If You Want To Go To Graduate School (Part 16)

September 13, 2001
Adam Hyde was a sixty-ish, bald, pudgy man who always had something sharply critical to say about anything. He definitely was not liked by a lot of students (and some faculty, such as Joe). He was angry about one thing or another, talked about values, and often espoused arch-conservative positions. As far as I knew, he was a loner and possibly schizophrenic or borderline. He definitely was not wealthy, which would have qualified him as eccentric.

But, he was off-center. He often directed his rage at certain professors. In one poetry class, he called the professor an Amazon. He reported the doings of Tatiyana to the English Department chair. In the fiction workshop we were both in, Joe was his favorite target. Adam felt that Joe’s political views, especially during the discussion following 9/11, was radically left-wing. He felt marginalized by it. He was also angered by a presentation that Andrew and I did for the class the first week. Andrew presented a clever idea of collaborating, while I showed my hybrid text and image work. Soon, I would become on object of Adam’s wrath.

We developed a correspondence – I created an e-mail list for the class and he e-mailed me. I sent a link to my personal website and he made some odd comments on one of my stories. Joe had us pair off and collaborate by e-mail on a fiction writing exercise. Adam was paired off with Dr. Jules. He could not get in touch with Dr. Jules because I made a mistake in transcribing his mail address. He meanly pointed out to me that it was my mistake. I got a few other pecking e-mails during the week, but then there was one too many. He was past being mildly rude, and then made a nasty remark saying, “Since you are so full of yourself, I feel I can say this…” My handling of the e-mail list and the work that was presented in class were both attacked in the e-mail.

I overreacted. I felt I was being stalked by Adam. I told Joe about it two hours before class time. He thought I was taking it too personally, but he drove me to his house and gave me a valium. It really did not ease my anxiety, but I come to class high and dizzy. Some of the stairwells in the building had buffers installed to soundproof them with the subway station construction. I spun around and kicked one of the buffers. I continued to dance as I walked through the hallway to the classroom. Gillian observed my behavior was a cross between my fictional diva and The Sound of Music. Though I was giddy, I was still angry at Adam for the offensive e-mails. I drew a picture of him with an axe through his head. I just hoped he would go away.

Joe led a discussion of 9/11 and everyone’s response. We all had our say. I think Adam may have said something very right wing. I don’t remember. When it was my turn, Joe said that I shared with him an interesting idea the day before. I told him I thought it was possible the government set this up or knew about it and let it happen (because it was beginning to play into their approval ratings). He then shot me down, saying that idea was easily attacked. There never was an explanation for that remark. Perhaps, I was too high to ask for one. However, I think this was another incident that would lead to the decline of our relationship, professionally and academically.

After the class was over, Joe confronted Adam about the stalking issue. Adam denied it, but it was what Joe needed to ask him to leave. After a brief discussion, Adam felt no choice, and I went to Joe’s house afterward. Morgan greeted me with a hug, saying she was sorry for me dealing with Adam. Andrew came along for the after-class visit, and Joe disclosed to us the story of how Adam got invovled in the program. Joe and Tatiyana did not want Adam in the program – Adam was a nightmare for Tatiyana to deal with in one of her workshops. Joe sided with Tatiyana in her recommendation. Joe said that Adam worked with Jonathan Beltran and this was one of the students Jonathan would want in the program. Joe accepted some of Jonathan’s sponsored students so Jonathan would accept his. Adam was definitely a political pawn in the admission game. Joe resassured Andrew and me that he, Tatiyana, and Jonathan were unanimous in accepting our applications. I only have Joe’s word for it, but it would be reasurring to know this later when I fell out with him.

Joe put me up for the night in Morgan’s room. I slept soundly with another dose of valium.

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