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01.16.02 10:02 p.m.

There is a thin line between genius and insanity. I have erased that line.

 -Oscar Levant  

Monday night, Emily, Melissa, and I went to Pine Bush. Evan is exploring the concept of hermitude to some degree and nixed the idea of joining us. His loss, I suppose, though he would have been very welcome.
My mother had warned against our leaving, as she thought a blizzard was due for our area and we would become snowbound. This is her wont to say such things to a pair of highly reasonable twentysomethings (who happen to hunt aliens!), and the weather channel did not back her assertion.
We talked about our New Orleans trip on the way up. Wait... you don't know about this, do you? Melissa, M, myself, and person-yet-to-be-named (I am hoping it'll be Evan, actually). Melissa requires a person who meets the following qualifications:

  • is her friend
  • a smoker to keep her company
  • not so big into the drinking or drug scene (we only plan on spending one night hitting Bourbon Street and have no interest in getting so wasted we can't move)
  • is willing to pay $300 for gas and hotels
  • will not laugh at voodoo priestesses
  • is going to be cool about visiting places like haunted houses, voodoo ceremonies, and Anne Rice's house
  • isn't going to be annoying to drive with
Really, is that asking so much? Evidently so, because we have yet to find a suitable traveling mate.
Back to the story at hand. When we arrived in Pine Bush, Emily insisted that she was thirsty. However, being as it was nearly midnight, Pine Bush was utterly shut down. Even the closest gas station is a twenty minute drive. Luckily, my sharp UFO spotting eyes spied a plugged-in soda machine outside a grocery store. As I procured non-carbonated refreshment for M, I noticed a veritable invasion of evil white ships barreling down at me. Oh, wait, snow. Right.
It started snowing lightly, so we decided to take a spin or so down Searsville Road (one of the centers for the phenomenon) and see if anything was going on. Aside from a spotlight lighting a flag that, from the angle we were, looked as though it was shooting toward the sky from a house's window, we saw nothing of note. However, the snow had increased quite a bit, so we beat a hasty retreat for the night.
As soon as we left the immediate area, the snow stopped. No more snow hit the ground near us all night. Strange. I joked with Evan tonight that the grays were sitting up there with ice cubes and cheese graters, making us leave.
The three of us ended up at the diner that M and I walked to in the snow a week ago. Melissa regaled us with her tales of dropping out of her high school and having college professors congratulate her on making the best choice of her life. From what she says, her school district requires radical education reform. Melissa want(ed/s) to run for the school board, figuring, quite logically, that she can see best why the system is failing students because it failed her. Here I feel I should remind the readers that I consider Melissa an intelligent and eloquent woman. Granted, she made a few poor lifestyle choices during the seven year duration of our friendship, but these are behind her and she is very strong now. So when she tells me that she didn't care about school because they didn't care about her, I listen. She informed us that her guidance counselor chose not to send some students' transcripts to college and, if fact, told Melissa that she would never amount to anything. A few years ago, she shoved her 4.0 report card from DCC in the counselors face and she threatened to have Melissa arrested. In addition, the school was filled with signs warning about the asbestos every five feet. Windows never got replaced. They had weekly evacuations because of the carbon monoxide levels. Teachers would assault students. There were never enough chairs or books for the students. The sport fields were a joke. And there is talk about 1000 more families moving into that system with no change in practices.
Bear in mind, this is also the school that puts on lavish, off-Broadway shows that often cost tens of thousands of dollars. Of the 500 graduates of Melissa's class, 485 when to DCC. Those that actually went to real colleges were in the theater department. The theater department is actually not affiliated with the high school. Also, a school about 15 miles away just got new tennis courts and an Olympic size swimming poor. It is clear that there is a disparity but I see nothing being done about it.
So blah to those of you who think my friends and I do not care about real issues.

Emily just called me to inform me that the student of her father's that is staying at her house to help redecorate the living room was disturbed by flashing lights last night. Every time he would get out of bed to check them out, they would stop. From what he told her, this went on all night, to the extent that this 22 (I think) year old, stout male was cowering under his sheets, frightened, and ended up covering his head with a pillow to block out the light. Strange.
From what Emily tells me, this light came from the forest where Emily and I heard a flutist playing for the first time back in June. The windows of her parents' bedroom are not facing that forest, so they do not report seeing any flashing lights to the best of my current knowledge.
Perhaps related - but Emily is hoping not - is the fact that M told me during a recent sleep-over that she saw vampires. One of the more charming habits of mine is an utter lack of incredulousness toward my friends. I merely asked what they looked like and where she had seen them. At that time she saw, I believe, one in the room where her father's student would come to sleep. It was very pale with human features. She distinctly felt that it was a vampire. I believe she said it was wearing "normal" clothes and had long dark hair. She didn't much care about it and went back to sleep. In her words, "Either it was going to kill me (then there would be nothing to worry about, I'd be dead) or make me a vampire (which would be cool)." I get the feeling that it wasn't a very "real" experience, or she would have woken me up to watch her kill the intruder. She, again, saw the "vampires" in the same room a few days later. These, too, were male, still very pale, still with black hair. There were two or three. One was wearing an all black cloak. She did not feel great concern toward these.
Well, let's be sensible about this, if we may be so bold with such a topic. The fact that these beings, if we may call them that, are only seen by M late at night, while she is walking to the bathroom, signals that they may be part of an altered state of consciousness. I am not saying she is asleep when she sees these things, because she knows the difference between reality and a dream. However, there are levels of consciousness not fully understood by science at the moment. Also most visitor phenomenon (yes, I think this sounds like visitor phenomenon) occurs when? Right, late at night, just as someone is waking up. As such, it is theorized by the scientifically minded that people who experience what could be deemed an abduction scenario may be experiencing an event that does not wholly take place within the bounds of what we could safely call our reality. That isn't to say it isn't real, and the effect of the experience are very much real for the participant. If someone truly thinks that small beings took them from their bed and conducted medical procedures on them against their will, whether you think it really happened or not, they are going to suffer psychological trauma.
Okay, I got too far into abduction theory. This is not what is occurring. Emily saw what she deemed vampires and the student was kept awake by flashing lights that seemingly knew his movements. I choose to believe there is truth to both accounts, as I have no proof or reason to think either is lying to me. In addition, it seems to me that the two accounts could be related as they had to do with the same room. Emily feels that her room at home is safe, because she conducts frequent protection rituals to keep it that way. She does not feel this way about her apartment, which is why she wants a night light.
By the way, Emily said that she wouldn't be able to sleep if I equated her vampires with "bedroom visitors." So, officially, I am not.
I will leave more of this for another night. I wouldn't want to bore you.

Full of Shift
My mother has been on an odd kick of late. Though she pushed me to get a job at the library, and I did, she is now insisting that I work as a substitute teacher at the high school. Primarily, this is difficult as I already have a fairly steady job and substitute teaching is anything but. The school could opt to not call me for months. Am I to tell the library I cannot work Mondays and Fridays because an erratic and unpleasant school may summon me from my bed at five in the morning to watch screaming brats not do work? Clearly not. Also, she has no idea how much a substitute teacher actually gets, nor do I. She decided, I think arbitrarily, that a sub gets $75 a day. Never mind that, as far a I knew, subs got paid per period and had to pay dues to the school if they got work or not.
We'll see where this goes, but I do not think it proper that a woman who cannot properly handle her own affairs wants to dictate mine. When classes begin anew, I shall be working two jobs, in addition to taking classes, doing homework and writing herein. It's a lot cheaper than therapy.

Soon in Xenology: My mother informs me I have to use the wooden hangers in a shrill tone. The bird hopefully recovers. Likely more weird stuff happens. We go to Pine Bush to help that along. M goes to an Asian country.

last watched: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
reading: How To Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction Ann Druffel
listening: "Come See Me Tonight" by Daniel Johnston
listening: To be free to progress as I see fit.
interesting thought: Jewel didn't maintain her own innocence. Hypocrite.
moment of zen: Walmart at 3AM.
someday I must: nurture a plant.

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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