Special Topics in Relationships

By Valerie Little
PSYCH 000 - Section 1: Special Topics in Relationships - Fall 1999
Dr. Passionate, Convivial, Narcissistic Soulmate (PCNS)
Office Hours
Scheduled as needed. 

Class Summary
PSYCH 000 explores the heterosexual romance between you, Wild-Hearted and Quirky Violist (WQV, Female, 18) and I (PCNS, Male, 23). Any future sections will be offered based on my pathological need for re-invention.

Course Objectives
By the end of this course, you will be: 
•   Fluent in the languages of love, honesty, sarcasm, explicit dirty talk, fury, and patience.
•   Proud of publishing thirteen poems about class modules.
•   Resigned to love me, regardless of self-respect or reason, for the remainder of your natural life.

Course Materials
Required Texts
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Cleanness, Garth Greenwell
Letters of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller

Attendance (25%)
: Remain available for any mutually agreed upon meetings until one of us is dead. 
Participation (75%): My histrionics astound you, but please accept disappointing outcomes without complaint. 
Exams (0%): I expect excellence concerning: vulnerability, communication, intelligence, professional success, unrivaled sexual chemistry and skill development, mutual socio-political and artistic interests, independence, patience, forgiveness, and playfulness. Mastery will not figure into the final grade. 

Module 1: Introduction
Overview: Reflect on your sheltered, happy childhood in rural Pennsylvania. Arrive at university to eagerly double major in Music and English, live the feminist dream, impress professors, and find a man who loves that you’re a WQV. 

Early Encounters
•   Meet at School of Music. I am shirtless, showing off newest tattoo—the face of Gustav Mahler. 
•   Forgive me for spilling my beer on you, become “My Favorite Catholic,” walk my drunk ass home. 
•   Become close over hours in refuge in the library.
•   Watch in silent horror as I briefly date your best friend.

Assignment #1
: I delight in getting a rise out of you. Write 500 words about the disclosure of my sixteen previous sexual partners and experimentation with psychedelics.
Assignment #2: It’s the early 00s. Watch Sex and the City. Pay close attention to Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big.

Module 2: Relationship Lab Time
Overview: In this module, we embark on our serious, adorable, and intense story. Listen to Don Giovanni, W.A. Mozart, “Iowa” (Dar Williams), “Norwegian Wood” (The Beatles), and “Marrow” (Ani DiFranco).

Positive Outcomes 
•   Hear me gush about how you’re the first woman with whom I see a future—“my angel and other self.”
•   Respectfully wait six months until losing your virginity feels comfortable. 
•   Cohabitation, friendship, chemistry, and academic cheerleading abound.

Negative Outcomes
•   Unintentionally distance yourself, re: school demands and early signs of mental illness. I inexplicably repay this perceived rejection by cheating, but admit it the next day.
•   Force me to pay my rent share while I drink myself to sleep at my parents’ house. 

Assignment #1: Write 600 words about me making fun of your spirituality and about how you get accepted into all of your graduate programs and I don’t. 
Assignment #2: Write 1 word after receiving news that, within six months, I marry the student in PSYCH 000, Section 2, Local Tattooed Girl (LTG). 

Module 2 Exam
: Lie on bathroom floor with hair dryer on. Sob until Xanax kicks in. 

Module 3: Independent Project
Overview: Attend the University of Texas—begin independent project with Typical and Safe Husband Material (TSHM) in 2005. This yields comfort, laughter, and a new love of Mexican food.

Assignments with TSHM
(to be completed and mastered at your own pace): 
Marry in 2012; buy a home and green Subaru; picnic at the end of MSP airport runway; travel extensively; bury your father six weeks before your wedding; happily cat parent; try donut places; gauge your mental health weather. 

Essay #1
: Write a genuinely loving response to me becoming a father and a genuinely smug response to my divorce from LTG, now called Respected Mama with a Doctorate (RMWD). 
Essay #2
: Send a curious Facebook message after fourteen years of silence. 

Module 4: Advanced Lab I
Overview: Share a harmless drink and catch up—work, my recent breakup, co-parenting with RMWD. Supplemental materials include: “Valerie” (Steve Winwood), “A Case of You” (Joni Mitchell), “The Boys of Summer” (Don Henley) and the violin concerto of Jean Sibelius. Visual media includes Run and The Affair. Off-campus projects will replace this module’s exam.

Assignment #1: Exchange almost 400 emails. Share three poems by Wislawa Szymborska and Kim D’Addonizio during office hours. 

Study Abroad Project I
: Washington D.C.—Engage in deep, lengthy conversation, make love in tears, fuck against the wall, hold hands by the Potomac Falls, eat Thai takeout while watching Black Mirror, hug goodbye at Reagan airport where you can’t stand to watch me drive away while I scream and cry halfway home. 

**Please note: This is the only time this will happen.** 
Study Abroad Project II: This is not the only time this will happen. See you in Cincinnati, my lovely. 

Module 5: Advanced Lab II
Overview: Advanced Lab I yields positive outcomes, including laughter, intellectual stimulation, cosmic love, self-esteem boost after negative student-teacher interactions from past, and acceptance. Data indicates you would leave TSHM for us. Listen to “Half of You” (Dessa).

Assignment #1: Confess to TSHM out of jealousy when I begin co-currently teaching PSYCH 000, Section 3 to Wounded Water Scientist (WWS). Office hours will not be held during this time. 

Module 5 Exam: Write 100,000 words on the following statement: “WWS and I have decided to get married.” She needs insurance and I want to piss you off. Include connections to Groundhog Day, the comic value over the fact that WWS and I have dated for two months, and impact on my child. Listen to “What Kind of Man” (Florence + the Machine), read biography of Sylvia Plath, and watch Friends from College.

Extra Credit: Use nanoparticles of remaining self-respect to keep no contact. 

Required supplemental practicums: 
•   Mental health hospitalizations, therapy, brain magnets, pills, tears.
•   Tarot, reiki, astrology, spells.
•   All manner of bodywork.
•   Starving, breaking a window, throwing magazines at bathtub wall, burning letters.

Module 6: Advanced Lab III
Overview: After ignoring my check-in attempts, impulsively text me a half-naked photo captioned, “As you can see, I’m doing just fine.” Listen to “Ava Adore” (Smashing Pumpkins), “Stupid” (G Flip), and the viola concerto of Krzysztof Penderecki. Since Modules 4 and 5, I conjure you while dreaming, hiking, listening to music, and while on my honeymoon, or inside my wife.
Discussion Topics: Lengthy office hours resume, covering:
•   Living together and baby.
•   Wedding rings, hot online sex, co-parenting my child, preventative couples’ therapy. 
•   Our emotional attunement, honesty, poking fun at ourselves, and narcotic-level desire.

Extra Credit:
Bring inspiring examples from feminist pornography to office hours.

Assignment #1: Look in rib-crushing bemusement at Instagram: WWS and my child on an idyllic canoe ride. I will now not be reachable by phone, email, carrier pigeon, the Wells Fargo wagon, or telepathy. Detail confused faith in us while watching 30 Rock in its entirety to force laughter. 
Assignment #2: Visit ER after self-harm. Accept care while inexplicably continuing to love me. Write 7,500 words in response while recalling your devout feminism. 

Module 6 Exam
: Consider what this course has taught you and email me as the most authentic you—gentle, hopeful, clear-sighted, and vulnerable. Believe deep down that I’m trying, and my final grade will post when I’m ready. 

About the author

Valerie studied creative writing and music at Pennsylvania State University. Her poetry and non-fiction has been seen in Sheila-Na-Gig, The Write Launch, River Heron Review, Kalliope, Willard and Maple, Cathexis Northwest Press, St. Paul Almanac, Aurore, Duck Lake Journal, on Minnesota Public Radio and the literary podcast, Apertures. Professionally, she is a violist and orchestra librarian with the Minnesota Orchestra and is working on a creative writing certificate at University of Pennsylvania.

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