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02.18.02 8:46 p.m.

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn.


  - David Russell  




I'm Sorry to Lose You
I have spoken to you of my displeasure with my advisor. At, one might be inclined to say, length. I confessed to seemingly irrational fears that she was trying to do me ill.
This is not one of those times I am wrong.
I was taking an American History class with Ermine that I was enjoying quite a bit. I was learning a lot with a good amount of depth. Note all the past-tense.
It turns out that, despite my fervent proclamation while being advised that my schedule was solid, my inept advisor assigned me the wrong class. She was looking directly at my schedule. She saw that I was taking American Lit 2. I had her pay special attention to the course numbers, as I needed both a 1 and a 2 level class for three subjects. Yet she gave me a class she saw I would have completed. Advising is a part of her job and directly affects the students greatly. If she cannot do it or purposely does it wrong, she should not be allowed to participate in this aspect of the college. Or, to put it another way, that bitch should stay the fuck away from anything that she can abuse because she can't be trusted not to do so.
So, I had to drop my class with Ermine. It was a long, ridiculous, redundant, and highly bureaucratic process, but I expect nothing less from New Paltz. The decisive blow for me was that I had to inquire and obtain the signatures of my advisor and the professor. Clearly I was not going to my advisor, so I went to the head of the English department and politely explained my situation. She said my advisor must have been very confused to give me the same class twice and she needs to be a lot more careful. I stifled the urge to explain further, as the faculty tends not to like badmouthing of colleagues from student (no matter how deserved).
Getting Ermine's signature was another ordeal, though only emotionally. I went to her before class, having to run (by Scarf Girl and her friend, if you needed the continuity). Breathless, I explain my situation. She smiles kindly and says, honestly, "I'm sorry to lose you." My response, which you have already seen as a title in the journal, was, "I am sorry to be lost." I almost cried saying this, because it is honestly how I feel lately. I don't know who I am or what I am doing. Other people complicate my life immensely for whims, almost. It makes sunlight sting my eyes a little more.

Omen
Melissa and I went to Emily's house Saturday. It was supposed to be a party but the following people either couldn't come or couldn't be reached by telephone for over a week: Stevehen, Tina, Zack, Conor, Flynn, Eileen. As such, it was largely hanging out together.
After getting ice cream and exchanging our generation's equivalent of war stories (rehab/institution), we heard a loud meowing issuing from M's side porch. Earlier in the night, Emily and I had heard it, she, thinking it was a child screaming hello and I, knowing it to be a meow. I noted absently, "...but you don't have any cats. Hmmm..." Emily is quite allergic to cats, which is why my feline Kizmet is banished to the living room and surrounding areas far from my room. It won't make her throat close up, but her eyes do turn to crimson puffer fish from the planet Histamine.
We, being hardy lads and lasses, went exploring. Heck, we face down space aliens (okay, we drive around looking at strange lights), a kitten couldn't harm us. Okay, so, by "exploring" I mean, "outside keeping Melissa's company during a smoke break." But that is how America was discovered, so you just keep your mouth shut! Okay, so it was America the band. Still. While she was smoking, a small black cat ran up to her and started nuzzling at her legs. Cats aren't usually that friendly with strangers, even nice strangers like Melissa. She brought it onto the porch to be around us. Emily immediately took to it, despite her allergies. Surprisingly, her allergies immediately took to ignoring the cat. No puffer fish.
I took one look at this black cat playing with us and named it Omen. I do have a flair for the dramatic. When Melissa reminded us that she has only encountered gregarious black cats on nights she almost died, the name was cemented. Though I did admonish the cat not to kill Melissa. One can never be too safe.
This cat was more than friendly. I was sitting cross-legged on the porch and it crawled onto my lap. When I looked down at it, it nuzzled my nose and licked it. Then it fell asleep for a bit. Melissa gave the solemn proclamation that M now had a cat. The cat had chosen her! Who was she to resist the cuddly charms of this hypoallergenic quadruped?
We made the cat a bed, though it seemed happier on the mouse-infested sofa. Who can blame her? It's like a bed and breakfast.
The next morning, M's parents returned. They were displeased with the adorable creature. They weren't too happy with the fact that she had let a cat sleep on the back porch either. They had us go door-to-door trying to find Omen's rightful owners. Our only tip came from an eight-year-old who mumbled that her friend Michael had a black kitty. So we trudged up to an empty house on top of a hill and were, of course, rewarded with nothing.
Emily's parents were irked, as M's land lady would not allow a pet and they were worried they would end up caring for a cat. So they convinced me to entice Omen away from the house. I did this, leading her into a forest far from the road (Omen turning into road kill was one of my larger fears). However, despite my cleverness, Omen was back at the screen door not ten minutes later, begging entrance. At this, M's parents banished us to the dungeon cell that is my room, 45 minutes away.
The agony.
Ever since this, Emily keeps reminding me in a sad timbre that she had a kitty and it was the best darned kitty to ever be! Well, maybe not all of that in so many words, but the message gets across.
Being a compassionate soul (read as: because she suggested it), we made Shrinky Dinks to soothe the pain of a temporary kitten. We started out drawing the normal ones, as per the books suggestion. However, that lasted only a few minutes. Then I remember the great books I had in my room to trace. We ended up with a lot of fairies and imps from Good Faeries, Bad Faeries and a mutilated teddy bear from Squee!. M made me a little plaque (she thought they didn't shrink that much) of my name with elves holding up the letters. Quite cool. I think I am going to have to have a Shrinky Dink party someday.
Maybe someone will actually come.

Orbital and Triangular
I'm not sure how many of you know this sort of stuff. I will err on the side of safety and assume you do not. In the current culture of paranormal studies (an odd phrase in itself), photos with glowing orbs are said to be proof of ghost. This is not just among fringe groups, either. Accepted researchers claim that the camera can capture an energy spectrum that the unaided human eye cannot. I say unaided human eye, because, evidently, night vision goggles allow you to see them moving about. The same goes for video cameras with screens.
Bear in mind, all of this information comes from Ghost: Investigating the Other Side and the internet. However, this appears to be the commonly held belief. Frankly, I would like to doubt it. I often have spots in my pictures and believe it to be the work of the camera, the developing, or the natural environment. Since I so frequently get these unobtrusive spots in all sorts of places, I am disinclined to believe I am a ghost magnet. More like people are seeing something they want to see when there are more reasonable explanations.
However, people report to actually see them zip around using goggles. Meters register an increase in electromagnetic reading when pointed at an orb. Two cameras whose film is developed separately will show the same orb. Which, logically, means it is something. But that doesn't automatically make it a ghost. It is easier for me to justify zipping energy fields everywhere than to think the souls of the departed live on as the electrostatic equivalent of tennis balls.
Similarly, it disturbs me that the commonly held shape of a UFO since they were spotted in the 1950's (and, depending on your outlook, thousands of years ago) was an elliptical shape. Now those are hardly seen, having been replaced by triangles. What the hell is that supposed to mean? Whatever they are suddenly decided that streamlined saucers didn't make sense?
You know, this whole argument with myself would make quite a bit more sense if I hadn't seen a triangular object myself.
Damn.



Soon in Xenology: I fill you in about Dances With Bunnies, my psych teacher. I try to decide if I am massively geeky or actually kind of cool. Or I could be like Weezer and be both. I likely avoid interaction with Kate, especially in person. I try to make Scarf Girl my friend or at least learn her name. M mourns Omen. Melissa and I have wacky misadventures. Hopefully Conor plays a part in the coming fun. Zack returns to these pages.



last watched: The Amityville Horror
reading: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
listening: Paradise In Me, K's Choice
wanting: M to have Omen.
interesting thought: someone who says they love you can use you just as much as a stranger.
moment of zen: shading Shrinky Dinks, knowing full well no one would notice once they shrank.
someday I must: cultivate my inner strength to do something wonderful.

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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