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01.22.02 9:03 p.m.

Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.


 -Isaac Asimov  




Corrections, Clarifications, and Whatnot
For Kate: Ross was not a booty-call. Ross has graduated from high school and is now a freshman in college. Kate has never had sexual relations with that boy Ross. MARCEL PROUST KICKS SARTRE'S EXISTENTIAL ASS, SUCKA!
For M: M's not crazy. The vampires was standing on top of the stairs when she let the dog back in. They were not, in fact, anywhere near Ari's room. Actually, just outside, once. But never inside. And they aren't aliens, except according to the dictionary definition.
For my mother: I was never hit with a wooden clothes hanger (that I can recall, unless I was hit so hard I forgot!) It was an allusion to the film/book Mommie Dearest. You should have known that.
For Sarah: She is no longer much with the sex.

Introduction to Educational Measurements
Tomorrow, bright and early in the afternoon, I start another illustrious semester at SUNY New Paltz. If you could only see the exact lack of enthusiasm on my face...
No, I am not, precisely, looking forward to this coming semester at all. Okay, granted, I never have a class before 12:30. And, granted, I only have classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, thanks to being very quick and persuasive when in came to the bureaucratic officials at New Paltz. I do not deny that these are objects of great joy and much coveted among my peers. I am decidedly good with the purely objective three day school week. (Of course, I will be working during my four days off because this is a real world and not a sit-com. Or The Real World, for that matter.)
Ah, but there are problems and they are few but powerful.
One: I have no idea if teaching ill-mannered high school students is something I actually want to do with my life. The fluffy, white cloud concept of inspiring a student or bettering a life appeals enormously to me. However, nearly ever other facet of a teacher's life displeases me. The hours (I am not a morning person. I understand my biology). The pay. The lack of respect. The threat of harm to my physical and emotional health. The unlikelihood I will be able to attain a job in this field without radically compromising a big chunk of happiness and contentment. Not fun.
As such, the idea that I am supposed to student teach next year terrifies me. It is not as though I do not think I can do it. I know that I can get in front of a classroom and make the pupils understand the material. I am personable, learned, and understand the importance of proper discipline (I know that makes me sound like a Nazi, but discipline has very little to do with the ruler-on-knuckles most of you are imagining). This is not an issue. Teaching high school students is just not what I can imagine myself doing with my life. I can imagine myself editing books. I can imagine myself writing articles. I can imagine myself writing informative books. I can imagine myself researching. I can imagine myself creating web pages. So, it is possible I have no idea what I am doing.
Ah, but I heard one of you say, "Come on Xen! No one does what they went to college for! Why, I was marine biology major and now I work with land tortoises. Totally different!" And, actually, this is one of my hidden (though obviously not well) secret hopes. That I will find a job pertaining to my field of study that does not force me to be a high school teacher, likely in an inner-city high school (if I can find a job at all).
And if all else fails, my friends are the progeny of well-respected artists, writers, and actors. I will simply put all of my morals and ethics in a Mason jar under my cot at the YMCA and hope I have valid connections.
Two: The addition of unpleasant people and situations to my world.
Let's start with M's new roommate, shall we? First, I am elated M has a much bigger room with a more private entrance. This is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, or at least until M moves out. However, I did not think it came at so severe a price as having to live with this girl.
We shall call her Beauty School Drop-Out, for numerous reason I will let you speculate upon. BSDO knew Emily for a while. M thought that this girl and she had a tolerable, even pleasant working relationship. So, when she found out this girl would be transferring to the hallowed halls of New Paltz, M let her know that there was an apartment available. M thought she was doing a good thing. M, too, can be wrong.
This girl is remarkably manipulative. A few example, for it is better to show than to tell. M and she went shopping for some basic needs for the apartment. M ended up buying a $3 Tupperware bottle. BSDO racked up another $30 in charges, and only paid $10 "because she didn't have the money." So M footed the remainder of a bill, I suspect unhappily. Today, BSDO returned all the goods, except for M's bottle and kept the money, save for $5 she spent getting herself an egg crate for her mattress. Also, at dinner that day, we went to Pizza Hut. M and I are trying to eat healthier, but we were being celebratory. The meal for the three of us came to $25 plus tip. BSDO paid the tip "because she was broke" and acted as though that was enough. M was decidedly irked. Immediately after this, we went to get frosting for cupcakes we were making and a few other items. The groceries came to something like $7, total. However, BSDO got $15 worth of flowers because "the house needed sprucing up." Since she was broke, she had me pay the difference. And the flowers? I think they ended up in BSDO room, actually. After M and I mixed the cake mix and put the cupcakes in the oven, took them out, and let them cool BSDO came down and asked if we wanted her to frost them. M called from her room that she would happily frost them, that she likes to frost. BSDO proceeded to bitch about how much she hates the chore of frosting and how she wouldn't want to do it. Err.
Oh, and she is bitchy. M and I were playing M's Nintendo in her room. BSDO came in, sat down, and said M needed a clean clothes basket and a dirty clothes basket in a very judgmental and condescending fashion. It is M's room and it is not anywhere as cluttered as most college students', mine included. But, most importantly, it is not BSDO room and she has no right to admonish M for its relatively tidy state.
So, to say this chippy grates on me is to put it lightly. M, I think, is on the verge of breaking down (or breaking something). BSDO wants a key to M's room so that she can watch M's TV. I am hoping and praying to any god-like being that will listen that M will tell her no. This girl has already invaded and reorganized the kitchen entirely. She has to be stopped. I may have to plan an intervention. Or have her killed... No, I'm thinking more yelling, less stabbing.
There are more problems, but this topic has drained me for the night. Time for other news.

Renewal
Last weekend, I was in the mall. M had forced me, you understand. Monkeys were involved. It's best if we don't get into it. The scars are still too fresh.
I was returning to M from having deposited my weekly library whoring money into the ATM when I felt someone touch my shoulder, gently and nonchalantly, while passing. I spun to look at the owner of the fingers and was shocked.
Keilaina.
Oh, Kei! "The Christian." The darling lass who tried to adopt my car gnome. Sweet, dear Kei, so long estranged from these pages. I had assumed, clearly erroneously, that she was in Florida, trying to come to terms with any number of unpleasantries inherent in this area. Florida is where people in my reality-construct go to disappear. I had so much given up hope that, after trying to call her cell number that I found and being informed by the shrill voice of reality that it had been disconnected, I zipped all the pictures of her into a file for storage.
Not only was she back and looking marvelous, but she was still with her boyfriend Ian. In fact, she had reappeared in my life exactly on her one year anniversary with the boy. Fascinating.
We happily chatted and planned to go on a double date together very soon. I have no idea what we will discuss, actually, but it could be a lot of fun nonetheless.
After Kei departed, I realized that we were very close to the museum and thus might have a chance to see Eileen as well. I was feeling lucky.
She, indeed, was there. We happily cooed at one another, like chipper doves. I suggested that she actually let me meet her boyfriend, who I intimated was imaginary, and go on a triple date with me. She neither confirmed nor denied the possibility, in proper Eileenian form. She did inform me, however, that she would be leaving the museum soon to make real films, for money, over the summer. I am much with the envy. Such a talented lass. Of course, after that, she is off to some out of the area college. Then she will disappear.
Of course, I can have a very strong friendship with Sarah, whom I have not seen in years.
Speaking of which, that self same day, I was in Sarah's area with Melissa and M. I, of course, tried to get in contact with her. I figured I could pull off a hat trick of friends I hadn't seen in a while. But no, her roommate informed me that Sarah had likely gone out after work and would not return for a very long time. Oh, well. Another night.

I Am the Terror That Flaps in the Night
Last night, returning from the bathroom in Emily's apartment, my necklace bit me.
When I sleep, I keep my necklaces on. It's easier and safer that way. So, as they too are subject to gravity, I often end up with the pendants on my back. When I am waking up just to get a drink or use the loo, I don't much care to fix them. As such, they were riding my back like a cowboy monkey. As I was about to turn the corner to return to M's room, I felt a distinct gnawing sensation. Like in Looney Tunes cartoons, when the flea puts the dog's skin on a tablecloth and takes a bite, it was as though a tiny mouth nipped me. It was completely unlike having my hair pulled, by the way.
I grabbed it, checked if it was in anyway sharp (nope) or open (nope) or had teeth (triple nope). I, being a wholly reasonable and sensible gentleman, assumed that it was some kind of warning. So I looked around the corner in a careful way and saw...
Nothing. I felt a little creeped out, but not silly for listening to jewelry for warning. Nope, perfectly sensical thing to do.
When I told Emily this morning, she calmly assured me that that was one of the "vampires" and they must have followed her to her apartment. This, of course, is why she needed a night light.
I accepted her explanation with a mental asterisk every time the word "vampire" was used. She, obviously, must mean some other less-than-wholly-natural-but-somewhat-accepted phenomenon. Like some sort of ghost. Or... um... a latent poltergeist. Poltergeists are largely believed to be dormant psychic energies of a stressed pubescent female, for the most part. Not separate entities at all, just manifestations of a part of the brain that has yet to totally be understood by true science (though poltergeist cases are studied with CAT scans and MRIs now). This would make sense, because M was just getting over a sickness and now she is going back to school. Thus, stress.
No, still too paranormal or, at best, pseudoscience-y. Maybe it doesn't occur on a physical level. It a kind of dream. Or, as I like to think of it (in that I totally made this all up as I was writing it), Waking Dream Phenomenon, where you are mostly awake but some part of your unconscious mind is still manufacturing phantasmagorical images. That would account for why this is only observed late at night when someone has just awoken. Right. And... such. Since I didn't see anything... right... um...
Because ghosts are not real.
Except when they are.
You know what? I'm going to bed now. Or I am going to put the illogical paranormal ponderings earlier in the entry from now on so I don't ramble and sound crazy.
Though, really, I can never sound as crazy as the UFO "experts" on the video I watched. I'm still talking about levels of perception and consciousness, they are talking about alternate dimensions and faces on Mars.

Oh, shite, school. That's no fun. Wish me luck.



Soon in Xenology: M goes to an Asian country. Melissa has realizations as to the necessity of her past as a tool for learning. I mope about classes and the fact that nobody like me and that everyone else has a cooler Smurfs lunch box and the other kids won't let me play with them during recess. I attend classes. I see Urinetown. I wish that I was a Mexican wrestler in a red vinyl mask.



last watched: The UFO File: Hudson Valley
reading: Blood & Gold Anne Rice
listening: I Never Learned To Swim Jill Sobule
wanting: More vacation to read and process my world.
interesting thought: Love is never equal?
moment of zen: realizing the extent of joy I have in reading the words of a familiar literary character.
someday I must: not sound quite as crazy when I try to explain other than normal occurrences.

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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