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10.17.01 12:05 a.m.

To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure; their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their deeds; they are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good deed.


 -Titus 1:15,16 RSV  




This Entry Features: Passionless teachings, four and twenty black birds baked in a pie, telephones asking me to pee, death, guilt, engraved chocolate.

Exposition To Stephanie
Stephanie is my Sociological and Philosophical Foundations of Secondary Education teacher. The title of the class, by far, takes up more room than the rest of my classes combined. This may be very telling. We like Stephanie, she is a pure soul. It is late, yet I still crave to be known by someone other than her. As I spent a good hour writing this rambling wretched rant (ooh! Alliteration!), I will share it for posterity. It does share plot points that will come into play as well, so it needs to be shared on some level.

Stephanie,
First, away with the business at hand: I have not really befriended anyone enough in class to have partnered up with them for the writing workshop. Do you know of anyone sans partner who I could ask to read my essay and comment on it?
Now for the more friendly conversation! (Note from the bottom of this letter: really, I started this letter just wanting to be friendly and ask your opinion on the idea explained in the following sentence. It ballooned quite a bit.) How possible to you think it is that my friends (one who works with mentally and emotionally disturbed children and one who will likely own a Tae Kwon Do school in a few years) and myself to open up a Montessori school or a day care? I would much rather actually run a school where I am educating the youth of America, living that ever so noble dream of bettering the world, but have been led to believe that creating a school (even preschool-3, our intended grade levels) required a great deal more than I can currently handle. More or less this stems from the fact that I feel... kind of lost. I have a stern dislike for most other secondary education majors, especially after hearing my Foundations class (though not the teachers) praise a girl who insisted that she hated reading and writing with the fiery hot passion of a million suns (okay, perhaps she just said she hated it. You understand the necessity for hyperbole given the hideousness of the statement) yet she wanted to teach English to middle school students, possible the most easily destroyed level of students. I found that lack of regard for the damage she could do appalling. I love reading and writing with a passion and I am sure students would know that. I could not go a day teaching without showing that I had a true love of the written word. So, yeah, maybe I'd be a really great teacher because I love the subject. I think I love learning. But I get frustrated with... a lot of the rest of the world. Especially teachers who hate teaching. I currently have one of those teachers, who feels the need to teach through laziness and fear (he does not lecture, just tells us to read stories and present them to the class, then he quizzes us randomly about our reading. He gave me a B+ on my midterm, then told me it was a D because I handed it in 15 minutes early which signaled to him that I didn't actually care about the essay I had just written). As a student, of course, I dislike him for his harshness. But when I look at it from the stance of a potential future teacher, I actually abhor him. He serves as an example to me of what not to become, not that I think his level of complacency and semi-sadism is within my character anyway. He told another teacher of mine, one whom I like because she honestly loves talking about Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chaucer, that she should just quit her job because none of her students cared about Medieval English and were not smart enough to learn it. All she had done to provoke this was ask what plays of Shakespeare he was teaching so she would not overlap. If I were to ever reach this hatred of my profession, I would leave for greener pastures. I understand with tenure and the like, it is easier for teachers to ride out until retirement since they cannot be fired. Collect a paycheck every two weeks just for sitting and listening to some students erroneously prattle on about Willa Cather. It is comfortable for them, but obscenely detrimental to the student body. Owing to this teacher, I nearly have to force myself to enjoy American Literature, reminding myself that e e cummings is not to blame (e e cummings is never to blame) and that I still care that Gatsby was corrupted by his dreams and his misspent love of Daisy. If he can do this to a passionate student, I am loath to cast my mind over to the girl in my Foundations class (also in my American Lit class as a constant reminder) who sits in the back taking obsessive notes on said prattling. See, I started by asking you whether you saw the feasibility of my starting a small school for little ones and I stream-of-conscious myself into a diatribe about bad teachers. I want you to know that I think you are an excellent teacher, completely excluded from my condemnation (for what that is worth). I consider you a friend, as well, as I tend to regard all the teachers I truly learn from. In fact, I am still good friends with my former psychology professor from SUNY Dutchess. You would not be receiving this letter were I not to consider you a good teacher, for I would have an intense distrust of you. I do trust you. You are like a friend who grades me. I do not know where I will be most happy, doing what. One of my friends once said that I will better the world and change peoples live no matter what I do. At one point I thought it was assisting making movies. Then writing. Now teaching. Maybe tomorrow it will be psychology. Now it is teaching. But where? I could easily get a job teaching the children of the rich but that feels like a cop out. I could teach English to disenfranchised, inner-city youths, but I am frankly scared of that life. It is too hard a life for me, in my current opinion. I want to be around people who might actually want to learn, but still need to (yeah, find me the person who doesn't need to learn something and I will show you a great fool). So, Stephanie... um... how is the weather?

I am still idealistic enough to really, truly believe I can change the world,
[Xen]

Hope Is a Waking Dream
So, as stated above, it has entered into the minds of Melissa, Emily, and me (with some help) to open a Montessori school or perhaps a daycare.
True. Nervous. Very dreadfully nervous I had been and am (considering I am still unemployed and don't know that I am in the right field); but why do you think I'd be mad? This free time has sharpened my senses - not destroyed - not dulled them. Above all is my sense of self-acute. I felt all things in heaven and earth about myself. I felt many things in hell. Why, then, should I be mad? Check it! and observe how healthily - how calmly I can tell you the whole story.
It is quite easy to say how first the idea entered our brains (Emily was talking about getting her own Tae Kwon Do school and various options open to her other than graduate school); but once conceived, it has haunted me day and night. Object, there was some. Passion, there was much. I love to teach. It was never wronged me. It has sometimes given me cause to insult. For gold I had no desire (else I'd be in the wrong field entirely). I think it was Emily's eyes that made it seem like a good idea! Yes, it was them! She has the eyes of an angel - a pale blue eye, with sparkles over it. Whenever it fell upon me, my blood runs hot; and so by degrees - very gradually - I made up my mind to try Emily's plan and rid myself of cognitive dissonance forever.
Now this is the point. You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. I, however, know educational and child and adolescent psychology, coupled with group dynamics. You should have seen me. You should have seen how wisely I plan to proceed - with what caution - with what foresight - with what dissimulation I planned to create my work! I will never be kinder than I am to make this work. And every night, around midnight, the idea of working closely with my friends in this setting turns the latch of the door of my mind and opens it - oh so gently! And then, when it makes an opening sufficient to convince me that this might actually work, it places in all of the seeds of how this can manifest, all closed, closed, that no seedling can spring out yet, and then it starts them germinating. Oh, you would laugh to see how cunningly it does this! It moves slowly - very, very slowly, so that it may not disturb my sleep. It takes an hour before it actually becomes a real thought. Ha! Would a false idea have been so wise as this? And then, the seeds are planted well in my mind; they all begin to germinate cautiously - oh, so cautiously (for the seeds creak) - they grow so that a single thin ray falls upon my future in my mind's eye. This it has done for seven long nights every night just at midnight - but has always found me somewhat doubting; and so it is impossible to start this work; for it is not the idea of working with my friend and living together that vexes me, but the Evil Doubts. And every morning, when the day breaks, I drive boldly to class, and speak courageously to M, calling her name in a hearty tone, inquiring how she passed the night. So you see, she is a very profound young girl, indeed, that she suspects that every night, just at twelve, the ideas creep into me while I sleep.
Sorry, I was feeling... what shall I call it?... Poetic.
So, for those of you that chose not to muddle through the above, Emily began originating a plan to create a Montessori school with our friends in an effort to make us fulfilled and erase her need to attend graduate school. The idea appealed immensely to me at first, teaching on the bottom floor and living above. Delightful. However, doubts entered my mind quickly. How shall this be done? From whence will the obvious requisite money arrive? Am I qualified? etc.
So, nightly, I toss and turn, pondering the feasibility of this plan. Neither doubt nor hope will leave me. I want this to work. It could be truly wonderful. But I do not believe in my core that this will be so, and that saddens me greatly. I do not feel justified in effecting my friends' lives if this will not be so. I wish I knew the answers to all of these questions now...

"I'm Sorry, That Is Not a Valid Option"
As the local library refuses to return my calls and insists that the woman giving interviews is sick, out to lunch, or not in yet for two weeks, I am making the safe presumption that she is not going to consider my application. I wish they had the turpitude and cajones just to tell me that on the phone, but the world is so rarely ordered in a way that wholly pleases me these days.
My mother spotted an ad in the paper beseeching interested parties to apply in person at Barnes & Noble. The logic here was that, as I was a gleeful librarian, I would find just as much joy in selling books. Okay, not wholly erroneous, as long as someone else processed the actual transaction. So, as Stephanie had granted me a week's reprieve from class, I went to apply. I filled out an application and handed in my studious resume. Then I waited. For an hour. Were this not a bookstore, I would have just left. However, the abundance of reading material held my attention.
The interviewed went well. I think I was charming and showed enough interest in the store and its goings-on. However, after waiting an hour and submitting to this fifteen-minute interview, the interviewer informed me that I likely had no chance as this was just seasonal work (a fact the ad never mentions) and my schedule isn't "flexible" enough. The latter meaning that I take classes and am thus unable to work whenever they pleased to employ me. Erg.
So, today, quite possibly rightly presuming I would not be receiving a phone call from B&N, Emily and I applied for jobs at... THE MALL!!!! I fear. We stopped first at the fun yuppie shop that sells massagers for every part of the body (not like that!) that can tell you your temperature and make lattes. Why we did this? I suspect it was the work of Mothman. Perhaps the Jersey Devil. (Emily just discovered and I rediscovered that I have an obscene amount of information about "monster" sightings.) So, I filled out my application and attached my spiffy new resume. Then an employee likely not any years my senior interviewed me. This I was prepared for. This I could handle. However, then he had me push buttons on the phone to test my morality. I only gave the phone less than perfect answers to two questions: "Would you be willing to give us your urine for testing?" and "Would you call the police if an employee stole less than five dollars?" No (for moral reasons that I do not want to give my pee to strangers) and no (because it is bloody stupid and firing would be the worst they deserve). If they choose not to employ me, and they may not given my answers and my hair, so be it.
Next we filled out an application in Waldenbooks. Pretty much the same reasons as Barnes & Noble, save that it would not be seasonal work and I wasn't interviewed.
Having few minutes left, we dashed to the engraving place and juxtaposed chocolate place, where we filled out respective applications for me based on the fact that the girls in both stores were reading when we arrived.
So, I was industrious. I tried to get job. Now if I actually do get one, we will be immensely surprised and please. I am not done applying, of course. I like options. And rejection ceases to affect one after a while.

Major Arcana
I somehow woke up in the wrong world. See, I am fairly sure I do not live in a country where people worry about inhaling a poisonous white powder that comes from envelopes. That's just an incredibly stupid concept. So clearly, when things cease to make sense, I am dreaming. Except I stubbed my toe. And I am reading E.D. Hirsh Jr. Even my dream authors make more sense. So, this really is my world.
America is dropping bombs on Afghanistan. Actually, that doesn't seem like anything new. The U.S. drops bombs a lot. I think that is a hobby of overdeveloped nations. However, this time they are calling is a war. How is the other side fighting back? They had their first hideous strike. And everyone is expecting the next. Living in a state of paranoia where cops are overjoyed when the white powder they find is only cocaine. For a war, this feels a lot like being dreadfully, dreadfully daft.
At least, as far as the government is allowing the media to inform us. We are all familiar with Sedation Acts, are we not? America no longer feels like the land of the free to me. High political officials are telling the public "there are things we do not talk about." And suddenly pacifists are enemies of the state. Joseph McCarthy is grinning in his grave (not just because the skin shrinks over the skull giving the corpse a death grimace). I do not like American right now. It is not a country I am proud to live in. "Homeland Protection Agency"? Tell me that doesn't have a Nazi ring to it. I do not know where we go from here.
I am joking around, trying to pretend that this affects me a lot less than it actually does. However, I was invited to a memorial service for Cat's father today. I am not certain I am going and if I do go, why I am going. To support Cat, certainly. There also is an amount of retroactive fear/relief. No one I was very close to was hurt. This time. If I go, I do want Emily by my side. Nothing else will do because I need her support to be supportive in turn. It's cyclic. However, she and I are supposed to participate in a charity kick-a-thon about sixty miles from the service and then have lunch with her Master. So, clear issues and priorities need to be evaluated. Soon, you will know the outcome of this.

Soon in Xenology: More on the Haunted Mansion. We talk about Kate. And Stevehen. And Tina. The dynamic interplay. I tell you of my job hunting. You pretend you care.

last watched: Smallville
reading: Cultural Literacy, E.D. Hirsh, Jr.
listening: "Angry Johnny" from Hello by Poe
wanting: employment that has not temporal conditions.
interesting thought: We soon forget what didn't kill us.
moment of zen: the trees.
someday I must: get a steady job.

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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