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07.26.01 12:08 a.m.

Never forget that life can only be nobly inspired and rightly lived if you take it bravely and gallantly, as a splendid adventure in which you are setting out into an unknown country, to face many a danger, to meet many a joy, to find many a comrade, to win and lose many a battle.


 -Annie Besant 



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Renaissance Faire
On Saturday, Emily and I begin our jobs at the Renaissance Faire. I am both looking forward to it and dreading it completely. I am hoping the dread is unfounded, but I will keep it in a small vial in case it is justified.
Emily and I attended the requisite speech class last Saturday. Both of us nailed the lines on the first try and were allowed to promptly leave. Well, we were made less prompt by then fact that we thought we had to memorize the lines and that Emily did not have the confidence she should have in her authentic Eastern Glasgow accent. Not like Scotland had any part in the mish-mash of pseudo-history that forms Renaissance Faires.
It should be fun, in theory, if a bit hot. And we are all alone in our booth with no one to supervise us. Well, that is not precisely true. Evidently our boss is going to be reading fortunes elsewhere. So, in theory, we have a little structure with chairs that sits next to a stagnant pond (aka, a flood). I am not saying this in a naughty way, you understand. I simply prefer self-regulating and not having to worry that I am going to get the proverbial slap on the wrists for mispronouncing something or anachronistically alluding (seriously, they sell Pepsi and I can guarantee someone will say, "Thou art the weakest link, adieu," I do not feel I wholly need to be time period appropriate, though I will try).
I am not exactly sure how the payment situation works. Emily and I have decided with some degree of certainty that we get minimum wage plus commission. However, we did pull this out of thin air, so we could possibly be wrong. If this is not so (or better), I will feel less inclined to actually hawk the goods. Sitting and being bawdy suits me just fine, danke very much.
Ah, and the co-workers. This alone should be apt fodder for future journal entries. Kendall, dear doozer Kendall, is working selling fairy dust somewhere at the faire. She amuses me greatly, as you know, and this should be frolicsome. Ah, but I said co-workers, plural. Namahs, as we shall call him, who has behaved in a less than gentlemanly fashion in the past, present, future, (A proactive cad!) also is apparently working there. As I speak to him as little as possible if I have any say in the matter, I did not inquire as to where he would be working. That he is was enough. I suppose I can avoid him and Emily have already issued the flying sidekick to the cranium threat should he approach her. Perhaps this will minimize his existence in my life. One can only hope.
Okay, brief explanation of Namahs. He was introduced in tale to me by my friend Louise, I believe, who called him the evil version of me. I took a grain of salt and asked her why. My ear did fill up with slanderous stories that I cannot verify. I will sum them up with one anecdote. Supposedly, when asked by friends of his if he would like to spark the illegal seven-leaved plant of dubious origin, he replied that last time he did so, he ended up pleasuring five women in an hour to orgasm, so he had better not. Now, understand, the veracity of this I cannot prove. It may not be so at all, as it was told me be by a different (former) friend who had a penchant for making things up to keep people interested in her. Also, it is reputed that Namahs and she were more than friends while he had (and has) a girlfriend. My whole case against him is that I cannot look at him when he speaks. I will turn my back instinctively. So, I do not know what the case really is. Maybe he is a wonderful guy, but people I have respect for use his name in conjunction with arcane foul language. I will not press further.
Ah, but as of this writing, there is another co-worker for whom Emily may have to apply the flying side kick. We will call her Venti, because we can. She has prided herself on being a burr in my saddle particularly, though she isn't really. The fact that she prides herself on being so when she is a minor annoyance at best is funnier than anything else. But, I think that she does not know Emily or me on sight and certainly would be less inclined once we are adorned in faux-antiquarian vestments. She will, I think, play a minor role, if any.
So, there is the wind-up and the pitch... and the national anthem is still echoing. (Xen has made a sports reference... fear. Deeply fear.)

County Fair
First, I must inform you that Emily saved our lives driving there. No, literally, a car was in the middle of the lane and we would have likely all died had Emily not slammed on the brakes and turned the car to the left. Pure instincts, but we hit nothing. Huzzah for the M!
M and I went to the Orange County Fair on Saturday. I greatly enjoyed walking through the game section as it give me such an ego boost.

CARNIE: Hey! You look like a winner!
ME: I do? Why thank you, toothless old man. You are very nice. I look like a winner. We are very pretty. :::walks away:::
Only once did I feel compelled to play a carnival game in recent years and that is wholly because Chester the Alien needed to be liberated from his slack-jawed oppressors and the cloth diaper in which they put him.
One of the barkers tried to attract my attention by calling me "rock star." I didn't want to engage his gaze should he be referring to someone else. Plus, I found it slightly off-putting to be referred to as such because I have long hair and was wearing an unbuttoned shiny shirt. I am merely eccentric of dress!
Emily's old friend Emory (say it out loud a few times. It's fun!) and his fiancée were with us as well. Evidently he found Emily's transformation from the girl be met at (as M put it) "Jew Camp" to the duel tattooed heathen comparative religions major slightly unsettling. Or so Emily told me, I got only bits and pieces of the tension. Why he is important to the story, other than that he was there with us is that he is the lad who is to marry the first girl he met after setting foot on his college campus. This is why, after meeting me, Emily informed her mother via cell phone that she had met the man she was going to marry. Please note, I was not given a say in this matter. Clearly, I am being held at an undisclosed location until the wedding (I can make out the letters "A-N-A-T-E-V" but the rest is blurry). Marry the tailor Motel?! Never. A dream about my dead grandmother couldn't convince me, may she rest in peace!
I was amused by the quality of the carnies. These were not merely people running rides, no no! There were the unkempt, potentially ex-con, unwashed masses, with less than a mouth of teeth between them all. They are dying out in the county, I tell you. A rare breed (most rare breeds are the result of inbreeding) to be sure.
There were many animals present. Of course, Emily began to fall in love with them all. Especially the pygmy goats, one of which we desired to name Oscar. She felt that possessing a pygmy goat named Oscar would fulfill her in a way few other things would. We also saw pigs, which generally would be of little note, save that we saw a whole pig being grilled upon exiting a building. I had to cover her eyes and promptly assure her that this was a pig she had never met and it would have killed her had it the chance.
Aside from Emily and I shattering the ceiling of cuteness by getting matching photo key chains, not much was of note at the fair. I am clearly getting too old for them (no, I definitely am not).

Fear and Loathing (rambling)
I think I understand drugs whacking people out of reality and perspective as of a few days ago. Don't worry, if you would at all be inclined to be worried about me, I did not do drugs. However, and you may laugh and degrade my experience but I found it valid, yesterday I ended up seeing
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas with Melissa and Liz. I don't know what it was about the movie, though I think that rereading the book helped, but it completely fucked up my mental processes. I could barely drive my whack was so out. Emily (who was waiting at my house for me, quite unconscious, as is her wont) had to talk to me for about an hour before I felt normal again.
See, you think I am being ridiculous. I know you do. Let me explain it this way, if it will all be effective. Movies ask us to suspend our disbelief for a juncture of time and accept the reality with which we are being presented. I can fully indulge in films (particularly well made ones) because of some post-modern suspension of self. I think that is why I have dealt so well with the deaths I have been experiencing. I just accept that this is now the reality which I must abide and move on.
Anyway, back to the point, this movie, from what I understand from both Melissa and Kate, paints a somewhat accurate picture of drug experiences. Certainly few are sniffing ether at every turn, but the experience is not unique.
Well, I could not grasp at the straws of this reality except through dream logic, which it followed to a degree. Perhaps that makes sense that a movie about extreme drug use would mimic, in me, dreams. And, if you have not caught on yet, dreams to affect me. If I dream about someone, I begin thinking about him or her consciously. Often I touch base with them just at the right point. But, more concretely, I sometimes only half remember dreams and then doubt the validity of real experiences until I can separate the wheat and the chaff, the real and the contrived, of my mind. As such, this movie, indulged in, acted like an implanted dream. While I at no point imagined that I underwent any such experiences, the logic of the film stayed with me until I ate and washed my skin (Melissa smokes and it seeped into my every pore). Or, more clearly, I engaged in normalizing experiences to return me to the logical way my life should function. As I think I told you at some point, Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust would engage in sex quite frequently (so long as they were nourished enough to do so). Why? Because it was normalizing. It was an affirmation of life which being surrounded by the omnipresent death of the camps. Washing myself and eating were normalizing and affirmed who I was. I did not smoke, thus I washed that smell, that tenaciously clinging cloud off of me because it was not a part of me.
I hope I am making sense. I thought it was an interesting experience and certainly a noteworthy reaction to a film.

The Bronx Zoo
We arrived, quite unaccompanied, near the zoo around noon. And then, with the zoo clearly in sight, we became quite lost for several minutes. I am certain things happened before this, but I have fallen asleep and awoke only when my body told me that M was taking many turns and as such we were close to our destination. She tells me that she got slightly lost and to my insistence that she should have woke me, she told me that having me asleep in the car was oddly reassuring. To her, the fact that I could sleep through it meant that it really was not that bad.
After a bit, Emily navigated us to a parking spot, where she informed me to take everything even vaguely of worth as she had a feeling her car would get broken into. Had I this feeling, I would not have parked. However, she grew up in the city, I did not. And, most importantly, it was not my car and thus I had little say in the matter.
After paying admission, we realized that it was only a "suggested" donation. We needed that money! We are unemployed! Though, I suppose not so much that we cannot afford to go on adventures.
We abided the advice of the porn craving fortune teller by visiting, in order, lions and tigers and bears. The "Oh My!" was sick, so we were left to wander.
We were disappointed to discover that there was no platypus that we could admire. It was one of the main reasons that I was so keen on this particular adventure, but I dealt with my deep and aching sadness as best I could. Once I saw that there was a cage for the "house mouse," I felt much better.
During a very expensive lunch, Emily and I procured the essential tool for any visit to the Bronx Zoo. The Holy Grail of Polar Bears, if you will. The Refillable Animal Topper Soda Bottle ($9). With it, one can drink as much as one wishes on the day of purchase and you can refill it every hundred feet. I had bizarre fantasies of making them refill it, promptly untopping in and pouring the contents on the ground in front of them, and asking them to refill it again. But, you know, I'm kind of off. Emily and I ended up refilling the cup with every beverage, except Mountain Dew, which is one chemical away from being anti-freeze.
While sitting under a tree during one of our stops, Emily gleed that she liked being with me because she was proud to be seen with me. She liked that other people were jealous that she had me and no one else did. I do not believe anyone has ever said that to me or about me. It is possible that it was felt, but the verbalization put me pleasantly off-kilter.
Our favorite animal was somewhere between the tapir (also known in the tongue of the Emilia's as "the pig cow") and the marmosets. Ideally, the marmosets should have been riding the tapirs. Ideally.
Upon returning to the car, we found that it had not been touched, which was very nice. My feet ached after all walking and I did not fancy filling out a police report.
We got very lost on the way home. Emily improvised navigation well and we were able to get home.
The way home was fraught with peril. Well, not so much peril as sleepiness. But it was a perilous sort of sleepiness that made Emily hit of rumble strips on the side of the road. So she forced me to stay awake and talk to her so she would not fall asleep.

Sickness
I spent the past two days at M's because she had to be rushed to the hospital on Tuesday. I did not fully know what was going on and reacted badly to having so little information. I was going to write in the journal in an effort to calm myself down, but I figured I would end up typing rants about how much she is not allowed to die.
No worries, she seems nearly five by five now. Evidently she had a kidney infection, resulting in sad nephrons and a build up of unpleasant poisons in her system.
So, on Wednesday, I rented Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Monty Python's the Meaning of Life, The Last Unicorn, and Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. She told me she needed to see cheerful film and these seemed to fit the bill. I also went to the grocery store and got her plastic dinosaurs (everyone needs toys when they are sick), Diet Cherry Burst Faygo (she claims she likes this), a big jug of iced tea (sick girls need their fluids), Kisses with almonds, and other such comforting items. I also included numerous children's books in my overnight bag because she obviously would need stories. I wanted to play a good nursemaid.
It was rather low key, which was good. She kept having hot and cold flashes, which were scary to me. Last night she was shivering so much I woke up and proceeded to pronounce her back ice cold. Then I felt my own and realized it felt the same. So I calmed down and comforted her in a less hysterical manner. Mostly we cuddled and ate the cookie lump that we created earlier in the evening.
It was nice to be there for her and care for her in her time of need. I am fairly sure that she will be healthy enough for the Renaissance Faire by Saturday. If not, I'll prop her up and pretend she is fine, ala Weekend at Bernie's. Much low brow farce will follow, hopefully involving Jonathan Silverman and a voodoo curse.

Buffy
Emily cried as much as I did while watching the series/season finale of Buffy. She said I was not to tell anyone she had or she would deny it and/or claim she was too sick to be in control of her emotions. But it honestly meant quite a bit to me that she felt as I did toward this scenario.
Yes, I know it is fake. A show. Actors, the lot of them. And I loathe people who feel the need to remind crying people of these facts. No one ever approaches someone laughing at a movie and says, "Why are you laughing? That isn't real. It's a moooovie. Do... you... understand?" And yet this reaction is deemed necessary toward those that are actually affected to the extent that they cry? I cried laughing during Mystery Science Theater 3000 and no one felt the need to admonish me for those tears. It is an annoying and hypocritical practice.
Anyway, the original point, other than having M throw a pillow at me, was that it touched me that Emily could care about these character to whom I felt attached. I am glad that I could share this show to the extent that I did with her.

Xen and the Art of Bicycle Riding
Recently, I have been riding a bike frequently. I would like to say it is mostly for recreation, but that is more the byproduct. I have a pathetically small degree of cardiovascular endurance. I am fairly strong for my build and trim. But I have trouble hiking even the shortest distance. This I find pathetic and, rather than whining about it alone, I figure that I brisk hour bike-ride after the sunset would do me quite a bit of good. At the very least I get some fresh air.
I find it life affirming. The first day I biked, I returned literally drenched in sweat and exhausted. But it felt good to remember each and every muscle in my thigh because it ached gently. Buddhists supposedly believe that life is suffering, but this is not so. Suffering, however small, does remind you that you are alive, though.
Another odd and, I'll admit, pleasurable side effect of my two-wheeled constitutionals is that girls who see me actually check me out. The first day, I passed one girl, who clearly gave me the once over. When I returned that way, she had two friends who began asking my name and the like. It was flattering and innocent. It is nice to know that I am attractive.
Today, I ended up biking past the entrance to Jen's road. It was accidental; I was just biking and ended up in the area. I wonder how she is and truly hope well. She is a nice person, now that I feel divorced from the events that lead to the end of our friendship. But no matter.
It is getting slightly easier. My muscles propel me a little further and last a little longer. Once fall comes, perhaps I will be in the shape to hike mountains once more.

reading: On the Road, Jack Kerouac
listening: Between the 1 and the 9 by Patti Rothberg
wanting: endurance
interesting thought: Before today, I always missed the god in the garden because I was going too fast.
moment of zen: Sitting on a bike after years of disuse and realizing my body knew exactly what to do.
someday I must: climb to the peak of the Mohonk again.

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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