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04.08.01 9:58 p.m.

"Of course truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction, after all, has to make sense."

 Mark Twain 

I'd like to give you chronology, I really would. But it's not going to happen. So I shall tell you, perhaps, the most interesting news and work from there.
On Thursday, I am going to see the film Quills with a certain Miss Katherine. It was possibly going to be tonight, but she very politely and sweetly changed the date. She wanted it to occur tomorrow, as she has the day off for Passover, but my school is obviously run by anti-Semites who do not want to give poor heathen Xen the day off so he can see Kate.
So you are asking yourself, no doubt, why this is actually a big deal. Xen is going to see a movie with Kate, what kind of a dream world does he live in where that means anything? You are too pessimistic, of course Xen has a reason!
Two nights ago, I spoke with Kate. It was a very long, somewhat endearing conversation wherein she admitted that she greatly enjoyed kissing me and thought often of when we did. That she wanted to kiss me again. I gave her permission to do so, as I want to be kissed by her. I think this is just reason to be a bit smiley over seeing a movie with her, no?

Last night, as well, I went adventuring with Zack. Owing to his break-up with Veronica, I assumed that he could use time away from his home. It really is one of the best things for a break-up, I prescribe it widely. We had no plans, other than adventure.
When I arrived, he informed me that he and Veronica may well be dating again. Okay, I am good with that, they are a very nice couple. Nonetheless, adventure!
It was decided on the fly and mostly by me that we should go to The Haunted Mansion and the Cubbyhole, in that order. Visiting a closed haunted house at night seemed very adventurous, in a death-by-teenage-stupidity way.
On the way there, I shared with Zack a bit about the episode of Invader Zim I had seen on Friday night. He took as philosophy the bit where Gir, the very silly robot-in-a-dog-suit, eats a cupcake and cries a minute later stating, "I miss this cupcake!" I am inclined to agree that there is a lesson in that.
Once we arrived, we immediately noticed the large, white skeleton greeting us in front of the gate. I am desensitized; I quickly presumed it was a fake skeleton that somehow found its way down from the house. Only, it wasn't. It was a very dead deer. Picked clean and... gnawed. Lying in front of a haunted house that is reputed to really be haunted (Well, I've seen and witnessed the ghost, so "reputed" is by me).
Does this qualify as adventure? Almost, I'd say. Only almost, however, because I knew I had nothing to fear from the police or the owner of the Mansion. The owner only gets pissed when people drink up there and trash it. Were I found up there, the owner knows that I love the Mansion far too much to ever allow anyone to hurt it. Lack of fear of arrest lowers the adventure quotient.
Zack and I ventured up to the actual house to look around. We didn't explore the FrighTrail or the dressing trailer. We just looked around the front of the house and, not feeling much fear, decided to go back to the car.
There was that deer, smirking at me... laughing at me... just like they did in third grade... mocking me with its eye sockets... driving me quite mad. No, not really. Please don't fall for such obvious ruses. However, I knelt down to examine it a bit. It looked somewhat sad to be dead. I suppose I cannot blame it, I am sure death came as a shock. Zack says the deer didn't die of natural causes, that is was shot by a hunter and left there (I'm not precisely sure how he knew that but I will yield my belief to his possibly greater experience in this forum). How cruel to shoot such a beautiful animal and then just leave it. There is no honor in that.
I decided that I would like a part of the deer. I wasn't being morbid, more spiritual. The Haunted Mansion is a psychically charge place. Not only is it undoubtedly on some sort of energy point, but the intense emotions that are expelled there (fear, lust, shock, surprise, etc.) saturate everything. Bones from an animal that died of a violent death on its grounds would be triply charged. Also, it would be more respectful to the deer for some of it to be used by someone who treated it with care, not like the hunter. Zack tried to remove the skull, but it was still attached with ligaments. Instead, we removed two ribs of which I will make use.
After we had removed the ribs, I leaned down and spoke with the deer, explaining in the least creepy way possible that I was sorry some hunter had killed it in the prime of its life, but I would but the two ribs to a very good use. Then I thanked it for the gifts I had taken. Hopefully the deer is okay with that, I do not want it thinking I was violating its corpse.
We will speak more of the Mansion another time. Not tonight.
From here, we went to Cubbyhole. It is a tiny coffeehouse near Vassar. That should tell you a goodly amount of the decor and atmosphere. On nights that bands play, it can be obscenely crowded. We did not face huge crowds, perhaps thankfully. The band for the night (I believe called "God, the Band") cancelled. We sat and spoke, asking questions of an amazingly conversational and evasive Magic 8-Ball (though it was actually just a talking black ball, as the white paint on top had been scratched off). When we needed further clarification, we consulted the "Little Book of Zen" I keep in my pocket.
The homeless woman who draws people was there. She utterly refused to draw me, in that she never came over to ask if she could. I would have completely been willing to pay so I could put the picture on this site. Zack later observed quite accurately that she was only sketching females. I then felt better as she was spurning my entire gender and not merely me.
Interesting Astrid came in with a friend, as did the girl who tried to pick me up for her friend in the mall so many months ago. I greeted both of them, but was more interested in Zack and the oracles. Especially when Zack belted out a very long monologue from The Merchant of Venice. It was quite convincing.
So we sat playing a writing game on black construction paper with white crayons, which I will transcribe below. First, the rules. What I wrote is italicized, what Zack wrote is bold:

As I ran over and over screaming again, all creation seemed opaque. Myself I almost laughed at the sinister mumblings of nothingness. Tripping and slipping with my soul all ablaze. Bumbling bees. Rumbling daffodil children ate my spleen green clouds white apples send postcards sell seashells save Messiahs share needles
Then he decided we should alter the rules a bit, fun though they were, so each of us wrote a line that was finished by the other.
It's that time, the ancient moanings, all angels on earth have gone to vacation tripping, slipping, sliding, always hiding but never concealing their feelings about the state of the union the forever forgotten love, the sunlight on ladybugs on daffodils on Donner on Dancer on Cupid and Vixen! Let me tell you this poem needs some fixin'. It's stretching, I'm retching at the prosaic prose and, I suppose you are too let's call it a day, I'm glad we're through every moment an eon when you feel like Poe's peon but do it in public, for all to see. Shout the poetic truths of a high school cheerleader. Yes sir, yes sir, may I have another? For my brother, you see he's lost his turtle another one of life's hurdles let's go easy on the boy, let's not torture his tortoise. He purports to us that the world rested on his back yet soft, suppose he should step on a tack? Where would that put you? Me? We? Nay everyone? Where would we find a new foot once it had a hole in it? Holy feet are no good if all you do is sit looking at life and laughing at it. Like the tiny book and oversized novelty billiard ball suggest what if they all lost hope making mountains out of molehills paradise from landfills sandwiches from leftovers in the back of the fridge but you sit on the edge of your mayonnaise concoction always knowing mustard is no option it is bundled with the system, mustard is as much a part of you as the triumph of the kingdom. No, you are not of these kind you are like the wolves, howling growling, through the dreams of night. More than one, synergized muscles and flesh hardwired for union, carnivorous and confusing bloody and bruising and all the time more peaceful than the sum of your parts, relaxed.
Soon after we finished this poem, it late enough that I felt we should leave. I had to drive Zack and myself to Dutchess today to work on the set, and I had planned to do that early. We left, though not before I bid a puckish adieu to Interesting Astrid (which is really how I address her, I am quite sure she must find me annoying, but it so amuses me) and the lass who sought to pick me up for her friend.
On the way home, Zack shared with me quite possibly one of the funnier jokes I have ever heard. Bear in mind, it is all in the telling. Nonetheless, I shall share with you this hilarious joke (it is funny in nearly the same way that my calling Astrid "Interesting Astrid" is funny).
TELLER: "Ask me if I am a truck."
LISTENER: "Okay, are you a truck?"
TELLER: "No!" {followed by quite a bit of laugher on the teller's part}
Zack was impressed that I got that joke so quickly, most people are confused for a moment. Seems like a very funny joke to me.

On Friday night, after spending much of the day within the four walls of my house, I decided that 10:30PM was a good time to go for a "walk." My parents to not really question what goes on during my late night "walks." Obviously, since they warrant quotation marks, they are more than just walks.
Usually I walk the train tracks a bit, playing (in that I am exhaling air to make sound, not in that I have the slightest clue how to make music) one of my handmade woodwind instruments (my clay ocarina won out this time), until I reach a field. The field is pretty high energy, but peaceful. Especially at night. Then I do whatever strikes me.
On Friday, I lit a candle I had in my Umbilical Bag (rarely outside my line of vision or out of reach). It was the Zen candle I got from my boss as a present last year. I hadn't used it until just then. I made a little protective circle, Jungian force field (glowing orange barbed wire seemed effective), with my kriss dagger, then I switched over to my hand carved wooden stake (I call it Mr. Pointy). I lit some sandalwood incense upwind from myself. I relaxed.
After a few minutes, I began "hearing" (quotation marks mean it is not occurring in a real, structured way. If this weirds you out, consider that I am just being therapeutic. If it doesn't, I think you know exactly what I'm doing) something talking to me. The crux of what it was saying was that I have been a bit lax in my spirituality of late and "we can only play" if I am more attentive. I said I would be. They insinuated that they have been trying to send me pretty clear messages that I had been shrugging off. I agreed that I had been, and was willing to assume the mantle I had once shirked. Basically, I agreed to be a good monkey and eat my nanners so more messages were not needed.
So the thing (maybe Fate, maybe my own manifestation of consciousness) I was addressing took the shape of Sarah in my mind to console me over what I was going though. I was very quick to clarify with the entity that it was not Sarah; it assured me it just looked like her because I was most receptive to Sarah. Seemed logical and I was in an accepting state of mind (I was audibly talking to something I couldn't literally see or hear, after all).
The Sarah-Fate (henceforth called Sarate) told me my situation wasn't as bad as I imagined it was. I was just too close to it and couldn't see the forest for the trees. That I had talents and abilities that I could easily use on my side, but that I was ignoring for fear of acknowledging. Sarate was kind of empowering. And very appealing, as it was Sarah appearing. It also confirmed that there is a reason I cannot get to Sarah, which is why it chose that guise. She asked me what I really wanted and really hoped to accomplish. Important questions and I hesitated quite a bit. I was unable to choose one path, something I wasn't so keenly aware of before then. I sent energy out in all directions to bring me the best outcome.
After Sarate left, I did a candle healing spell for Kate. The essence was that I wanted her healed and happy. However there was a blockage, I do not think I can give any more energy to that cause. Some seeped through, and that may be enough.
I blessed my glasses, that they may help me see not only clarity in the real world but clarity elsewhere blah, blah, blah witchcakes.
I also did a confidence and personality strengthening exercise on the spur of the moment, which seemed to work, but I will have to do a "booster" with more effort, energy, and structure soon. Another walk will be in order.
As I was leaving, I noticed my glasses felt a little heavy on the bridge of my nose. As I rose to the top of one of the hills, I saw, with crystal clarity, a police cruiser idling. I scurried to the other side of the field and successfully evaded trespassing charges for another night.

I have trouble fully believing in this world. It has frankly become quite a bit too fantastical for my liking. A few days ago, I read a news report that professors at Purdue University had created a sword called "The Dragon Slayer" made from the metal of a meteorite. Okay, fine, that's kitsch, I can deal. I keep reading. THE BLEEDING SWORD CAN CUT THROUGH SAMURAI STEEL!!!! Like a Ginsu through a Coke can! Only one is going to be made, then it is going to be auctioned off to "collectors." So what we have here is a super-strong sword, forged by a team of scientists from metal found in a meteorite, and only one exists... Is it just me, of it this a plot in quite a few role-playing games and fantasy novels? Should this be considered a valid part of reality?
Even worse, I turn on the news and hear the anchor talking about laws against clones and viruses that are killing off our meat supply. Soylent Green much? Again, when did this all become real? Why do I have to deal with Mad Cows, but I still don't have a hover car that run on water?
And mutants. Actual human mutants exist. Like in X-Men! A comic book. But it's getting more real every day. I just read about tetrachromats, one of the first scientifically recorded, beneficial human mutations. They can see four primary colors over the rest of humanities three (their extra color falls in between green and red, I think). Granted, that is a tiny mutation, but it is significant. They have super-fashion sense! OH NO!!! The sad thing is that only women can have it and any of their male progeny will be red-green colorblind (females get tetrachromatism, however).
Don't I get any say in what bleeds over from bad 1950's horror movies? Or at least some popcorn while I watch reality unfold?

reading: the guestbook (broccoli?)
listening: My mother addressing the dog as though it were an elderly British woman
wanting: tetrachromatism or synthaesthesia
interesting thought: "I miss this cupcake!"
moment of zen: Looking at the face of a model and knowing her exact, pained thoughts as the picture was taken.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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