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11.14.01 9:27 p.m.

"Tell me whom you love, and I'll tell you who you are."

 -Creole proverb  

This Entry Features: ret-conning, Lots and lots of ret-conning, More crystals, Raggedy Andy, foxy boxing, mysterious flute music, the grim journal, lightning bugs, potential drunken truckers, missing this cupcake, mysteriously hilarious walls, ninth floor molesters, bureaucracy, more crystals, Watcher cover.

I Go Out and Fight the Fight
I feel the need to inform you just how M and I officially made up. We kick boxed. In the coffee house on campus. For a good five minutes. I won because she is a wuss and I had steel toed boots on. Logically, solidifying it as a fight was the first step to making up.
After we were finished kicking one another, Raggedy Andy stopped by. Okay, he checked me out and informed me that the class I had skipped (out of a lack of volition to attend to anything scholarly) had been cancelled. Clearly it was destined to be. Then he went on about the crayon factory he visited, which Emily offered must have smelled like ass. Raggedy Andy did not confirm nor deny this assertion, merely stated he was given many freebies. Strange gay stalker boy.

Still I Feel the Strange Estrangement
A loyal reader tipped me off that I never told you, the readers, about the mysterious flutist. As such, I now shall.
When Emily and I first began dating... well, a bit after, as we were bedding together... she and I began hearing a flute playing when we were lying in her bed. The sound was coming from a vast forest behind her house that is totally undeveloped. It wasn't wind blowing through reed; it definitely was music being played. It wasn't a television, because the sound would move as though the flutist was pacing while playing. It wasn't a radio, because it lacked the sound of one; it was a very organic three-dimensional sound. It echoed off the rocks. Now, possibly, it was one of her neighbors playing, but it was usually heard in the wee hours of the night. It didn't seem menacing, of course, even were we not in the house. Actually, I am fairly sure the first time we heard the flutist is when we were camping in her backyard just before she went to Free Spirit. She woke me to listen to it, I think.
We primarily heard it in her house, though it was heard a few times after I moved into my new room. Once we heard it clearly when we were visiting Glenham field (just before we heard the screaming). Is it an aural hallucination? Possibly. However, she and I hear the same music being played.
We have yet to discover the source of the music, and we have not heard it in a while. It does seem to only occur when she and I are together, leading Emily to theorize that it is somehow tied to me.
Ah, and what of the lightning bug resurrection, that I do not believe I ever told you about it. My search function tends to agree with me. As such, I will heap yet another barely logical story on your shoulders to see if you grant it any weight. It helps if you try to remember that I would be just as skeptical as you are.
So, in July, just before I decided (and in fact the reason I decided) that things of a pseudo-supernatural/paranormal/preternatural/x-file-y nature belonged on these pages, Emily and I ventured for a peaceful, moonlit stroll to the local cemetery... hey, I just found the journal I wrote all this in. Fun for you! I suppose I could just transcribe for you and then comment.

07.05.01 10:13 p.m.

Desiring a romantic, moonlit stroll, (See how unchangeable I am? -Xen) I solicited M's company. We decided to visit the local graveyard. Let it be known that at no time did I tell M any information about the cemetery nor did I look at this as anything more than a walk.
Upon arriving, we chose to take a short path through the woods that would bring us directly to the more secluded and older cemetery. As we reached the other side of the path, I beheld a truck sitting next to the water tower [that rests on the property]. After a few tense moments, I spied that it was visibly empty. Wishing to remain safe, we backed out to the street entrance.
Before sitting [on the curb on the street side of the path], I noticed a dying lightning bug shuffling off its luminescent mortal carapace on the path. Likely one of us unknowingly stepped upon it in our haste to exit. I gently lifted the dying insect, cradling it in the space between my curled fore- and middle finger[s]. It lay one on its back, glowing weakly whenever I concentrated my energy on it. M held the tops of my fingers and wept softly. Over the course of at least five patient minutes, the insect glowed slower and dimmer. Finally, it began to curl up, the arthropodic version of rigor mortis. I readied myself to reassure M of the place of death in existence, when our Mr. Samsa flipps flips onto its legs, crawls to my ring finger tip, and take[s] a calm flight. Somehow it returned to life in my hand. It should be noted that it was likely far too cool that night for lightning bugs and I did not have the pleasure of witnessing any others.
We sat on the curb for moments afterward, until we heard the door of the truck open and shut. We probed the truck and its occupant gently with our minds, deriving that the occupant was depressed and was drinking heavily to ease suicidal thoughts. Combined M & my psychic abilities seem stronger; more than the fosum of their parts. We decided, as the truck's owner may well have had a gun, it was not prudent to approach. To our relief, the truck pulled away several minutes later.
We entered and headed toward the top grave to take in the view. I felt a palpable energy coursing through the air, but made no mention of it as it seemed of little significance. After taking in the scenery for a bit, we descended from the top grave toward four flourishing trees. I wished to show M the tree under which I was initiated when I was but fifteen. M paused next to a gravestone, staring at it. She shook her head, rubbed the date, looked again and finally seemed satisfied. She would later reveal that the year of this person's birth seemed to proclaim they had died nearly a century before they were born. Even after rubbing and looking again, the stone boasted the wrong date. Slowly, she stated, the "9" transitioned back to an "8." I witnessed only her reaction to this. In addition we, independently, spied what we believed to be a statue in the center turning to look at us.

That's all she wrote, as the saying goes. It should be noted that I wrote this with no intention of showing anyone, beyond Emily or an understanding party, this. More happened that night that I just did not get around to describing. We sensed a highly aggressive force that prevented us from going down a different path and rather fled from the panic it inspired in us. Emily told me that she saw footprints next to mine as we left, but did not mention it at the time, only grabbing me and insisting we escape faster.
I readily admit, there are numerous things that can be discounted owing to lack of evidence and/or prohibitive conditions. We cannot know who was in the truck, or what they were thinking. The lack of light could have made our eyes play tricks on us and see the statue move and the numbers shift. We could have convinced ourselves that there was an entity barring our way and setting ourselves into a panic. And the footsteps? I don't know. More illusions?
The lightning bug, though... that was very real. I do not know how to explain how a very squished bug makes a full recovery and flies away. Stranger things have happened and do, likely, happen daily. So, dear readers, I suggest a little faith and a little suspension of disbelief. Or just think I am making this up, if you are more inclined to skepticism. I know what I saw, even if I don't know the reasons.

...Or Maybe Midgets
Back to semi-current events. Saturday, the MeLiza petitioned Emily and my accompaniment on an adventure of non-specific purpose. The end result was to watch the Simpson's Halloween Special at
Melissa's house. There was a lot to do before that could occur.
Emily was feeling like a sick, snoozy, homebody and, as such, did not wish to drive. This did not pose a problem for Melissa and GAMBLOR! (her car). Melissa has a distinct fondness toward driving that I do not share. Plus, I bribed her with the cupcakes Conor, M, and I had made. Granted, only four were left, but that was bribe enough.
Melissa picked me up first, as she did not know the way to Emily's apartment. I forced Liz and her to each have a cupcake as payment. There was distinct force.
After picking Emily up and feeding her a cupcake to slake her hunger (though then she broke my heart by asking for another and teasing me because she thought I had more cupcakes. She started petting my head in hopes one would pop out of there, ala Invader Zim), we decided that a quick meal on the other side of the river was more than in order. Melissa sped us, with less than reverence for the asinine other motorists, to Poughkeepsie, where we ended up in Pizza Hut. The waiter who seated us kept referring to the four in the party as "ladies." I may have long hair, but I most certainly do not look like a lady. While I was in the bathroom, Emily ordered a drink for me by saying, "he'll have a coke." "He?" the waiter inquired. "Yes, he, the man in the bathroom, will have a coke." When I returned and she related this story, I began blushing out of embarrassment and refused to look up at the waiter when I ordered.
Evidently, the waiter eventually decided that the four of us were very stoned, an opinion not helped by Melissa trying to sign her name with the wrong end of the pen.
Melissa wished to visit her friend Evan at work. Evan, evidently, thinks that I am very intelligent and applauds my attempt to start my own school. We visited him briefly and I tried to engage his help in proving that aardvarks and anteaters are the same creature. He could not confirm to the satisfaction of Emily, so the argument was a draw.
As we were leaving, after a brief poking match between Liz and me, Melissa and I spotted this tiny little wet paint sign warning people away from a fifty foot long painted wall. I cannot explain why now, but this was hilarious to Melissa and me and we literally fell down from laughing so much. I would say it was one of those "you have to be there" moments, but Liz and Emily were there and did not see it as being anywhere as funny as Melissa and I found it.
And, yes, we still found time in the night for The Simpsons. It's all about time management.
When Melissa was driving Emily home, a car behind us high beamed her. She was having absolutely none of that, so she slowed down to under the speed limit. This touched off a good ten-minute drive where we were convinced that the car behind us was following us in an effort to attack. It was honestly exhilarating to feel one is being pursued by potential attackers one can likely easily take out. Unfortunately, they either were not following us or gave up their road rage when we got onto a major roadway. Oh, well.

Your Path's Unbeaten and It's All Uphill
I tried to apply for classes at New Paltz yesterday. Note the use of the word "tried," which does not, necessarily, signify success. This would be one of those times it means a distinct failure.
The first step was to secure an appointment with one's faculty advisor. I know that many of you not currently in college think this is easy. Hardly. I petitioned my advisor for an appointment nearly a month ago and she did not give me an appointment until an hour after I could sign up for classes.
Now, I bet you are thinking (if you are not a New Paltz student, that is) that I could have just forgone being advised, intelligent lad that I apparently am. No, no. See, you are thinking like a sensible being of moderate intelligence. We are dealing with bureaucracy here. Any semblance of intelligence, logic, or common sense is rendered useless. Students are required to sign up for classes using telephones (this from a campus that forces the students to use the college website rather that saving time, money, and effort and calling a teacher. No sense) and they may not sign up for classes until their advisor grants them a four digit number. Emily pointed out that she was allowed to sign up at classes at all the other colleges she has been at. Only New Paltz excepted.
So, I met with my advisor (who told me that I mustn't self advise, ever). I showed her the class schedule I had made out for myself. She nodded and gave me my number. Ummmmmm... okay, someone want to explain how that wasn't me self-advising, with another person involved?
I scurried off to the nearest campus phone. I waded through busy signals. I signed up for one class. Then the system hung up on me. I called back and the system insisted I needed math. I did not. I graduated from Dutchess and, as such, no longer had general education requirements such as math. Then it informed me that I never got my MMR (measels, mumps, and rubella shot) and was thus not allowed to sign up for classes. I had gotten that shot, just as surely as I graduated from Dutchess. In fact, I got that shot in order to be allowed to attend Dutchess. So, clearly, New Paltz should recognize that I logically... oh, see, I thought there was logic. Sorry about that. New Paltz could have chosen to see that I had to have gotten the shot.
I went to Records and Registration and a nice, though clearly uninformed woman informed me that the college had no record of my having graduated from Dutchess or of ever having had the MMR. I pointed out that I submitted all of this paperwork in order to be accepted to this college. Had I not provided these forms, the college would not have allowed me in. Thems the rules. But I realized I was trying to use the sinister force, logic, once more. I asked the woman what I had to do to prove to the college that I could register for classes. She informed me to call my doctor and has her send the paper work again and go to Admission (different building. Everything is in a different building in this story. My butt actually hurts from having walked all around campus for hours trying to set things straight) and ask for a copy of my transcript. Please note that, as of a week and a half ago, I have submitted three transcripts to New Paltz, only one of which they seem to have noticed.
I called the health office, got their fax number, called my mother and had her ask my doctor to send out the paperwork. Then I strolled over to Admissions and spoke to a woman who was perfectly aware that I had 63 credits when I left DCC (the exact number I had when I graduated, with Honors, so clearly New Paltz had my graduate transcript at one point). I pointed out to her that this meant New Paltz acknowledged my graduation, as they knew of all my credits. She retorted, "No, we only have a record of you up until March. Our system only had you down for having taken Freshman English 1 and 2." So, these classes were thirty credits each? Please, readers, do realize that they had a transcript from me when I went to orientation in May. And they were sent another one once I graduated. They did have this paperwork. So Admissions provided me with a transcript from my second semester at Dutchess, which showed the requisite math class. From here, I was sent to the ninth floor of the faculty tower to show the math department.
I walked to the other end of campus, to the faculty tower. I took the elevator up to the ninth floor and wandered around. No. Math. Department. I asked a generic student if he knew where the math department was. A short, bald man jumped out of his office, grabbed me and pushed me toward a window, positioning himself behind me. He told me the math department was housed in the new offices. I acknowledge that I knew where these were, and was pretty freaked out that this man was damned near molesting me. Then he leaned me head over by his and said, "No, right there. That's where they are..." I bolted down the stairs, down nine flights, as fast as I could muster. I had been through enough so far that day without some lonely professor trying to make a love connection with me.
I wandered through the oddly marked offices, seeking out the math department. I ended up in the Black Studies department, where a nice gentleman escorted me out and toward the math department. Finally speaking with a math professor, I was informed that my transcript wasn't good enough. I told her that is because New Paltz lost mine. She seemed upbeat, but essentially treated me as though I were quite daft for not loving math. Then I was sent away. The health office still had no record of me. Registration still thought I hadn't graduated. And I had missed my classes.
I decided to just cut my losses and go home, in hopes of remedying the situation bright and early the next day. Only my car was locked. With the keys inside. I had to ask the campus cops to unlock it for me. Then I went home, and tried to convince the system I existed. It perpetually hung up on me after entering a loop.
Today, I called the registration office and tried to get their help. They were less than useful. I called the health office, they still hadn't received my records. I called my mother and asked her to please try the doctor again. This time the health office actually acknowledged receipt of my records. Step one complete. After my only class of the day, I headed over to Registration. They sent me to a woman in their office who played with the system and signed me up for classes in under ten minutes. Except now I am on the waitlist for a class I need to graduate, when I would have been one of the first people to sign up for it originally. The woman pestered me to make sure I really graduated for Dutchess. I informed her, less than politely, that I knew I had and New Paltz would to if they wouldn't have such a ridiculous system. So I have classes now. Not the ones I want, completely. But a good start. I will talk to the professor of the class I am on the waitlist for and see what I can manage.

The Torch I Bear Is Scorching Me
Monday, after presenting Emily with a cupcake I had procured (one has to make amends if one can), an acquaintance of mine, Cindy (I'm thinking she will not mind my using her name) approached M and I. I was in my charming, yet bizarre, mood. I hugged her and generally behaved in a hyperbolic fashion. She seemed highly amused and Emily took after my sport.
Emily and I ended up on opposite sides of a fifteen foot stone bench, challenging one another to give the correct answer to certain trivia question most people would not know in order to prove the intellectual superiority of one of us over the other (or, you know, because it was delightful sport). Some of the questions, in case you were wondering, were: "What does the Korean flag mean?" "What is the sexual fetish involving bugs?" "How many calories does a Sumo wrestler eat in a day?"
Eventually we called it a draw, the results to be determined by rematch at a later date.
I greatly enjoy my periodic and wholly conscious departures into rather frenetic charm. Were others to be put off by it, I think I would find it decidedly less appealing as a character flaw. As others take as much joy as I do, it shall remain.

In the past week, I have found two more random quartz crystals on campus. The first time, I was walking up to Emily, who was sitting on a tabletop. Five inches from her leg sat a crystal that someone had pushed between the holes of the mesh-like table. I picked it up and showed it to M. It broke in twain in my hands, which could just signal a fissure in the crystal.
I approached a spiritually minded lass that I met years ago through Kate and asked her if she had found the crystals as well. She, and her cadre, admitted they all had and never really thought about who was placing them. They attributed it to a "crystal fairy" and told me not to think overly on it. I admit this made me think she may have something to do with it. But it still does not make much sense and it wouldn't be cheap. In any case, it was good to know that I am not alone in finding them.
Two days after, I again found a crystal in the exact same place. I did not have Emily to witness it this time, but I called her on an unrelated note and told her of my findings.
Anyone out there have any clue what is going on? Emily does not think this it the work of silly Pagans. But it clearly must be the work of someone.

Today was my first day of work at the library. I arrived ten minutes early, fresh from wrangling for classes at New Paltz. The adrenaline of the fight was still fresh in my veins, which of course is grossly inappropriate for a library setting. As such, I took a few minutes to relax and calm down, centering myself and reminding myself why I was here.
The woman that was supposed to assign me hours/train me was not in today. Evidently she has been on vacation/sick/immaterial for quite a while. She should return soon enough, I was told.
As such, I was put to work pulling shelf list cards and seeking out likely discarded books. Trust me, it's about as fun to read as it is to do, but it is good work. Honest work. Work that is paying me $1.75 more an hour than New Paltz. Hee!
I think I will get along with most everyone in the library, most especially the woman who hired me. It turns out that I am actually somewhat known in the library, through the plays I was in during high school. I have, of course, greatly progressed as a person, physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually since that. But, hey, if they want to smile at me because I played an attractive sailor or an undersized villain, who am I to stop them?

Soon in Xenology: more on work, I visit the cloisters,

last watched: screaming baby dolls
reading: Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates, Tom Robbins
listening: Anthony Stewart Head crooning in a lower register
wanting: to have all the classes I want and need.
interesting thought: once shaken, foundations do not settle completely for a while.
moment of zen: Laughing with Emily at our mutual silliness.
someday I must: feel a positive emotion about possibly becoming a teacher. (no, really, I think this still stands.)

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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