2008 – 2010: My First LTR, or My Experience with College Justice

This concerns my relationship with one (name redacted upon recommendation from my mother)

I haven’t made a conscious attempt to revisit my relationship with V and its aftermath until now, almost six years after it all began.

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth” – Buddha

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/09/living/campus-sexual-violence-students-schools/

Cast of Characters
Me: Alex Zheng, 19 years old
AM: a white man, 24 years old
C: a Chinese girl, 12 years old
J: a Chinese girl, 19 years old
Joe: an African American man, 19 years old
Ken & Karen Winfrey: an older couple, long-time residents of Tulsa, OK
MS: an Iranian man, age unknown
Na-M: a Qatari man, 19 years old
S: a Chinese girl, 19 years old
T: a Chinese girl, C’s cousin, age unknown
V: a Chinese girl, 24 years old
WW: a mixed white-Chinese man, 19 years old

Lessons Learned
Never stick your dick in crazy

Themes:
Duplicity of Acquaintances: MS, SL “The Kung-Fu Kid”

Body

My relationship with V started in October 2008 and ended with a permanent protective order placed against me in August 2010. We were both petroleum engineering students at the University of Tulsa at the time. This is the history of that relationship, gleaned from the pages of my journal, as well as a reflection on the events that led to this unfortunate conclusion.

I felt compelled to write this after reading James Taranto’s article in the Wall Street Journal (Taranto: An Education in College Justice) and similar articles (Judith Grossman: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast). My parents felt that the experience of the young man in Taranto’s article was eerily close to mine. While differences exist, parallels can indeed be drawn.

The reader is warned that 1) this is a long post and 2) there is some graphic depiction of sexual activity. You could skip down to my conclusions, but you would miss out on a lot of the good parts, and I am of the belief that your individual reading will make for a more fruitful experience.

Background

Before diving into the story of how we met and ultimately ended up at ends with one another, I provide context into where I was, and the influences in my life at that time. I was starting my sophomore year of college, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Petroleum Engineering at the University of Tulsa. I’d spent the summer in Tulsa, working as an intern for an independent exploration and production company called Arena Resources. I had made a fairly regular thing of going to church, and was now driving myself around town in my BMW E46.

I went into my sophomore year with a cumulative GPA of 3.757, a total of 71 credit hours completed, and my course load was getting heavier into the real engineering curriculum. I’d finished the fluff coursework required for my major: no more English classes. My only class outside of Keplinger Hall was an Honors class called Enlightenment and its Critics.

Most importantly, my father had recently stayed with me for about a week, during which time I came clean to him about my activity as a small-time marijuana dealer. I promised him that I would drop marijuana from my life (ha!), leaving me with time on my hands with which to cultivate new relationships.

They Meet

At first glance she seemed harmless enough. She was a smallish girl with long, black hair. I first saw her sitting near the front of the classroom in my Rock Properties class, taught by Jagan Mahadevan. At some point we must have started talking — I can’t remember who approached whom, but I learned that she was a graduate student. She had studied at China’s most prestigious university for scientists and engineers, Tsinghua University, and was here to get her Doctorate in Petroleum Engineering.

We passed each other in the hallways, but didn’t talk much after our first meeting. One night in mid-September, I went to the Alan Chapman Activity Center (ACAC) for International Student Ministries’ (ISM) International Student Welcome Party. I had grown quite fond of ISM and relished the opportunity to meet some attractive newcomers, as well as to visit with old friends. V and I met again over there, where we chatted briefly before she introduced me to one of the American ladies who had helped her settle in to her new surroundings.

I didn’t make much of an effort to know her after that.

Concurrently, I’d just started cold approaching, and had gotten some girl’s number one night while in the cafeteria. We will call her S. S and V were friends: both were engineering students new to the university.

Oh, that’s also how I met WW… He was a new transfer student to the University of Tulsa in Fall 2008, but his is a story for another time.

Her First Birthday in America

October 24th, 2008:

I had planned to go to Border’s but found myself instead picking up V, LF, and S close to 9PM. It was V’s birthday today, and so we got together at my apartment.

I hadn’t counted on seeing V anymore, but my friendship with LF ended up bringing us together.

I’d known LF for one year by now. We saw each other often because we both went to ISM’s campus events. He was a cool dude and a fellow TCK growing up.

The photos of V’s birthday are all gone now. I deleted them after the breakup, but I can remember them. She’s wearing a salmon-colored long-sleeved shirt, and she’s sitting on one of my barstools, looking very happily at the cake that she picked out for herself.

Incidentally, the journal entry from this night also describes my first run in with blatant racism and hate speech directed towards me.

They Get Together

October 31st, 2008:

What a week this has been! Out of the blue, I think I have landed myself into a relationship.

I go into detail of how V invited herself into closer proximity. The real gem comes in my description of our first ‘date’

I did my homework, helped Joe with some Calculus III issues that he was facing, and took V out to get some food at In the Raw (a popular sushi spot) on Brookside. Everything went fine up until dessert – I had told her that she and I couldn’t work out because we were too similar, and she took it a bit hard. We left, dessert in a take away box. We got back to Brown Village and got out of the car – she asked if I could drive her home. I told her that would be fine.

Back in my apartment, V went and used the restroom while I stayed in the living room. I went into my room after some time and she hugged me, telling me that she really liked me. She had said, “I think you’re really cute” after I had hit her with the neg in the restaurant. We ended up having sex. She told me that I was tai niu.

At the time, I was very surprised by how things turned out. The bit that I told V about “us not being able to work out because we were too similar” was aped straight out of The Pickup Artist, a short-lived show that aired on VH1.

The Morning After

Ah. The morning after..

(continued from the October 31, 2008 entry)

Wednesday starts off fine, and I’m enjoying my day after an early start and sending [V] home. [S] calls in the afternoon – she’s not feeling well, she says, could I let her stay with me for a while? I think this is nonsense and walk out of my apartment to see an ambulance, lights flashing, outside of Keplinger. I find [S] – she looks tired and is being attended to by two paramedics and some members of campus security. She smiles when she sees me, I’m surprised by the mess that I see. I question her: when is the last time that she ate? Has she been sleeping? I know that she’s attracted to me and suspect, oddly, that this is all a scam.

I take [S] over to my apartment as I’ve been instructed [by the paramedics] and, although I recognize the gravity of the present situation, I cannot help but feel like this is an odd ploy. This, after I hesitated and made [V] tell me that she was sure that she wanted to have sex. I encouraged [S] to eat some candy and crackers that had been given to me, told her to drink water. [V] called me, asked if she could come over. [V] ended up coming in, [S] claimed that she was feeling much better, and the two of them proceeded to walk off for a girl talk after [S] demanded that [V] walk her back to Lottie Jane.

I saw [V] again that night. Told her that I had feelings for her. And then we had sex again. I ended up exhausted (and… uh…), she said that she loved me. And wow, that puts me in an interesting position.

So now she’s trying to see where things are going. Funny, she asked me if I was a virgin the other night. I didn’t say anything. She has spent the night over at my place three nights now. We’ll see what happens, as always

This situation goes down in my book as one of the oddest that I’ve ever been dragged into. In case my writing on the matter wasn’t too clear, S (the girl who I’d approached in the cafeteria) suffered an episode within Keplinger Hall, and she had EMS get a hold of me so that I could take care of her. I kept her at arm’s length, and her malady disappeared as soon as V entered the room. I think their girl talk worked out, because I didn’t hear from S again. Come to think of it, she’s married now. Good for her.

Her First Thanksgiving in America

By the time that my siblings came to visit me for the Thanksgiving Break, V had practically been living at my apartment. There’s one instance on November 11th, 2008, where I write about some discontent that I experienced with V on that particular night. In that entry, I also write about being “offered a deep water drilling and completions internship in Houston, TX for summer 2009 with Chevron North America” and the shared excitement between my father and I at the news.

V helped me prepare my apartment for my siblings’ arrival. I wrote in a journal entry dated November 23rd, 2008:

She was really sad about leaving my apartment. I was cleaning and .. I can’t remember exactly but at one point I hugged her and she began to cry quietly.

Over the course of the break I took V along with me and my siblings to visit Gilcrease Museum and to have dinner with my friend Joe and his girlfriend at the time (11/23). V came over and prepared a meal with me (11/24). I don’t have a record of when my siblings left, but I do note that V and I snuck in some play in spite of my siblings being around.

Trial Separation

In a journal entry dated December 13th, 2008, I wrote about my excitement in anticipation of my upcoming trip back to Kuala Lumpur. I can tell that I’m not sober when I’m writing this entry, because I manage to scrawl out, “at the moment I don’t like Chivas too much”. V gains an honorable mention:

But first I must finish my two honors essays. And make love to my girlfriend before lunch. I really like [V]. But I’m working on better.

骑驴找马 (“qi lu zhao ma” – riding a donkey while searching for a horse)

She gets another mention in the entry dated December 22nd, 2008, which was written as I was flying LAX – Taipei:

I took [V] to see the Philbrook Museum on the day before I left. We ate outside, had a great dinner at Charleston’s… I am finding that it’s a little difficult at times to balance my interests with hers. And so she’s going to have to move back to her place. That way I’ll be able to have more time for my own needs and personal development.

[…] There are so many desires that I have, I can’t get bogged down by commitment. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself.

I went back to KL and had a wonderful time, not to return to Tulsa until January 10 of the new year.

They Are Reunited

The first journal entry recording my return to Tulsa was written on January 12th, 2009. The tone is decidedly different from that written before my trip. The feeling that I haven’t been able to be the son that I ought to be comes through strongly in my writing. I wrote, “I need to show [V] some more love. Just as I need to show [my parents] the same love that they have shown me”.

There’s also tension afoot because of my own ambivalence in my personal behavior around marijuana.

They Break Up

The journal entry of January 15th, 2009 has some nuggets.

What a week it’s been … I don’t think I’ve had one that’s been quite as hectic, yet I feel that I’ve been given a warning sign this time around. I have felt largely prepared for all that has been going on around me..

[V] has class at AM on Tuesday and on Thursday. Since coming back, I’ve been having sex with her almost every day. On Tuesday night, I went to her house, biking over to pay her a visit and to eat. We talked a bit after eating, one thing led to another, and then we were making out on the couch.

I fingered her while kissing her neck, biting on her earlobes.. Lately she’d been talking about how she had been hanging out with [C, a girl from church]’s cousin, [T]. [V] said that [T] told her about my feelings for [MQ]. I knew this was rocky territory to be moving into – [V] gets quite jealous and needs to be assured that I like her, and her only. She said that she was surprised by how much I loved [MQ] and told me to go see her before she left town on the 15th, today. Perhaps I hadn’t provided [V] with enough reassurance.. especially seeing as I kicked her out of my apartment so swiftly.

Did I mention that she shaved her pussy for me? It’s so soft now, touching and teasing her is a pleasure. And she bought me a gift from New York. And she knitted me a scarf over the break.

Thinking to show her some love, I went to [V]’s house last night. While we didn’t talk too much, things were fine. I helped her clean things up and told her to pack up some clothes for the next morning. I had just gotten my car back earlier and I was feeling happy.. We got back to my apartment and talked a little. I wanted her to get to bed early so she’d have no problem getting up for class this morning. Well.. We end up kissing and fondling each other and of course we have sex.

We shower but [V] doesn’t want to wash her hair. I say something stupid in bed later as a joke. Things soured considerably after that. We went to bed and she woke up early this morning. I was roused by the sound of the shower. [V] was evasive, moreso than usual. She left with her clothes and other belongings, leaving without having breakfast. I gave her a hug and she didn’t respond.

So I’m in the middle of my heat transfer class and I get a text message from her in response to mine. I had said “You’re too sweet..” because she left me a voice mail saying that she had misdialed my phone earlier and that there was no need to call back. So she tells me in a text message that she wants to break up.

I write a bit more about this and that. The highlight of that day is going to the Philbrook Museum to listen to a talk by Chip Kidd, and getting a poster there. The entry continues..

[V] left me two voicemails. Inside the room where the presentation was being given, I got no cellphone signal. I listened to the two voicemails on my trip to the bathroom. [V] said that she had made a mistake, she sounded down. After the talk … I sped off to pay [V] a visit.

I ran the doorbell and she opened the door to let me in. [V] looked happy to see me, and I handed her back her things. She offered me some tea, but I asked for some water instead. We talked briefly and she hugged me a few times. I didn’t respond much, keeping the distance. In Chinese, she told me 别对我这样 (“bie dui wo zhe yang” – don’t be like this with me)… I arranged to see her tomorrow after class to give her some notes, so I need to call her at 2. Then we’ll decide what to do next.

I’m pretty happy with her, even if I don’t always let her know it in a way that she’ll appreciate. She doesn’t even know that she’s my first.. Enough, I have to hit the gym tomorrow morning with [WW].

They Get Back Together Again

I write in my journal again on January 20th, just five days after the break up, that [V] and I got back together again. Things are rocky at times.

They Break Up Again

My journal entry on February 1st, 2009 reads:

We broke up again. I waited from 8:40PM to 11:20PM for [V] to finish up a meeting with some classmates. [V] came back and was somewhat distraught so I let her talk. She has some serious self doubt that fires up at times..

I asked her about her situation with her old roommate, a PhD student here, and she became upset. She grabbed her coat and her binder and walked out the door, coming back later after a brief phone call. I helped her back to her home and dropped off her belongings as well. Very little remains in the apartment that belongs to her.

She cried, I played tough. Inside, I’m wounded again. But life goes on, I said to her, and I have church in the morning.

I think this time it’s for real. And I know that I will miss her, inferior as she may feel. I suppose this is how I will enter my [xx]th year on this Earth, and I feel ready for it. Just that I was sorry to see her go. In another life, she would have been enough for me..

They Get Back Together Again

The next journal entry is written on February 6th, 2009, and I’m taking [V] to Cheddar’s. It’s a shame that there’s nothing written about the ‘why’ behind our getting back together again. I know the answer comes back to one thing: availability.

There’s petty shit that pops up here and there. On February 28th, 2009, I documented a “scuffle” with V because “she introduced me as her friend to a classmate of hers and I thought it made me look bad. Which it did.”

In the same entry:

I’m going to make [V] move out tomorrow. Just so she can get used to being without me. I don’t want to leave her yet.

I leave the keys to my apartment with V when I depart Tulsa, headed to The Netherlands for the first time.

In the entry written April 10th, 2009, there’s an incident that takes place where V gets upset with me after I take her out to Border’s to get some personal reading done, and she walks off without informing me. I walk out alone from the bookstore and give her a call, pick her up on the side of the road, and “she suggested moving back to the house on 3rd St,” which aggravates me because we had just been looking for a new place for her the day before.

I Go to Work for Chevron

I drove from Tulsa to Houston on May 9th, 2009, bringing V with me. The first place that we stayed was at a home belonging to my friend JW’s family. In the journal entry dated May 10th, 2009, I note that, “[V] can stay until May 25.” As for me, I started my first day at Chevron on May 11th, 2009.

On May 17th, 2009 I wrote:

[V] just confirmed a plane flight back to Tulsa on June 2nd or 3rd … Having her with me has been enjoyable, though it has made [JW]’s parents concerned about their home. They would rather I come alone, and I can understand their concern.

The enthusiasm that I have for my assigned role at Chevron is evident throughout this time. From that same entry: “I am determined to be a strong performer and to make myself an important member of the DWEP team even as an intern.”

Everything seems fine until May 30th, 2009.

It’s 3AM as I write this. Again, I’m having issues with [V] after a seemingly normal day. She has some issues back at home to deal with that she approaches inconsistently. I am feeling tired at this point and I am fairly certain that the shit is close to hitting the fan. I feel like we’ve been through this all too many times before. We take each other’s good characteristics for granted, then no one wants to be the first to say sorry and to want to patch things up.

I went out earlier tonight to take some pictures after I decided that I’d had enough. [V] stayed up, presumably to wait for me, and I didn’t really acknowledge that.

In spite of turbulence in my relationship with V, I write about work, “I feel like engineering may open doors for me…”

The journal entry on June 4th, 2009 mentions V again:

Sent [V] to the airport on Tuesday night. We did some shopping at an outlet mall in Cypress, TX after I got back home on Monday.

I talked with [V] a couple of times after she and I parted at the airport. It was not a happy send off as we both got upset.. This three month break is what I need.

On June 21st, 2009, I write, “My relationship with [V] has been somewhat rocky”.

On June 27th, 2009: “I had a video chat with [V] today. We talked for a bit … and I found myself missing her. Things will be okay…”

Then, just as quickly as it all started, it’s gone (the ‘why’ behind this will come, soon). There’s an entry on July 31st, 2009 that talks about the aftermath of my Chevron internship. A telling line from this entry, “I thought that I would have an opportunity to redeem myself in Chevron, but I was wrong”.

I spent the rest of the summer in The Netherlands, reflecting on the experience, and made time for a couple of short trips; one to London and the other to Paris.

Junior Year

I went back to school and got back into the regular swing of things. My first journal entry describing life back in Tulsa was written on August 26th, 2009. In it, I describe an evening with [V] at the English Conversation Club, hosted by Charla Armstrong. Josh and Debra Horton were also in attendance, as was MS.

On August 27th, 2009: “We’ve been having sex like rabbits. It’s a terribly trite simile, but nothing else describes it better. And we have been spending a fair amount of time together. In fact, I haven’t spent much time with anyone else since coming back here”.

On August 31st, 2009:

I think that we should spend some time apart. Really, things this semester are shaping up in a very interesting way. I don’t see [V] spending many nights with me now that she is living in Ken and Karen Winfrey’s home. The most recent trouble comes as a consequence of my falling fast asleep and neglecting my responsibility to take [V] home last night after we had a big dinner and a session of wild sex. Whoops.

On September 10th, 2009:

I neglected my responsibilities to self in favor of those toward my girlfriend, forgot to think about my classes and instead reached around for other things to do.

I’ve used, mistreated, and at times neglected my girlfriend, and I chose not to value her time.

Then in the same entry:

I am quite happy, even if [V] and I were to break up. I could carry on. But do I really need her? Or am I choosing not to care about her?

On September 12th, 2009:

It’s a Saturday, so I’m a little annoyed at having to get out of bed to attend PIPESIM training for Dr. Sarica’s Production Engineering class. After all, the bed is warm and I can easily spend the hours away quite content with [V] by my side. But duty calls, and after class we are reunited with [V] cooking noodles for me to eat so I have little to do in the kitchen but to carve the chicken that’s stewed the night before.

We went to the mall today. I accompanied [V] – she drove her car along the local roads, and we parked at Macy’s hoping to see what their one day sale had in store for us.

Later that night, we went to [WW]’s birthday party:

I remember being trapped in my obligation towards keeping [V] entertained. It’s somewhat of a self-imposed restriction as well. She found it difficult to amuse herself in the company of so many strangers, and I was growing steadily wary of not being able to celebrate and enjoy myself at will.

The night ended with [WW] passing out before midnight. [J] suggested I give her a call sometime. [V] was upset with me and I grew short tempered as well. She talked about breaking up. She walked out of my apartment after gathering her precious few things and disappeared into the night.

It’s clear to me that we need time apart from one another. What baffles me though is my inability to integrate her into groups.

Looking back, I think it laughable that I spent so much energy wondering what was wrong with myself.

The next journal entry is not a real journal entry, but is instead a series of notes captured during a Petrobowl meeting. The next one after that spells out some concern that I have moving closer to the Petrobowl competition. On September 24th, an interview with ConocoPhillips.

On September 25th, 2009:

Took [V] to lunch today. We went to Fuji at Brookside – I haven’t gone to Brookside since last semester. She came here this evening and mentioned that someone (that I know?) had asked her to go out to eat. She withheld the name of said individual (grad student, male) so this is an unusual situation.

I wonder how I’d feel losing her.

Ah, the jealousy ploy.

On October 12th, 2009:

I woke up after a deeply satisfying sleep, spent with [V] by my side. We had made up just yesterday. We’re not fighting like we used to, though. I think we’ve made allowances for us both that generally work rather well.

On October 15th, 2009:

Things with [V] have been up and down lately but they appear to be taking a turn for the better now. I am happy because it suggests that I am doing something acceptably.

On October 17th, 2009:

I discussed selling drugs for money with [V]. She made it clear that she thought that personal consumption was one issue, but distribution another issue altogether. I’ll agree with that.

May hang out with [WW] and [J] tonight. Hmm. [V] and I have been real off today. Partially at blame, myself

Then a surprise event. While I’m writing and drawing, I get a call from [V].

[V] tried calling me when I was studying. I blew her off. I just called her and she’s with [WJK]. He’s a new graduate student.

In a way, I don’t blame her. In fact, I’m happy for her. At the same time I feel a flash of shame and anger. My girlfriend is out with a group of men and she is rejecting my calls.

I’m disappointed. In myself as well. I’ve studied, helped another student on a homework problem (okay, so it’s actually from a past exam..), and now I’m smoking and writing and preparing myself to dump [V].

I think it’s what I want to do. Maybe I’m hurting and doing what will be viewed as an overreaction. Instead of killing things off now, I should wait and see what becomes of it. In a way, that’s already been done.. After all, she asked if I’d accept breaking up… To her, this is an evening away from her responsibilities to me.

She’s hooked. [WJK] is older than me. Taller, more handsome. She’s going to take the first opening to spend time with him. I can see that based on her behavior tonight. She’s being so predictable.

I’m going to get [WJK]’s number. I’m going to call him. — But perhaps it’d be better to hold onto it and wait for a more appropriate time. Even try calling her again? No – if I call her again it becomes easier to reject.

(Here I have written [WJK]’s number and underlined it twice)

I called [WJK] directly. There was no point in calling [V]’s phone again. The next time that this situation gets close to happening I’ll… The day will come.

The ambivalence expressed here kills me.

October 28th, 2009’s entry deals with a couple of things. There’s a rote report about a visit to the new dentist’s office. I also write about career, and being passed over for internship opportunities with ConocoPhillips and BP. Back to my first LTR:

Anniversary between [V] and myself. Bought her a nice, heavily discounted necklace. Hope she likes it.

I know she likes it.. HEHE.

[Na-M] said that [AM] is getting something tasty in. [V] is pretty tasty, herself.

November 1st, 2009:

The anniversary came and went – [V] was very busy at the time. I was hoping to go with her to have dessert at The Melting Pot, but we found it closed upon our arrival. I gave her the necklace in the quiet atrium of The Riverwalk.

Went out to a Halloween party last night. [V] and I had dinner together at PF Chang’s, finishing with a tasty dessert (banana egg rolls), and later she bought me some Tsingtao beers.

Then.. instead of spending my evening with her, I went to the party. [KM] invited himself – it was off campus, a place that I’d known about, but that I hadn’t actually been to.

I kissed a drunk girl. Leslie. She bit me after I said something, so I bit her back. Huh. I didn’t feel any sense of accomplishment upon doing this, and I know she won’t remember.

Perhaps this is an example of giving in to the flesh.

November 9th, 2009:

[V] and I have been doing fairly well together. I think she was testing me through much of last week. I’m trying to let her feel confident in my affections towards her.

November 10th, 2009:

I’m going to make sure that [V] gets her driver’s license.

November 16th, 2009:

Things with [V] are fine after a brief spat involving a lack of manners on my part.

November 27th, 2009:

I’m watching 2001: A Space Odyssey with [V]. We spent the first of my waking hours at the Woodland Hills mall.

December 1st, 2009:

I didn’t get to spend terribly much time with [V] today. I think we’re both quite busy – she has an exam (two!) to take on Thursday. I’m just trying to weather through the storm of deadlines that’s about to hit.

I had [JS] and her friend [KL] over for Thanksgiving. [V] hinted that [JS] called her today, asking if she’d like to go on a trip to Houston over the winter break. [V] suspects that [JS] is trying to figure out her schedule.

I wonder what it all really means.

December 9th, 2009:

Just over a week until I see my beloved family again. I hope to be in good shape soon. The past couple of weeks have been stressful, and I’ve been smoking an unusually large amount. I fear health problems unless I cease for some considerable time.

[V] just got back to China. I sent her an email the evening after I sent her to the airport. I have some concerns about what is to come, unless I can set things in motion again.

December 18th, 2009:

Everything is finished. No more exams or projects until the next few months go by. Drilling and Production were not too difficult, expect to receive A’s.

I haven’t heard from [V] in a while though I have been meaning to write her. I didn’t write about it yet – the night before she was set to leave, I was working to meet the deadline on my Petroleum Economics project. [V] didn’t like a couple of things. Among them that I had to work on the project this particular evening, and that I was working with [LY], a girl going to school at TU as part of the exchange program with the Beijing petroleum university.

I knew / saw in advance that working with [LY] could cause issues. I didn’t expect them in such abundance, however. The past month or so has ben quite trying, and this is just one of many contributing factors.

So we had an argument that night that ended in a small catastrophe. Her, upset and feeling cast aside; me confused about exactly what I expected of the situation given how often this happens.

I have not truly heard from [V] again. I am concerned for the health of my relationship with her, but what to do or think if she leaves me no response?

She doesn’t feel that I value her. I value family, and my heart is glad as I sit on this plane because I will see them soon. I value my academic success. I value me, me, me; where does she fit in?

My winter break was spent in the Netherlands. I also took a short trip to Brussels, Belgium. I manage to jot down some summary notes from Knock ‘Em Dead, a good little book on interviewing.

I depart the Netherlands on January 9th, 2010, headed back to the US and to Tulsa. I make mention of V: “I want to buy some flowers to take to the airport tonight to welcome [V] back.”

What a romantic I was.

Some attempts at writing a blurb to describe myself on January 19th and January 20th.

January 23rd, 2010:

I had lunch today with some Chinese students, among them [LY] and [FCL], [CC], [WT], and [LCC]. It’s really a shame that I couldn’t get [V] with me. I didn’t extend the invitation for her to join me, though. I feel then that this was a furtive outing, one for me to remember alone.

That V had such tremendous jealousy issues made it difficult to take her places.

February 1st, 2010:

I drove with [V] to The Cheesecake Factory after finishing drilling lab, where we brought home a 7″ tiramisu cheesecake. It’s good and expensive, but sadly not as tasty as the tiramisu at Isetan’s Moulin Rouge bakery!

February 4th, 2010:

Things that went wrong today? I can’t even start to understand the reasons behind the conflict in my life.. [V] has always got problems sleeping on her own, she has been saying that she doesn’t see the future for us, and I feel as if I am increasingly pressured to do something. What it comes down to ultimately is either breaking up or announcing that I want to be with her forever.

Classes this semester are combining with my relationship issues to become a real pain in the ass. I’m running out of time, I know it..

February 8th, 2010:

Recently things with [V] have not been great. We had a rather public episode – once at the CAAT Chinese New Year festival, the second at the CSA one held at TU.

February 19th, 2010:

After class today I ambled about and struck up cheery conversation with some of my acquaintances. I took a pizza for myself. I took [V] out to buy groceries and to look at the junk in Ulta and in JC Penney. I bought her perfume today, Burberry. It’s a light pink and I picked it out because I liked it. I bought food and fruit and vegetables, with the intention of making them into good things to eat. We made seafood curry today, and in it went $[X] of the largest prawns that I have seen in Tulsa so far. And I bought for [V] her very own Moleskine notebook, with ruled pages.

I don’t want to keep her forever. Or do I?

February 21st, 2010:

I hung out last night with [TB] (a student I’d met in my first year at TU), someone with whom I am passing familiar. I had [WF] and [V] over tonight – [V] cooked and we have enough food to keep us nourished for the week.

February 28th, 2010:

I adopted a cat today. Best decision yet, or best decision yet? After bringing him home and filling my home with all sorts of cat things, I began to come down with some serious allergies. If I wasn’t so damn allergic to Tux!!!

Last night was quite awful. I have been smoking weed on and off for the past couple of weeks and I decided okay, I’ll let [V] in on it. She stayed in my room while I got high with [TB].. and then after he left things went downhill. She poured cold water on me in the shower. I felt awful as I went to bed that night.

We had very passionate sex, fell asleep, and went to Tally’s this morning for breakfast. Anyways, I feel like taking pictures again. And the cat has been fun, save for making me feel awful. I hope I can keep him..

Felt betrayed by [V] because when I wanted acceptance, she attacked me. Not sure now.

March 16th, 2010:

The hilarious bad start to Spring Break. I had a headache and was still experiencing chills into the night, but I had my bags packed and someone willing to take care of Tux by Friday night. I thought to take [V] for a treat that night, so I picked her up after she finished conversing with her boss at 6PM. We went to The Melting Pot and enjoyed a cheese & a chocolate fondue though I was still feeling ill. By the time we finished eating it had grown chilly outside. Packs of schoolchildren roamed The Riverwalk, shouting things into the night, and I wondered if I could fight them off in my weakened state. We played some video games and then drove home.

The next morning I rose early to deliver Tux to [AZ]. He went into the Pet Porter with hardly a fuss and mewed confused as I moved everything cat-related into my car. Hopefully he will do well with [AZ] over the break.

Later I drove to McDonald’s to buy breakfast. As I returned to Brown, a call came in from my father, urging me to get to the airport with due speed. [V] was still prepping up, in the midst of her morning routine, and time was running short. So halfway into eating, I took her to the car to get us moving.

I end up missing my flight to the Netherlands, which I reschedule, but..

With the spare time that I had unwittingly bought myself I took [V] on a trip to St. Louis. It was not our first roadtrip, but I think the thrill of it was good for us both.

I write about the places that we visited over the course of the trip to St. Louis.

The next entry starts off on a high note. I am back at home in the Netherlands with my family.

March 19th, 2010:

Ma is not hesitating to pin some of the blame for my late arrival on [V]. Especially after I mentioned that [V] set her alarm for 10:45AM. And after I pointed out that [V] had some jealousy issues.

My mind keeps coming back to whether I ought to be in a relationship with this girl. Unfortunately it hasn’t been easy to arrive at a conclusion, and I’m not proud of it.

I conclude the entry with some reflection on how I messed up with Chevron, and how I will have to start the process of applying to graduate school or to find full-time work. I still retain faith in my ability to deliver results: “I will just have to do well now and hope for the best come a few months’ time when my focus can shift to finding full time employment”.

March 21st, 2010:

Ma talked with me about my relationship with [V] – I get the distinct feeling that she feels I could be better off without her. Ba even says something about the balance within relationships – it is perfectly acceptable for me to ask what is in it for me. I don’t need to consider just what I can do for [V]. She can she bring to the table? Resistance to my humble requests for a blow? Arghhh!

Truthfully, it is quite frustrating going back home and talking about my relationship, especially when things haven’t been too hot lately. Then again, it is quite constructive at day’s end. Heck, I can go back, doing my business with new resolve now.

March 23rd, 2010:

[V] didn’t do too well on her two phase flow modeling midterm. That’s the class that I am auditing, being taught by Dr. Shoham.

For better or for worse, [V] and I are breaking up. I made the decision today.

It’s regrettable that I didn’t write anything in the time that passed.

April 9th, 2010:

Things with my love life and [V] have been strange. I want to leave her, but I like her. And she likes me, as well. We have been seeing each other on and off, at times doing the dirty. Yet people know that we are officially at an end, thanks to Facebook.

April 16th, 2010:

It has been six hours since Reservoir Engineering II let out, an hour since I watched porn, an hour and a half that I’ve gone without playing Call of Duty, three hours since I saw [V], and thirty minutes since I last saw Tux.

Things between [V] and me/myself/I are not as they should be. I want to let her free, but I am holding her too tight for fear of losing her. She finds me at times cold and uncaring, and I find she is much the same when she wants to be this way. Tonight she cooked some fried rice, and together we finished it all.

For the rest of April, I make no mention of [V].

In May, I started working for Schlumberger. I don’t have any note of the exact day that I started, but it’s somewhere between May 7th and May 17th. My writing during this period of time is troubled. On May 17th, I write: “[Na-M] came in, and we went to eat hot pot with a circle of “my” friends in Houston. I claim to be enjoying what I’m doing here. Why then do I get the feeling that I’m being used?” On May 20th: “My life is amiss … Smoking is affecting my oral health in unpleasant ways. Late nights are screwing with my biological clock. My mind is flooded with dollar signs and thoughts of God”

On May 23rd, Alice came to visit me. I wrote that she would be staying the week.

May 26th, 2010: “[LL] liked the pictures that I took.”

LL was a friend of SN’s. I found her attractive and exceptionally girlish. SN was one of the few people that I knew in Houston, and I spent an absurd amount of time hanging out with him after work.

Finally, in June, a written mention of V.

June 3rd, 2010:

[V] has been calling me everyday, in multiple at times. She’s seriously thinking of coming.

She’d seen the photos that I’d taken of LL. LL had gone and tried friending V on Facebook or some shit. I can’t remember. It was all very grade-school drama, but V was up in arms about the whole situation.

An email from V to me on June 6th expresses her anxieties about visiting me and the state of our relationship.

June 9th, 2010:

In what was not the smartest decision of my life, I waited on [SN]’s friend [LL]. She just started taking summer classes on Monday, and we’d been corresponding quite vigorously through text messages. We went to sit at Cafe 101 for some time over wine and an appetizer, then we stayed on for another drink and dessert. I’ve gathered that she displays no particular interest in me, but it’s still good to have this girl to talk with.

I say it wasn’t the smartest decision to make knowing full well that she and [SN] have had sex at least a few times. My motive for continuing to talk with her is unclear, but I don’t mind.

On June 10, V sent me this email.

V arrived in Houston sometime between June 9 and June 22. I don’t have a record of the exact day, but it wasn’t long before things quickly fall apart. I sent a long email to my parents in the early morning of June 22nd, 2010. (http://alex.zheng-dynasty.com/2010/06/infernal-affair/)

I felt my heart grow cold, but for some time I told myself to lay still, yet I couldn’t stand to allow things to go any further than they had already gone. Just as the worst was about to happen, I bolted upright from the bed, and opened the drawer of my nightstand to retrieve a wicked pocketknife given to me by a friend in Tulsa, something that I knew was there in the event that I would need it. On my clumsy feet now, I opened the blade and grabbed [DC], pulling the knife towards his neck … It was not my desire to cause anyone else greater pain than I had caused myself for allowing these events to unfold, and I grew so consumed by my rage. I, sick to my stomach, went to the wall in my room and pounded the blade into it a number of times. … My hand pounding, blood dripping freely from the wound, I picked up a chair and threw it towards the already broken window, and it clattered to the floor.

We were all still for a moment. I examined my bleeding hand and saw the blood, the open wound. The tip of the knife was twisted now and I discarded it in the trash can. Still angry, I went to the kitchen drawer and extracted my large chef’s knife, and plunged it several times into the mattress of the bed. I hated so much that I had allowed these things to happen, all of it a result of my own infidelity.

June 22nd, 2010:

Okay, remember what happened to your relationship with [V], and how things came to an end. Remember that it all took place because you behaved inappropriately, and because you were so caught up with chasing [LL] that you forgot all about [V]. Recall that your love for [V] may have been founded on an appreciation of sex alone, though you did at some point love her.

I’m confused about the future, and my revelations about the past were with me for only a fleeting second. We both cried our eyes out on Sunday through to the evening. We had passionate sex twice that day until [V]’s pussy was raw and sore to the touch, and then her period came that night.

What a fucking mess I have made of things. I’ve told myself after much reflection that I am to blame for the death of my relationship because of what I did to make [V] so horrified by my leaving — that is, I cheated on her with [LL]. If I could take it all back, I would. My violence towards [DC] on Saturday night was also avoidable, and there were so many ways that I went wrong. Never should I have allowed him to touch [V]. I shouldn’t have agreed when he suggested that threesome idea. Something like that is unnatural for a man to allow to happen to his girl. I should have loved [V] when I had the chance to.

June 23rd, 2010 details my safe arrival with V back to Tulsa. It includes reflections on a conversation with my father, and thoughts for moving forward.

June 25th, 2010:

I went to speak with Dr. Kelkar today. I can’t recall now what I told him. Something like I got into a fight and was fired by Schlumberger. He is exceedingly busy, but he requested Lori forward my resume to a contact that had recently asked him for a student to help.

[V] did call me this morning, and we went to lunch together. It was her treat – I drove the two of us. We came back to campus together, she had to go back to her office. She spends her time there doing inane calculations that I have no hope of understanding without relearning molecular chemistry. She was rewatching a season of Celebrity Apprentice when I checked up on her later during the afternoon.

July 1st, 2010:

It’s morning and I am sitting in the Alexander Student Health Center. [V] is getting some type of test for STDs. I wonder how they do this and what will turn up. She has been behaving strangely, insisting on our being together. She has been led to the back, and I am sitting down while The Price is Right plays.

July 4th, 2010:

I’m back in church for Sunday service, and what a day it is going to be. Yesterday marked the end of so many things, and I welcome this Independence Day with an open heart and open hands. I vow to avoid continuing fights with [V], and to move on a better man.

This is where things really go to shit.

July 5th, 2010:

I start work at H&P in the morning. Am having trouble falling asleep – could have been the tea that I took at [Ra-O]’s earlier, perhaps it was caffeinated enough to keep my tired mind active. As it were, plenty on my mind already.

Did something unusual yesterday afternoon with [V]. … Went to [V]’s office to find her there, working on something. A poem on her screen – I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul. Invited her to come with me, put down all of this boring work and let’s go back to my place. She did.

Ended up having sex. Didn’t think much of it, just to love her with passion. Gave her oral to point of orgasm. Begged for penis to penetrate her deeply. I stopped only after both of us were sweating, tired. Took a moment’s rest, still sweating and her body an ember. Had more sex, pulled out, came on her face and body.

She went silent. Didn’t cry. Just wiped herself clean and left. Tried to console her before she left. She didn’t say much, probably feeling degraded. Called later to no response.

Later I went to visit, see if she was back at home. Thought that would be helpful. Ken was sitting outside, poring over two open books. I said hello, he looked fine. He told me that [V] was in the hospital – Karen took her there. Police had come by at [V]’s call. What?!

On July 7th, 2010, I was served with my first emergency protective order.

On July 8th, 2010, I wrote a note on Facebook which I titled, “Friends, please read, and perhaps it will make sense later”:

This note is dedicated to someone who has made my life very special, and who now threatens to harm me

How dare you…
back me into a corner
your pack of lies
betrays me.

I must apologize for my transgressions, though I will not be dragged down by you. I sought to forgive, even when you thought you could get away with sin upon mine own. Your darkest secret is safe with me.

This type of writing is typical of me when I am feeling very upset about something.

On July 9th, my father received an email from Dr. Kelkar, the head of the petroleum engineering department at TU. Contained within it is the message that V wrote to Dr. Kelkar.

I wrote to Dr. Kelkar on July 11th to offer context into what had happened.

Also on July 11th, I watched the FIFA World Cup final with KM and MS. MS was a graduate student of the electrical engineering department at TU who was also friends with V. During the match, I drank Heinekens while cheering for the Dutch. The events of July 4th still heavy on my mind, I let slip a few too many details to MS. These came back to haunt me.

July 12th, 2010:

It’s been five days since I was served (haha) with court papers from the Sheriff’s office. A lady cop came to the Boulder Towers and I met her outside, by the side of the building. She informed me simply that I would make an appearance in front of the judge, and that I would have an opportunity to explain my side of the situation.

I suspect that the consequences of this matter shall be most severe, though avoidable should I play my cards right. That is I must demonstrate the goodness of my character and show that I am calm, cool, and collected. I will not be driven to action unchecked by fiery (sic) emotion ..

July 16th, 2010:

Yesterday I went to meet with an attorney named Jenny McElroy. She equated the chances of my winning the case at 60/40. I wish it were higher – I will continue on my way without a lawyer, having prepared a written statement last night.

July 17th, 2010:

I forgot to mention, we got our exams back for STAT4813! I scored a 91% – that puts me in the top quintile of the class, but not very close to the high of 97%. That’s fine, because a Facebook game just told me I have a brain in the 88th percentile.

I had prepared a written statement to present in front of the Judge Hogshead – I sent that to Ba today because he wanted to know what I’d been up to recently. He suggests that I present the judge with questions. That is to note the things that [V] has done after filing for the EPO, then to suggest that she is the one who is seeking to harass me and to damage my reputation. He’ll see that’s true, dismiss the case, and get ready in the event that I file a countersuit.

Spoke with [WSF] on evening of July 15th. Maybe he can get her to drop the case.

July 18th, 2010:

At church this morning. I made breakfast for [KM] and for myself, and left for the security office to see about obtaining an incident report for that Tuesday when they came to search my car and my apartment. With that incident behind me now, it’s best I get a copy of the written report. It is proving to be a very crazy world.

Forgiveness is an art form. It’s a requirement to go on living in happiness. And without forgiving, how can we possibly move on?

July 19th, 2010:

I am now sitting in the courtroom. The time is 8:57AM. My mouth feels dry, but I suppose this is normal. It smells of antiseptic in this chamber, and I am clumsy in writing. I’m going to pray. I still don’t want this to go down.. So far it’s 9:36AM and [V] is not present. There’s no sign of her and several cases have already been dismissed.

And… at ~9:45AM, when the case was called from the docket, I stood. And I was very surprised to hear [V]’s voice call out, and she wants to continue the protective order, and now I must prepare to fight it.

Bullet Points:
– My character
– Duration of our relationship
– Past breakup, formal end on 6/20
– [V] has misused the legal procedure to obtain an EPO, for which there is no need
– Issue described as harassment was cleared the evening that it took place.
– Furthermore, she has escalated the situation to now threaten my reputation in the form of email to Kelkar, University complaint, and false report of my being a danger to myself.
– Taken a personal conflict well beyond private discussion
Events of July 4th: I did leave the voicemail
– She came willingly to my apartment
– Appeared at no time distressed
– Engaged in consensual sex, and left later after communication breakdown
– Reiterate that our relationship is over — I am a forgiving person
– [V] must cease from any further action ruinous to my reputation, else I have no choice but to take legal action

Points to Refute
“Violations” against PO – Phone calls to her w/no opportunity to communicate
I’m letting everyone know that I slept w/[LL]
She’s not trying to hurt me
I forwarded a message thru [JS]

History of Need for Breakups — hmm.
Visit to [JS] – [V]’s memory is flawed
Very public incidents. These are irrelevant but trouble.

… 12:30PM. It’s over. Case dismissed. There were no grounds on which the protective order could continue. I had not threatened, nor had I abused her physically. He asked (Judge Hogshead) that we stay apart. Finish our studies. Go our separate ways.

Thank God I have come out alive by the skin of my teeth.

This is the full text of the statement that I had prepared.

Here’s where MS comes back into the picture. He was also at the courthouse on July 19th, sitting next to V. She called him as a witness to the stand, where he gave an account of the conversation that we’d shared on July 11th, while watching the World Cup final. The turncoat tried to throw me under the bus to curry favor with V. I never saw it coming.

Meanwhile, V had also raised commotion at the university level. I sent an email to the Office of Student Affairs on July 22nd asking them to dismiss their investigation on the grounds that V’s emergency protective order had been dismissed by the judge.

The Office of Student Affairs conducted its own kangaroo court on July 28th, and found me guilty of harassing V. They imposed sanctions against me that included my writing a formal letter of apology to V in this letter dated August 2nd.

Then, on August 2nd, V filed for a second emergency protective order. I was flummoxed; my father thought that the university ruling must have inspired her to try again.

August 6th, 2010:

The last day of work at H&P went smoothly, though I had to take off early on account of personal issues. It’s all coming as a result of …? I don’t even get it — [V] has gone off the deep end and filed for another protective order. I had to run around for two days to get the court date pushed back, just in time for me to get out of town.

I paid a visit to my parents, who were living in Chengdu at the time.

August 13th, 2010:

I have been working with Ba to write up an appeal of the Office of Student Affairs’ decision on [V]’s complaint. Sent Dr. Sorochty, VP of Enrollment @ TU, a letter explaining my case. Hopefully this is the last nail in the coffin, and it’ll finally be over.

That letter can be found here: To Dr. Sorochty. Accompanying it was an attachment detailing the events surrounding the case.

August 20th, 2010:

The break has been going by tremendously fast, and I still have yet to get much work done on my personal affairs. I did get something back from Dr. Sorochty, and I’ll still have to wait some days until I can know for sure what decision the University has come to. Now it’s prudent I get back on track, prepared to defend myself in court once again.

Did I mention that this whole situation is a crock of bullshit? I never have been a threat or a bother to [V], only a source of help and a voice of reason. She has demonstrated a lack of rationality and no desire to let matters rest. I’ve left her alone, and she’s taken it on herself to create a problem so she can take me to court again, and for what? These are clearly attempts to ruin my livelihood — see what she tried to do at the University level? I have demonstrated every desire to settle things and to leave her alone — she’s out to make me look bad and to hurt me for what she perceives as a loss. But what has she lost?!

I need to get this: monetary compensation for my lost time and lost job. And assurance that she’ll leave me alone for good. If she does this type of thing again, it’ll be me who blows the whistle.

Dr. Sorochty wrote a response on August 13th, but he refused to transmit it to me via email:

… this matter is personal and confidential and it would not be appropriate to use an unsecured email transmission such as this to transmit such information. One would never know where else it might go at some time in the future.

Dr. Sorochty’s response to me can be found here.

August 21st, 2010:

I was just reading on persuasion, and I got to thinking about my upcoming court date again. I believe that in opening testimony I must first show without a doubt that I have neither harassed nor threatened [V]. Then I must bring into light my losses relative to her own. I have lost work, respect from my peers; all because of one small mistake that ought to be well behind us. There is a possibility for even greater loss, too. I could be considered fully ineligible to enter the industry, even though I am a high achiever. My reputation could be ruined, because [V] is unreasonable.

In the second round, I must make clear that I am free from fault, that [V] is engaging in behavior that is potentially ruinous to me, and that the judge has the power to prevent further losses on my part. He can also make [V] pay for her abuse of the system.

You’d think that she could leave a brother alone.

August 23rd, 2010:

For Tuesday:
1. Flawless character
2. Made a promise and kept it. “Do you recall…?”
3. Factual statement of what has happened. [an arrow points to the word factual, and next to it is written: university compl., security officers, false suicide, weapons check]. Few incidents when we spoke. [V]’s reaction made it clear I should avoid her once all over.
4. University hearing finds me not a threat, not guilty of her claim of rape.
5. Days after the University hearing (Jul 28), [V] calls me using Skype (Aug 2). I tell her I do not want to speak w/her. This is direct violation of what Univ. ruled.
6. [V] files for EPO in spite of fact I have done nothing to her.

Questions:
– Who bears ill intention to the other party? Whose actions are directed as attacks?
– Who stands to lose more?

Second Round:
– Losses I have suffered
– [V]’s actions making our private conflict public
– Her lack of desire for the conflict to end on peaceful terms.
– Court system exists for good reason. Innocent go free, guilty led away. What’s it NOT for?
– Claims that she is just now considering staying on at the University of Tulsa.

My writing on the subject ends after this entry.

On August 24th, 2010, I went to court for the second time in my life. I woke up early and wrote my father an email:

Ba,

Going to court today in just about half an hour. Response from Dr. Sorochty was very much useless. I don’t think he’s even reading into the issues here. I will certainly touch base with you again after the hearing is through and I am back at home.

Alex Zheng

I went into the courtroom thinking that the judge would proceed with the case like he did the first time, on July 19th. Instead, I was not offered an opportunity to give a closing statement like I had the first time around. Everything that I had written on the subheading “Second Round” was left unsaid.

The best part about the whole enterprise is the exchange that I had with V’s attorney before the case went to trial. He essentially offered that he could request the protective order be in effect only as long as V and I remained students at the University of Tulsa. I declined, thinking that I could fight the case on grounds of my argument. The day ended with me paying the court $168. The emergency protective order became permanent, and it remained with me for the next three years.

I walked out of the courthouse looking for the silver lining in the cloud that now hung over me. In a way, I was grateful that this chapter of my life had come to an end. I ruminated over the decisions of Judge Hogshead and the officials at the University of Tulsa, but focused my energy on moving forward.

The next entry, written on August 31, is filled with thoughts of how to break away from everything that I’d done to date:

I am getting the feeling I ought to do something new. Dispose of the old. Move towards something beyond the material and lusting for more again. I keep asking – what do I have to do?!

My parents were devastated by the news. My father was determined to set the record straight. He told me that he would take an emergency trip over to Tulsa to help me fight the case. What followed was a series of meetings with the Office of Student Affairs and a Tulsa family law attorney.

Inspired in part by my father’s determination, I filed a complaint against V through the TU Office of Student Affairs. The full text of my complaint, filed September 16th, 2010, is provided here. This complaint was never allowed to progress beyond my initial filing. I was outraged. For my part, I vowed never to donate a penny of my earnings to the University of Tulsa.