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Looking back on why I chose Pollyanna College, one reason stands out above all others:
I went there because I wanted to look like a big shot.
And I didn’t want to quit my job at the Four Corners Post.
Growing up in Four Corners, I knew the children whose families had “class” went to Pollyanna. At least, that’s how it used to be.
Indeed, I cannot think right off of anyone locally from my Pollyanna class of 1992 who does not fit that description today. Classy and honest.
From my class, anyway.
But in fact, the Pollyanna College years were difficult. Difficult because I was struggling with my sexuality; difficult because I was working full-time and going to school full-time; difficult because I simply never fit in from the very first day I set foot on that campus.
Indeed, years after graduation, my disdain for Pollyanna remained in the forefront. Never have I attended a reunion, not even the 25-year reunion.
But initially, my disgust for Pollyanna centered around the fact I was treated poorly – taunted, called a faggot, rejected from the fraternities.
Now though, my feelings about Pollyanna are less about anger over being called a fag, and more about just being sick to my stomach.
Indeed, I now have learned the fraternity I wanted to pledge most, but rejected me (every last one of them did), was loaded with gay people.
I was in the closet too, but apparently not enough.
In retrospect, Pollyanna, as an institution, embraced and encouraged the closet. I have come to believe that institutions that support it do, too.
It’s the last place on earth I ever should have gone to college. But we can’t live our lives with regret.
Abandoned by Pollyanna brass after going to police about something
When I first became sober, several Pollyanna College folks from years gone by, who remain in this community and even work for the college, came to my side.
While at first this seemed grand, a few of them turned out to be among the top five people who have hurt me more than anyone in my life.
It all took a turn for the worst when I went to authorities about what happened in the jail.
Pollyanna’s powerful community influence
I learned, especially during the Pollyanna College years, that things are not always as they seem.
For a while, Mr. Pollyanna himself, Kip Castanza, was my AA sponsor.
It didn’t work out. That’s another chapter.
Augustana grads are in extremely powerful positions all over my community. My dad used to say Pollyanna was tied to the mafia, and I better not ever upset any of its bigwigs.
Yes, he really said that. For years.
He also talked about “filthy Swedes,” but I won’t go there.
My dad had a rare brain disease that made people both laugh and cry. But the kind of dementia he had did not confuse facts, per se. It caused him to say whatever the hell he was thinking with no couth filter whatsoever.
God bless him.
He also used to tell me I would be murdered if I ever shared information that I indeed have shared.
Dad wasn’t too far off base with his predictions
And what happened when I shared the information?
PTSD. Being jailed on no charges at all. Almost being pimped out of that jail (unless it was all mindf***, which is possible). I never even have written about almost being pimped out of the jail, but my cousin Sally can attest it’s not a new story that I’m just making up now.
Details will be in the book.
What’s the Pollyanna connection? That the former AA sponsor sits on the board of the county that jailed and tortured me, on no charges at all, apparently for being an informant in a criminal investigation.
A proff’s wife did absolutely nothing to help me reunite with my dad, even though she was in a position to help do so. Indeed, she went out of her way to repeatedly insult me. She attends the church in question, too.
The pastor of the church, who also went to Pollyanna, who I worked with on the student newspaper, appears to have done nothing other than stay mum about what she knows about the jail incident. And she has extremely important information.
But she ministers to Kip Castanza and the others. Indeed, Kip was on the selection committee that called her to serve at the church down the street from Pollyanna.
It’s filled with Pollyanna brass and extremely powerful public officials, many of them county employees.
I’m sorry. The whole thing is creepy beyond belief and makes me want to hurl.
Kip Castanza owes me an apology
That my former AA sponsor – what a disaster that was – is a high-ranking Pollyanna official is an absolute deal-breaker.
I never will look upon that campus with even one iota of respect ever again.
For years, Kip served as Pollyanna’s chief apologist. He still is.
Now he does the same for the county, too, as a member of its board.
But never one apology or a peep from this man about what happened to me in that jail.
I’ll never get an apology.
The county in question, by the way, has a population of about 140,000. We have 25 board members.
I wonder why they call us “Little Chicago.”
Narcissists blemish Pollyanna’s reputation
The campus burst in fall color every October before becoming covered with snow. Once, a teapot made of snow blocked the entryway to Big Ben Hall.
Or something like that.
The staggering amount of condescending narcissism thrown my way by the Pollyanna community, who pretended to be supporting me while my father died a horrid death and I scrambled to survive, is alarming.
I now believe many of these hoity-toits knew far more than they were letting on about the abuse I have endured the previous several years.
It’s so scary.
Variations on a story are the legends of Pollyanna, Bell Tower kisses and all.
Pretty decorations don’t necessarily make for a good education
Situated on idyllic rolling hills, adorned with buildings from a bygone era, indeed you might think you’re at Harvard.
I’m sure my dad thought he was at Lodge of the Four Seasons for a day or two as well, not a memory care asylum!
Decorations are only that.
Feeling like a bigshot was not worth $80,000 for a four-year degree, I can tell you that. The cost of Pollyanna for four years room and board now stands at $208,000. Well, it will be more than that, because it goes up every year, and those are based on 2016 prices.
To think I paid that to be treated poorly. I thought the college was just homophobic.
No, it has a closet factor that, quite frankly, is dangerous.
But every basket of bad apples contains a few good fruits, including a peach, a plum, and a pear.
Drs. Jane and Julius Wilson, a husband-wife team at Pollyanna, taught me everything I know about politics.
Yep, they sure did.
Jane Wilson even visited me when I was living in Los Angeles – in a condo owned by Arnold Schwarzenegger.
There was something about the Wilsons that felt different from the other professors at Pollyanna.
They suddenly were “poof!” gone not long after I graduated. I don’t believe Jane ever got tenure.
Dr. Perry Peep taught me everything I know about writing.
And it has served me very, very well.
Dr. Peep also goes to the scary church I never will attend ever again. I’m sad about that. I hope if I see Dr. Peep around town he will say hello to me anyway.
She’s not a pear because she’s shaped like one. She’s a pear because she’s sweet and of solid moral fiber.
Pear. Fiber. Get it?
Dr. Amber Doting helped me create my first piece of fiction writing. In it, I pen a storyline where I’m struggling with homosexuality.
Dr. Doting handled that with grace and sensitivity. Dr. Doting remains a beacon of class on the campus, even though I now view it as a place as dangerous as North Korea.
I’ll never set foot on Pollyanna’s campus again
At the time this book was written, anybody related to Pollyanna or the local Lutheran clergy – indeed, there are many people in my community where both those “qualities” are rolled into one – cause extreme triggers.
Rapid heartbeat, anger, sweating, nightmares, fear – that is what I now associate with Pollyanna College.
Just like the memory care institution where my dad claimed incessant abuse, Pollyanna College’s attractiveness is only skin deep.
I did not get into #journalism three-plus decades ago to make friends. The latest excerpts from my #book: The Pollyanna #College years.