On the Idea that God has Someone in Mind for You

Finding a mate is not always a matter of patience, waiting for God’s match for you to come along.  It could also be a matter of where you are in your life, how willing you are to take the initiative, how you act, how picky you are, etc.

Sometimes it’s not you, but the lack of good or available catches in your social circles.  (You begin to think arranged marriages are a great idea.)

Even getting married is not the cure-all it’s made to seem in popular culture.   Sometimes people find the “perfect” man/woman and get totally disillusioned.   Sometimes people will be married for many years and then get divorced.   Sometimes a spouse will have affairs or be abusive in some way.

There’s no such thing as the “perfect” mate.  I also don’t believe in soul mates: We use God’s Word for direction in choosing someone, but ultimately that someone is our choice (and theirs).

The idea that God chooses everything for us–mate, career, college, etc.–as part of an overall “plan” comes from Protestant fundamentalism.  I don’t believe it comes from ancient Christianity.

Looking for the perfect someone could leave you lonely.  Looking for someone you can get along with, and then working to keep the relationship in good shape, is more successful than expecting to find a lifelong passionate love affair.

Being single is not always fun, especially since you can’t do certain things if you don’t believe in premarital sex.  But if you focus on doing things you enjoy, find some good friends, and have a job or ministry or hobby that you like, that can help keep the loneliness at bay.

Several months after my ex-fiancé broke up with me in 1994, I found myself having a great time because I didn’t have to deal with his emotional abuse anymore–and a few guys were interested in me at the same time.

I’m married now, but went through many years of loneliness before finding this person.  I wish I knew these things back when I was single, so I wouldn’t have been so desperate to find somebody.

Written around 2005/2006/2007

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I didn’t say it would be serious.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:



Film Class; I Spend a Night with Phil–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–January 1994, Part 2

[Please note: This is NOT the “Tracy” of my other memoir, The Darkness Engulfs Me.  The Tracy of “Darkness” lived in a far different region, far away from mine, and was probably in middle school when I was in college.]

Film Class

We saw many classics in Film class.  The first was D.W. Griffith’s 1915 silent movie, Birth of a Nation.  It may have been blatantly racist, but it was important because it introduced many techniques Griffith had invented, such as irising (blacking out the picture around a particular thing you want to emphasize) and cross-cutting (cutting back and forth from one scene to another during such things as battle sequences).

He was a filmmaking genius, and the movie looked so real, even seen on a small TV screen.  Maybe it was the “real” look of the actresses, who didn’t seem Hollywood perfect like the actresses of following years.

They didn’t look painted-up with makeup, even though silent pictures required special makeup, so maybe they were made up differently than in other silent films.  It seemed as if these people would look in real life exactly as they appeared onscreen, except in color.  The film was surprisingly clear.

As for the other movies mentioned in the textbook, I wasn’t even aware before this that silent movies were made in the days of Merry Widow hats and leg-of-mutton sleeves.  I thought they started in the 20s.  It was so strange to see movie actresses dressed this way when they weren’t in a costume drama.

It was hard to have to read all the lines and hear only music for three hours, which probably made the movie seem even longer, as did our hard, classroom seats–but it wasn’t impossible.  If it weren’t for the racist plot, the movie could actually have been great.

In the beginning, it introduced itself with a words-only screen in which it called itself the “greatest movie ever.”  Considering movies were brand-new, this was quite an arrogant claim.

Oddly enough, this movie was a catalyst for the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 20th century.  The Klan had disbanded in 1869, and then this movie came along and praised it.  This movie may have become almost obscure over the years, but in its day it inspired major controversy.

History repeats itself more than many people realize: My textbook read on page 62, “The film was suppressed in some cities for fear of race riots.”  I believe a similar thing happened in the early 90s with one or two movies about the ghetto.

Maybe the next day after we saw Birth of a Nation, it was time for much more pleasant movies by Charlie Chaplin.  We saw one or two of the shorts (I think one was One A.M.) and then The Tramp.

The next day, we saw the impressive talkie The Great Dictator.  Hitler had supposedly taken his peculiar mustache from Chaplin to make himself seem more lovable to the German people; now, Chaplin returned the favor, and played Hitler (Adenoid Hynkel) in one of two roles in the movie.

He poked fun at Hitler in a well-deserved fashion.  I loved when Hynkel gave speeches interspersed with such words as “Wienerschnitzel” and “Sauerkraut” and other German words for food that had no place in the speech, and coughs and German words with very English pronunciations (like “joo-den” for “Juden,” which should be “yoo-den”).

I also loved “Tomainia” for Germany, “Bacteria” for fascist Italy, and “Osterlich” for Austria.  The last one was my favorite, because it sounded like “ostrich,” and Austria in German is Österreich (oes-tehr-rike).  This movie was often serious, but often funny.  The whole class seemed to love this movie.  It was certainly a lot easier to take than Birth of a Nation.

This film class taught me that there are many, many classics and non-classic but brilliant films which have fallen into obscurity because they are silent movies.  In the early 2010s, I would finally have a chance to see Intolerance (Griffith’s ironic response to people being “intolerant” of his own intolerant movie).

I have seen Metropolis (the robot movie clipped in Queen’s “Radio Ga Ga” video) on TV in 1985, on DVD in the 2000s, and on TCM in the 2010s, the latter being the finally restored, mostly-complete version.

I have also seen Nosferatu and many other silent movies, thanks to TCM running silent movies on Sunday ever since around 2005/2006.

Since I haven’t been able to find my Winterim syllabus, I don’t remember when or in what particular order we saw the movies, or what they all were.  But I do remember they were in chronological order.

I do remember seeing Citizen Kane for the first time and discovering what a masterful work it was (the shadowing, in particular, could not have worked in color, but is exquisite in black and white), The Grapes of Wrath, It’s a Wonderful Life, Meet John Doe, Sunset Boulevard, Rear Window, Easy Rider, Dr. Strangelove (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb), The Conversation, Do the Right Thing.

Most of these movies I had never seen before, so I would associate them ever after with Film class.  I liked most of the movies we saw, too.

Since it had been years since I read the book Grapes of Wrath, I didn’t mind the film’s liberties with it.  (Though I hated the book, I am a purist about movie adaptations.)

Rear Window was a fun and sometimes erotic play on the voyeurism of watching TV.  The eroticism may not be apparent to everyone, but it, according to our textbook, had to do with the long camera lens sitting on Jeffries’ lap, and his lack of sexual interest in anything he didn’t see in the TV-screen-like windows across the street.

The textbook also considered certain parts of Dr. Strangelove to be sexual jokes: the two planes in the beginning, apparently copulating; the bomb at the end looking like a phallus symbol which Slim Pickens rides down to earth.

It was a great pity that we could not hear Dr. Strangelove very well in that classroom despite Dr. Nelson’s attempts to fix the problem.  This distressed him, because we couldn’t hear all the jokes or appreciate just how good this movie was.  We made note of this, and didn’t judge the movie as bad just because we couldn’t hear it.  No one knew why it was so hard to hear, because all the other videos sounded just fine.

I went to San Francisco in 1999, and probably saw many of the sights shown in The Conversation.  Though the movie often dragged, at the same time I couldn’t see how it could be cut.  There was something professional and intriguing, yet abhorrent about the way Gene Hackman’s character kept recording and endlessly replaying the targets’ conversations.

Do the Right Thing both amused and horrified us.  Many of the scenes were funny.  But the deaths in the end were so awful, especially the one of Radio Raheem, the kid with the jam box, since it seemed he hadn’t done nothing wrong except make an error in judgment.  It was such a shame that he, whose jam box was everywhere during the movie, would be killed, so ending his music-loving days.

Also, I saw in this movie what I had read about, perhaps somewhere in the textbook: that in the scenery and composition of his movies, Spike Lee used colors that complemented black skin.  It made for a truly beautiful effect.

Some of these movies made you feel good and noble; some made you feel bad and part of a diseased society.  But you could see what made them all great and/or significant movies in one way or another.

They weren’t all wonderful movies, but even Birth of a Nation used groundbreaking techniques, making it significant, though not great.  I don’t remember what other movies we saw than the ones I’ve already mentioned, just that I liked most of them.

Nelson also wrote suggested movies on the board every day, movies which were being shown on TV that night or week.  This was the first I heard of The Graduate, but I didn’t get to watch it.

I saw very few of the movies, though I did try.  I wanted to see Stalag 17 again, but it was playing on AMC, which Roanoke’s cable system, Warner, didn’t have.  I did see North by Northwest on the 18th and used it as a subject for a response paper, which I noted in my day planner on January 19.

I saw Strangers on a Train and wrote a response paper on it, which I noted on January 20.  I don’t remember if I saw A Night at the Opera, but since it was the Marx brothers, I know I wanted to.  I wrote down movies even if they were on AMC, probably just in case I still got a chance to see them, however remote.

I Spend a Night with Phil

The miniseries Tales of the City came to PBS; Wisconsin played the censored version, the one without nudity.  The movie played over two nights or more.

I discovered after the first installment that Pearl and maybe Sharon had come across it and watched it.  As demented as it was (it was about a young, innocent woman’s experiences in the twisted world of 70s San Francisco), with its marijuana brownies and gays and lesbians and free love and a woman who used to be a man, we couldn’t take our eyes off it.

On Wednesday the 12th, Pearl asked me to record it for her that night, since she would have to miss it.

On Friday, January 14, apparently I was supposed to expect Sharon to come over and hang out in my room for a while, but I don’t think she did; Phil, however, did.

We had a long conversation, during which I got my point across, that he wasn’t being fair to either Tracy or me.

Clarissa was out of the room.  It was bitterly cold outside.  That was the first night of the sub-zero temperatures we had that year.  It was cold in our room, too, so as Phil sat in a desk chair, I sat in another chair in front of him and wrapped myself up in my flag afghan.

He said that friends could marry and be happy even though they weren’t in love with each other.  One of his relatives had done this.  But I didn’t buy it.  Sure it could happen, but why settle for a marriage or dating relationship with someone who’s just a friend, when you have someone you can love wanting to love you?

To this day, I don’t understand why he chose Tracy over me.  Got there first, hogwash; he already knew I liked him and wanted to go out with him.  He’d come right out and asked me about this before he chose Tracy.  And he said he knew Tracy better, but he could’ve gotten to know me before making his decision.

I also didn’t know that during this conversation, he realized he was in love with me.  He didn’t tell me this for maybe a couple of weeks.  It was also much later that he told me how badly he wanted to unwrap my afghan and ravish me.

We finally went over to the Phi-Delt suite, where a bunch of us were to watch my tape of Tales in Jennifer’s room.  We ripped on the insanity of the movie all the way through, but enjoyed it at the same time.

Phil said his birthday was on the 16th.  He would be 20, the same age as I was.

I don’t remember what else we did that night, but I do remember that it got so bitterly cold (wind chills were probably well below zero) that Phil and I didn’t want to go outside to go home.  When Jennifer and her roommate asked us to stay overnight, Phil agreed, and then so did I.  I think Clarissa left anyway.  I only lived in the next dorm, but if Phil was going to stay there, I wanted to as well.

Jennifer’s Mike was also there; he and Jennifer cuddled in her bed.  Several of us crashed on the carpeted floor; I slept with my coat as a blanket and maybe also as a mattress.  It was very cold on that floor, but the room wasn’t as cold as some other rooms were.

It was a long night and I got little sleep, since the floor was not at all comfortable.  Phil slept nearby in his jacket.  We inched closer together all night; I think some of our friends noticed this.  Phil had passionate dreams about me.

I was glad when morning light finally came into the room and I no longer had to try to sleep on that hard floor.  When it came time for people to wake up, Phil woke up and sat in a chair for a while, watching me.

I suspected he was watching me, but my eyes were closed, so I didn’t know for sure until several days or weeks later, when he told me.  He also later told me that he stayed there because of me.

After he left, I spent some time in the lounge with Pearl, maybe Jennifer, and Jennifer’s roommate.  I spoke of Phil, but they called me the Other Woman.  I was convinced he really wanted me, not her, but they weren’t.  They seemed to think it was really Tracy he wanted, and that it was hopeless for me.

On Tuesday, it was so cold that classes were canceled.  For Wisconsin, that has to be pretty dang cold: We’re not wimps up here.


According to January 27 in my day planner, that day I got a Gothic novel from the library to entertain myself over Winterim Break.  I may have gotten The Monk at that time, though I thought I got it earlier and had the flu while reading it.

The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis was written in the 18th century.  This strange book amused me while it scared me, because of all the sex going on in this 18th-century novel.  No wonder it was considered pornographic for the time!  (Of course, this was the same century that produced Dangerous Liaisons.)  For ours, it’s pretty tame, however.

It’s about a monk tempted by a novice who’s really a woman in disguise.  Meanwhile, he also lusts after a 15-year-old girl he saw around town, and plots to rape her.  She wants to marry this guy she’s just met.

There’s also a couple who break up for some reason I forget, and she enters a convent.  The guy comes to see her, and they end up doing things that they shouldn’t.  Then, even though she had a part in it, the girl calls the guy a foul seducer.

There’s more, but just in case you want to read the book, I don’t want to give away what happens.  I probably finished reading the book on Friday, March 6.  In February I told Phil about it, and he jokingly scolded me for reading such a racy book.


On the 27th, Pearl talked to Phil, and he told her he was able to date other people as well as Tracy.  The problem was, he’d just found out about another girl who liked him, even though he wasn’t that interested in her.  (I think she was 16, and he recently discovered that wasn’t “legal,” so he wouldn’t want to put himself in temptation’s way and end up in jail for statutory.)

On the 28th, everyone else left for Winterim Break, and I stayed.  I had tried calling Phil the night before, but he wasn’t home.  Now he called me, wanting to hang out, if the weather allowed him to come to the campus that night.  It was supposed to be pretty snowy, but he came anyway, around 8:30.  Once, while Clarissa was out of the room, he said,

“I decided that Tracy is a good friend and will stay around.”  He talked as if he broke up with Tracy nicely.  She understood, saying she didn’t expect to hold onto him, anyway.  (Not until summer did he admit that he wasn’t so nice.  In fact, he said to her, “I’m sick of being nice.”)

He was available again.  This made me happy, of course.  Finally!  No more “other woman” stuff from people!  And note the date–exactly two years after the day Peter broke up with me.

I wondered if this was deliberate timing on God’s part, a consolation, giving me someone better (so I thought at the time) on the anniversary of the day that was so black for me.  As for Peter, all I had left for him was friendship and concern.  What I’d felt the past few months was probably nostalgia.

Phil stayed to watch Mystery Science Theater: 3000 with us, though finally Clarissa wanted him to leave so she could go to bed.  Phil and I stood outside in the hallway for a few minutes to say goodbye.

He looked like he might want to kiss me, but as far as I was concerned, this was our first “date” since we became a couple, and kissing should wait for the second date.  He seemed to sense this–maybe it was my body language–and didn’t try.


On Saturday the 29th, Phil came over to pick me up at 4:30.  It was now Winterim Break, and we had no homework to worry about.

As we walked along the sidewalk that led from the side door nearest the suites, I looked up at Phil’s clean-shaven face and thought, “He doesn’t look as cute now!”  I had a strange, momentary loss of interest in him.

But I remembered my loss of interest with Peter soon after we started dating, and realized that this would probably soon pass.  I also soon asked him to grow his beard back.

(I didn’t use to like beards.  Maybe I did now because all the alternative rockers were wearing goatees now, so all the college boys were also wearing goatees when the school year began, so I began to think goatees look cool.  I still think so.  Phil’s beard was more shaggy than a neatly-clipped goatee, and had patches which did not grow properly, but I still liked it.)

We went to Phil’s house to watch movies: Top Gun, Dead Poets Society and Room With a View.

I thought he played these for me because he loved them, which impressed me; he told me much later that he liked View more because it was good for dates, than as a movie.  At the time, however, I innocently thought that his liking it showed how sweet he was.

As for Dead Poets Society, I believe he legitimately liked this one, because Robin Williams was his idol.

My mom and I had watched View before, the uncut version with the skinny-dipping men getting caught by women.  (Turns out that really is in the book, even though it was written about a century ago.)  Mom said, “Whoops!”

We watched these movies in Phil’s tiny room.  He had no bed, just a couch, which he later said was a sofa bed.  There was no room for a regular bed.

On the wall with the door was his full entertainment center, with TV, S–‘s Marcus Cable with Weather Channel reports for S– (rather than Green Bay, which we got at Roanoke–and they even had different colors, fonts and features), VCR, Nintendo, and possibly a stereo.  He even had remote controls.

Also in the entertainment center was a porcelain bird, a beautiful, white sculpture, maybe a foot high or shorter.  It was probably a falcon, though people thought it was an owl.  He later told me about the artist he got it from (I forget the story now).  When we began talking about engagement, he said it would be my engagement ring, since he didn’t have the money for a real one.

Up on the back of his door was a picture, drawn on a piece of notebook paper.  I think it was a unicorn, and around it were the words, “I love you.”  I hadn’t drawn it, of course, so I smiled and asked Phil what it was.  I may have feared it was from Tracy, but it was from girlfriend number 6.

I think he had broken up with her only the previous summer, and I don’t think he was mad at her for anything, so he still hadn’t gotten around to removing the picture.  I smiled, completely without jealousy, and said nothing about him taking it down.  But once, I got up to go the bathroom, came back, and noticed it had been removed.

As we sat on the couch watching movies, getting progressively closer, Phil’s four-year-old nephew kept walking in and talking to us, because the door didn’t have a lock.

He brought in his drink; he chatted with and smiled at me; he acted like a four-year-old who didn’t understand the concept of dating and wanting to be alone.  We laughed.

He finally fell asleep in the living room.  Phil and I got even closer then, with Phil stroking my hair and kissing the top of my head.

After the movies, Phil turned off the TV.  He sat beside me on the left arm of the couch, and looked at me.  He half-smiled and may have nodded his head.  Then he leaned over and kissed me, leaning me down onto my back on the couch.

He told me he’d liked me as long as I’d liked him, and that’s how long he’d been waiting to kiss me.

We shared so many long kisses that evening that my lips grew tired and chapped.  But my stupid daily wear contacts dried out as it got later and later, so I finally had to reluctantly tell Phil that I had to go home and take them out.

During this date or the next, Phil told me that Peter had warned him about going out with me.  He named some reasons, and said he had no problem with them.  At least one was news to me.

Phil agreed with me that the reasons were petty, and I said how glad I was to be with someone who was not petty.  He said, “Peter said, ‘Phil, she waited outside the bathroom for me!'”

We both thought this was the most ridiculous thing we’d ever heard.  Where else was I supposed to go, we wondered?  Was I supposed to wander all over the building while he was in the bathroom?  Was I supposed to ditch him there and go off to class without him?

A short time later, Phil and I were alone in the cafeteria and about to leave.  We went over to the doors, then he went into the men’s bathroom, which was between the two sets of doors leading to the hill outside.

I leaned up against a table which had been used for holding various foods during the meal, having nowhere else to go.

Phil came out of the bathroom, saw me, said with a grin, “You waited outside the bathroom for me!” and kissed me for it.  He couldn’t imagine somebody not doing this!

My husband also can’t figure out why Peter had a problem with it, and once got upset with me because I went to a nearby cafe in the movie theater instead of waiting outside the bathroom for him!

Whenever we’re out and about, or traveling, and have to use the bathroom, we wait outside the bathroom for each other.  So Peter–WHAT THE HECK was so wrong with this?

On Thursday, March 9, 2000, several of my college friends came to my home and, with my husband and me, went to a restaurant for dinner.  As we were leaving, the girls stopped in the bathroom for five minutes or so.

And you know what?  We didn’t go out to the cars, oh no.  We all stood and waited (not my idea) right outside the bathroom for them, with the guys holding their coats, and nobody said a word about it!

I don’t think Phil ever did agree with any of the things Peter told him were supposedly “wrong” with me.  For the record, when Phil broke up with me, I don’t believe he used any of those reasons.

In fact, when I told Phil early on that being with Peter too much destroyed our relationship, and that I didn’t want to spend all my time with Phil for fear it would happen again with him, Phil said,

“I’ve had ex-girlfriends tell me that if they’d spent more time with me and knew more about me, like they know now, they wouldn’t have broken up with me.  I want to spend as much time with a girlfriend as possible so this doesn’t happen again.”

Peter also told Phil and Phil’s mother that I had talked about marriage all the time.  So I told Phil what really happened, that I only talked about marriage all the time because Peter did the same and we were essentially engaged.

Though in many ways I was not yet aware of, Phil was bad for me, in some ways he was good for me, at least for a while, because he showed me that Peter had indeed been petty and not all guys have problems with these things.

Phil said Peter was right about one thing: that I was a good kisser.  Hearing that even an ex-boyfriend would say this about me, was flattering.  Hearing that two guys thought this about me was even more flattering.

Shawn had complained about how I kissed–but who cared anymore?  This proved that it was just Shawn being his usual hypercritical self, never satisfied with anything about me or anything I did.

I was furious with Peter for trying to keep Phil from going out with me.  Peter seemed to have turned into Mr. Studmuffin, constantly finding new girlfriends, while Phil was the first guy I’d found since Peter who truly wanted to go out with me.

I deserved love, too.  And didn’t he realize that the best way for me to get over him was a new love?

This bit of evidence makes me wonder if other guys did not ask me out, because Peter poisoned the well with his lies and half-truths about me.

As he drove me home with the radio on Top-40, he sang along with songs that said, “I love you.”


The next night, the 30th, I didn’t wear my contacts, so I could stay as late as I wanted to.  We ended up falling asleep on the couch, holding each other all night.  Yes, we were fully clothed.

We often did this over the next few weeks, though soon it began to be too uncomfortable to spend the night holding each other on a couch.  He would begin to pull the couch into a queen-sized bed instead.

The first night, however, it seemed wonderfully comfortable and romantic to lie unmoving and holding each other on a couch.

The next morning, right after we woke up, I had to hide in Phil’s room until he spoke to his mom.  When he did, she said it was OK that I was there.

On the way back to Roanoke, he put his hand on my knee, sang along with love songs again, and said, “Don’t think I don’t mean it.”

A declaration of love this early?  Aren’t guys supposed to be reluctant to commit, scared away by girls who say “I love you” too early?

Though I loved hearing him say “I love you,” I didn’t know what to do about it.  Though I could be in love with him already, it was too soon to be sure.

When we got back to Roanoke, I began to feel as if Phil were already wearing on me.  This transient feeling made me a bit sad after Phil left.

What’s this, I finally have a boyfriend, one I really like, and already I don’t want him anymore?

Phil said to Clarissa with a smile as he dropped me off, “I think she’s getting tired of me already.”  I don’t know how he knew.

But it only lasted a few hours or more, the aftermath of forbidden fruit no longer being forbidden, but at the time I didn’t know what was going on.

Peter told Phil that I moved very slowly, and that we didn’t kiss until maybe a week or two after we started dating.  Phil told him we’d just spent the night on his couch, and Peter was shocked.

As I told Phil, I couldn’t figure out why he was so shocked.  I often crawled into Peter’s bed at night when I spent the weekend or a vacation at his house, and we both had wished that I could stay there all night.

I would have, but Peter told me his parents would probably go ballistic and perhaps ban me from his room entirely.  We didn’t want to have sex; we just wanted to cuddle.  I’m serious, so don’t laugh or say “sure.”

So I wondered why Peter thought I wouldn’t sleep fully-clothed and chastely on Phil’s couch on one of our first dates.  Did Peter forget so soon?  Oh yeah, he had a way of twisting the truth about me.

As I also told Phil, the only reason Peter and I didn’t kiss right away was because he took so long to do it.  I would have gladly kissed Peter much sooner, but though he had plenty of chances to kiss me goodnight, he always chickened out (as he told me later) and hugged me instead.  It made me very frustrated with him, since I wanted to kiss a guy before I died.

Also, Peter obviously had no clue how far I had already gone with Shawn.  I wanted to go back to innocence, stay away from the things I did with Shawn, but I was hardly the innocent one Peter thought I was, anymore.

I soon learned that Peter was thinking of joining the Church of Wicca.  From Christian to atheist to Wiccan: what a change in just a few years!  And how incompatible we would have been!

On Tuesday night, February the 1st, just before Spring Semester started, I don’t think I had a class very early the next morning, though Phil did.  But at the time he didn’t care, and was more interested in kissing me than in taking me back to school and then going to bed.

Late that night, Phil’s brother Dave suddenly burst into the room wearing nothing but briefs, and said in a scolding tone, “Phil, you have an 8:00!”

He left soon after, and I thought that was so strange.  How could he have been so bold as to 1) come into the room without knocking while I was in it and 2) come into the room in his underwear while I was in it?

I believe he was well aware that I was there, so ignorance was not an excuse.  I think Phil said Dave really didn’t care.

I was soon to discover that both Dave and his mother had a habit of bursting into Phil’s room without knocking.  They did this no matter who was in his room.

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:


That Fateful First Date with Phil; Complication: A Rival; Call from Shawn!; Another Meeting with Peter–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–December 1993, Part 2

[Please note: The Tracy in these memoirs has absolutely nothing to do with the Richard and Tracy of my 2007-2013 abuse story.]

That Fateful First Date with Phil, Pt. 2; Complication: A Rival

Pearl told me that Phil had been seen at the movies with Tracy earlier in the year, and that he wouldn’t tell Pearl where he spent the night on the Saturday in between the choir’s Christmas concerts.  She thought he didn’t want to tell her.  But we agreed there wasn’t necessarily anything to all that.

Before dinner, we saw Phil in the Campus Center lounge, about 4:30.  I was shy and happy and probably smiled a bit.  I could barely hear my own “See ya.”

Sharon said he turned to me when he said, “140 minutes!”–but I didn’t see him look at me, and had to do some figuring to be sure it was said to me.  Yep, it was 140 minutes to 6:50.

Sharon said, “Ooh, he’s a hot one–he’s looking forward to it.”  She looked in the Campus Shop window and said, mimicking me, “‘Is he getting something for me?’  No, he’s not in there, Nyssa, so don’t get excited.”

It didn’t click in Pearl’s mind, when we ate an early dinner, that Tracy was at the next table with a girl who worked in the library with me.  I didn’t even see them.

Pearl told Jennifer to “ask Nyssa who she has a date with tonight.”

Somebody told her, or she guessed, who it was.

Later on, Pearl told Cindy, “Nyssa’s going out with Phil tonight.”

Tracy probably heard her.

Cindy said, “I thought he was seeing Tracy.  But if he said yes….”

Later, I said to Pearl, “Whether or not he ever did see Tracy, I have him tonight.”

I sat on the stairs by the side door of Krueger, and checked the other doors two times.  It was getting late, 10 past 7–Where was he?  I prayed he’d come, and soon.

At 7:12, he came.  I said with a smile, “You’re late.”

He’d gotten the time mixed up.  He’d been there around 6, then figured out that he was too early.  Then he figured it wrong again, and came too late.  (Odd considering that he knew at 4:30 that he had 140 minutes.)  We knew we’d never make the 7:20 movie (Three Musketeers) now.

We got to his minivan, a brown Dodge Caravan with wood paneling, and he opened my door for me.  (He tried opening doors for me all night, even when I’d already done it.)  When he got in the van, he saw an envelope taped to the windshield.

“When will people realize I have a mailbox?” he said, and took it off.  At first, I thought it was a parking ticket.  He pulled a bit of a yellow letter out of the envelope, put it back and said, “It’s from Tracy.  I’ll read it later.”  Tracy?  Just a friend’s letter, I hoped; not a girlfriend’s.

We got to the movie theater around 7:30 and looked for a movie on the posters outside.  We chose Cool Runnings and loved it.  Afterwards, we went to Pizza Hut.

There were no long-lasting, uncomfortable silences.  I talked plenty, and figured the lack of uncomfortable silences was a good sign.

I said I liked to play chess sometimes, and played it on various computer games from the Coco Computer (Tandy brand, 1985) to my family’s present computer.  Phil asked if I role-played.

Though The 700 Club had made Dungeons and Dragons sound evil, here was a Christian guy who played it; he’d mentioned it at one of the parties.  I didn’t know what to think of it, and wanted to find out more.  And I had always liked the idea of making up my own character for a game.

“No,” I said, “but it’s very intriguing.”

“Really?” he said, grinning.  “I’ll have to roll you up a character.”

We talked about these things because, on Tuesday night, he said his ideal woman would like role-playing and/or chess, just so he would have someone to play with.

I didn’t want to go back to the dorm right away, so he drove me around part of S– and showed me a couple of landmarks.  Past 10:30, we had to go back, to my dismay.  But then, when he parked the van, he said,

“I want to ask you something, but don’t know how.  How should I ask you this?”  Pause…pause…. “So I won’t ask you–no, really–I know tonight was for us to get to know each other better.  Do you want to be just friends, or do you want more, with the possibility of a relationship?”

I said, “The last.”  Was I about to get the “You’re a nice person, but” speech?  No, no!  But we clicked!  We’d be good together!–

But instead he said, “I’m available, and I’m interested.  The only problem is this letter.”  He explained what he thought it was about–Tracy explaining her feelings–and that he had to choose between the two of us.  He hadn’t been interested in her before, but we both had good personalities and a good sense of humor.

Phil was not attracted to her, but he was to me–probably infatuated.  The outcome of this dilemma seemed obvious.

“Most guys would choose you over Tracy because she’s overweight,” he said, “but I’m not most guys.  Thanks for being so understanding.  Of course, this letter could be different from what I thought.  In that case, there won’t be a problem–so I’d better read it.”

He did, and I waited patiently.  It was just what he thought.  “This line is scary: ‘I know that a movie and a pizza a few times does not mean we’re playing the dating game’–and that’s just what we did tonight!”  Tracy also said in the letter that when she saw him with us at the Study Break, she realized it bothered her.

“I almost wish no one were interested in me,” Phil said.  “Yesterday, I didn’t have to choose between two people, and I was happy.  Not that I mind having someone interested in me.  It just always seems like either no one’s interested in me, or too many people are at the same time.”

I thought the whole thing was funny.

He walked me back, and said as we passed Verhulst (the music building), “My brother Dave asked me recently if I was going out with Tracy.  This guy in the choir wanted to know.  I said no.”

We walked pretty closely together now, I thought, and he definitely liked me.

At the door, I said, “So, should we do it again?  After Break?”  He said yes with an admiring look in his eye.  I invited him into Krueger lounge, if he didn’t mind the people.  Inside were Rachel, Ralph, Cindy and her boyfriend Luke, so I sat by them, and Phil sat by me.  Cindy kept smiling at us.

Then it was just us and Cindy.  Phil asked me if he could play the piano.  I said okay, as long as he wasn’t too loud: It was dead hours.

(During dead hours, you must be quiet so no one is woken up.  Otherwise, not only do you annoy people, but you get written up by the RA.)

So he played, and looked over at me a couple times with a silly smile that made me chuckle.

Cindy said to me, “I’m glad somebody’s amused by him.”

It got to be after 11, so I said I’d better go to my room.  We said good-night.

It was late, but Pearl had specifically told me to call her afterwards.  I tried to keep my report sketchy, not wanting to tell everything.  Once, she gave the phone to Sharon and gave Jennifer the other line; they had me repeat the part about Tracy.

Sharon said, “Did he kiss you?”

I said, “Hey, that’s a personal question.”

She got all excited and thought he did.

I said, “No.”

She said, “Come on, tell the truth.”

“I did.”

Pearl told her something about Phil, so she seemed to believe me now.  I tried not to paint Tracy in a bad light, but Pearl came back on and made an observation that made sense:

“That was impeccable timing on her part.  I’ll tell Phil good things about you at my party on Saturday.”

It was almost Christmas Break.  I had to miss Pearl’s party because she’d be in Kenosha and I’d be in South Bend, but Phil was close enough to go.

I began praying for Tracy, to keep from being resentful and unforgiving.

Call from Shawn!

On Friday the 17th, my Dad or brother didn’t come get me until after 7pm.  As I waited, I got three double-ringers.  Each time I thought it could be my parents.

The first call was–


My Christmas card to him probably inspired him to call.  We talked things out, finally settled our differences.  He said that on the night of our last phone call, his brother had died and he was upset.

(Until now, no one had told me when exactly his brother had died; for all I knew, it was after the phone call.)

Even though he’d left Roanoke to start his engineering degree at UW-Madison, he wasn’t there yet; he didn’t go there until a year later.

(And then he didn’t stay long.  It took him a little while to get back to a different college, but he finally graduated and got a job as a mechanical engineer.)

I told Shawn that Peter and I were friends again.  Shawn didn’t believe Peter’s assertions that he only got drunk twice, then gave it up, drinking only to get “a buzz.”  Shawn said, “He’d come up to me at Zeta parties and say, ‘Hi, Shawn!’ with this goofy smile and voice.”

The following proved that he read my late September/early October letter, in which I wrote, “I’ll admit that I have feelings for you.  I always have, and they got so strong last year that I’ll probably always feel something special for you”:

I told him about Phil.  “Replacing me already!” Shawn cried.  “I must not have been that special!”

I said nothing.

“You’re not denying it,” he said.

I laughed.  “Don’t be so paranoid!”  (I often called him paranoid during our underclassman years, because, well, he was.)

But he still was, and always would be special, even when years passed without our communicating with each other, even when at times I’d feel angry at things he once did.

Our relationship lasted longer than the ones with Peter or Phil; he was my first sexual lover; I had loved him deeply, even if he never seemed to fully return it.  I could never forget that.

The second call was from Clarissa, asking about Phil, about meals over Winterim Break, and for my new home phone number.

After 6, as I listened to Program 4 of the radio version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a gift from my youngest brother), I got another call.  I thought it could be Shawn, Clarissa, or my parents.

“Hello?” I said.

“Boo,” said the caller.

“Okay, who is it now?”

Peter did his hyper-laugh into the phone and blasted my eardrum.  No doubt now about who it was.  He called to say Merry Christmas because he got my Christmas card.  He would’ve asked me to go Christmas shopping, but I was leaving in less than an hour.  It was a short call because, as usual, he was busy.

Another Meeting with Peter

Some songs from this time: The “Purple Haze” remake by the Cure was one more of the many reasons why Q101 played better music than any other station I knew of.

So was “White Love” by One Dove, a beautiful but elusive song; I saw the video maybe once on MTV, and only heard the song on Q101 while at home.

Big-Time Sensuality” by Björk was new; the Q101 DJ said it sounded like it belonged on B96, the Chicago dance station.

Other songs: “Low” by Cracker, “Love Train” by Hard Corey and Wray.

Clarissa and I thought we could read each others’ minds at times.  We’d be thinking the same thing, or one of us would think of something she wanted to say to the other, the other one would ask, “Did you say something?” and the first would be freaked out and laugh.  Now that happens to me with Cugan.

The Phi-Delts put a beautiful, live Christmas tree in their suite.

I wrote this in a letter on 12/23 to Mona S., whom I met at Anna’s Bible study freshman year:

After Thanksgiving Break I called Peter, and we got together for another talk at the Pub.  It was easier to talk this time.

We spoke of a couple of his friends, who married at 18.  I said, “I can’t imagine getting married at 18,” and he agreed.

He showed me his new Mustang and drove me to Krueger.  Pearl and Sharon spied on us [in the Pub] for a while.  I saw him at Pearl’s party a few days later.

I’ve talked to him for a few minutes on the phone a couple times since then.  The second time was just a few hours after Shawn called, so that was a weird day.

I didn’t mention to him my date with Phil the night before; I think I was afraid of hurting his feelings.  I still didn’t know if he just wanted to be friends, or something more.

He hasn’t said anything about getting back together, but other people…sometimes see the possibility that he will.  There are certain things that are said or that happen that make people say, ‘hmm….’

I hope so, because that would give me a feeling of closure.  That is, if I decide I don’t want him anymore.

See, there’s this other guy now, Phil.  I really like him, and I just went out with him last week.  If he chooses me over another girl that likes him, then Peter may have little chance.  Especially since Phil’s a Christian and I don’t know what Peter is anymore.

Ah, the problems of the big city!  [Referring to Mona’s previous letter.  She lived in Milwaukee.]  Cars towed, locking doors…But I miss it when I’m at school.

I have this disoriented feeling whenever I go home, though, like I don’t know what’s home or what’s the real world anymore.  At school, I miss South Bend; at home, I miss school.

I don’t know where I’ll go after I graduate.  I’m still trying to figure out if I’d want to be a librarian for more than a little while, or be a stay-at-home mom.  But that’s a while off yet.

Anyway, as they say, Merry Christmas and Happy ’94!  (’94?  But wasn’t it just 1990?)  Can you believe how close the year 2000 is?!

After the Pub meeting I described above, Peter drove me back to Krueger in his car, short though the walk was.  The radio played I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) by the Proclaimers.  Forever after, I would associate this song both with the summer of 1993 and with this event.

As I mentioned before, a football player named Bill would come in the library all the time while I was working, and chat with me.  He was nice-looking, though not handsome, either heavyset or muscular, and seemed really sweet.  He’d talk with the librarian Seymour as well.

I was almost certain he had a crush on me, and was just working up the nerve to ask me out.  However, I hated football, and Seymour and Bill both said he wasn’t too serious about his classes.

I got the impression we had little in common, and didn’t want to lead him on.  However, I did like seeing him every day, so if he asked me out, I might have gone.

Then he saw Peter and me in the Pub together.  After that, I never saw him again.  I felt bad, fearing he’d seen us, thought Peter was my boyfriend, and given up on me instead of finding out the truth.

At home for Christmas, I had two weeks of no homework.  Mom put a catnip toy in the tree for Hazel as her Christmas present, and Hazel tried to climb the tree to get it, but failed.

Astrid and Catherine gave me homemade ornaments, and I put them in the tree.  I still have and use those ornaments, which are some of my favorites.

On Christmas Eve, I wrote in a letter, “My parents are blasting Christmas music downstairs, so I’m upstairs in my room, and I can still hear it.  And they talk about me turning my music up loud!”

Christmas Break was a good time for me, despite catching the flu from my family.  I spent it anxiously waiting to go back to school and see Phil again.

I also wrote long, detailed descriptions in my diary of everything that had happened between Phil and me over the past few months.  I finally found a guy who wanted to be with me.

Even a flu bug didn’t depress me, because I knew that Phil was waiting for me.  I would do dishes and other things, and think of him.

Dad, my 27-year-old brother who lived at home, and I all had the flu that Christmas.  I believe my older brother had his own house by this time.  Mom, the only healthy one, jokingly complained about having to deal with all us “sickies.”

I saw one or two classic movies on a Chicago PBS station (24? 26?) which barely came in.  I’d watch them in my room.

One was M in German with Peter Lorre.  I could barely make out the subtitles through the static, and had to try to translate as well as I could; I did understand “der Kindermörder” (child murderer).

I had no idea at the time that my Winterim teacher would mention this movie in class, and that I would discuss it with him after class one day.  I also had no idea that, according to Leonard Maltin’s 1997 Movie & Video Guide, the courtroom scene at the end was now hard to find.

But I saw Peter Lorre in the kangaroo courtroom crying for leniency, as the criminals cried for his death.

In another amazing coincidence, MTV, in the next couple of months, began playing a station promo: a cartoon of Peter Lorre walking around not with an “M” on his back, like in the movie, but an “MTV,” and hobbling along crying, “Mercy!  Mercy!”

Another movie I saw on that station was Arsenic and Old Lace, which the S– High School put on as a play around that time.

I wrote this on December 27 in my writer’s journal:

“I have to write a novel about college, what it’s really like for the students of Roanoke.  It’s a driving need.”  Everything else I saw about college in those days was nothing like it.  So you see one big reason why I wrote these college memoirs.

I got a VHS copy of Wayne’s World from my younger brother for Christmas.  I didn’t watch it until senior year, however, because I feared watching it alone would take away half the fun, and that was the first chance I had to watch it with my friends.  I wanted to see it with my friends, the ones who’d taken so many catchphrases from it.

When I saw it at the Zeta party it didn’t seem all that funny; I needed to be with people who would make it seem funny.

Q101 began playing the song “Loser” by Beck.  I loved it.  It was popular with the listeners.  Popular music stations didn’t pick it up until maybe a month or two later, so at first I thought I’d never hear it except on Q101.

Probably now or during Thanksgiving Break, I began watching Red Green on PBS.  Maybe sophomore year, I had checked it out, since it was on at the same time Red Dwarf used to be and I thought it was some sort of sequel or spin-off.

Back then, I saw what it really was, this strange show about a backwoods-lodge and the weird people who play in it, and found it moronic.  Now, I gave it another chance and found it hilarious.  I told Clarissa about it later.  I don’t think Wisconsin PBS stations had it yet, however.

My youngest brother’s ex gave him trouble in many ways: She had a drug-dealing friend, was or used to be a prostitute, and did drugs herself.

Once, she came to see my brother; while he was out of the room, she stole Mom’s checkbook off the desk.

She kept calling our house at all hours of the day or night, until my parents finally had to change the number shortly before I went home for Christmas Break.

I think she and my brother kept getting back together and breaking up; I remember him taking off with her one afternoon during my break, and not getting back till much later, worrying us all.

Once, she borrowed his car and it got impounded.

The police knew her well.  Fortunately, though, she left my brother alone eventually.  But now I had to learn a new phone number.

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:


Why not to let your spouse tell you to stop being friends with somebody: Rethinking the Importance of Friendship vs. Erotic Love in Our Society

Let’s not think that we should jettison even our closest platonic friends if our wife/husband says so.

Let’s not think of friendship as expendable, that if we fall in love, we can let our friendships wither and die and it doesn’t matter.

Friendship is also important: You need friends, not just a lover, in your life.

Also, let’s not think that for a marriage to endure, it must be full of passionate love all the time, or else it’s time to look elsewhere.  Simon May writes in Let’s Fall in Love Like the Ancients, published in the Washington Post on 2/8/13 (no longer available on the Web):

There is no holiday celebrating friendship, but only since the mid-19th century has romance been elevated above other types of love. For most ancient Greeks, for example, friendship was every bit as passionate and valuable as romantic-sexual love. Aristotle regarded friendship as a lifetime commitment to mutual welfare, in which two people become “second selves” to each other.

In the Bible, King Saul’s son Jonathan loves David, the young warrior who slays Goliath, “as his own soul” and swears eternal friendship with him, while David says their friendship surpasses romantic love. Ruth declares her friendship for her mother-in-law, Naomi, in terms equivalent to a marriage vow: “Where you go I will go, where you lodge I will lodge. . . . Where you die I will die.”

Today, friendship has been demoted beneath the ideal of romance, but they should be on an equal footing. We tend to regard our friendships as inferior to our romances in passion, intimacy and depth of commitment.

Often they’re little more than confessionals in which we seek a sympathetic ear to help us fix–or escape–our romances. When Harry met Sally, they progressed from friends to lovers.

And on Facebook we’re all “friends” now, further downgrading the meaning of what should be a selective and multifaceted bond……

But all human love is conditional. We love others because of something, whether their beauty, goodness or power; because they belong to our families; or because they protect and nurture us.

By recognizing that all we have is conditional love, we are less likely to give up on our loved ones as quickly as we often do, less likely to be worried if we occasionally fall in and out of love with them or they with us, and less likely to scare them off by expecting their love to be of superhuman strength….

And finally, let’s release romantic and marital love from the stranglehold of sexual expectation. Sure, sex is an unsurpassed pleasure–but you can have a tremendous erotic bond with a person and have sex only infrequently….

I’m not suggesting that we revive medieval courtship, but we should think of sex as just one of the bonds and delights of erotic love, rather than as its touchstone. If sex isn’t going so well, or if desire is no longer so urgent, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we love less urgently, let alone that it’s time for a change.

These days, it’s easy to get the impression that once you get married, your spouse is supposed to be your best friend and confidant, and your family and friends are to take a backseat while you greatly reduce time spent with others outside of your home.  But this is a modern concept which actually isolates us in unhealthy ways.

As a housewife, I can tell you this is true.  I love my husband, I love my child, I’m very close to my husband, yet when I don’t have social contact outside the home, I feel just as lonely as I did as a dateless teenager.

We must make more of an effort to stay connected with friends and family, or else we could find ourselves slowly becoming suicidal.  God made us to be social creatures, spending time with people outside our homes, not hermits who consider relationships with friends and relatives to be of secondary importance.

And when a marriage ends–as every marriage inevitably does–by death or divorce, the surviving spouse will now have to pick up the pieces with a diminished social network.

Also, we don’t want to smother each other.  If spending too much time with your boyfriend or girlfriend will slowly destroy your relationship, why not the same with a marriage?

[T]he current societal expectation that a spouse can provide all the emotional sustenance a person needs is bad not just for people’s ties with community, but for marriage itself. —The Marriage Penalty by Shankar Vedantam


Many people believe that marriage is the fundamental building block of society, an institution that broadens social ties and ensures that individuals will not grow old in isolation.  Perhaps that was true in the past, when marriage was a central unit of economic production and political organization.

But today, despite the benefits that a good marriage delivers to the couple and their children, marriage actually tends to isolate partners from other people in ways that pose potential long-term problems both for the couple and for society as a whole. —Marriage Reduces Social Ties by Naomi Gerstel & Natalia Sarkisian

Stephanie Coontz argues in Too Close For Comfort that we have found new joys in marriage because of the changes in how we view it, but at the same time we have “neglected our other relationships, placing too many burdens on a fragile institution and making social life poorer in the process.”

In the olden days, one’s spouse was not expected to be a “soulmate” or one’s closest confidant.  It was considered “dangerously antisocial, even pathologically self-absorbed, to elevate marital affection and nuclear-family ties above commitments to neighbors, extended kin, civic duty and religion.”

Victorian society had no problem with same-sex friends showing physical affection, even sleeping in the same bed; this was not assumed to include homosexual desire or activity, as it would today.

(For an example, note that Frodo and Sam’s relationship in Lord of the Rings would have been perfectly normal and acceptable.  But these days, Youtube is full of videos poking fun at Frodo and Sam’s supposed homosexual relationship.)

By the early 20th century, though, the sea change in the culture wrought by the industrial economy had loosened social obligations to neighbors and kin, giving rise to the idea that individuals could meet their deepest needs only through romantic love, culminating in marriage.

Under the influence of Freudianism, society began to view intense same-sex ties with suspicion and people were urged to reject the emotional claims of friends and relatives who might compete with a spouse for time and affection.

In the 1950s in American middle-class suburbia, this trend reached its peak as women were told fulfillment lay in marriage and motherhood, and men were told to “let their wives take care of their social lives.”

When these suburban women began going back to work in the 60s, they realized how wonderful it was to have contact and conversation with people outside of the home again.

So why do we seem to be slipping back in this regard?  It is not because most people have voluntarily embraced nuclear-family isolation.

Indeed, the spread of “virtual” communities on the Internet speaks to a deep hunger to reach out to others.  Instead, it’s the expansion of the post-industrial economy that seems to be driving us back to a new dependence on marriage.

According to the researchers Kathleen Gerson and Jerry Jacobs, 60 percent of American married couples have both partners in the work force, up from 36 percent in 1970, and the average two-earner couple now works 82 hours a week.

The more we lose the real-life ties we used to have, the more we depend on our romantic relationships for “intimacy and deep communication”–making us “more vulnerable to isolation if a relationship breaks down.”  Sometimes, these excessive expectations actually cause the marriage to break down.

To fix this, we should “raise our expectations for, and commitment to, other relationships, especially since so many people now live so much of their lives outside marriage.”  The way to strengthen our marriages is to

restructure both work and social life so we can reach out and build ties with others, including people who are single or divorced.  That indeed would be a return to marital tradition–not the 1950s model, but the pre-20th-century model that has a much more enduring pedigree.

In How to stay married, Coontz goes on to say,

Today, we expect much more intimacy and support from our partners than in the past, but much less from everyone else. This puts a huge strain on the institution of marriage.

When a couple’s relationship is strong, a marriage can be more fulfilling than ever. But we often overload marriage by asking our partner to satisfy more needs than any one individual can possibly meet, and if our marriage falters, we have few emotional support systems to fall back on.

Without “gratification and support” from others outside the marriage, spouses have “less to offer each other and fewer ways to replenish their relationship”–and the marriage falls apart from all that weight.  Nowadays, “almost half of all Americans now say that there is just one person, or no one at all, with whom they discuss important matters.”

We commonly find warnings in popular culture against spending too much time with friends or family, against letting these ties “interfere” with time spent with the spouse.  Psychologists tell us to rebuff those who might compete with our spouse and children for our attention.  “But trying to be everything to one another is part of the problem, not part of the solution, to the tensions of modern marriage.”

I just looked over a book written by fundamentalist author Wayne Mack, Sweethearts for a Lifetime; his ideas of a successful marriage seem more like becoming clones of each other: You have to have all the same friends, do all your recreation together, learn to enjoy each other’s activities, etc.

I’m sorry, but I just don’t want to do all the things my husband does for recreation, he doesn’t like everything I like, and I don’t want to force him to be with my friends, or have him force me to be with his friends if I don’t care for them.

Also, jettisoning friends because your spouse does not want to be with that friend, sounds like betrayal of the sacred bond of friendship, and can very easily lead to one spouse controlling the other by choosing which friends to like and not like.

One passage of the book says to learn to like whatever your spouse wants to do sexually, but what if what your spouse wants is painful, degrading or disgusts you?  Another passage says to not keep secrets but consider everything to be your right to share; does that mean it’s okay to snoop through my husband’s e-mails?

I don’t want to know every intimate detail of his work; I don’t want to know all his temptations.  I want to allow him space to be his own person, and I want the same courtesy.

Men and women have different ways of perceiving things and reacting to them.  We tend to expect our spouse to be our best friend.  But that may not always happen. For the simple reason that a best friend is–usually–of the same sex as we are and has similar ways of responding. —Three common problems in a marriage

[Myth #]1. THE RIGHT PERSON WILL MEET ALL MY NEEDS.  Even if you have found your “soul mate,” one person cannot be the sole source of your need satisfaction. That’s too big a burden, and impossible besides.

Your partner is a human being, not an all-knowing, all-compassionate, love machine. You’ll need multiple sources–God, friends, a strong sense of life purpose, healthy self esteem, and a willingness to take responsibility for your own happiness. —Love Myths

This article not only describes the problems with our tendency to retreat into our own little world after a child is born, but how we can combat it and the depression it causes.

What Happened to my Friends?

Lucky is the man or woman who has a friend like Samwise Gamgee. Some of us may have a spouse who comes close. I know of no one who has a living friend, other than a spouse, like Sam.

The reason is not that such friends exist only in fiction. Aristotle identified this category of friendship in his Nicomachean Ethics.

No, the truth is that 21st century people have lost the knowledge of how to be such a friend.  Such friendships are based upon good character. Very few people have characters that merit such friendships.

Part of the stupendous power of the Tolkien myth is that the myth taps into the incredible longing everyone has for this type of friendship. Few people know the reason such friendships are impossible in today’s world. Why? Most people do not have the high moral character necessary for such friendships….

Why is The Lord of the Rings such a powerful myth? Why did the final installment earn almost half a billion dollars in its first eighteen days?

Because all of us want the fellowship illustrated in the films. Because we want relationships that last. Because we want to feel super-glued to family and friends, like the glue that bound Sam and Frodo. Because we want involvement. Because we want shared creativity and wonder, because we want loyalty and commitment.

And yet we don’t have this feeling. Oh, if we are lucky we have it in one relationship, maybe a spouse. But in general we don’t have it. In general we tend to be atoms bouncing around the eternal void, occasionally bumping into another atom, exchanging a curse or a smile.

Ought we not create our own Fellowship of The Ring? Ought we not create relationships that will last a lifetime? Ought we not build delightful things, even at some risk to ourselves? Ought we not discover something with ourselves that demands eternal loyalty and commitment?

Having identified these aching needs in ourselves, perhaps we will make a mighty effort to secure fellowship in our own lives. —Friendship and loyalty in Lord of the Rings

It takes much time and sustained commitment to arrive at the third level of close friendship. From within the casual friends, a smaller group of close friends begins to gather. In an discussion of building friendships, it should be understood that although close friendship may be your goal, that level of commitment sharing and trust is harder to achieve.

Intimate friendship is the fourth category. Friends in this category are very special and rare. At this level of sharing, intimate friends feel comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings. This type of friendship is usually marked by a deep understanding of and appreciation for the view and values of those involved.

A desire for intimate friendship is a basic human quality that calls for a giving of self to others; it can result in a lasting love relationship.  A person would be fortunate to have 5 intimate friends in a lifetime. —Friendship in the 21st Century

While it’s hardly a bad thing to be close to your spouse, we must not treat marriage as if it must fulfill all our needs for social contact and support, while all other contacts outside the home are somehow secondary or even detrimental.  To do so is to seriously weaken not only our own social ties and support, but society at large.

As the above writers argue, widening our social circle and gaining confidants outside the marriage will actually strengthen our selves, society–and our marriages.

Also see this post.

This topic leads on to my write-up on jealousy.

–First written 2008/2009, and slightly modified in the years since.


Index to my Life Opinion pages:

Topics on Page 1

Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 

Are Spiritual Marriages “real”? 

Am I supposed to spend all of my free time at home with my spouse/kids now that I’m married?  Will that strengthen my marriage–or weaken it? 

Topics on Page 2

Is it okay to be jealous of the opposite-sex friends of my spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend? 

Topics on Page 3

Abuse in all its forms: Links to help 

My Personal Stories


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