Degrees of Separation

After that, things went downhill quickly at work. I mean, within weeks. The Dentistry “event” that kept getting deferred in planning finally came upon us, with no real curriculum. It was used, along with the silly “t-shirt” incident, as ammo against me during a performance review.

Keep in mind, not all of their complaints were unwarranted. I’m sure they absolutely freaked when they saw that I was “playing” on Second Life – while at work. It didn’t matter if I was on another computer. It didn’t matter if I had already told her about my Graduate Research. It was the errant nudie pics, I suppose, and the “leading” IM conversations, combined with my investigation into Pete’s Roaming Dick Pictures several years earlier, that must have given them a real good picture into my psyche. A real, weird, erroneous picture.

Of course, If ANYONE HAD EVER FUCKING TALKED TO ME ABOUT IT, their concerns would have been explained, and I could have been reprimanded, or fired, or at least have went about some kind of due process.

But I don’t think that’s what they were after. Not really. Not sitting down in a basement, practically alone with my hi-tech medical dummies, worrying my head off about that rare training event that would come across my desk.

During a final performance review with Dr. Former UN AIDS Researcher, I was so unbelieveably happy to give her my notice, to tell her that I had gotten a teaching position at a local community college, and would be starting in January.

After her unmistakable surprise, she had me fill out some kind of waiver.

“I don’t think we ever received one from you for the Emergency Simulation.” A few weeks earlier, we had mounted a full-scale Emergency Response Scenario, that included EMTs, Nursing students, Med students, even Vet Med students.

I think she felt even worse when she learned about the recent death of my father.

Just a few weeks earlier, I learned that my father, my real father, whom I hadn’t heard from in close to ten years, had passed away.

My son sent me a message on Facebook:

“Hey mom, do you know a Suzanne Lynne?  She says she is your aunt.”

The name didn’t ring a bell, until I remembered “Suzi Lynne.”

“I think she’s John’s sister, my father – your namesake,” I typed. 

“Right, she said that, sorry.  I will put her in touch with you.”

Almost immediately, Suzi sent a message.

“Hello Margie, we’ve been looking for you. Please call me ASAP. 405-555-3778.”

She told me that my father had recently passed away, and that they were holding a funeral in a couple of weeks. That this whole other part of my family was excited to finally meet me.

I should have been more grieved. Or maybe even excited to meet this family that I’d only briefly met before – had only thought about a handful of times within the past decade.  But instead, I remember feeling … numb… and worried. Worried about my marriage, my job, school – and that grant project I had been toiling over.

And then she told me how he died.

Alone. Of Pneumonia. In a single-room transition hotel outside Young America.


I barely heard her next words, something to the effect of “call your sisters…we’re trying to find your brother…and a youngest child.”

I waited until the end of the work day, then shut my door, turned out the light, and wept until it was time to head to class.


Back at home, I was getting ready to move out.

Pete and I were trying to remain “friends.” I would still talk to him about work, and school and we would even meet and try to be friends inside Second Life.

I didn’t know that inside he was actually seething. Hating me. Something he’d admit to a year later.

I went to class, but things were markedly different. I tried to understand. Appeal to friends both inside and outside of Second Life. Tried asking questions about my professor, and about my husband.

My questions about Dr. Dingleberry were met with interest and intrigue, and a number of leading questions about his sexuality, or marriage, or other personal things that I wasn’t privy to. It was interesting that the women in his program, and my female classmates, were all so very interested in it. I mean, sure, everyone knew he was cute – but we were all married. And doesn’t everyone kind of admire their professors? Seriously, they all acted like there was some kind of conspiracy. Well, with the exception of Brian, my project partner.  He and my husband seemed to frequently use the same colloquialisms. “Yeah, that dog ain’t gonna hunt,” etc.  Pete had offered to meet up with me months earlier for a drink, and that’s when they actually met.  But my spidey senses, they always went off about them two.

I just wanted to know why. Why me? ...and what was everyone’s connection to Second Life, what was my connection to my Professor? 

Interestingly, it didn’t deter me from going back into the game. I had become obsessed with figuring it all out.

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