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01.11.02 4:49 p.m.

No, life has not disappointed me. On the contrary, I find it truer, more desirable and mysterious every year - ever since the day when the great liberator came to me: the idea that life could be an experiment of the seeker for knowledge - and not a duty, not a calamity, not trickery.

  -Friedrich Nietzsche  

Last night, Kate and I had a very nice night and she left at exactly 2:29AM. But we'll get to that.

Yesterday, Emily and I went to the city. She had to go down to see her therapist. I tagged along in order to see a movie called Waking Life that Emily's father proclaimed the best movie he had ever seen. As I respect her father's artistic opinion immensely, I certainly wanted to see what he found so intriguing. As it is an art film, I believe, it will likely not be here for many months.
I was very much a snoozy monkey, as I engaged M in one of those incredibly late night conversations of which I find myself so irrationally fond. I can't much remember what is was about, though I think I alluded at least once to the horrifying television program we had seen wherein a man has his healthy finger amputated so he can have it made into a very nonfunctional penis to restore his manhood and relieve his depression. Emily was livid about the misogyny this segment demonstrated, as women undergo hysterectomies frequently and don't mutilate their bodies to create a new womb.
Aside from seeing this film, my other personal goal was to obtain a copy of The Mothman Prophecies because the trailer for it unnerved me. It could help that I never heard of this film before we saw the object at Pine Bush. Not that, you know, I'm frightened out of my mind periodically. No, that would be silly.
After M's appointment and our breakfast at Sammy's Noodle House, we started wandering around. There were shops she wanted to show me. I was just following behind her and smiling a lot. We found a sidewalk vendor with books. So, we seized upon them, searching for worthy books to rescue. We found one book that said it had a female version. The only difference between the books was seventeen crucial lines. Bastards. We also found Shrinky Dinks. We had been searching for them for years. I think we got a deal on our books because the cops were in the process of shutting them down. I'm certainly not complaining.
Hours later, searching for a used books store called The Strand, we accidentally stumbled upon Ground Zero. At first, I didn't know why Emily had stopped. For a second I thought she knew the person or persons in the limo in front of us until she started crying deeply. Then I realized that all the buildings were covered by soot. I held her tightly against my chest and let her cry for ten minutes while imagined ghosts ran by me in terror. I noticed that windows around me were spray-painted with orange Xs and the date they were checked for people. It was just overwhelming. I couldn't really picture the buildings, having only once ventured to this part of the city when they were still standing. I looked up at the air, trying to draw towers in with my mind's eye. I wasn't doing a very good job. Suddenly the song about September from the play The Fantasticks started floating through my head, provoking tears. We walked closer to look at the shrine people had set up. It was all sort of standard for a shrine. Candles, teddy bears, rosaries, money. (I never understood leaving money. Maybe it is a remnant of putting coins on the eyelids of the deceased to provide them fare to give to Charon to cross the River Styx?) What seemed incongruous was a book about communication with the spirit world. I suppose I can understand the logic behind it, however. When we were walking toward the subway to find a different Strand location, both of us thoroughly fazed, I saw blue fliers stabled to the board around the site. They were ads that were trying, in grotesque ways to capitalize off of the tragedy. They said things like "Is that $@#^# bin Ladin making you work overtime? Relax at our bar!" "Spent too long looking at the dust pile? Wash it down here!" "The Red Cross gave them free drinks, but ours have more kick." How the hell can the person who made those possibly sleep? What the fuck were they thinking? Did that seem somehow appropriate to them? Assholes.
We finally found The Strand. Enormous. They boast that they have eight miles of books. We ended up in the occult section, of course, hoping to find rare, antique witchcraft books. The best I did was a signed copy of an erroneous hardcover from 1971 for $7. We did, or rather I did, get a few UFO related books in hope to be better educated the next time we go to Pine Bush. I got one called How to Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction, which I know sounds cheesy bad. However, they acknowledge that the experience may not be "real" in the strictest terms, but that doesn't mean it isn't causing very real trauma to people. Plus, while I feel that I have very good defenses against ghost/spirits/poltergeist/etc, I feel rather helpless against the idea that large flying objects exist and people claim the occupants of said vehicles (I am not saying what I saw in Pine Bush is an alien craft, but it certainly wasn't swamp gas) abduct them. This book, which is actually fairly credible in the scope of things, helps me feel more psychologically at ease.
We caught a late train home. Emily crawled under our coats and slept for the whole ride home. I, obviously, read.
You'll note we never saw that movie.

So, Kate came over last night, after I returned home. I had missed the girl and we had been having very good conversation. So, I deemed it necessary. Well, so did she.
She was very cute, with new glasses, a purple, fuzzy turtleneck, and her leather coat. She looked very together, if that makes sense, and that made me happy. I worry about the girl's state sometimes, but she seemed solid.
We sat on my bed and talked about the city, mostly. I gave her my Christmas gift for her, a book of photos of the Southwest. She liked it more than I thought she would, and we paged through it together, with her showing me where she had been. Then she decided that we should watch Fight Club together, as she had only seen it once. It is not a film you can only see once.
After the movie was over, she went home.
Nothing inappropriate occurred.

Soon in Xenology: I get presents. The Forces That Be move in mysterious ways. The work. I adventure. We return to Pine Bush. I hang out with Tina and Stevehen.

last watched: The trailer for The Mothman Prophecies
reading: How to Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction Ann Druffel
listening: eerie music coming out of my computer.
wanting: No, I'm good right now.
interesting thought: my reality is decidedly strange.
moment of zen: M chirping at my Babybot.
someday I must: write more.

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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