But that summer marked a new beginning for me in several ways—the break in between spring and summer was all I needed to recharge my batteries. I took a course in business communication and garnered a job offer from that professor for the fall. My dad, ironically, suggested that I stay in college and try for a master’s degree, thinking I could use what was left of my scholarship money. That wasn’t possible, but I found out I could get an assistantship in the English Department and have my tuition waived and a salary to boot. I started a new relationship in Bob’s absence with an engineering major that was as fascinated with my intellect as anyone I had ever met. He saw it as an asset to me instead of something to be ashamed of. I had been particularly forward in pursuing him—something that was starting to be a pattern. I didn’t take the relationship too seriously, and neither did he—he saw it for what it was: a rebound reaction to the end of my relationship with Bob and was content with that.
I regained all my self-confidence I had lost but returned to school in a saner way—determined not to repeat my mistakes with my master’s program that I had made in my bachelor’s. I did graduate in August of 1990 and immediately started teaching and taking only nine (count them, nine!) graduate hours a semester. I worked two jobs, one for the business professor helping her revise a textbook and the other my teaching job—I turned down a third offer from the housing department to write for their newsletter, citing my course load and other work. I was supporting myself completely with no aid from my parents. I applied for a checking account and a credit card without their knowledge.
I spent the two years of my master’s program at peace with myself—the teaching wasn’t my favorite thing, but it paid the bills and enabled me to stay in school and grow up some more, which I desperately needed to do. I got back with Bob after several months–he was charmed all over again by my confidence in myself and my ability to support myself even having majored in something as silly as journalism.
I was writing in an atmosphere that exalted writing and having the time of my life, taking only courses that interested me and made me happy. My final semester in graduate school was stressful but manageable—I didn’t see any red flags coming, although I made only the fourth C of my college career then, and I was working a third job at an English department publication. So I should have known something was coming–but I didn’t.