Archive for March, 1996

Soviet dictators and stylish cigarette lighters

27 March 1996 at 3:06 am
by Jonah

I took Stalin to school again today.

As she sat down, I softly warned the girl who sits next to me in Modern
Political Theory, “Ellen, don’t scream. I have my mouse with me.” She
laughed. Later on she asked me to come over and show off my pet to this kid
she had with her in the snack shop. Stalin is a pretty popular article.

I showed my new Zippo off to everyone I talked to. That would invariably
spark a, “I didn’t know you smoked.”

“I don’t.”

“Well, why do you have a lighter?”

“Because I asked for one.”

“But, why do you want one?” Then I’d have to go into the whole thing about
how useful lighters are at lighting up dark rooms and setting things on fire.
The smokers would extend their hands and say, “Let me see.” Then they’d
show me different tricks to do with a Zippo. I’ve been practicing some of
them. I can snap my fingers and light it now. I showed off my new found
skill to my family when I got home. My sister rolled her eyes and commented
on how stupid that was.

Jonah (learning new things every day and never realizing college could be
this much fun)

Pew (part two)

25 March 1996 at 11:09 pm
by Jonah

Well, I showed the letter from the Pew Younger Scholars thingy to Dr.
Schaefer today. He got mad. It was funny. Anyway, when I got home, Ben
gave me a message to call mom on the cell phone. She said that the Pew
Younger people had called saying that their list had Mobile College listed as
an eligible college but not the Unversity of Mobile. Schaefer had evidently
called them to let them know that Mobile College is now UM. So I was still
eligible, but they needed my two letters of recommendation.

I called Schaefer on the phone this afternoon. “I just got off the phone
talking about you AGAIN,” he said. While he was telling them that he had
already mailed the letters of recommendation, he heard someone in the
background on the other end of the line saying, “Oh! here they are.”

So that’s all taken care of. I’m not putting any eggs in that basket. We’ll
see what happens.

Don’t you just love happy endings?



22 March 1996 at 6:20 pm
by Jonah

I’ve been extraordinarily happy today. Cheerful, even. It could be the
chilling Edgar Allen Poe story I was listening to on tape on the way to
school this morning. Somehow listening to something so demented, so
depressing, so devilish puts me in a good mood. Or it could be that it was a
gorgeous day. Or that my birthday is tomorrow, and I’m excited. I kept
asking people I met, “Do you know what today is?” and “Have you seen the
comet?” My psychology test was too easy. Well, no, it was a good test, but
I knew all the answers. If I get anything wrong on it, I’ll be surprised. I
was the second person to finish. Usually I’m one of the last people to leave
the room during a test because I take my time. But I was confident, so I
just up and smugly left the 50 or 60 odd people still laboring over the exam.
Jaymz caught up with me outside. He was in a cheerful mood too. He’s got a
more mischievous demeanor than I thought. I also thought of him as the quiet
type, but he started talking about being in high school and playing poker and
chess in pre physics/chemistry class.

Even a trip to Food World couldn’t dampen my spirits on the way home despite
the fact that I seem to have lost my wallet. Although I invariably seem
destined to get at least one of the items on the list wrong.

Hmm… how very odd. Someone just rapped at my window. I pulled back the
partially closed curtain to reveal Nathan peering at me from the other side
of the glass. This might not seem odd, except that my room is on the second
floor. “You gonna elope with someone tonight?” he asked. I pulled back the
curtain further. He was standing on a ladder leaning against the side of the
house. I wonder if The Shadow Demon has been around lately.

Mom is in a cheerful mood as well, which is always nice. I think going to
the opera last night helped. She doesn’t get out as much as she should.
She’s downstairs now practicing her scales on the piano. She’s going to
audition on Wednesday for something, I can’t remember exactly what. It’s
like a big recital where a bunch of piano teachers play at the same time. Or
something. She’s real excited about it. She’s playing a Bach fugue and
something else. Maybe something by Beethoven.

Anyway, I was in a good mood today when I came home, lugging my things
upstairs. I used to just dump my purse, bookbag, and jacket behind the easy
chair in the den whenever I came home, exchanging my books later. But then
my grandmother had a stroke, and every little thing seemed to tick my parents
off, especially things lying around the house. So now I habitually take
everything upstairs first thing when I get home. As I performed this ritual
today, I looked through my sunglasses at the pile of stuff for me to take
upstairs lying on one of the steps. Added to the assortment of things were
three new envelopes. I picked them up and continued to ascend. Once in my
room, I looked at them more closely. One caught my attention. It was from
the Pew Younger Scholars Program. Determining to open my mail later, I threw
the letters onto my bed and strode back downstairs to further empty the car
of its contents.

I stayed up almost all night sometime last week preparing the applications
for a couple of things that might happen this summer. One of them was the
Pew Younger thingy. It’s a research type course for three weeks in May or
June at Notre Dame. Dr. Schaefer made an announcement about it in class, and
I sent off a card from a placard he’d been sent to hang up at school. The
information I received in response was of a program divided into several
interesting looking categories. Participants would receive a certain amount
of money for transportation,

Crap. I just got on maf, was fooling around with finger, and hit q for some
reason. It said, really quit lynx? I panicked and hit b, missing n by one
key, and it logged me off. Ah well. No one was on anyway, and I found out
what I wanted to know. I was complaining to Paul this morning about not
being able to delete when he said, “Zterm?” I nodded, yeah, I use Zterm.
“Rubout,” he said, “You need rubout.” Sure enough.
that half hour pause was me making lady bug chicken after mom yelled that
whoever was in charge of doing it better get it done NOW.

Anway, so I have backspace now. Thptptptptptptp….

Where was I.. Okay. Participants in the Pew Youngers thingamagigy would get
like 250 bucks for transportation up there and then a stipend of like 700
something dollars. Plus, I think all the books, fees, meals, and room were
provided. Good deal, right? I thought so. So I applied and all, sent in a
couple of writing samples (a paper on Madam Bovary, which I’ve been thinking
about sending to you, and one comparing Hamlet with the existential
philosopher Soren Kierkegaard), and managed to mail it a couple of days before
the due date.

So here it is, only about a week and a half later that I’m getting a letter
from them. Possibilities rushed through my mind. I thought of the nastiest
no-we-don’t-want-you-in-our-program letter I could think of and then
hurriedly slit the envelope open before my imagination came up with anything
more rosy. I forced my eyes to read the contents quickly.

Dear Joanna:

We received your application to our Summer Seminar program, but regret to
inform you that you are ineligible for application because you have not
attended one of the 173 small Christian colleges and universities that our
program targets.

If you have any questions concerning which schools may or may not be
eligible, feel free to call our office.

Thank you for your interest in our program.


the administrative assistant

Well, I’m not disappointed. Just annoyed. Maybe even a little angry. I
didn’t expect to be accepted in the program. Just thought I’d give whatever
opportunity that presented itself to me a shot and see what turned up.
Rejection letters are a part of life. But this is stupid. I’m fairly
certain that Schaefer doesn’t put up any placards unless the people who send
them to him ask him to. If this is true, then they sent UM a thing that UM
students aren’t even eligible for. That just irks me. I mean, it would have
been okay if they said they didn’t want me, but now after all this they’re
saying that I don’t even go to an eligible school. That’s plain silly.
Argh. Okay. I’m a bit more than a little mad, now that I think about it.
To think that I stayed up all night sweating about this (okay, maybe I
stayed up most of the night chatting on the internet and then eventually got
around to getting the stuff together).

I guess this is one of those cases when I get upset. Mad. Injustice. Not
that it’s a big deal or anything. I’m obviously not meant to go there, and
that’s okay. But it bothers me. I’ll show it to Schaefer. He should know

Ah well. It doesn’t really bother me that much. I just had to vent a bit.

Anyway, that’s one more option eliminated for this summer. I wonder what
I’ll eventually end up doing?

There’s something ironic about dead flowers. We surround ourselves with
flowers perhaps to remind ourselves of life. Color. Vivacity. The dead
magnolia is sitting still perched in its empty vase on my desk. Its red hues
are slowly morphing into a dryish brown. Its mottled appearance isn’t as
pretty as it once was. Yet its appeal is even greater for me now. It’s
looking more like death, and perhaps that is why it appears even more
beautiful to me. Death.


I handed the letter I got today to Nathan. He got mad. “Write ’em!

Mathamatics, kitchen cabinets, and white paint

21 March 1996 at 12:33 am
by Jonah

Dementia. Okay. Whatever.

As some of you may know, my family has added an addition onto our house.
Since it branched off of the kitchen area, we decided to enlarge the kitchen
and redecorate it while we were at it. I say “we,” but I have very little to
do with the actual decision making process. I just live here. And I didn’t
really do any real work involved in the remodeling. I just suffered its

In any case, my dad decided to paint the kitchen cabinets white. Since they
were dark wood colored to begin with, this required a good bit of white paint
in several coats. He evidently spray painted them first, then went on to
use the conventional brush and roller. That’s all fine and good, except that
he left the door to the living room open. Thus the white paint from the
sprayer misted into the adjoining room, coating everything in it with a fine
layer of white paint. It wasn’t very noticeable. It just looked like things
were a little dusty and felt gritty to the touch. Unfortunately, our black,
grand piano was one of the affected items. The good news is that a
particular brand of solvent has been found to remove the paint without the
finish. Incidently, this is the same solvent that allowed my hair to become
ungunked after a brief period of punkhood. But that is another story.

The biggest problem presented by this state of events, however, was that
everything from the kitchen cabinets had been relocated to the living room
while the shelves were being painted. This meant that all the bowls, plates,
pots, pans, measuring elements, and essentially all instruments of cooking
and eating were covered in a misting of paint. This perhaps wouldn’t have
posed a very large threat… except that the paint was lead based.

And so our living room is still covered in items from the kitchen which we
haven’t returned because each thing has to be scrubbed thoroughly to remove
all paint before being allowed out of quarantine and back to its rightful

In the meantime, we’re most assuredly suffering from lead poisoning.

Sucking on paint chips,


Career day, freaks, and things left unsaid

18 March 1996 at 9:14 pm
by Jonah

Mmmmm… Yawn. I’m a little tired. I stayed on last night after you left.
Bishop, who didn’t have school today, stumbled across me hibernating on
Legends, so we went back over to DS9 and chatted for a long while about life
and stuff. How come the really deep discussions come really late (or very
early)? Anyway, it started storming really big. My dad came upstairs to
unplug my computer, only to find me on it. That was not a pleasant scene. I
told him I was writing a paper, which I was. But he was upset, even though
he went back to bed, and it -was- really lightning a lot, so I said goodnight
to Bish and unplugged the computer. I’d still only written the first
paragraph of my paper. It was 4 a.m. by then. I went to bed, setting my
alarm for 5. Even though I’d been pumping myself with caffeine and sugar, I
went to sleep right away.

The alarm went off much too soon. I stumbled over to the computer and
plugged it back in. The storm was over. I wrote the rest of the paper very
quickly. The next thing I knew I had four pages, so I whipped up a closing
paragraph and put it on disk to take downstairs and print it out. All this
while watching the sky getting lighter and lighter and night turning into
day. I don’t see that very often.

I wanted to get to school early so that I could stick the paper in Allums’
door before he got there, considering that it was due on Friday. I got
dressed in the spaghetti dress, as Denise calls it, and found my shoes that
had been missing since the hole was cut in my closet (it’s still there). I
wore my newly trimmed hair down. It was odd getting to school so early in
the morning. I haven’t had eight o’clock classes since that was the only
time Greek was offered as a freshman. The parking lots were deserted.
Allums’ door was securely shut. Good, I thought. Then I drove over to the
Forestry Center Building where Career Day was going on. They were just
setting up, however, and wouldn’t start till nine, when my first class
started. Funny thing is, I walked in and there was Dr. Allums. I guess he
hadn’t checked his office yet, since there was stuff in the box on his door.
He had to be there since the dean of fine arts was in the hospital with eye
surgery. He seemed annoyed at having to waste time standing around
representing whatever he was there to represent, although Dr. Allums is the
easy going type and doesn’t show annoyance very often. I stood around and
talked with him for a long time about philosophy and just.. stuff… we even
talked about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I drank a cup of coffee on
top of the green tea I had on the way to school. Kilroy rolled in, and I
exchanged pleasantries with him. Then it was time to head to class.

Everyone who knew me was surprised to see me dressed up, since I always wear
jeans and a t-shirt. Dick caught sight of me and grinned. “Hey… Jonah!”
He’s always telling me I should get my hair cut and wear more feminine
clothes and stuff. Dr. Schaefer saw me, did a double take, and said, “I
won’t even ask.” I tried to talk to Paul after class, but I wasn’t making
much sense. I mentioned that when I didn’t sleep, I thought. He mentioned
that that was dangerous.

As I walked across the quad to get to psych class late again, I passed the
freak. “Career Day. Forrestry Center. I’m going at noon,” I yelled out to
him. “What?” he asked, “Is that an invitation?” I shrugged, walking
backwards and yelled back, “Sure. Be right there at noon.”

Somehow I stayed awake in psych class, although I had a really hard time
listening. I didn’t take many notes. Larry was waiting for me when I got
back to the fine arts building. “You gonna walk?” he asked. I laughed and
led him to my car. I had to move a bunch of junk out of the way for him to
sit down. “I’d hate to see your room,” he remarked. “Want a piece of gum?”
By the time we got to the forestry center, career day was over. It ran from
9-12, right when I have classes. I didn’t really mind. I was too out of it
to really care. As the freak and I drove back, he asked, “You wanna get
something to eat? You wanna go over to the library?” “And do what?” “Talk?
Maybe that’s not such a good idea. Wanna watch a movie?” I was silent.
“You wanna go home, don’t you,” he said. I nodded and dropped him off at
the cafeteria.

I dunno. I’m kinda getting used to the guy. The more I’m around him, the
more I like him. I feel sort of comfortable with him. I’m not trying to
impress him. I only say what I think, not what I want him to hear, because I
don’t care what he thinks. He’s certainly different from everyone else at

I came home and went to bed. I didn’t even eat.