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11.24.01 3:12 p.m.

I've never met a person, I don't care what his condition, in whom I could not see possibilities. I don't care how much a man may consider himself a failure, I believe in him, for he can change the thing that is wrong in his life at any time he is ready and prepared to do it. Whenever he develops the desire, he can take away from his life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation and change lies within.

 -Preston Bradley  

This Entry Features: Cults trying to overthrow my dreams, the giving of thanks for fuck me boots, particles of dust illuminating the sky and deluminating M's lungs, messianic wheels, voodoo curses

Quite Contrary
Last week, I met with a man a New Paltz in order to sign up for a class he was teaching that I needed for my degree. I waited in his office for a bit while he discussed liberal teaching technique with someone on the phone. But I was patient. It would be me no good to be irritated.
We spoke for a bit and he informed me that my advisor had mislead me, I did not in fact need instructor permission to join his class, I merely needed to sign my name to a piece of paper in the secretary's office. He led me there and showed me the paper. I started signing the paper when my advisor barged in and demanded to know what I was doing. I informed her I was signing up for a class I needed, in a way that I thought made clear that this wasn't any of her business. She railed that the man that I mustn't be given this class, because I owed her work. I owe her a report on a young adult book, which I e-mail to her and she didn't acknowledge. I smiled, thinking that she had to be joking. No one is ridiculous enough to barge into someone else's office and yell. You know how I remind you that I am often wrong? She was deadly serious. What's worse, this man who was previously jocund immediately began treating me as a delinquent because his erratic colleague railed at him over me. I assured him that she was overreacting, that I owed her very little. He shut me off and said, utterly unconvincingly, that this was between her and me. Meaning, of course, that I was merely lying.
My advisor assured me that she would mortgage my future for whatever goal she is after if I do not meet with her this coming week. So I will meet with her. With a witness. And all the work she is ignoring that she claims I owe her. Afterward, I will go to registration and request a change of advisor. Then I shall ask to speak to the head of the department and possibly send a letter to the dean. Her behavior is unacceptable and qualifies as harassment. She had no right to do that, and I shall defend myself to the necessary degree. Undoubtedly, if she is doing this to me, she is doing the selfsame abuse to others. I have suffered under this sort of person before, and it drove me away from Communications. I will not be so harmed again.
She should know better and behave better. Not only is she a teacher, but also she teaches (or thinks she does) the art of teaching. Terrorizing one's students does not imbue them with trust or faith. People do not learn best when backed into a corner. People go fight or flight in corners. I am not running.

The Cloisters
Last weekend, Emily, her father, and I went to The Cloisters in the city. M was supposed to visit the Met for her art history course, but was honestly frightened of riding the subways for fear that there would be a terrorist incident. I do not fault her this, and felt quite a bit safer driving down with her father at the helm of his sensible car. I never was very fond of nerve gas.
It is incongruous and anachronistic to visit a medieval Spanish castle next to the Hudson River in NYC. Just not right. Through there was a hot dog vendor in front, which helped put things in perspective.
Emily's father is an amazing painter and definite art aficionado, so I had to try to keep my occasional (and wholly necessary according to my programming) wry comments to myself. But there was a statue of a dog giving a saint a dinner roll. It was very hard. And Jesus had wheels. Wheels, people. Let it sink in. Savor it. Wheels.
I lamented to Emily that it saddened me that no one is making such conceptually fascinating art anymore. There was a prayer bead that a monk spent his entire life carving. An entire scene existed inside the bead, with a least fifteen shockingly detailed figures. Now, we could make things like this so much faster. So much more efficiently. And no one does. No one is weaving twenty-foot tall tapestries of mythical beasts, or their modern equivalent. Elephant feces are thrown at malligraphed Virgin Marys and it is called a work of art. Art is too damned postmodern and disinteresting now. I have seen some fascinating works at MOMA, but mostly art today seems lazy. Passion with little follow through.
I took lots of digital photographs, and will likely be putting up an adventure reel soon.

She Thinks She Missed the Train to Mars
The morning/night (there was no sun. Sun=morning) before we went to The Cloisters, we woke at 4:30 to look at the Leonid meteor shower. I had been hearing fantastic stories of people perceiving it to be the apocalypse. One story even involved Lincoln. As such, I was rather expecting the sky to be alight with meteors.
While this was not true, it was still peacefully enthralling. M and I lay under many blankets on her driveway, gasping and giggling at the strands of light playing across the crisp, clear sky. It was a joy to share this with her. Though, to be perfectly honest, there was joy in returning to a quilted, warm bed as well.

But Just To Piss Me Off With the Ease With Which He Could Do It
On Monday, Emily wished for me to leave work at New Paltz briefly to get lunch with her. I tried to state that I shouldn't, but she convinced me, finally. I asked what my excuse would be, should I get caught. She said, "Tell her you were sick." The instant she pronounces the "k" in "sick," I felt my stomach drop and appetite ebb. Still, I went to lunch with her.
By Tuesday night, I was wasted. I had to leave one of my favorite classes (Stephanie's class) early, because my legs were so weak I could barely walk at a decent speed. I couldn't get warm. I would suddenly have vertigo and barely be able to stand. When I got home, I fell in my bed and piled four blankets and two quilts on me. I could hardly sit up of my own accord. I fell asleep pretty quickly, after trying to swallow some chicken soup my mother had made me.
I awoke in the middle of the night only because I heard my pager vibrating. It was M. She was incredibly concerned by the messages I left her before falling asleep, as I sounded to her like I was crying (I was shivering and weak). I assured her that I was going to be okay, the sleep had made me feel much better already. I suppose it helped a little that I did a healing invocation before I went unconscious. Belief is a powerful healer. Emily had also done a spell at my request, a few minutes before I awoke.
She attributed my sickness to her mother and the coven that her abusive ex-boyfriend joined. I attribute it more to the stress my advisor was placing me under with her harassment and exposure to sick people. Though I wouldn't doubt that her abusive ex would try to do me harm. If he did, and I am not giving him credit for my illness, he did not do a very good job. Two hours of sleep and some soup later, I was pretty much fine. Crowley he is not.

M and my first Thanksgiving was with my family on Thursday. My mother, having long since grown disgusted with having extending family over to our house for a large meal, decree years ago that all Thanksgiving meal would be had at Holiday Inn. Since then, all had been.
M wore a cute little outfit that made her look like a librarian and boots that I can only describe as "fuck me" boots. They were very, very nice boots. They, more than made the librarian outfit, suit her. Very much with the boots. I dressed relatively simply, as was my wont. I didn't see much cause in impressing anyone unduly.
My uncle Larry was in attendance. Evidently he is experiencing some domestic discord, in that his wife(?) left him. As such, dinner with my family was deemed in order. He spoke very little and left early. Upon his departure, Emily proclaimed, "That was brief." I stated, matter-of-factly, that such was my uncle. She appeared thoughtful for a moment and retorted, "He's brief," turning her attention to some butterscotch pudding some thoughtful person (she, herself) had left in front of her.
It was buffet style, which is a bad move for Thanksgiving. I ended up getting turkey before anyone in my family because I was invited by a woman to get food on the other side of her, but got confused. I uttered that I didn't understand the protocol and didn't wish to rile anyone. Still, Dan assured me I did, as I cut in front of twenty people and got the much vied for turkey.
The rest of the day was spent in somewhat lethargic disarray. We mostly rested on my bed and watched movies. I got motivated and tried to clean my room, though I found it necessary to give up when the dust of my putting clothes away aggravated Emily's allergies. Thus I think we can safely conclude that Emily is allergic to my cleaning up. This will be noted and quoted at future meetings.
The following day, we were to travel to Albany to dine with her extended family. It took me eighteen years to achieve a healthy state of sociability with my own blood relatives. Other people's relatives frighten me immensely. I feel like I am being judged and examined. As I told Emily, I was afraid I would make some horrendous faux pas, like I will mean to ask someone to pass the gravy, but I will accidentally blurt out, "the Holocaust was fiction." She assuaged my fears, oddly, by assuring me that her father made the gravy. And you know what, that almost made it okay. In that way that it didn't.
I read
The Little Prince to her on the ride up, doing voices for all the characters I encountered. Of course, the narrator in every book I read, unless they are female, is done in my normal voice to save my throat. She seemed highly impressed and amused by my rendering and proclaimed that we would someday be very good parents.
We also stopped at two rest stops on the way there. The first time, we stopped for a salty snack and gas. I ended up getting a milkshake and a squished penny. I made her a squished penny, though I did something wrong and ended up giving her the feet of a unicorn and part of an "I love you." M stopped at the second rest stop because I assured her it was perfectly all right to stop again, just in order to get a Snapple.
When we arrived there was much hugging and kissing among relatives. Far too much ended up toward me. See, I do not kiss most of my relatives. Kissing women I just met... that is a stage I left when I was 16. Still, it seems the protocol, and I shouldn't let the natives know I suspect differences.
Before the meal, Emily's cousin Daniel, whose bar mitzvah we attended a few months ago, entertained us by showing us his financial plan. I was well prepared to look at some hastily scribbled entry in a notebook, saying he would make a million dollars and buy three Hawaiian islands. No, the boy had charts. Graphs. The boy knew what he was doing and what he had to do to get there. Then he brought out the floor-by-floor blue prints of his first businesses. I was shocked. Seeing a thirteen-year-old who seems a lot surer of where he is going and how he is going to get there was not what this indecisive twentysomething needs. Emily commissioned the lad to draw the blueprints for the school we hope to have, I think more than half seriously. Oi.
The meal was good and the company pleasant. Emily's grandfather, who just celebrated his 95th birthday, was possessed by Eris and decided to toast the fact that the family would soon be getting larger. Discord reigned. Everyone looked around curiously. I looked to Emily and queried, "You aren't pregnant, are you?" She gave me that incredulous glance I so richly deserved. So I equally as melodramatically importuned her sister with the same question. She joked back that she, too, was not with child. Emily later speculated that one of her cousins had become engaged to the significant other they had brought to the dinner. Note the gender neutrality of that sentence, as I have forgotten who was what to whom.
Yet another holiday vanquished by me!

Soon in Xenology: I confront the dread advisor

last watched: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
reading: On the Road Jack Kerouac
listening: "Love Is Never Equal" I Never Learned to Swim: Jill Sobule
wanting: To not have to stress because someone is not practicing what they preach.
interesting thought: The world is full of people who are willing to undermine you for their whim. They must be vanquished if one is to ever be content.
moment of zen: feeling my voice go hoarse after reading aloud for hours.
someday I must: enlighten.

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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