According to MTV, Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” debuted on 120 Minutes and on the airwaves in early October. It debuted at number 144 on the charts, and went gold only 17 days later.
This song introduced grunge alternative rock to mainstream music. It was unique, it was new, and it was so not what was popular at the time. Bandmembers wore T-shirts and jeans instead of classy clothes or costumes for concerts or videos; their hair was long and stringy instead of long and permed and/or perfectly coiffed.
It blew people away, me included. I thought it rocked in a way I had never heard anywhere before. This unknown band named Nirvana eventually became one of my favorite bands in college.
Not everybody liked it, though: One of Candice’s friends sat ripping on it one day in February or March when it came on MTV. She soon discovered that I liked it, and said, “When they get to the chorus here, let’s both headbang to it.” When they got to the chorus, she headbanged.
With her head down like that, she couldn’t see me. I didn’t join in because I didn’t want to look silly. I may have suspected that she was making fun of me and/or the song. Besides, headbanging gives you a headache. Unless Candice told her, I don’t think she ever knew I didn’t join along.
On October 1, Peter and I decided that the summer hit “Everything I Do (I Do It For You)” by Bryan Adams would be “our” song. That evening, Peter finally kissed me in a secluded spot in the woods after dark. But, while my journal goes into detail, I won’t describe the scene, because it’s one of my private memories. Yes, it was just kissing, no farther. I will tell you that we saw foxfire.
Peter would put two fingers together and press them to his temple, telling me he was using his ninja ESP to see someone who’s far away.
Once, after some guy teased him while driving past, he put his fingers to his temple, closed his eyes, and said in distaste that the guy was, of course, drinking. He said if anybody ever tried to rape me, he’d know, and be there immediately (he was also interested in learning telekinesis).
How much of this he really believed and how much was just playing on my gullibility, I couldn’t tell you–I do know that he told others about traveling through time in his dreams:
This started in probably December or January. He videotaped himself while sleeping, and saw that his body went rigid whenever these dreams started. The way he looked was far different than for other dreams or other times of the night.
He met a ninja master in ancient or medieval Japan, he understood the language even though it was old Japanese, and the master taught him things.
You could say he was just trying to pull my leg, trying to make his girlfriend think she was dating an amazing person whom she would never want to break up with, except for one thing: He told another person about this, too, and she wrote about it in Fiction class the following year. She never dated him.
Peter said his relatives were a bit strange, having a Halloween party every year as a family reunion instead of the typical cookout-type-thing. This year, it was on Saturday, October 5 at about 5:30 or 6:00. I was a bit of a celebrity at it, being Peter’s first girlfriend. This was his dad’s side of the family.
His mom lent me a gorgeous, green, princess dress from her wardrobe. To our surprise, it fit me perfectly. I used two white hair-fabrics, which were a style of puckered fabric-wrapped ponytail holder popular in those days; I put my hair in two pigtails and then wrapped the hair-fabrics around them, to imitate as close as possible Helena Bonham Carter’s version of Ophelia.
I discovered that the dress fit me perfectly because I forgot to zip it when I tried it on. Fortunately, the train of the dress hid the zipper. I borrowed a crown from Peter’s mother. Because my ancestors included Scottish kings and queens, I said that I was the princess and Peter (the ninja) was my knight.
When Heidi opened the suite door to Peter in his ninja garb, she stopped, got a strange expression on her face, and looked him over from head to toe. And what toes: ninja boots have separated toes.
We had a fun time there, though I didn’t know anybody and his family did seem to be a peculiar bunch. I don’t remember why now, though, or I’d give you some stories.
Sometime in October, I first heard the music of the Bradley Clock. It played at certain times of the day–maybe it was every hour–when the clock struck. The music was whatever it had been programmed to play, such as hymns, the school song or, come Christmastime and until January, February, or perhaps even March, Christmas songs.
There was one hymn I was always trying to identify, but I couldn’t quite. In fact, I believe it was after Christmas Break when I brought an old hymnbook to school with me so I could look up that hymn and remember its lyrics.
The striking of the clock mimicked London’s Big Ben. That clock would seem like a constant friend for the rest of my college years.
My first brat fry was right outside the Campus Center on October 6, a Homecoming event hosted by the Sigmas. I cared little for brats, though. Even in 2006, after living in Wisconsin for 15 years, I’ve had only two brats my entire life. The second one, I had because nothing else was available.
That evening there was a Swiss dinner in the little basement of Ley Chapel. This basement had long tables, chairs, a little kitchen, and small bathrooms, and was a popular meeting place. Heidi and Ruth were probably the ones who made the food, since it was a Swiss dinner. Heidi was very proud of it.
I said a word or two in a S– accent, without thinking about it. Peter grinned and teased me, saying about my accent, “It’s changing!”
One of the dishes had been cooked with alcohol, and I ate it, so Peter teased that I had to change my claim that I had never had one drop of alcohol before. But I told him that alcohol was cooked out, leaving flavors but no alcohol. He didn’t believe me, but it was true.
We had something with rhubarb, probably rhubarb pie with a cream topping. Heidi told the few of us who were there (probably people from the language suites) that you weren’t supposed to drink pop after eating it. Acids from the vegetable and from the pop would interact to destroy your tooth enamel.
Peter worked as Photo Editor for the school newspaper, The Mirror. I became his assistant in the darkroom. No, nothing indecent went on. It wasn’t like that joke about going into the darkroom to see what develops.
I took Photography class in high school, and knew something about developing pictures. I even got a credit in the paper for being Darkroom Assistant, and got mailings about Mirror meetings even though I wasn’t signed up to get class credits for working there. The staff met in a suite a few doors down from my suite.
One of his first assignments was to take pictures of the Mr. Muskie Football Fashion Show on October 9. The comedian, Marvin Bell, may have been the guy who said that in your first few months you open doors for your girlfriend, and then after that you’re like, “Open it yourself.” We laughed, but Peter and I insisted to each other that it would never get that way for us.
For the fashion show, which was run by the cheerleading squad, the football players dressed in drag–formal dresses, bathing suits–and paraded around the stage. Some looked disturbingly good. From the article in the paper (which spoke flirtingly of sexy dresses, fine figures, muscular bodies and little smiles), one of the “contestants” must have been losing his bosoms.
At the end, all the contestants came out in cheerleader costumes and began doing Muskie cheers as the audience joined in. Then they formed a pyramid. The article read (keeping all the spelling errors in place), “The pyrmid was strong and sturdy which help prove that they were some real men.”
Peter laughed as he took pictures. Awards were given for Best Leg(s) (awarded to a contestant with a cast), Best Formalwear, Best Swimsuit, and the biggest honor, Mr. Muskie. Mr. Muskie also won Best Smile.
As Mr. Muskie left the stage after the “pyrmid,” “we saw that [he] just couldn’t keep that dress down because it was covering his back and not his rear end. What a sight!” Bell remarked as the contestants left the stage, “I hope I never have to walk in a room when you girls are present.”
Yes, we did go to the Semi-Formal Homecoming Dance on the 12th. At long last, I had a date for dances, and my church would not disapprove.
I don’t remember when this happened; it could have been early on, such as in September or October, or it may have been in January. And I think it happened every once in a while.
But I pondered asking Peter to make our relationship more open, so we could also see other people. I was still attracted to Shawn, which made me chafe a little at the bit of being in an “exclusive relationship,” and may have had a little crush on Darryl.
I had always been boy crazy, often had huge crushes on more than one guy at a time, and have never stopped being boy crazy no matter how much I liked/loved the guy I was with.
I probably never will stop, even when I’m old and gray, judging by how the Greeks at my church still flirt shamelessly well into their 80s.
I thought Shawn was attracted to me as well. But since I believe in loyalty and faithfulness, I wouldn’t date Shawn without Peter’s permission.
Maybe I should have said something, but was afraid of how Peter would take it. I wrote this in a letter in 1997:
“I’d liked [Shawn] from the time I met him, and while I was with Peter, there were times I considered asking Peter if we were allowed to date other people. I thought if we were, I’d ask out Shawn and be dating two guys and then be able to decide which one I liked better.”
For years, I would see one of my pets twitching in her sleep, and try to influence her dream by petting, meowing, barking, or whatever. She would react by barking, twitching, or whatever. So Peter started putting himself into REM sleep to see what dreams I could give him.
He would talk or move in his sleep. At least one of those dreams I gave him ended up being elaborate and hilarious. I kept scratching something, maybe a plastic notebook, and he kicked and made karate chops in his sleep.
After he woke up, I made that sound again to find out what it was in his dream. He cringed and said that sound belonged to a strange person or being which was attacking me. He kept ninja-fighting to protect me from it.
On a Thursday night around October 10, at 11:10pm, I wrote in my Freshman Honors notes, “Interesting what you can do to influence a person’s dream!”
On October 10, Peter hypnotized me. According to him, his ninja training included this ability. I told him I’d been hypnotized once before, by my psychologist, as a pre-teen.
(I wanted to remember every single moment in my life so I could write it down and be a modern Laura Ingalls Wilder. To my disappointment, hypnotism doesn’t work like that. Though it might have helped me remember better.)
After Peter hypnotized me the first time, I knew I was truly hypnotized because I had a point of reference. I knew that I couldn’t expect to be unconscious while hypnotized. I knew that it would seem, the whole time, like I wasn’t really hypnotized at all. But I also knew that when the hypnotist took me out of the trance, I felt suddenly more alert and awake, and also refreshed. I have been told that hypnotism makes you feel like you got a full night’s sleep.
So yes, kiddies, Peter truly did know how to hypnotize. This was my own brain this happened in, so I can tell you for a fact that it was true and not just a trick. Peter also noted that I was probably more easily hypnotized because it had been done to me before.
Since he had no crystal or anything else to hypnotize me with, he used a peculiar “Ninja look.” Before I closed my eyes, I stared at him and couldn’t look away, even when I tried. I didn’t know that he couldn’t look away either, an unplanned occurrence and very odd. If I hadn’t closed my eyes, we thought, we might’ve stared at each other forever!
Then he felt this pressure, maybe a headache, in his head, and took a moment to recover from it. He had me sit on the bed, and gave me a long kiss. I thought, Oh, don’t be silly. This is great, but I want to do some more, really cool things while I’m under.
He told me to forget that kiss until he reminded me of it, thinking if he could make me forget a kiss like that, he must be really good at hypnotizing. After a few other things, which I now forget (though I have irrefutable evidence that he did not “take advantage” of me sexually), he woke me up and asked if I remembered the kiss.
What kiss? Later on, the memory began to come back to me, but at the time I couldn’t figure out what he was talking about.
I will copy here some notes I jotted in my day planner. You will see that many of the things can be easily explained by an older, wiser mind: body language, similar slang terms, deduction, coincidence, etc.
But to our young, impressionable minds, shaped by science fiction, fantasy, the mystical TV show Beauty and the Beast and Peter’s belief in his own ESP, they seemed mysterious and paranormal.
It’s also possible that Peter was deliberately trying to manipulate my impressionable mind, not yet turned cynical, though I can’t possibly prove it one way or the other:
Sat., Oct. 12–Strange things have been happening. On the way back from the dance, [Peter] wrote in the frost on a car window, “Cool Mustang Dude.” I knew he’d write “Dude” before he even started to!
Later on, while watching American Ninja 3, I blinked with sudden and temporary sleepiness, and, for some reason, I looked over at P. and he was asleep! At 2:14, I think it was (yes, AM–the movie was from 1 to 3AM), he either looked at his watch or the clock.
I looked at mine, said nothing, but, even though he didn’t see my expression, he said, “That’s what I thought” or “That’s how I felt.”
Then he said, “How did I know what you were thinking?”
Earlier, the second time we went on the [dance] floor but I stopped because the lyrics were bad [full of sex], he had a feeling I’d stop, and I did immediately after.
I’m not sure if I had stopped before during a sexy dance song or if this was my first time, so it’s hard to say if he could have figured that out logically without a Link.
Also, on Sat. or Sun., whichever it was, how’d he know to describe Mom’s wordless reaction by saying, “Our little Nyssa, watching a movie like that [American Ninja 3]?”?!
Mon., Oct. 14–Odd: This morning we both dreamed about the very desserts [we were to have] for lunch–me about eating a cream puff, P. about strawberry shortcake!
These were our favorites, and both were served for lunch that day.
Tues., Oct. 15–Found P.’s “preoccupied” feeling, which a co-worker also had, broke at 10:55PM when one of the men in the nursing home [where he worked] died!
Wed., Oct. 16–Curiouser and curiouser. Remember Tuesday night close to 1 when I’d just gone to bed [in my suite room], and, tired, had already begun to go into a dream?
A few seconds later, just as Peter [who was at home] banged his heel on a desk or something, in my dream a shadowy female suddenly hit my right heel, and I woke up jerking my foot away from her fist!
Also, as he lay on my bed doing his Spanish homework in his workbook, I saw a list of words similar to English and probably French. I went down the list, translating them.
Peter said (so I thought), “Naturally I did know that.”
“Did or didn’t?” I said.
After a confused exchange, he said, “What did you think I said?”
I told him, and he said, he was muttering in Spanish and thinking what it meant in English! He said sometimes he’s talking with his mom, he thinks something and she hears him and [answers him].
His mother got upset once when, as she substitute-taught at a middle school, a guy tried to prove to everyone that ESP does not exist.
Thurs., Oct. 17–P. didn’t know if he’d be able to come over this evening. Somehow, I knew he’d either call or, most probably, come [around] or at 7:00.
I kept watching the clock, and figuring what I should do until 7:00. No, he hadn’t given me a time when he might arrive.
And he came at a few minutes till [7:00]! ([He was] only allowed to because he chauffered his mom for the 7:30 Japanese film [shown in the Muskie]).
I greeted him at my door with, “I knew you’d come at 7!”
Peter tried to figure out what was going on. He eventually remembered reading in a book that you could set up a mental link by hypnotizing someone you really care about.
This Link amazed us. As Peter told me on the way to the Campus Center one day, his mom said that if you know each others’ thoughts, it means you’re meant for each other.
I think a bit of the mental link already existed, but got much stronger after the first time he hypnotized me.
I wrote in my day planner on October 19 that I had Peter “hypnotize me again, but he was tired, so he had to use my watch.”
First, he put himself into a trance and secretly programmed himself to say certain things to me.
Then, while still in the trance, he hypnotized me, had me stare into his eyes, and said to “imagine a telephone wire…that went between our foreheads.
When he reached zero after counting backwards from 5, I was to close my eyes again. We both felt pressure on our foreheads at about the time he was counting. It worked. Our minds have a much stronger link now.”
I think he only hypnotized me one more time after that, because it gave him an awful headache. That time, he used a crystal decoration from his window shade string.
We often spoke of the Link not as possibility but as fact, a new thing which cemented us together even more. We both loved to use and speak of it.
We amused ourselves by using this Link to get each other to do things: I would think to him to put his arm around me and he would do it, he would think to me to kiss him and I would do it.
We didn’t hear the thoughts, or at least I didn’t hear his, but they gave us the sudden desire to do whatever thing it was. Then I would tell him or he would tell me, “You did just what I used the Link to tell you to do.”
I felt like we were living the 80s show Beauty and the Beast, in which Catherine and Vincent shared a link (though theirs was stronger), transmitting words and feelings to each other even over great distances.
Though I sometimes feared it, wondering if it was demonic, I also thought it was probably all right.
Because of my fear, I didn’t always want to use it. A couple of months later, it began to fade, and neither of us knew what was wrong with it.
I later learned from a visiting hypnotist that if someone is afraid of a link, it can fade. No, the idea of a mental link was not Peter’s invention.
One night as we walked from the suite parking lot around the building to my door, I told Peter it was so wonderful and that “I always wanted a relationship like in Beauty and the Beast. Now I’ve got one!” Few people could ever have that, and I had always thought it was just fiction.
He hugged me for that, and said how glad he was to have brought such a wonderful thing into my life. He also loved it, himself. He said with an impish grin, “Though if anyone calls you a beast….”
Once, in the car, he said, after I told him my future plans and asked his opinion, he said, “Depends on what part I have in them.” When I asked what part he wanted, he patted my leg and said, “If things go as I hope, a very big part.”
I had examined a list of S– churches and told Mom that there were no Nazarene churches around there. She and Dad came up to Roanoke to visit me on October 12. Their S– hotel room had Marcus Cable, not Warner Cable like Roanoke had.
Marcus Cable had a S– public access station which showed ads. My parents turned it on and found an advertisement for a Nazarene church in S–! They wrote down the information and brought it to me.
We were to find out later that the people who ran that church had been getting so few results that they were going to pull the ad the next day! Since my parents only happened to find the ad, and they only happened to find it just before it was pulled, we believed these weren’t coincidences, but God directing me to this church.
Finally, on October 20, Peter and I went to church together. The first surprise was that there was only an evening service. I don’t remember if we dressed up; I may have told Peter that Nazarene evening services were often more casual, with men wearing jeans and women wearing pants.
We had some trouble figuring out where it was, because when we got to the right address, all we could see were houses, no churches. Peter was the first to figure out that the church was actually in one of the houses (a modest Victorian). I’d thought such churches hadn’t existed in years! (The last one I knew about was back in the 50s, when my own church got started.)
The pastor wasn’t a real pastor, just the person sent to plant a church. He and his wife had other jobs besides this church.
Jim and Sharon were an easygoing, fun couple in their forties, and with three kids: eight-year-old Tiffy, or Tiffany, almost nine, a dark-haired, sweet girl; Jonathan, almost twelve, a light-haired scamp and Casanova who didn’t believe his dad when he told him he’d been the same way; and Angela, a fourteen-year-old, dark-haired girl who loved Troll dolls.
Sharon told her once that maybe I had been put into her life as a mentor. Of course, even if I was, I didn’t have a car, so I only saw her when there was a service.
They had a little peek-a-poo dog named Duchess.
They were from Ohio, and had reluctantly moved to S–, pausing to ask God, “Do you really want us to go there?” It was colder than Ohio, and no one had come around to welcome them into the community, so it seemed cold in more ways than one. But they were adapting, and by then may have finally gotten to know some people in the neighborhood.
The house was small to medium-sized, with two stories. In the living room, where the little group met, was a piano and plenty of comfortable places to sit. Peter and I liked to sit with his arm around me on the couch.
The bathroom was at the head of the stairs, and I found out too late that the drain didn’t work properly and that was why the stopper was in the sink. But they laughed, and understood that they hadn’t warned me in time. I’d wondered why the sink draining made such a funny noise, like it was pouring into something other than pipes.
There were maybe two or three other people there, one a married and thirtyish mother, who was so happy to come here to this new community and find a Nazarene church, that she cried as she told her story.
Sharon played the piano as we sang songs from Nazarene hymnbooks. Peter loved the songs, and I loved singing familiar songs again rather than the ones sung in the campus chapel’s Wednesday services.
The hymnals were the same brown “Worship in Song” ones we used in my church back home, with three gold-leaf crosses on the front cover. Of course, while Peter had expected me to sing like an angel, in reality I am a very timid singer who whispers more than sings.
It was very comforting to let the piano drown me out. I never have liked singing a cappella in church, because it makes me more self-conscious about my voice, which gets even tinier.
It felt so good to be back in church. One and a half months without a church had been far too long. And this little, friendly group was a lot of fun to worship, learn and chat with. The services were very informal; we had discussion, not just a sermon.
Peter loved the services so much that he told his parents how great they were, and they wanted to join. (He and his parents had had trouble finding a church, since they didn’t like the Catholic or Lutheran Church, and had trouble with the Episcopalian Church as well.)
We didn’t have a morning service because Jim and Sharon took the family to a Nazarene church in Milwaukee. The following year, however, they would switch to the morning, and try to start a little Sunday School with the few children there.
It also felt wonderful to be in a house in a city neighborhood again, to see neighborhood blocks and walk on the sidewalks. Once, we all went outside, maybe for a cookout one evening or afternoon, and I loved to look up from the backyard at the surrounding houses. I hadn’t even had a backyard view in so long, it seemed. Yes, I was homesick for the city, though I loved the country.
I wrote in a letter to my Irish pen pal on October 22,
“My parents came up weekend before last [on October 12], met Peter, took a bunch of pictures, and replenished my supplies.
“Just as I predicted, Peter and my dad got along great. They both like computers, [Radio Shack,] photography and fixing electrical things, so they had a lot to talk about.
“But–poor Peter–Dad tried to talk to him about football, and Peter, who hates football, had to act like he knew something about it. We’d decided not to tell [Dad] that [he hates football], among other things, so Peter could make the best impression he could on him.
“Now my parents have some pictures of him, and my mom’s been showing them around at home as if Peter were the winning entry in a pie contest.”
That’s probably because I had so much trouble getting dates in high school.
Peter used the computer lab in Chase a lot for his assignments, including papers, and we liked to spend that time together. We still hated to spend time apart: We were in that honeymoon stage of relationships. (My friend Pearl said she’d heard that in the first two months, couples don’t like to be apart at all.) I would sit on a chair or stool next to Peter as he worked on a computer.
He introduced me to computer Solitaire, that omnipresent Windows game, and to Windows itself, a wondrous new operating system. (He later loaned his Windows discs to my Dad, who used them to load Windows onto the computer at home.)
Once, while I was playing Solitaire, Shawn came in and said to us, “If you’re ever lost and in the middle of nowhere, just start playing Solitaire. Pretty soon somebody will come along and say, ‘You should move that card here,’ and ‘You should move that card there.'”
Unfortunately, we soon discovered that we weren’t supposed to play games in the computer lab. It was for schoolwork, and though the room was full of computers (Apples and IBMs I believe), they needed to be kept free for the many students who didn’t have word processors, computers or typewriters in their rooms.
(I think the college students of today would consider that to be living in the Dark Ages. Now, not only do dorms have computers, at least at Roanoke, but some colleges apparently will lease computers to all the students who need them during the school year. It seems computers are now as much a part of one’s school supplies as a notebook and pencils.)
Peter got angry and talked back when the lab aide told him this rule in a near-empty computer lab one night. The aide told the teacher in charge of the lab. The next day, Peter saw the aide in line and apologized, but whispered to me that he didn’t really mean it, just didn’t want to get into trouble.
One evening, Peter wanted to go with me from his house back to campus, but his parents (who hadn’t quite realized that he was almost 19 and a legal adult who could do whatever he wanted) didn’t want him to stay there for very long.
I heard him lie to them; I think he told them he had to study in the Roanoke library or do some other thing, which they okayed. In reality, he just wanted to spend some alone time with me.
On the one hand, they should’ve loosened their reins once he turned 18. On the other hand, he shouldn’t have been lying to them.
This bothered me. It also should have been a red flag that he could lie to me as well, but I foolishly believed he would never do that.
I would either watch as Peter worked on the computer, or I would do homework. Sometimes, Peter was allowed in to a certain office which had a modem, the only modem on campus (again, today’s college students would call this the Dark Ages), and he would download things from BBS’s as I watched.
Through January, it became standard procedure many days for me to sit beside Peter in the computer lab. Strange how, with college boyfriends, I kept watching them play on the computer. Even now, a computer geek friend might come over to my house and start playing on the computer as I watch. But no, I don’t do that with my hubby. I’ve got too many other things to do!
On the 23rd, I wrote in my day planner,
The weirdest things happened–Once, when I came back to the room from the bathroom, Peter had turned on the TV with Candice’s remote and was pointing it at it at arm’s length in his sleep!
Another time, I think before this, he opened his eyes several times, first wide, then half-closed (when I moved my finger and he didn’t see it) several times, then wide again, when I tested his senses by seeing what he’d do if I held my hand over his eyes and caused a shadow and then moved it closer to him–then he woke up.
My sophomore-year roommate would also open her eyes in her sleep.
For a while, the International students and whoever else was interested could watch a foreign film in the Muskie every Thursday night at 7:30.
For American and British students it meant reading subtitles, but the subtitled, rather than dubbed, versions were probably chosen on purpose because there were students who spoke the original languages as native tongues and would prefer to watch them with subtitles.
It was probably wonderful for them, after being immersed in English for so long and often struggling to understand it.
On the evening of the 24th, Peter and his parents went with me to see Das Boot, the movie about a German U-boat in World War II.
Before we went, Peter’s mom presented me with an apple cake; I put it in Candice’s little fridge in the lounge.
Unfortunately, we only got to see the first half of the movie. Peter’s parents had to leave for something, or he had to go to work, so we left.
When we got back to the German suite, one of us went to get the apple cake, only to find it missing. Naturally, we first thought of Tom, who was sleeping. Peter asked him if he knew what happened to the apple cake, but he didn’t. So finally Peter and his parents left.
They returned a few minutes later to tell me: On passing by the Japanese suite, they happened to look in the window and see a whole bunch of people–many from other suites–all sitting around and eating my apple cake! They were partying with my apple cake.
Heidi had found it in the fridge and taken it down there to serve at the party. I’m not sure why she thought she could do this, since it wasn’t hers.
Anyway, I think Peter and his parents stayed a bit longer so we could all go down and have some of my apple cake. At least I had one piece before it all disappeared. We all thought it was pretty funny.
Around this time, I met Julie’s boyfriend, Darryl, in the Mirror suite while helping Peter in the dark room. He was tall, fair-haired and handsome, though he always wore a Batman baseball hat that year.
This is the movie version of Batman which came out in 1989; the hat was black and had a picture of a bat signal. He wore it forwards: College boys at our school did not start wearing baseball caps backwards until a year or two later.
Darryl knew Shakespeare, which impressed me because I loved what little Shakespeare I had read in school. My real name is not “Nyssa,” but the name of a book in the Bible; I will not tell you which one. Darryl said it was his favorite biblical book.
On the way to the K– Haunted House, I told Peter, “He likes the book of —-. That really gives him good standing in my eyes.”
Peter acted upset and uneasy.
I said, “I mean friendship-wise!”
Just before 2pm on Friday the 25th, Peter and I went to the annual Writer’s Festival in the Bradley building. We listened to Mark Strand, that year’s featured poet, but didn’t care for the sexually explicit poetry he read. We stayed anyway because Counselor Dude told me to be there.
At one point, the recipients of the Fessler Writing Scholarship (which included me) were honored: We all stood and were applauded.
I received the scholarship in my senior year of high school. Counselor Dude sent me guidelines; I could send poetry or prose, but my stories didn’t seem to be in a good form for sending, so I sent these poems, written while we studied Japanese haiku in Advanced Placement English class:
The Coconut Palm
As green feathers flutter in breezes,
And ovals hide monkey-faces,
A snake opens its jaws
And brown eels shoot out in places.
Okay, so that one wasn’t a haiku; perhaps a nature-poem assignment.
Fresh, fragrant breezes
Abolish musty odors
Blow through the window
This was written because of a smelly pile of something I thought was dirty laundry (wasn’t, but I forget what it really was) sitting by the cedar chest, as warm breezes blew in the window beside it.
Lively greens become golds, reds
We weren’t going by the 7-5-7 syllable count, just simplicity, because the translations in the English book weren’t going by that form, or by rhyming because it’s easier to rhyme in Japanese than in English.
I sent these poems probably during the winter or spring. They impressed Counselor Dude, and were good enough to receive the scholarship.
I told my English teacher, who got teary-eyed and told the whole class. Since the poems came from her assignments, she said this sort of thing made her teaching worthwhile.
That evening, Peter drove Latosha and me to the nearby large city of Appleton to buy music for WVRC, the campus radio station.
In the back of the car was deadly nightshade, a “gift” to Frank from Peter’s mom. Frank didn’t know what it was, so she wanted to show him. (No, she didn’t want to kill him.)
The plants were in some sort of container, maybe a sack, in the backseat, where Latosha also sat. She kept saying she didn’t want to be back there with it, but once the car was on the highway she didn’t seem to have much choice.
The next day, Peter and I went looking for Latosha, but couldn’t find her anywhere. We checked the suite, the WVRC room and other places, but she wasn’t there.
“Oh, Latosha!” Peter cried. He began to panic, fearing that the deadly nightshade had somehow killed her just by being in the backseat.
But to his (and my) great relief, she was very much alive, and finally showed up–just late.
On October 26, I experienced my very first Daylight Savings time change. Before, time changes were temporary, such as when I visited my grandma for a week in the summer and Michigan was an hour ahead of Indiana. (Going to bed at her 9pm and my 8pm was no fun, especially since the sun was still up.) Now, I had to actually live with one for six months!
It was hard to adjust at first, especially when the sun would go down at 4pm instead of 5pm on the shortest days of the year, making the night seem extra-long. And for maybe a week, my body kept saying it was time to eat when it wasn’t.
But the good part about the fall time change was for one night, I could get an extra hour of sleep, and for a while it would seem like I was staying up or getting up an hour later than usual. (In reality I was, but the clock didn’t say so.)
I was a bit confused at first about the 2am change, wondering why they’d make people get up in the middle of the night to change clocks, but soon discovered that people just set their clocks before going to bed.
I keep wishing that one of these days, time changes will be abolished as a waste of time, since they disrupt daily routines and make the sun set even earlier in winter, with no tangible benefit that I’ve ever seen. I would love to see the sun go down at 5pm in the winter rather than 4pm, since I grew up with 5pm winter sunsets.
But now I hear that South Bend–one of the few sensible cities regarding time changes–has fallen onto the Daylight Savings bandwagon. They change clocks twice a year and now match up with Michigan, so I never know what time it is when I want to call my parents.
On October 26, Peter and I dressed in my princess and his ninja costume again, and went to a Halloween party at Muehlmeier Hall in the lounge. We went there because we were DJ’s for WVRC, and Peter was chief engineer (even though the station still hadn’t gotten going yet and we never had a chance to DJ yet). A couple of the other DJs played the music.
Latosha was one of the party DJ’s. Peter did his chief engineer stuff, and I was given nothing to do except to help pick songs and dance.
Latosha tried to put more variety into the night’s selection of music, but every time she played something besides rap, she got loud complaints. For Peter and me, she played “Everything I Do” by Bryan Adams, but it was practically booed.
I forget what derogatory thing some guy said about it, but it upset both Peter and me. This was our song, and they were saying such things about it!
Latosha tried to play another song which sounded really good, but they told her to turn it off and play rap. “This is house!” she cried in disbelief. It was very frustrating, not only to Peter and me but also to Latosha.
I don’t remember other details, but I do remember Peter and I standing in a large circle; we females were supposed to show off our costumes. When it came to be my turn, I walked out into the middle of the circle and did a little spin. The guys made approving whistles and noises.
I was nervous and self-conscious but didn’t screw up, and it felt good to get such favorable attention. My costume was properly zipped up, by the way, so I felt a bit bound up.
Since the only music allowed was rap, Peter and I hardly danced at all, and left early.
On October 31, Peter and I went to the campus Halloween party in Bossard Hall, but the music there was bad, too.
At the Halloween dance in Bossard, we had fun seeing our friends dressed up in costume. A guy named Steve dressed as Satan, and went around with a sign-up sheet for people’s souls. I think somebody was dressed as a mummy, head to toe in toilet paper. Pearl was a bee.
Peter took me aside, pointed to Steve and said, “You see that guy there?” I didn’t know Steve at that time. “He’s a Satanist!”
A Satanist at a Christian college??!! For the rest of the semester, Peter didn’t want to be around him.
Of course, Steve wasn’t actually a Satanist but a Pagan or Wiccan, but I didn’t know this at the time. Eventually, Peter and I even became friends with him (though separately). He was a fun, goofy guy. More about him later.
Latosha liked to mother me. One day while I had the flu–the first I could remember ever having it–I got some ice cream in the cafeteria, and she said, “You shouldn’t be eating that ice cream.” But we didn’t get ice cream every day, and it looked so good!
One evening, Peter’s parents drove the two of us around little K– and other heavily German areas, showing me the German-style buildings there: houses with outside staircases leading up to a second floor door, buildings with split timbers, churches with spires. I loved it. One bar, House of Spirits, had a little ghost painted near the roof.
Sometime early in the semester, Peter, his mom, and I sat and watched a story on the news about a girl who got pregnant, didn’t realize it, and thought she had gas pains when she was actually going into labor. So she sat on the toilet to get rid of the gas, and a baby came out instead, hitting its head on the toilet seat. The blow to its head killed it. If I remember correctly, she tried to throw it away, and her dad found it. Now, she was being tried for throwing her baby away.
I believe this was the first I had ever heard of people throwing babies away, instead of contacting the proper authorities. Soon began a disturbing trend throughout the 90s of teen mothers throwing their babies–even live ones–in the trash.
The real twist to this case: she was a Roanoke freshman. I believe she was in one of Peter’s classes. She looked a little familiar to me as well.
Peter ripped on Shawn whenever he was out of the room, and I later discovered that Shawn also ripped on Peter when he was out of the room. But whenever we were all together, Peter and I told Shawn we were eternally grateful to him for getting us together with his diarrhea of the mouth.
Much later, Shawn told me that this made him feel uncomfortable, because he didn’t want to be held responsible if we broke up.
Peter and I made out all the time, but never got past “first base” because we were Christians. I felt weak, but reassured by Peter’s ninja self-control.
One day, maybe a month into the relationship, Peter said to me, “Now I can finally say it: I love you.”
However, I was reluctant at first to tell him I loved him: I wanted to mean it. He insisted on a reply, so eventually I began saying “ditto” or “ich liebe dich.”
In those days, I believed there was One person for everyone, a soulmate ordained by God. If you loved someone, it meant your spirit recognized your soulmate; if you truly loved someone, it would last forever, and you would marry. Everything else was merely infatuation, which is hot but quickly burns itself out.
(Some would argue that I wasn’t naive here, but right: that the one I truly loved is the one I married. Or that I may have loved before, but if the others had truly loved me back, they would never have broken up with me for good.
(Me, I’m not entirely sure what to think, but I’m inclined to agree with one of these two possibilities.
(But I also recognize now that until you’ve been with someone with for quite some time, and the infatuation has a chance to wear off, you don’t really know if you have “love” which lasts through daily work/home drudgery and childrearing, or are only “infatuated,” in love with love.)
So when I told Peter I loved him, I’d be sealing my fate. He did get upset that I replied “ditto” or “ich liebe dich” instead of “I love you.” One day, probably in October, I finally did say “I love you” in English, and I meant it.
Now we knew we loved each other, and we had so many things in common and matched each others’ ideals so well that marriage seemed the logical conclusion–though not until we graduated.
One day, I said, “When I was a kid, my teacher said I’d end up marrying someone who makes me laugh.” I realized–just in time–that if I said “She’s right,” it would scare Peter: We had not yet spoken of marriage. So I said, “She’s probably right.” (Which she was, by the way: To this day, my hubby still makes me laugh.)
To my bewilderment, Peter just got quiet and said, “Umm.” I asked him if he meant something by that, and he said no.
So even if he did misunderstand me, I had no way of knowing if I needed to clear things up. But how could he, when I did not say I would marry him–just someone who would make me laugh?
Talk did soon turn to marriage, however. I wrote in my pen pal letter on the 22nd,
The way Peter and I talk sometimes, you’d think we were practically engaged. We probably will be [engaged] in four years when we finish college, we’re such a perfect match….
We have so many things in common…you’d think we were made for each other–which we probably were. We even soon noticed a mental link, which his mom says means that.
We believed her.
One evening, Peter and I sat with his parents at their dinner table, joking around. I forget what I said–maybe I asked about some family secret or favorite story–but Peter smiled and said, “You’re not part of this family yet.” I joked back, “What do you mean, ‘yet’?”
We all laughed, and Peter blushed. His dad said to him, “You’d better watch what you say.”
Peter’s class ring was a star sapphire, an expensive stone, so I believe his mother didn’t even let him wear it. Even if she did let him wear it, him letting a girlfriend wear it was out of the question. So he got a silver bracelet to stand in for it.
This bracelet he now gave to me. The clasp didn’t work right, which was surprising because it was only maybe a year or two since he bought it, and the bracelet was a bit tight, but I wore it with pride. He also gave me a small, cute snowflake necklace.
This group of guys, Da Yoopers, from the UP of Michigan had the same accent I heard in S–. Bananas at Large, a Wisconsin group, raved about “Da Packers.”
Da Yoopers also did “Rusty Chevrolet,” to the tune of “Dashing Through the Snow,” which was played every Christmas. After that winter, and maybe even before it, I even heard that song on U93.
Until now, however, I had never heard of Da Yoopers. Peter cried, “Even my aunt who lives in Alaska has heard of Da Yoopers!” Well, maybe that’s because her family lived in Wisconsin.
Heidi complained one day that she was picking up Roanoke’s “bad table manners.” I’m not quite sure what all she meant by this, since I rarely noticed it myself, but I believe it was things like putting one’s elbows on the table while eating.
I knew about that rule, but I got so used to people doing this at Roanoke that it didn’t seem rude to me at all. I began doing it, myself; it was comfortable, after all, and when I was, like, eating fries and had one hand in my lap, I felt too fastidious.
A friend later told me that it’s a very German thing to have elbows on the table.
One day after lunch, as we sat in the Campus Center lounge next to the TV, Peter said I needed to find friends to hang around with when he wasn’t there. I said, “I have friends!”
Which I did. Though I had little social life outside of Peter, which I hear often happens to new couples, he was wrong to assume that I had no friends. If he hadn’t come along and taken up much of my time (as we both wanted), I would still have been floating around to various groups at meals, going to school events with my friends, and hanging out in their rooms whenever I had time.
This is what I did before Peter, and it was what I would do after Peter. I had many people I considered friends, though they weren’t yet close friends. Peter often chose where we sat at meals, and many of these people were often included.
I did, however, feel the lack of a best friend outside of Peter. I considered saying to one person, “I think we could be good friends.” But I wasn’t sure if that would come out the way I intended, or just sound like a pathetic loser: “Will you be my frieeeend?”
In those days, I was still used to what I had known in high school: seeing my friends mostly in classes or at lunch, and, except for Campus Life or church activities, not generally anywhere else. I socialized, but I also had my own private life.
It was the only way I had ever known, especially since I rarely passed anyone on the way to or from school. My friend Becky, met in my senior year of high school, was the exception, so I called her my “bosom friend” (yes, as in Anne of Green Gables), the one I had always wanted to find.
This was probably a combination of shyness/introversion, nonverbal learning disorder, and circumstances: Since I was a Nazarene, I hadn’t gone to movies or dances with friends, which were not allowed until the past couple of years.
Few of my friends lived near me, and for most of my life, my school-friends didn’t drive. Few people invited me to events, except through church or Campus Life.
So at college, even when I saw people mostly at meals or in class, I considered them friends. So Peter’s comment made me feel like a friendless loser on one hand, and on the other, helpless to change anything.
During the rainy seasons, which were fall and spring, worms collected on the big, concrete sidewalk outside the lower level of the Campus Center. They died and turned black, then covered the slab for months before finally disappearing.
This was gross, and I took great pains to avoid them, along with the many worms along the other sidewalks. Peter and I still occasionally stepped on them, and said, “Squish squish!”
On the evening of Sunday the 27th, we attended the Nazarene house church in S–. As I later wrote in my day planner/diary, there were refreshments afterwards, which kept us around long enough to have a long, deep discussion with Jim, Sharon and another member.
At one point, Jim said, “–give the Devil two black eyes.”
Peter suddenly froze. I also felt cold, despite the warm room. Peter put his arm around me and pulled me close.
Later, Peter told me he picked up weird things with his ESP. Unfortunately, I did not describe these things in the day planner, and no longer remember them. He saw red, and had to put up a mental block because he was too tired to deal with it.
These events freaked me out so much that I even started to imagine there was some sort of evil entity in the suite bathroom.
Looking back, it was quite silly. I don’t know if Peter truly saw “weird things” or red, or not.
I can say that I probably just got a chill, which normally happens when I hear about something scary, and Peter got me thinking there was more to it than that.
But it’s so easy to scare yourself with imagined ghosts that people often imagine they’re there when they’re not.
Just witness the group hysteria that often occurs in such shows as Most Haunted, when the group has no real hard evidence that anything paranormal has happened, but still everyone begins screaming and running as if a ghost had truly manifested itself.
(Ghost Hunters is better if you prefer actual camera footage and audio of a paranormal event, no fake mediums, and investigators who love finding ghosts and don’t go running like jackrabbits at every little bump in the night.)
One evening, in one of our after-church discussions, Jim talked about how most people probably didn’t read the chapters in the Bible (such as Numbers and Leviticus) about the dimensions of the temple, the laws, genealogies, census numbers, etc.
I had always trudged through those chapters whenever I read through the Old Testament, thinking how terribly dull they were. When Jim said this, I thought, You mean I don’t have to read those?! I had thought that when you read the Bible, you were supposed to read every verse. This was quite a relief!
Table of Contents
December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?
April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign
October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:
Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams
- 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
- 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