Letter to Madam Empress

by Jonah

Dear MEL,

I’m sitting here at the computer writing this as the modem redials the Neutral Zone, avoiding writing my research paper, and munching on a brownie that Ed brought over to share with us. Yum! Nuts! Ed “also cooked” an exquisite Cajun style meal for us tonight. It was in his words, “tasty.”

I registered for classes in the spring semester today. Although I still haven’t declared a major, I approached my schedule from the point of view of a political science major and Institute for Leadership Studies minor. Here’s my schedule:

on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
9:00 Sociology 202 Introduction to Sociology
10:00 Chemistry 101 Survey of General Organic Biological Chemistry
11:00 Chapel (only on Mondays)
12:00 Religion 321 Studies of Mission/Message of Jesus
1:00 English 202 Literary Tradition II
on Tuesday and Thursday
9:30 Philosophy 305 Philosophy, Theology, and Literature
11:00 Political Science 498 History and Politics of Modern Russia
1:00-4:00 General Chemistry Lab (only on Tuesdays)

That’s 19 hours. I feel pretty good about it. Sociology is my only elective. Dr. Schaefer, my advisor and political science instructor, encouraged me to take it saying that I was smart enough to find lots of things to disagree with, but political scientists ought to be familiar with many of the terms in sociology.

The Dr. Schaefer and Dr. Mashburn, the head of the philosophy department as well as the Institute for Leadership Studies (ILS), worked it out so that Philosophy 305 could double as an ILS course.

The course on Russia is kind of a once in a college career lifetime, so I’m taking advantage of that. It’s being taught next semester only by a lady from Russia.

I got the last card for Dr. Allums’ English class. He’ll let Nathan in if he asks; Dr. Allums has for the past two semesters.

And now for something completely different.

We programed the computer so that you would say, “Nathan, cut that out!” at quarter past and quarter till and, “I said quit it!” at the half hour. The other day, I was doing some homework on the computer when Nathan came up and started messing with me.

“Cheer up, Joanna,” he said as he pulled the corners of my mouth down. “You need to stop frowning.”

Just then it was 3:15, and suddenly, from nearby a familiar voice said, “Nathan, cut that out!” He did. It took him a second or two to figure out that the voice was coming from the computer. A little while later when he was on the Neutral Zone, it backed up its earlier statement
with the other verbal order.

We also set it up so that “Jesus wants me for a sunbeam” would play when we booted up the computer. Nathan went over and flipped it on today and was greeted by the song. “Noooooo…” he howled.

I sent Max a copy of my English research paper. The topic was “The Similarities in the Lives and Philosophies of Hamlet and Soren Kierkegaard.” It was actually kind of fun getting sources for it. These two Danes had been linked together by others before (Kierkegaard even compared himself to Hamlet), but I think that a lot of the stuff I wrote was original. Nothing had been written on it to the extent that I went, as far as I can tell. Dr. Allums seemed to like it. He said, “This is a unique paper in my experience as a teacher: a parallel study of a real man and a poetic creation who has become ‘real’ to us. You’ve written with your usual mastery and come to some valuable insights. I enjoyed this very much-” He also gave me an A.

Our school library is revamping itself, getting rid of a bunch of old books that don’t get used much. They put them out on a table in a hallway next to the religion offices for students to pick up for free. Most of them are outdated nursing texts, but I have been able to find a few gems among the rubble. I got The Naked Capitalist by whoever it was who wrote The Naked Communist and a little book on logic from an Aristotelian and Aquinas perspective. The other day I was sifting through a bunch of dry medical writings. I found a large print edition of King Lear and Cliff Notes on The Return of the Native and thought I was doing pretty good. Suddenly, I discovered a something that made me incredibly excited.

“Oh cool!” I exclaimed, “A biography on Samuel Johnson!”

A guy standing nearby stopped what he was doing and stared at me. “You aren’t kidding, are you?” he asked after a moment of disbelief.

“Samuel Johnson was THE foremost thinker of the 18th century in England, not to mention the fact that he compiled the first English dictionary,” I explained.

“That must be why you’re so great in Greek,” he added. I could tell he was a religion student. They kind of have this aura around them. Plus, he was hanging around the religion offices. Evidently, my fame has spread throughout the department.

“If there was one person I’d want to go back in time to meet, it would be Jesus and then Samuel Johnson.”

“That’s two people,” he pointed out.

“So math’s not her strong suit,” came another guy to my defense.

“There are three types of students,” I told them. “Those that can count and those who can’t.”

We did our last performance of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs yesterday at the mall. It didn’t go too badly. The set was a lot smaller than we were accustomed to, and we didn’t get to practice beforehand, so blocking was a little rough. Add to that squealing microphones, pots falling off of the cupboard, forgotten lines, our sound engineer missing both music cues, and Santa coming on stage in the middle of “The Night Before Christmas” instead of the end and we weren’t real pleased with the result. But the Mall People seemed to be, and that’s what mattered. After the first performance at noon, we had until 3:00 to get lunch and wait around. I tore off my beard and nose, but I only had one pair of eyebrows, so I left those on. We walked around the mall like that, still wearing our makeup. People would look at us and tell their children not to stare.

After some of the dwarfs/girls caught sight of their reflections in a mirror at The GAP, we headed back to the empty storefront that served as our dressing room and didn’t emerge again until the next performance. The second one went fairly well. Unfortunately, Sneezy forgot to sneeze at one point and left Grumpy without her cue. My line was next, so after a moment I went ahead and gave it. I got to be the one who looked bad.

Afterward, we went to Melissa Lindquist’s house for supper. She is the daughter of one of the founders of Integrity Music, Ed Lindquist. Their family has eleven children including one that is about a week old. Lynn Lindquist was still in bed, but she told us all about home birth when we came in to see the baby. Melissa and I both homeschooled and entered the University of Mobile together. All of the Lindquist kids homeschool. I was surrounded by them when I first walked in. The thirteen year old twins wanted me to join then in games of poker and ping pong, the little ones were constantly hanging on me, and the middle kids wanted me to come bicycling with them. “You can ride the mountain bike!” There’s nothing like riding at breakneck speed through a forest in pitch darkness with a bunch of crazy boys zig-zagging all around you, asking if you want to play chicken. I loved every minute of it. Especially when they started pumping me for every joke I knew. “Tell another one!”

Well, I just thought I’d write you a letter. I started it back a couple of weeks ago and have been adding to it since then. Although I’d like to, I don’t know if it’ll work out for me to come out during Christmas break. But then I wasn’t expecting to stay an extra long time this summer either…

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