- A Date with the Vampire
- Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull
- The Teddy-O Incident; Birth of These Memoirs
- We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life
- New Guy Begging at My Feet
On December 31, I got on the PanOptic Net around 5pm, hoping to see a Vampire message, but not really expecting him to be around to chat. Yet there he was. He and his girlfriend were currently “off,” and he wanted to meet me, so we made arrangements. Mom watched our chat online, and found it funny.
We described ourselves to each other. I said I wore no makeup, and he wrote, “Oh, a natural beauty.”
Then the Vampire called me on the phone, but I found it hard to talk to him without the computer. I also kept giggling. The Vampire kept saying, “You’re so quiet!” and feared I was some giggly, silly, giddy creature. He was glad to find out otherwise when he met me in person.
He kept saying, “We’re coming to get you,” like he really was a vampire and was coming to steal me away. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t know about Internet safety, and neither, apparently, did my mother.
The Vampire also said he had an earring and was overweight, though women generally seemed to find him attractive.
He was taking me to a New Year’s party, so I dressed up a little. The Vampire seemed to take forever to arrive as I sat there anxiously awaiting my first date in months, so I decided to go to the bathroom.
I did this because it seems to be a universal rule that if you go to the bathroom, your friend will come to the door then. It worked: he came to the door while I was still in there.
Mom also anxiously waited for him. She told me later that he looked for me as I came into the room, and smiled because he liked what he saw.
(By the way, in December 2001, hubby Cugan, Astrid and I were waiting for some other friends to arrive so we could go to Lord of the Rings. I decided to go to the bathroom, just to see if they’d show up then. And you know what? They did. Cugan could not believe it.)
I liked the Vampire’s voice on the phone, and he wasn’t bad looking, but I did not feel instant attraction. He looked “old” to me.
(Must have been the mustache: In 2014, I friended him on Facebook, saw some recent pictures, and he looks good now. But I never have liked mustaches, which make guys look older and goofy.)
His friend or brother drove us to Elkhart in a pickup truck. I think it took half an hour to an hour. I felt a bit uncomfortable, since I still hadn’t mentally made a connection between the man sitting next to me and the Vampire I had long, deep conversations with online.
I felt even more uncomfortable because his friend seemed even older, and I was sitting between older men I didn’t know and didn’t have anything to talk about with.
(That’s funny considering that the Vampire was only three years older than I was, and Charles’ age. Maybe I was just used to hanging around mostly college kids.)
The Vampire told his friend that my handle was Nyssa Of Traken, and they talked about Doctor Who.
At the Vampire’s sister’s house, where he’d been living, I met Vampette and the Vampire’s sister. I don’t remember much about them, but I do remember his sister crying out when I walked in, “You’re so pretty!” That was good for my self-esteem. 🙂
Once, I went to the bathroom and overheard the Vampire talking with Vampette. I didn’t hear everything, but it sounded like I wasn’t as warm to him as he’d hoped. He could tell I wasn’t as interested in him as he was in me.
(This is one reason why you shouldn’t get engaged to or agree to start dating someone you’ve only met online, even though some people do: because the chemistry may not be there when you meet in person.)
At one point we went for a walk around the Elkhart neighborhood he lived in, and he expressed his concern that he wasn’t attractive to me, that now that I’d met him I didn’t seem quite so interested in him.
I forget what I said, but I did feel more comfortable talking with him alone like that, and more like I did on the computer.
I soon discovered that this is just how I respond when meeting an online friend for the first time: It was the same with Tyger, with various people from TCB and Online Fond du Lac, and with Richard. I may have shared my innermost thoughts with these people for some time, but stick me in the same room with them, and they’re a stranger I can barely speak to.
The shock of meeting slammed me into shyness and reserve for some time. But once he put me in front of a computer to call PanOptic, and then coached me on how to have a little fun with this guy named Tyger, I finally felt more comfortable.
I must admit, I was half-expecting someone kind of weird-looking, but he wasn’t. You know, some weird vampire guy with long, dark hair and pasty skin, perhaps.
The Vampire used me to play with Tyger. I sat there typing whatever the Vampire wanted me to type, since I didn’t know Tyger or how to have fun with him.
The Vampire wanted me to play with his mind and flirt with him. He had me type that I was blonde, tall, and 17 years old, since this would really get Tyger going. He also had me ask about Tigress, Tyger’s girlfriend. I also came up with a few things on my own.
I don’t remember when or how I admitted to Tyger that I wasn’t tall, blonde, or 17, but I don’t believe it was that night. I don’t think the Vampire liked Tyger, and maybe Tyger had done something he didn’t like. I don’t remember now.
It seemed like fun at the time, though now I wonder if it was really all that nice. After he found out the truth, though, Tyger still liked talking to me, and wanted to meet me. (We finally met in July.)
One of the things the Vampire had me write used the word “lamer.” I first heard this term from him; its meanings are here. Vampire used it with either the “cracker wannabe” or “annoying” meaning. (In 1995 I learned of a bus company called Lamers, and found this funny.)
The Vampire told me a superstition I’d never heard of before: that whoever you kiss at midnight is the person you’ll be with for the rest of the year.
(It wasn’t true, of course: I kissed Peter at midnight on New Year’s just about a month before he broke up with me. And we kissed not just once, but twice: once at South Bend’s midnight, and once at Wisconsin’s midnight, since they were on two different time zones.)
At midnight, as we sat at the computer, the Vampire brushed his hand against my shoulder, but could see I didn’t want him to kiss me. He later thanked me for this, maybe because I didn’t lead him on.
The Vampire and his sister told me about Forever Knight, a Canadian, vampire TV show. Later on, we sat watching it and eating pizza. I also petted one of their pets, a dog who liked me a lot.
On the computer, misgivings about compatibility don’t seem to matter so much, and you can be seduced with understanding words typed on a screen. But in real life, the misgivings were signs that we would have to stay friends.
His magic use was one problem; another was our different value systems, despite being Christians; another was his smoking; yet another was his on-again, off-again girlfriend.
On the drive home, it was just the two of us, talking about stuff, and I felt a lot more comfortable talking with him.
On New Year’s Day, I found the Vampire online and went into chat mode with him. I told him I wasn’t not interested: It just was too quick for comfort, words to that effect. But he said the thing with his girlfriend was still uncertain.
I thought he was through with her after she didn’t call by 8pm New Year’s Eve, but now he said they “kinda” patched things up, so I didn’t know what was going on. His girlfriend was glad that, despite how she treated him, he wasn’t alone on New Year’s.
Since the idea of spending Winterim in Florida fell through because of Pearl’s surgery and a recovery full of pain pills, I signed up for a class called Celtic Roots.
Though on the one hand I wished I could have gone to Florida, on the other I did enjoy my class very much, especially learning about the people some of my ancestors (Kenneth MacAlpin, Duncan, Malcolm III (often called Malcolm Canmore), St. Margaret, St. David) ruled more than a thousand years ago. Yes, my penname is similar to Nyssa (Nerissa) and the House of Canmore (McCanmore).
During one of the breaks, when Pearl was feeling better, Pearl’s family did take her to Florida and spent a short time there with her. We roommies were jealous, of course.
According to my diary, I apparently returned to school on the fourth, even though that was the day classes began. I had an afternoon class, one to four each weekday, so maybe this wasn’t so strange.
Apparently I didn’t have to start my morning shift in the library that day; maybe I hadn’t set it up yet. I set my shift for ten to twelve, which made me get up early and see the sun during those short, mid-winter days, and gave me a chance to work with Sharon each morning.
The fourth may have also been the time my parents and I went through Port Washington on the way back to school. I know this happened while I was still getting over Phil.
If it happened after Thanksgiving Break, I probably used the little trip as an escape from my problems; if it happened after Christmas Break, it was probably one of the many fun things that lightened my mood.
Port Washington is a cute little seaside town next to Lake Michigan. We drove through the downtown, with its small shops and store windows (which had been drawn on with chalk). I forget what the drawings were for, maybe a Christmas celebration or contest. I think one drawing was of a pirate.
The show Step by Step on ABC’s TGIF Fridays was supposedly set in Port Washington, but never showed any of the actual town. I thought this was a shame and a disservice to the many people who could watch and find local color and see the cute little town. (By this time I had stopped watching TGIF Fridays.)
Sharon had cut her hair short. She credited me for this, saying, “You taught me how to be my own person and do what I want to do and not what other people want me to do.”
You see, my friends sometimes said I’d look cute with short hair or a spiral perm, but I wouldn’t hear of it. I liked my hair long and a cross between wavy and straight. (At the moment it was wavy; how wavy my hair is after each cut seems to vary.)
Sharon wrote in the Journal,
Nyssa, answering your inquiry about how I used to see you. For a long time you were very quiet and never said anything. You sat with all of us at meals but you never joined in the conversations. We didn’t really know you. You were a part of the group, but you were a stranger for a long time.
I asked you to room with me this year for a reason. I didn’t know you and I could tell there was an extremely interesting person in that shy, reserved exterior. And I was right.
You talk so much more than you used to. You are a completely different person than I had once thought. I love the ‘you’ that I have gotten to know this past year. Meeting the real ‘you’ has been one of the highlights of my year 🙂 .
I’m surprised you say you didn’t really know me before and that I didn’t talk much. It seemed different to me. I had long talks with you and Pearl and others, and I felt closer to you all than I did to almost everyone else. Like here were people that actually knew me. Now I’m a bit confused about the whole thing.
I didn’t mean to make you doubt yourself or the way you see yourself now or in the past. You really didn’t talk to me as much as you talked to Pearl (and Cindy when you lived in Krueger).
You did talk a lot when you were with one person, but I usually saw you with the “group” and you really didn’t say much. But that’s not bad. Usually I don’t say much in the midst of a large conversation. I just can’t keep up and my mind goes blank.
I was the only one in the apartment with a Winterim class. Sharon and Pearl were probably working at their work-study jobs, giving them an excuse to stay in the apartment during Winterim. Tara had an internship, and also stayed in the apartment.
For me, the studying wasn’t at all bad, though, because I enjoyed the Celtic Roots class. I think I often read the chapters at work in the morning. In the afternoon, I practiced playing the tin whistle while my friends were out of the room.
Yes, studying the tin whistle was part of the class, since Dr. Bard, the teacher, played French folk music with his wife. They even played at the campus Open Mike and at gigs around the area.
Dr. Bard, a 30ish, social science teacher with glasses, had red hair and a beard, and combed his hair down over a bald spot to look like bangs.
We had two textbooks, little paperbacks. The Celts by Nora Chadwick was one. The class and even the teacher agreed that this, though informative, was very dry. Still, I found it useful when writing my novel Tojet.
We liked The Elements of The Celtic Tradition by Caitlin Matthews a lot better. It was a fun book, going into the religion of the Celts, from pagan days to after they converted to Christianity.
She, a Druid, included exercises in the back of the book for such things as finding your totem or your destiny through meditations. But in the rest of the book I noticed no bias for or against any religion.
Helene and Catherine had Celtic class along with me, and I would usually sit between them. The class was held in the Honors classroom, room number 24 in Old Main. We had a lot of fun in that class, and would talk about it afterwards. It seemed everyone in the class had a good time.
I believe we all had to pay for our tin whistles, but once we did and Dr. Bard gave them to us, we’d practice simple songs for the first fifteen minutes of each class. The tin whistle played like a recorder, with very little wind, which was good for me because I didn’t have enough wind in me to play anything more strenuous. (It’s hard enough for me just to talk loud.)
When the course ended, Dr. Bard asked how many of us would continue to play our tin whistles. Most of us raised our hands, including me. However, though I still have the music sheets we used, along with sheets showing examples of knotwork, I haven’t played my tin whistle since 1998.
This class helped me get over Phil by giving me something fun to do that wouldn’t remind me of him, and by proving I didn’t need him to have a good life.
One day, in fact, Catherine and I and maybe Helene went to check mail in the Campus Center, as we did every day (though I, of course, couldn’t check mine there anymore). We took out our tin whistles and practiced a particularly challenging and beautiful tune, which we learned in class that day.
The door to the Pub was across from the mailboxes, so I happened to see that Phil was in the Pub. I hoped he’d see and hear us, that he’d realize I moved on and was now doing new and interesting things. I wanted him surprised to see me standing there playing a tin whistle. I wanted him to think he’d lost a talented, imaginative, and intelligent person, and would never get her back again.
We were supposed to practice our tin whistles outside of class. One day soon after we started playing them in class, Brigitte said she was practicing hers in her dorm room one day when a girl went out into the hall and cried, “What is that?”
On probably the 18th or 19th of January, Dr. Bard taught us how to draw Celtic knotwork. Mine wasn’t very good, but during class I began to practice. During the lectures and while we listened to various types of modern Celtic music, I drew knotwork all over my plain Roanoke folder (which was my Winterim folder) and colored it with my yellow highlighter.
At night, I filled in the knotwork with other colors as well, using a set of markers. I drew spirals, knotwork, snakes and torques, and I even filled in various letters and other things with the highlighter. In the end, it was a folder to be proud of. Of course, by then I was probably done with the course, so I used it for other things.
We sometimes listened to old- or new-fashioned Celtic music in class. When we did, there was little else for us to do except listen. Helene said to me once, “Dr. Bard should notice how uncomfortable people get during the music, and maybe play it in the background while we’re doing other things.” We liked the music, but it would be more pleasant to listen to it that way.
At least several people in the class were Christians like us. One girl, however, was vehemently anti-Christian. She was bad-tempered and seemed to like nothing better than to sit there and rip on Christians.
She spoke of a Christian couple who used to live next door to her when she was a child, and treated her awfully. We Christians wondered what they had done to her, and wished she’d realize that one couple did not represent all Christians or Christianity.
When a group of Wiccans spoke to the class, she was intrigued and asked many questions. But religion should not be about running away from or rebelling against another religion. It should be about true beliefs.
We learned about the head-cult of the Celts, that they displayed the heads of defeated enemies and sometimes even drank out of their skulls. Dr. Bard also told us that the one who came late to a revel (or meeting?) got his head chopped off.
I looked at Catherine, and we joked that if we lived back then, we would be dead before we reached age 21. I drew a stick-figure cartoon about this: First there were the feasters, then some guy came late and got his head chopped off, and then the feasters went back to their revel. I wish I could find it now.
On the 16th, three speakers explained to us the modern-day Wiccan religion as it relates to the Celtic nature religions. I wasn’t sure what to think about them at first because at least one of them wore a black T-shirt and an upright pentacle on a chain around his neck. This one also had long, dark hair, and looked to be no older than his 20s or 30s.
(I knew nothing about the pentacle other than its supposed “Satanist” associations.) The other two were a married couple, not yet middle-aged, who were Christian Wiccan. Dr. Bard had invited them. (I have no idea what Dr. Bard’s religious beliefs were, by the way.)
(For the truth about the pentacle and pentagram, click here.)
They gave fascinating information about Neo-Pagans and their beliefs, and how Celtic nature religions fit into the Middle Ages. The class took notes. The speakers said the Church Christianized certain holidays to help keep new, formerly pagan converts from turning back to their old ways.
Now, since then, I’ve heard various theories about why holidays and pagan deities were Christianized. This is one; another is that the pagans-turned-Christians themselves made deities into saints and pagan holidays into Christian ones because they didn’t want to give up their beliefs.
Another view is that the Christian missionaries were wise and adaptable in incorporating the local festivals rather than just forbidding them. And, of course, a view you commonly hear is that the Christian church just wanted to steal everybody else’s religious practices. I reject that view wholeheartedly. See here for more information.
The speakers said some Wiccans, like them, actually believe in both Christianity and Wicca, and are called Christian Wiccans.
They also explained some of the magic they use, that it’s a science, that it isn’t always so much casting a spell as it is positive thinking and changing yourself to get what you want, just as a businessperson might wear power suits to be more successful.
They also explained other kinds of magic that actually used spells and the powers of creation. They said love spells weren’t charms, but learning how to change yourself and your traits to be more attractive to the person you love, so he/she will want to date you.
One of the traditional students, a girl, her religion unknown to me, said, “But if you have to change yourself to be more attractive to this person, aren’t you better off finding someone else who appreciates you the way you are?” She was right, of course, though I don’t remember what, if anything, the speakers said in reply.
One day, on Catherine’s request, a friend of hers from the SCA, Ayesha, came to speak to the class. (I can use her name because she has long since passed away.) She was about 35, with short, dark hair.
I’d just heard about the SCA, or Society for Creative Anachronisms, a medieval re-creation group, over Christmas. A couple met in the South Bend SCA group, then the Shire of White Waters, and had an SCA wedding ceremony. The South Bend Tribune ran an article about it. I thought the SCA sounded neat.
Though my friends apparently knew all along, I had no idea that Catherine used to go to SCA meetings when we were freshmen. Ayesha was a member of the Catherine’s group, which I later discovered was a certain shire, based in S– and M–.
After Ayesha spoke to the class, I went with Catherine as she helped Ayesha take her speech props back to her car in the Jubilee parking lot. They tried to talk me into joining the SCA, and I thought about giving it a shot.
Catherine told me there were “hot guys in the SCA, and they love to flirt with you.” This attracted me: Now that several months had passed since the breakup, the Vampire train had derailed, and neither of my crushes were interested, I felt ready to find a new man or two.
She said the meetings would suit me because they were always late and laid-back. They’d go on for hours, constantly getting sidetracked, and then someone would say, “Hey, isn’t Star Trek:TNG on?” and turn it on.
(She hadn’t been to a meeting for some time, so neither of us knew they’d become more businesslike and boring.)
These SCA people were also like Catherine and loved to hug.
I wrote a story for my presentation, which was in place of a final. I sat down with paper and my Iona (Christian Celtic) tapes, made a list of Celtic names I found, and wrote a story about a girl named Gwyn Duncan. I thought Gwyn was a girl’s name, but later found out it was probably male.
The story was short and simple, with a few sets of lyrics and a typically Celtic, unhappy ending. It was about a girl taken by the sidhe, or fairies. It took a few hours to finish, and once started and put into a Celtic mood by Iona, I didn’t want to break the spell for anything.
I later revised the story, typed it up, and decorated it with various Celtic-style pictures. I read it in class on the 27th. As I read, I tried to forget myself and just read, because if I remembered I was reading in front of a classroom full of students I’d get nervous and self-conscious.
When I finished I passed it around before giving it to the teacher, so everyone could see the pictures. I didn’t know what people would think of my story, and feared they’d think it was stupid, but this wasn’t the case at all.
Dr. Bard liked it and gave me 50 points out of 50, along with this note: “A good story integrating much Celtic terminology and imagery. I enjoyed reading it. Good work!”
Helene complimented me on it and its simplicity, though she didn’t like Brì marrying Elva at the end. I think one reason for the sad ending was my own cynicism about love at the time. Another reason was to make it seem more Celtic, since Celtic stories were typically depressing.
I’ve made a few minor changes: Gwyn Duncan became Goewin daughter of Duncan, the tin whistle became a flute–basically, grammar fixes and things which fit better historically. I also added short definitions, since the story was originally written for a class familiar with the Celtic terms.
One of the non-trad women in the class made a variety of Celtic foods for her presentation. She feared she hadn’t made them right, but I told her they were delicious. There were different types of breads, including one that was called barmbrak or something like that, and there may have been other kinds of food as well.
Remember the girl who detested Christians? She did a Celtic pre-battle ritual. She even passed around a real, human skull full of sparkling grape juice. She said it was clean, but I passed it on without drinking from it. Ewww! Catherine and Helene also took a pass. But Dr. Bard took a big swig.
Brigitte did her presentation on her clan’s history (she had a Scottish last name). She discovered that it was related to Kenneth MacAlpine. After class I told her we were probably related, because my own ancestry goes back to MacAlpine through Duncan I.
Some people said Brigitte had a crush on James, whom she knew from Circle K. James was sure popular that year! He wasn’t a handsome stud, either, so you can’t blame it on that. Some men don’t have to be handsome to be desirable.
I heard that she was amusingly obvious about her crush, and asked James to take her places all the time. She succeeded, and the latest Roanoke alumni book shows that James married her and moved to Green Bay.
Dr. Bard showed us beautiful medallions his mother made, which were painted with figures of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John from the Book of Kells. They had metal loops at the back so they could be strung onto necklaces. He told us we could buy them for about $3 (if I remember correctly).
I couldn’t get mine until at least Wednesday, February 15, after Winterim was already over, and he was afraid I would never buy it, but I was just in time to get the St. John. I chose that one because I liked the eagle, and it was the prettiest. Catherine bought the St. Mark. (Anyone who knows us personally knows why this is ironic and funny.)
I strung the medallion on a spare chain. Maybe it belonged to one of my old watches, or maybe it was a chain my Irish penpal sent me for Christmas 1991. Later, Cugan cut me a leather thong for it instead, making it more “period” for SCA events. (More about him later.)
On the night of the 17th, I wrote in my diary:
God, help me
God, be with me
The whirlpool of depression and despair
Has sucked me down.
I know with my head
That You’ll bring me out–
That You’re all-powerful,
Able to do miracles,
Anything You please–
But my heart just
Doesn’t believe it–
Heart, don’t be so stubborn!
Help me out here!
God, pull me out!
Pull me out!
Reach down with Your mighty hand
And pull me from
These murky, watery depths
Up to the air of freedom
I need You
More than I’ve ever needed anyone
‘Cause I’m drowning
I wrote the following early in 1998: Ever since the whole problem with Peter and how it devastated me, I was determined never to go through that again. Of course, that meant a difference in how I dealt with the Phil-situation.
I tried not to dwell on it as much as I did on the Peter-situation, tried to get my mind on other things. I dealt with the situation so well that the counselor told me, “You’re dealing with this a lot better than most people do.”
I forced myself early on to face what Phil really was: an abusive, cruel jerk, not the wonderful, loving husband I’d thought he was.
With Peter, it took much longer to face that he was not the wonderful, loving boyfriend I thought he was. It took what, a year or less to get over Peter, but only a few months with Phil. Aside from one relapse during January (see below), I was over him by Winterim, and ready to meet Cugan and a few other guys.
I made sure I could get on with life sooner. I cried sometimes, but not as much as I did with Peter, and tried to avoid sadness whenever I could.
Some may say I wasn’t dealing with the pain properly, not allowing myself to grieve, that I kept pushing the pain away. But I still remember how bad my grief over Peter made me feel, and how my friends got tired of hearing about it.
I remember moving on to a destructive relationship with Shawn instead of looking around for guys to go out and just have fun with. I could have asked out James, for example; I did have a crush on him. I did ask him to Pearl’s party junior year, but I could have actively pursued him sophomore year instead.
But I was too drawn to Shawn at the time to pursue James the way I should have. I look at all that, and think that my manner of dealing with the Phil-situation was the best I could have done at that time.
Or if not the best, then the best I knew how to do. It’s hard to say.
I decided not to date another actor, because they were used to pretending in front of an audience and could easily pretend in front of me. If a man was a good actor I wouldn’t know the difference.
Phil was so good an actor that I never could tell he wasn’t always sincere. He fooled me with his “subconscious,” and in late September he had fooled me into thinking he wanted to be with me. I didn’t want to go through this again with anyone else.
Pearl and I watched My So-Called Life every Thursday, but the network was now threatening cancellation because of low ratings. It hadn’t even had a chance to build up a following yet, but they were already cancelling it.
I liked that the actress for Angela (Claire Danes) was the same age as her character, fifteen. You don’t see that often.
I sent e-mail over Thanksgiving or Christmas Break to the TV Guide‘s “Save Our Show” campaign, and voted for this show. Pearl’s sister liked it too, and was proud of me for voting.
But the campaign failed, and the show still got canceled. Network execs keep canceling the good shows before they have a chance to build up a following, and keeping the mediocre shows!
Several years later, Freaks and Geeks got the knife, while Popular got renewed. (Typical: the popular kids beating the geeks.)
My roommies all loved ER, and watched it every Thursday night at 9. They said it “er,” not “E.R.,” just as Jay Leno did. I was so-so about it. It was gross, especially in the opening scene, and that was the same time I usually had my evening snack.
Some of it was interesting, though, like some of the relationships. Once I graduated, I never watched it again.
The library workers began processing new books for the library, along with books for RC-Japan, a branch of Roanoke. One of the RC-Japan books was Anne of Ingleside. (I thought it was the last book in the Anne of Green Gables series, though actually it’s only sixth out of eight.)
I borrowed it to read, since this was okay, and then talked about it with Sharon in one of our many library discussions that year. She’d also read it, and we both agreed that it was disappointing: too much of Anne’s kids and too little of Anne herself! It shows you that a series can go on for too long.
This is true, not exaggerated: Everywhere we went in the S– area, with few exceptions, Mike knew somebody, and waved and yelled “Hi!” to them. Was there anyone he did not know? Catherine said that everyone in the world was destined to meet him eventually.
I found a review for a new movie called PCU. PCU was a spoof, written by young people, of college campuses that are too politically correct, have too much activism, and are too unreal. I was glad I hadn’t gone to a college like that: I wasn’t into all that stuff.
Mike told us, probably in the first part of senior year, about his recent trip to Milwaukee. He was stopped at a stoplight when a man came up to his window and said,
“Do you want some drugs? Are you a college student? Here, you can sell this at your college.”
Mike kept saying no, he doesn’t want any drugs, yes he’s a college student but no he doesn’t want to sell any drugs, no, no, no! This shook him up. Finally, the light changed and he could drive on.
Each of us had small bottles of milk, rather than one big bottle in common. There was always at least one bottle of sour milk in the refrigerator. Once, one of us finally cleaned them all out, when many of them sat in there just taking up space.
We were told at the beginning of the year that we could get no stains on the carpet at all, or else the whole carpet would be pulled up and replaced, and everyone in the apartment would get charged for it.
That was to keep the apartments in good condition for years to come, but one little stain would not ruin the beauty of a whole apartment. Out in the real world, apartment complexes allow normal wear and tear, and don’t pull up the whole carpet just for one stain.
Needless to say, we were paranoid about stains that year. We’d rush to clean up the tiniest spills with the bottle of Resolve Carpet Cleaner provided by the school.
One day, Pearl and I were alone in the apartment, me on the couch and her in the kitchen making lunch. Pearl tried to be independent as much as possible, so if she needed help, she’d ask for it.
I learned from her that the disabled don’t like to be seen as helpless, and are quite capable of figuring out how to do things.
Later on, I met a man with no eyes or hands, but he led me from his apartment to the parking garage. He appreciated that I did not assume he was helpless, but waited to be asked for help: It was a relief from what people often did.
There is a key movement in the disability community for the right to self-determination, which means that we have the power to freely choose how and when we act or are acted upon, without having the will of nondisabled people forced upon us.
Or, in the simplest possible terms: disabled DOES NOT mean helpless. I cannot stress this enough.
Being a good person is a great thing, but please don’t do it at the expense of allowing me to determine my own needs. It’s time for able-bodied people to differentiate between politeness and infringing upon my independence. –Emily Ladau, Thanks for the help, I guess, but I’m not helpless!
So Pearl, on her own, stuck Teddy-O’s (a kind of Spaghetti-O’s) in the microwave (I think the microwave belonged to one of us), and heated them up.
They were in a covered Tupperware bowl. She took them out again, got a good hold on the bowl and her crutches, and began to carry them out of the kitchen. She probably meant to take them to the table. Everything seemed normal, uneventful. And normally, nothing would happen.
Next thing I knew, she tripped and/or dropped the bowl, and the Teddy-O’s flew, spilling all over the kitchen floor and the carpet next to it.
We both laughed and joked about it, but of course, we had to clean it up, for fear we’d get charged for new carpeting. Pearl couldn’t do it herself, so I grabbed the Resolve and some paper towels and did it myself. I don’t remember if any stains were left behind, but we were not charged.
One evening, probably during Winterim, my friends and I went to the opening night of Wayne’s World II. The lines to the movie were so long they stretched outside the doors. I was used to a very short line, if any. Across the street, a digital bank clock showed how cold it was: below zero, I believe.
We loved the movie. We laughed at the kung-fu moves (which reminded me of Peter’s ninjitsu); the weird, naked Indian; the parody of the 70s/80s Calgon commercials; the naked Indian crying about the litter on the landscape, just like in the old 70s/80s anti-litter commercials.
The group of middle-school kids right behind us didn’t get the commercial parodies at all. They scoffed at how much we laughed. They also kept talking–not whispering, talking–through the whole movie. Argh!
That semester, I worked on two writing projects in addition to my schoolwork: a novel based on Roanoke, and a novel about my seventh-grade dream about ancient Egypt.
I wrote many pages for the Roanoke novel before wondering just how long the thing would take. Those pages have become my memoir’s introduction to Roanoke, the chapters “Meet the Suite” through “Tales of the Campus.”
In 1996, when I resumed the writing of these memoirs, and wasn’t sure whether to make them into a novel or an autobiography (though I knew I had to at least write down the true story before making it into a novel), I incorporated these chapters.
Besides the interesting bits of my own life, I wanted to put my friends in the book because they were so much fun themselves. The whole group of us had been through many things together.
Pearl said one day that “Someone should write a book about us,” so I said I was already doing that. She and my other roommies got excited and told me what names I should give them. Yes, “Pearl” was one of those names.
By Friday, January 13, I had written about thirty pages of my Roanoke book, and made a note to include Penisman Christopher’s poems in the novel. Unfortunately, I later realized I couldn’t, since I had no idea how to contact him for permission.
I actually started making notes for such a book during junior year, and began to write it senior year. Of course, very little of it was fictionalized; I decided to write everything as it happened and then fictionalize it later. Its current form is all truth, no fiction.
I later decided to write my memoirs but not make them into fiction, because that, in a weird way, could set me up for libel–while if I wrote an autobiography I couldn’t be sued for libel because it would all be true.
Eventually I abandoned the idea of publication, since I was afraid my family would disapprove of certain things. Instead, I started using the memoirs as inspiration for novels, which I’ve read that most authors do.
Then in 2001, after friends requested to see the memoirs, I put them into e-mails, removing whatever seemed too boring or personal for other readers. Those e-mails have now been adapted into this current form.
Around mid-January, the senior class hosted a Hunk and Honey contest, which elected the best couple. You voted with pennies in a big, plastic jar set by the name and picture of your favorite couple.
Penny drives like this popped up now and then to raise money for something (and to get rid of spare pennies). We had another one that year, in which the classes (junior, senior, etc.) competed to see who could put in the most pennies.
To my shock and dismay, someone nominated Phil and Persephone. One day in the week of the 16th, probably Tuesday or later between 11:30 and 12:30, I walked past James and my co-worker Megan as they sat at the Hunk & Honey contest voting table. It was on the south side of Bossard and near the bathrooms.
James said to me, “I nominated Phil and Persephone because they deserve each other.” He hated both of them. He said, “Persephone is the most negative person I’ve ever met.” Then he put a bunch of pennies in the big, plastic jar.
Megan agreed with him, and said she voted for them, too. They probably thought it would cheer me up and show they supported me, but it depressed me.
(By the way, I’ve reconnected with Persephone on Facebook. In a recent status update about those days, she said she eventually realized why she had so much trouble making real friends at Roanoke–and made changes in herself.)
I worked at the senior table with Sharon from 4:30 to 6:00 on Monday, June 16. I looked at Phil and Persephone’s container. It was filling up with pennies!
I probably thought, “Please tell me people are voting for them because they deserve each other, not because they make a great couple!–which they don’t.” I kept thinking, “It should say Phil and Nyssa, not Phil and Persephone!” Ugh, stupid residual pain.
Then Persephone came along and saw how full it was. She said, “Oh, wow, look at that.” She chuckled. “I think I know who nominated us. I’m going to have to get after him for that.”
This depressed me even more. I thought I was finally getting over Phil, especially after my wonderful Christmas Break–but this threw me into a relapse.
I told Helene all this as she drove me back to my apartment in her minivan on a cold day. There in the apartment parking lot, as usual, sat Phil’s minivan, close by my bedroom window.
I hated coming out of my apartment in the morning and finding it still there. Just like John Cusack’s character in the movie High Fidelity, all sorts of horrible images popped into my head of Phil having sex with Persephone all night long. I hoped he stayed in Dirk’s room, not hers.
(She later told me they never had sex, though he essentially lived with her and her roommate because his home life had grown intolerable.)
Anyway, I pointed out Phil’s Dodge Caravan to Helene. She charged at it with her minivan. She’d speed toward it, then slow down, turn around, and speed toward it again. We giggled.
I don’t remember who won Hunk and Honey, but I do know it wasn’t Phil and Persephone. I don’t think I even knew the couple.
Mike started eating one banana per day, usually at lunch. I think it was a health thing. It seemed to make him bouncier than usual.
My dad sent us an old modem to hook up to Pearl’s computer. It was 2400 baud, already ancient by then, when 14.4K was top of the line. He also sent his old, outdated copy of Procomm, without all the fun perks of the later versions. It was fine for Pearl’s 8088 computer, which didn’t have Windows.
We just needed a phone cord and someone to help us hook the thing up. It wasn’t a simple box like our first modems were, but confusing and intimidating: you actually put it in the computer.
Mike’s friend Brent came over one night to install the modem, after January 27 and before February 7. I had a lot of fun chatting with Brent about AOL and modems and such as he set everything up.
I think there were no problems putting the modem in, but when Brent tried to use his introductory AOL disc, it refused to work. Mike tried calling the tech support number, but was put on hold for an excruciatingly long time.
When he finally got to talk to someone, it didn’t help. Somehow, Brent finally figured out the problem and got the disc to work.
We were now in business. Dad gave me two S– BBS numbers from one of his computer magazines. One may have been for Spatula City, a once-popular BBS run by Jennifer’s boyfriend Jason. The other was for TCB.
Spatula City was more an old-style BBS, but this TCB amazed us. It amazed Pearl and Sharon because they’d never been on BBS’s before, but it amazed me because I’d never seen such a fun BBS before. Even PanOptic Net (Dr. Who-based BBS in South Bend) had never been like this.
It also charged a fee, unlike any other BBS I’d ever used more than once. The old-style, free BBS’s like Spatula City and PanOptic Net were now on the decline, because BBS’s were starting to include expensive Internet access and multiple lines.
TCB hadn’t yet gotten up to twenty-some lines, but it was already close. Every other BBS I ever used, could only allow one user on at one time.
The commands were easy to use, much easier than on PanOptic Net. You could go into Teleconference and find colorful letters, fun action words, and tons of people.
Sharon and Pearl sat there “oohing” and “aahing” as I set up a demo account and explored the BBS. (In those days, TCB let you do almost everything in the short-term demo account, before you decided whether or not to set up a paying account. Later on, the demo class allowed for very little, and wasn’t fun at all.)
Jason also helped us out, telling us about other BBS’s and giving us his Spatula City handle, Antilles. Spatula City wasn’t working right for a few days, so we didn’t get to see why it was so popular.
He said all this with an ominous tone, as if he thought Peter was scary. I don’t know if he knew about my history with Peter, but he might have, because he was now dating my old pledge sister Jennifer and used to date Cindy and Catherine.
Pearl, Sharon and I got home one night fall semester, possibly from an InterVarsity activity, and Tara said, “Pearl, some guy named Shawn called.”
We were all like, Shawn? Shawn??? There’s a blast from the past!
We sure weren’t expecting to hear from HIM!
He probably called Pearl again, and must have gotten my number from her. He called me later, and we had a long conversation about how our lives had gone since he left. He said he was on Prozac now. He sounded a slightly deranged sort of happy.
He said, “I haven’t had a girlfriend in about two years, and no one seems interested in dating me.”
When I told Pearl about this later, we both said, “Girlfriend?” The only girlfriend he could have had two years ago was me! I thought he always told me I wasn’t his girlfriend?
Pearl said, “That’s fishy. Maybe it shows there was something going on there. Maybe now he thinks of you as an ex-girlfriend?”
I said, “If he didn’t think of me as a girlfriend before, then why did he call me one, now?”
“I always knew there was something there he wasn’t admitting to.”
A few years later, I read an article in Mademoiselle or Glamour magazine about this very phenomenon. The author had been in several situations where the guy would never say, while they were dating, that they were actually dating or seeing each other or hanging out or anything, or introduce her to friends as anything but a friend. But years later he’d refer to her as an ex-girlfriend! So it happens.
But back to the phone call. While I sat at the desk in my room, I told him about the spiritual marriage. It came up because, when he mentioned things we’d done, I said it could have been much worse but it wasn’t.
I told Shawn we were common-law married, so he wouldn’t think less of me for “giving it up without a wedding ring.”
(I heard that phrase on The Cosby Show once, the fantasy episode in which the men started getting pregnant and not the women. Hey! The men in the opening news segment got pregnant in Oconomowoc, WI, close to where I live now! 🙂 )
Shawn said, “So now there are only a few virgins left at Roanoke!” Meaning a few of my friends–and not me anymore.
Shawn was one person I could talk to about these things. We had stirred up the fire between ourselves; now I had gone on to another guy with that fire still burning.
Shawn didn’t try to get back with me now that I was single again, but that was just as well, because I had moved on–and would soon meet the love of my life.
Shawn called me again the week of January 22, at one in the morning. Sharon was asleep at the time, and not too happy about having to jump down off her bed to answer the phone. I took the phone into the hall, and whispered,
“You shouldn’t call so late, Shawn!”
He said, “You always stayed up late before.”
“But I’m not rooming with Clarissa anymore. I have roommates now who can hear me talk on the phone!” (Reminder: Clarissa was mostly deaf and took out her hearing aid at night.)
I talked low on the phone, so my roommates wouldn’t get woken up.
At some point he started asking me, “What is sex like?”
When I told him, I could hear in his voice that it was turning him on. It creeped me out, like I was his 1-900-phone-sex operator.
He kept asking me questions about it, so I said, “Why do you keep asking me these questions?”
Finally, the conversation finished. Of course, that was nothing compared to those conversations we used to have till 3, 4, or 5 am!
He had called us in the first place because I sent him a Christmas card; I believe he called the switchboard to get our new phone numbers. He called again the next night because I couldn’t talk to him at one in the morning.
I asked, “Why are you calling me all of a sudden? I thought you said you didn’t want to have anything to do with me.”
He said, “After my brother died, I decided I’d better try to keep the friends I have.”
The Vampire never wrote me, though he said he’d try to write every week. And I couldn’t write him unless he wrote me, because I didn’t have his address. He shouldn’t have lost mine, since he wrote it in a notebook with all his BBS numbers, and he probably guarded that notebook well. Oh, well, 20 years later I finally found him on Facebook. 🙂
We finally had another party in the apartment, possibly on January 21. It was a big one, and fun. We played games in two rooms, and had pizza and chips and pop. (No, we never had wild, drunken revels. Who needs those to have fun?) Someone even brought Jenga. We wanted the party to be big and take up several rooms, each with a different activity, just as Tanya’s Halloween party did.
I decided to sit out during Taboo. Charles did the same because he didn’t like Taboo. But I did because we played it every time we had a party at Roanoke, so I knew practically all the answers now.
I’d called one long-lost friend over Christmas Break. Her mom answered and sounded shocked that an old friend from high school was calling. I left a message; however, my friend never called back. I don’t know why.
I wrote to her, my middle school friend Josh and another old high school friend; no letters came in reply. When I found Josh online over Spring Break, he said he sent letters and cards to high school classmates, too, but none of them answered.
He said about my other friend, “I’m sure he’ll write ya,” but he didn’t–and neither did anybody else. I wrote other letters to my male friend, but he didn’t answer those, either.
But funny how times change: I later found all of them on Facebook. No longer do we have to depend on the old method of exchanging letters or phone calls to reconnect with old friends we haven’t seen in years, friends who may forget who you are or forget to call/write back, or never get your note.
It’s even better than the old Internet standby of e-mail, which can also be easily forgotten. Facebook is much better because you can interact with your old friends with immediacy, even if you have not seen them in 20 years and live far apart.
Astrid began sending me letters because I mentioned that I wanted some. I didn’t mean letters of the alphabet, but she began sending me one alphabet letter at a time through the on-campus mail, until all together they made up a quote from her new poster. I’d have to find all the letters to tell you what the quote was.
Pearl and Sharon decided to stay another year and take on another major, because they didn’t want to leave Roanoke yet. I, on the other hand, was sick of Roanoke, and didn’t want to do this. And it would have meant more money to pay back in student loans.
On the 27th, I wrote to my friend Becky,
Sometimes these days I feel like several of my friends, who know about the common-law thing, are judging me. The things they say–It’s as if they mean, “You’ve done a terrible thing–premarital you-know-what–and we thought you were more moral than us! You’ve fallen, fallen!”
It makes me want to grab them and say, “Hey! According to my research, it was a common-law marriage! I didn’t sleep with him until we were c-l married, so it wasn’t premarital or anything! Stop talking to me like I’m a fallen woman!”
–Since, after all, we began calling ourselves married, which is all you have to do. I’ve told them that, but they still talk this way. I don’t believe I’ve broken God’s commandments because we were c-l married, but when they judge me, I feel like I have. It really frustrates me.
I won’t write what Becky replied, because it’s private. But she and Catherine were both far more understanding.
I had something to do every day over Winterim Break: Friday night, birthday party (1/27); Saturday, Superbowl party at Jason’s apartment in Milwaukee; Sunday, trip to Madison to see Sharon’s high school and one of Pearl’s old friends from Kenosha, who went to UW-Madison; then the last day, a trip to Milwaukee for a phone cord and boots.
Saturday, January 28 was the one-year anniversary of the day Phil and I began going out. My day planner messages dealt with a printout of a genealogical chart my dad had sent me, and a missing phone cord for the modem.
No mention of Phil anywhere. But I did remember what day it was, and blotted out the number 28 with white Liquid Paper. You see I didn’t think much of that anniversary: It was the anniversary of the day I began a relationship with someone I should have run far away from.
At the Superbowl party, we watched the commercials and used the actual game time as breaks for getting snacks or going to the bathroom. I believe the people there were my roommies, maybe Mike, Charles, Jason, Jennifer, and a cute guy named Brad.
Jason and Jennifer–like Peter and me so long ago–were pre-engaged. But unlike Peter and me, they actually carried it through, and are married to this day.
The scary thing was, Brad acted like Phil!–Phil at a party, that is: crazy, goofy. Pearl and I both freaked at the resemblance. I hoped that was the only resemblance. He acted like he kept wanting to talk to me or ask me something, but never got the chance.
At one point, we tossed around a stuffed, toy football. Charles hit it at the computer, and a drink spilled. Brad picked up a disc, which was in a plastic sheath, and said, “At least it had protection!”
Brad hadn’t shaved that day, but I could still tell he was cute. (In a picture he later sent me of himself, he was clean-shaven and even cuter.) All through the party he acted interested.
When my friends decided it was time to leave, we all stood around for a bit talking. Jason’s apartment was a studio apartment with only the bathroom and the bedroom in separate rooms. There was also a step separating the kitchen area from the living area.
I stood with my coat on above the step, and at one point Brad sat below me, hanging onto my ankles, begging me for something (I forget what, probably that I wouldn’t go).
If anything told me he was interested, that was it. It certainly boosted my self-esteem. I thought about slipping him my number, but I guess I didn’t have the courage.
The Budweiser Frog commercial, the first of its kind, was a big hit with us, our favorite of all the Superbowl commercials that year. We loved the three frogs saying, “Bud! Weis! Er!” We especially loved the last frog’s enthusiastic “ERR!” at the end of the commercial.
After we finally left, Brad buzzed us at an intercom in the hallway. When we answered, he said, “Bud! Weis! ERR!!”
I was to find out that Brad was twenty-four, the same age as the Vampire and Charles. But no, he didn’t look “too old” at all.
I kept wishing I’d slipped him my number. Pearl wanted to set me up with a Madison guy named Alex. She said we had a lot in common, and he was a Christian.
He sounded cool, and “Alexander” was my favorite guys’ name, yet there was this Brad. I decided that a serious, exclusive relationship with anyone would be a bad idea for me at this time.
About the trip to Sharon’s on Sunday, January 29: There are hills on the way to Madison, big ones, almost mountainous. It looks quite different from the little hills and flatland of southeastern Wisconsin. (By the way, my Wisconsin friends who say how flat Indiana is, Northern Indiana has huge hills!)
When we pulled up to Sharon’s house and waited for her to come out, I saw her house for the first time. It seemed I was the only person who hadn’t been there before; I don’t believe Charles was with us.
Its size–tiny, boxlike–struck me. I couldn’t believe one person could live in that house, let alone Sharon’s whole family. It looked no larger than one room.
But when I visited Sharon one day much later, I found it was actually like Dr. Who’s TARDIS: bigger on the inside than on the outside. Sharon and her siblings also thought it looked too small when their mother first had them come see it, but then they walked inside and changed their minds. This house had two stories, though it looked like only one from the street, and the basement and attic were made into bedrooms.
First stop: Shabazz, the alternative high school. It may have been a whole building by now, or it may still have been as it was when Sharon went there: maybe two hallways out of a shared building.
Not many students went here, but enough to make it worthwhile. The school was run quite differently from a regular school. It was for smart kids; they had more freedoms, and classes and requirements were structured differently.
By this time, the halls were overrun with teenagers clad in flannel clothes similar to the ones Roanoke freshmen wore, only much trendier. (In September of 1994, when the large freshman class came to Roanoke, I looked around the cafeteria and saw a sea of checked flannel shirts.) I said to Pearl, “They all look like My So-Called Life!”
If you ever get a chance to see re-runs of that show, you’ll see what I meant by that. The style was a mismatch of seventies fashions, thrift-store and probably army-surplus finds, striped flannel shirts hanging loosely over T-shirts, and probably some tight shirts on the girls.
The hair was in all sorts of weird fashions. I can’t remember them now, but a glance at My So-Called Life will show you, like Ray-Ann with her crazy, tiny braids here and there in tousled hair.
For those of us Roanoke upperclassmen who had seen very few high-schoolers since the early nineties, this scene was so strange as to be almost unbelievable. When we graduated, girls wore permed, big hair and clothes much like the late 80s. Most of my college classmates still dressed that way in 1995.
Had things really changed that much since we were in high school? It had only been three and a half years!
Back to Shabazz. There was even a computer lab in which students sat all around the room at computers, all connected to AOL. There was even a display on cards around the walls and above the chalkboard–like an alphabet–of the various emoticons, or smiley faces, frowns and other facial expressions used on the Internet:
:) :( :P >:( etc.
The streets of Madison were narrow and claustrophobic and had steep hills, but were pretty, and sometimes you could see the state’s capitol building or the university.
We parked on one of the hills and met some of Pearl’s youth group friends in a Victorian house they rented while at college. They were students at UW-Madison. One was a guy, the others girls.
It seemed odd to me to find students renting a house together instead of living on campus. I remembered that Phil once talked with Peter and some other guys about doing this. But the only traditional student I knew who’d actually done this was Latosha, who lived with her then-boyfriend.
I believe Pearl’s friends rented the downstairs story. They had a bird or two, a cat or two, and maybe other pets; I was jealous. I wasn’t jealous of the fixtures, which appeared to majorly need updating. The lights were inadequate, and the house felt a little cold. There were few furnishings.
But I did get to sit in a wicker chair, a big, round, nestlike thing, not the kind Morticia Addams would sit in. This was the first time I’d ever seen such a chair. (The second time would be in Cugan‘s apartment.)
These students knew Alexander. I whispered to Pearl in the car later, and she asked one of the friends about Alexander, but she didn’t know what was going on with him. I couldn’t tell if she meant he was free or wanted to be dating or not.
We went to an ice cream place where Sharon used to work, Ella’s Deli and Ice Cream Parlor. Though I don’t think it was like this when she worked there, it was now full of a kid’s wonderland: trains running along the tables, trains running around tracks inside the glass-topped tables, tables made up of gameboards, a jungle scene, clown dolls everywhere, and so much stuff I can hardly remember it all here. For more information and lots of pictures, check out the website.
We sat in front of the jungle scene. I ordered a sundae which the menu claimed was number one among UW-Madison students, and you would order it by asking for the “Number One.” It was a grilled pound cake hot fudge sundae, “the number one sundae in Dane County” according to the current menu.
Charles took Pearl to a hospital in Milwaukee every week, Tuesdays or Wednesdays I believe, so her doctor could monitor her after her surgery. One week, probably on Tuesday, January 31, I joined them, and waited with Charles in the lobby.
Charles read a Highlights magazine, even though it’s for kids, and I thought that was funny and cute. The nurses thought Charles was Pearl’s boyfriend, so she had to set them straight.
One night, Mike asked me (I don’t remember why) to move his car from one parking lot to the lot next to the apartments, since I had a license. I said he wouldn’t want me to do that, because I hadn’t driven in years. But he still said I could do it, and in a way I wanted to, so I did.
I sat in the car and remembered all the things I needed to do–adjust mirrors, move seat, put on seatbelt, etc.–but I totally forgot to turn on the lights. It was bright under the lights in the parking lot, so I didn’t think of it.
I drove onto the highway, since the apartment lot didn’t connect to the other drives and lots on the campus, and drove there for a minute or two–realizing I didn’t have my lights on, it was now dark, and I didn’t know where to find the light switch.
Somehow I could find my way: there was probably a street light or two. I wondered if the car coming the other way could see me. At least there was no one behind me on that country road, which got little traffic besides students.
I got to the apartment lot safely, went inside, and laughed as I told Mike what had happened. What better way to get through your embarrassment than by laughing about it?
Now that the Vampire had introduced me to it, whenever I could I watched Forever Knight. I kept wondering if Dr. Natalie Hunter was a grown-up Sarah Sutton, the actress who played Nyssa of Traken, but her name never came up in the credits. It was actually Catherine Disher, but she had an uncanny resemblance.
For the Spring Semester, we rearranged the living room: The table and chairs went along the wall in the study nook. The TV went over in front of the glass doors, far enough away that we could still use the doors. The couch went opposite it, under the bookshelves.
The armchair went to the left of the couch, when facing the TV. The stereo went along the side of the wall to the kitchen counter. The computer was to the left of the TV, when seen from the couch.
I believe one of the table’s chairs became the computer chair. Whenever one of us wanted to watch a roommate’s activities online (which was often), we pulled a chair over to watch.
We may have sat on a footrest, of which there may have been two: a cushioned milk crate and a blue one belonging to the armchair. (Yes, that’s the same milk crate that offended Phil when my friends suggested he sit on it. Yet it was good enough for us to sit on.)
We knew the new room arrangement looked a little funny, with the TV sitting all by itself over by the glass doors, but we loved it because it was more open.
We heard that people in Muehlmeier kept knocking out walls (which they could somehow put back up again later) to get more room and more roommates. Charles told us about this, and he lived in Muehlmeier, so it was probably true, but I have no idea how it was accomplished.
This gave my roommies, already in the mood for rearranging, the idea of moving all our beds into Pearl and Tara’s room and all the desks into the room I shared with Sharon. When they told me, I said,
“I don’t want to do that!”
Randy joked, “One day you’ll go away and come back to find it done, whether you like it or not.”
One roommie said, “Why don’t we do a two-week trial period? After that, if you still don’t like it, we can move it back.”
Sharon or Pearl said, “This way, we can use one phone line for the modem and the other for talking.”
The second point tempted me more than I wanted anyone to know. You see, the phone cord used for the modem was actually more than one cord hooked together. We ran it from Pearl and Tara’s bedroom to the computer, which was in the living room.
When we switched the rooms around, we hooked up both the modem and one of the phones to this cord. This new-style phone had no carriage, so you set it down to hang it up. We put it on the floor by the computer. You just had to be careful not to pick up the phone when someone was online, or you’d bump them offline. Since Roanoke had call-waiting, every once in a while, even an incoming call bumped us offline.
The phone line in my bedroom was now used for talking.
This was a useful setup, and it was fun to see the surprise on people’s faces when they asked for my extension and I gave them two numbers. So after a while I no longer wanted to put the rooms back the way they were. I tried to ignore Randy when he joked that the rooms hadn’t been switched back around, so I must like the new arrangement.
As the weeks passed, I spent so much time online that I no longer cared which room I slept in or where all the desks were. Ironically, now I could’ve talked to Shawn late at night if he wanted, because neither phone was in the bedroom, but he never called again until after I graduated.
Of course, bed-making was now shot to heck. None of us made our beds very often, now that the bedroom was just a bed room and nothing else. Friends were entertained in the living room. Sharon and I still kept our clothes in what was now the study room, and changed there.
Table of Contents
- Meet the Suite
- Meeting Shawn–and a Ninja
- Campus Stories, Wisconsin, Campus Radio Station
- Campus, People, First College Boyfriend
- Dating a Ninja
- My Friends
- Food Service and Classes
- Frustrating German Teacher
- Roommate and Campus Stories; Shawn Screws With My Head
- More Friend Stories; Friendship with Peter?
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
- Friends With Sexual Benefits: Fun at First, But Began to Destroy our Friendship
- The Secret Gets Out
- Ill-Fated Pledge Class
- We’re Dating!–No, We’re Not. Yes, We Are. ACK!
- Pat Robertson Screws Up
- Peter Turns the Screws
- Peter is PW
- Obscene Phone Caller
- Shawn Goes Animal-House on Me During my Shower
- Selective Mutism Strikes at a Zeta Party
- InterVarsity Group is Organized
- The Fire Burns Hotter; The Dreadful Night (Shawn Almost Goes Too Far)
- Accidents Will Happen
- Confronting Shawn’s Psychological Abuse
- A Proposed Cool-Off
- Poems of Werewolves and Longing
- Reading Clarissa; My Drawings of Her
- Irish Writers Class
- Psychological Hell as Shawn Turns Dark and Moody
- Insurance Mix-Ups and Corruption in the Campus Administration
- Pregnancy Scare
- Spring Classes; Crush on a Teacher; Lit Teacher Becomes My Writing Mentor; “Ugh” Poem
- Sexual Relations with Shawn: The Downward Spiral to a Crash
- School Scandal
- Shawn Rips Me Apart for NVLD Traits
- Spring Break; My Drawings of Ann Radcliffe Characters
- I’m Cold to Shawn and it Bugs Him
- The Power Goes Out–and the Water–in an Ice Storm
- I Meet Rick, My Admirer From Afar
- Ending Friends-with-Benefits for Good–After One Last Time
- Shawn Leaves: His Brother Turns Deathly Ill
- My Humiliation as Rachel Exposes How the Sorority Abused Me
- Classmate a stand-in for “Rudy”; Jigging at College Dance
- Library Tales
- Happiness Returns
- Living with Friends in Krueger
- Funny Library Stories
- Shawn Calls
- Psycho Roommates and Bug Wars
- Return of Rick
- Adjusting to New Dorm
- Spitball-Throwing Teacher
- Rat-Obsessed Teacher and Doctor Zhivago
- A Teacher Dated a Student; InterVarsity Fun
- Charlie Peacock Concert
- Random Stories
- Letter to Shawn
- Erotic Vampire Dream (Inspiration for Alexander Boa)
- I Ask Out James
- Peter Calls!
- The Fateful First Meeting of Phil
- The Birth of Dolphin Philosophy
- Our Group of Friends Splits Apart
- Praying for the Buildings
- That Fateful First Date with Phil
- Complication: A Rival
- Call from Shawn!
- Another Meeting with Peter
- He Can’t Decide Between the Girl he Wants and the Girl he Doesn’t
- Film Class
- I Spend a Night with Phil
- Spring Classes
- Big Red Flag: Phil’s Dysfunctional Family Life
- The Drunken Stork (Phil’s Controlling Nature Manifests)
- Idealizing Phase and Early Sign of Control
- Phil Tries to Control my Friendships, Unfair Accusations from his Dad and Brother
- Phil Gaslights Me with Fake Dreams, Ridicule and Psychological Abuse
- Another Pre-Engagement
June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:
- The Abuse Worsens in the Summer of Hell
- Phil rapes me anally
- Phil tries to control me through refusing everything I want–even proper hygiene
- Phil’s cruel hoax on me: his “subconscious” coming out to be with me
- Phil’s “subconscious” explains why he’s coming out to talk to me
- The lies unravel as Phil admits to conning me; also, fright as my periods turn wacky
- How Phil’s behavior fit the signs of abuse
- Phil Mindscrews Me: changes history, blames me for things that were not my fault, treats me like an idiot during games
- Phil says if he abuses me, it takes two people to sign the divorce papers
- Pearl reveals that Phil is costing me social invitations
- Hints that Phil is checking out of the marriage
September 1994–Divorce: The Long, Dark, Painful Tunnel:
- Phil picks fights and avoids responsibilities to make me feel like a shrew
- My husband Phil, Dave and Pearl call me a party pooper for getting a Grade II concussion
- I’m ecstatic to be back with my friends (the ones Phil hates); I meet Charles
- Phil vanishes without a word of why
- Phil wants a divorce
- My friends tells me that Phil is controlling and possessive
- My first Pentecostal church service: They speak in tongues
- Phil refuses to accept responsibility for the divorce
- Phil cuts off contact
- Attack of Phil’s Flying Monkey and Sycophant: Dirk
- Phil the narcissist admits to manipulating people and using them as pawns in his game with me
- Phil comes crawling back to me–and we put our marriage on paper
- Phil demands my complete submission and forces me into oral sex–and my will is broken, for fear he’ll divorce me again
- Phil walks away from me again–because I dare to have my own mind, opinions and needs–and because he’s a sociopath
- Fierce anger against Phil and PTSD from the abuse
- My friends tell me Phil is psychotic
- “Soul Ties”
- I return Phil’s things and he skewers me; consolation from friends
- My letter to Phil
- Phil shows my letter to his friends; I’m triggered by reminder of forced oral sex
- I start dating Charles
- Friends tell me Phil is controlling
- I feel stalked by Phil
- Poem about being stalked by Phil
- Fury at Phil stalking me and rubbing my face in his new relationship
- A Date with the Vampire
- Celtic Class: Knotwork, Tin Whistles, SCA–and Drinking from a Skull
- The Teddy-O Incident; Birth of These Memoirs
- We Hook Up to the Internet–and Shawn Fixates on My Sex Life
- New Guy Begging at My Feet
- Life on TCB
- Meeting Cugan (Hubby)
- Learning my ex Peter was a love-fraud; New Men
- Before Tracy, There Was the Avenger (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 1)
- Torn between three men as Catherine pushes me toward Cugan
- The Love Rectangle
- Torn between FIVE men! Me?
- Persephone’s Own Outrageous Stories of Phil’s Abuse
- College-style living
- Online Shenanigans
- Phil Finds TCB; Meeting a Hit Man
- Gypsy’s Party: Healed friendship with Peter
- The Avenger Starts a Flame War (Sociopathic Female Bullies Pt 2)
- Meeting the elusive Speaker
- First Date with Future Hubby Cugan
- On Breaking Up with Kindness
- Loony Roommies and Flying Gargoyles
- The Goddess of Pleasure and Salt
- A Conversation with Oscar Wilde
- My First SCA Event
- Cugan: a vast improvement over Phil
- Easter with Cugan’s family and SCA
- Cugan breaks up with me
- After breakup: Phil’s return and trolls
- Cugan comes back
- SCA hippies; college senioritis: anxiety!
- Or should I move back in with my parents?
- Peace with Phil
- Defending my Thesis; Graduating with Honors
- Graduation: Trapped at school
- Epilogue and Apology from Phil