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03.18.02 12:54 p.m.

Dream is the spark of passion; talent is the firework of its expression; perseverance, the sacred fire of its accomplishment.

 -Daniel Chabot  

Previously in Xenology: I wrote the previous entry. Melissa tells great stories and thrives off things that would kill weaker people. M and I tell Conor that we will go to the adventure game. I went to Summer Scholars at Bard twice.

Corrections and Whatnot
I will make this quick, because I feel it is self-evident. Melissa is a good person. No, scratch that, she is one of the best people I know and I hurt her with my prior entry, largely unintentionally. She is one of the strongest women I know. She kicked an addiction to cocaine, a substance I had assumed captured a person until they were at rock bottom and then maybe they got help. But Melissa went through rehab and recovered long before a true bottom was in sight. She knew she had gone too far and this wasn't something that was going to be easy.
This addiction... it didn't really touch her. She didn't become a coke addict, except technically. She was herself. She was Melissa and she had an addiction, but the addiction didn't swallow her personality. She didn't become a different person at all, which is why I saw no problem whatsoever with being her friend during that period in her life.
Melissa gives yearly talks for drug addicts of every stripe at the Putnam County Youth Forum. She relays her overwhelming experience and you know what? The kids listen. She is saving these kids lives. She is amazing.
Evidently, my prior entry made her seem as someone who wasn't as strong. Someone who was obsessed with drugs, which of course she isn't. She knows about quite a bit about drugs and tells hilarious stories about them and her experiences. Her stories exist in this moral vacuum where she doesn't say that something is "bad" or "good." She lets the experience stand on its own, only perhaps labeling something someone did as "dumb." This is why these stories are very digestible and funny for people who haven't used drugs.
Should there be any more back talk, I'm afraid I'm gonna have to get The Gimp. There is no turning back once The Gimp is released.

Saturday, after a stressful day at work dealing with two trashy girls with a sense of entitlement, Emily and I went up to Bard to play adventure games with Conor and Flynn as described in an earlier entry. At the time, my ulterior motive was getting to see Sarah. However, both Sarah and I were much too crazy to deal with one another this weekend. Another time.
Emily and I arrived a good half an hour after we were told to be there, owing to a sudden and profound interest in one another. We had hoped this would benefit us, as the game would likely already be underway and we could just hang out with Conor and Flynn. No such luck, however. The procrastination in this group more than rivaled my own. Bastards.
Many of them were - how shall I put this gently? - the sort of people usually parodied attending Star Trek conventions. I do so dislike it when people do not rise above their stereotypes. Worse, there were a few who were downright arrogant about their lack of a place in... society, I suppose. Escaping into a fantasy world is only fun if you have a real world to return to when you take off the aluminum foil chain mail.
When we entered, a boy that did not irritate me gave us slips of paper with information on them. (Hey, if you are looking for compliments, you better take what you can get.) Mine said that I was a guard named Axle that was not too bright. M's was decidedly similar. I knew enough about this sort of game to know the concept of guarding anything sucks. Lots of standing, I imagined, and taking orders from miscreants who feel they have no power in real life.
I quietly tried to figure whom the loser that would be giving me orders. I was directed to the poofy-haired, tight blue denim trench coated, begoggled Flynn. Okay, this I can completely deal with.
The plot as we were told it went something like: Flynn was the king of this realm and was trying to catch two warring bands of thieves by emptying a large portion of the treasury onto the courtyard at night as bait. Conor was the leader of one band of thieves. OtherGuy was the other guy. The thieves had some subplot, but I didn't catch it.
We were told to put on ugly red tunics (though M and I hid them under our coats because it was remarkably cold out), get foam swords, and carry treasure out to one of the buildings. The treasure seemed to consist of flasks full of Snapple, aluminum foil balls, and tambourines, though we were assured that within the context of the game, these were valuable. I wasn't willing to exist within the bounds of the game, so they were silly.
M and I were led to the theater. When I went to Summer Scholars in 1997, we prepared short plays in that building. Our director was this femme lesbian that several guys were lusting after, by virtue that they were teenage boys. It likely didn't help that she didn't wear a bra, as a liberated college woman. I abstained from active lusting, obviously.
My point was, before I so rudely digressed, being on Bard campus was reviving a multitude of memories from the two summers here and they were overwhelming me, especially given my experiences with Sarah (whom I met here so many years ago) days prior. Everything I touched was attached and entangled with my earlier memories and it was a bit startling.
The head of the guards told us to hide our treasure, but to hide it badly since we were trying to lure the other parties out. They started to head back to the student lounge for some purpose. I grabbed Emily and led her, running, toward the famed garden. She had heard very much from Conor and me about them and the statue that sat inside.
Despite hauling the large foam swords and it being nearly blistering cold, we were halfway there before the rest of the party figured out that we were gone. As we walked to the edge of the hill, Emily was audibly impressed by the view. Twenty feet below was a walled garden filled with bushes that were clearly resistant to the temperature. Below the garden were a forest and the Hudson River, granting us a clear view of the mountains on the other side. Even without the ghosts of summers past washing over me, this was a fantastic view.
Once we were on level with the garden, I picked up a handful of the smoky quartz gravel and threw it hard against the ground. To M's delight, we were greeted with a shower of pale blue sparks. My father informs me that quartz is piezoelectric, though I choose to believe it is a sort of magic that exists only for these stone in this particular garden.
Despite there being only a sliver of a moon in the sky, I was able to guide her over to the statue in moments. She (the statue, who has such presence that she seems to warrant a female pronoun) is hidden away in a small alcove. She is carved of some smooth, porous stone. She seems like a Greek concept, though her features are distinctly Anglo-Saxon to me. She has a small dog at her thigh, to which I tend to forget to pay attention. Her face is looking slightly down, though not at the dog. The only way to see her expression is to look up at her face. I suppose her expression is open to interpretation. Conor once told me that he had never met a good person that didn't say she was smiling. She has always smiled at me. Conversely, he has brought prospective friends there to test them and been dismayed when the people said she was crying, sad, upset, or mad. She most certainly is not. I had one arm around her neck, so I didn't have to kneel. She looked so... warm that I leaned up and kissed her. It was greatly like kissing a statue in a physical way, though it meant something deeper. I don't know if I spoke to her, though that urge would have made just as much sense.
From the time we entered, Emily seemed deeply in awe. She said very little, though she listened contentedly to what I had to say about kissing a girl I had just met on this pillar and watching fireworks on the river over there. She later told me that she had been praying the entire time to not feel so alone, in a cosmic sense. She didn't wish to approach the Lady, though I knew M was petitioning her. Still, I feel like she didn't get the answers she sought though she felt that this was sacred space.
I sat on one of the benches in the alcove and pondered what my life would have been like had I gone here instead of DCC and New Paltz. I felt it would have been distinctly different in a way I cannot begin to comprehend. I would be the same person at my core, though I can't imagine the lessons I would have learned or whom I would call friends. I think Sarah and I might have had a different relationship, though we might well hate one another now. Though I doubt that.
We decided that enough time had elapsed since we had escaped from our party. We headed back to the theater, but were intercepted by a figure jumping out of the shadows at us. So we got ready to beat them senseless with out foam swords. It turned out it was the head of the guards, who led us back to the area.
I'll sum up the gaming part. M and I stood. We were cold. A zombie came. I beat it with my sword for twenty minutes, because it was unarmed and I wasn't. M and I were sent to find the thieves. Six figures in black, all with swords, attacked us. I kept hitting their heads, but they wouldn't yield to the rules of the game and die. So M and I got killed.
We walked back to the lounge, now called Re (I think for "Reincarnation"). Flynn told us the plot. He was a necromancer and the whole purpose was for us to get killed and become his impervious undead army. Oh, see, now that makes sense. So he drew on our heads with red and black lipstick and said a chant that sounded Yiddish. Now we were undead.
This would have been cool, except M and I were cold and had no interest in going outside again. So we sat inside the Student Union Building and hit each other with the foam swords until we decided that we needed to go home.
On the way home, while I sorted through my feelings and memories and decided that we needed to come to Bard again soon and visit Sarah, M got pulled over. M was remarkably calm, which surprised me. The cop had been hiding behind a speed limit sign when we went from 45 to 30. So he busted her for speeding and gave her a ticket she intends to fight. She was immensely cool about the whole thing, which was kind of sexy. This couldn't phase her.

Soon in Xenology: Jenks's crumbling empire of dirt. I love Emily. We hate Nextel. I get a witness to DwB idiocy. More stalking of strangers. Simpsons trivia. Spring break.

last watched: not much for the TV
reading: Summoning Spirits
listening: Amnesiac
wanting: Kate to not appoint herself the villain of my world when I don't feel anything like that about her.
interesting thought: people have a hard time existing so they make masks to live for them.
moment of zen: waking up from dream after dream to M asleep next to me.
someday I must: cut elements out of my life that are not contributing to its enjoyment and are still sucking up psychic resources.

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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