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01.26.02 11:40 p.m.

It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have few virtues.

 -Abraham Lincoln  

ILL At Ease
The library can be amazingly stressful. I think I am doing to have to start blaming it for my frequent neck aches. Or, you know, the fact that I code and write for your enjoyment so often. One or the other.
I arrived at the library a few minutes late, entirely my own fault. One of the clerks informed me that the woman I usually work with was sick today, so I would be entirely on my own. Suddenly, I felt I lot less guilt for being late, as I knew I was in for quite a bit. I never sat for the entire four hours I was there. I didn't get a break. I got yelled at via note. Patrons yelled at me for the sins of other clerks. It was not a good day.
Incidentally, I work again tomorrow.
And Monday.

Undiagnosable Sock Puppets
Last night, spurred on by boredom and the fact that Emily was laid up with a third degree sprain with bone chips (one of her new students doesn't understand that non-touch sparring doesn't involve hitting people as hard as he can with his elbow in one of their joints), I went to Melissa's house to watch her new Sifl & Olly DVD. You remember Sifl & Olly, don't you? They were a brilliant duo of sock puppets on MTV a few years back... what do you mean, "They sucked"? Okay, I'll explain it slowly. You are going to have to try to suspend the dislike you feel. If you listen to what they are saying, and ignore that they are sock puppets, that is some damned funny material. Okay, now come the important part. A sock is saying this witty stuff. Uh! I almost lost you there, didn't I? I'll try again. Would it be humorous if a cartoon was saying this? No. A real puppet? Not a chance. A person? Definitely not. Now, imagine a sock is saying, "You've got some serious ass post-mortem hair growth problems!" in context. How is that not pure comic gold?
And, "Well, they did get cancelled." is not a reason.
Invader Zim is getting cancelled in eight more episodes. Zim, which now populates half a wall in Hot Topic. Zim, which has a large following. Why? Because it is not a kids' show and the station tried to act as though it was. Poor marketing by socially illiterate office jockeys.
I hate TV executives.
After we squeezed every ounce of goodness from the DVD (at least for the night. Emily still needs a proper introduction), Melissa asked me to pretend to be an emotionally disturbed child so she could practice her skills in calming and helping the child really acknowledge the problem. I felt a little strange doing this, as I didn't actually know how an emotionally disturbed child would act. I decided against my initial urge to pretend I was delusional, as that might be offensive and annoying. I just tried to be a normal mopey kid in trouble, but more so.
Melissa, as you might know, works taking care of emotionally troubled children at a group home. She loves her job more than I have ever seen anyone love a job. She is honestly considering making the care of emotionally disturbed kids her career. Anyway, she was practicing her technique on me because she is being tested in a few days. If she succeeds, as I think she will, in knowing all the new holds, techniques, and methods, she may get a promotion. Conversely, if the testers are not satisfied, she may no longer have a job. She had been taking seminars all week to prepare for the test.
In less than ten minutes, she diffused the imaginary situation wherein I had milk spilled on me by a kid and thus punched him. I was rather impressed, as I don't think I was making it overly easy for her.

Do NOT Try This At Home!
Afterward, she proceeded to share with me wisdom about Glade hallucinations. As some of you out there know, Glade air freshener can be used to hallucinogenic ends owing to the use of N2O as a propellant. N2O, more commonly known as laughing gas, is what dentists give some patients to numb them from the experience of having bits of bones pulled from their jaws.
By the way, I disavow all responsibility if some slack-jawed teen decides huffing Glade is a good idea because I am talking about it. My best friend exploded. She suffered burns all over her body, as did the other occupants of the car. The car blew up like Jiffy-Pop. She could have died and it is a miracle she is still with us. As such, you are an idiot if you consider huffing. Having done my legal responsibility, on with the show.
What most people, myself included, don't realize about huffing Glade is that it renders one unconscious. The hallucinations one is having are not caused by a release of chemicals from the brain that ordinarily never spike that high. No, rather, you are asleep with your eyes open. You are dreaming that which you are seeing. For example, one of Melissa's friends thought that he swallowed a firecracker. Logically, he ran, full speed, to a stream to drink water to put it out. However, in the water, there was a bass monster. So this boy ran a mile, non-stop, before they found him. Even once they did, he wouldn't speak.
Melissa, from her detailed and frankly fascinating reports, seemed to hallucinate from a different part of her brain. She stated that her hallucinations seemed to be evil, for the most part. For example, there were these little people that followed everyone around trying to get them to make wishes. She never did. One day, the little girl that was always present in Melissa's hallucinations (not a negative figure at all, this is the hallucination that tried to warn Melissa to get out of the car before it exploded) stated, quite logically, that the little people were from the Devil by virtue that they wanted people to ask for things and these people certainly weren't asking God, so who do you suppose they were asking? You just have to appreciate moralizing hallucinations in the form of four-year-old girls. Melissa felt that she was delving into something decidedly negative when she did Glade. She felt that everything was leading up to the night she exploded. That she made the choice to reject evil during a hallucination that was shared with a friend of hers. I do not recall hearing that her friend had rejected evil.
All in all, it is a rather interesting topic. Clearly phantasmagorical, as this state would sensically produce, but possessing a certain degree of startling logic. The human mind must be one of the strangest places in the universe.

Lewis Carroll I'm Sure Did Alice
We decided to go to Pine Bush, as should come as no surprise. We didn't bring equipment, as we didn't rule it necessary. We weren't looking for proof, we just hoping to see something.
As we were headed out the door, Melissa asked why my journal contained less fretting about my relationship with M. Did this mean that I was more secure, or merely that I hadn't included any misgivings? I pondered this briefly before answering that I wouldn't, necessarily, say that I was more secure in my relationship with M, but merely that I thought less about it. However, that didn't stop me from discussing small to not so small issues I have had with M while we drove up.
I have this distinct feeling that M may already be crying reading that much, as she does read the journal. (M? Stop.) Note the lack of description of said problems? That means you already know them. And, audience, as they are personal (by which I mean, her life and issues, not mine) I am ruling them off-limits.
Melissa did not know how to counsel me, if indeed that is what I needed. It was just nice to talk these things out. I had spoken a bit about them with Eileen, so she seemed to be of the opinion that I should be alone for a while during this tumultuous period in my life. However, she acknowledge the inherent problem in losing a girl like M, with whom I work very well, just to sit in reflective solitude. Eileen did verbally shudder when I wondered aloud whether this sort of feeling propelled (like N2O) Katie to break up with me, lo those many years ago. Or, perhaps, Katie broke up with me because I use "lo" in a sentence.
When we arrived in Pine Bush, it was just about shut down time for the town. A cop was driving in the parking lot that contained the soda machines, so we drove around. Serendipitously, we stumble upon an excellent viewing spot where we can actually park. It even has legal parking. Now that is a thing of beauty for having to deal with the police. Eventually, you know, we will have to deal with the police. Skywatching, you know.
We decided to return to the machines and get beverages. Only the soda machine died after she inserted a coin, so we were reduced to drinking some sort of Gatorade rip off. It had no taste, unless it was on the back of one's tongue. Clearly an alien concoction!
We drove around quite a bit, possessed of the intuition that something was certainly out there tonight. The air was buzzing. While we discovered a few new roads and some very strange fields, we saw nothing that looked certifiably out of the ordinary.
But we are watching and waiting.

Soon in Xenology: M goes to an Asian country. I see Urinetown. I learn more developmental psychology. Anony-Miss might be in that class. I see The Mothman Prophesies

last watched: Saturday Night Live
reading: Blood & Gold, Anne Rice
listening: I Never Learned To Swim, Jill Sobule
wanting: experience.
interesting thought: Some people have too much love while others have none.
moment of zen: discovering desired objects under the facade of old ones.
someday I must: roll down a hill in spring.

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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