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03.07.02 9:48 p.m.

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.

 -Ray Bradbury  

Previously in Xenology: I decided I needed space from a relationship in hopes that I can fall in love with Emily again. We see a UFO in Pine Bush. I take classes with Dave. Conor is generally strange and brilliant.

Hopscotch Addendum
Last night, after a dull night at the library, I hung out with Emily. We had tried to enlist the company of Melissa, but she was working Wednesday (as she does every Wednesday, M and I just can't quite get a handle on her schedule). At this, Emily did not think we should hang out, as per our "rules." I pointed out that the rules excluded hanging out for copious amounts of time, alone, in my bedroom. Spending time together actually doing something was in no way forbidden. Actually, I think it would be encouraged, as it is something I would likely wish to do with my best friend and something that would improve my appreciation of said person.
She met me at a diner near my house, as parking in my driveway was evidently a little too intimate for her at this stage. She asked where we could procure chalk at this time of night (all of 8:45) and we thus went to a nearby drugstore. She shared with me her childhood camp adventures, spurred on by the fact that she was buying chalk for the purpose of playing hopscotch (evidently, all little city girls do is play hopscotch, sell cherished childhood books, and make breakfast for schizophrenic). While in line, still speaking of camp, she shared with me that she wanted Spree but it was no longer made.
I gave her an incredulous look, walked over to the candy rack, and handed her a tube of Spree. She gleed at this and revealed that she was once allowed to get a package of these from the camp's canteen on a day when no one else was allowed candy (she shot down my theory that the children should have horded candy for those days), because she had won the camp's talent contest. I think her talent must have been making camp stories actually seem amusing. Or, possibly, singing to Paula Abdul.
We chose to go to my elementary school for the purpose of hopping about, as it was nicely lit when the rest of the state was significantly less so. I had never played hopscotch before, to Emily's immense shock. I was an inactive little boy, I suppose. She drew the appropriate squares on the pavement of the front parking lot while I looked for a stone. Stones are evidently involved in some capacity. At first I chose a very large, smooth stone that M titled a boulder. I felt she should have been more specific.
I suppose we must have been making a fair amount of noise, as a janitor popped his head out of the glass front doors of the squat building and asked in an irritated tone that suggested he thought we were hooligans, "Can I help you with something?" I grinned back at him and explained that we were going to play hopscotch and that I had never played before. This muddled the man sufficiently, as I doubt he expected anything like that response. He murmured his unnecessary consent and withdrew his head back into the school. See how powerful the truth is, kiddies?
While we are speaking of the truth, Emily thinks that she saw a UFO while driving down to meet me. It was oddly lit, triangular, and totally silent. She noted that a bright red light seemed to be following after the triangle. She said it looked quite a bit like the one we saw in Pine Bush. She assumed other drivers saw it as well, but couldn't well pull one over and ask. Granted, she saw it on a major highway...
So, we played hopscotch for a while. Emily thought I was funny, as I was new to the game and decidedly unbalanced (an understatement...). As such, I would flail about trying to stay in the appropriate square. Once she won, as it was so obvious she would, we decided to play on the school's playground for a bit. Usually when I end up at a playground with Zack, we have a poignant and revealing conversation about the nature of life. It is like the show's exposition for new viewers. However, M and I actually just played. She sang an unnecessarily appropriate song from Chess quietly on top of one of the slides and I told her she looked as though she was a scene out of Dawson's Creek. Of course, I wouldn't be quite so fond of her if she wasn't so dramatic.
I tried to entice M to wander through the adjoining field and see if we could find the screaming thing, but she nixed this as an idea that would cause us to be devoured. No use going to look for something that can moan loud enough to echo off the mountains. At not without a sound-activated dictaphone, decent cameras, and a sizable dagger (much as I like animals, I tend to have a decided dislike for anything that can and would maul me).
As we had exhausted much of the fun of the playground for that night, I was unable to play on the monkey bars because I was too tall, and M was hungry/nauseous, we opted to leave. In the parking lot, M suggested several people I could call to join us. I had the feeling that she was trying very hard to abide the letter of the "rules." Unfortunately for her, the rules are written in Swahilian pictograms. Zack was still out playing pool with his brother. I called Conor, fully expecting him to not be home or not be allowed to play. To our joy, he was available and able to frolic in the night with us.
We scapped him up, though he was waiting by the door already. I merely pantomimed outside his house that he needed to escape, because I am useful. He threw the requisite long black coat over his white shirt and fled his home in a flourish of cloth and limbs. As M had been mentioning dreams where she is having Denny's food, I navigated us that way. Clearly a Freudian at heart, she needed to have her subconscious wish fulfilled. Plus, I thought it boded best as something I could convince her to eat.
Did you know that she is always cold, sick, and tired because she has a hard time consistently eating the right foods? Neither did I, until she told me. I merely presumed she had some sort of life-threatening illness that would make a good mini-series. Oh, well.
Conor informed us on the way to Denny's that he was now coupled with Siri. There has been a mutual attraction that I have been encouraging. For those of you that thrive on continuity, Siri is the girl Conor was interested in biting over a year ago. He expressed concern for the union, but stated the night he spent with her was the only time in months that he has felt calm and rested. As such, I have to say I am quite happy that they have conjoined.
When we got into Denny's, Conor showed us his new red glasses. I looked at them for half a moment and said, "Will you be using those for Vampire : The Masquerade." He sputtered guiltily and said, "Maybe? ...Am I that obvious?" I nodded sympathetically, well aware that I am likely more obsessed with something.
While we were trying to decide what to order, Emily took the liberty of informing Conor that she and I had broken up. He took his information as best he could, by which I mean he screamed, "WHAT?!" loud enough for the diner to hear. She explained that I needed some space and wanted to fall in love with her again, in addition to the fact that we had never really forged a strong friendship, so we were working on that. He explained that we were the best couple he knew and was shocked, though he calmed down pretty quickly. After all, we had been hanging out for well over an hour and there was no weirdness. Emily stated that she felt Conor would find it weird at a later date if he knew he had been hanging out with us and didn't know we had broken up. I didn't really see how this was an issue, actually, and told her that Conor doesn't read the journal and thus wouldn't really know.
When I was driving Conor home later that night, he informed me that he hoped that this would work out and that he really liked the two of us as a couple. Even if we weren't going out, I would still hang out with M all the time because she is my best friend. This was actually a small part of our conversation. I also apprised him of the Kate situation, which didn't seem to shock him. He regaled me with his tale of Library Girl, the rough equivalent of Scarf Girl in my world. He had been trying to speak with her for quite a long time. Finally, a little while ago, he approached her and said, "If you could live forever or die tomorrow, which one would you choose?" She responded, "Live forever." He thanked her and left. I have to admire the boy, honestly. He's a good man.

Today, after classes, Emily returned the claddaugh ring I gave her when we started going out. She told me I could give it back to her when I made my choice about wanting to be with her. I was a sad scene, though less than it could be because we are friends and hung out for a while between classes. Still, while it is over to a degree, it hurts to be reminded of it. I just want to be her friend and have her be mine until I can make a more definitive choice.
She also would like the readers to know that she didn't, in fact, have her ring on backwards yesterday. If it was that way, it was wholly an accident. I told her that I didn't mention it at the time because I feared she would retort something like, "Well, that's what you wanted, isn't it?" even though it was unintentional. I wouldn't much have wanted to hear that sort of thing. She also says she was upset last night because I was speaking with Eileen on-line and responded, "Yeah, I guess M and I are just friends now." So, essentially, you are to understand that the pain last night was largely due to misunderstandings. If you choose to understand it that way.

You Know, Jesus Died When He Was 33...
Last Saturday, M and I went to Dave's 33rd birthday party. I know that this is going to make be seem decidedly callow, but I had never really been invited to a real adult party. It was always drunken, teenage silliness or parties for the children of my friends. Not that elusive, yet delicious, middle ground.
I put M in charge of procuring the present, as I was working and she was already shopping. I trusted that she would find something that screamed the name of Dave from across the room (hopefully not literally). So I was not terribly surprised when she showed me a cookie jar shaped like a wave that played one of three surf songs when opened. M sheepishly said I shouldn't have put her in control of buying the gift.
We actually arrived first. M wasn't sure that we were at the right house, as they were all pretty similar in the dark and the defining characteristics (pile of dirt by driveway, white house) could be said for any number of other houses. I am a daring soul, so I approached and was not greeted by a shotgun wielding homeowner.
Dave showed us around and noted that the house was still not fully built. It seemed pretty sound to me. He gave us the quick tour and an introduction to his new dog (one of those very friendly, generic brown dogs. Dave chose her because she was the only one at the shelter that was sitting quietly) before more guests arrived. Being intrepid and inquisitive people, M and I thoroughly scanned his movies, magazine, and CD in order to judge him. It was a detailed analysis, but our results confirm the hypothesis. Dave is a pretty damned cool guy. He did invite us to a party, I would think that would show his taste.
While slightly awkward in the beginning, M and I eventually warmed up to other people. M is openly shy. I, however, hide my immense shyness behind a veneer of extroversion. It's all very clever. I suppose one could get existential and say that I am extroverted by virtue that I behave in an extroverted way. However, existentialism doesn't really exist, so we get to ignore it and watch lay philosophers' heads pop pondering this sentence. However, once we were provided with nacho-y goodness (a natural social lubricant) and Dave's band started playing in the basement, we were feeling fine. We actually played darts while they played, because it seemed fun to throw sharp objects and The Thirteenth Letter of the Alphabet had never played before. Granted, she's bloody deadly with actual throwing stars...
Dave also showed us his PlayStation 2. M and I were instantly enraptured, because PlayStation 2 is the vehicle that brings us Final Fantasy X and it thus akin to godliness. Dave did not have FFX, though he seemed to recognize the goodness of it. He had the surrounding company close their eyes, however, until he gave the word. So, we waited. Finally, he said to open them. On the screen was a character that looked just like Dave. I was shocked and pleased that this game system could do this. More so when his name popped up as Dave "The Educator." Being adults, as we were, we ended up trying to design a character that looked like a young lady friend of Dave's. She kept exclaiming, "I'm hot!" while we were making the character based on her. When we were done and fought with her, it was a little unnerving, as it looked like an attempted gang rape. I confirmed that this was an appropriate visual to have with Emily, who was making the same vaguely horrified faces I was.

Soon in Xenology: The fun experiences with my ex-classmate's parents. Making friends in coffeehouses. More on Final Fantasy X. The classroom visit. Jenks's crumbling empire of dirt. I love Emily.

last watched: The Amityville Horror
reading: The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer
listening: Jeffrey Gaines
wanting: to know if I am doing it right.
interesting thought: Emily wished today that she never went to New Paltz. What would my life be like then?
moment of zen: Emily's head on my shoulder.
someday I must: make chicken tacos.

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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