Friday, March 21, 2008
Coloring Easter Eggs
Let us give you a lesson. First, you carefully drop the egg into the dye.

After you let the egg sit for a minute you carefully raise it from the cup.

Finally, you grab the egg with your hand.

Voila! Perfect.

Summer of '89
I was so relieved when sophomore year ended. Sophomore year is the worst. The newness has worn off and you’re still so far from being done. Besides, school can be pretty oppressive. No matter what I was doing or where I was, there was always reading I should be doing instead. Horrible way to live. A mental break was always welcome.

My goal for the summer was to get a really good job and make tons of bucks. Easier said than done. After searching for a couple of weeks I got a job at an auto auction making four something an hour. It was a pretty cool job. I helped inventory cars that were coming in off the big hauler trucks. Most of the cars we dealt with were repossessions. One of the first rules I was taught was…always test the brakes before you drive very far. Yeah, I did forget that the one time. Oops. Working with cars like that changed my perspective on them. They became more of a commodity and less sacred. I learned that bumpers were for bumping. We’d go over the cars and list the features, document the serial numbers and then move them into tight lines. One of my favorite days was auction day, when we’d inventory the cars on the fly as they came in for auction. I worked with the father of one of my high school mates. He gave me a hard time at first, but eventually I earned his grudging respect. Me, I just tried not to stare at his fresh hair implants, all glorious in their perfect rows, like a cornfield.

I had worked there for several weeks when one of my good friends quit her job at the muffler plant across the road from the auto auction. She let me know so I could go for it. The next day on my lunch hour I walked across the road and interviewed. They hired me and a few days later I was manufacturing mufflers for seven something an hour. That was more like it. I did all kinds of things like working huge hydraulic presses, spot welding, pipe bending and monitoring the line at certain locations. I was part of a summer task force so at lunch there were other college students to sit with and chat. I had to clock in at 7:00 a.m. I didn’t get much sleep that summer. I was still staying out late with Don most nights. I only missed one day of work at the muffler plant and got a “very good” rating, which meant I was virtually guaranteed to be hired back the next summer. Yay, me!

I saw very little of my friends as I was spending most of my time with Don by then. He had been laid off by his employer in the early spring during some massive cuts at the plant. Honestly, my memory is unclear now where he may have worked that summer or whether he worked at all.

He was still talking about marrying me in the future. I went along with it because it was all pretty vague. Then one weekend, soon after I came home, my aunt asked me to dog sit at her place for the weekend. Don came to see me that Saturday evening. We talked about a lot of things and he abruptly said he was ready to get married. I didn’t react the way he’d hoped. I pretty much told him that it made more sense for me to finish school first because if I did then mom and dad would help pay for it. We could work on saving up and be in a good position when I graduated. It wasn’t what he wanted to hear. He left very dejected. Then, about half an hour later he reappeared at the door. He was dead serious, he wanted to get married. He wanted to do it soon. He’d move to Williamsburg to get a job and we could look into student loans to pay for school. He pretty much begged, let’s do it. He finally persuaded me.

Soon afterward we planned to tell my parents. We went to them together and sat down with them and explained we wanted to get married and here was our plan. They wanted to talk about it. They cautioned us about the difficulties and strongly suggested that it was better if we waited. I tried to argue for Don and me. Then Don says to them, “Yeah, you’re probably right, we should wait.” What??? Didn’t you beg me to come here and do this? You pulled me out on this limb and then shoved me off! Arrrrrrrrgh!

We walked away that evening planning to wait. I was stunned by what had just happened. I tried to swallow it and move on. But I was morose. I dwelled on it and sank into a terrible funk. I can’t remember if it was days later or weeks later but we were talking to Don’s dad. He was the Dean of Admissions a local college and was always trying to get me to transfer in. Um, no thanks. BIG step down. However, he knew the in’s and out’s of getting into college and paying for it. We were sitting at the picnic table in their backyard and he says, “You all can still get married. With your low incomes you can get Pell Grants to pay for school and get student loans to help with living expenses.” We can??? Once we heard that we decided the wedding was back on. This is why I like to share the blame with Don’s dad for getting me into that mess.

We went back to my parents and told them that we were getting married. We’d considered secretly eloping, but sensible me decided that the health insurance issues would be difficult. I was on my parents insurance and hiding a marriage would complicate matters. So we told them we were getting married and prayed they’d support us. They did. What choice did they have? We were hell-bent on having our way. It was on, a full wedding in a church with a beautiful dress, bridesmaids, a reception and a beautiful cake. We didn’t have much time to pull it together. I think we started in mid-June planning for an August wedding. The invitations went out, the bridesmaids were chosen, the dresses were ordered and the train started rolling.

The rest of my summer I spent planning my wedding and my future. It was a great help to me that I had a mind-numbing job which offered plenty of time to ruminate. The problem was, no matter how I crunched the numbers, it would be hard for Don and I to support ourselves. He’d need a good job in Williamsburg, pulling at least three or four dollars over minimum wage. He drove down to Williamsburg and found us a two bedroom apartment to rent. We arranged to move in after the wedding in August. Mom and Dad were covering our wedding costs. I applied for the Pell Grants and got them. My education costs were covered for the next two years. I also applied for student loans. I got about $2000 a semester that would supplement our income for living expenses. Because it would take a while to get the first check I took out a promissory note to bridge me till the loan money came. When I received the student loan money I put it in a special account to use to pay the monthly installments on the promissory note. Over the summer I saved up over $2000 and when combined with my savings I had a nice little nest egg to get us started. Don brought to the table…pretty much nothing.

It was glaringly obvious that Don didn’t have much to offer, other than his devotion sex. I can remember even asking him about it point blank. What do you have to offer me in this relationship? He couldn’t really come up with anything. Pathetic. What’s more pathetic is that I still persisted with the wedding plans. I was still in love, after all. The heart wants what it wants, even when the head is screaming “No, no, no!” His parents were behind us, my parents were (reluctantly) behind us, gifts were already starting to arrive and everyone was expecting a wedding.

Then came the two most crushing blows. Three weeks before the wedding I found out that it was Don who had been stealing from me all along. Earlier in the summer I had lost $120 in one whack. I had been planning to go to the book fair and buy some books, one of my favoritest things to do. On the way to the book fair I pulled out my wallet to check my money and review my book budget. I was down to $10. The rest was gone. I don’t even remember how I rationalized the disappearance that time. Don had no idea what happened to it. I asked. I was really devastated because I wasn’t going to get to buy any books and the book fair wouldn’t happen again till the fall. It was completely depressing. The issue finally came to a head shortly before the wedding. I had a $20 bill lying on my dresser in my room. Don was at the house, Don left, the money was gone. Now the only suspects were my parents, my brother, his friend who was staying over, and Don. I knew in my heart it was Don. I called him when he got home. It was probably 2:00 a.m. I told him I knew it was him and begged him to admit the truth. After much cajoling he finally admitted it. I was crushed. All along it had been him, all the way back in the fall he had started doing it, when we were first dating. He watched me agonize over losing the money, me thinking I was losing my mind because I couldn’t keep track of it. Just stunning. The next day I went to see him. That was the one day of the summer I called in sick to work. Don had pawned some of his things to get some money to pay me back. It was a pathetic gesture, but it was something. Most of the money that was stolen from me had been money for us anyway. The train kept rolling on.

Two weeks before the wedding came the second blow. Another idle conversation with Don’s mom, another revelation. Kathy, the ex-wife, kept trying to call Don because…well...Don had a son.

Next up...limping toward wedded bliss.


Thursday, March 20, 2008
The cousins strike again!
My three year old is running around the house right now singing, "I'm Hannah Montana! I'm Hannah Montana! I'm Hannah Montana!"

It's cracking me up because she's basically singing it to Backyardigans tunes. Plus, I don't think she could pick Hannah Montana out of a lineup. She's never seen the show.
Sophomore year - part two
The weekend I went to Don’s parent’s house turned my life upside down. Not only did I upset my parents, but I discovered that Don had been lying to me. He was out doing some chores and I spent some time that afternoon talking to his mom. While we were idly chatting she made a comment about how glad she was that Don and I were together and that she was happy to see him happy again. She said that the divorce had nearly destroyed him. She went on to say that his wife had done horrible things like fake asthma attacks so he’d be pulled in off of his ship and sent home, she degraded him and his upbringing, and she ended up sleeping around. She only wanted him for his dependent’s check. Don was still having to fend off her phone calls.

What in the hell? His wife wasn’t dead? He’s divorced? She still talks to him??? I could have died right there. I played it cool and didn’t freak out right in front of Don’s mom. But I was dying inside. One of the very premises of who this man was turned out to be a total lie. That nice couple at the printing company had only told me what they’d been told. I couldn’t believe it. I confronted him that night. He explained he didn’t think it mattered what he told people at work, it was none of their business. He was afraid to tell me the truth because he was afraid I wouldn’t like him anymore. He had a way of arguing circles around me so I ended up so confused that I couldn’t even explain what he said. But he was sorry, and he hoped I wouldn’t leave him. I went back to school with a lot to think about, and with my parents sore at me.

In the following weeks Don and I cooled off a bit. Not much in the way of phone calls or letters. His brother and sister-and-law were moving to Okinawa so he was helping them get ready to go. On my end, I was missing him a lot, but still contemplating whether to bag the whole thing. Plus, I had exams to study for. Academically I was doing just fine. I don’t think I dropped below a 3.0 at any point in college. I took college seriously. I wasn’t there to party, but to get my degree and move on.

I shared some celebrations with my friends before we parted for the holidays. Kristie gave me what remains today one of my favorite gifts ever. She bought me a Lamont tartan scarf I’d been eyeing in a Williamsburg shop for a year and a half. I still have it and still take great care of it.

When the semester ended I was so happy to go home for Christmas. My family has many fun and long-standing Christmas traditions and I was looking forward to family time. I was also looking forward to seeing Don. I missed him and I was anxious over where things stood between us.

During our break after that weekend a change had come over him. He later said he decided that I was worth the effort and he wanted to keep me. He started treating me much better. He was always on time and he made a special effort to be nice to my family. But, do you want to hear something awful? I was always anxious and paranoid to bring him around my family for too long because I was afraid he’d say something really stupid or awful. Even then I acknowledged to myself that it was no fun dating someone you couldn’t tell jokes to because then you’d have to explain them.

Suddenly Don was talking about us in the long term, throwing around the word “marry” and talking about big plans. I was pretty overwhelmed by it all. He started to be much clingier. I wrote in my journal many times that I was almost afraid to break up with him because I feared what he might do to himself. That’s the kind of crazy he was talking.

I had a very nice holiday with my family. I also got to see many of my best high school friends over the holiday. It was a very positive break. After New Year’s I was chomping at the bit to get back to school. Those last few days at home I saw Don every day. When I went back to school we were tight again and had a plans to always be together in the vaguely distant future.

Second semester I made much more effort to do things with my friends. I attended Circle K meetings regularly and got more involved in activities. I continued to love my job and to take advantage of the extra money-making opportunities that came my way. I was a model employee.

As the semester wore on the relationship with Don began to slip again. There were two crisis moments. The first was when I lost some money. One time back in the fall I’d come up short $50. Then closer to Christmas I lost $10. Earning as little as I did in those days, every dollar counted. In this case I had $40 lying out on my desk waiting to be mailed to mom and dad to pay my phone bill. I tend to be too trusting in these matters and I obviously should have put the money away somewhere. I trusted Kristie implicitly and was therefore a bit lax. I discovered my money missing after one of Don’s visits. At first I was just sure someone from my hall had taken it. Then, it slowly began to dawn on me…was it possible that it was Don? That really sent me reeling. I can clearly remember that night, lying there in bed in a panic just thinking about the possibility that he could be the one doing this to me. Just think of all the implications of that kind of behavior. I asked him about the missing money and he denied any knowledge of it. By sheer force of will I was able to stifle my doubts. Rose-colored glasses, indeed.

The second incident was when Don and I went to my grandparent’s house in Alexandria so we could take them to my cousin’s wedding. It was a very stressful day for me. Don and I had been in a car crash the night before. A woman ran into us at full speed (in a 40 mph zone) while we were waiting for someone in front of us to turn. We were OK, but had to borrow a car to make it to Alexandria. On the trip to the wedding I was the designated driver and had both of my grandparents, and my great aunt, backseat driving at once. This was while driving in the DC area. It was not a happy day for me or Don. He was actually the one keeping me calm. Then at the reception Don took on a sour mood. He refused to dance with me. I’ll tell you, I looked awesome that day and I honestly deserved to dance. We were at the table with the bride’s father and he kept goading us, he cracked we were keeping him in stitches. He persisted in trying to get Don to dance with me. Finally he asked me dance himself. We moved onto the dance floor and started dancing and then he motioned for Don to come cut in. Don stood up, and walked out of the building. I wished for a swift and painless death at that moment.

But, everyone has their asshole moments so I excused him. In my (weak) defense, I was in love. We had a sick relationship based on not much but neither of us could stop it. We kept barreling right on down the track to disaster.

To be continued…

Click here if you want to see our picture on the day of my cousin's wedding. I think he was wearing his Dad's coat.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Sophomore year - part one
At the end of freshman year everyone had to scramble for housing for the next year. Our options were to take our chances on the housing lottery, choose to live in the foreign language housing, choose to live at Dillard, or live off campus on our own. Meredith and most of my friends chose the language houses. They wanted a sure thing. There was no way I was going to live with my freshman roommate again so I found a new roommate on my freshman hall. Her name was Kristie and she had also had a crummy roommate the first time around. We took our chances with the lottery. We ended up with a pretty decent number and chose to live in another all-girls dorm on the old campus. We chose a room on the basement floor closest to the lounge and laundry and farthest from the phone. The next year they put phones in our rooms anyway.

So other than Kristie, I was isolated from all the friends I’d made freshman year. I lived on old campus and they lived on new campus. While they built on their friendships I became the odd man out. I didn’t help my case by gabbing about my new boyfriend all the time. I tried to stay in touch with everyone and do things with them, but it took considerably more effort than it had before. As I read my journals from those days I realize that I actually did a lot more going out with friends than I’d remembered. Mike would come by with his friend Terrance and we’d go do things. I had a class with my high school friend and Ms. India, so I saw them twice a week at least. Reading back in my journals it seems like my high school friend spent most of that semester miffed at me. So, I was alone and lonely a lot.

The one new development was that I started working on campus. I was assigned to work in the technology department of Swem library. My duties were showing films for professors in their classes, answering phones in the office and scheduling the showings on the office computer as the requests came in. The man I worked for was pretty cool. He was a bit of a ladies man but he never made me uncomfortable. His wife worked in the library too. Since I was free most nights I volunteered to show a lot of films. If we worked at night we got paid time and a half. I’d even call Kristie to come join me if the nighttime films looked like they were going to be good. Of course the first time I ever went out on a projection job the projector didn’t work right. After that experience my job always carried the thrill of danger. Will the sound work? Will the bulb go out? Will I have a professor berating me while a classroom full of students gawks?

The coolest thing about my job was how my boss would pad our paychecks. He was a hero to the working wo(man). It’s not like we made much anyway. I’d be expecting $97 and I’d get $113. That kind of padding. He took care of us and we knocked ourselves out for him.

When I chose to live with Kristie I chose well. She was a good roommate for me. She had a lot of patience for my bullshit and she was smart as hell. She was the best proof-reader I ever had. She’d gone to an all-girls Catholic school and was and avid gymnast. During freshman year she was actually on the Cheerleading squad. She ended up quitting that; I think the politics of it drug her down. She then joined the dance team. I remember her drying rack with her leotards and crap were always in the floor. I didn’t mind, I thought it was all pretty neat. We were good companions; we ate meals together a lot and did other things. We were roommates who were actually friends.

For most of the first semester I was pretty broody. I was always dwelling on Don back home. True to his word the letters started arriving right away. He wrote several times a week. I probably went to the post office three times a day. (This was before email, kids) We talked on the phone a lot. My life was either waiting for his calls or lamenting missed calls. He nearly blew it by waiting several weeks before coming to see me. His brother and sister-in-law made huge demands on his time and they often won at that point. When he did finally come see me I was ecstatic. Finally, I had proof for my friends that I had a real boyfriend! ;)

That fall I saw him a couple of times at school and he came to get me to bring me home a couple of times. One time I got in trouble with Noni and Popi because he came and got me and brought me back to his house (his parent’s house) for the weekend and I didn’t tell Noni I was in town. Yeah, that didn’t go down too well. I thought it would be nice to have a weekend where I wasn’t splitting my time, but it was hurtful to them and they didn’t think it was a good idea at all.

My relationship with Don created a strain with my family. For the first time I was pushing my limits with them. I’d always been the good girl in high school. They didn’t worry about me getting into trouble, sneaking out, or causing them huge embarrassment. But with Don I started to push it. I stayed out late (I was 19), opted out of family time to be with him and was generally very selfish. They didn’t care all that much for Don. First, because he had stood me up at the beginning and they saw how it had laid me low. Second, because he continued to disrespect me by turning up late to see me. Like 45 minutes to an hour and a half late. It used to infuriate me because he’s the one who set the time, not me. Anyway, while they took pains to be kind to him, I don’t think they really liked him all that much. If I were in their position, I wouldn’t have either.

So, while we were growing more attached I was also changing. When I was with him I was a different person. I wasn’t me at all. I pretty much let him call the shots and walk all over me. It’s not like this is a new phenomenon. Fat girl finally gets a boy, will do anything to keep him. I did fall in love with him and he fell in love with me. That much is true. We grew closer over the fall months. I was blinded by love, or as Noni kindly puts it, I had on rose colored glasses.

The funny thing is that it wasn’t like I couldn’t see it. I read my journals from that time and I’d spend my weeks missing him, but arguing with myself over whether I should stay with him. I knew he wasn’t treating me right, I knew he was often irrational and he always talked about himself and never listened to me. But when I saw him again all my doubts would wash away. He’d tell me he loved me, that I was beautiful, that he needed me, all the stuff I needed to hear.

When I’m perfectly honest with myself (you can skip this part, Popi) it was the physical chemistry that drove the relationship. I was a good and virtuous girl for a long time, as these things go, but I wasn’t superhuman. Now I know why you’re not supposed to have sex before marriage. It’s not just that it’s a sin in the eyes of God; it’s playing with fire. The risk is that you’ll like it (a lot!) and then your judgment and decision making will be clouded by the desire for more. And in a nutshell, that’s what happened to me.

To be continued…

From spring of sophomore year. One of my favorite photos because it's the skinniest I've ever been caught on film.

My humble abode that year. More homey, less beefcake.

Beefcake not completely gone, you can see some by the upper bunk, where I slept. You can also see the drying rack.

I've also added a couple of photos to the freshman post. You can see those here.


The final tally
The second festival weekend redeemed us. We had an outstanding day Saturday and Sunday was quite good too. It was our highest ever festival earnings, but only by $100 or so. Last year was the next best.

I couldn't believe how many people traveling to the festival spent their money on lottery tickets. You may recall that we only started selling the big pick 'em games back in November. I had no idea how much business we were missing out on with those things. Whatever it takes, man.
My best friend
The other one, not M.

He’s a liberal Democrat, he's Jewish and he lives in Massachusetts. He’s an only child who takes great care of his aging parents. He works in the social services field and is an accomplished and sought after speaker on topics in his field. He’s devoted to his work. I’ve watched him graduate college, get his masters degree and work on his doctorate. I’ve been proud of him every step up the ladder he’s taken. After twenty years when I answer the phone and hear his voice we are able to pick up right where we left off. His name is Mike.

When we first met I wasn’t so impressed. It was in my Wellness class first semester freshman year in college. My most distinct memory is him trying to beg off a stress test for religious reasons. I think it was Rosh Hashana or some such. I remember thinking, “Good grief, play the religion card…you just don’t want to do the exercise.” Bear witness to my cultural sensitivity at the time. He was round like me and while I dreaded the exercise too, I thought he was being lame for trying to use an excuse. I never told him about that. Good thing, huh?

We chatted in that class and we got along just fine. He ended up joining Circle K too, so I got to know him better there. Whenever we talked it was in a group setting. In the spring semester my group started to mix with his group. We had great fun together and everyone got along. There was this awkward phase where his friends kept trying to shove us together, like they had expectations for a big romance. Mike was never my romantic type, and I hoped he felt the same about me. But there were worries on my part for a while. Finally, my good pal Meredith took it upon herself to set the record straight. She asked him point blank and he said we were just friends and he wasn’t interested in me like that. From then on we became great friends.

Over the summer between freshman and sophomore year I went to visit him. He lived in Springfield and my grandparents lived in Alexandria. It was a day visit. It was kind of cool because it established the fact that we were the kind of friends who would make the extra effort to see each other. Over that summer he lost a bunch of weight too.

Sophomore year Mike drew a low housing lottery number and was exiled to Dillard, which was located miles from campus. The only bonus with that was Dillard exiles were allowed to have cars. The rest of us had to wait until Junior (or was it Senior?) year.

Mike was the one friend who stuck with me all the way through college. Through all the shit I went through he was the one that kept calling, kept coming to see me, and kept tabs on how I was doing. I’m not faulting the rest of them. I became geographically and emotionally isolated from my friends for a period of time and many lost interest. I was a difficult friend to have because it was hard to find me and I kept odd hours. It didn’t matter with Mike. He saw some of those negatives as positives and made the best of the situation. He was a lifesaver to me then.

We developed a close relationship, a brother/sister type relationship. I’d tease him and torture him over the girls he pined for. I loved playing the sister role. By the time we were seniors I think some of the youngsters thought I was a bitch because of the things I’d say to him. But that was our shtick. We both ate it up. We had our comfort zone and screw those who didn’t get it.

We used to get together for lunch weekly. Our favorite was the build-your-own sandwich at Second St. on Jefferson. We went to the senior dance together (with friends) and took a beach vacation together (with friends), right before graduation. On an alarming note, at the senior dance our close friends pulled us aside individually and told us they really thought we should get married. I couldn’t believe it! Didn’t they pay any attention at all? I think Mike and I both told them, individually, that they were nuts.

Since then we’ve kept in touch. He’s visited here and we’ve been to his place in Massachusetts. It took a little while for M to realize that Mike was no threat, but once he got that into his head they became good friends too. We’ve seen him in Williamsburg a couple of times. The most recent was when we both had conferences there at almost the same time. That was awesome. We even got to see Meredith too.

I wanted to interject this into my narrative because Mike plays a big part from here on out.

Next...sophomore year begins.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Interlude...OR... the summer of '88
Circle K was one of only two service fraternities on campus that was actually devoted to service. We had a tiny house, but no one lived there, it was only used for meetings. We were different from Greek fraternities in that the Greeks were about brotherhood (or sisterhood) first and service was somewhere way down the list. Circle K tended to draw genuinely nice people, the kind of people who built you up instead of tearing you down. Even the upperclassmen were nice.

When I went off to college I weighed about 210. For most of the year I fluctuated between 203 and 215. I had Wellness first semester so I learned a lot about good nutrition and fitness. When I was given the stress test my fitness was average. Losing weight was something I always wanted to do. I just couldn't, for whatever reason.

In March of my freshman year I went to a Circle K Conference. I rode with a couple of seniors and Meredith. I had developed a crush on one of the seniors, the driver. His name was Grant. He was a redhead and kind of cute, in an unconventional way. He was loaded with personality. At that point he'd already been recruited by Kidder Peabody, so he was going places. It was agony knowing he'd never even look twice at someone like me. I decided that if I was ever going to get someone like Grant, then I needed to lose weight. And amazingly, that did it.

I spent the rest of the spring on a diet. I even persuaded the girls on my hall to go out walking down DOG (Duke of Gloucester) street every night. I could usually scrounge up a few ladies every night. I liked it when Meredith walked because she set a mean pace. So mean in fact that it nearly gave me shin splints. That's how I started running, because it felt better to my legs than walking at Meredith's pace.

By final exams my pants were bagging off of me. When I got home I'd lost 23 lbs. I continued dieting and exercising all through the summer and continued to lose weight. By the time I went back for sophomore year I'd lost about 50 lbs.

To earn money over the summer I worked for Kelly Services. I was sent to a university, to a poultry plant office, and finally to a printing company. At the printing company I was supposed to work in the mail room. What that actually meant was I was sorting brochures and newsletters for large mailings, tying them and sacking them. It was more like light industrial work.

I made a girlfriend there that I ended up hanging out with a couple of times. And there was one guy there that caught my eye...

He was 6'3" tall and had tattoos all over his arms. His name was Don. He was pretty thin but good looking. He had a killer smile. When we were put to work together in close proximity we'd chat. Most of my co-workers were career printing company workers in their forties and fifties. He was in his twenties. We'd chat about all different things. I started to develop a crush on him.

Some days I was put to work in a different section where they prepared mailings of Bible Study materials. There was a real sweet retired couple that worked that section. I liked them a lot. They'd tell me stuff about the other workers. They told me that Don was ex-Navy (hence the tattoos). They told me that he'd been married and his wife had been killed by a drunk driver while he was in the Mediterranean. He'd left the Navy soon after.

Oh. My. God. So now he was a tragic figure, which added to his allure a hundred-fold. He was flirting with me now. I loved going to work every day. I'd hang on any little hint that he was interested. He was older than me, I was 18 and he was 24, so I thought it wasn't really a possibility, but still, having a crush is great fun. Oh, the thrill of it!

I was to quit for the summer around the second week in August. It was then that he finally asked me out. I was over the moon. A date! A REAL date! Not a friends date, a date date. It's pretty obvious I was a neophyte when it came to dating.

We went on that date. We had a great time together and talked a lot about all the hints we'd been giving each other over the summer that we were interested in each other. We'd developed as friends first so finally getting together seemed pretty natural. We had our first kiss, did a little necking and then called it a night. He told me he wanted to see me again right away, the next night.

I was so excited. My Dad and brother had been away the night before so they didn't really know I'd gone out, but they knew I was going out again. I got dressed and ready and waited.

And waited...

And waited...

And waited...

And he never came. He stood me up. I was humiliated in front of my family and devastated that he'd set me up like that. It confirmed everything I already knew. I wasn't worthy to have a boyfriend, to date, to have a social life. I was fat, ugly and undesirable. I think I sunk to a new low that night.

The next day my girlfriend and I had a date to go to the movies in Charlottesville. I told her all about it...and cried and cried. She got madder and madder. She was so pissed on my behalf. She tried to make me feel better, but I was deeply, deeply wounded.

The next day was a Monday, but my family was going out on the boat that day. The night before I had written a note to Don. It basically said that I was really hurt by what he had done. That I had genuinely liked him and thought we had something between us. Then I told him something along the lines of I guess you're proud of yourself for teaching the 18 year-old her lesson. I laid it on thick. I asked to borrow the van Monday morning and drove to the parking lot of the printing company and put the note in Don's truck. Then I went boating with my family...

I'm sure I was a mopey mope all day. I remember experiencing that thing where you hear every break-up song on the planet that day and they're all singing to you. Honest to God, if it had ended there I'm sure my life would be completely different than it is now.

But no. My note pulled on Don's heartstrings, or worked on his conscience, or whatever. Shortly after we got home I got a phone call from him. He wanted to come see me right away. Secretly I was thrilled. We rode down to the lake near my house and talked. He was so so sorry. He'd gotten cold feet, wasn't sure he was ready for a relationship. He knew he was falling in love with me and he was scared. Yes, he put the "L" word out there.

Well, who am I to deny a man in love what he wants? I took him back. Never mind that it was what I wanted too. We continued seeing each other until I left for my sophomore year. I met his family and even traveled to a family meet-up with them. He promised letters and visits when I went back to school. I was going back to college fifty pound lighter and with a boyfriend!


A mystery
M came home for the day at lunchtime so he could saw and split wood. Our wood pile is getting low. When we got home he took a break to play with Emma in the yard for a little bit. I decided to get on the treadmill and asked him to set her up with a show when they came back in so I could keep exercising. He did as I asked. He also got her some crackers for snack.

I'd been on the treadmill for twenty-five minutes or so when Emma came in wanting more crackers. To make her plea more persuasive she'd brought in a tube of unopened crackers from the box. While continuing to walk I popped open the tube and handed her five crackers. I handed her the tube and asked her to put it back in the kitchen.

Twenty-five minutes later I walk into the living room as I'm cooling down. I look at her and she's all cozy on the couch with an empty tube of crackers in her lap. W.T.F? Did this child just eat a whole tube of crackers???

I started fussing at her and she told me she ate them. Then a few minutes later she said she gave some to the dogs too. I have no idea what to believe.

The consequences were that she got fussed at and her shows were turned off. That set off a long hysterical fit, but we eventually made up. I ended up reading books to her for a while until supper.
Monday, March 17, 2008
It has happened to me twice. Once in the eighth grade I was standing in line for lunch. The guy in front of me turned around and looked at me.

"Damn, you're ugly."

And that was it. His name was Earl Brown. He will not be forgotten.

The second time I was in college, minding my own business. I was walking to class and I used to pass this same dude a lot of the time. I had no classes with him, had never spoken to him, had no idea who he was.

Once, when I was passing him he said,

"You are so ugly."

Out of the blue. The funny part was, he was pretty hard on the eyes himself. I never figured that one out.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Emma's Report - Sunday
Hi Again, Mommy and Daddy!!

I know I'll see you later this afternoon, but I just wanted to share with you what we've done today at Noni and Popi's.

First I need to tell you what we did last night after I sent you my letter. Noni surprised me and asked me if I wanted to make brownies for you. Of course I said yes. You know how much Daddy and I like chocolate. I was a big helper. Noni has this really neat step stool I can stand on and it puts me right at counter top level. She put all the ingredients in the bowl and then I stirred it really, really good. That was hard work. Then I helped her put it in the pan and it looked so good. Noni put it in the oven and then we waited. But I have to tell you that I did lick the spatula. (You'll see the pictures Noni sent of my chocolate face) I was supposed to do that, wasn't I, Mommy and Daddy? That chocolate was so yummy. Oh, the house smelled so good while they were cooking. After I took my bath and put my pajamas on, Noni said I could sample the brownies to be sure they tested real good for you. They were excellent! I had warm brownies and a glass of nice cold milk. That was a good bedtime snack. I wrapped 2 brownies in a napkin and Noni fixed a glass of milk and we took them downstairs to Popi. He seemed so happy to get his snack too. Oh, and he shared some of his brownies with me too!! Noni had a special dish to put the brownies on for you and you'll see it when we're together. (She took pictures of that too!)

I slept really good last night. It was almost 8:30 when Noni came in my room and I opened my eyes. I told Noni I felt better, but I was just a little bit sick still. So she gave me more medicine so I could keep feeling good the whole day. My nose is not running nearly as much today.

We had a yummy breakfast of pancakes and bacon and orange juice and milk. I ate a very good breakfast (according to Noni and Popi), and I was very good and waited until Popi had finished his breakfast before I got down from the table. See Mommy and Daddy, I'm learning my manners.

Popi played puzzles with me after breakfast. Noni gave me this really cool coloring book and Noni did a picture for me, Popi did a picture for me and then I did some pictures myself. I'll show them to you when I see you later on. (She took pictures of that too!).

Noni has pictures of my cousins on her dresser in these neat frames. When you push a button the frame, you can hear my cousin say a special message to Noni and Popi. I took all three frames into the living room and had Popi sit on the floor beside me and I told him a story with every frame. Noni was really proud of me. She thought that was pretty creative (whatever that means).

We went out for a while and the first place we went was to Kohl's. Popi thought that since I had a cold and my shirt was real open at the neck that I should probably have a tee shirt on. He bought me some in the boys' department because there weren't any in the girls' department. They were a little big for me, but I put one on and it made Popi a whole lot happier. He said he'd save the rest for my cousins since they would probably fit them better.

Next, we went to the Farm and Family Store. I had SO MUCH FUN!!!! I crawled on every single yard tractor, on the 4-wheelers and the carts. I even got Popi to get on the carts with me. I tried out all of them. They were pretty neat. You know how much I like tractors. There was a go-kart outside and I had to try that out too.

Noni wanted to go to Lowe's to look for a lamp, so that was our next stop. We went all over the store and looked at lot of things. Popi bought me my very own little cup with dirt and a watermelon seed in it. If you help me, Mommy and Daddy, I can put water in the cup and we can watch the seed begin to grow and when it gets too big for the cup, we can plant it in our garden. That would be fun to watch a watermelon plant grow.

We went to my favorite place, McDonald's for lunch and I ate all my chicken nuggets except for one. Popi shared his french fries with me. After I finished eating what Noni thought was a good lunch I got to wear my new Princess crown that came with my meal.

Now I'm watching a show and we'll be leaving pretty soon to see you. I missed you and I'm really, really excited about seeing you and going home to see Beaker, Jake and KiKi. Please travel safely to get me and I'm going to give you a big hug and kiss when I see you.

I love you a bushel and a peck, a hug around the neck, a barrel and a heap, talking in my sleep about YYYYYYYYYYOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUU!



Decorating the Easter tree
"Emma, let me take your picture with the tree."

"Please smile for me..."

"Uh...can you show some teeth please?"

Why did I write it?
A couple of you wanted to know why I wrote about my freshman year in college. There are a couple of reasons...

First, I wanted to let Meredith (Chesapeake) know how important she was to me then and how I remember the fun we had. I wanted her to know that even though I grew apart from the group I always valued our friendship. I also wanted to express my appreciation for the fact that she reads this blog now and shares in the comments.

Secondly, I wanted to reexamine my college years, dwell on them a little. When I think back I tend to dwell on the hardships that came later. I often think of my experience in terms of the things that I missed, rather than the things that I did. I actually enjoyed thinking back to my freshman year and trying to recall what it was like, what we did then. I was able to recall many fun things that I'd forgotten.

Thirdly, this blog is a diary for Emma to read some day. I'm recording my history, as well as hers.

Finally, I have to come up with something to entertain you all. Don't I?

There will be more...