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04.26.01 1:30 a.m.

"There is nothing more seductive for man then the freedom of his conscience, but there is nothing more tormenting either."


 -Dostoyevsky 



I have just arrived home after having seen both Nancy and Kate. We will take this one step at a time.
I decided to hang out with Nancy for several reasons. Primarily because I did not wish to spend my night off sitting home alone, lamenting that I was spending my night off sitting home alone. Selfish, I know. I had planned to go to New Paltz tonight anyway to visit Miss Katherine, much as I do not like her dorm on a very deep level. Secondly is, of course, that Nancy is a very pleasant person to spend time with and I enjoy her company. Thirdly is that I had an enormous, photosensitive headache (if I saw sunlight, if felt like electrically charged knitting needles were being shoved through my retinas into my medulla) and Drumlin Hall (home of Sodexo, the Prison Industrial Complex chicken quesadillas made by the ineffably great Vibert) was closed. As such, I could not get food on campus and couldn't well remain at work with the knitting needles in my eyes. Going to the Nancikin would afford me a chance to stop at a fast food restaurant for medicinal French fries. Granted, so would going home... but that is less fun, as it involved lamenting and gnashing of teeth.
Nancy had only forty-five minutes in which to hang out, which was okay as Kate paged as I was on my way toward New Paltz and wanted to spend time with me in a little over an hour. I adore when plans fall into place like that.
I parked a few minutes before the appointed hour (and minute) in a hidden neutral place and waited for her to arrive. I was distracted when she did and nearly went into feline attack mode. Which is embarrassing when there is nothing at all worthy of being attacked, yet one has their fingers rigid in quasi-claws.
We went to a very nearby cemetery in order that she could take pictures. I, of course, brought along my digital camera and I will be uploading the pictures of tonight very soon. Hopefully tomorrow.
The cemetery was quite nice. I walked among the gravestones, carrying on a monologue with the bones beneath my feet. Nancy thought very little of this behavior, which I think speaks quite well of her. I was very respectful to the dead, I could just feel an energy (not necessarily theirs) and was comfortable doing so.
Nancy took a few pictures of the cemetery and one of me happily hugging a large marble orb and a crucifix (it looked like the cross wanted to hug me, who was I to argue?). These too will be uploaded, should they turn out well.
We walked and spoke of piffles and American Beauty (there was an avenue of trees that looked ridiculously like the one when Ricky Fitts is talking about seeing beauty when one looks at death). Eventually, as the light was getting to low for her to use her manual camera with any positive effect, we sat on a tree stump and discuss the stars and the moon, swampland, New Orleans, peeper frogs. We never discussed death. I don't think it was an intentional avoidance, but we certainly did not associate the cemetery with death. Is that wrong?
Walking back toward my car, several minutes ahead of schedule, a green van came careening toward us flashing its brights. Can you guess who it was? Why, her father, of course! She told me to run. I walked. At a steady pace. Until the van was well out of my vision. Then I bolted for my car and darted toward SUNY New Paltz.
I arrived at campus mere minutes later. Have I covered that I do not like Kate's dorm? Well, I really do not. It was like walking into a dirty ashtray. As I am allergic to cigarette smoke, the stale scent of it psychosomatically revived my headache that the McGreasy food had eased. Not only that, but I tend to not like Kate's friends. No, that isn't exactly true. Individually, I might think they are nice people. However, together, it can get to me very quickly. Especially now that Kate's roommate has decided she is madly in love (from a girl who doesn't believe in love...) with an "energetic" boy she rarely ceases to snog. When she does cease, she is being cutesy in a truly sickening fashion. At least Virginia's boyfriend seems to be a complete human away from her. Kate will be living with the former couple next year, we will see if they all survive in tact. I am placing a large wager on Kate poisoning them. Or bludgeoning them to death with a Nerf bat.
Jeff, JB's boyfriend, was ranting about numerous things. I had to attack in kind when he started insulting me because I was Pagan (his ex-roommate is an ex-Pagan whom I rather dislike). I hold no patience with bigots and tend to think less of people who encourage them.
Kate and I were having a decent conversation about Stevehen and Kei (separately. There is really quite nothing involving Kei and Stevehen, save that I am concerned for them both), Ibsen, summer plans, and writing letters. Jeff interrupted a few times because heaven forbid two people try to hold a relatively intelligent conversation in the presence of the Energizer Punky without his input. Then Virginia insisted that we do something tonight. We all agreed and Kate queried as to what. "Drinking!" V proclaimed. I scoffed, assuming she was joking. Indulging in high camp, as the case might be. But no, everyone, save me, saw this as a valid plan for the night. Have I mentioned that I do not like Kate's dorm?
They did not actually get drunk, much to my relief. What would I have done? I think beer is revolting and hard lemonade tends to be too expensive, too scarce, or too time consuming (it would take many to achieve the desired effect of social uselessness). The beverage of choice seems to be bloody awful red wine and vodka (which is awful by virtue that it smells like rubbing alcohol thus is). But I digress.
Instead, they decided to play stingball. Were I healthier, I would have been more inclined to play. However, having a ball thrown at me seemed less than fun now that the symphony of sharp objects was playing Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries owing to the scent of Kate's room. Instead, I came along and took pictures. These, too, will be uploaded soon.
It was fun to watch and Kate was courteous enough to actually walk me back to my car and give me a sweet hug. I do wish she were more integrated. She often feels like two separate Kates when I am around. One who I cannot help loving and the other who I almost pity for her striving for the banality of a standard college life. The former Katie was nearly mythic for how individualistic and passionate she was for life. She was vivacious, literally. She is vibrant, but it isn't always now. It is bits and pieces, when she can sneak it away from the judging eyes of her friends. I have been told that there are many years before she will "be Katie" again and that she will likely fuck herself up before then. I choose to believe this is not so, because my heart would mourn her soul being in stasis that long while she hurts herself. I don't judge, at least I try not to, but I do show concern for those I care about.
I do love her. When did she stop loving me?

On other news, the play went off well enough. We dismembered the set in a little over half an hour, thanks to a power saw in the hands of Mike. I felt no remorse, I am quite glad it is over. The play was excellent. It is Arthur Miller, after all. It was merely time and energy intensive, and it is more than ready to be put to rest.
The first night, no one who knew me attended. Or, at least if they did, they escaped quickly and did not stay for the post show meet & greet. This was truly not much of a surprise, as it was a school night. Nonetheless, this caused me to suffer pretty intense post-play depression. Perhaps just loneliness. After plays to which I was dedicated and in which I was more involved, I would sometimes cry for an hour because I was not ready to let go of the play and the social dynamic it provided. Thursday, I was merely feeling unloved and unappreciated. I had to call Sarah before I went home, because I could not stand driving home in this state. Sarah never ceases to make me feel better.
No one even invited me to a diner afterward.
Last year, when I was in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Katie was there every night and I felt overwhelmingly appreciated. However, the situations are not comparable, as I was Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream and only an unnamed extra in A View from the Bridge.
On Friday night, an old teacher of mine approached me during the post show meet & greet and asked me, point blank, why I was not in the play. I tersely responded that I was in the play. Before I could explain further, he asked if I was backstage crew. Losing my patience fast after the high emotions of the prior evening, I informed him exactly what I had done on-stage. He shrugged dismissively and said, "Oh, I didn't pay any attention to you." Which may be true, but it was a dreadfully rude thing to say. This greatly exacerbated my feelings of futility.
Seeing Katie and bringing Nancy on Saturday helped me feel a little better. But I really didn't care about the play at all by then. I had been quite tired of it since Thursday.
The cast party was held at a local pizzeria after the final matinee. I got horribly lost, of course, arriving twenty minutes after I should have. Evidently people were worried. I'm touched that I warrant frightened calls to my house, I really am.
After the cast party, Zack, Teresa (aka the producer), Mike (aka Mr. Lipari), and I went to Chris's (aka techie in black) house. Normally I would have just gone home but I really should be more social, I know. Thus, I drove to Hyde Park to hang out with people who vaguely amuse me.
Zack and Teresa went to Tree's (Teresa's nick name which is significantly easier to write with one hand, as I am on the phone with Nancy as I write this, discussing permissive parenting) first because Tree needed to change clothes. Or Zack did. Nudity was involved in some way, of this I am sure. I recall raising my eyebrows suggestively.
Chris's garage featured a pool table, which was lovely as I like pool. I am not very good at it, but I enjoy it because it reminds me of numerous pleasant experiences (and a few not so pleasant ones, specifically when I learned that my psychological programming is so strong that I cannot breathe if a cigarette is held to my lips). They taught me a game called nine ball, which I rather liked. It added that dimension that made the game that much more complex. I think I won, though only by default.
When Zack arrived with Tree, he stated that he wanted his hair cut and wished for Tree to do so. She agreed with the caveat that he mustn't blame her if she did a bad job. He stated that hair was just hair, that it grew back. Famous last words, Mr. Zachary.
I chronicled the process in photos, which will be uploaded. (Are you getting the feeling a lot of photos are going to make there way onto this site? Where will they all live? All these things will be revealed soon.) It seemed to be going all right at first, but it only got worse. He ended up with something like a Moe bowl cut. Except hideous. Abashed, Tree fled. He requested we shaved it. I began cutting his hair randomly ("it's like a topiary. On your head.") and Mike manned the electric razor.
An hour and a broken razor later, and he looked more like the lovechild of a peach and a prickly pear than a mutant Furby.
Afterward, all of us were relaxing, chewing on toothpicks (I have yet to understand why they do this, but I am happy top join them). Chris suggested that I take a picture of Zack now that he was bald (I had taken many already). I stated, "Why? He will look the same tomorrow." They all cracked up. I wasn't aware I had said anything particularly funny but Mike explained, "That's what makes [Xen] funny, the little nuggets of wisdom."
Equally odd is when we were driving home. I was informing Zack that we needed to stop for gas as we only had 1/8 a tank. He said that was enough to get home. Suddenly we took a turn and it dropped to below empty. He said that such had happen and I whispered, "Quiet! The gas doesn't know that!" He laughed quite a bit over that.

I feel I should tell you. A few days ago, I was sitting with Zack. He was understandably lamenting his situation with Veronica and I was sympathizing and empathizing. Suddenly, I noted that he had a small, yellow and black spider on his shoe. I put my finger next to it and it climbed onto my hand. After a minute of so of crawling the spider wove a web between my thumb and forefinger. It was very beautiful. Zack said he wanted a girl who would be impressed that this was occurring and I wholeheartedly concurred. Most would think it was "icky," which is greatly a shame. In all, Peter the Spider (I named him Peter after Peter Parker, the secret identity of Spiderman) spent an hour of his short life with me. I dropped him off in a nice bush before I went home, and kiss him goodbye (in that I kissed the air above where he was. I could have easily inhaled him).

So, you wish to know about the Laurel I mentioned in my last journal entry. I suppose that is a valid enough request and I shall thus see fit to grant it. On Saturday, when Nancy and I went to the Earth Day festival, there was a band playing music from different (read as: "Western European," anywhere else doesn't have real music, else Americans would actually listen to it. Flawed, Eurocentric logic? Whazzat?) cultures. We sat and watched a bit, quickly catching on that these nine or so people were a family. I quickly became entranced with the mandolin player, Laurel (her actual name because... well... just because. Go with it). She seemed so sad, lost. She was almost tragically beautiful, though it helped her case that I felt she bore the earmarks of a young Sarah. I wanted to talk to her. Rescue her. Give her hope or any kind. Hand her one of my tiny books of Zen and tell her to contact me someday in the far future, when she needed someone to talk to. I suspected that her family pretty much pushed this band on her, as all the children over five were playing a musical instrument. If that was not bad enough, she was just entering her teenage years. I'm sure being on a stage with your parents singing is a thirteen-year-old's nightmare. To have to do so frequently... what he life must be like.
I wanted to know her. Selfish again, I suppose. I just wanted to know who she was, how she felt, what she wanted to do, what brought her to this life, what she had for breakfast. It is not everyone I feel this way about, or how would I lead a life. I just wish there was a way to pull someone aside and say, "You are beautiful and amazing. Speak with me so that I may know you." This action would rarely be looked at as innocently as I intend it, so I rarely do anything of the sort.
As I could not help her in any way, I am going to use her in a story. Flesh out who she might be. Know her in an anonymous, speculative way.

I am supposed to help with a blood drive for PURE tomorrow. I certainly will need my rest.


reading: Marabou Stork Nightmares, Irvine Welsh
listening: "I Quit" from the Buffy The Vampire Slayer soundtrack
wanting: socially acceptable induced transparency
interesting thought: Some like spiders because they eat insects. I like insects because they give the spiders something to eat.
moment of zen: Peter the spider

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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