nostalgia

A Story-Game From my Childhood: I Was a Moon in the Solar System

A Story-Game From my Childhood: I Was a Moon in the Solar System

In my childhood, not only did I act out “Wizard of Oz,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Star Wars,” but I also invented various elaborate stories which I would act out while outside or on the school playground.  I normally played them by myself, since other people didn’t know how to do their parts “right.”

Though I do recall pretending to be foxes one winter day with Chad, Keith, Danny and another little boy, on a day when even the snow was very icy and you could barely walk on the playground without slipping.  Our “den” was one of the play tunnels, which was painted like a hollow log….

I was also mostly by myself as a child, since my brothers were much older and liked “boy” stuff, and while there were a few kids in the neighborhood, they didn’t often come over–and a few of them were too mean to play with.  But with my stories, I barely noticed that I was the only one.  I intend to write a series of posts on my different stories.  I also mention some of them in my posts about life with NVLD.

One of my stories started when I was 8 years old and in third grade.  The teacher took us out on the playground one day and assigned each of us a planet, a satellite, or the sun.  Then she had us all stand in various places based on where the sun was and where each planet was, to demonstrate to us just how large the solar system is.

I was a satellite, Nereid, and went to stand by a girl named Jessica who was Neptune.  I also remember the girl who was the sun, though I don’t remember her name; she had a pointy, knit cap with a ball on the top.  It was winter, so I was wearing a certain beige coat which I really liked, which had a hood and a cloth belt, and I wore black boots.

I was so enchanted by this game the teacher had us play, that I began acting it out by myself, whether at home, in the church basement while my dad set up the microphones, or at the playground.  In fact, I associate that old church basement–the square-shaped hallway with the drain on the floor–with these stories.

I also wrote stories about it and drew pictures, with myself as Nereid, in the same coat and boots, and with little curls in my hair that I didn’t have in real life.  Nereid had to wear a coat because she was in the outer reaches of the solar system, far from the sun.

Every such being, or heavenly body–whether planet, moon, sun, asteroid, or comet–was eight years old, just like me, and always would be eight years old.  The Asteroid Patrol was the police force.  The beings would walk on metal walkways in space, so they wouldn’t fall into nothingness.  Instead of “Martian,” beings on Mars would be called “Marslings” (as in “Earthlings”), and same for the “lings” of any other planet.  Sun-chips and star-chips, flashy bits taken from suns and stars, were used as money.

nereid

Nereid was constantly getting separated from Neptune, unlike the other moon Triton, another girl, who behaved and stayed nearby.  So on the one hand Nereid was always looking for Neptune and would be happy and relieved when she found her.  But on the other hand, she had all sorts of adventures.  I wish I could remember even half of them.

One of my classmates, Keith, also ended up in these stories, even though I don’t recall him actually playing this game with me in real life.  He had somehow ended up trapped on the planet of Mouseooine, named after Tatooine, where everybody dressed in mouse costumes (yes, like furries), and the young princess was in love with Keith–but he, typical boy, kept trying to put her off.

Venus was a beautiful girl surrounded all over her head and body with chilled silver jewelry (what showed up to Earthlings as clouds), which kept her cool near the Sun.  The ringed planets had rings either around their bodies or around their heads, depending on how I felt like drawing it that day.

Earth was a boy whom Nereid had a crush on, but he had a crush on Venus.  Earth’s creatures were like an infestation on his head, since the head was the planet itself; the other planets were fascinated by them.

Mars was a redheaded girl.  The little ball on the Sun’s hat (her sun-hat) is what provided the fire and heat of the sun.  She could take off the hat and point it at Nereid, a ray would come out of the little ball, and Nereid would then shrink to human-size, and go visit Keith on Mouseooine.  Then the Sun would use her sun-hat on Nereid again so she could go back to normal moon-size.

In middle school, I drew a daily comic strip which was, in a tragic accident, somehow lost during one of our moves in adulthood.  It was silly and bizarre, the sort of humor middle school kids might love, set in an alternative reality of my middle school, with Star Wars and other strange fashions instead of actual 1985 fashions, monsters, a woman who was literally stick-thin, a news anchor named Pretty Face who had 1985-fashionable hair and had to fend off suitors, magic, genies, a resurrected Cleopatra, a 50s-style soda shop in the air where all the kids hung out, and various other things.

In college, I found these old strips and began writing a more adult version, only I called it “Sol-Sys Blues” and based it on a version of the solar system game; the characters were now growing up.

I found two story fragments written about the solar system when I was a young child, probably no older than 12.

My mom was a cleaning lady, cleaning the houses of people at our church, and also a bank in a nearby town, and other businesses; she would take me with her.  Later, one of my brothers helped her as well, but in the beginning it was just her.

Probably when I was around 8 or 9, she started bringing home boxes and boxes of discarded form letters from the bank: usually letters which scolded for non-payment or were sent with loan coupons, letters which were blank on one side and perfect for me to write stories on.

I recall checking the Encyclopedia Brittanica at one house, probably when I was no older than 9 or 10, looking up information about the solar system, and writing stories on the old bank paper about Nereid, as my mom cleaned the house.

These are the two fragments.  Based on the references to choosing school courses, French and handwriting–which is legible (to me, at least, because it’s mine), in cursive, and full of strange little variants I had developed to make my handwriting pretty and interesting, unlike everybody else’s cursive–I must have been 12 when I wrote the first one.

I believe “earliest Hebrew” was chosen because I thought that Adam and Eve must have spoken this.  I was a very religious child, raised in the Nazarene Church, with no smoking, dancing or drinking, and with a premillennial dispensationalist, creationist theology:

Chapter 1

The Sun was the name given to all the suns, girl or boy, firstborn, middleborn or lastborn, or origin.  It was in the language of the most important planet’s inhabitants, of course, because that was the language of the solar system.

If the important planet’s inhabitants spoke more than one language, the first language ever given, or the majority languages, were given; but they all could speak all the languages in the universe!

But this particular system spoke earliest Hebrew; and so their words had to be written in English in this book.  Besides, I don’t know earliest Hebrew.

Each sun was created by God and put in the care of the galaxy ruler.  This galaxy was the Milky Way.

Our sun was, of course, named The Sun; she was a girl with brown curls for hair.  When she was three years old she had to begin her training.

First she had to know what kind of star she was.  The galaxy ruler, or garu, took a small, metallic object with a scale and put it on The Sun’s head.  The scale had three points–Large, Middle-Sized and Small.  The scale moved and the arrow pointed to “Middle-Sized.”  Under each point was a number, and under The Sun’s point was the number “8.”  That meant, when she was eight she’d stop growing.

She was given a textbook and, when she learned to read all words, she read the book whenever assigned in her school.  It was written in the fastest-writing and -reading language in the universe–Sheeshu.

The school near the middle of the galaxy for Milky-Way Students was a space station orbiting a substitute sun.  The Sun got there by riding a bullet-shaped capsule, and lived in the room she was assigned to.  Now let me tell you about her first ractul, or seven days (to her each day was 30 hours, school time):

The first day was exciting and unsure and unsettled.  The Sun had to be given a school name, Misa.  That was because every sun there had the same name!  The language was Milky Wayan, and “Misa” meant “sun on the edge of the galaxy.”

“Misa” landed in a large room with asteroid-workers everywhere.  Some of them helped her get out, and her bag of clothes and oral hygiene supplies were put on a cart that moved along a metal track leading to the office.  When the cart came back, The Sun got on it, but near the office it turned on a fork and went into the office door.  The baggage had gone into a smaller door on the side of the room.

The Sun got up and stood at the desk.  The secretary asked her questions, and this form was filled out:

school name:  ___________
from what galaxy?  Milky Way
what part?  very edge
name of system  Solar System
home room no.:  123
age:  3 years
type:  Middle-Sized
age to stop:  8
meaning of school name: ________

“So you’re a misa,” said the secretary, and wrote next to the words “school name:” “Misa,” and put its meaning in the blank for it.

“Your school name is ‘Misa.’  Here’s your form, and you have to fill out this paper.”  The secretary put a black paper and yellow pencil in front of her and told her to choose her classes.

“I can’t read this; I haven’t been taught!”

“Oh, yes; I forgot!  Now here’re your required courses:

“Math; Spelling; Writing; Reading; Universal Science and Universal Studies.”  She told the same thing to the computer, which typed everything she said.  “Now your courses to choose from are Home-ec, which prepares you to be a Sun;–”

“I’ll take that.”

“–Singing; Art; Gym; Educational Games and Job Study, which tells you better about all the jobs in the universe.  Everybody seems to like to take the last one; I’d advise it.  Choose two of those for this seven weeks.”

“Um–Job Study and–Singing.”

“Okay.  Uh–Computer, type in ‘Job Study and Singing.'”  The tiny screen of the computer got three more words on it.  It had a keyboard, but that was only used when necessary.  A switch was flipped and the computer was able to understand voice commands.  [Here is a picture of a computer which looks like your typical 1985 computer.]

“Computer–shuffle around.”  The computer mixed around the subjects and they turned out like this–Reading, Writing, Spelling, Universal Science, Math, Universal Studies, Singing and Job Study.

Then she said, “Computer, add times.”  The screen showed:

Reading=8:00-9:25
Writing=9:25-10:50
Spelling=10:50-12:15
Lunch=12:10-13:10
Universal Science=12:15-13:40
Math=13:40-14:05
Universal Studies=14:05-15:30
Singing=15:30-1:55
Job Study=1:55-3:00 (1 hour 5 minutes)

“Computer, add teachers and rooms.”

Screen:
[repeats the schedule on one side, and has on the other:]

Reading, HR, Mrs. Mara; rm. 123, speaks Misan
Writing, Mrs. CShCeer (kush-keer); rm. 124, speaks Sheeshu
Spelling, Mr. CShCeer; rm. 125, speaks Sheeshu
lunch, rm. 130
Universal Science, Mrs. SunCeer; rm. 122, speaks Maranoid
Math, HR, Mrs. Mara; rm. 123, speaks Misan
Universal Studies, HR, Mrs. Mara; rm. 123, speaks Misan
Singing, Miss Eeshatu; rm. 121, speaks Sheeshan
Job Study, Miss Tu-Ee Shatee; rm. 916, speaks Saturnionionun

“Computer, print.”

When the computer had printed in yellow on a black piece of paper, the secretary tore it…

[next three pages are missing]

…were trying to figure it out.  “In Sheeshu,” she said, “the letter stands for the sound ‘kuh.'”

“‘Kuh’ is no number.”

“Oh–numbers!  Then the letter could be ‘8’!  Do you have a room number with that number in it?”

“I don’t remember.  I think so.”

“Check the room number ‘128’!”

So they walked over to room 128, both dragging their luggage with them.  Misa knocked on the door, and a man opened it; they shoved the paper toward him and asked if there were any 8’s in the room number.

“No,” he said; “but your room number is 123.  Must be one of you reads Sheeshu to know this is 128!  Well, go to room 123; that’s your homeroom number!”

“Dut dut!”  Sheesheetu called, which meant several things–this time, “Good-bye” and “Thank you” at the same time.

They looked for room 123, with Sheesheetu reading the Sheeshu numbers.They came to a room numbered: [marks resembling 118] which didn’t match the sheet, which said: [marks resembling 11S] but it was “123” in Sheeshu.  They knocked, and the woman named “Mrs. Mara,” who spoke Misan especially, answered.  Lucky for them, they found their room, because after half an hour it was already nearing 8:00!

Mrs. Mara had told them to put their things in the corner of the room where others had put their own, and take out the following materials from their own luggage–textbook, pencil, pen, paper–and go to their desk.  Written in Sheeshu, the placecards were easy for Sheesheetu to read.

The others were shopping around with their eyes on the fifth floor, and should be back pretty soon.

When it was 8:01 and everyone was back in their seats, they were told to open their books to the part labeled (it was written on the board):  [Sheeshu writing]  It was the sixth section.  [scribbles meant to represent Sheeshu writing]

They were taught a few paragraphs from the first section, each sentence written differently but meaning the same.  For example: [sentences in French, English and Sheeshu]

Each book was large and written in small letters.  This was so all languages in the entire universe that ever was and ever would be would fit on a quarter of the page!

These, if you’re interested, were the Sheeshu sentences for the two sentences described in four languages:

[English-based letters]

They would be pronounced: Kuh-ee olg kuh-eye bhft.  Kuh-ee gol kuh-eye bum.

Sheesheetu, of course, had no problem reading those Sheeshu sentences!

Mrs. Mara was especially interested in Misa, because they both spoke Misan (most ancient Hebrew) as official languages.  She was concerned she couldn’t read her own language, and the rest of the class could!  So, she wrote on the board:  [scribbles representing Misan writing]

That was the way it was written at the time.  Then it was written the way Earthlings would someday write it.

By 9:20 everyone in the class could read a paragraph from every single language ever!  They took their book, paper, pencil and pen to whatever their next class would be (except for those who stayed in the same class, of course!).

Misa and Sheesheetu had Mrs. CShCeer (KUSH-keer) next, rm. 124, Sheeshu-speaker, for Writing.  Sheesheetu was her favorite student because they both spoke and read the same language.

That day they practiced making all lines and rounded lines.

Next for Misa was Mr. CShCeer; for Sheesheetu his wife, Mrs. CShCeer.  In that class the lesson was on spelling rules for Sheeshu, which was mostly used in the TB and was important to know.

At 12:10 was lunch.  Mr. CShCeer took his class to lunch.

There was a lunchroom on every floor; for the fifth floor, it was a real good restaurant that costs the cheapest monetary unit for all–the raktuluh–for each meal.  There was a real rich sun named Tuka (“rich sun on side of galaxy”) who liked to insist on using a sun-chip (the highest monetary unit of all), so eventually all meals were free.

solsyssunpic-573x800

Everyone ate in the small lunchroom for Mr. CShCeer’s class until 12:15, the time to start the next class.  Then they were all to go to the room for their next teacher’s class.  Misa couldn’t understand.

She went up to Mr. CShCeer with her shere in her hands, holding it by its two handles.  “I don’t know where to go,” she said.  “I don’t have my schedule with me.”

This was an experience!  Misa could be late to class!  And how’d she know where to go?

She met up with Sheesheetu, who was going to the lunchroom reserved for Mrs. SunCeer’s class.

“Well, let’s see if you belong in my class,” she said, leading her away.

The sphere-tray was a shere colored different colors each with two handles on its sides to carry it.  It was split down the middle, and you opened it and flattened it down, and the food and everything was put in attached boxes all over the tray.  Milk and silverware was also put there.

It was finally 3:00!  Everyone returned to HR (homeroom), but for a bit it wasn’t exactly like home because:

For one thing, everyone had half an hour to finish homework because with those just going to school it’s not easy to get a lot of homework!

For Misa, there was no homework until Universal Science.  All that was was finding the distance a certain bawling ball (slight version of “bowling ball”) would roll until it hit the gitter (gutter).  (With this study, it’s no wonder those schools turn out so many good heavenly body-bawlers!)

In Math, Misa had ten simple-simple! addition problems; for Universal Studies just to read about what different jobs there are in their galaxy; and in Job Study, to read and answer five questions about the Asteroid Patrol.

All answers were written in either pen or pencil in the book.

At 3:30, Mrs. Mara asked if everyone was done with their homework, which they were, and then took them to the rec floor–the fifth floor.  Everyone was put into the large elevator to go upstairs.  The doors were opened by a push of a button, and closed the same way.

The bawling alley was something like a bowling alley; mechanical setting of pins, ball returns; but lines marked where the gitters were.

At 5:30 they all filed into the free, mall restaurant in the south wing.

[Schedule:]
30 hours
10 hours of sleep
9 hours of after school
therefore, 10 hours of school

8:00AM-3:00PM–school
3:00PM-12:00AM–after school
12:00AM-7:00AM–10 hours of sleep [sic]

3-3:30–homework
3:30-5:30–bawling
5:30-7:30 (at the latest)–dinner
7:30-9:30–shop or browse at mall (at 7:30 give allowance)
9:30-10:30–free time
10:30-11:30–bosketball (basketball)
11:30-12:00–free time
***END***

 

The following is a fragment depicting Keith’s adventures on Mouseooine, where he, like the natives, dressed in a mouse costume.  It was probably written when I was about 10.  I think they had to hide that they were Earthlings, and pretend to be from Mouseooine, probably so they wouldn’t get killed:

 

…”Hysterical, not histerical, isn’t it, Gary?” corrected Trera.

“Well, I say it histerical,” remarked Gary.  So both pulled until Mike was up.  She had forgotten the buttons, so she pushed the top and bottom ones, then stepped very cautiously unto the stand.  The crocodiles swam away, clicking their snouts angrily, a good dinner lost.
****
“Yes, King Zrooine, is who we want to see.”

We?” the messenger puzzled, then saw the four children.  “Yes.”

After hearing that, King Zrooine, a 12-year-old, asked 10-year-old Princess Zango (zayng’go), “Zango, should we send my messenger or you to tell Keith to come here?”

Keith?”  Then Zango glanced at the waiters, then replied, “If it’s so; me.”

“Then you shall be it.”  So Zango walked over to them, and jumped at the sight.

“Huh?  I thought only you were here, Keith!  Who are these people?  I never saw them before!  Oh, well; King says you may go to him.”

So Keith came and kneeled, the employees following.  “Do we have to kneel on one knee?” asked Mike, reluctantly.

“No; you’re not the one presenting the employees!” answered Keith, whispering but snappishly.

“So; Keith; I see you brought four boys with you.  What do you want?…Speak!  Don’t wait when I tell you to answer!”

“Oh…These four boys here want royal jobs.  Uh…Uh…”

“Mike Grindstone,” prompted Mike.  “Pilot.”

“Mike Grindstone, here, wants to be pilot,” replied Keith.

“I heard,” said King Zrooine.

“Uh…Uh…,”  Keith fumbled.

“Tom Sanders,” prompted Tom.  “Gun-maker.”

“Gary Lang,” said Gary.  “Navigator.”

“Trera Baker,” said Trera.  “Co-pilot.”

[missing pages]

“Yes.”

“And so did Gary and Tom.  So come with me to the King.”

They followed, and the King said, “So?  Did all pass?”

“Yea,” answered Keith.

“And so, Keith, take them to their next stations,” said Zrooine.

“Yes, sir,” replied Keith.  So he took Mike and Trera to their starcruiser, Gary to her [sic] navigating test, and Tom to her [sic] gun-checking point.

On the way to the star cruiser, Mike asked, “Now what’s the name of this star cruiser?”

Keith put his arms out and cried, What do you care about the name?  It’s just a test!”  There, he said, “Now, Mike, you’re the pilot; climb up the co-pilot’s ladder, and stand by the controls.  Trera, you are the co-pilot, sit there.  I’ll be a passenger.”

So Mike climbed up the co-pilot’s ladder, Trera after her.  She stood by the controls, Trera held fast to the controls by her, and Keith sat in the first passenger seat.

Mike pushed a top button, a bottom button, a middle button, and a button for medium.  Then she gave a signal by pounding the controls on top to Trera, and the ship went up.

Then, when they were down, Keith said, “So, that’s all?”

“Keith!” cried Mike.  “What if I’m forced to be co-pilot?”

“And I’m the only person on the ship?”

“Oh, all right.”  So the test went in reverse.

Keith brought them to another ship, after Mike slid down her controls, and had them drive that.  Trera went in, and Mike and Keith on top.

At Gary’s place, she navigated correct, at Tom’s, her guns were correctly checked.

On their way to Zrooine’s palace, Gary said, “Sand people there–or worse!  Hurry!” as a joke.

“So!” said Mike.  “You saw Star Wars on Earth, huh?”

“On Earth?” said Keith.  “Oh, yeah.”

Trera whispered to Mike, “You dummy!  You’ll get us into trouble by-‘n’-by!”

***END FRAGMENT***

 

When I was twelve and in seventh grade, I wrote a story about Earthlings going to live on Mars.  I used my already-established universe of living heavenly bodies, in this story.

The people were in some vehicles which were suddenly lifted into the air and put on Mars; they could hear around them:

 

“Yes, Mars, my girl, put them on you and they can live!  Trust me, I know these things!”

“Aw, but Nereid, I wanted them to be enlarged by the Sun’s sun-hat and let them live like that while I pray of God that he change my obliquity to 30 degrees and I prepare the air around me!”

“I’m Nereid, Neptune’s moon!  Would I ever steer you wrong?!”

“Well, you sure seem to steer yourself wrong a lot in that you never seem to stick with Neptune and/or Triton!”

“Yeah, well, Earth always steers me right again!  I go to him for his superior advice!”

“Ya know, I think you have a crush on him!”

“I have for the last thousand years had a crush on him!”

“Then it isn’t a crush or infatuation, it’s love!  Go after the boy!  He’s God’s pick for you!”

“But I’m shy!”

“Well, then, it’s simple!  Earth doesn’t like you yet, but what you do is go on that planet-moon picnic with him next picnic day!  Have you noticed?  You two have been paired on the schedule!  Impress him; act sweet and nicely yourself!  When he’s started to notice you, write a note a week later and put it in his mailbox–ask him to go with you!  Simple as all that!  Remember, I caught the tenth planet, Ihfundit, that way, about three of Venus’ years ago, and notice we’ve been married a year so far!”

That gave hope to the one voice, Nereid, as she said:

“See me married to Earth in two Mercury years–176 Earth-days!  For Earth, less than a year!”

Then it sounded like someone was walking away on metal.  Then the person came back, saying: “Oh!  I forgot!  Give this to the Earthlings!  Open your hand!”

“No; they’ll die if I do!”

“Then move a finger a little!  Now, you wouldn’t want those Earthlings to become Marslings just yet until they have their explanation!  Here, lings!”  And something black fell what seemed out of the space there.  Then the walking-on-metal was heard again.

Someone got the paper, which was written on in white chalk.  It must be whoever wrote it knew how to write American or something, because that’s how the words were written.  The person, Cyndy Ferraro, read out loud and very loudly so all could hear:

You lings obviously are wondering what’s happening here, so I’ll tell you.  You see, to someone small like you, the universe looks as you imagine it.  But grow to our size, and you can see the planets as people.

We used to call each other our own name, but your names for us are so nice we call each other by your names for us.

Well, you know Mars is barren.  Earth isn’t.  Mars saw you on Earth and asked God what you were up to.

When she found out, she asked God for permission to get you from Earth and be her own lings, which Earth allowed.  You can’t see us, but Mars had to put you in her hands to keep you safe.

When you’re put on Mars’ head you can build even spaceships if you want!  If you wonder how I know, that red planet told me.

Neptune’s moon besides Triton,
Nereid.

A scientific breakthrough!  The planets obviously were alive, though drilling like for oil or digging or such didn’t hurt them!

They were now free from planetary laws, but not from human laws, so the Bibles, until the Judgement, would always be studied.  Well, now it was 70 degrees on Mars’ equator, and everyone was put on the equator.

They found a pile of boxes, labeled in Sheeshu (a fast-writing and saying language in space), and on top was a booklet of instructions written by the planet and translated by the moon.  It told everyone about the money in the boxes, sun-chips and star-chips.

It was easy to collect in space–asteroid workers were always producing the money and sending it into space to just float around.

The universal money was also used as food and building materials, and such as that.

(Oh, if I forgot to tell you; the lings were given oxo-hats, hats that fasten to the neck with a drawstring, and have two “antlers” on the top to convert air with plant-like mechanisms in the balls.

(It was also explained how to make more of this, besides how to build a “sunbuilding” (building made out of sun-chips) in an hour because in about 90 minutes the temperature would start to drop to dangerous temperatures.

(When it was read how long they had, everyone who could, started immediately to build!)

***END***

 

On August 29, 1986, when just starting eighth grade, I had to write sentences to go along with vocabulary words.  I wrote:

2. Citizens of Mouseooine were noted for their steady practice of deceit when it came to the moons and planets.

6. Mouseooinelings capturing moons and/or planets was a frequent happening.  [This explains why Nereid kept ending up there with Keith.]

19.  The moon finally had triumph over the planet Mouseooine.

 

NVLD: Part 2

NVLD Part 1
NVLD Part 2
NVLD Part 3
NVLD Part 4

I was a latecomer to learning profanity.  I knew some of it, and even my mother used a few such words, but my dad didn’t (at least around me), and I was fairly sheltered from them.  I’d learn them from time to time at school, but somehow still missed out on others.

I couldn’t figure out why my classmates thought it was so funny when one of them showed me “Dick” written on a piece of paper and had me read it, and I said, “What?  It’s just a name!”  Or why they wrote the “a–” word afterwards, I refused to say it, and they said, “It’s just a name!”

Uh, Dick is a name, but the a– word is NOT a name.  What the heck is wrong with you?–I didn’t understand the joke until I later asked my mother about it.

In 4th grade, when I was still playing with my hands around other kids, and when the music teacher would always play a 45 of a popular song at the end of class, we were listening to a song which I started acting out with my hands.

I associated that song with a story I wrote, which had pots and pans dancing around; I formed the pots with my hands, with the middle fingers as handles, and had no clue why the entire class–even the teacher–was laughing as if I were doing something naughty.  (These were 4th through 6th graders, all of whom seemed to be in on the joke, except for me.)

I didn’t learn the “c” word until sometime in my mid or late 20s, so when my ex Phil started laughing at a Monty Python tape routine which replaced “c” for “b” and they said “bunt,” I was completely baffled.  I thought the “69, dudes!” joke was funny because Bill and Ted were silly.

I didn’t understand why my boyfriend freshman year of college thought “Mary with a cherry” was a funny way to refer to the Virgin Mary (some joke that was going around about a drunk priest).

I didn’t hear the alternate meaning of “beaver” until my senior year of college when one of our guy friends brought over a movie that used that term.  Yet even then, a year later, I thought Primus’ “Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver” was about, well, a beaver, to my husband’s amusement.

My roommate in college was actually more sheltered than I was, so I had to explain a few things to her.  But I got the impression that I had somehow missed out on quite a bit.

Not that I wanted to learn those words, because they were sinful, so I never used them.  My Campus Life friends rarely used them, either, or my other school friends.  Even now, I’ll still come across terms or words that my husband or a male friend understands, but I’ve never heard it before, so he’ll wonder how the heck I never heard that or never knew what it meant.

This is me to a T: “Perseveration and the Broken Record.”  [This blog post by Aspie Teacher no longer exists, but I think it may have been moved here.]  Pertinent quote:

I especially have trouble derailing myself when I am having trouble processing something. This can cause me great stress. I can feel that I have gotten stuck in a feedback loop.

My husband has been known to get very irritated with me when this happens. This only makes it worse, because I end up feeling guilty, stupid, and helpless that I can’t do anything to break the feedback loop.

Since receiving my official diagnosis over a year ago, my husband has tried to think of better ways of helping my brain switch gears when it gets stuck. Usually I just need to talk and have him listen without him judging me or trying to solve any problems.

I have come to realize that verbalizing what in in my head helps me process it, but this is not always an easy thing for me. I can’t always find the words to convey what I need to say.

Writing has become my voice. It helps me process the chaos that can develop in my brain. I also have found that what I need is understanding and encouragement. These two actions can do so much for a person.

Another blog post by someone diagnosed with perseveration:

Sometimes it happens when I am trying to diagnose a problem and I keep barking up the same solution.  Other times, it happens  emotionally.

My brain can get stuck on something emotionally and I keep going over it again and again.  Ruminating over past incidents becomes a bit of a tape that gets played over and over again.  I find I can ruminate over unhappy or unfair things a bit excessively. –Carol Ng, The Broken Record of Perseveration

I have the words and phrases that keep going through my head over and over again.  I have the recurring obsessions over various special interests, though not to the level (or strangeness) of an Aspie.  And I have the emotional upsets that keep going around and around in my head even months or years after the incident that triggered it.

You could ask anyone who’s been around me during tough times of my life–parents, college friends, college acquaintances, old roommates, my husband–and they’d tell you how I go over and over things again and again and again.

I’d hear of people wanting to go inside themselves and not talk after a difficult incident, and their loved ones trying hard to pull them out so they’ll feel better–and I’d wonder how anybody would want to keep that inside.  I, on the other hand, want to talk about my problems, far more than anyone wants to listen.

I had no idea I did this until my first big heartbreak in college.  I’d been heartbroken many times during my childhood and adolescence, since I was boy-crazy from a young age but it was usually unrequited.  It would bug me for a while, but I would deal with it, maybe cry once or twice.

But I was not prepared for what it felt like to have a guy love you back (or at least say he did), promise he would marry you, tell you you were meant to be together, and then break up with you.  I was devastated, and had no idea what to do or how to get relief, or how to get him back.

I talked to anyone who would listen: acquaintances, friends, roommate, suitemates, Mom, Dad, best friend back home.  I wrote a few letters to the guy to try to change his mind, pouring out my feelings and argumenta (not a typo) for why we should get back together, but they didn’t work the way I expected, so I stopped doing that.

I had no idea that my discussions of the guy with other people had gotten to be too much for them until one of my friends told me so one day, that they were tired of hearing about him.  It just never occurred to me that I could be talking about him too much.

So after that I went within myself, because even though I stopped talking about the matter, I didn’t stop thinking about it.  I couldn’t stop.  I filled diaries with my thoughts about it.  I wrote it into stories.

This perseveration happens again and again with various issues in my life.  Years later, something will trigger a memory and I’ll start wondering again: How could I have done that?  How could they have said that?  How embarrassing!  How infuriating!

Being upset over a breakup may be long past because I don’t want those guys anymore and am happily married.  But I’ll still remember the nasty things a guy did or said.  One reason why I keep a record of my life is to get these thoughts on paper and–I hope–leave them there.

I try to limit how much I talk about something to keep from annoying people, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone from my mind.  Normally, it’s constantly present until my mind finally moves on to something else.  And apparently I still talk about things enough that my husband starts to talk about me “going around and around.”

All my life, there have been incidents where I did or said something that seemed perfectly reasonable to me, but the people around me thought it was strange for some reason.

Like when, as a kid, I shoveled the top of a snow bank by the fence, rather than the sidewalk, because I liked to walk up there instead of on the sidewalk on the way to the garage.  Two guys in a car stopped and asked what I was doing, and obviously thought I was crazy.  But I just wanted a clear path to walk.

The best in-depth articles I’ve found are “Nonverbal Learning Disorders: What To Look For” by Pamela B. Tanguay and “Nonverbal Learning Disorders” by Sue Thompson, M.A., C.E.T.

Keep in mind that Thompson’s article is from 1995.  Later research showed that NVLD does not have to be as severe or grim as pictured here.  Also, while some with NVLD show brain differences, most do not:

I believe 100% that NLD exists. I want to caution parents, teachers and other experts to be careful when looking at old research into NLD. That is especially true of the early research by NLD pioneers Byron Rourke and Sue Thompson. That research tends to state extreme and narrow definitions of NLD.

Most of their research was 20 years ago. It involved students (nearly all of them boys) with extreme difficulties. They painted very grim pictures of the difficulties these NLDers would have all of their lives with basic life functions such as social interaction, executive function and holding down jobs.

Because their subjects had such extreme impairments, their early conclusions were right…for people with extreme impairments. They also were quick to draw conclusions that NLD was caused by some brain trauma or brain disorders.

As the years went by, more researchers built upon the early work of Rourke and Thompson. The later research found a lot more people who have some traits of NLD, or milder traits of NLD.

And the later researchers found that that vast majority of people with NLD do not have the extreme impairments noted by Rourke and Thompson. They also found no known cause for most people’s NLD.

But the Rourke and Thompson outdated research is still out there, scaring parents.

It also convinces teachers and some experts that, because a student is not as bad off as the ones cited by Rourke and Thompson, there is no way that student has NLD.

Some of the early brain research that claimed there is physical PROOF that an NLDer’s brain is different…doesn’t really apply to people with milder types of NLD.

There is no obvious change in gray matter, in white matter, in the corpus callosem, or brain wave function in most people with NLD. MRIs and EEGs for most NLDers are normal.

It’s pretty clear my dd didn’t develop NLD because of birth trauma or some brain deformity. No, she inherited it from me. And I inherited my NLD from my mom. Each of us has our own unique traits of NLD, but we have some common traits, too.

My dd also got a touch of my husband’s dyslexia and got ADHD-inattentive from somewhere (my uncle maybe?)

fc11–my dd’s NLD was diagnosed by a developmental neuropsychologist. But because NLD is not listed in the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual, the neuropsych’s formal diagnosis was a term that is in the DSM: LD-NOS.

Her diagnosis of NLD was NOT based solely on the spread between her Verbal and Performance. (Her VCI was 34 points higher.) The NLD diagnosis was based on a long battery of tests including fine motor, gross motor, spatial processing, pragmatic language, abstract reasoning, reading comprehension, anxiety, etc.

Yes, some learning difficulties (including NLD) are caused by birth trauma or head trauma. But by far, most LDs and ADHD are not due to a brain injury or due to bad parenting. That includes NLD. –Sharon F, Post here

Other excellent resources: NLDline.

Also see Nonverbal Learning Disorder Overview, FAQ, and Parents’ Questions.

Not every single thing applies to me–for examples, I don’t have trouble staying in a chair, I can understand metaphors and non-literal phrases once they are explained to me, and I excelled in algebra–but so many things do that it feels like, at last, the explanation for my entire life.

I think that if I do have it, it’s a mild or moderate form, since it took me days, not years, to learn such things as riding a bike and tying my shoes.  I learned them later than other children did, but I’m not sure if that was from lack of ability or because no one had taught me yet.

As for swimming, however, I tried numerous times to learn how to do that during my adolescence, but failed.  So I still don’t know how to swim.

Recently, however, I sorted through a bunch of school papers that I’d never thrown out.  Though I graduated high school and college with a high grade point average and honors, I discovered many F’s and D’s in my middle school classwork, and many harsh comments from the teachers.

In 7th grade, my French and Social Studies teachers seemed to hate me, while my English teacher seemed frustrated with me.

The problems I noted most: not including everything I was supposed to, not turning the work in on time, not organizing the information or the numbers correctly, no organization at all when I worked out math problems on the homework and test papers, poor legibility, incorrect answers, all things that fit this NVLD.

I might write little comments in the margins if a sentence on a homework or test paper was funny to me or reminded me of something I was interested in.

I also struggled with maps in 7th grade Social Studies: The teacher insisted the maps be colored with colored pencils, with diagonal strokes all in the same direction, not in the round and every-which-way strokes which were easier for me to do.  I had a hard time filling in the names correctly.

I believe I had mastered grade school math by now, but struggled with middle school math, especially percentages and interest rates.  When everyone else in high school seemed to know how to figure 10% of something (just move the decimal point over one place), I didn’t, until a teacher said one day, “Of course you all know to just move over the decimal point.”

I never did master interest rates, or much of anything in middle school math.  I forget if I struggled in 8th grade math; I don’t even remember who my teacher was.  But in 7th grade, I fought so hard to get my math problems right, only to check the answers in the back of the book and find they were all wrong.  To be honest, I don’t remember if I went to the teacher for help.

Sometimes I wonder if NVLD is really a learning disability or just a different way of learning and looking at the world.  But when I look at my old school papers, I see it truly was a learning disability, undiagnosed because it’s not well-known and kids with it can be academically gifted in other ways.  (That’s explained in the articles I linked to, if you want to understand how that can be.)

It still affects me because I cannot figure out such things as compound interest rates or why credit card interest rate charges don’t match what I think they should be.  In elementary school, word math problems kept tripping me up.

When I was a small child, what age I don’t remember now, maybe two or three, my father was probably on a business trip, my mother was next door, and my brother was watching me.  Somehow in my mind, I changed “next door” to “the store.”

I had drawn a picture I wanted Mom to see, so I went to find her–at the store.  This was a little corner store, maybe a few blocks away, where we’d been many times, so I thought I knew the way (which, looking back, has been a common theme in my life when I’d get lost, not just as a small child but even as a 22-year-old adult).  But somehow, I missed it, and ended up wandering the downtown streets blocks away, at night!

I understood the pedestrian lights, having seen them on Sesame Street, and was frustrated because they kept saying “walk,” then blinking before I was halfway across the side streets, so I’d run back to where I started from, making it very hard to cross the street.

I didn’t cross the busy street running parallel to my sidewalk, fortunately.  I don’t remember being scared, but I was annoyed at not being able to find the store yet.  Shouldn’t I have found it by now?

Finally, a car pulled up next to me and a woman said, “Your mother sent me to find you.”  Fortunately, she told the truth and wasn’t some child abductor, because I believed her and she took me home before the police even got there.  (My mom says it was a male neighbor who found me, so I guess there must have been two people in that car.)

My mom was relieved, while my brother felt terrible because this happened while he was watching me.

Back in the 70s when I first started Kindergarten, it was common for parents to let even younger kids walk to school by themselves.  Even though the world was just as dangerous back then, at least in cities as large as mine (about 100,000), parents just taught their kids to look both ways, how to get where they were going, then let them go.

I’d wander the block all day long on my tricycle, but I don’t remember my mom being nearby–or anybody else’s mom being nearby them, either.  After a couple of blocks, I’d begin seeing all sorts of other kids about my age walking to school; there were so many of us crossing over a certain yard across from the school that the owner complained.

Almost nobody got driven to school, or from what I recall, even walked to school by their parents except maybe for Kindergarteners.  Some kids got bussed, but they appeared to be just the handicapped kids.

Apparently in those days, if you were old enough to go to school, you were considered old enough to know how to get yourself there.  My parents tell me that after a few days of my mom walking me to Kindergarten, which was eight blocks away, I insisted on walking myself home, saying I knew the way.

Well, I got very lost.  I kept looking for a large rock (used in landscaping) that I never saw, and didn’t turn on my street.  Fortunately, a kindly old man (in an age when it was considered okay for a kindly old man to talk to small children) found me and directed me home.

I don’t recall what happened after that–did I know the way after that and walk by myself, did my mom take me, what?–but I do remember my big brother walking me home that year, after which he went to middle school.

But soon I knew my way and–just a few days into Kindergarten, according to my parents, me barely five years old–I walked by myself.  So I do believe kids are more capable than they’re given credit for in these paranoid 21st-century times.

But I had this dangerous feeling that the rule of looking both ways before crossing a street, didn’t apply to me.  These were side roads next to a main road, so most of them probably had stop signs anyway, but it took a scolding or two from drivers and even from a girl my own age to convince me to be safe.

This is why, when training my own child to walk to school, I didn’t let him go alone until I saw that he could follow the safety rules and also wouldn’t get lost.

I don’t recall having any one best friend, or many friends at all, in my first three years of school, before switching to the “smart” school.  Maybe a few playmates, but not the same one all the time.

There was a group of kids who I wanted to hang out with on the playground, and kept trying to, but they kept shaking me off and getting mad at me.  I couldn’t understand why.  No, I wasn’t mean to anyone, so there was no reason I could point to that they would be keeping me out of their group.

I remember one of them making a comment that I was always writing (or was it talking?) about “Telle-oh and Sally-oh” (actually Telle-oh and Sally), two characters I had made up, best friends whom I wrote stories about all the time.  I complained about her snark to the teacher, who told me to talk to the girl myself.  I did, saying, I don’t always write about them: I write about other characters as well!

In second grade, one day I sat coloring along with the advanced reading group.  I asked a question about the picture, held it up, and the other kids in the group went, “Eww!”  I discovered that they all colored inside the lines, while I did not bother with that.

Also, my teacher often accused me of daydreaming because I wouldn’t raise my hand to answer questions while other kids did.  The truth was, I didn’t always know the answer.

One day in the advanced reading group, she asked us a question about construction equipment.  All the other kids put their hands up, but not me.  She scolded me, saying, “Put your hand up, Nyssa!  Put your hand up!”

But I couldn’t because I didn’t know the answer.  I knew virtually nothing about construction equipment, having little interest in it.  It was a shame that she misjudged me like this, because otherwise she was a wonderful teacher, very special to me.

In third grade and maybe fourth, I would make all sorts of characters with my hands, and use these “hand puppets” to act out various stories.  I remember doing this ever since I still slept in a crib.

In the crib it was human puppets, but I was dissatisfied with the typical human-hand puppet, with two fingers for legs and three fingers held behind and the rest of the hand for the “head.”  It didn’t seem like a real person at all, so I made my index finger the head (crooked over of course), my middle finger and thumb the arms (which touched at the hands), and the other two fingers the legs.

In Kindergarten, this human-hand puppet became a kangaroo, and I also made dinosaurs, which I liked to make scurry along the table until Melissa tried to smash one of them.  Then the human-hand puppet became a tiger-kangaroo.  (Don’t ask me where the name came from.)

As I walked to school by myself (Kindergarten through second grade), I liked to play games: I’d be a train, or ride a horse, or make up an entire story in my head about the Duck of Death (based on a dream, I think) or hand puppets which acted out the Convoy song that was popular at that time.

(Imagine: If my mother had driven me to school, like so many people do now, or hadn’t trusted me to walk to school myself like so many other little kids did in those days, I never would’ve had this elaborate fantasy life on the way, which I can still remember vividly.  It probably took me a good ten, fifteen or twenty minutes to make the trek, plenty of time to act out stories.)

I also played with these hand puppets in the bath, since I didn’t have a lot of bath toys like rubber ducks or the like.  (I would also make Barbie mermaids with washcloth tails.)

My brother used to watch a Krofft variety show that included the campy Horror Hotel and the strange, Gothic Lost Island.  A witch ran the Horror Hotel, and there was a vampire and a Frankenstein.

On Lost Island there was this girl with golden curls and a frilly, old-fashioned dress who kept going through a foggy wood, past what I perceived to be a huge brown spider’s lair, and she’d always run past it.

The spider had lots of legs, looking more like a ball with some 20 legs or so than your normal spider.  One day, Dr. Deathray threw her into the spider’s nest, and it jumped on her.  In the bath that night, I played out that scene with my hand puppets.

(That show haunts me to this day and for many years I kept searching for that hotel, the little girl and the spider.  No, it wasn’t Dark Shadows, which I first suspected back in the mid-90s.  It wasn’t until 2010 that I finally found out what the show was, but I haven’t been able to locate episodes online to find out what was really going on, was it a spider, did it eat her up, etc.  But if I ever actually find and watch that scene again, it’ll probably be completely hokey compared to the surreal and spooky, shadowy vision in my head.

(Just like when I saw The Bermuda Depths again after many years, and it was no longer the dark, Gothic, evil movie with the dreamlike cave, the evil turtle and the evil turtle’s evil, formerly human protegee who was like some unholy sea nymph.  Rather, it turned out to be some hokey 70s movie with a turtle with a grievance, and a sea nymph who was human and not so evil.)

The hand puppet characters had gotten quite varied by third grade, including a figure 8, dogs, cats, one or two humans, etc.  It was great fun, and in third grade, I began teaching them to a boy named Chad, who liked to sit with me on the bus and play with me at school.

But I soon discovered that my classmates and teacher found it babyish.  Chad and I got mercilessly teased on the bus, as if we were lovers.  So I began to stop doing the hand puppets in public, until finally I stopped doing it at all.  I do recall once, when the fire alarm went off at school, throwing up my hand puppets, so in that case at least, it seems to have been a kind of nervous reaction.

There were other things that I would do that seemed perfectly reasonable to me at the time, but other kids would make fun of me or laugh, and/or even the teacher would give me a funny look.  To them, it looked entirely different than what I was actually doing.  These weren’t habits, just something I did once because it seemed like a good idea at the time.

In fourth grade, I believe it was, though it may have been third, my teacher decided to bring in a bunch of stuffed animals which we could have at our desks.  I kept wanting to get one certain toy, which I think was a cat, or at the very least a puppet, because through it, I was able to talk to people.

During my early childhood, some people in the neighborhood (even an adult or two) kept accusing me of talking to trees.  But I didn’t do that; I was acting out various storylines, made up in my head, while walking or rollerskating around the block.

My fourth/fifth grade teacher was always complaining about me, even though normally teachers loved me.  She called me babyish for having to think before making a decision.  This angered me.  Why she called this babyish, I don’t know, since a person should think things through.

Once, she said I would probably grow up to be a hermit.  She didn’t seem to realize that this was not by choice.  I’m not sure if she was referring to a person who lives in civilization but mostly stays in his/her house, but at the time I thought she meant one of those weird antisocial guys who go off to live in a mountain cabin by themselves.  I had no clue why she thought I’d want to do that.

In sixth grade, after one of our holiday or vacation breaks (probably Christmas), I came back thinking of Rose Cavern (Tennessee?).  My family had just been to visit it, probably on the way back from Texas, and as an impromptu stop along the way.  I loved the stalagmites and stalactites, and just the whole, romantic thought of a cave and living in one or getting lost in one.

In Art class, we were to draw a picture of something that happened on our vacation.  So, of course, I drew a picture of the stalagmites and the stalactites, and a flashlight shining on them.  I tried it twice.  The first time, it didn’t look right, and the boy next to me said it looked like a spider.  So I crossed it out and turned the paper over, then started again.

I had some artistic ability, but my people were very cartoonish, long and narrow; trying to reproduce exactly what I saw in my head was very difficult.  I tried awfully hard to get the picture to look right.  I drew the stalagmites and the stalactites the best I knew how: long, pointy columns.

It wasn’t as good as a photograph, but I was only in sixth grade, my skills were not well developed yet, and I didn’t have a photograph to copy, just my memory.

I drew a circle around them to represent the beam of the flashlight; the rest of the cavern, not illuminated by the light, was black.  I was finally pleased with it, as well as I could be considering the lack in ability that I couldn’t help, and turned it in.

A few minutes later, the teacher held up someone’s picture.  “Look at this!” he cried.  We all laughed, including me.  Then he looked at it, realized it was the wrong side, and turned it over.

I realized it was my picture, now that the proper side was facing the class, and that I had been laughing at the crossed-out picture on the reverse side of my own picture!  I think he even had it upside-down before he turned it over, which may explain why I didn’t recognize it.

I blanched with horror.  “This student didn’t even try,” he said, tossing it in the wastebasket.

Note that I said before, “I tried awfully hard to get the picture to look right.”  He didn’t mention my name to the class, though anyone near me would probably have recognized my picture, but he humiliated me in front of everyone for not being a perfect artist, and accused me of not trying at all when I had tried dang hard to get that picture as good as it possibly could be.

I was probably too intimidated by teachers to realize that I could have told my parents what happened, and they could have complained about how their child was judged and sentenced as lazy without even a trial.

I could draw, better than many but not as well as the ones who are generally recognized as artists in grade school.  I liked drawing comics and illustrating my stories.  I couldn’t draw anywhere near as well as my brothers could.

But I drew often and well enough that my people–originally funny-looking creatures with long necks–eventually looked realistic.  I would draw pictures to help myself visualize main characters in books, especially historical fiction, in which I had to visualize not just people but fashions.  I would look at the pictures while reading.

To be continued….

Richard gaslights me into thinking I’m a stalker

There were also the occasional snide comments from Richard that I never could tell if he was joking or not: Saying that my saving all my letters and e-mails to and from friends was somehow stalkerish, because of some Ally Sheedy movie he saw where a girl did that.

Making jokes like, “Are you stalking me again?” when I never did stalk him: I merely asked about some info that automatically showed up onscreen every time I opened a private chat with him on IRC.

It made me start feeling insecure, like I was somehow clingy or something.  But my behavior was perfectly normal: It was just his gaslighting that made me feel this way.

But Richard and Tracy both made me feel insecure when there was no need, over things that, often, they themselves would do, or that their friends did, or that I see other people doing all the time.

They made me feel like a stalker just for wanting to hang out with or talk to my best friend on a regular basis, made me afraid to do anything I normally would do to interact with my friends, for fear they’d see it as “creepy” or “stalkery.”

More gaslighting, basically, and it’s common for narcissists to take, take, take, then accuse the other of being too “clingy” or “needy.”

Sometimes I wonder if Richard started doing this after reading my book The Lighthouse.  I gave him a copy in 2008; the story “All Together Now” depicts a girl being gaslit and falsely accused of stalking by her ex-boyfriend.

Except that it actually started before that: When he first moved into my house, I pulled out a folder with pictures, which online friends (mostly on the Forum) would post so you could see what they really looked like.  I didn’t print every picture, but special ones from special people, including Richard and Tracy, since I had not met them yet.

But Richard adopted a tone and look to make it seem like this was “creepy” somehow.  I thought he was joking, but now it seems like part of one big campaign to keep me off-balance, questioning myself and my sanity, and that it started way back in October 2007!

One of the many things he told me to gaslight me, was that it was somehow “creepy” that I save letters I receive, and copy letters I write.  In late January 2009, he wrote on his blog that his water heater had just flooded, destroying some letters.

So I wrote, “If any of the letters you lost were from me, just let me know–I have copies.”

His response on his blog (so this was public to all his friends/family, just like some of his Facebook jabs of me “stalking” him, and some of his wife’s criticisms of me on Facebook):

LOL In a way Nyssa, its kind of creepy that you keep copies of letters you send to people.

I saw one movie in the 1980′s were a stalker kept everything they wrote down they kept as well as the person they were stalking and used the info to entrap them and force them into submitting to their whims. It was an awful movie, like one of those late at night Showtime 1.3 star flicks starring Ally Sheedy.

Not saying this is the case, but it sparked a bad memory when you mentioned that. :P

He even had his wife help him with this gaslighting: He sat me down and the two of them told me how creepy and weird it was, while asking me not to “take offense.”

Tracy then made fun of me for copying my letters before sending them.  She said you don’t do that unless you really like to write.  Well, I really like to write–and I often would use copiers, type copies of handwritten letters, or simply save a word processor file after using it to type a letter.  No biggie.

She and Richard both practically accused me of stalking because I have always kept all my letters and interesting e-mails to and from friends.  Isn’t that ridiculous?

I mean, come on, I like having a detailed record of my life.  They’re like a diary to me, for crying out loud!  They remind me of thoughts, hopes, and events not just in my life, but in the lives of my friends, memories that don’t fade over time.

I spent several years writing down everything that had happened to me, first college memoirs that filled hundreds of pages, then memoirs of the years following, then high school and childhood–until pregnancy, morning sickness and eventually having to watch over a small child, put this on hiatus.

I had always wanted such a detailed account, ever since I read the Little House series as a child.  These accounts, and all the diaries I filled and letters I saved, were meant so I could remember everything interesting that ever happened to me.

I also kept ICQ records if the conversations were interesting, and same thing for some IRC chats that gave details of the life or thoughts of the dear friend I was chatting with.

These were never to be used for stalking purposes, like Richard had seen in that movie.  These were for me and me alone, to help my memory, and also in case I wanted to base a story on events in my life (which I did on occasion), or wanted to write memoirs about a time or incident in my life (which I also do on occasion).  These are all perfectly normal things for writers to do.

I had noticed over time that while I could remember in surprising detail many things that had happened in the past few years, such as conversations or events or what people were wearing at a certain time, details farther back in the past began to fade, and I didn’t like losing them.

I do wonder if this desire to record everything is another sign of Asperger’s or NVLD, but there is nothing pathological or creepy about it.  That’s just absurd, and when I posed the question to my longtime college friends, they didn’t understand Richard, either.  They said it was my own business what I wanted to do with my letters.

In probably February 2010, Richard posted the results of one of those fake tests going around Facebook in those days, saying that I visited his profile the most.

Turns out those tests were fake because it was impossible back then to make such a tally, and you’ll note they haven’t been on Facebook for some time, for being security risks.

But he posted, “I have a stalker!” (referring to me).  Chris posted, “I thought it would be me!”–which softened the blow and made it seem more like a joke, but–I just couldn’t be sure.  Then my family went on a short vacation, but I spent the whole time worried about this.

I now recognize this as part of a campaign to make me think Richard and Tracy were perfectly normal and I was crazy, to keep me from seeing his narcissism and her abuse, and realizing how he’d been manipulating me and using me all along.

This is something narcissists and abusers do to you, to get you to stop complaining about bad treatment and start seeing yourself as the problem, while they change nothing and apologize for nothing.

Even if you know in your heart that you’re not doing anything wrong or weird, just by being your trusted friend, a narcissist can plant one of these “mind bombs” in your head to get your brain thinking subconsciously, “What if he’s right?  What if I am a creepy clingy stalker type?”  (Just because you like to save old letters and keep a diary?  Oh pleeeaaase!)

In fact, keeping diaries while you are being abused in some way and gaslit, is highly recommended, both for your sanity and as evidence in trials.

What did I actually do with my diaries/e-mails?  I used them to prove to myself that I was not imagining what happened.  I used them to write an authentic memoir, with changed names, to express what happened, try to heal, and help others validate their own experiences and heal.  I used them to prove to friends that I was telling the truth.

It seems that every other abuse blogger out there–from the biggies like Narcissists Suck, or One Mom’s Battle, to the little ones you come across while googling–posts e-mails and letters from their abusers.

They’re used to demonstrate how narcissists and abusers twist things around on you, so you can understand what’s going on in your own life.  They’re used to prove to readers what they’ve been dealing with.

And normally, the names are changed, so nobody outside of the blogger’s inner circle, knows who these people are.  Because this is about understanding what happened to you, dealing with it, helping others deal with their own issues, then healing.

There was no trying to get Richard/Tracy to submit to my whims, none of that kind of crap, or whatever the heck went on in that movie I never saw.

I used fake names and carefully kept out anything that would identify where they worked, where they used to live, forum handles, pictures, etc. etc.

Only a select few of my friends/family knew their identities, and they weren’t reading my blog, especially after I stopped linking to it on Facebook. (I wanted the freedom to write fully about what happened, without worrying what my friends will think.)

Their accusations of me in an e-mail in 2012 were so absolutely bizarre that I now wonder if it was more of Richard’s paranoia from that stupid movie, because it sure as heck was from nothing I actually wrote.

They came across my blog by accident, or maybe somebody told them, but it sure wasn’t me–and they certainly didn’t Google their names and find it.  (I have the stat records to prove this.)

Then when they did find it, I posted that if they apologized, I would remove what I had written from my blog and never speak of it to them again (as a sign of forgiveness).  And if not, then I wanted nothing to do with them, and I wanted them to stay away from me, stay out of my life, don’t contact me. 

That’s all I said.  Period.  Finis.

I’ve been going through my old college diaries, letters, and the memoirs I wrote right after graduation, in order to update my online college memoirs.  Tonight I found that on June 19, 1994, I wrote in a letter to a friend,

My dad has an old copier now, and it makes letter-writing so much quicker.  I used to write a letter, then hand-write or type up a copy for myself.  Now I just take a few minutes to copy it.

It’s so odd to not have to pay a dime a copy [like at school], and bad copies aren’t such a problem when you don’t have much money to make more.

In “Clarissa” by Samuel Richardson, Clarissa and Lovelace are always copying letters or having their servants do it.  Then they sometimes copy other people’s letters so their friends can read them.  How they would have appreciated having copiers!

I started copying letters around the same time I started writing them: in the mid-80s, my early teens, to my pen pal in Luxembourg.  If I didn’t do that, my Mammoth Cave account would have been lost, never turned into this post.

So…Apparently I’ve been “creepy” for some 28 years….

I believe I wanted to record what I wrote to this stranger in a foreign country.  As I signed up for more pen pals in other countries, I also saved the letters I wrote them, as well as the ones they wrote me.  I had a different folder for each pen pal, with “to” on one side and “from” on the other.

Those folders are still in my fireproof vaults, along with letters written and received from my college friends all through college, and nearly all e-mails exchanged after we graduated, from then up until the present day.  (I recently began archiving e-mails on my computer instead, to save space, and I back up my e-mails periodically on a portable backup drive called My Book.)

There were some letters I didn’t copy here and there, but I later regretted this, because I would have loved to have that written account of everything that happened when my parents took me to college for the first time.

I wrote a church friend about the spires in Milwaukee, but I don’t have a clue what else, and now it’s lost to my memory.  The letters I did keep, have allowed me to write accurate college memoirs full of detail, making the scenes far more vivid than, “Well, we did this, then this, but I’m not sure what else.”

This is also why I’m confident that my story about Richard and Tracy is accurate, because I have this record of our interactions, not just e-mails and letters exchanged with them, but e-mails I wrote my mother, college friends and husband during those years.

When Richard accused me of somehow being “creepy” for saving letters people send me, and copying letters I send others–and when Tracy made fun of me for it like some mean girl in junior high–I knew this was absolutely frickin’ ridiculous.  As I mentioned before, I wrote to my college friends about it as well, to find out their thoughts:

I was baffled today by what a friend meant as a teasing comment, but it made no sense to me that he would even make it. His apartment just got flooded by a broken water heater, and he lost some letters, so I wrote, “If you lost any of my letters, let me know because I have copies.”

He wrote that it’s “kind of creepy” that I save the letters I write to people, and then he recalled an 80s movie with Ally Sheedy in which somebody kept every bit of correspondence with a person, and then used it for blackmail.

He told me in person that it wasn’t meant to offend, he was just teasing me. But it shocked me when he said he doesn’t know anybody who saves their own letters.

His wife doesn’t do it, either, and Jeff told me he doesn’t, either. I always thought that EVERYBODY saves copies of their letters, not just the ones they receive but the ones they send.

I found a website here by someone who recommends copying/printing every letter/e-mail you write or send, because it will bring back memories and be very valuable to you many years later.

This has always been how I feel about it.  It never seemed “creepy” in any way, shape or form to me, and even as a joke, I don’t understand why anybody would say that.

Am I really in the minority here, or is it just because he’s a guy????

Sharon wrote:

I can only guess at why your friend said that. I keep letters I receive from people, somewhat compulsively….

But I know a lot of people who just experience and enjoy letters at the given time, and don’t keep them for later.  So, with this in mind, perhaps your friend has never heard or realized (as he said) that some folks do keep their correspondence.

And perhaps the first brain association he made was with the movie he talked about. With only that in mind it might seem creepy to him. Don’t’cha love the media?

Anyway, I really appreciate that you kept and made copies of the college journal, because it really is fun to look back and reread it.

So don’t feel bad about wanting to keep those memories; there’s nothing “creepy” about it.

Mike wrote,

If it means something to you to hold onto every letter you send and receive, go for it. The world will not, I suspect, become a better or worse place because of it. Do what makes you feel good.

He said he didn’t save letters (except from his wife), but only because he didn’t have the room to store them all.

Clarissa said it’s okay because it helps you keep memories.

Note the huge difference between the reactions of my true friends, and who I thought was my true friend, Richard.

As for Richard calling it a “joke,” another abusive trait is to say some nasty things about you and then say it was just a “joke.”  Usually you can tell a true joke from an insult.

After growing up with brothers and a father who could zing you with humor, I am used to guys zinging each other as a joke.  I know that zinging doesn’t work so well with girls, because they take everything personally.  And Richard and I did occasionally zing each other.

But this “stalking” and “creepy” stuff–It’s like he zeroed in on one of my fears, maybe from reading The Lighthouse, and then exploited it in his “humor.”  See, having NVLD makes you clumsy in social situations, so we are at risk of people calling us creepy, when we are well-meaning people just looking for friendship/love like everybody else.

It also didn’t feel funny.  In fact, he often criticized me in a deadpan for the oddest things–taking a shower daily, calling me a prude for my taste in movies–then I got upset, then he later claimed he was “joking.”

Not only that, but after “joking” with me in his blog comments, right where his family and friends could see him call me “creepy,” the next day he came over with his wife, sat down with me and then both began telling me how “creepy” it was.

Some “joke”!  No, this fits the narcissistic/abusive trait of trying to control you through gaslighting and fake “jokes.”

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if saving letters like this, is a “writer” trait.  Writers journal; we write diaries; we save odds and ends; we want to remember so we can write about it later, or just to remember.  Some of us save for posterity, historians and/or biographers.

A lady brought in her journals to Writer’s Club one night, full of playbills, photographs, written accounts, even movie ticket stubs (I do that, too).

And that’s what I’m doing: saving it to write about it later.  Or to save the letters dear friends have written me, because they are dear friends.  Or simply to remember.

In fact, the first time I ever heard of people just chucking old letters, was when Richard told me it was creepy to save them!  I thought everybody saved their letters, simply because those are your friends writing you, they took the time to write you, and the letters are worth saving because of who they came from.  I also wanted to remember what I wrote to people, as a diary, so I saved those as well.

I call it all part of my journal.  The letters and e-mails are saved with other mementoes, neatly organized in date order in file folders, many of which are stored in fireproof vaults.  These are all valuable memories which otherwise would be lost as my brain jettisons things over the years.  Even old letters, mementoes and pictures from my exes are still preserved.

(Anyone who gets jealous over their mates saving such things, I think they’re absolutely ridiculous.  I do not save these because of pining over my exes: I lost all romantic interest in these guys 20 years ago!  I save them for the same reason I save all my other letters: as a diary, reminders of something that was important to me once.  No one has any business telling their mates what to do with old letters from exes long gone!  That’s wanting to control your mate, even their memories!)

I don’t write diaries like I used to, because it’s much easier to save letters and e-mails: They cover many of the events of my life and what I think about them.  Also, nowadays I use my blog and website as a diary/journal.

Then in Writer’s Club in 2014, one meeting was on journaling/diaries.  One member found a treasure trove in his deceased mother’s letters: both to and from people, because she saved drafts of the letters she wrote.  We were encouraged to keep journals of our lives, to save letters.

I posted on Facebook,

As I heard today (and already knew), my archives/journals are perfectly normal–especially for writers–and encouraged. The saving of memories is considered valuable, whether for yourself or for posterity. I must drain the poison of psychological abuse, not allow myself to take any of it to heart and spoil this wonderful thing I have always loved to do.

My friends said things like, “I do the same thing,” it’s beautiful to save letters/journals, who cares what other people think about what you do with your own life.  The president of the club wrote, “Nicely said, Nyssa.”

Come to think of it, Shawn, who sexually used and psychologically abused me back in college, objected to, even scolded me for, keeping a diary about the things he did with me:

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

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

His objection also came from his time in the mental hospital, though I won’t explain how; I had no such experience.  He asked if I worried about anybody finding it; no, I did not.  If they did, they’d realize I wasn’t as innocent as people thought, and I didn’t mind that. –March 1993, “Shawn Rips Me Apart”

Shawn is the only person I’ve ever encountered who thought a diary was somehow a bad thing.

I’m convinced that anyone who objects to someone else keeping a diary or old letters, is afraid of discovery, that they are abusing that person and don’t want it known. 

I believe the real reason Richard and Tracy said these things was to make me feel just as creepy as they told me I was acting, so I would destroy all my letters and e-mails.  I believe they feared that I was writing down the things they were doing and saying, and that their house of cards would soon fall when I added it all up and realized they’d been deliberately deceiving and manipulating me.

As I record in more detail here, such records give the target of a narcissist and/or abuser more credibility with others, and also help the target keep straight what is real and what is gaslighting.

I have absolutely no fear of anyone keeping diaries or old letters/e-mails to or from me.  Also, if you keep records of your interactions with an abusive person, then you can one day have that “ah-HAH!” moment that means the narc/abuser has now lost all control over you–and that you have proof for others to see, as well.

Yet writers have always been hyper-aware their correspondence might have enduring literary merit. Hunter S. Thompson, for one, made carbon copies of many of his letters…..

One writer who systematically saves his e-mail is Nicholson Baker, whose book ”Double Fold” was a cri de coeur about what is lost when libraries convert newspapers and other rare materials to microfilm.

”I regret deleting things afterward, even sometimes spam,” Baker said. ”I’ve saved almost everything, incoming and outgoing, since 1993, except for a thousand or so messages that went away after a shipping company dropped my computer. That amounts to over two gigabytes of correspondence — I know because my old version of Outlook froze when I passed the two gigabyte barrier. When software changes, I convert the old mail into the new format. It’s the only functioning filing system I have.”

Salman Rushdie is also a saver. “Yes, I have saved my e-mails, written and received since the mid-90′s when I started using computers regularly, and yes, I suppose any archive deal would include these (pretty extensive) e-mail files,” Rushdie said.

“I e-mail a lot, so there’s all sorts of stuff there, but don’t ask me to remember what it is. Private correspondence, texts, business mail, jokes, everything.” Rushdie said he had backed up a lot of his correspondence on an external hard drive, where he had also transferred messages from old computers.

–Rachel Donadio, Literary Letters, Lost in Cyberspace

The comments to this blog post are full of reasons why old letters and journals should not be destroyed, for sentimental reasons and for posterity. There is regret over letters which were destroyed to de-clutter.  Destroying letters and journals is seen as sacrilege.  Letters and journals are not seen as clutter even if you have a lot of them (not a bit like old clothes or broken lamps).  There is regret over the destruction of letters between one’s parents.

Also see here and here and here. Look at the joy it brings so many people to save these things!  And the historical or sentimental value to much of it!

During my late forties, I began making copies of the letters I sent to my many epistolary friends. I typed those I’d written in longhand before mailing them, and made carbon copies or photocopies of those composed on the typewriter.

By that time the absence of such a record had on a number of occasions been a cause of my dismay, puzzlement, or keen regret.

It happens that I had become a devotée of the forth-and-back call-and-response pulsations of corresponding with souls of widely different temperaments, interests and points of view.

Each of them brought out another side of me: what was sacred to one might be anathema to another; what enthralled one was less than fascinating to the next; what entertained one, another found was not at all amusing.

When the spirit was upon me, I penned or typed long letters to my friends-in-writing in response to theirs. Because each of these epistolary friendships was sui generis, I suppose it was inevitable that I would eventually begin saving both sides of each correspondence.

I had learned well that a good habit for indefatigable letter writers to cultivate is to review what was written to whom, and when, lest one weary or wound or offend through a slip of the pen….

The passion to preserve my own papers, strewn with the seeds of every living thing I have read or written, was born of the desire to honor the covenant between the generations. Who has not dreamed the impossible dream of imperishability of all we have loved well? –Audrey Borenstein, Saving Words: Old Letters and Journals

So go ahead, save your old letters and diaries.  And if anyone tells you it’s wrong, tell them it’s your life and you’ll do what you want!  Those memories will become more precious to you over time, as the ones in your head begin to fade.  And your descendants may find them precious as well.  Also, use my story to help you be on guard against narcissistic mindscrews.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing