Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cugan breaks up with me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After breakup: Phil’s return and trolls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I said, “I never said that.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He wrote, “All right.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cugan comes back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SCA hippies; college senioritis: anxiety!

Wednesday, April 26.  Since I didn’t have a morning class on Thursday, I could manage the two-hour drive to the next shire with Cugan for dance practice.  Around 4:30 he came to get me, going first to dinner, probably Burger King or Hardee’s.  It wasn’t a garb night, or night to dress in medieval clothes; that only came every first Wednesday of the month.

At the dance practice, I met such W– shire people as:

Abigail–who was once a hippie and still believed in/practiced free love.  She once offered to take away Cugan’s “innocence,” but he refused.

Jakob–her boyfriend at the time, now husband, who used to belong to a small SCA household called Weasels.  He hit on anybody, man or woman.  Cugan hoped that when Jakob called him cute, he didn’t mean it that way.

Cronan–a short young man with very long, brown hair, very sweet and easygoing, and whom I often talked and dance with.

Hillel–who was in Abigail and Jakob’s general age group, and used to be a DJ on a classic/modern rock station.

The group was lively and happy to see a newbie, so I felt like the favorite of the night.  Jakob taught me some of the steps.  Cronan probably led the group, as he did for at least a few years after.

The music was on tapes played on a portable stereo.  On these tapes, a man named Calvin said a dance’s name, then the music for that dance began to play.  The W– dancers usually said, “Thank you, Calvin,” having heard him announce every dance for who knew how many times.  (Cugan had gone to these dance practices for a couple of years already.)

The dances were not actually “period,” but English Country dances from a bit later.  Cugan even recognized one of them in a Jane Austen movie, probably Emma.

There were Road to the Isles (my favorite), a twirling dance; Hole in the Wall, a kind of line dance with couples exchanging partners and switching places; Trench Moor, which I thought was Trench War, and certainly looked like a war with its pandemonium; and a dance involving foot taps and twirls.  There were probably other dances as well.


From Wednesday, April 26 through Sunday, April 30, my day planner read “Thesis–type.”  The first draft or two had now been written and reviewed by Dr. Nelson.  I had to fix it up and, on Monday, give it to the teachers I chose for the review committee.

Though some teachers wanted a thesis to be about fifty pages, Nelson set my minimum length at about thirty pages instead.  I don’t remember why; maybe he wanted to eliminate the padding that students often do to fill long papers.

As I sat at my word processor, typing and proofreading, the TV-movie Joseph played on TNT.  It was an excellent movie.

I had my TV on in the study room so I wouldn’t miss it.  I didn’t have to come up with new ideas, after all.  Now that I’d already written my first few drafts, the rest was easy.  The thesis I feared for so long, turned out to be not nearly so bad.

Starting on Friday, April 28 or earlier, I decided to stay in S–, and now had to start looking for a place to live.  I thought I had my job already, not knowing how temping worked or that daily work was not guaranteed.  If anyone had told me this, it probably didn’t click.

My parents told me I should find a place that cost about $300 a month, and that I could use a certain dollar amount on my credit card for starting out.

I looked in the paper and called two places, but one landlady said the place was supposed to be for retirees (this was not mentioned at all in the ad).  And another landlady, who was preparing a place for communal living (you rent a room and share the kitchen and bathroom), said she’d call me when it was ready.  She never did call, however, even though she was supposed to call back in maybe a week.

Tara didn’t like the idea of driving me to potential apartments, even though I had no other way to get to them.  (Much later I learned that she, like me, had trouble driving.)

For the last few weeks of school, I was in a funk.  I felt I was supposed to find an apartment, and was told I needed to look for a more permanent job.  But with neither a car nor any idea of how to go about this, I felt helpless.

I’d make notes to myself to look for these, but a kind of mental block made it almost impossible.  I felt useless, hopeless, like a slacker who wouldn’t do what I was supposed to do.  Yet at the same time I couldn’t motivate myself enough to do it.

This hung over my head during Saturday D&D sessions, sapping my fun.

Much later I learned about NVLD, which explained all this, because NVLDer’s have trouble doing things that are unfamiliar, or dealing with new situations.  Two decades later, after two jobs and more life experience, I can deal with this much better.

Of course, this could also have been senioritis, as described here.  It’s different for college seniors than for high school seniors, because that comfy school life you’ve known for many years, will no longer exist.  Before, you knew what to do next: You’ll go to more school, and get good grades.  Now, you have to do what adults do: get a job, move out on your own.  And your friends will scatter around the state/country as they find new homes.

But at the time, I had no clue why I found this so difficult.  I froze.  I had no clue what kind of job I wanted.

I was a Writing major because I wanted to write novels.  I didn’t want to be a journalist.  What else was there?

There was nothing but school to put on my resume, and I didn’t know how to write one, anyway.  I had no way to get to town to go on interviews or look at apartments, except if I could convince Tara to drive me.

I had been so busy with classes, my thesis, and the various stuff in my social life, that I had neglected my future.

I had no clue what to do.  And graduation was in a few weeks.

Or should I move back in with my parents?

I kept thinking how much better it would be if I would just live with my parents and get a job in South Bend, but I didn’t want to leave S–.

I hoped Catherine would ask me to live with her, but I wouldn’t ask her because it didn’t feel right.  I thought it would be imposing.

Somehow, I don’t know how, Carrie got the idea I was going to live with Catherine.  It’s strange not just because I wanted to but never spoke of it to anyone, but because our Bulgarian friend ended up living with her until she started grad school.

You can read about my confusion in my last entry in the Journal, for May 18.  I began to realize that I really wanted to go home to figure my life out and what kind of job I wanted.  You can also see I wasn’t the only one going through this:

I know what you mean, Tara–the thought of everything being final and the thought of having to leave the safety of Roanoke is frightening.

I could go back home, I guess, and live in my parents’ house and have food and utilities and everything, and maybe they’d let me get by for a while without paying them rent–but I don’t wanna.

I want to stay around here and see you guys and Catherine and be near Cugan and stay in the local SCA shire. They’re nice people and Cugan says they’re one of the best shires around here. I also love going up to W– shire for English-country dance group.

I’ve become disenchanted with modern dancing these past couple of years. At the one dance I went to last year, the most fun I had was dancing an Irish jig with Astrid. The rest of the time, I feel like I’m an oddball because I don’t just sway around. [Dancing in the early 90s meant swaying.]  That’s why English country is so appealing to me.

I may not quite have the hang of it yet, but they know I’m a “newbie” and help me out, and I have fun. You swing around and actually dance with your partner and move around the dance floor. It looks something like their dances on “Much Ado About Nothing.”

I like that they don’t hate newbies. They’ve even said it’s more fun with people who don’t know what they’re doing, because otherwise it gets boring.

One guy, Jakob, a major flirt (even flirts with Cugan), likes to grab newbies for dance partners. My life is so interesting nowadays… 🙂

…Out of school…hmm…What a prospect. No more homework again. The real world.

If I decide to move into the building I’m considering, which I probably will, I’ll only have to pay $250 a month for rent and utilities, and it sounds like a little boarding-house- type thing. Or a larger form of this apartment. Eight people sharing bathrooms and probably a kitchen, in a nice remodeled building. It sounds like fun.

Hopefully the temp service will have enough jobs for me, too, because I really don’t know what I want to do, and I’d like to sample different things before I decide.

See, what I really am is a fiction writer, but I need something to pay the bills.

I don’t want that other thing to take over, though; I don’t want to be saying, “I’m a clerk” or “I’m a factory worker” or “I’m a proofreader” when asked what my career is. I’d rather say, “I’m a writer, but I do such-and-such to pay the bills.”

It really sucks that writing doesn’t pay the bills unless you’re a Tom Clancy. And I don’t want to put out just popular fluff; I want to end up in anthologies. It’s okay if it’s popular and makes me a millionaire, but I want it to be new and different, not fluff.

What should I save up for first? Car or computer? Maybe I’ll get a computer first. That’s what I want more than a car. Who knows, maybe I could find a job where you can work at home on your computer. 🙂 Though I wouldn’t mind working at Krafter’s workplace in some position, and to get out there I’d probably need a car.

Oh, gosh–second thoughts–like all my senses are telling me to go home for the summer, at least–I keep getting sooo homesick, this rooming place hasn’t called me, I have no idea what I want to do to pay the bills, I don’t have a car…

Maybe I’ll transfer my SEEK records down to South Bend, save up what money I get, figure out what I wanna do, and come back here during the school year. The problems this would solve! I don’t think my parents would mind, especially my mom.

It’s like the principle of if God closes a door–lately I’ve started wondering if I was quite ready for the real world yet. Maybe I could get a car and I’d be able to work at Krafter’s workplace after all. 🙂

I know my friend Josh (back home) will be happy if I go home for a while. It is the summer, after all; most of you guys wouldn’t be around, anyway.

What a relief. Plus I wouldn’t have college stresses pressing on me; my time could be more focused on figuring my life out.

May 1995
Life at Roanoke: My College Memoirs–September 1991 through May 1995

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:

Junior Year 
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: