As I am still in the process of writing my story, some of these biographies will be incomplete as more information about them will be forthcoming. As I write more, the biographies will be more fleshed out.
And yes, these are all real people; however, their names are not for the sake of their privacy and mine. The only people whose real names are given are faculty and administration at BJU, as they are public figures.
Stitching, Stitch, Joanna, Jo.
That’s me, folks. And I have an entire about page, not to mention this entire blog. My husband describes me as being relatively tall (about 5’8″) with dark awesomely curly hair and color-changing eyes (he says that they change color depending on my mood – brown when I’m sad, gold when I’m content, and green when I’m happy) and an awesome smile that he doesn’t see enough, along with a whole slew of things he wouldn’t tell the public (for which I thank him profusely). He also says that I am quick to take the blame for others’ mistakes, along with being a good encourager – I know what to say to make people feel better. I can also be radically honest (read: blunt and sharp at the same time – blunt-force trauma mixed with cutting words).
Gary is my husband. We met at BJU and got married a year later. He is the only child of an independent fundamental Baptist pastor and his wife, a music teacher. Both of his parents attended and graduated from BJU. He is a jack of all trades, a shy extrovert (believe me, it’s possible), a geek, an outdoorsman (who puts up with his hermit-like wife quite admirably) who loves music and books. He’s a gentle man who is very protective of me, and always has been.
Eddie, Leah, and Tommie.
My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. My brother is 2 years, 10 months older than me. He is an engineer. He is a difficult personality to describe, in part because much of my life was spent believing him to be wayward but now that we’re both adults I think that’s not a fair assessment of him. He met Leah right after high school. They’ve been together for quite a while, and been through quite a lot. Leah is a pre-school teacher and has more common sense than most people you’ll ever meet. She’s very kind-hearted and easy to talk to. Tommie is almost six years old. He’s already really good at math, though he’s not too fond of English, reading, or writing. He loves his uncle Gary probably more than his aunt Stitch :)
Liz and I grew up together – went to the same school since first grade, and even went to college together. In elementary and junior high school, over the summers we would send packages to each other full of goodies – cards announcing the marriage of the other to whomever our crush at the moment was, bits of stories we were writing (we wrote fan fiction before we knew what it was), mix tapes (she’d send me oldies music I wasn’t allowed to listen to, and I’d send her my Christian music in hopes that she’d see that it was better (even though it wasn’t and I think I knew that)). We became very close our freshman year when we were part of the praise team at school together – we both provided harmony for the group. We grew apart in high school, then closer again in college. She is an introvert who forces herself to be loud, outgoing and charming in a group. She is deeply interested in psychology, criticism, rhetoric, and all things British. Amanda has been known to say that Liz will say out loud the things that the rest of the group is thinking silently. She also talks about sex unashamedly in a way that most people do not.
Esther and Tom.
Tom is the handicapped man who sexually assaulted me in my sculpture class. Esther is his mother who sat in the classes with him.
Janae and I also grew up together, along with Liz. Janae and I were best friends in elementary and high school. She is an extreme extrovert with a wide array of interests and talents, ranging from throwing black-tie parties to camping in the woods and from event planning to naturopathic medicine. When we were school friends, we were both extremely conservative. As we finished high school and entered college, she started becoming much more liberal – which to me at the time was a bad thing. We drifted apart in college, though we tried to remain friends despite our differences. I’ll write more about her as my story unfolds.
Ann was my best friend for several years. We met at my church camp on staff together in 2004 and bonded almost instantly. We agreed together that if we weren’t married by 18 or 21 that we’d go be missionaries together. We thought that the verse that talks about “as iron sharpens iron, so do friends” was written for us. We were practically inseparable, despite living more than two hours apart – our minds seemed to be linked somehow. We talked through boy problems, sibling problems, family problems, spiritual issues, theology, college, friendships, philosophy, life in general. She is an introvert, a very proper/classy sort of person. Very quiet, and very conservative. I will write more about her as my story unfolds.
Amanda is one of my truest friends (I kind of shy away from using the term “best friend” anymore). We met our freshman year of high school – to her, I was that goth girl who was blocking her way into the classroom. We are media sisters, loving the same oh-so-varied music, books, and movies. She is completely and totally in love with Jesus, but she’s not annoying about it. You know those pushy Christians who have an agenda – totally not Amanda. She oscillates between no-nonsense and nothing-but-nonsense – straightforward then childlike – which I’ve come to believe is a really awesome trait, because she’s rarely too much of anything. She doesn’t take herself too seriously (something her friend here could do well to learn). We share similar road trip philosophies. She is one of three friends who did not abandon me when I told her that Gary and I had slept together. She’s a very independent person who is also intensely loyal.
Nate and Clara.
Nate and Clara are a couple from Massachusetts. Their son is John. They have four children – I’m friends with the older three. Nate is an elder at his church, a very patriarchal sort of man with good intentions. We met at my church camp during a family conference when I was thirteen. Nate in particular has been very instrumental in my life. I’m still trying to figure out whether it’s been for good or for bad, though I’m inclined to think it’s been a bit of both. Different friends in different seasons, you know.
John and I met in 2001 at my church camp. He is the second son of Nate and Clara. They were all attending a family camp, and I befriended his two younger siblings. The following year, I worked with his older brother, then the following year I worked with him. We shared a love for geekery, especially Homestar Runner. He became my lil brudder, and I became his little sister. I think how we worked that out is that he’s younger than me, but I’m shorter than him. And we both feel protective of one another. He is still a good friend, though being several hundred miles apart makes our friendship not as close as it could be.
Daniel and I actually met when we were five years old. His dad and my dad went to Cedarville together, and have worked together at the same radio station off and on for almost 20 years. Our families got together to go to the dollar theatre and watch Huckleberry Fin. We met again in 2005 at our college’s Bible study. We started talking more in 2007, and became pretty close friends in 2008. Our friendship tapered off after I got married in 2009. Daniel is also a very intuitive person, though very caustic and cynical. He calls things the way he sees them and makes no apologies for his views. He has very high ideals that frighten even him at times. He once spent a week homeless in my hometown during the winter as an experiment (and my hometown does not have mild winters). I may write more about him as my story unfolds.
Sharona and I have known each other since 2006. I am friends with much of her family – all but one of her siblings, and almost all of her cousins. It was her cousin for whom I changed my views (and became more fundamentalist) when I was 16, and it was her aunt and cousin (my crush’s mother and sister) who gave me such horrible advice after I was assaulted. We worked together on staff at the summer camp in 2006 and became good friends. She, Ann, and I were practically inseparable. We remained a trio for quite some time. Sharona is shy around people she doesn’t know – but once she knows you, she will talk your ears off (her description of herself, not mine). She is immensely fond of books and traveling. She and I are six years apart in age – she is older than I am. She is also extremely politically-minded. I may write more about her as my story unfolds.
I met Nathanael when I was thirteen at my church camp. I was good friends with his older sisters – the three girls and I all worked together and roomed together. Nathanael and I were both too young to officially be on staff, so we spent our spare time together playing chess and talking about books. I got to know him through his sisters over the years, then became better friends with him when I played piano for his oldest sister’s wedding. After that, we started emailing back and forth, then eventually texting back and forth. We enjoyed engaging in battles of wit. We had each other’s back in socially awkward situations at camp and elsewhere whenever we were together. There was little expectation of encroaching on each other’s time – it was simply understood that at some point we’d likely spend an inordinate amount of time together, alternately talking for hours or sitting for an hour together in silence. He held a very special place in my heart – he was still in my heart during the debacles with Joe and Peter, because he seemed unsullied to me. He was too precious to me to make demands of, and he was too precious for me to screw things up. I hoped one day to marry him, and had an intuition that he was waiting for us both to finish college before asking me out (this has never been confirmed, so it is still simply speculation). By the time I went to BJU, I lived for his texts, emails, and extremely infrequent phone calls. I will write more about him as my story unfolds.
I met Ben at my church camp on staff in 2006. We had an interesting relationship from the start – we like to pick at one another philosophically and geek out over things and analyze to our hearts’ content. He’s one of the most intuitive people I know – I’m not used to men being good at reading people. But he is. He is also one of the few people who a) was honest with me with his opinion about my relationship with Gary and b) didn’t stop being my friend after I got married.
Jacquie was the roommate at BJU with whom I shared the closest relationship. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding. She’s a writer, a thinker, a fighter. She’s also intensely loyal to her friends, very compassionate and a very trustworthy person.
Joanne was another roommate at BJU. She was generally quiet until she got to know you, then she’d be loud and spunky and funny. She was always so fun to be with. She left after the first semester at BJU.
Rebekah replaced Tracie later in the first semester as our resident spiritual leader – Tracie had gone to another dorm to be an RA. Rebekah was sweet, quiet, and generally didn’t know what to do with our room. We’d all been such good friends that to have Tracie leave and Rebekah come in was very disrupting. Rebekah was also younger than all of us, and was put in our room as our APC. That didn’t set well with many of us…particularly me. I could handle Tracie, being a little older and about my maturity level. Rebekah was far too innocent, and I learned later was a bit of a BOJ.
Tasha was my dorm supervisor while at BJU. She seemed very nice and personable, and often baked blondie brownies that she would take around to everyone in the dorm. She seemed genuinely interested in the lives of the girls in her care. I will write more about her as my story unfolds.
Jay Bopp and I started corresponding a year before I went to BJU. I contacted him to see what kind of portfolio I needed to put together for review to see where I would be placed / what classes I’d already taken in graphic design would transfer. I was pretty disappointed at the discovery that fully half of my art credits would not transfer. Angry might be a better term. But all anger was erased when I finally met him in my first advisory meeting, and by the end of my first typography class with him I was thrilled that so many of my credits didn’t transfer by sheer virtue of the fact that he taught most of the classes I would have to retake. (Sidenote: the classes that didn’t transfer were less due to my work in those classes and more due to the lack of depth in the curriculum that my associate-level classes had). He consistently showed common sense, grace, mercy, enthusiasm, love, kindness (not just niceness) – he is one of my favourite people to this day. I had him for Typography I my first semester and Calligraphy for Designers my second semester.
I had met Mike Slattery a few months before starting at BJU when my parents and I visited the school. We sat in on one of his History of Art classes. He, too, was incredibly informed about art and very enthusiastic in its presentation and making sure its relevance was not lost on his students. He has a very dry sense of humor often related to a level of geekery that made me feel a little more sane in the midst of a campus full of people who thought most of my childhood loves (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.) were evil. I had him for History of Art my first semester and a drawing class my second semester.
Jon Andrews reminded me strongly of Peter – his amiable qualities, not his abusive ones. We shared a similar wit and I suspect a disdain for the level of control exerted by the administration, though he was very compliant and never voiced any dissent he may have felt. His was the only class where I felt free to voice dissent, and his reactions tended to make me think he agreed with me but could not say so. It was always my goal to impress him with my work, since his level of dedication and attention to detail was something I admired and strived towards. I had him for Calligraphy for Designers my first semester.
Dr. Schaub was my Computer Science I teacher. I adored him. He had such a dry sense of humor and did his utmost to make the material accessible to the class. When I got sick early on the first semester and had a bad psychological reaction to the medication I’d been put on, he was understanding and lenient – I was afraid that he’d discount my reaction as hysteria, but he took me very seriously. I wanted so badly to do well in his class. I recorded every lecture and listened to it again later as much as I could without headphones, but my brain simply could not handle me switching between left-brain and right-brain so often. Programming was not for me – but I didn’t find that out until it was too late to drop the class. I always felt guilty for disappointing him and doing so abysmally in his class.
David Appleman was my Composition Theory I teacher. I was both in awe of him and annoyed with him. He was a very goodly sort of fellow – the kind of man who chuckles at his own jokes. I always wanted to please and impress him as well, but simply failed to do so. I could never quite grasp what his eye saw – I wanted my work to be perfect, but he always found something wrong and I just kept getting sloppier and sloppier. I expected him to resent me or think very poorly of my artistic ability and character, and so I was upset to find out that he was my advisor my second semester. He erased my fears, however, in our first meeting – he looked at my transcript with my exemplary GPA and looked as if he wanted to touch my hand or shoulder: “Last semester was very, very hard on you, wasn’t it? I can see that you’re a good student.” It did my heart a world of good, and I saw how kind-hearted and genuinely helpful he was.
At the time I was there, Jim Berg was the dean of students. He is one of the men who facilitated the modesty talk for all the female students. I will write more about him as my story unfolds.
Dr. Wood is on the seminary staff at BJU, I believe. His importance to my story is pretty much that he never preached a message that didn’t make me want to walk out of the FMA (and there was at least once that I did walk out).
Dr. Oberlin was my Life and Ministry of Paul teacher. I had been excited about that class initially, but was rather disappointed in the end. He was very nice and knew how to engage the students in conversation, though I often kept my thoughts to myself. Whenever I did ask a question or contribute, however, it seemed to ruffle his feathers a bit. I guess my questions were slightly unorthodox.
Robyn and I met in high school, but weren’t really very close friends. We exchanged notes a few times in the halls, and I played piano for her as she sang a solo during chapel one day (we had all of one class period to practice). We started talking again after both of us got married, and have become very close friends. We frequently refer to one another as situational twins. Both of our fathers have a terminal illness, both of us struggle in our lives and marriages in similar ways, we both struggle with Christianity in similar ways and help encourage one another to hold on to Christ no matter what. She has been an absolute lifeline, and one of the truest friends I’ve ever had.