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09.04.01 10:59 a.m.

The world is a kindergarten classroom where the infants try to spell god with the wrong blocks.

  -I forget.  

No aqui
Yes, it is true that I was gone. That I told you, the loyal journal readers, that I would tell you more tomorrow. And yet nothing appeared on the site that tomorrow, nor many tomorrows thereafter.
It should be noted that I have any number of perfectly valid reasons for this absence, not the least of which that I am trying to alter my brain enough to be able to deal with this more college experience.
I have returned.

A brief story of the mother
My mother can be... we'll go with silly. No, this isn't about the bird. However I welcome you to consider this symptomatic.
My mother had been employed within the local school district for something like eight years. Over the summer, she decided that she craved a change and was thus completely unable to endure another year at the school. Very well, change is necessary for growth. We cannot terrible fault her this.
About a month ago, she got a job working as a secretary or some such thing at an optometrist's office up the street. She seemed happy, especially as she was no longer at the school. Since she was no longer there, she was going to spend her retirement money on a diamond ring rather than rolling the money over to her new job. Because that clearly makes sense and a ring will provide for her in her old age. Right.
She had been working for the optometrist for something like a week. And she quit. Last night. At 1AM. And is refusing to speak to them.
I feel that, should I ever feel the need to run away from life, the precedent has been set down here.

The Effects of the Faire
So, as you know, I have been spending my past (I feel the urge to write "every" but I will not) many summer weekends at the New York Renaissance Faire working at Rozalisa's Jewelry. It's decent work, if one can get it.
As such, one could rightly expect that the job would take some small hold over me, no? Well, this is the presumption I am making, which is germane since I am the one being held, as it were. I have noticed in my interactions with people outside the faire that I am a great deal more annoying. Actually, no. I am, however, greatly more confident and outgoing because I see the cellophane over all social interaction. The consequences to my approaching some random person I find interesting are minimal. They may decide they find me off-putting and decide they do not like me. At which point, I no longer see reason to speak to them. However, the rewards can be great, as they may become a friend or at the very least someone I can smile to in passing. And, hey, it's fun pestering strangers!

Conor's Story Updated
Let's see, what do you know? I will apprise you of the situation.
Conor was asked by Bard College not to return this semester. Last year, he fell so ill that he couldn't move his head just before finals. Well, that and the first year college party syndrome. But for this narrative, as I wish for you to be sympathetic toward the wonderfulness that is Conor, we will wholly assume it was all about the former.
As he was asked not to return during the fall semester, this means that Conor is attending as less prestigious edifice of higher learning (perhaps Dutchess) for the semester. Which is unfortunate, of course. But this also means that Conor is in the area and can be included in adventures. This is a silver lining to me and possibly a boon to you, the readers as shall be evidenced below.

Duckless Geese and Zombie Sharks
Thursday, Emily decided to ditch Tae Kwon Do in order to hang out with Conor whose plight it described above. Yes, we were sad that he would be unable to return to his beloved Bard but we were not surprised exactly. While I had complete faith in the boy, I do not think all the combined faith in twelve Baptist churches could have invoked the proper miracle to complete all of his work. So he is here for the time being and we needed to take full advantage of this fact. What better way than zombie movies?
As we were making plans while still at New Paltz, we sought to engage New Paltzians in the plan. Only Tina could be kidnapped/rescued for this soirée.
After all of our last classes, we headed back to my house. Somewhere between leaving and arriving at my home, Emily informed us matter-of-factly that the strange ducks and geese I had taken to befriending on campus were the progeny of genetic experiments conducted by the New Paltz biology students in the 1970s. As such, these flightless birds are indigenous to the New Paltz campus and exist nowhere else. At first I scoffed, but she seemed quite certain of this fact and I am now inclined to believe her. I shall have to take pictures, of course, as I expect photographic evidence is needed. My proof of the mutant geese is as follows (where there are asterisks is a trait I myself have seen):

  • Unusually aggressive: these birds have been known to surround students and attack them
  • Strange beaks: the beaks of some of the geese have huge horn-like bumps or no beaks at all
  • Weird skin: there is at least one goose that has a red scaly head. It's a bit like a red face mask that covers its beak, eyes, and "chin"
  • Dinosaur feet: Emily informs me that the geese have frightening saurian feet
  • Radically different feathers between two birds or relatively the same species
Clearly this subject is owed further research, no? The truth must be known!
After dinner, Emily, Tina and myself went to Conor's. We brought with us the zombie video simple called Zombies (Zombie 2 in Italy) that boasted, and I quote, "A zombie fights a shark. Guess who wins?!" We are still unclear as to the answer of the question. In stealing Conor away, we also purchased cake mix and frosting. For what is a zombie movie without fresh cake?
We decided to bake the cake first and watch the movie while it was turning from goop into nummy goodness. We were all crowded in the kitchen, rather doing a little of nothing and everything. Emily had found the International Male catalog and was verbally ripping it to shreds. She inquired as to why this bastion of flamboyant homosexuality was delivered to my house. I explained that my mother had purchased an outfit which I dubbed The Russian Count Outfit for me through it. I had never occasion to wear it, a fact which Emily sought to change with all due haste (which is to say, by taking me to the New Paltz Formal and insisting I wear it). So, on they baked while I carefully took the outfit off its hangers and put it on my frame.
I stepped out of my room wholly bedecked in the splendors that one can only purchase through International [Gay] Male. Emily took - how shall we say? - kindly to the ensemble. Conor and Tina likewise expressed enjoyment of my garb. Of course my mother chooses this moment to return home. Below you shall find the transcribed conversation as I remember it.
[Door opens]
ME: Nothing weird is going on.
MOM: What are your friends doing?
ME: They might be baking a cake. But nothing weird is going on.
M: {giggling}
MOM: And what exactly are you doing?
ME: I might be trying on clothing. Nothing weird is going on.
I think she pretty much gave up here and told us not to make a mess and that I should get out of my nice suit. Mothers have a way of shutting away anything that doesn't make sense quickly. At least mine does.

Living on Campus and the Fact I Don't
Leaving campus today, I realized just how much I truly wish to be in this college community and indulge in their less than scholarly antics. On some level, much as some try to resist it, we always seek to belong. In my current form within the bounds of the college, I am something of a transient phantom. Some see me, but I am not of their world.
I want to live on campus in a tiny dorm with an annoying roommate who becomes an inside joke to my friends. I want to eat bad food in cramped dining halls with awkward strangers. I want to take a numbing walk in the dead of winter at midnight because a tertiary friend wants to talk. I want to have these common adventures that I would find deep meaning in. And I am not. I am living at home, though the apron strings are quite severed. I am so rarely home that my room seems unfamiliar, yet it is not the same. The room belongs to this house. It is not mine, and in some way, a dorm I shared with a stranger would be more mine.
I worry that, sans this cultural experience, I will be somehow deficient socially. This nearly universal set of events is not mine. I have stolen glimpses, surely. But the rooms, the halls, the showers, the dry-erase boards... these never belonged to me. I do not have an academic community that I may call my own.

Someone. Write me. Tell me that you read this. Ask me about small facts that pique your curiosity. Beseech me to tell you a story from my life. I want to share. Writing is my therapy and an addiction that I fear ever quitting. Without it, I despair. Elicit my stories. Friends, ask me to tell some story from your life as I saw it. Be known and loved. For me?

last watched: Horror Hotel
reading: The End of Education, Neil Postman
listening: "Hey Jupiter" from Boys for Pele by Tori Amos
wanting: more minutes free
interesting thought: we are the god-making species
moment of zen: the chill of autumn
someday I must: know.

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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