Cugan Comes Back–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–April 1995, Part 4

A poster at school advertised SEEK, a temporary employment agency.  I asked Catherine about it; she said it was a good company, where she worked herself a few summers before.

(I had no idea that she’d worked as a temp at the same company where I got my first post-college job.  I got it as a temp-to-permanent position through SEEK.)

I didn’t know much about temping, so when I was accepted by SEEK, I thought my job situation was secure and I would have all the money I needed to support myself in S–.  I didn’t know that job assignments could be sporadic.

On Monday the 24th at 9:30 a.m., Catherine drove me to the tiny SEEK office in a white house in S– to take tests on typing (I think I got about 70 words per minute) and other skills, such as proofreading.

Afterwards, the branch manager/office specialist interviewed me.  She assigned jobs to the temporary workers.  She said I did remarkably well on the tests.

The proofreading test had, I believe, maybe one or two things wrong, if anything, and most people didn’t do so well as that.  She noted that I was quiet and would probably prefer a job in which I could sit quietly behind a computer and work.

It took me a lot longer to take the tests than Catherine expected, however, so we got back to Roanoke late.  (I guess I’m just slow and careful to avoid mistakes.  It could very well be an NVLD thing.)

I hurried to the library and explained to librarian Flora why I was so late.  She didn’t care.

They were very laid-back about such things, but I think the facts that I told her and it was because of a job application made her even more lenient.  After all, work-study bosses aren’t like real-world bosses.  They don’t care if you’re out looking for a job to replace your present one when the school year ends.

Also on that day, before going to the library, Catherine took me to her house for lunch.  She let me try some of the dill pickle potato chips she always ate in her sack lunches.

While I worked in the library and had nothing else to do, I showed her my list of complaints.  She told me which ones seemed fair and which ones didn’t.

On Mondays, I had no classes and worked until 4 p.m., so it was either late afternoon or early evening when I called Cugan as he had asked me to.

When he said hello, I said, “Hi, Cugan,” just as I usually did when I called him.  He got very quiet for a moment.

I had no idea he thought how good it was to hear my voice.  I thought he didn’t really want to talk to me.

I asked him to come over so we could talk.  He said, “I guess I owe you that.”  Wow, Peter and Phil had not been so fair or reasonable.  The conversation was short, and we soon hung up.

Maybe an hour or so later, he arrived as promised.  I turned on Pearl’s Brent Bourgeois CD to calm my nerves.  Songs such as “Blessed be the Name” had comforted me in the past when dealing with a breakup, and comforted me now.

We sat on the couch and talked.  I read some of the complaints on my list.  I won’t repeat everything, just say the outcome was better than either of us expected: We got back together.  We made a date to go to an English country dance practice in a nearby SCA shire on Wednesday night.

Over the next few days or weeks, he explained that our time apart showed him what I meant to him, what he really felt for me.

He also got sick from the same flu I had over Easter.  He brooded and felt miserable all that weekend.  Once or twice over the next few years, I teased him that he got sick as a punishment for breaking up with me.

He also went to an event with Donato, and spent long periods in the car with him.  So the breakup came up in conversation.  To my surprise, Donato told Cugan the very same thing I wrote in my diary at 1:31 a.m. on the 21st: that if it comes back, it’s yours, and if not, then it never was.

I was shocked to hear that someone said that to the dumper for once and not just the dumpee.  I mean, after all, the dumper is the one who would go back to the dumpee, not the other way around.

I called my parents and told them what happened.  Mom said, “I didn’t think this one would get away,” or “I didn’t think we’d lose this one.”

Things were still rocky the first several months we were together, but they gradually got better.  Phil had made me defensive, and Cugan wasn’t used to a girlfriend.  He didn’t always realize that certain things I did were normal for a woman.

It was weird to hear Sharon talk about her relationship with Krafter, as well, because our relationships seemed to parallel.  We seemed to be living the same relationship, and this lasted at least until Christmas.  Sometimes she had complaints about Krafter that Cugan had about me, or that I had about Cugan.

At first, Cugan was afraid to tell his parents we were back together, at least until after he found a job.  He wasn’t sure when or how to tell them.

When I was in his apartment, even in, I think, May or June, I wouldn’t answer the phone for fear it would be them calling.  But when they did find out, they weren’t mad after all, and didn’t seem surprised.  All our worrying was for nothing.

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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After Breakup: Phil’s Return and Trolls–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–April 1995, Part 3

But back to the breakup.  I had Chaucer class with Catherine the next morning, Friday the 21st.  As soon as she had the chance, she said to me, “Guess who called me right after you hung up?”  It was Cugan, and he sounded like he’d been crying.  I won’t say what they talked about, just that it was encouraging.

I have never understood the male aversion to women using letters to fix relationships.  Pearl also used letters to try to deal with problems, and these days everybody uses e-mails.

It seems a perfectly legitimate method, even recommended in the Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus book.  It seems better than calling, because people cut in before you finish speaking, and you can work out exactly what you want to say.  It can be hard to get someone to meet with you, and even then, you can get nervous and not say what you wanted to.  A letter solves all these problems with communicating, so I have no clue why guys hate letters so much.

But I didn’t want to deal with yet another guy getting freaked out by the very sight of paper in his mailbox.  I still started work on a list of things to say, since Cugan actually allowed me to call him.

I don’t remember if stuffed gargoyle Dido made me cry or was a comfort to me, something to hold.  I do know that Cugan later told me he feared for poor Dido after he broke up with me: Would I do something to him?  I didn’t, of course.  Catherine said to that, “Did you tell him you’re not vindictive?”

I don’t think I cried all that often, however.  I was upset and sad, but had reason to hope that this time things would be different than they were the last times I went through breakups.  And if they weren’t, I could go to Brad.

I had broken up with Stimpy and told Brad I made my choice, only to have the man I did this for, break up with me.  I was all alone now.

I thought about going back to Stimpy, but I couldn’t because I knew it would never work out.  I broke up with him for a reason.  I didn’t think he’d take me back, anyway, that he wouldn’t appreciate me treating him like I could just walk out and back in at will.

As for Brad, I thought about writing to him and saying things didn’t work out like I thought they would.

I changed my tagline on TCB to, “Oh no not again.”  I told Ish what had happened, too.

As I worked that afternoon, Phil came by and hung around by the circulation desk while Astrid’s roommate Chloe and I worked there.  He put his books and Big Slam Dew on the counter and said Persephone had been trying to get him to go here and there.  I forget where.

I thought it was strange, especially since they were not dating anymore, and I didn’t know why she’d care where he was.

He kept talking and joking with us.  I now realized just how annoying his jokes could be.

I didn’t want Phil back, even though at the moment we were both free; I wanted Cugan.  But in a way I welcomed him being there, because he distracted me from sadness over breaking up with Cugan.

Chloe kept making pointed barbs, and I made a few, too.

The Roanoke play for April 20 to 22 was “Hedda Gabler,” which I didn’t see.  Phil was in it.  He and I debated if it was “GABE-ler” (which I got from my World Lit teacher, the hot Wesley) or “GAHB-ler” (which Phil said).

Finally, one of the library clerks came over and complained about him being there for so long.

Phil said, “These girls might want me here.”

I said, “I never said that.”

Phil appeared upset, whether with us or the clerk I’m not sure.  He left within the minute, taking his Dew bottles and books with him.

Sounds like Phil took for granted that I was waiting for him to come back to me, and this was his wake-up call.

Over the weekend, Friday or Saturday night, I went on America Online (AOL) to forget my problems for a while in the Christian Fellowship chat room.

First, there or in some other chat room (probably Starfleet Academy), some guy kept IM’ing me, or sending me instant messages, while I tried to answer other people’s questions in the chat room.

I didn’t know who he was, but he kept telling me to call him on the phone.  I didn’t want to call him, and his persistence made me wonder if he was an Internet stalker.

He gave me his number as proof that he was okay, but it still didn’t convince me.  I also didn’t want to call some stranger long-distance in the wee hours of the morning.

Because his IM’s kept delaying my replies to other people in the chat room, they told me to do certain things to block his IM’s.  But before I could decide whether or not to do this, I found my connection cut off.

I’d heard of AOL users doing this to new users, and I wondered if the IM’er had done it.  I re-logged on, and stayed online this time.

That night or the next, the Christian Fellowship Room was pleasant for a time.  I hoped these people could cheer me up, though some said a few too many “praise Gods” for me and seemed a bit unreal.  But I liked it there, and figured it was the best place I could go.

Then some Internet trolls came in and began to stir up trouble.  They were non-Christians, or more like anti-Christians, trying to get a rise out of the Christians.

One of them said he listened to devil music–alternative–including Nine Inch Nails, what do you think about that?

I typed in, “I listen to NIN.  I identify with the line of their new song ‘Hurt’ which says, ‘Everyone I know goes away in the end.'”

This guy typed back, “My gosh, you DO listen to NIN.”

One guy came in and was merciless.  It was very late now, so the number of people in the chat room dwindled.  He was verbally abusive; when I gave him no reason to be upset with me, he made one up.  I don’t know why he had it in for me.  As well as I can remember, here’s what happened:

One person I’d already met online before was in there, Cybrmonkey, a nice guy.  Someone thought this name meant he believed in evolution.  This guy was more liberal than many of the people in there, but he believed no less fervently than they did.  I liked talking with him.

At some point, someone asked me for my real first name, and I gave it.  The abusive guy, whom I’ll call the Abuser, said it was the same name as his grandmother.  I think I was in there as Estrella.

Apparently some question about current events came up, and I must have said I hadn’t heard about that yet.  The Abuser said I should just go look at my neighbors’ newspaper.

Considering it was late at night, my neighbors wouldn’t have a paper outside their door no matter if I lived in a dorm or in the suburbs, so this made no sense.

Probably for safety reasons, I didn’t want him to know I was on a college campus, so I simply said my neighbors probably didn’t have a paper anyway.

(Unless they bought a USA Today from the box outside the Campus Center, it was unlikely they would have one.  There were papers in the library for anyone who wanted to read them, and there were even foreign newspapers, such as German and Chinese ones, so the Asian and Bulgarian girls in the next apartment might not even bother having their own subscriptions.  But if they did, I wouldn’t be able to read those, anyway.)

The Abuser said, “You probably don’t even know your neighbors,” and went on a harangue about how awful I was to not know them.

Considering I lived on a college campus, knew one of the girls next door, had plenty of friends, and my neighbors changed every year, this was silly to me.  I don’t remember if I said much of anything about it, though.  I just let him make a fool of himself.

The Abuser liked Cybrmonkey, probably because he was more liberal, but hated me, probably because I was more conservative.  Someone asked a theological question, and I gave a possible answer, which I thought was very intelligent and well thought-out.  The Abuser wrote, “Go to bed now, Estrella.”

I wrote, “I’ll go to bed when I want to, and not when you tell me to.”

He wrote, “All right.”

I’d been thinking about going to bed soon, but because of what he said, I decided to stay up a while longer.

The Abuser cried out at one point, “I can’t believe you have the same name as my sweet grandmother!”

I had no clue why he talked to me this way.  He didn’t know me, and I didn’t ridicule him, harass him, or in any way treat him bad.

I wrote, “Why are you treating me this way, when I’ve never done anything to you?”

I don’t remember if he gave me an answer.

I finally went to bed, long after he told me to, disgusted with this guy and wondering why in the world he would want to harass anyone like he did me.

That’s when I began to learn that there are many creeps in cyberspace.  Sure I encountered mean people on BBS’s before, but the size and lack of restriction on the Internet gives them a huge playground unlike what they found on BBS’s.

I didn’t learn until later that they’re popularly called trolls, or that the best way to deal with them is to not respond to them at all.

Though I was sad that weekend, I wasn’t as depressed as other break-ups had made me.  This may be because: I was still stunned; we’d only been together for a little over a month; there was a very good chance that on Monday he would want me back; and even if he didn’t, there were others who would.

The Three Musketeers, the recent Disney version with Charlie Sheen, played on Roanoke-TV at three p.m. on Saturday.  (This was the movie I planned to see with Phil on our first date, until he showed up too late and we saw Cool Runnings instead.)

Though I was sad and didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have, especially the romantic parts, I still liked it.  (I later saw it with Cugan, and it became one of our favorite movies.)

One or two of my roommates watched it with me.  When the young king appeared with his new queen, Pearl or Sharon said, “I wouldn’t want a guy who’s prettier than me.”

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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Cugan breaks up with me–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–April 1995, Part 2

I’m not sure when I found out that, while I was out of the room one day during Easter Break, Cugan’s parents told him he shouldn’t have a girlfriend while looking for a job.  (He recently lost his job.)  Cugan disagreed, and they argued.

But after that, he began acting distant and easily upset with me.  I knew I couldn’t possibly have done anything, yet whatever I did was wrong.  I’m not going to “throw him under the bus” like Dr. Phil’s wife supposedly did with him in her new book, so I won’t give details.

On Monday afternoon, Cugan drove me back to Roanoke, stopping to get some fast food, which we ate in a S– park.  We had a long conversation; I remember seeing deer off in the distance as I shocked Cugan with accounts of the abuse I’d suffered from Phil.

In the parking lot, he said he had to get back, I forget why.  He almost left me at the Campus Center, but I got him to take me to the apartment parking lot.  I didn’t want to leave him right away, since I couldn’t bear saying good-bye and not seeing him again until Thursday.

That’s only natural at the beginning of a relationship, but he yelled at me for not letting him go right away!  That shocked me, and was uncalled-for.

He sometimes got mad at other times, when I had trouble saying good-bye at night, even though I certainly didn’t intend to stop him from leaving.  I couldn’t understand why he didn’t feel the same way I did about him leaving, or why he would treat me like I was doing something wrong just for not liking to say good-bye.

After all, in the first few weeks/months with Phil, every time he left me at my dorm for the night, we’d spend forever saying good-bye.  He’d wave even as he left.

I expected Cugan to be the same, but instead he treated me like there was something wrong in being sad to say good-bye!

This time, it seemed even worse, and it colored the rest of the afternoon with melancholy and an unease.  I knew I did nothing wrong, so why was he so cold all of a sudden?

Catherine explained that she had the same problem with her old boyfriend, that it was a guy thing, and that guys seem to think girls are manipulating them into not leaving right away, when they’re just mourning the fact that the guy has to leave.

Yeah, it’s crazy, I know.  Guys seem to have a strange tendency to think women are manipulating them when they’re not.  I just don’t understand guys.  It’s like you’re not supposed to show you care.

I talked to Cugan on the phone on probably Tuesday, but he seemed distant.  There were long silences.  I felt very uneasy about this.  He made a date with me for Thursday, but didn’t sound enthusiastic about it.

I told Catherine about it on probably Wednesday, and said I feared he was going to break up with me.  She waved that fear aside.

She told me to make a little card for him, so I worked on it that night.  I covered it in Celtic knotwork on the front, including a yellow snake with a knotwork tail, and colored it with marker.

Around dinnertime Thursday afternoon, Cugan showed up.  We were to get dinner at Burger King.  I went out with him to his car and gave him the card; he sat there reading it.  He later told me that card made what he was about to do, so much harder.  (I was glad to hear that.)

He then said he was breaking up with me because we were too much alike, we had too much in common.  But the way he treated me afterwards was far different from the ways Peter and Phil had acted: He was actually nice to me.  So I knew he was different–which made it even harder to say good-bye to him.

He said, “I may change my mind: I’m always second-guessing myself,” and to call him on Monday, when he got back from an archery trip to Canada with Donato.  He would be gone all weekend.

No guy had ever told me to call him after a breakup.  If anything, they didn’t welcome my calls, or want to hear anything I had to say, even though I had a right to say it.

(I go into much more detail in my private journals, but since he is now my Hubby, I don’t want to put it here on the Net.)

We finally parted.  I took my food inside to the study room, where I could barely choke it down.  I called Catherine and left a message on her answering machine.

I needed to talk to someone, so I asked Sharon to come talk to me.  However, I had a hard time getting anything out, though my tears had abated.  I think I had this weird feeling like things weren’t so bad.  Before I could say much, I heard the phone ring from the bedroom: Catherine.

I told her what happened.  She said about my suspicions, “Well, you were right.”  Then I called Mom.

Mom was mostly cheerful, thinking it wasn’t hopeless and she didn’t think this breakup was going to last.

Dad had a similar attitude.  When I told him Cugan said we were too much alike–which was odd, because Phil and Peter said, “We’re too different”–he said, “I’ve never heard of people being too compatible.”

Incidentally, the date was April 20, 1995.  The day before was the two-year anniversary of the fire in the Branch Davidian compound, in which David Koresh and his followers were killed.  April 19, 1995 was also the day of the Oklahoma City bombing.  I don’t remember if I knew about the bombing; I may not have watched the news that day.

Two years later, April 19 was our wedding date.  We had no idea that it was the anniversary of these two horrible things.

We just wanted an April wedding, the pastor gave us two choices for dates, and we picked that one arbitrarily.  How’s that for irony?

When I first discovered it was the two-year anniversary of the bombing, I wondered if it was a sign not to get married, along with the terrible out-of-season snowstorms that kept hitting whenever we tried to go to Indiana to get wedding preparations done.

(Once, we even had to stop, stay with Cugan’s parents overnight, and reschedule the next morning’s premarital counseling for the week of the wedding.)

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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Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–April 1995, Part 1

I got jealous of Krafter sometimes, when we talked about doing things together or at BBS parties: We college students had to make time for homework and he had none.

He went to work and came home; his day was done, and he could do whatever he wished.  We went to school, came home, and spent our evenings doing homework!  Ugh!

It made it hard to plan anything, because we didn’t always know if we’d have tons of reading to do that night.

In probably March or April, my friends told me my ex Phil asked Astrid’s roommate Chloe to breakfast on a Saturday.  I believe this was before April 21.  Before the meal was even finished, however, she got so annoyed by him that she made him take her home.  LOL

In probably April or May, Sharon and I found a preacher on TCB–the same preacher who taught Mike, Randy and me in Intro to Christianity!  He posted messages in the forums, especially the religion forum.

He posted a message once about not liking to teach college-aged students.  I said to Sharon, “Hey!  I was in his class!!”  Sharon replied to his post with a remark about his prejudice.

Some favorite songs, usually alternative: “Starseed” by Our Lady Peace, “She’s a River” by Simple Minds and “December” by Collective Soul.

“Lightning Crashes” by Live was beautiful with an unusual, haunting video.  It depicted a mother dying in childbirth and then becoming a bald angel, and made you want to cry.  Though many videos of the time had already turned derivative and boring, this one wasn’t.

(Note: According to the band, this is a misinterpretation of the video, where the dying woman was completely separate from the childbirth.  But it was a common one, and we all thought the woman was dying in childbirth.)

As Cugan and I picked up Tatiana in M–, just a short distance from MPB (the gaming store), for an SCA meeting one Sunday, she sat in the backseat (which had to be cleared for her) and said she and Nadine just stared at the screen when they first saw it.

Unfortunately, in 2003, I heard “Lightning Crashes” on the radio the same day I went into labor.  Then I had a long, traumatic labor, because my child was nearly 10 1/2 pounds and I’m small.  Even with the epidural, I was often in pain, and finally had to be cut open.  I was frightened, and later felt strong empathy and connection with women who die in childbirth, that moment you longed for causing your death, and you can’t escape.  I’m fine now, but after that, I couldn’t listen to this song for quite some time because it made me cry.

Down by the Water” by P.J. Harvey was lovely and strange.  “Can’t Speak” by Danzig was both a cool video and an excellent metal song.

White Zombie had a new album, which Lima praised in the music forum on TCB.  The debut “More Human Than Human” was wonderful.  Well, except for the opening, which always makes me cringe.

****

Soon, shire business meetings would be held every week because of the upcoming M– event, which the shire held each May for the past two years.  This was M– III.

Cugan was the Autocrat, or the one in charge of the event–and the one most frazzled.  I went to the meetings with him, even though M– was on graduation weekend and I wouldn’t be able to attend or help out, except with cleanup.

(Sometimes, I may not have gone to these meetings, since I wasn’t going to be at the event and had to do laundry.)

I even got to see the site, a campground near M–, which had a lake, trails, cabins, a few large, grassy areas for tents and archery and fighting, and real restrooms in the big lodge with its fireplace, main hall, and kitchen.  There was also a dormitory building with showers.  It was modern convenience mixed with camping out.

M– sounded like a lot of fun and I longed to go, but couldn’t, promising myself to go the next year.

Otherwise, meetings were on the first Sunday of each month.  I probably went to one on Sunday, April 2nd with Cugan.  This was at a different house.

Once, as I went down a flight of stairs to the outside, I heard Ayesha say in an excited, happy tone to probably Donato, “Elspeth and Cugan!”

(At the time, I wanted my SCA name to be Elspeth, though later it became Nyssa when I discovered a popular person in our region had the same SCA name.)

Probably at this same meeting, Cugan turned over the Chronicler’s (newsletter writer’s) office to someone else.  Cevantè went up to him, put her hand on his back, and said, “See anything different about him?  His back is so straight now that the burden is lifted!”

****

Probably on Sunday, April 9, Sharon’s birthday, we held a surprise party for her.  My 7th grade science teacher used to sing a certain song whenever somebody had a birthday.  It had depressing but funny lines, such as, “You’re one year closer to your grave.”  I discovered now that this was a popular song in the SCA.  I warned Cugan not to sing it for Sharon, however.

When it came time to get Sharon to the restaurant we planned to take her to, I don’t remember how my friends got her in the car, but I think they told her they were taking her somewhere else.

She was suspicious even before they blindfolded her, and was a bit miffed because she saw me sitting at the computer while everyone else was going to her birthday party.

This just got her off the track, however: Cugan picked me up later and took me to the party.  Charles and Krafter also went.

When we got there and sat down with our friends, Sharon was still blindfolded.  I believe we planned to let her know her location when the cake came.

Krafter started talking about a recent TCB user party; Nobody got into trouble there, just as he often did online.

Krafter said, “If I tried to explain this to somebody who didn’t know about Nobody, they would be very confused to hear, ‘Nobody was there, Nobody was causing trouble at the picnic, Nobody was mouthing off.'”

****

On the 13th or 14th, Cugan took me to his parents’ house for Easter Break.  I had the flu.  It made the rounds in the apartment; for days I watched my roommates get depressed as the flu dragged them down.  Now it was my turn.  By the way, I took a flu shot back in the fall.  😛

Cugan now had a pente board and some colored glass beads, so we played it for a little while.  It bored me quickly, however, since it was just us.

Cugan told me he used to live in Florida until he was about 11 or 12; they left because of the humidity and to be with his mom’s family.  Oh, yeah, and don’t forget the oversized bugs.  I got to see the gigantic cockroa– er, pimento bugs–when we went there for our honeymoon.  Cugan’s grandmother and aunt still lived in Orlando.

Cugan used to go on long walks around the neighborhood all the time, and showed me a park and a wall he used to climb.  There were geese in the park.

We got back, and I realized we shouldn’t have gone on the walk, or at least not such a long one, because now my throat was sore.  Cugan apologized, and made me some hot chocolate.  He was a mother hen over me the whole weekend, and I thought that was sweet.

On Easter morning, we went to their Lutheran church.  The church service seemed very formal to me, and was also strange to me because of the liturgies.

We went a couple of hours away to see Cugan’s aunt, her Filipino husband, and Cugan’s cousins.  One girl was about my age.  Sara was a senior in high school.  The boy was the youngest.

The girls were gorgeous, with their mix of Filipino and German.  In 2006, I found a picture of the eldest girl with one of her children; she was dressed up, and looked like a supermodel.  I said to Cugan, “I’m glad she’s your first cousin and you couldn’t marry her!”

I’d heard a bit about these cousins: Sara was much like Cugan, and he loved to talk with her.  Once, I found Cugan talking with her in her room.  I joined them, since I didn’t want to keep sitting with a roomful of strangers.

I had a lot in common with her: We’d both taken French, we liked Christian music, and we were intellectuals.  In other ways she was a lot like Cugan: She’d say, “Things are going really good, so something bad must be about to happen.”

The family was very welcoming to me, and Cugan’s aunt told me to come back again soon.  Well, that would depend on whether or not Cugan and I stayed together long enough.

Cugan’s parents had two cats and a big, white dog named Sn–.  I believe she was a white Siberian husky.  Sn– kept barking at me because I wasn’t family.

The little black cat, Sh–, was supposed to be Cugan’s, but he moved to an apartment that didn’t allow pets.  The other cat, Zu–, was white with dark and light patches, like brown and white sugar mixed together.

Sh– was nervous with strangers, but Zu– –typically a cat who didn’t like anyone to touch her except for Cugan’s mom, except when she was in the mood–loved me.  She kept coming up to me and wanting me to pet her.  Cugan said that when he went back to his parents’ house the next time, she was probably going to look up at him as if to say, “Where is she?!”

In time, these things happened: Zu– got friendlier, letting people (especially me) pet her, as long as we kept to the proper “zones,” especially the face.  Sn– sat near me one day, and I started petting her.  She let me pet her for some time.  Then she suddenly looked up, realized it was me, got up and ran away.  She started barking to reinforce that I was not family.

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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Cugan: a vast improvement over Phil–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–March 1995, Part 13

The next day, the 26th, Cugan drove me home to South Bend.

On our way to South Bend, we stopped in Milwaukee in the suburb of Wauwatosa to see Cugan’s parents.  This was the first time I saw them, and I was impressed.  His mom was from Wisconsin and had a German background.  His dad was from West Virginia and still had a Virginian accent.

They seemed like nice people, respectful of each other and Cugan, and glad to see me.  Cugan’s dad seemed like a nut, constantly joking.  This first impression turned out to be true, to my delight.  That was where Cugan got his sense of humor from.

I told Cugan my impressions, and he said that he felt lucky with the parents he had.  I had finally found a guy who didn’t have a dysfunctional home life, and that boded well for our future.

Now that I was at home, I finally felt the loss of my cat Hazel.  I kept expecting to see her.  Mom showed me where she was buried: beside my brother Jake’s garage.  I think a tree or flower was planted over her.

As Cugan and I sat on the couch the night we got to town, my dad also in the room, my other brother left the family room, came over, looked at Cugan, then left, no words at all.  He’s an odd one.

Though I felt secure in my relationship with Cugan with him around, during this week apart, I feared that I’d get back to school and he’d say he wanted to break up.  I even wrote this poem:

Why does the thought of him scare me to death?
Will it last?  Is he half of what he seems?
Will I do something to push him away?
God knows why I feel so terrified:
Failures in the past?
As if love’s a beautiful snake–
Within its coral stripes–venom.
Fear, fear, you beast,
Go away!  I can’t breathe.
Let me be free.

****

I found my middle school friend Josh online again (“Modem Menace” on PanOptic Net), and told him about Cugan.  Just before I returned home, Josh also called me on the phone.  His voice sounded so different and deep.

I found Stimpy and Krafter on AOL, and sent them messages.  Stimpy wrote back about the wonders of the Internet, connecting friends who are many miles apart.

I also read or skimmed many books I checked out of the library on Friday the 24th, and took notes.  These were biographies on the authors I wanted to include in my senior honors thesis: Victorian women who broke away from society’s expectations.

I enjoyed the books, but the account of Louisa May Alcott‘s life was depressing.  Apparently, Little Women expressed what Alcott’s family should have been, but wasn’t:

The sisters were plain, though the one who inspired Amy was the best-looking of them all.  (Though a picture of Louisa, age 25, strikes me as pleasant, not plain.  Not a great beauty, but “normal,” not ugly.  She looks like she’d be your favorite tomboy bud in high school.)

None of them treated Louisa, Jo’s inspiration, very well, and neither did her parents.

Louisa’s father was just awful.  He wanted her to become a little woman and not act so “manly,” so Jo became what Louisa’s father wanted her to be.

Reading Little Women with this knowledge now became bittersweet, because the story was so ironic.

Louisa also wrote sensational stories with murders, chases and melodrama just as Jo did, and these were always her first love, even though books like Little Women were considered much “better.”

(In 1995 or 1996, I bought and read one of these books, A Long Fatal Love Chase, and saw a TV-movie version of The Inheritance.  Neither quite measures up to Little Women, but what do you expect?)

In the February 1995 chapter, I wrote,

Despite one biographer’s thoughts that Louisa May Alcott deliberately took a passionate relationship with Laurie away from Jo and gave her a passionless relationship with an older man–which, to the biographer, couldn’t be passionate because he was much older than Jo–I thought those two had marvelous chemistry.

And come on, a young woman can certainly have a passionate relationship with an older man!  Just ask Celine Dion.

Basically, the biographer (Martha Saxton) suggested that Louisa didn’t allow Jo to marry Laurie because Laurie was too sensual and Jo wasn’t womanly enough.  It was her parents’ criticisms, carried out in the novel on her family’s idealized and fictional counterparts, in a strange psychological punishment of herself.

For an excerpt of Saxton’s work, the part which goes into this, see here.

Another take on this is here.  I was disappointed that she turned down Laurie, but then again, in the 1995 movie, Gabriel Byrne was hot and I totally got that.

****

Since Cugan had gotten me Dido, I wanted to find him a gift, as well.  Mom and I went shopping in a Walgreens one night.  She pointed out some cute, stuffed bunnies.  Though Cugan loved his two March Haire rabbits, I knew he’d think these were cutesy-cute, not just cute, and passed them by.

I found a key chain with a tiny Etch-A-Sketch attached to it, and decided to give him that.  He was glad I passed up the bunnies and got him the key chain.  A few months later, when he started his new job, he put the key chain in his cubicle and labeled it a back-up CAD tube in case the ones there stopped working.

When my parents took me back to college, we met Cugan at Marc’s restaurant in S– for lunch, so they got a good chance to get to know him better.  He impressed them.

One day in Cugan’s apartment, we turned on a talk show with makeovers.  We hated that the women’s long hair was cut and everyone was dressed in professional suits, which Cugan hated especially.  We’ve noticed this since, that makeover shows are too annoying to watch because long hair is always cut when it should be left long.

Through this, I also discovered that Cugan liked my long hair.  He said long hair is elegant.  After Phil’s constant badgering to cut my hair, it was healing to hear two guys in a row (first Stimpy, then Cugan) say how wonderful my long hair was.  Cutting it to please Phil, would have been a huge mistake.

Whenever Cugan came down to S–, he tried to catch 102.1.  He didn’t have an alternative station in M–.  I said to Catherine, “Whatever I like, he likes too–and turns up!”

This was quite a change from Phil, who kept ripping on my favorite kinds of music–alternative, modern metal, hard rock, Christian rock.  He even said once that he would’ve broken up with me for liking hard rock and metal, if it weren’t for a friend of his who liked it!

(The strange thing is, I started listening to a hard rock/classic station in the first place because I thought he liked it, and ended up liking it myself, only to find that he didn’t even like such music.)

****

In late March and early April, Pearl and I read Hard Times by Charles Dickens for Brit Lit.  We were interested in what happened to the characters, but with its lack of the usual Dickensian melodrama (which we loved), it seemed too hard to get into.  It was also very depressing.

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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My First SCA Event–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–March 1995, Part 12

On Friday, March 24, Cugan drove me far away to a place about an hour away from Stevens Point, where March Haire Affaire was held.  This may have been Wisconsin Rapids or Marshfield.

We stayed, or “crashed,” at a house with a friendly couple, at least ten or twenty years older than us, with a dog or two, three or four cats that loved me, and pet hair all over the house, even on the towels.  I decided to never have that many pets, because of all the hair.

On the morning of the 25th, I parted my hair in the middle because that seemed more medieval.  I hadn’t done this for several years, and liked doing it again so well that I began to part it in the middle for months afterward.

Middle parts, which seemed to vanish in the 80s in the backlash against all things 70s and hippie, came back into fashion in the late 80s or early 90s.  Nowadays, nobody cares where you part your hair.

But when I had “hippie hair” in high school, one day I looked around and wondered why nobody else had a middle part.  I felt terribly out of fashion, so I tried parting it differently.

I didn’t have my own garb, so Cugan let me borrow some of his.  I wore a white shirt and huge, green “horde” pants.  Cugan tied the legs up with leather thongs, but I felt like I was drowning in the clothes, which were much too big for me and very hot.  I may have worn my own black dress shoes.

I laughed at the absurdity of this costume on me.  Cugan gave me his cape to wear outside, since it was only March and still cold.  We drove about an hour to the event, which was held in a school.

We went into one large room full of merchants’ goods: veils, headdresses, clothing, jewelry, everything a person might need at a non-camping event.  This spoiled me, because for a while I thought every event was like this, and that if I couldn’t afford something this time, I could get it the next.

I found a green, embroidered dress which went over an off-white undertunic.   Cugan said the color looked wonderful on me, and the woman selling the clothes said she could alter them if necessary.

But the size was medium, and when I went into a bathroom and tried them on, they fit me perfectly.  Some of the undertunic showed, but one of the women there told me it was supposed to, unlike a modern slip.

This dress was much cooler and more comfortable.  I went back into the merchant room and showed Cugan, who was amazed.  He even told his fellow shire-mate Donato how amazing it was.

I had no idea at the time that finding perfectly-fitting garb at your first event, and for only about $25, was highly unusual.  Most events don’t have merchants selling full sets of garb.

We then found a metal link chain that looked like gold, and this became my belt.  (I tried wearing it as a necklace, but somebody told me only knights did that.)  I think Cugan also lent me one of his leather pouches.

Ayesha and her husband Donato were both there–and surprised to see me with Cugan.  I don’t think Catherine came.  Cevante also saw me, and hugged me with glee.  I hoped she noticed I was there with Cugan.

As a shy person surrounded by strangers, these familiar faces were welcome.

I think Donato even offered us Coke in cans.  He was selling yarn slipcovers for pop cans, which he made himself and (as I later discovered) he usually sold at events.  They made your pop can look “period,” or like you belonged to the time period the SCA covered: about 600 to 1600 AD (the dates are subject to debate).

(When Cugan and I got married both in real life and then in an informal SCA wedding, Donato gave me a cover with the letter “N” for Nyssa, and Cugan a cover with the letter “C” for Cugan.)

Some of Cugan’s friends from outside the shire, such as from Appleton’s Windhaven, showed up.  Cugan introduced me to them as his lady, and one of them, probably Clyde, said “Oh!” and kissed my hand.

I must have smiled all day.  I was never bored, and had lots of fun.  At one point, Cugan and I went into the foyer and played pente at the tables set up there.

I always thought this was a medieval game, but Wikipedia says it was invented in 1977.  It’s sort of like checkers, except any number of people can play.  Each player has a set of glass beads in a particular color; you move them around and capture other beads, on a cloth mat with a grid.

Cugan and I played against another couple for a while.  Cugan was red, and I think I was blue or green.  I think we were all beginners.

I won the most games, and was finally matched up against three guys from the other tables who also won most of their games.

One of these was Clyde, who cracked lots of jokes as we played.  One in particular I wish I could remember, because it became a catch phrase; I think it was a line from a song.  One of the guys there seemed cocky, so I hoped he wouldn’t win.

I came in second place at this game, making me nearly the pente champion.

Because of this–coming in as a “newbie,” finding the perfect garb right off, nearly winning at pente, and stealing away Cugan’s heart–I told Brad in a letter that I felt like a cheekish, charmed upstart.

(By the way, it was so sad to have to tell Brad I chose another guy.  Why couldn’t all these guys have shown up sooner?  I could have had a chance to date each one of them.  Maybe I would have had better experiences in college than I had with Peter, Shawn and Phil.  Or maybe I would have had guys to fill up my long “love droughts.”)

I also met Master John Wagner, Cugan’s mentor when he was a newbie.  John was a remarkable man: tall, handsome, 30ish, but no eyes or hands due to being stupid with dynamite when he was about 11 or 12–

–yet able to get around and weave beautiful patterns through touch.

The skin of his forearms was clipped so that he could use the bones as two-fingered hands.  If he greatly honored you by asking you to hold onto the edge of his huge staff and lead him, you could also meet all sorts of people who knew and loved him.  He was so well-liked and respected that if he didn’t like someone, that was quite an indictment.  (He met our shire’s sociopath, described here, and found him “slimy.”)

When Cugan and I crashed at his apartment once, John led me through the hallways.  He was immensely capable.

Unfortunately, he died young, in 2012.  His obituary is up permanently, here.

We sat at a table in the merchant room for a while, with Master John and a man dressed as an Arab.  Once, Cugan turned his head down while talking, and John asked him why.

Cugan, shocked, wondered how the heck John could have known he was looking down.  It didn’t shock me, because I noticed in childhood how the sound of a person’s voice changes depending on how he turns his head and the proximity of a table.

To Cugan, however, John seemed to see without eyes.

Fighting–a bunch of guys and even a young woman in makeshift armor beating on each other with rattan sticks covered in duct tape–was in the gym, but I didn’t want to watch.

That evening, we sat feast in the same room the merchants had used, which may have been a cafeteria.  Along one side was a cardboard? castle for the kids to play in.

There were several different “removes,” or courses, and the meat remove alone included at least two different kinds of already cold chicken.

Cugan’s feast gear had strange-looking three-pronged forks.  I loved eating off wooden plates and bowls and drinking from a wooden or pewter? goblet.  I wasn’t too crazy about most of the food, except for the bread and the custard, which Master John loved.

There was also a naming contest for the mascot, a winged-rabbit puppet.  There were several winged stuffed animals, including cats, at one of the merchant tables; Cugan bought a few.

Cugan won the contest with “Arfur of the Round Tail.”  I think the “Round Tail” idea came from me.  I thought it terribly corny, but he won, and got to keep the puppet, which he later dressed in its own garb.

He also won or bought a stuffed rabbit, which I think he called Lancelot, and also dressed in its own garb.  Winning Arfur made him very happy.  A guy who liked stuffed animals?  What a find!

Outside at his car, I told Cugan he looked good in garb, which he did.  He wore a brown pirate shirt with huge, black “horde” pants, a black tunic-like vest tied with a belt, and black leather boots, which kept him from tripping in the pants.

No one else was at the crash spot when we got back there, so we started to watch Dragonslayer in the living room.  But Cugan was too tired.  As long as we did watch, however, we still wore our garb.  I didn’t want to change because my dress was comfortable, and it was fun to dress like I’d stepped out of the Middle Ages.  In fact, years before I watched Dragonslayer and longed to wear those dresses.

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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A Conversation with Oscar Wilde–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–March 1995, Part 11

As part of my Lit mid-term, I was to write a dinner dialogue between myself and one of the twelve authors we studied.  I wrote,

I have invited over Oscar Wilde, have sent my time machine to him and brought him to my house.  We go to Country Kitchen, not because it’s the best food (not), but because it’s the “local hangout” and he can see bits of local society.

“I loved ‘Importance of Being Earnest,'” I say.  “It was so funny and so ridiculous.”

“Well, in my day, society is ridiculous,” Wilde says.  “Marriage based on how much money you have, your worth determined by what you do and what your connections are–I wanted people to see how silly they were being with these attitudes.”

We go on discussing the play for a while, not any others since that’s the only one by him that I know.  Then we begin to talk about contemporary issues–starting with marriage.

“Marriage these days is supposed to be based on love,” I say, “but we now have a 50% divorce rate.”

“We base it partly on love,” Wilde says, “or, rather, infatuation–and partly on economics.  Our divorce rate is low because people just don’t divorce.  But so many people are unhappy because they didn’t know their spouse well enough before marrying them, and now they’re no longer ‘in love,’ if they ever were in the first place.”

Somehow we end up on the subject of homosexuality; I admit I don’t agree with it, but I say that I think it was wrong for Wilde to be jailed for it.  “You shouldn’t be put in jail just because of the way you are, when you can’t always help it,” I say.

“I was put there for ‘corrupting a young person’ with it,” he says.  “I wish I’d never fought the Marquess; when he said I was homosexual, it was true.  Maybe people would’ve forgotten about it if I hadn’t sued, but now I’m in prison for a drive I have.  A drive I don’t know how to control.”

“You must admit, you were pretty–promiscuous there, and you do have a wife,” I say, which leads to AIDS–which leads to a discussion of the prevalence of syphilis in Wilde’s day.  Interesting, but not something I’d want to record here.

People look at us and wonder why Wilde talks the way he does and why he dresses the way he does.  But he notices that they seem less shocked at our topics of conversation than they are about him.

“It seems like you’re so much freer to talk, really talk, in your day,” he says.  We eventually leave, and I take him back to my house to spend the rest of the evening–wishing all the while that such a handsome man weren’t gay!

Actually, I’ve since discovered that he swung both ways.  And changed my mind about homosexual love being wrong.  But anyway, finding this test paper especially interested me after reading De Profundis (my commentary here) and a new biography of his wife.  There are details in the above conversation which, over nearly 20 years, I forgot I ever even knew.

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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