A Mirror into Ken's Past -- 1982

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Jeanne, Tania and Chris got a place closer to the campus, which was nice. They were renting a house, which gave a lot more room than an apartment. It was also just down the street from a just-about-to-spring-onto-the-scene Science Fiction/Fantasy Author, Elizabeth Anne Scarborough (Annie). She was a really nice woman with a strong interest in folk music. Annie enjoyed the SCA, but wasn't as heavily into it as some of us. Annie and Tania really got along great because Tania loves (and now performs professionally) folk music ... Annie used Elizabeth Scarborough as her pen name (and still does). I have her first couple of books autographed with comments about hoping I enjoyed the book as much as she enjoyed looking at my gams. (That was an SCA reference -- I have often worn short tunics with tights ...) Annie is now a Hugo-winning author (the Hugo is one of the highest honors a Science Fiction/Fantasy author can be given).

That was the year that Anne McCaffrey (big name Science Fiction author) came to town for a writer's workshop for the week of her birthday (April 1). She was a huge amount of fun. The SCA folk sort of took care of her, we had a huge cake for her on her birthday. She did book signings, she talked to people, she was a delightful woman. Annie met up with Anne McCaffrey, and either they clicked there, or they clicked later, but they became really good friends, and since then have collaborated on a few books.

Later that month, for my birthday, Jeanne, Tania and Chris, knowing how much fun I had with fantasy gaming, threw together a really elaborate birthday party quest. They told my gamers what was happening and invited them to help. They told my now best friend Mark (McWhirter) who wasn't a gamer. I thought I was just going to have a quiet birthday at Jeanne's. Everyone showed up (although on the sly, and went and got into character), and the quest went up and down the street, mostly in the house they were renting, but at one point it went down to Annie's place and back. It was silly and a lot of fun.

Sometime while Jeanne and I were together, I created and registered a badge for a household that was going to be ours -- "The House of the Singing Phoenix" (okay, the name seems a bit trite, but it made sense at the time). I made a medallion for it for myself, and would have made one for Jeanne but things broke up before I could. I made a banner of the household badge by hand -- I'm not a great seamster, but it didn't look too bad. (Several years after we broke up I managed to contact her and transfer the badge to her in the College of Heralds registry. At some point I gave her the banner and the medallion.) There's a photo of the medallion at the West Kingdom History Website: Phoenix Medallion.

I moved into a different dorm for the summer with one of my fellow computer science students and friends, Kent Widmayer. He was a really nice guy, with serious vision problems -- his glasses were the thickest I'd ever seen. He was very much the "computer geek" type, but he had a good sense of humor, and was quite bright. He ended up helping me finish my last year of College ...

Jeanne was feeling, SCA-wise, that she really wanted to have a "hat" -- she wanted to sit on a throne and be important (this is a common thing to happen to people -- Jeanne eventually became Queen of An Tir for 6 months -- Washington and parts of the Northwest, but that was a long time after we broke up). In order to do that someone had to fight for her, unless she was going to get into armor. She convinced me to become a fighter in the SCA. I only did this for a short time -- basically until Jeanne and I broke up. While I understand how SCA combat works, I've never had a big urge to do it. I was only doing this because Jeanne wanted me to, which is definitely the wrong reason.

This was the first year of the Alaska Oil Dividends. Everyone who was a resident of Alaska got a check for $1,000! That was so cool. (For what it's worth, you have to apply for the dividend and prove that you've been an Alaskan resident for the previous year.) At the Lord Defender's Tournament that summer, Robert Kinslayer (real name is Robbie McKenzie) came up, and I paid Kinslayer most of the the dividend check for a full set of plate armor. By the time the armor was complete and showed up (mid-winter) Jeanne and I had broken up and I had no use for it. I ended up selling it to Tim for a lot less than I paid for it. I understand he eventually sold it off in parts to various fighters in the Alaskan SCA groups.

Sharane (mka Mary Helms) in Anchorage decided to hold a war between us over my last name in the SCA (Henford) -- which was also the name of her household. I had registered my name with my coat of arms before she tried to register a name and badge for her household. When she finally tried to register the household name, the heralds told her she couldn't -- it was already registered to me! She was a bit put out, but we had a fun mercenary war. (I wasn't armored up yet, so wasn't fighting ...) Mary really wasn't upset about the household name, at least that I ever heard.

I was a College Student and didn't have a lot of money. Jeanne offered with Chris and Tania to make shirts for the people I hired. Pretty spiffy. We got mercenaries together, we had a great trip to Anchorage for the War (which was also the year that "The Wrath of Kahn" came out, and it wasn't playing in Fairbanks yet, so we had to do a trip into town to see that, as well as "The Empire Strikes Back" (Star Wars, Ep. 5)!). The war happened, things started happening that I was oblivious to with Jeanne and someone else. Jeanne didn't make the shirts, as she was deciding to blow off our relationship. Most of the fighters didn't care -- they went to have fun. Later, when the fighters from Selviergard ("Trolls" -- long story) found that they weren't going to get their shirts, they insisted that I pay them in some fashion. After some negotiation, I made medallions for them and they were happy. (They were individualized "smiley" faces -- these were kind of fun, actually. I made one with a single eye for one of them with a bad eye; one with fangs for a guy with pronounced canine teeth; one with a half-smile for a guy with a quirky smile, etc. But they were all the same size and basic design ...)

I didn't know about Jeanne and this other individual yet. Other SCA events happened that summer. There was a really cool quest that was held up at one gentleman's parents' house which had a lot of land with trees. That was a lot of fun, too. I was still oblivious about Jeanne, although I think I realized something was up, I really wasn't thinking about it.

Back to School, Engagement Breaks Off, Meet Eitel, Weird School Year
I moved back into a single dorm room, this year a few doors down the hall from Tim White (SCA: Wolf Federweiss).

Before school got going (late August, early September) Jeanne put our engagement on hold. ON HOLD? I tried to act like all was well. The idea was that I could date her, but we weren't "exclusive". Never mind that I was never actually allowed to "date" her during that time. The reason really was that she was seeing someone else, and wanted to break off our engagement, but she thought that gradual would hurt less.

This went on for for awhile until she finally decided to tell me that she wanted to break the engagement off. During this time while I was attending classes, I wasn't mentally there. My brain was on hold -- I was screwed up bad. It would have been a lot easier if she had just broken it off, because I honestly didn't know which way was up for a couple of months there.

I have a note in my diary that on Sept. 21 we finally broke it off. I asked for the rings back (since I paid for 'em). I got my stuff out of the house she'd been living at with Chris and Tania. I was bummed, to put it mildly. It took me years to get over the anger I internalized over this one. I didn't blow up at her, which probably would have released a lot of that anger. Since she was also active in the SCA I decided to just avoid her -- this wasn't as easy as it sounds. Even after she left for Seattle (or wherever it was she went to) mention of her name would make me shut down -- I'd just stop talking, or change the subject. I'm over it now, but it took a LONG time. I sometimes see her at SCA events in California and can have civil conversations with her without gritting my teeth.

Due to all of this I ended up failing all of my classes that semester. So much for graduating that year. I had never failed more than one class in a semester (at least, I don't remember doing so).

I went to Anchorage about a month later and rebounded yet again! I had been having email conversations with a LOT of people over the years, and somehow I had gotten in touch with Eitel (that's her real name, by the way, although I cannot remember her last name). We made arrangements that during this trip we'd go to the movies (or something). We had a pretty hot little date ... With Eitel I was thinking with certain parts of my anatomy that one should not try to think with. She was in Anchorage, I was in Fairbanks. Another long distance relationship.

One thing I did do correctly though -- I decided that by hook or by crook, I was going to finish college. I wasn't sure how yet, but I was going to do it.

I went to Anchorage for Christmas and spent that vacation with Eitel. It was pleasant, but I should have tried to use my brain a bit. More to come ...

Mark and I did one road trip to Anchorage in the dead of winter. We left Fairbanks late, and he almost decided not to replace the spare tire in the trunk. Good thing he did. There was a problem with one of the tires that only surfaced when you got over 55 MPH. It was truly bizarre, the car would start to shake a bit, but when you got to around 70 MPH it stopped! We didn't realize it, but the retread was going.

We almost got run off the road (and the freeway between Anchorage and Fairbanks doesn't have a LOT of road to be run off of ... the choice is on one side, a mountain side, the other side a cliff off to a river below ...) by a semi who wanted to pass us, but started sliding in our direction! EEEEEP! Luckily the semi-driver had things together enough to slow down and give up on that idea. When we got to a good place (I had been driving) I pulled over and took some deep breaths.

Anyway, the weekend went just fine. I think this may have been the one where I met Eitel, but I am not sure. Sunday evening, we were on our way back to Fairbanks. The tire started acting up again. Only this time, we heard a BOOM! and the car got even more shaky than before. We pulled over and took a look. Couldn't find anything wrong (the tire was on top of the problem section, so it wasn't visible). Since obviously there was nothing wrong (and let me tell you, we looked!), we took off. And sure enough, it happened again. I was driving (again ... I liked driving that freeway). Pulled over again, and it was really hard to keep the car under control (my arms hurt for days after). This time, when we stopped, it was dark enough we couldn't see anything at all. Luckily, there's the Good Samaritan Law in Alaska. A guy coming the other way pulled over to our side of the freeway so his headlights could shine on the car. We saw it immediately this time -- when we stopped there was big gaping hole in the retread! The guy who stopped helped us change the tire, we thanked him profusely, and away we went. Never had the problem with that car again. On the other hand, I told Mark -- "NEVER buy re-treads again!" And I've always followed that advice. You can see tire shards all over the freeway in California from re-treads.

I haven't been putting this section in some of the years, as everything really becomes a blur. A lot of folk came into and out of my life in that time, and they're talked about in the narrative.

The SCA folk were usually there, including Sharron Albert, John (SCA: St. Andrew, who died a few years ago, sadly), and others. I saw a bunch of the folk in Anchorage fairly often, because the group in Fairbanks drove to Anchorage for major events a lot, and sometimes they would come up to Fairbanks.

Mark McWhirter sort of took the place that Greg Gadberry had filled in my life some years before, as my best friend. He was bright, funny, and we always had a great time hanging out. He reminded me that through it all, humor was the best defense. I doubt I could have stayed sane without people like Greg, and later Mark, and later others, in my life.

I remember an incident with Mark who was always coming up onto the campus and playing with the UACN computer system: he was working on a timer-based program, effectively a screen saver. He was writing the code in assembler language (one of the lowest level programming languages you can work with), and had put the software into a loop. No problem, except he'd also disabled the ability to break out of the loop. I was able to contact the System Operator (SysOp), and ask him to kill Mark's session as there was no other way out. Five minutes later (or less) the whole UACN system across the state went down. OOPS! We slowly sauntered away from the terminals as if we had nothing to do with it, but I'm pretty sure Mark did that. I hope no one lost anything important in the crash! We went out and got some pizza and had a laugh (what else could we do?) about it, but I think Mark was a bit freaked out that he'd managed to crash the system like that.

A Few Photos
(These are thumbnails, click on them to see larger versions with text explaining them)

Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey
Session Poster

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