

This is the movie version of Batman which came out in 1989; the hat was black and had a picture of a bat signal.  He wore it forwards: College boys at our school did not start wearing baseball caps backwards until a year or two later.

Darryl knew Shakespeare, which impressed me because I loved what little Shakespeare I had read in school.  My real name is not “Nyssa,” but the name of a book in the Bible; I will not tell you which one.  Darryl said it was his favorite biblical book.

On the way to the K– Haunted House, I told Peter, “He likes the book of —-.  That really gives him good standing in my eyes.”

Peter acted upset and uneasy.

I said, “I mean friendship-wise!”

***

Just before 2pm on Friday the 25th, Peter and I went to the annual Writer’s Festival in the Bradley building.  We listened to Mark Strand, that year’s featured poet, but didn’t care for the sexually explicit poetry he read.  We stayed anyway because Counselor Dude told me to be there.

At one point, the recipients of the Fessler Writing Scholarship (which included me) were honored: We all stood and were applauded.

I received the scholarship in my senior year of high school.  Counselor Dude sent me guidelines; I could send poetry or prose, but my stories didn’t seem to be in a good form for sending, so I sent these poems, written while we studied Japanese haiku in Advanced Placement English class:

9/18/90
The Coconut Palm

As green feathers flutter in breezes,
And ovals hide monkey-faces,
A snake opens its jaws
And brown eels shoot out in places.

Okay, so that one wasn’t a haiku; perhaps a nature-poem assignment.

10/2/90

Fresh, fragrant breezes
Abolish musty odors
Blow through the window

This was written because of a smelly pile of something I thought was dirty laundry (wasn’t, but I forget what it really was) sitting by the cedar chest, as warm breezes blew in the window beside it.

Now melancholy
Lively greens become golds, reds
Cold overpowers

We weren’t going by the 7-5-7 syllable count, just simplicity, because the translations in the English book weren’t going by that form, or by rhyming because it’s easier to rhyme in Japanese than in English.

I sent these poems probably during the winter or spring.  They impressed Counselor Dude, and were good enough to receive the scholarship.

I told my English teacher, who got teary-eyed and told the whole class.  Since the poems came from her assignments, she said this sort of thing made her teaching worthwhile.

Deadly Nightshade

That evening, Peter drove Latosha and me to the nearby large city of Appleton to buy music for WVRC, the campus radio station.

In the back of the car was deadly nightshade, a “gift” to Frank from Peter’s mom.  Frank didn’t know what it was, so she wanted to show him.  (No, she didn’t want to kill him.)

The plants were in some sort of container, maybe a sack, in the backseat, where Latosha also sat.  She kept saying she didn’t want to be back there with it, but once the car was on the highway she didn’t seem to have much choice.

The next day, Peter and I went looking for Latosha, but couldn’t find her anywhere.  We checked the suite, the WVRC room and other places, but she wasn’t there.

“Oh, Latosha!” Peter cried.  He began to panic, fearing that the deadly nightshade had somehow killed her just by being in the backseat.

But to his (and my) great relief, she was very much alive, and finally showed up–just late.

***

On October 26, I experienced my very first Daylight Savings time change.  Before, time changes were temporary, such as when I visited my grandma for a week in the summer and Michigan was an hour ahead of Indiana.  (Going to bed at her 9pm and my 8pm was no fun, especially since the sun was still up.)  Now, I had to actually live with one for six months!

It was hard to adjust at first, especially when the sun would go down at 4pm instead of 5pm on the shortest days of the year, making the night seem extra-long.  And for maybe a week, my body kept saying it was time to eat when it wasn’t.

But the good part about the fall time change was for one night, I could get an extra hour of sleep, and for a while it would seem like I was staying up or getting up an hour later than usual.  (In reality I was, but the clock didn’t say so.)

I was a bit confused at first about the 2am change, wondering why they’d make people get up in the middle of the night to change clocks, but soon discovered that people just set their clocks before going to bed.

I keep wishing that one of these days, time changes will be abolished as a waste of time, since they disrupt daily routines and make the sun set even earlier in winter, with no tangible benefit that I’ve ever seen.  I would love to see the sun go down at 5pm in the winter rather than 4pm, since I grew up with 5pm winter sunsets.

But now I hear that South Bend–one of the few sensible cities regarding time changes–has fallen onto the Daylight Savings bandwagon.  They change clocks twice a year and now match up with Michigan, so I never know what time it is when I want to call my parents.

***

On October 26, Peter and I dressed in my princess and his ninja costume again, and went to a Halloween party at Muehlmeier Hall in the lounge.  We went there because we were DJ’s for WVRC, and Peter was chief engineer (even though the station still hadn’t gotten going yet and we never had a chance to DJ yet).  A couple of the other DJs played the music.

Latosha was one of the party DJ’s.  Peter did his chief engineer stuff, and I was given nothing to do except to help pick songs and dance.

Latosha tried to put more variety into the night’s selection of music, but every time she played something besides rap, she got loud complaints.  For Peter and me, she played “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams, but it was practically booed.

I forget what derogatory thing some guy said about it, but it upset both Peter and me.  This was our song, and they were saying such things about it!

Latosha tried to play another song which sounded really good, but they told her to turn it off and play rap.  “This is house!” she cried in disbelief.  It was very frustrating, not only to Peter and me but also to Latosha.

I don’t remember other details, but I do remember Peter and I standing in a large circle; we females were supposed to show off our costumes.  When it came to be my turn, I walked out into the middle of the circle and did a little spin.  The guys made approving whistles and noises.

I was nervous and self-conscious but didn’t screw up, and it felt good to get such favorable attention.  My costume was properly zipped up, by the way, so I felt a bit bound up.

Since the only music allowed was rap, Peter and I hardly danced at all, and left early.

On October 31, Peter and I went to the campus Halloween party in Bossard Hall, but the music there was bad, too.

At the Halloween dance in Bossard, we had fun seeing our friends dressed up in costume.  A guy named Steve dressed as Satan, and went around with a sign-up sheet for people’s souls.  I think somebody was dressed as a mummy, head to toe in toilet paper.  Pearl was a bee.

Peter took me aside, pointed to Steve and said, “You see that guy there?”  I didn’t know Steve at that time.  “He’s a Satanist!”

A Satanist at a Christian college??!!  For the rest of the semester, Peter didn’t want to be around him.

Of course, Steve wasn’t actually a Satanist but a Pagan or Wiccan, but I didn’t know this at the time.  Eventually, Peter and I even became friends with him (though separately).  He was a fun, goofy guy.  More about him later.

***

Latosha liked to mother me.  One day while I had the flu–the first I could remember ever having it–I got some ice cream in the cafeteria, and she said, “You shouldn’t be eating that ice cream.”  But we didn’t get ice cream every day, and it looked so good!

One evening, Peter’s parents drove the two of us around little K– and other heavily German areas, showing me the German-style buildings there: houses with outside staircases leading up to a second floor door, buildings with split timbers, churches with spires.  I loved it.  One bar, House of Spirits, had a little ghost painted near the roof.

Sometime early in the semester, Peter, his mom, and I sat and watched a story on the news about a girl who got pregnant, didn’t realize it, and thought she had gas pains when she was actually going into labor.  So she sat on the toilet to get rid of the gas, and a baby came out instead, hitting its head on the toilet seat.  The blow to its head killed it.  If I remember correctly, she tried to throw it away, and her dad found it.  Now, she was being tried for throwing her baby away.

I believe this was the first I had ever heard of people throwing babies away, instead of contacting the proper authorities.  Soon began a disturbing trend throughout the 90s of teen mothers throwing their babies–even live ones–in the trash.

The real twist to this case: she was a Roanoke freshman.  I believe she was in one of Peter’s classes.  She looked a little familiar to me as well.

****

Peter ripped on Shawn whenever he was out of the room, and I later discovered that Shawn also ripped on Peter when he was out of the room.  But whenever we were all together, Peter and I told Shawn we were eternally grateful to him for getting us together with his diarrhea of the mouth.

Much later, Shawn told me that this made him feel uncomfortable, because he didn’t want to be held responsible if we broke up.

Pressure to Love

Peter and I made out all the time, but never got past “first base” because we were Christians.  I felt weak, but reassured by Peter’s ninja self-control.

One day, maybe a month into the relationship, Peter said to me, “Now I can finally say it: I love you.”

However, I was reluctant at first to tell him I loved him: I wanted to mean it.  He insisted on a reply, so eventually I began saying “ditto” or “ich liebe dich.”

In those days, I believed there was One person for everyone, a soulmate ordained by God.  If you loved someone, it meant your spirit recognized your soulmate; if you truly loved someone, it would last forever, and you would marry.  Everything else was merely infatuation, which is hot but quickly burns itself out.

(Some would argue that I wasn’t naive here, but right: that the one I truly loved is the one I married.  Or that I may have loved before, but if the others had truly loved me back, they would never have broken up with me for good.

(Me, I’m not entirely sure what to think, but I’m inclined to agree with one of these two possibilities.

(But I also recognize now that until you’ve been with someone with for quite some time, and the infatuation has a chance to wear off, you don’t really know if you have “love” which lasts through daily work/home drudgery and childrearing, or are only “infatuated,” in love with love.)

So when I told Peter I loved him, I’d be sealing my fate.  He did get upset that I replied “ditto” or “ich liebe dich” instead of “I love you.”  One day, probably in October, I finally did say “I love you” in English, and I meant it.

Now we knew we loved each other, and we had so many things in common and matched each others’ ideals so well that marriage seemed the logical conclusion–though not until we graduated.

One day, I said, “When I was a kid, my teacher said I’d end up marrying someone who makes me laugh.”  I realized–just in time–that if I said “She’s right,” it would scare Peter: We had not yet spoken of marriage.  So I said, “She’s probably right.”  (Which she was, by the way: To this day, my hubby still makes me laugh.)

To my bewilderment, Peter just got quiet and said, “Umm.”  I asked him if he meant something by that, and he said no.

So even if he did misunderstand me, I had no way of knowing if I needed to clear things up.  But how could he, when I did not say I would marry him–just someone who would make me laugh?

Talk did soon turn to marriage, however.  I wrote in my pen pal letter on the 22nd,

The way Peter and I talk sometimes, you’d think we were practically engaged.  We probably will be [engaged] in four years when we finish college, we’re such a perfect match….

We have so many things in common…you’d think we were made for each other–which we probably were.  We even soon noticed a mental link, which his mom says means that.

We believed her.

One evening, Peter and I sat with his parents at their dinner table, joking around.  I forget what I said–maybe I asked about some family secret or favorite story–but Peter smiled and said, “You’re not part of this family yet.”  I joked back, “What do you mean, ‘yet’?”

We all laughed, and Peter blushed.  His dad said to him, “You’d better watch what you say.”

Peter’s class ring was a star sapphire, an expensive stone, so I believe his mother didn’t even let him wear it.  Even if she did let him wear it, him letting a girlfriend wear it was out of the question.  So he got a silver bracelet to stand in for it.

This bracelet he now gave to me.  The clasp didn’t work right, which was surprising because it was only maybe a year or two since he bought it, and the bracelet was a bit tight, but I wore it with pride.  He also gave me a small, cute snowflake necklace.

***

During deer hunting season, WIXX introduced me to two popular songs that were played every deer season: “Turdy Point Buck” by Bananas at Large and “Second Week of Deer Camp” by Da Yoopers.

This group of guys, Da Yoopers, from the UP of Michigan had the same accent I heard in S–.  Bananas at Large, a Wisconsin group, raved about “Da Packers.”

Da Yoopers also did “Rusty Chevrolet,” to the tune of “Dashing Through the Snow,” which was played every Christmas.  After that winter, and maybe even before it, I even heard that song on U93.

Until now, however, I had never heard of Da Yoopers.  Peter cried, “Even my aunt who lives in Alaska has heard of Da Yoopers!”  Well, maybe that’s because her family lived in Wisconsin.

Heidi complained one day that she was picking up Roanoke’s “bad table manners.”  I’m not quite sure what all she meant by this, since I rarely noticed it myself, but I believe it was things like putting one’s elbows on the table while eating.

I knew about that rule, but I got so used to people doing this at Roanoke that it didn’t seem rude to me at all.  I began doing it, myself; it was comfortable, after all, and when I was, like, eating fries and had one hand in my lap, I felt too fastidious.

A friend later told me that it’s a very German thing to have elbows on the table.

***

One day after lunch, as we sat in the Campus Center lounge next to the TV, Peter said I needed to find friends to hang around with when he wasn’t there.  I said, “I have friends!”

Which I did.  Though I had little social life outside of Peter, which I hear often happens to new couples, he was wrong to assume that I had no friends.  If he hadn’t come along and taken up much of my time (as we both wanted), I would still have been floating around to various groups at meals, going to school events with my friends, and hanging out in their rooms whenever I had time.

This is what I did before Peter, and it was what I would do after Peter.  I had many people I considered friends, though they weren’t yet close friends.  Peter often chose where we sat at meals, and many of these people were often included.

I did, however, feel the lack of a best friend outside of Peter.  I considered saying to one person, “I think we could be good friends.”  But I wasn’t sure if that would come out the way I intended, or just sound like a pathetic loser: “Will you be my frieeeend?”

In those days, I was still used to what I had known in high school: seeing my friends mostly in classes or at lunch, and, except for Campus Life or church activities, not generally anywhere else.  I socialized, but I also had my own private life.

It was the only way I had ever known, especially since I rarely passed anyone on the way to or from school.  My friend Becky, met in my senior year of high school, was the exception, so I called her my “bosom friend” (yes, as in Anne of Green Gables), the one I had always wanted to find.

This was probably a combination of shyness/introversion, nonverbal learning disorder, and circumstances: Since I was a Nazarene, I hadn’t gone to movies or dances with friends, which were not allowed until the past couple of years.

Few of my friends lived near me, and for most of my life, my school-friends didn’t drive.  Few people invited me to events, except through church or Campus Life.

So at college, even when I saw people mostly at meals or in class, I considered them friends.  So Peter’s comment made me feel like a friendless loser on one hand, and on the other, helpless to change anything.

***

During the rainy seasons, which were fall and spring, worms collected on the big, concrete sidewalk outside the lower level of the Campus Center.  They died and turned black, then covered the slab for months before finally disappearing.

This was gross, and I took great pains to avoid them, along with the many worms along the other sidewalks.  Peter and I still occasionally stepped on them, and said, “Squish squish!”

***

On the evening of Sunday the 27th, we attended the Nazarene house church in S–.  As I later wrote in my day planner/diary, there were refreshments afterwards, which kept us around long enough to have a long, deep discussion with Jim, Sharon and another member.

We talked about occultic things and the Nazarene church, especially of interest to Peter and me, considering his claimed ESP and the psychic element of his ninja training.

At one point, Jim said, “–give the Devil two black eyes.”

Peter suddenly froze.  I also felt cold, despite the warm room.  Peter put his arm around me and pulled me close.

Later, Peter told me he picked up weird things with his ESP.  Unfortunately, I did not describe these things in the day planner, and no longer remember them.  He saw red, and had to put up a mental block because he was too tired to deal with it.

These events freaked me out so much that I even started to imagine there was some sort of evil entity in the suite bathroom.

Looking back, it was quite silly.  I don’t know if Peter truly saw “weird things” or red, or not.

I can say that I probably just got a chill, which normally happens when I hear about something scary, and Peter got me thinking there was more to it than that.

But it’s so easy to scare yourself with imagined ghosts that people often imagine they’re there when they’re not.

Just witness the group hysteria that often occurs in such shows as Most Haunted, when the group has no real hard evidence that anything paranormal has happened, but still everyone begins screaming and running as if a ghost had truly manifested itself.

(Ghost Hunters is better if you prefer actual camera footage and audio of a paranormal event, no fake mediums, and investigators who love finding ghosts and don’t go running like jackrabbits at every little bump in the night.)

One evening, in one of our after-church discussions, Jim talked about how most people probably didn’t read the chapters in the Bible (such as Numbers and Leviticus) about the dimensions of the temple, the laws, genealogies, census numbers, etc.

I had always trudged through those chapters whenever I read through the Old Testament, thinking how terribly dull they were.  When Jim said this, I thought, You mean I don’t have to read those?!  I had thought that when you read the Bible, you were supposed to read every verse.  This was quite a relief!

 

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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Peter, My Ninja Boyfriend, Hypnotizes Me and Starts a Mental Link–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–October 1991, part 1

According to MTV, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” debuted on 120 Minutes and on the airwaves in early October.  It debuted at number 144 on the charts, and went gold only 17 days later.

This song introduced grunge alternative rock to mainstream music.  It was unique, it was new, and it was so not what was popular at the time.  Bandmembers wore T-shirts and jeans instead of classy clothes or costumes for concerts or videos; their hair was long and stringy instead of long and permed and/or perfectly coiffed.

It blew people away, me included.  I thought it rocked in a way I had never heard anywhere before.  This unknown band named Nirvana eventually became one of my favorite bands in college.

Not everybody liked it, though: One of Candice’s friends sat ripping on it one day in February or March when it came on MTV.  She soon discovered that I liked it, and said, “When they get to the chorus here, let’s both headbang to it.”  When they got to the chorus, she headbanged.

With her head down like that, she couldn’t see me.  I didn’t join in because I didn’t want to look silly.  I may have suspected that she was making fun of me and/or the song.  Besides, headbanging gives you a headache.  Unless Candice told her, I don’t think she ever knew I didn’t join along.

Songs from this time which stand out for me: “Real Real Real” by Jesus Jones, “Kiss Them for Me” by Siouxsie and the Banshees, the entire Powerhouse CD by Whiteheart (which I had only just acquired).

On October 1, Peter and I decided that the summer hit “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams would be “our” song.  That evening, Peter finally kissed me in a secluded spot in the woods after dark.  But, while my journal goes into detail, I won’t describe the scene, because it’s one of my private memories.  Yes, it was just kissing, no farther.  I will tell you that we saw foxfire.

Peter would put two fingers together and press them to his temple, telling me he was using his ninja ESP to see someone who’s far away.

Once, after some guy teased him while driving past, he put his fingers to his temple, closed his eyes, and said in distaste that the guy was, of course, drinking.  He said if anybody ever tried to rape me, he’d know, and be there immediately (he was also interested in learning telekinesis).

How much of this he really believed and how much was just playing on my gullibility, I couldn’t tell you–I do know that he told others about traveling through time in his dreams:

This started in probably December or January.  He videotaped himself while sleeping, and saw that his body went rigid whenever these dreams started.  The way he looked was far different than for other dreams or other times of the night.

He met a ninja master in ancient or medieval Japan, he understood the language even though it was old Japanese, and the master taught him things.

You could say he was just trying to pull my leg, trying to make his girlfriend think she was dating an amazing person whom she would never want to break up with, except for one thing: He told another person about this, too, and she wrote about it in Fiction class the following year.  She never dated him.

Peter said his relatives were a bit strange, having a Halloween party every year as a family reunion instead of the typical cookout-type-thing.  This year, it was on Saturday, October 5 at about 5:30 or 6:00.  I was a bit of a celebrity at it, being Peter’s first girlfriend.  This was his dad’s side of the family.

His mom lent me a gorgeous, green, princess dress from her wardrobe.  To our surprise, it fit me perfectly.  I used two white hair-fabrics, which were a style of puckered fabric-wrapped ponytail holder popular in those days; I put my hair in two pigtails and then wrapped the hair-fabrics around them, to imitate as close as possible Helena Bonham Carter’s version of Ophelia.

I discovered that the dress fit me perfectly because I forgot to zip it when I tried it on.  Fortunately, the train of the dress hid the zipper.  I borrowed a crown from Peter’s mother.  Because my ancestors included Scottish kings and queens, I said that I was the princess and Peter (the ninja) was my knight.

When Heidi opened the suite door to Peter in his ninja garb, she stopped, got a strange expression on her face, and looked him over from head to toe.  And what toes: ninja boots have separated toes.

We had a fun time there, though I didn’t know anybody and his family did seem to be a peculiar bunch.  I don’t remember why now, though, or I’d give you some stories.

***

Sometime in October, I first heard the music of the Bradley Clock.  It played at certain times of the day–maybe it was every hour–when the clock struck.  The music was whatever it had been programmed to play, such as hymns, the school song or, come Christmastime and until January, February, or perhaps even March, Christmas songs.

There was one hymn I was always trying to identify, but I couldn’t quite.  In fact, I believe it was after Christmas Break when I brought an old hymnbook to school with me so I could look up that hymn and remember its lyrics.

The striking of the clock mimicked London’s Big Ben.  That clock would seem like a constant friend for the rest of my college years.

My first brat fry was right outside the Campus Center on October 6, a Homecoming event hosted by the Sigmas.  I cared little for brats, though.  Even in 2006, after living in Wisconsin for 15 years, I’ve had only two brats my entire life.  The second one, I had because nothing else was available.

That evening there was a Swiss dinner in the little basement of Ley Chapel.  This basement had long tables, chairs, a little kitchen, and small bathrooms, and was a popular meeting place.  Heidi and Ruth were probably the ones who made the food, since it was a Swiss dinner.  Heidi was very proud of it.

I said a word or two in a S– accent, without thinking about it.  Peter grinned and teased me, saying about my accent, “It’s changing!”

One of the dishes had been cooked with alcohol, and I ate it, so Peter teased that I had to change my claim that I had never had one drop of alcohol before.  But I told him that alcohol was cooked out, leaving flavors but no alcohol.  He didn’t believe me, but it was true.

We had something with rhubarb, probably rhubarb pie with a cream topping.  Heidi told the few of us who were there (probably people from the language suites) that you weren’t supposed to drink pop after eating it.  Acids from the vegetable and from the pop would interact to destroy your tooth enamel.

Peter worked as Photo Editor for the school newspaper, The Mirror.  I became his assistant in the darkroom.  No, nothing indecent went on.  It wasn’t like that joke about going into the darkroom to see what develops.

I took Photography class in high school, and knew something about developing pictures.  I even got a credit in the paper for being Darkroom Assistant, and got mailings about Mirror meetings even though I wasn’t signed up to get class credits for working there.  The staff met in a suite a few doors down from my suite.

One of his first assignments was to take pictures of the Mr. Muskie Football Fashion Show on October 9.  The comedian, Marvin Bell, may have been the guy who said that in your first few months you open doors for your girlfriend, and then after that you’re like, “Open it yourself.”  We laughed, but Peter and I insisted to each other that it would never get that way for us.

For the fashion show, which was run by the cheerleading squad, the football players dressed in drag–formal dresses, bathing suits–and paraded around the stage.  Some looked disturbingly good.  From the article in the paper (which spoke flirtingly of sexy dresses, fine figures, muscular bodies and little smiles), one of the “contestants” must have been losing his bosoms.

At the end, all the contestants came out in cheerleader costumes and began doing Muskie cheers as the audience joined in.  Then they formed a pyramid.  The article read (keeping all the spelling errors in place), “The pyrmid was strong and sturdy which help prove that they were some real men.”

Peter laughed as he took pictures.  Awards were given for Best Leg(s) (awarded to a contestant with a cast), Best Formalwear, Best Swimsuit, and the biggest honor, Mr. Muskie.  Mr. Muskie also won Best Smile.

As Mr. Muskie left the stage after the “pyrmid,” “we saw that [he] just couldn’t keep that dress down because it was covering his back and not his rear end.  What a sight!”  Bell remarked as the contestants left the stage, “I hope I never have to walk in a room when you girls are present.”

****

Yes, we did go to the Semi-Formal Homecoming Dance on the 12th.  At long last, I had a date for dances, and my church would not disapprove.

I don’t remember when this happened; it could have been early on, such as in September or October, or it may have been in January.  And I think it happened every once in a while.

But I pondered asking Peter to make our relationship more open, so we could also see other people.  I was still attracted to Shawn, which made me chafe a little at the bit of being in an “exclusive relationship,” and may have had a little crush on Darryl.

I had always been boy crazy, often had huge crushes on more than one guy at a time, and have never stopped being boy crazy no matter how much I liked/loved the guy I was with.

I probably never will stop, even when I’m old and gray, judging by how the Greeks at my church still flirt shamelessly well into their 80s.

I thought Shawn was attracted to me as well.  But since I believe in loyalty and faithfulness, I wouldn’t date Shawn without Peter’s permission.

Maybe I should have said something, but was afraid of how Peter would take it.  I wrote this in a letter in 1997:

“I’d liked [Shawn] from the time I met him, and while I was with Peter, there were times I considered asking Peter if we were allowed to date other people.  I thought if we were, I’d ask out Shawn and be dating two guys and then be able to decide which one I liked better.”

***

For years, I would see one of my pets twitching in her sleep, and try to influence her dream by petting, meowing, barking, or whatever.  She would react by barking, twitching, or whatever.  So Peter started putting himself into REM sleep to see what dreams I could give him.

He would talk or move in his sleep.  At least one of those dreams I gave him ended up being elaborate and hilarious.  I kept scratching something, maybe a plastic notebook, and he kicked and made karate chops in his sleep.

After he woke up, I made that sound again to find out what it was in his dream.  He cringed and said that sound belonged to a strange person or being which was attacking me.  He kept ninja-fighting to protect me from it.

On a Thursday night around October 10, at 11:10pm, I wrote in my Freshman Honors notes, “Interesting what you can do to influence a person’s dream!”

On October 10, Peter hypnotized me.  According to him, his ninja training included this ability.  I told him I’d been hypnotized once before, by my psychologist, as a pre-teen.

(I wanted to remember every single moment in my life so I could write it down and be a modern Laura Ingalls Wilder.  To my disappointment, hypnotism doesn’t work like that.  Though it might have helped me remember better.)

After Peter hypnotized me the first time, I knew I was truly hypnotized because I had a point of reference.  I knew that I couldn’t expect to be unconscious while hypnotized.  I knew that it would seem, the whole time, like I wasn’t really hypnotized at all.  But I also knew that when the hypnotist took me out of the trance, I felt suddenly more alert and awake, and also refreshed.  I have been told that hypnotism makes you feel like you got a full night’s sleep.

So yes, kiddies, Peter truly did know how to hypnotize.  This was my own brain this happened in, so I can tell you for a fact that it was true and not just a trick.  Peter also noted that I was probably more easily hypnotized because it had been done to me before.

Since he had no crystal or anything else to hypnotize me with, he used a peculiar “Ninja look.”  Before I closed my eyes, I stared at him and couldn’t look away, even when I tried.  I didn’t know that he couldn’t look away either, an unplanned occurrence and very odd.  If I hadn’t closed my eyes, we thought, we might’ve stared at each other forever!

Then he felt this pressure, maybe a headache, in his head, and took a moment to recover from it.  He had me sit on the bed, and gave me a long kiss.  I thought, Oh, don’t be silly.  This is great, but I want to do some more, really cool things while I’m under.

He told me to forget that kiss until he reminded me of it, thinking if he could make me forget a kiss like that, he must be really good at hypnotizing.  After a few other things, which I now forget (though I have irrefutable evidence that he did not “take advantage” of me sexually), he woke me up and asked if I remembered the kiss.

What kiss?  Later on, the memory began to come back to me, but at the time I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about.

I will copy here some notes I jotted in my day planner.  You will see that many of the things can be easily explained by an older, wiser mind: body language, similar slang terms, deduction, coincidence, etc.

But to our young, impressionable minds, shaped by science fiction, fantasy, the mystical TV show Beauty and the Beast and Peter’s belief in his own ESP, they seemed mysterious and paranormal.

It’s also possible that Peter was deliberately trying to manipulate my impressionable mind, not yet turned cynical, though I can’t possibly prove it one way or the other:

Sat., Oct. 12–Strange things have been happening.  On the way back from the dance, [Peter] wrote in the frost on a car window, “Cool Mustang Dude.”  I knew he’d write “Dude” before he even started to!

Later on, while watching American Ninja 3, I blinked with sudden and temporary sleepiness, and, for some reason, I looked over at P. and he was asleep!  At 2:14, I think it was (yes, AM–the movie was from 1 to 3AM), he either looked at his watch or the clock.

I looked at mine, said nothing, but, even though he didn’t see my expression, he said, “That’s what I thought” or “That’s how I felt.”

Then he said, “How did I know what you were thinking?”

Earlier, the second time we went on the [dance] floor but I stopped because the lyrics were bad [full of sex], he had a feeling I’d stop, and I did immediately after.

I’m not sure if I had stopped before during a sexy dance song or if this was my first time, so it’s hard to say if he could have figured that out logically without a Link.

Also, on Sat. or Sun., whichever it was, how’d he know to describe Mom’s wordless reaction by saying, “Our little Nyssa, watching a movie like that [American Ninja 3]?”?!

Mon., Oct. 14–Odd: This morning we both dreamed about the very desserts [we were to have] for lunch–me about eating a cream puff, P. about strawberry shortcake!

These were our favorites, and both were served for lunch that day.

Tues., Oct. 15–Found P.’s “preoccupied” feeling, which a co-worker also had, broke at 10:55PM when one of the men in the nursing home [where he worked] died!

Wed., Oct. 16–Curiouser and curiouser.  Remember Tuesday night close to 1 when I’d just gone to bed [in my suite room], and, tired, had already begun to go into a dream?

A few seconds later, just as Peter [who was at home] banged his heel on a desk or something, in my dream a shadowy female suddenly hit my right heel, and I woke up jerking my foot away from her fist!

Also, as he lay on my bed doing his Spanish homework in his workbook, I saw a list of words similar to English and probably French.  I went down the list, translating them.

Peter said (so I thought), “Naturally I did know that.”

“Did or didn’t?” I said.

After a confused exchange, he said, “What did you think I said?”

I told him, and he said, he was muttering in Spanish and thinking what it meant in English!  He said sometimes he’s talking with his mom, he thinks something and she hears him and [answers him].

His mother got upset once when, as she substitute-taught at a middle school, a guy tried to prove to everyone that ESP does not exist.

Thurs., Oct. 17–P. didn’t know if he’d be able to come over this evening.  Somehow, I knew he’d either call or, most probably, come [around] or at 7:00.

I kept watching the clock, and figuring what I should do until 7:00.  No, he hadn’t given me a time when he might arrive.

And he came at a few minutes till [7:00]!  ([He was] only allowed to because he chauffered his mom for the 7:30 Japanese film [shown in the Muskie]).

I greeted him at my door with, “I knew you’d come at 7!”

Peter tried to figure out what was going on.  He eventually remembered reading in a book that you could set up a mental link by hypnotizing someone you really care about.

This Link amazed us.  As Peter told me on the way to the Campus Center one day, his mom said that if you know each others’ thoughts, it means you’re meant for each other.

I think a bit of the mental link already existed, but got much stronger after the first time he hypnotized me.

I wrote in my day planner on October 19 that I had Peter “hypnotize me again, but he was tired, so he had to use my watch.”  

First, he put himself into a trance and secretly programmed himself to say certain things to me.

Then, while still in the trance, he hypnotized me, had me stare into his eyes, and said to “imagine a telephone wire…that went between our foreheads.  

When he reached zero after counting backwards from 5, I was to close my eyes again.  We both felt pressure on our foreheads at about the time he was counting.  It worked.  Our minds have a much stronger link now.”

I think he only hypnotized me one more time after that, because it gave him an awful headache.  That time, he used a crystal decoration from his window shade string.

We often spoke of the Link not as possibility but as fact, a new thing which cemented us together even more.  We both loved to use and speak of it.

We amused ourselves by using this Link to get each other to do things: I would think to him to put his arm around me and he would do it, he would think to me to kiss him and I would do it.

We didn’t hear the thoughts, or at least I didn’t hear his, but they gave us the sudden desire to do whatever thing it was.  Then I would tell him or he would tell me, “You did just what I used the Link to tell you to do.”

I felt like we were living the 80s show Beauty and the Beast, in which Catherine and Vincent shared a link (though theirs was stronger), transmitting words and feelings to each other even over great distances.

Though I sometimes feared it, wondering if it was demonic, I also thought it was probably all right.

Because of my fear, I didn’t always want to use it.  A couple of months later, it began to fade, and neither of us knew what was wrong with it.

I later learned from a visiting hypnotist that if someone is afraid of a link, it can fade.  No, the idea of a mental link was not Peter’s invention.

One night as we walked from the suite parking lot around the building to my door, I told Peter it was so wonderful and that “I always wanted a relationship like in Beauty and the Beast.  Now I’ve got one!”  Few people could ever have that, and I had always thought it was just fiction.

He hugged me for that, and said how glad he was to have brought such a wonderful thing into my life.  He also loved it, himself.  He said with an impish grin, “Though if anyone calls you a beast….”

Once, in the car, he said, after I told him my future plans and asked his opinion, he said, “Depends on what part I have in them.”  When I asked what part he wanted, he patted my leg and said, “If things go as I hope, a very big part.”

***

I had examined a list of S– churches and told Mom that there were no Nazarene churches around there.  She and Dad came up to Roanoke to visit me on October 12. Their S– hotel room had Marcus Cable, not Warner Cable like Roanoke had.

Marcus Cable had a S– public access station which showed ads.  My parents turned it on and found an advertisement for a Nazarene church in S–!  They wrote down the information and brought it to me.

We were to find out later that the people who ran that church had been getting so few results that they were going to pull the ad the next day!  Since my parents only happened to find the ad, and they only happened to find it just before it was pulled, we believed these weren’t coincidences, but God directing me to this church.

Finally, on October 20, Peter and I went to church together.  The first surprise was that there was only an evening service.  I don’t remember if we dressed up; I may have told Peter that Nazarene evening services were often more casual, with men wearing jeans and women wearing pants.

We had some trouble figuring out where it was, because when we got to the right address, all we could see were houses, no churches.  Peter was the first to figure out that the church was actually in one of the houses (a modest Victorian).  I’d thought such churches hadn’t existed in years!  (The last one I knew about was back in the 50s, when my own church got started.)

The pastor wasn’t a real pastor, just the person sent to plant a church.  He and his wife had other jobs besides this church.

Jim and Sharon were an easygoing, fun couple in their forties, and with three kids: eight-year-old Tiffy, or Tiffany, almost nine, a dark-haired, sweet girl; Jonathan, almost twelve, a light-haired scamp and Casanova who didn’t believe his dad when he told him he’d been the same way; and Angela, a fourteen-year-old, dark-haired girl who loved Troll dolls.

Sharon told her once that maybe I had been put into her life as a mentor.  Of course, even if I was, I didn’t have a car, so I only saw her when there was a service.

They had a little peek-a-poo dog named Duchess.

They were from Ohio, and had reluctantly moved to S–, pausing to ask God, “Do you really want us to go there?”  It was colder than Ohio, and no one had come around to welcome them into the community, so it seemed cold in more ways than one.  But they were adapting, and by then may have finally gotten to know some people in the neighborhood.

The house was small to medium-sized, with two stories.  In the living room, where the little group met, was a piano and plenty of comfortable places to sit.  Peter and I liked to sit with his arm around me on the couch.

The bathroom was at the head of the stairs, and I found out too late that the drain didn’t work properly and that was why the stopper was in the sink.  But they laughed, and understood that they hadn’t warned me in time.  I’d wondered why the sink draining made such a funny noise, like it was pouring into something other than pipes.

There were maybe two or three other people there, one a married and thirtyish mother, who was so happy to come here to this new community and find a Nazarene church, that she cried as she told her story.

Sharon played the piano as we sang songs from Nazarene hymnbooks.  Peter loved the songs, and I loved singing familiar songs again rather than the ones sung in the campus chapel’s Wednesday services.

The hymnals were the same brown “Worship in Song” ones we used in my church back home, with three gold-leaf crosses on the front cover.  Of course, while Peter had expected me to sing like an angel, in reality I am a very timid singer who whispers more than sings.

It was very comforting to let the piano drown me out.  I never have liked singing a cappella in church, because it makes me more self-conscious about my voice, which gets even tinier.

It felt so good to be back in church.  One and a half months without a church had been far too long.  And this little, friendly group was a lot of fun to worship, learn and chat with.  The services were very informal; we had discussion, not just a sermon.

Peter loved the services so much that he told his parents how great they were, and they wanted to join.  (He and his parents had had trouble finding a church, since they didn’t like the Catholic or Lutheran Church, and had trouble with the Episcopalian Church as well.)

We didn’t have a morning service because Jim and Sharon took the family to a Nazarene church in Milwaukee.  The following year, however, they would switch to the morning, and try to start a little Sunday School with the few children there.

It also felt wonderful to be in a house in a city neighborhood again, to see neighborhood blocks and walk on the sidewalks.  Once, we all went outside, maybe for a cookout one evening or afternoon, and I loved to look up from the backyard at the surrounding houses.  I hadn’t even had a backyard view in so long, it seemed.  Yes, I was homesick for the city, though I loved the country.

***

I wrote in a letter to my Irish pen pal on October 22,

“My parents came up weekend before last [on October 12], met Peter, took a bunch of pictures, and replenished my supplies.

“Just as I predicted, Peter and my dad got along great.  They both like computers, [Radio Shack,] photography and fixing electrical things, so they had a lot to talk about.

“But–poor Peter–Dad tried to talk to him about football, and Peter, who hates football, had to act like he knew something about it.  We’d decided not to tell [Dad] that [he hates football], among other things, so Peter could make the best impression he could on him.

“Now my parents have some pictures of him, and my mom’s been showing them around at home as if Peter were the winning entry in a pie contest.”

That’s probably because I had so much trouble getting dates in high school.

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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Campus, People, First College Boyfriend–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–September 1991, part 4

On campus, a sea of grass–or, often, snow–surrounded Old Main on the way to Krueger.  An old, grass-overgrown stone path cut across this sea to Old Main.  It was popular for Krueger- and suite-dwellers going to classes in Old Main, being much quicker than the sidewalk, which took the long way around.

The view on the way to the Campus Center and to Chase was absolutely gorgeous and serene, especially when everything was green.  My favorite view was the trees beyond the Campus Center, in a swampy area with rushes.  The sky was huge, since it didn’t have a neighborhood of houses blocking out most of it.

I was amazed at the beauty I could see every day just walking to meals, and that even in winter, when South Bend skies were always white or gray, the skies here were often blue.

Ever since at least as far back as my teens, I loved to look at the clouds.  I noted that the prettiest sky was so blue that white clouds showed in sharp relief against it.  But I also loved that the sky nearer the horizon was lighter by shades, and that one of these shades looked just like the Crayola sky-blue crayon.

My room had windows along the wall by which Candice slept, which was opposite the door.  They faced the Wehr Center, suites parking lot, and football field.

In the woods in the distance, beyond the Wehr Center, was a lone evergreen which stuck out like a beautiful, green, sore thumb while the leaves on the trees all around it turned colors and died.

I could also see the tennis court, which was right there beside the suites, and Candice practicing there with the tennis team.  Peter usually parked below my window.

Even though we were out in the country and far away from the nearest store, the campus bookstore did not carry milk or various other essentials.  It had some things, such as a few kinds of pads or razors or shampoo or soap, but not enough to get you through without stocking up during each vacation at home.  You either had to ride the campus van to town or hitch a ride with a friend.

(The college finally installed a mini-mart in the Campus Center–after I graduated.  I believe it took over at least part of the Muskie Inn, unfortunately.)

I heard once that, though the speed bumps in the drives were high, they were nowhere near as high as they used to be.  The story went that they had been so high they ruined the bottom of your car, until one night the football players came along and fixed the situation.  I forget if they shaved them off or removed them, but the school apparently got the message.

The guys on campus had all sorts of odd names: There was Paco and Taco, Derf, Wheels, and this guy in my orientation group who said, “Call me Doc.”

Roanoke did not just provide an intellectual education.  With all the international students, we could learn something about cultures as well.  For example, some of the international students, including Stefan and probably Heidi, put mayonnaise on their fries instead of ketchup.  Also, many Asians complained that the cafeteria desserts were too sweet.

Not that the food was bad.  We had a real chef in charge of the cafeteria, and the food, though not home-cooking, was far better than public school food.  Even the pizza and hamburgers were delicious, not pieces of bread with unpalatable smears of dead-white stuff and tasteless sausages on the top, or vile soyburger laxatives on bread (instead of a bun).

Until now, the idea of “school-made pizza,” always written on meal boards in large letters or special punctuation as if it were a student favorite, had filled me with horror.  Now, it was almost as good as Pizza Hut pizza.  We even got garlic bread along with it.

We also had steak and crab leg nights, and perfect baked potatoes.  The college would even cater banquets held in the cafeteria, and the food would be good–though we noted that the food got better on event days when large numbers of guests came to campus.

Ecumenical services were held in tiny Ley Chapel on Wednesdays at 11am.  The sanctuary was beautiful, in its wooden, A-shaped room with a glass wall that looked out over pine trees and the lake.  The wall was behind the podium and a stand with an open Bible on it, so you could look out during the service and see the beauty and serenity of God’s creation.  It did help get you in the mood to worship.

There were three frats: Zeta Chi (Zetas), Mu Lamda Sigma (Sigmas), and Beta Sigma Omega (Betas).  There were two sororities: Phi Delta Omega (Phi-Delts) and Pi Kappa Gamma (Pi-Kapps).

The Zetas were sometimes known as the “geek” frat, Sigmas as the “jock” frat, and Betas as the minority frat (since the Beta frat was specifically for minorities).

The sororities didn’t really have such titles, though junior year the Phi-Delts were known as the “Bible beaters” even though that was not at all true.  They partied, too.  But Pi-Kapps partied hard and made their pledges do worse things than Phi-Delt pledges had to do.  Phi-Delts didn’t like Pi-Kapps.

I had my Radio Shack digital alarm clock which allowed me to use military time.  So, since I never did want to be exactly like everybody else, and since I had done this during high school, I kept it on military time.  Other people would see the turquoise-blue readout saying “20:05” or whatever and do a double-take.  But I was used to it, and could tell at a glance what time it was.

On weekday mornings, I set my clock for 8:00, then pushed the snooze button.  Since the snooze button was for nine minutes, the alarm would go off again at 8:09.  I figured that was as late as I could sleep without being late, so that’s when I got up.  So when Peter asked me what time I got up in the morning, I told him 8:09.

At first, he thought it funny that I said “8:09” instead of “8:10” or “8:00.”  Later on, he started getting annoyed with me for giving the exact time whenever he asked me what time it was.  I could not understand why: He asked the time, and I answered.  I didn’t say “quarter till 4,” I said “3:46.”  I never saw any reason to do it differently.

I couldn’t tell you if this was me being overly precise, Peter being overly critical, or my nonverbal learning disability making me look at things literally.  But it made me happy, and no one else ever complained about it, so I saw no reason to change it.

I also alphabetized my tapes and, later, my CDs and videotapes.  Once, when Peter accidentally messed up the order of my tapes, he thought my dismay was funny.  But alphabetizing was time-consuming, and gave me some order, something I could control in a confusing and often hostile world.

***

Now for some descriptions of people:

Roanoke was a good experience in that it taught me to be more comfortable around the disabled, and that they were just the same as everybody else.  There was Paul with his hearing aid and Maizie, my sophomore year roommate with her hearing problems, Pearl with her scooter and crutches, and the blind girl, Jean.

Jean didn’t even use a guide dog, just a cane, which she always swung in front of her as she walked.  (Once, Peter had to leap into the air to avoid getting whacked by her cane.)  She got around without anyone’s help.  She just needed help with her tray, and the cafeteria ladies provided it, sitting her down with various people whom they thought were nice, such as my group of friends.

I was shy around her, rarely speaking unless spoken to, but I was the exact same way around everybody else I barely knew, too, so I hope she didn’t think I was being prejudiced.  Sure I feel bad about it, since I should have said something, but I froze up the same way I still freeze up around strangers.

The cafeteria ladies used to help my friend Pearl with her tray as well, but by the next semester, Pearl’s friends started doing this instead.  Pearl didn’t complain about her rheumatoid arthritis; she had strength to go about life as normally as possible.  She also got better grades than I did, had lots more friends, was a beautiful blonde, and seemed outgoing.

I began saying that her room was “Party Central,” because whenever I went there, there’d be people.  (She’d call herself shy and introverted, but to me, she was a social butterfly.)  Every time I went somewhere and saw her scooter sitting outside the building, I’d get excited because she was there.

The best way to describe Anna is as a black Pentecostal.  She loved to praise God and do it loud.  She was fun to talk to, especially about spiritual things.  She was greatly respected, even by non-Christians, and people seemed to let her talk about God even when they weren’t interested.

Latosha once said that whenever she had a problem, she had Anna pray about it because she seemed to have a direct line to God.

Even though Anna knew God didn’t require it, and apparently even her church didn’t require it even though it was Pentecostal, she wore only skirts, no pants, because she believed it helped keep her focused on God.  She did have short hair, which was always curled under–not a pageboy, exactly, because it was curled all around her face.

When I missed the birds from home, she said she had only one: the Milwaukee pigeon.

Paul, who I believe was a year or two ahead of me, had a hearing guide dog named Maizie, as I’ve mentioned before.  Maizie was sweet and a mooch, always wanting attention, petting, and tidbits.

Paul stopped taking her to meals as much because she would get soft from all the attention, and not be as good of a guide dog for him.  But we loved to have her around, especially with the ban on pets in the dorms.

***

For the first few months of college, news of the outside world seemed to go into a black hole.  Without a newspaper, and with dating and studies, world news seemed unimportant; I didn’t even keep up through TV news or CNN.  College life seemed much more interesting.

Though people keep telling freshmen to get involved in organizations on campus to help them feel more at home and interested in college life, I didn’t feel this way.  I was never much of a joiner, except for Christian groups, preferring instead to do my own thing and read and write.

What I really wanted was something to take the place of the groups I was in back in high school: Campus Life and a prayer group.  But to my shock, there were no such groups at this Christian college.

I’m not referring to the charity-based groups such as Habitat for Humanity (which I didn’t even know was affiliated with the Church until sometime after 2000), but to Bible studies, Campus Life outreach, prayer groups, InterVarsity, and the like–groups specifically meant to get Christian students and interested non-Christians together for fellowship and Bible study.

***

All students took some sort of Studies class: Freshman Studies for most students, Freshman Honors for the extra smart, Sophomore Studies or Sophomore Honors, a choice of Junior Studies classes in various topics (such as the Holocaust), Junior Honors, Senior Studies, or, for the Honors students, the Senior Honors Thesis.  These classes studied and discussed various aspects of life, such as Communism, sociology, philosophy, feminism, theology, or psychological theories.

All the freshman classes read the Biblical book of Job.  I was in the only Freshman Honors class that year, which met Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10:30.  The Rev (the campus minister) taught my class.

We met in the Honors room, room 24 on the second floor of Old Main.  The room was supposedly meant for the Honors classes, but other classes met there as well.  It was the nicest room in the whole building.

It had a big table in the middle of it; cushioned chairs all around it; bookcases full of various intellectual books; a strange painting of orange and yellow, modern art with no obvious meaning, and which people didn’t like much; steam-heat radiators; and nooks and crannies along the walls.

My Freshman Honors and Junior Honors classes met here, but Sophomore Honors met in the music building.  Room 24 was warm in winter, while the rest of the building was generally cold or cool.  I had a class in there each following year except senior year, and after freshman year it was often as cool as the other rooms in the building.  Many of the people in Freshman Honors continued on through the Honors series, while others left.

Freshman year, all the students were women.  Besides me, they were Pearl, Sharon, Jennifer, Cindy, Mona V., and a few others whom I don’t talk about in these memoirs.

The Rev often tried to let us out of class early, since it went until 12:05, like many other classes did, and if we went until 12:05, we got caught right in the middle of the lunch crowd.  Lines at that time were so long they’d curl back into the Muskie and then back out again.  If you had a class until 12:05 and then a class at 12:45 or even 12:30, you may not even have time to get through the line and eat lunch.

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:15 to 10:20am, I had Expository Writing (Expos), taught by Thea, in Old Main room 4, a basement room.  This was an introductory writing course that nearly everyone had to take, not just Writing majors; without it, you would have an extremely difficult time trying to write the papers that most classes required.

As an aspiring writer, I was glad to be in college, because even my AP English classes never taught me many of the things I now learned.

For example, dashes were supposed to be two hyphens, not one, when typed; I learned when it was okay to use a semi-colon in a series; double-spacing was between lines, not words, and you were only supposed to put one space between a word; and I had never heard of comma splices before.  In fact, if you had just one comma splice on a paper you wrote for Thea, she would give the whole thing an F!

(Counselor Dude later joked in Poetry class that he kept having to make students unlearn many of the punctuation rules they learned in Thea’s class.  By the way, I believe he and Thea were good friends.)

Expos was usually taken freshman year.  To get out of the class at the end of the semester, you had to take a pass/fail Exit Exam.  Even if you got A’s on all your papers in this class, if you failed the Exit Exam, you had to take the class again.  This Exit Exam put fear in the hearts of all freshmen.

I believe Peter’s Expos teacher didn’t require his students to write papers all the time.  However, Thea did.  Peter thought Thea was too tough, especially with the comma-splice rule.

But her paper requirement was probably a good thing, because it gave us enough practice to pass the dreaded Exit Exam.  No matter how well you did in Expos, if you got a “fail” on this exam, which was an in-class paper graded pass or fail, you would flunk the whole class and have to take it all over again.  No exceptions.

In the next class session after we finished the exam at the end of the semester, Thea came in and announced to us, “I just want you to know that you all passed the Exit Exam.”  The wave of relief through that room was audible.

Our final exam, which covered grammar and punctuation, came after the Exit Exam.  Though I studied hard for it, it seemed like a breeze after passing the Exit Exam.

When I first started at college, a three-page paper seemed a daunting task.  We rarely did papers in my high school classes, just in English class occasionally, and now I was doing one for Thea every few weeks, and the occasional paper for The Rev in Freshman Honors and Old Testament.

But after a year or two of doing papers for all sorts of classes, two-to-three-page papers would seem like nothing.  I would write them all at once on my word processor so as not to interrupt the flow of my thoughts once they began, and it took maybe half an hour per page.

Thea had a revolutionary idea: You can–and should–write in books!  After all the years that my mother had told me not to write in my books, and all the years when I was afraid to even make a small mark in a textbook for fear the teacher would get mad when we turned in our books at the end of the year, now Thea was telling us to “unlearn what you have learned” (Yoda quote; no, she didn’t actually say this) and go ahead and write in books.

She said it was like carrying on a running dialogue with the writer.  She even wrote in library books, but had to be careful to write in pencil, of course, and erase it all before returning it.  Her daughter got annoyed with her for this.  And my mother used to get upset with me for writing in my own books!

What a concept, that it was okay after all.  I would do this, too, now, without guilt.  If Thea had been my mother, it’s quite possible that, when I scribbled in my books, she would have called this participating in the full experience of the book, and using my imagination to put myself or my own characters into the story.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12:45 to 1:50pm, I had Old Testament class with the Rev in room 25 of Old Main.  I came into that class looking for answers to my many questions about the Old Testament, and left with even more questions.

The problem was, the Bible we used, the Oxford Annotated Bible, had notes which seemed to have a liberal bent, and the textbook, Understanding the Old Testament, was also very liberal.

For example, the textbook said that Moses probably was not the writer of the Pentateuch, but various writers down through the ages.  I was from a conservative tradition which believed that Moses was the writer of everything in that section of the Bible.

I didn’t like what the textbook said about various parts of the Old Testament, and wished we had a more conservative textbook which would make more sense, or at least one with a more neutral viewpoint.

(My own thoughts became more moderate as the years passed, not wanting to declare everything in the Bible fiction, but willing to admit the occasional factual or scientific error.)

I wanted to know what drove people to do things and what the theology and customs behind a scene were and what we can learn from it, not that some scholars think the scene never even happened.

I also didn’t understand why this book would think Genesis had two Creation accounts, when it only had one.  In the beginning of the book was an outline of what happened, and then it went into more detail on the creation of man.  It wasn’t two different stories at all.  Ever since I began reading Genesis as a child, I had seen it this way.

But through the lectures and even through the book and Oxford Bible, I did learn some things, such as that covenants with a ruler were very serious things which you were not supposed to break, explaining the seriousness Yahweh placed on His covenant with Israel, and that “Yahweh” was the proper name, not “Jehovah.”

When some of my friends took the class with Rev later on, we got some fun little catchphrases: tov (good), tohu wa boho (chaos).  (Tohuvabohu is also the name of an industrial song by KMFDM.)

I just found these intriguing statements in my lecture notes:

“The Exodus wasn’t the most important event in the world to the rest of it, but to the Israelites it was.–Compare the Revolutionary War.”

“Slaves being set free would never appear in the records of any king in the ancient world.  No failures would be recorded.  No pharaohs would let slaves go–that’s why it was so difficult for the Israelites to go.”

“You could count on Egypt being fertile during famine; however, you could come in, but you couldn’t go out–this is where they got their slaves.”

“The lakes and the gulfs of the Red Sea were then also called the Red Sea.”

“Israel’s not overwhelmed by anything that happens and doesn’t expect things to get better; it expects them to get worse; even the Israelites had trouble believing in the miracles–they had to be shown something (a miracle) every day.”

The first four days of class were spent watching The Ten Commandments, the Cecil B. De Mille production with Charlton Heston.  Of course it wasn’t much at all like the biblical account, but it was fun to watch, especially the part with the Egyptian princess who wanted to marry Moses.  I loved the fabric she looked at for the wedding night.  We did a lot of Bible reading, of course.

The following year, some of my new friends had the same class.  One, Tara, could never remember the name of the class, so she kept referring to it as “Thing.”

My Intermediate German class was the equivalent of going through high school German 3 all over again, since first-year German at Roanoke covered what we had learned in German 1 and 2 in high school, so I was often bored.  The teacher, a Swiss woman named Ruth, knew this.

Another student knew a lot of what we were covering, a high-school senior who was getting college credit for this course.  There were only two other people in the class, who had taken their first year of German at Roanoke the year before.  So for them, Intermediate German covered new stuff.

Ruth was far more critical of me than most teachers–so I dropped my plans for a German minor after freshman year.  Once, while Ruth was talking to me and I listened, she shocked me by bursting out with (not an exact quote but as close as I can get), “Why do you never show any signs that you’re listening, like other people do?  There’s no ‘OK’ or a nod of the head or anything.”

I had no idea other people did this, and I thought she was crazy or too easily offended.  I tried to smile it off, but I was offended, since no other person had ever, ever said this to me before.

I always knew I was “different” because all my life, other kids had called me weird.  But I never knew why they called me weird.  Everything I did, felt normal to me, even though the other kids did not do them.

I had no idea why Ruth would get upset with me for not showing signs of listening–or that other people did show signs of listening.  I had no idea that this was a possible sign of a learning disorder.

Class was held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2:00 to 3:05 in a room in Jubilee room 306, which was set up with a long table, chairs, and a blackboard.  I had done some of my SEED testing in this room.

One student, a non-traditional student (non-trad) in her 30s, was pregnant.  Ruth told us how to say “pregnant” in German: “ein Kind erwarten” or “guter Hoffnung sein.”  It meant “expecting,” rather than saying “pregnant” directly, because of German societal taboos.

In high school, we started with a Dutch substitute teacher (while Frau was sick).  Then Frau returned and taught us the German she’d learned in Nazi schools in Poland during the Occupation.  When she retired, the American Herr became our teacher.  I believe all three pronounced the umlauts the same way.  But Ruth pronounced them differently.

Once, we were all having a class discussion in German about popular music, and one student said she, at about 19 or 20, was “finding I don’t like all that noise on the radio anymore.”

I couldn’t understand that, since she was still very young, and a lot of the “noise” on the radio was still good.  I didn’t feel that way myself when I hit 19 and 20; though I had to sort through fluff, there was still good stuff on the popular and rock stations.

Not only did my musical tastes never mellow out, they got harder and harder.  I discovered techno, then alternative, then the new mix of alternative and metal called nu-metal, then on and on–until nowadays, when my tastes range from Enya to Sisters of Mercy to Disturbed to White Zombie to gothic metal and industrial.

***

I hadn’t seen Peter since the dance, and since he was a commuter and I didn’t have his phone number, I couldn’t just find him.  He knew where I lived, so I wondered why he never stopped by (he did once, but I didn’t know it).

On Tuesday, September 17, he finally stopped over and asked me to a movie.  Being asked out was an unfamiliar sensation for me.  Though I had many crushes in my teens, and at least two guys actually liked me back, none of my crushes ever became a boyfriend. (Keep in mind, this was the 80s, when girls weren’t supposed to ask out guys, so I had to sit and wait to be noticed.)

Peter and I chose Problem Child 2 because he wanted to go to this little theater in Chilton, and the other movie playing was some action film.  He suggested that first, but I said I didn’t like action films–which certainly aren’t good for a date movie, I thought–so he got nervous, afraid I would turn him down, and suggested Problem Child 2 instead.  The movie started at 7, and because it was in a small town some distance away, he picked me up at 6.

When we got to the little theater and sat down, at first some Woody Woodpecker cartoon began playing and we asked, “What’s this?  Where’s the movie?”  But to our great relief, this was just a pre-show.  I think it was a holdover from old practices, back before TV showed all the cartoons.

After seeing this movie, in which the problem child sold his own urine as lemonade, a running gag for us became, “Want some lemonade?”  Sometimes we would hold up a glass cup of Mountain Dew while saying this, and just burst out laughing.  Yes, my taste in movies was still–unrefined.

We talked a lot on the way to and from the movie, and a little bit in between.  He said at one point, “I wasn’t confirmed–” which worried me, because I knew confirmation is a public declaration of faith for believers baptized at birth, but then he went on to say– “until eighth grade.”

This was such a relief.  He was a Christian after all!  Until now I didn’t know what future we actually had, because I didn’t know if this cusser was a Christian.  I did not know that, whenever he cussed, he noticed I got very quiet.  He felt like an idiot.

Other than this, we both were talkative, though it was often hard for me to get a word in edgewise.  Though I said nothing to him about his cussing, he stopped doing it.  He told me maybe a few days or weeks later that, a few days after our first date, his mom woke him up in the morning and talked to him a bit.  She said, “I haven’t heard you cuss at all the last few days, not since–hey, your date with Nyssa!”  Then she teased him a bit.

But back to our date night.  We later talked in the suite lounge.  I began to fall head-over-heels in like with him.  Tom was also there for a bit; I looked at the two of them and realized Peter had now supplanted Tom in my heart.

We were supposed to go check out the campus lagoon the next day, but it rained hard Tuesday night and Wednesday was cold and windy.  We had dinner in the cafeteria together instead and watched the season premiere of Quantum Leap in the German suite lounge.

Though I figured all along that our first date was a date-date, not just a friendship date, he had made no move to kiss me yet, nor had he talked about “us.”  So I began to wonder if we were just going out as friends.

It took several days before he finally referred to us as “dating,” and a few weeks before he got up the courage to kiss me.  I began to wonder, What’s taking so long?  Ever since a tornado had nearly hit my high school, I had prayed that I would not die before my first kiss.

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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