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02.10.02 5:36 p.m.

you and i are not mostpeople

 -ee cummings  

Lighting a Fire
I am writing this from the library, frankly became there is little else for me to do at the moment. Our computers are down, much like there were yesterday and as they will likely be tomorrow. The phone company claims the problem is at our end and I have no way to disprove this. The flip side of this is that we have few patrons because this community is really not the type for book learning. It will be a long day, I imagine. But, hey, I am getting paid almost $50 to write this, so don't think I am complaining.
So, bringing you up to speed... Hmm...
Friday, M and I hung out with Conor and Flynn, lovely boys that they are. As the doctor had given me a clean bill of health (and unquestioningly given me a few prescriptions, as per my unmedical request) and Mama Nature was having a spring-like hot flash, M ruled that we needed a treat of some sort. As she had never seen Cold Spring in the daylight and knew very well there was good shopping to be had, she decided this was to be our treat. I'm sure, if Friendly's had been open and functional, it could have been ice cream. But Cold Spring holds the treat known only as Conor. By some divine will, he was actually home and willing to frolic merrily in the mud-lusciousness of the outside world.
Stopping only shortly by my house to drop off my prescriptions and pick up Conor's much belated Christmas gift (though Sarah has this beat, as I still have her gift from two Christmases ago), we rushed to the spring of coldness. When we arrived there, we noted that the Grand Union had burned to the ground. Conor informed us that it had occurred two days prior. The entire town gathered around, much as one could expect from such a small, insular township. The Cold Spring fire department did little to help the situation, being equated in inexperienced cluelessness to the fire department in Pleasantville. Actually, they made it quite a bit worse and (in Conor's eyes) are the reason it is now rubble. The fire was a tiny thing in a back room at first, likely caused by a cigarette not sufficiently snuffed out. However, owing to the relative lack of oxygen, it was a lot of smoke and little fire. That is, until the fire department broke all of the windows and cut holes in the roof. This sufficiently aerated the fire and it destroyed the town's only grocery store.
We told Conor of the on-going sagas that are our lives. Mainly the supernatural elements, which he took in stride (as I knew he would). Vampires and UFOs are nothing compared to the mystery of Conor.
At M's request and Conor's begrudgement, we perused the shops on Main Street. M was most interested in the magick shop, because every incestually close community needs a store catering to witches. Conor appropriately derided it as selling magical American flag dog bandanas. Still, it was am magick shop, so M needed to explore. It sold very generic mystical wares, which came as no particular surprise. I asked the woman in front, who was contentedly shopping for Harry Potter goods an eBay, for some slightly more esoteric goods, like boji stones and dragon's blood. To her credit, she seemed to know what I was talking about. I also noted an abundance of jewelry that looked suspiciously like Rozalisa's "handmade" goods. Then again, a bloody lot of what one will see in Azuregreen looks like Rose's goods, save that hers would have a semiprecious stone affixed to it. Emily dove toward the racks of sale clothing and emerged with a hooded, velour dress which I heartily encouraged her to purchase, using my stellar logic of "are you likely to find this dress again?" Plus, you know, hoods are cool. Unless they are white hoods. That's bad.
Having exhausted the relative fun of a wee magick store, we headed back up the street, though slowly, as M was still moon-booted and on crutches. Fine with me, it gave me more time to speak with Conor. When people would walk by, he would chant his mantra of "you don't know me, you don't know me." For reason that should be clear, Conor wished to distance himself from the general populous of his hometown, much like a duck would avoid a clan of inbred mongooses. When we were approaching his house, I saw a dog tied up across the street. It had a purple doll in its mouth and dropped it when someone walked by. Such a sight could not be left alone. I ran across the street and began playing with the dog, while Emily related the tale of idiotic Bible Boy and his attempts to hit on her. Silly Bible Boy!
We headed back to his house to pick of Flynn, who had been on his way to Conor when we arrived. So we relaxed in Conor's home, I, reading Dispatches From the Tenth Circle and Emily looking at her foot querulously. Then Conor brought us his photo album and made us both want to take many more pictures of our own. He has had such a fulfilling life, seemingly. For some reason I can't much place, it reminded me of Sinclair from Hermann Hesse's Demian. I think it was that many of these photos took place at Bard College, which is an excellent mental setting for scenes in the book.
When Flynn arrived, in his poofy-haired goodness, we demanded he tell us where we should eat. We tried asking Dispatches, but it mostly suggested starving to death. Flynn looked in his wallet in a crucial way and pronounced that we should eat in that place that serves the cheap food. Ah, that place we all know so very well. As such, we ventured to the nearby pizza place. While we walked, Flynn regaled us with information about various role-playing games and their Japanese counterparts. However, to his immense credit, this did not seem in the least bit sociopathic. In fact, I was quite flattered to know that more than one character in a video game he was playing was named for me. Aw. As I think you know, M and I name characters in the games we play for our friends, so I appreciated the sentiment being reciprocated. My, but we are dorks. Flynn had some strange, flat, hand-held, translucent blue game system with very good graphics that played Final Fantasy II in Japanese. Evidently, the characters made some sense to Flynn. However, Conor was the one playing it and, to my knowledge, he doesn't know any Asian languages or characters. Oh, well, he seemed to be doing well enough without that knowledge. He impresses me quite a bit.
At the pizza place, we got a half garlic pizza, as three of this four person party ruled that they didn't mind smelling of garlic for days. I abstained, of course. I like smelling of Xen, which is a combination of herbal shampoo, incense, and fabric softener. Mmm mm good. We spoke at a fair clip, somehow getting into a contest wherein Emily and Flynn drew aliens on paper plates and tried to fight with them. Flynn's, being the better with a floral bikini top, grass skirt, horns, platform shoes, and pot belly, won hands down. Flynn signed his creation and gave it to M. As far as I know, that grease stained pizza plate is still in her backpack. Behold the power of cheese.
After we were thoroughly through with the pizzeria and likely near getting thrown out for our hilarity, we proceeded to walk Main Street a bit more, generally being loudly gleeful. In fact, I was telling them a story and some man in a turning car stared at me. So I added, "...but this gentleman knows what I mean." So, clearly a master of the art of debate, he flipped me off. Oooh, a scathing retort. I shall just have to put that in my pipe and blow bubbles from its frothy truth.
Eventually, I realized that I had neglected to call and inform Denny's that MHPN would be having their meeting at their fine establishment. Not that they ever seem much to care, but I like to give them a warning. Conor and Flynn inquired as to what we were doing and where we were going. M explained that it was a divination night; many of the people there would be odd (though not in the way these people often think they are), and such. Still, Conor and Flynn wanted to join us. After making sure they understood how perfectly dumb this could get, they joined us. Glee!
We returned to Conor's house briefly to pick up coats and inform his mother that we were absconding with her son and nearly-son. We told her simply that we would be going to Denny's for a meal and would return them latter. Emily spied a comparative religions textbook on the table and asked whose it was. It belonged to Conor's mother. So M and she got into a long conversation wherein Conor's mother explained that she was in charge of religious education at her Unitarian church. I never knew that. I had presumed that Conor came from a liberal household and derived from something like a Christian religious background, however, so this was valid. I think M and she would get along wonderfully, actually, and was glad that this interaction occurred (not only for expositional purposes, either). My friend's moms should like my girly friend.
We were surprised upon arriving at Denny's that there was a rather large family in the room with us. I could tell from the expressions on the attendees that some of the Pagans were not happy with this turn of events. I didn't much care, as they always eat and talk for hours before getting to the point of the meeting. One of the attendees kept making pissed-off comments about the "normals" in our room. Emily started growling at this, justifiably. One: that is rude in the extreme as those people had just as much right to be there as we did. Two: just because someone is of an alternative faith, doesn't make him or her any less normal than the next person. Three: as the family was African American, there were decidedly racist undertones to these sorts of comments. Four: I bloody hate Pagans who preach unity yet try to segregate themselves as much as possible from society.
Another member kept alluding to Harry Potter to a degree that got on M's nerves. I told Conor to count the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Monty Python references. By the end of the night, I think the tally was approaching triple digits. However, we wisely evacuated the table a few times because our nerves were being frayed more than they ordinarily would. Our code words to signal we wanted to escape were "Percy Shelley." I figured there was no way anyone else would have used that name in context.
Emily had her aura and cards read by people I rather trusted, having known them for at least two years. Her aura reading basically said that she had emotional trauma from her past but she used it to help heal others. Germane. Otherwise a healthy aura with a good connection to whatever is otherwise in the universe. Her cards were very detailed. As I think I have said, she has never before gotten a card reading because the psychics refuse and refund her money. The woman doing M's cards ended up using the whole deck. The gist of the reading was that M's love life was fairly secure, she would go through a lot of problems and make a lot of mistakes before finding the right career (which would have nothing to do with religious studies), and that a tall, blond man (who isn't me) will make trouble for her within seven months. I insinuated half-jokingly that this might explain the tall, blond vampire Emily thinks she sees in her apartment. A subconscious manifestation of what is to come, if you will. Emily did not like that idea but did not dismiss it.
I had my aura read by the same man. He once told me he had never seen an aura like mine and I had etheric bulges in my head. I was okay with that. This time, he said I had a very blue-green aura that was very healing toward the world and markedly healthy. He said he had only seen that in himself, which I took as a great compliment. He said my heart chakra was very green, which signaled that I give a lot of love. My throat chakra was red, signaling that I have a problem communicating. Emily thinks this is because, in a large group of people, I will silently watch and speak little. Or, as she put it, "you are quietly judging them." I tend to be quite verbal and explain how I am feeling. Keeps me calm. I had a lot of orange on the left side of my torso. He was confused as to what this could mean, though I got the distinct feeling he knew that this meant and wanted me to confirm it. I stated that I had just gone to the doctor for that side of my body, and thus had anxiety. He stated that made sense, but I think there was more to it that he wasn't saying. I don't, however, know what that could be.
While Emily had her cards read, Flynn, Conor, and I were banished to the other side of the table. We spoke at a frenzied pace, I'm sure completely indecipherably to those around us, about many things. Conor's story stood out most. He told how, curious and suffering from ADHD, he tried to create new name for people based upon reworking the letters using a simple number code (A=1, B=2... Z=26) and placing the spaces between the numbers elsewhere. For example, XEN = 23 5 14. "XEN" doesn't actually work but the next step would be changing the spaces and seeing if those letters form a name. He was sitting on a computer at Bard, trying to see if the number squared formed any names (so, XEN = 529 25 196, still unworkable), mumbling "Almost... no!... hmmm..." and pressing enter on the calculator. A girl sitting next to him got up and moved three seats away. He was quite proud of this fact. I related to him how I had once done something similar by trying to make logical statement from the anagrams of Bible passages and Shakespeare quotes. I don't recall having much success, maybe I should have tried with Lewis Carroll.
Emily later told me that, of all my friends, she thinks we mesh best with Conor and Flynn. She doesn't feel that she has to ask if they liked her, she just knows.

Wake Up, Number Thirty-Seven
Last night, Emily and I saw The Mothman Prophesies. We tried to get others to come with us, as we were suppose to hang out with Zack that night, but it ended up just being us. Zack was busy with his friend whose name I know better than to try and spell.
We had been looking forward to seeing this movie for quite a while, as we are who we are and have such lovely adventures.
We ended up having to buy tickets from a girl who I presumed (from my memory of the pictures I had seen) to be Melissa's ex, whom we will call Snerpes. I smiled big and used her name, though Snerpes did not react either way. Oh, no, maybe she knows who I am! That's no fun.
The movie was not bad, nor was it especially wonderful. "Based on true events" means only that people did report seeing an entity colloquially dubbed the "mothman" (though it is actually reported to look more like a bat, but calling it Batman poses a copyright issue) and that there is a town in West Virginia where a tragedy happened. Though I feel the tragedy is a matter of public record, I will respect those people who would feel that this is spoiling the ending. These are the same people who were shocked when the ship sank in Titanic. Anyway, like Titanic, these characters never existed and were merely placed in this setting because a producer felt the story wasn't interesting enough on its own.
The cinematography may have been the best part of the film, aside from the fact that the Mothman is never actually directly seen. The acting... well, it didn't suck. The fact that romance was interjected into the plotline raised my ire, as this story didn't need a romantic subplot in it that never gets resolved.
By the end, Emily was a trifle scared, though not by the movie but real life concerns of driving home. So I bought her a stretch alien from the vending machine, because that's just the kind of guy I am.

Soon in Xenology: I tell you of my near scary mission to make Scarf Girl and Radio Goth my associates. I tell you my displeasure with orbs being ghosts, except when they are. I fill you in about Dances With Bunnies, my psych teacher. I hang out with Kate.

last watched: Godspell , Unbreakable, The Mothman Prophecies
reading: The Indigo Children, Lee Carroll
listening: Elliot Smith
wanting: intense love.
interesting thought: Real family rarely grows up under the same roof.
moment of zen: Holding M to keep the cold out.
someday I must: understand those who would hurt me.

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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