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05.03.01 12:48 a.m.

My friend assures me, "It's all or nothing."
But I am not really worried I am not overly concerned
You try to tell yourself the things you try to tell yourself
To make yourself forget I am not worried
"If it's love," she said, "then we're going to have to think about the consequences."
She can't stop shaking
I can't stop touching her and...

This time when kindness falls like rain
It washes her away and Anna begins to change her mind
"These seconds when I'm shaking leave me shuddering for days," she says
And I'm not ready for this sort of thing

But I'm not going to break and I'm not going to worry about it anymore
I'm not going to bend, and I'm not going to break and I'm not going to worry about it anymore
It seems like I should say, "As long as this is love..."
But it's not all that easy so maybe I should
Snap her up in a butterfly net
Pin her down on a photograph album
I am not worried I've done this sort of thing before
But then I start to think about the consequences
Because I don't get no sleep in a quiet room and...

The time when kindness falls like rain
It washes me away and Anna begins to change my mind
And everytime she sneezes I believe it's love and
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing

She's talking in her sleep
It's keeping me awake and Anna begins to toss and turn
And every word is nonsense but I understand and
Oh lord, I'm not ready for this sort of thing


 -Counting Crows, Anna Begins 



Emily.
See, you do not know Emily, so that confused you.

I will give you this entry as nearly to chronologically as I can as I feel this is the best way to relate such a narrative.

As to the blood drive mentioned in the previous entry. I did try to attend, only to be told that they were overstaffed and that they "might have something for me to do around six." As I arrived at around one, I saw little goodness in waiting around a great many hours and took off.
I made a few calls outside the blood drive, to find that Tina was home and greatly inclined to want to hang out. We decided that we needed to go shopping (or rather, I decided that this would be a proper activity for the day).
After I picked her up, the main topic of discussion was the future apartment she would be sharing with Kate and Kate's friends. Not necessarily in the most optimistic of terms, I fear I must admit.
We ended up buying several articles of apparel on clearance at Hot Topic (Motto: "We are way too edgy to need a motto"). She convinced me that a black fishnet shirt with silver studs in the shape of a skull and cross bones was exactly what my wardrobe required. I swear, it seemed reasonable at the time and it was only $8.
After several productive hours of being shills to capitalism, I received a page from my mother informing me that Zack had called and he sounded particularly down. I called him and we made plans to hang out after I dropped Tina off home so she could see Stevehen.
When I finally got to him (several hours later, as eating evidently involved checking my e-mail and trying on new sandals), I saw that he indeed was lacking something quite profound in his life. I decided that it was a small, vanilla, cherry dipped ice cream cone. He, of course, begged to differ. He had the chocolate dip.
Having slaked a mutual need for ice cream, we returned to his house to watch the last ten minutes of Invader Zim (the best show no one is watching) which seemed enough to convert Zack to Jhonenism. After this, we walked to a nearby playground to swing and speak by moonlight. We did so during the dissolution of his last relationship and it seemed like an excellent ground for purging. I had much to say as well, as I went though something similar with Kate. However, I had far more need to just hold back and listen. A lot of this is just letting him hear what he has to say out loud so he can realize the validity. Zack is a wise boy and it coping better than I did when I was in shoes of that sort.
He told me that I was a good friend, as we walked back to his house. I really didn't think I had done much, but I guess that proves what he was saying. He keeps me grounded and is a good friend to me as well. I need to make a page about him quite soon.

On Saturday, I decided that I was going to a Ren Fest somewhere near New Paltz. I brought Zack, who refused to dress in garb as he felt it was "just a lot of adults playing dress-up," and Nancy, who was in full, self-made wench wear. Already I could see this would be quite an experience.
Not surprisingly, I became quite lost, since we were navigating entirely be Nancy's feeling of where she thought places were. To her credit, she technically got us where we needed to go, just not actually. After a briefly call home (and completely disregarding the information we received from the on-line map site) we finally found the right place.
I was dismayed at how few people were in garb and considered removing some of mine (a rust colored poet shirt, woven leather belt, kriss dagger, and black velvet cloak). Nancy convinced me otherwise and noted that the abundance of Pagans presents would completely justify my array. This may have to go on my list of "Things I do not like about the perception of Paganism" list. Not Nancy's fault, as she raised a valid point. So I entered adorned as a rennie who knew what Levis are.
Once inside, we promptly hit the ten vendors present. I expected quite a bit more and had oodles of cash to spend (though entrance and parking depleted my cash reserves).
Growing weary of trying to buy things we obviously didn't need (gourd that plays music? Sword that looks like a toothpick? Plastic jewelry?), we ventured toward the stage. Many unshaven hippies dancing... Hmm... Undulating? Flailing... Yes, many unshaven hippies flailing while a good two hundred more watched. Vaguely eerie, actually. I saw a few friends of Kate's, most of whom I ignored. I gave an honest and firm hug to a tiny spiritual lass the Kate neglected recently. Very sweet girl, I hope she is around when I am at New Paltz.
The three of us ended up sitting in a field slightly away from the action to talk. Zack was discontent with this festival on the whole, labeling the revelers (perhaps dead on) as delusional people trying to live out their fantasies. I, on the other hand, just like puffy shirts and velvet capes. If it were socially acceptable, I would certainly wear them frequently. I may anyway. Delusional, I am not, as I was taking digital pictures and was wearing transition lenses.
We decided (well, mostly Nancy) to head back to the action. We walked around a bit before settling dead center. Suddenly and without sufficient warning, a large Pagan ritual broke out. At the very least, I was embarrassed. I had not realized that this wasn't merely a faire, but that it was rather an attempt to push a religion onto the masses. And before Pagans decided to send me huffy letters, consider how you would feel if you were at a carnival that broke out into a prayer meeting. Furthermore, consider if you brought friends there to cheer them up and now had to worry that they would think you were proselytizing.
As I have a touch of Discordian in me, and they were taking all off this far too seriously (there was a man on stilts wearing poster board so he would look like a bloody parrot. He was a crucial part of the ritual. A "wind dragon" got trapped in a large bush and no one laughed. The "sacred fire" blew out, not a titter), we began to quietly mock all of this. Of course, we got glared at. However, should I really care that these people came to be just as solemn and dogmatic about a new religion? It was Beltane, for Eris's sake! Hardly a time to have a stick (or would it be a wand?) up one's rear end.
This annoyed Zack further and I offered the caveat "these people to not represent me." When this wasn't sufficient, I told him we would leave soon and get ice cream. This cheered him briefly.
We wandered a bit more, far from the pretentious, proselytizing, priggish Pagans below. I ended up buying a wooden croaking frog for my mother for Mother's Day and a skull mirror for myself. Then I ran into an old acquaintance, Dawn, who joined our party as she needed a ride back to New Paltz.
Around now, Zack hit his boiling point and proclaimed that he would play rock-paper-scissors with me. If I won, we would stay a little longer. If he won, ice cream. He won (I wonder why?), so we departed for New Paltz. After a pleasant meal at the Moonlight Cafe and some shopping on Main Street, we went to Nancy's as she dared to mentioned that she had recorded Invader Zim.
I cut the night short because I had to be up early Sunday in order to go to Salem.

Bryan, my younger brother, is a miserable rat-boy. At least he is in this instance. He shut off the alarms because he "thought nothing of" my having set up numerous alarms to wake me up so that I could make it to Salem. Even when he woke up for work (7:00), knowing full well that I was suppose to be up before him so I could go on the trip, he did not wake me. I did not wake up until one of the people going called and asked where I was. Where I was was in a world where my younger brother is going to get swatted with a tennis racket. I was frustrated, angry and sad to a huge extent, as this trip had been every other sentence out of my mouth since Thursday. I was looking forward immensely to spending time with my friends in Salem. I was even looking forward to the van ride up, for Mercury's sake! (Evidently not too upset to put in the right deity's name.) I had my camera charged and ready, my clothes picked out, I stopped at the ATM, and numerous alarms to wake me up in time. I was ready, barring any unforeseen circumstances like my little brother shutting all the alarms off because he couldn't understand why anyone would want to wake up at 6. Erm.
However, you know me, I am not one to let things keep me down. I called up all of my friends and suggested things to do. Okay, granted, I was rebuffed or met Mr. Busy Signal numerous times. However, I recalled that I had not spent much time with Melissa of late. After much cajoling, I convinced her that we needed to go to the Stormville Flea Market.
It was hot. It was dusty. It was sleazy.
Fun!
The high point for me was telling Melissa that she was so desensitized by normal pornography that she could now only get turned on by really exotic stuff, like (and this was completely random) camel-monkey sex. She said I was a dork and had too much time on my hands. Then I began coming up with catch phrases for a camel-monkey porn ("That is why it is called a hump." "They can go a month without water but not an hour without hot monkey love.") Then she was horrified, which was made worse when we ran across a booth selling stuffed monkeys and camel puppets. It was almost too perfect.
After growing thoroughly tired of the flea market and having had much of our strength sapped by the sun, we decided to pick up a few of her friends and go on a picnic. Okay, perhaps it would be more proper to say, "get Subway and eat at a park." Whatever, pretend it was a picnic.
When I got home, I was greeted by Zanna attacking me on-line (earlier in the day, Alison had done so for Zanna, but was quick to realize the allegations were ridiculous), claiming that I was doing all sorts of unspeakable things to Nancy. Which, frankly, wouldn't happen. I told her as much, and she tried to play the victim. Even if I were committing such horrendous acts to a bleeding minor (because, hey, what is going to college to be a teacher when compared with the sweet pleasure that is a teenager? Have you dealt with a 16 year old recently? I'd rather seduce a rabid tigress than deal with high school people as more than friends. I more than learned my lesson with Eileen, and I knew her for years), which I wouldn't, it wouldn't be anyone's business except for mine and the girl and, undoubtedly, the girl's parents. As such, I told her that it was false and to butt out. Currently I think she is still insisting I am some child-molesting Devil because she cannot deal. Oi.
Frankly, I am not so sure I wish to deal with any involved if they are going to behave like this. I am out of high school. That they are not does not mean I should have to put up with sophomoric games and power trips. I have better thing to do. To quote the scriptwriters on Buffy, "Go spank your inner moppet, if that's what you need... but get over it."
After this social debacle, I called Kate for some cheering up. The main point of the conversation is that she really wishes I would get a girlfriend so I could get over her. I told her quite plainly that she had no right to tell me what to do, especially like that, and that I was quite content alone (which is entirely true). I would not want to be with someone just to get over Kate, that is honestly a terrible thought. I would feel like such a user.

This bring us to Monday, when I went on a classroom visit to PDS. The room was tiny and cramped. The teacher yelled. I am completely disillusioned and no longer think so highly of teaching there. I saw Zanna and she screamed "FUCK YOU!" at me from behind a closed door. Which is mature in the exact way that it isn't. When she did actually have to face me, she tersely asked why I didn't say "hi" to her before. Hmm... the fact that she is accusing me of hideous acts couldn't have anything to do with my reticence to engage her, could it? Actually, it didn't. I only saw her from behind and didn't recognize her. I told her, knowing that as she perceives herself as transgendered she would take this as a compliment, she looked like a boy from behind. This made her jubilant and she flitted off. Oi^2.
When I returned to school, I promptly began working at the library. As it grew later, the library emptied out. Edwin McCain's song "I'll Be" began playing on my computer (it is set to random mode). Something seized me and I focused my energy of finding someone like the person described in the song. It was a rather intense spell for such an extemporaneous one.
As I was leaving the library, I heard someone calling me by both my given and chosen name. I looked around and saw no one, but felt something was there. I whispered, "Fine, we'll talk in the car."
While I was driving, I spoke to the voiceless thing. Heck, let's not be coy, I think it was Fate. Fate was basically telling me that the plan I had was a bloody bad idea and that, while I was free to do so, it was rather preferable to the universe that I let it unfold as expected. Kind of the prime directive (Xen made a Star Trek reference. This is impressive because he has never sat through a whole Star Trek) of psychic entities, do not interfere in developing beings. I stated that I would be happy to leave the universe be if I got something in return. Namely, a remarkable female in my life to care for. Fate asked me if there wasn't some way I would just behave on my own, I stated there was not. The conversation ended. Again, bear in mind that nothing was really there talking to me. The answers were more like evolved versions of gut feelings.

Tuesday, I skipped classes because Tina and another friend were going to register for classes at New Paltz. I was told that my registration date was not until June 6th. This seemed quite ridiculous, as absolutely no classes would be available by then.
Knowing that I possess a certain charm, I felt I could get in. At worse, they would bar me entrance and I would go to classes. Hardly the end of the world.
After some affected cluelessness and a great deal of polite smiles (along with $20), my name appeared on the entry list. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. And after that, out of all wonder.
I immediately located Tina, who was ecstatic to see me there. She wasn't sure I would be able to get in, what with completely not supposed to have been there and all. Since we still had a goodly amount of time before the speaker were supposed to begin, we scapped up our stuff and headed to the basement to get an ID card for me.
When we returned, we saw that our seats had been taken in our absence. Not to fret, we found some seats on the other side of the room. I was still tittering from having been able to sneak in and Tina tends to be in a silly mood. So we chittered to each other and teased the speakers.
Suddenly, in front of me, I saw a rather comely lass with a glowing silver star on her chest. Okay, fine, so it was just that the sunlight was glinting off of it. It was more than enough to have caught my eye. For the rest of the time we were seated, I kept glancing over at her, even bring Tina's attention to the Pagans seated in front of us.
Tina and I visited Katie during out touring break. She seemed highly pleased to see us and informed me that she had paged me to remind me to go to New Paltz today. However, my batteries were dead so it wouldn't have helped, though I appreciated the gesture. As we were parched, we had Katie buy us raspberry ice teas in the SUB, which she was happy to do for us. She can be a remarkably sweet girl sometimes.
Sadly, we had to return for another soporific speech, though my eyes still strayed to the blonde girl.
During the lunch break, I realized that I was quite close to this girl. Swallowing my fear like a gel capped Tylenol, I asked her if she would like some company as we ate. She was quite warm and stated that she very much should like my company.
She revealed that her name was Emily. Lovely name. We spoke on a number of topics, not the least of which was Paganism and the fact that she somewhat knew of me through a famous friend of hers who knew about my organization. Oh, quiet you, that is something.
Her adviser then came, so I bid her adieu and she assured me that we would see each other again.
I went about the rest of my day, getting classes and approval of men I never expect to see again. As I was about to register, I found Emily exiting a building I was about to enter. By that time, I had serendipitously found Tina, who spoke with Emily too. She was truly quite charming and we simultaneously exchanged e-mail addresses. I was glowing, I'm sure.
After registration was over, Tina and I went to hang out with Katie again. She was sunning herself on a blanket when we found her and studying Russian. She looked over our schedules and remarked that we didn't have any of the evil teachers. Good to know. Katie insisted I was being quiet, though I think it was more that I was listening. Entirely different, you know.
When I got home, I wrote Emily this letter:

I just wanted to say hello and make sure I got your address right. If I did not, hello to whoever gets this. If you are a stranger, I will tell you a story. I met this girl named Emily when I was applying for classes at SUNY New Paltz. She certainly stuck me as interesting over anyone else there, as she had hair like golden ramen noodles and had faded numbers on her hand. So I ate lunch with her. She is vegan but didn't mind my making a graveyard of my stomach, which speaks well of her. She is also Wiccan and has heard of my tiny little Pagan organization, which flattered me a bit. After lunch we parted ways, but our paths crossed again a few hours later, as I knew they would, and there exchanged e-mail addresses. I am already grateful to know her, she seems exceedingly pleasant. I said that I would make new friends once I got to New Paltz, but I had no idea it would be so soon. Okay, dear Emily, I will bid you adieu now. I have a paper to write and people are getting antsy for the next journal entry on my website. By the way, may I use your real name when I write about you in the journal or do you wish to be referred to be pseudonym (I already have one picked out: Eartha. The etymology of the name is that 1) My friend's cat is named Emily and was the first non-related Emily I ever met - --> that made you the Cat Woman in my head - --> Catwoman was once played by Eartha Kitt - --> Eartha 2) You are Wiccan and vegan thus earthy - --> Eartha. 3) your e-mail address contains something like the word "earth" - --> Eartha. However, I'd prefer to just call you Emily when I talk about you in my journal.)

Merry vegetables,
Xen

She replied in a very charming letter which highly impressed me. As I consider it private, you don't get to see it. Nyah!

Tonight, I saw dear Emily. I was sitting at work when she IMed me. I convinced her not to go to Tae Kwon Do practice (the faded numbers on her hand were her weight class) and she solicited me to leave work to entertain her by hanging out with her at a diner near her.
Emily  
Emily
Despite getting frighteningly lost in Newburg owing to a wretched Yahoo map, I finally found her. She was sitting, cross-legged and still, like some alabaster goddess in the moist night air. Gods, I wanted to kiss her! She really was quite beautiful to me, as you can no doubt tell.
Rather than entering the diner we had met at, she stated that she needed a fan from Wal-Mart. This seemed nice enough, so we did so.
Once there, she proclaimed that she wanted the biggest fan available in order that her dog and herself didn't die during the night. Well, we certainly can't have her dying, I just found her. Suddenly the Edwin McCain song whispered in my ear, ...I'll be the biggest fan of your life. It occurred to me that perhaps Emily was the universe's response to me. It was about as subtle as celestial forces like to be. As such, beware of falling anvils.
After this, we returned to the diner to actually eat. Actually, we mostly talked. And I held her hands and kissed her fingers. It was amazing, disclosing little secrets. Who she was unfolding like a rose bud. I am so much more smitten with her now. I can still smell her scent around me. Her smile is etched in my eyelids.
We didn't kiss goodnight. She is just getting out of a relationship and, well, we know that I tend to not want to be just kissed. What with that time I retched and all. I would never do that with her, I know that completely. But I do know that I do not wish to be the rebound guy, ever. I want something very real with Emily. I think I can have it.
For the first time since Kate, someone feels so real and right to me I could cry for joy.

reading: Marabou Stork Nightmares, Irvine Welsh
listening: "Anna Begins" from August and Everything After by Counting Crows
wanting: an eternity of the discovery of one complexly beautiful soul.
interesting thought: None of this could happen until the entire universe was prepared for it.
moment of zen: The exact moment before I touched Emily.

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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