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11.16.01 5:52 p.m.

Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.

 -Orison Swett Marden  

This Entry Features: The Vampire Kate, EZPass, Malfesia, Swiss Miss, stone houses, gelflings, South African accents, Arias, carpe noctum, phallic idols, Richard Bach

If My Heart Could Beat, It Would Break My Chest
It has been stated in the realm of literary vampires that their victims must not regard them as the friend was killed, though they occupy the friend's body, but rather as the creature that murdered that friend. As such, I am led to regard Now Kate not as the Katie that I loved immensely, but the being that destroyed her.
While hanging out with Tina yesterday afternoon, she let it slip that Kate evidently loudly, frequently, and publicly declares her annoyance and dislike of me. She kvetches that I never hang out with her, that I cancel any plans I make with her, and other such misstatements. Of course, when she blows my party off, this is to be ignored. The fact that she tried her hardest to dissuade me from attending her party, warning me that there would be drugs, alcohol, and loud punk music there. Obviously, I never encounter these things outside her apartment and am woefully naive and ignorant. Except for the part that I in no way am. You know, save for that. Also, I appreciate loud punk music and have no quarrel with being around drunk and drugged people, as they can be amusing in the proper dosage.
In addition, when is the last time she made any effort to spend time with me when she was had not just happened upon me on campus? Nigh onto... never? I have initiated nearly all contact between us since school started, as far as I can recall. The only call I have received from her involved her essentially accusing me of accidentally using her credit card for my EZPass (an issue which has yet to actually be resolved). When I do try to involve her in group activities with my friends, she acts disinterested or hostile, especially toward Emily.
Okay, this is completely a side rant, and I will return to the issue soon. I feel that Kate has no right, whatsoever to behave in a hostile manner toward Emily. Yes, objectively, Emily is the girlfriend of Kate's ex-boyfriend. However, and please look at the entry written in the beginning of May, Kate pretty much told me that she was tired of using me and informed me after going on a few dates with me that she wished I would get a real girlfriend and leave her alone. Let us also recall that Kate thrust me, rather unwillingly, from the relationship; she left me, not the other way around. Emily, to the best of my knowledge, was never anything but civil to Kate, if a little quiet. As such, I think it is unfair and like Kate is trying to make me choose. In a way, I think she resents that she is no longer anything like the center of my universe, much as she lamented that I continued to have feelings for her.
Back to the point. I think it is unfair for Kate to complain about me as a friend when she does not try to be a friend to me most of the time. When I came to her needing to talk about the problems I was having, she dismissed me with a terse "I'm not good at this sort of stuff and you know it." I'm not expecting advice from the Oracle at Delphi, just someone to listen to me. I was confiding in her, trying to share a minor degree of emotional intimacy and she shot me down. Nor does she make any effort to ever confide in me about any aspect of her life. I barely know what is going on in her life and she no longer replies to the letters I send her.
I tried to be intimate with her after she left me over a year ago and she used me for physical comfort and tossed me off when I wanted it to actually mean something. This is well documented herein. She used me, took advantage of me, when she knew I was vulnerable. Then she tried to guilt trip me about the fact that she was spending nights with other boys, because she thought that would prevent her from wanting me and it didn't. Now she is loudly declaring that she is not at all attracted to me, as though this is anything like an issue in the real world now. Whether or not she is attracted to me isn't something I would even contemplate thinking of anymore, though psychology would suggest it must be something to her since it is still be an issue in her life, evinced by the fact that she felt the need make such pronouncements. As though she has to make very clear to her friends that she isn't attracted to her ex, despite the fact that she spend the summer bedding tent mates, in order to begin a relationship with Cute Dish Boy Whose Name She Priorly Mocked. It is like an attempt at rebellion, in a way, and an acting out of issues of resentment toward me.
Yes, I know that in a prior entry I declared I was no longer attracted to her, but I am certain that I qualified it sufficiently and philosophically. My statement had more to do with where I was at that moment, asexual and confused, though arriving at a resolution that I was freeing myself of plaguing regrets. Her statement, by Tina's telling (it should be noted that I am working wholly off highly believably second hand information), was more stating that I was not attractive. A different species entirely. If you do not see the difference, I would be glad to explain in this forum.
In fact, when I was hanging out in Kate's apartment last week, I visualized the Katie I loved next to the Kate that is. I can't really imagine the Katie I knew holding a very positive view of the current incarnation of the Katherine. They barely look like the same person and they certainly do not act like the same one. I wouldn't be surprised if Kate took this as a compliment, though it is only an observation.
The last time Kate approached me of her own volition, she awkwardly and stiltedly asked me if things between Emily and I were "clear." I grant this seems like a caring question on her part, and I had increasing hope for us as friends. I affably informed her that we were "fairly translucent." She nodded for a second then immediately dug in about the EZPass money. I squinted my eyes at her and informed her that I would float a twenty her way when I had the flow. The juxtaposition of these two elements was uncomfortable for me, I must confess, and made me wonder at her intentions.
It doesn't take much for me to feel close to someone. It certainly is quality over quantity. For example, I have not seen Sarah in over three years, and I love her immensely and consider her one of my most intimate friends. Kate was once crucial, but the effort no longer seems to be there.
I give Kate chance after chance, trying to ignore the fact that she is the person that killed my Katie. I do not know how much longer she will warrant this compassion, especially if she goes the way of Coley and maligns me frequently behind me back. At least I am upfront enough to post my thoughts in this journal for her perusal.

Give Me Something To Believe In
Last night, Emily and I attended the fourth or fifth (the organizers of the event were confused themselves as to the chronology) annual interfaith dinner at New Paltz. She and I, along with Malfesia (hey, she chose to have a sillier nickname than the monosyllabic "Xen," I choose to alter it to suit my whims because I tend to forget her real, fake name) and Swiss Miss, volunteered weeks ago to represent PSU at the dinner.
M and I had actually forgotten what night the dinner was taking place until we stumbled upon Swiss Miss walking by my car when we were returning Tina's rice cooker to her (she lent it to us for the party, and it was just slow returning). Serendipity, you see. Possibly capital Fate... Swiss Miss and I got into a conversation about PSU, though I passed it off to M because Tina was telling me how Kate maligns me (Originally, I was raging a lot more than I signal above. Expletives were used in abundance as nouns, verb, adjectives, pronouns, titles, and once as a gerund), and we discovered that the meal was that very night and we had originally promised to bring a dish. Luckily, M had already made some rice at her apartment for our consumption and had numerous variations on the concept of "bean." As such, Rice and Beans were summoned up from the nothingness.
We also were told that we were to perform a "traditional" Pagan blessing at the dinner. Had we remembered earlier that the dinner was that night, we would have found an excellent blessing from our quasi-vast unified libraries and the internet. Lacking time and resources, we just picked one from a Scott Cunningham book (readers, do not try this at home!) and toddled off to the dinner feeling ill-prepared and anxious.
When we entered, we were given name tags (Emily made mine out with multiple colors of markers) and a little slip of paper with a generic acquaintanceship-forcing inquiry in which to subject strangers. Ours was "what is your favorite article of clothing and why?" Hmmmm... You know, I am thinking at an interfaith dinner, we might have slightly better things to talk about than clothing. Bear in mind, I am frequently wrong.
Emily nixed my proposal to sit at an unoccupied table and force others to come to us to socialize. She insisted, as it was one of the points of the event, that we should be social and sit at an established table. I conceded to her overwhelming logic (see, New Paltz, logic is our friend) and we chose a table peopled by students from East Asia. About two minutes after we sat, all but one left. We spoke to him, about his favorite article of clothing. Well, others spoke to him. I was whispering excitedly to Emily because she said she could get me Kendo armor, which I would likely just mount to my wall anyway. Still, armor! I need not be pragmatic, I go to a daft liberal arts college.
An older woman from another club gleefully sat at our table briefly in an attempt to be social and told us that she wore a bathing suit all of the time, because her underwear always wore out too quickly. Emily offered to me that either she is wearing the wrong underwear or doing the wrong things. I hid my smirk, though only barely.
Evidently, Malfesia earned Emily's extreme distain by loudly meowing and insisting at one point that she was a cat. M's perfectly understandable feelings are that if one is representing a misunderstood minority religion at a public event, one should attempt to give the semblance that one is, well, sane. I frankly felt a little uncomfortable that I was wearing a black and red velour shirt, because I did not wish to come off as a goth (I am not, by the way, goth. Multi-stylistic, I'd say). I understood that I would be analyzed by curious parties and seen, perhaps, as an example of what a Pagan is. I did not wish to give a bad impression to a group that has, perhaps, their fair share.
A gospel choir got up to sing, and they were actually quite good. They, however, wanted the audience to clap along with their singing, a convention of which I am no fan. I feel awkward doing so, feeling that it takes attention and clarity away from the singing, and, frankly, I think I will miss a beat or be the last to clap and earn the dour glances of the room. One of their singers, the appropriately named Aria, had a solo that blew me away. That girl gave off such spiritual strength that she was nearly incandescent.
Everyone ate from the dishes brought by the participant. I expounded to Emily my dimensional theory of buffets. See, most people eat in two dimensions, length and width. Then, when they want a second helping, the food is all gone. I, however, saw the virtues of three-dimensional eating, height (I'd do four dimensional eating, if only physics would allow me to eat stuffing and rolls that have yet to be created). I know I am making myself out to be a glutton, which I am not. More like a collegial camel. Free food is eaten as much as possible, because I do not know when I shall next eat. Oh, great, now I sound cheap. I just can't win with you people, can I?
One of the Asian student came back to speak with us halfway through dinner. Swiss Miss and Malfesia engaged him in a conversation about his native culture. He was very pleasant to listen to and had a very distinctive look about him. Emily wrote G E L F on my leg and I smiled widely at our mutual thought and said, "Gelflings are cute."
Emily led the blessing after dinner. She and I chose one that was very lyrical and seemed to have a chorus. I'd copy it for you to read, but Llewellyn Publishing would send their legal imps after me. Imps eat blood, you know. It went well, though the clapping was sparser that I would have liked. Baby steps, I suppose. The next girl, who had an intoxicating South African (I think) accent, spoke on Ba'hai was just as luminescent as Aria. It was excellent to have met entities such as these. I know, I've seen Pagans such as these on campus, but there is no way that I have found to convince them that PSU is worth their time. Perhaps someday.
After all of the prayers, blessings, and reading were over, Aria conducted a circle wherein people of different faiths could say something. Malfesia decided that she would sing. I clenched Emily's hand in mine and sincerely wished for the best. Fortunately, it was appropriate and she sang well. This in no way excused the meowing in M's eyes, but we were grateful that it went over well. From what I was told, the representatives last year did a lackluster job, proselytizing and reading from a Witchcraft FAQ rather than a sacred text. Wasn't too hard to surpass that.
Emily and I came out of the dinner positively aglow with the wonderful energy. She said she wished we could do this every Thursday, and I certainly was inclined to agree. We skipped the PSU meeting afterward, because Emily had such a positive view of religion. We spoke on how we would both be immensely happy to become dedicated to religion, to study texts and to help people. But the world is not so arranged that this is an option open to us. There are no Pagan monasteries.

People In Stone Houses Shouldn't Throw Glass
As we needed to enjoy the rest of the night, given its pleasant beginnings, we decided that the logical course of action after dinner was dessert. We visited the ice cream shop in New Paltz we had gone to with Dave. After taste testing briefly to ascertain the ideal flavor for religious idealism, we got The Nuttier Side of Reese's and Coffee, respectively. Jesus would want it that way.
Emily wished to walk and I more than acquiesced to her wishes. She cheerfully stated that she wished to visit the "stone houses." I hadn't the foggiest clue of what she spoke. I had hung out in New Paltz for years and I had never once heard of stone houses, let alone ones worth seeing and within walking distance from the campus. Nevertheless, I cheerfully followed. When one has peanut butter ice cream and zeal, what can one not do?
I followed Emily a short distance until we arrived as a framed map with an ideolocator. It informed us that we were a few dozen feet away from an old graveyard. Well, you know how she and I are about old cemeteries. We wandered around the weathered markers. Emily concentrated her poor night vision on the brass plaques attached to each stone. I walked the perimeter of the yard in hope of finding something compelling. I wasn't wholly disappointed, though nothing I discovered it much worth reporting.
From here, we danced around the streets, flicking from one historical building to the next under cover of inky night. We discovered a stone megalith in the middle of one street. Its purpose, we could not decipher, so we decided ancient patentees worshiped it as their phallic godhead. Okay, I decided that they did and chose not to inform Emily, as I was ensnared in the tall grass in front of it and likely could not outrun her should she become mock offended.
Emily commented that she felt like there should be hordes of ghosts, and there were not any. I agreed to this assessment and shared my wish with her that I someday wanted to visit all the haunted historical places on the East coast. She agreed to join me, but only if I chose to go during the day. Sort of takes some of the fun out of it, but I do need a traveling companion. Preferably one named Emily.
We ended up pausing outside of a church whose bell was tolling the half hour. I am a huge sucker for church bells and would willingly listen to a CD of them. If caught between a tolling church bell and a piper playing, I very well might split in twain. We sat on benches facing one another and talked about life for a while and my adventures in Glenham. I half jokingly asked how long she thought we could reside on the benches. Her answer was the obvious, "until the cops came." A few moments after we departed, the cops arrived with their lights blazing. Very good instincts, we have.
Again we danced under the stars, twirling in the empty streets and singing scattered verses into intimate ears. Emily confessed that she had been learning the lyrics to Jill Sobule's songs in order to please me. I was, of course, greatly impressed and flattered.
We were very disappointed when we realized that we knew where we were and how to get back to my car. Some part of us wanted to roam the night for as long as possible, indoctrinate ourselves further into the unspoken nocturnal world. Continue window-shopping in stores that had been closed for hours. Become voyeurs of others' hidden lives. But, of course, this glorious night had to come to an end, as all things must.
We returned to her room, where I read her The Bridge Across Forever until she was too sleepy to listen further.

Soon in Xenology: Tina and Stevehen being abused, I go to the city to look at Medieval art

last watched: Invader ZIM
reading: That's Doctor Sinatra, You Little Bimbo!, Gary Trudeau
listening: "Never is a promise," from Tidal by Fiona Apple
reading: to know my calling
interesting thought: The most beautiful things in the world existed long before I did.
moment of zen: dancing in the street.
someday I must: feel zeal about my profession.

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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