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03.29.02 7:30 p.m.

The degree of one's emotion varies inversely with one's knowledge of the facts - the less you know, the hotter you get.

 -Bertrand Russell  

Previously in Xenology: I became an emotional wreck. BSDO was annoying, self-centered, and generally a pain. I attend Summer Scholars '98 at Bard where I almost kiss Sarah. Kate breaks up with me and still tries to be intimate one night, tenuous friends the next morning.

Random Existential Bitching
Yeah, I know no one much cares about this sort of angsty twentysomething bitching. That's why I put it in the beginning. Now, you can skip over it and get to the story, if you are actually deluded enough to think this journal is anything even vaguely like a story.
Increasingly, I just want to be alone. I want to hide in my room and write. I don't want to have to deal with humanity. I want to sleep, though it never seems to do me any good, as I rarely feel rested. I actually slept almost ten hours last night, in hopes that all of this malaise was caused by a lack of sleep (more on that below), but I am now just as annoyed.
I feel like, in my current state, I am increasingly a burden on my friends. Which certainly doesn't help the feeling that few of them genuinely like me and know me. When I was stupid over Kate post-break-up, I had this same feeling. That I just wasn't a dynamic enough a character to be interesting and I spent all my time acting like I was suffering. Which, you know, I was. But not the poking with sharp sticks kind of suffering, which at least is justifiable. Worse, I was continuing the self-destructive cycle (a.k.a. liking Kate) that was making me feel this way.
Am I self-destructive? I don't think so, except maybe in that I am likely murdering my social life. I don't want to hurt myself physically nor would that be something that would interest me. Far too interested in having my skin be just where I left it. Am I perpetuating a downward spiral? Well, I am likely shutting out more to my friends because I think they don't like me and do not wish to worsen the situation. And, of course, I would recover from these emotional doldrums if I were to have a amazing time, preferably outside, with people who made me feel interesting and wanted.
I told M the other day that I wanted a new consort (a main character) that would fall in love with me, in a platonic way. Someone who thought that I would good enough that I warranted further discovery, preferably in late night, moonlit conversations. A new creature to add dimensions and perspective to my world.
You would think having Emily, a girl who insists she loves me, would stave off these feelings. But it doesn't. She knows me and I don't always think I like how she knows me. That sounds wrong, I think. I just mean, the way she knows me doesn't feel like how I want to be. Do you understand? She can only react to the composite in her head that represents "Xen." And yet, I feel that composite lacks dimensions of my personality (partially owing to the immense brevity of our friendship before we became lovers) that I want and need to express. Certainly I can express these dimensions anyway, but they won't be accepted and she cannot react to this subtle new information in the appropriate manner that would qualify as positive reinforcement.
I guess what I need is to be by myself and discover just who I want to be. It's not a particularly easy proposition at this stage, but it is exactly what seems necessary. Then, and only then, is it fair to throw Nerf darts at people who treat me as less than I am.
Still, I will explain, though it seems like I came to a reasonable, intellectual conclusion. I love it when a stranger presumes something about me before I have spoken and is impressed with how I actually act. I know people judge me on the way that I look, which is ridiculous to me, though I likely do the selfsame thing. (Humans are largely hypocrites, but knowing that you can be one as well helps.) I will give you an example. Often, in meeting someone new who is older, I can tell that his or her brain has categorized me away. "Let's see," says their brain, "very long hair... strange jewelry... odd clothing (less so this, owing to dressing nice for work)... random outburst... hmmmm... I know! This is a very low functioning human that likely is pretentiously obsessed with darkness or evil. I will speak slowly and carefully, as this creature is unpredictable, dangerous, quite stupid, and rude." When I greet them formally, with a "sir" or "miss/ma'am," I can usually see their brains reconfiguring. Often I get a smile when I am being courteous. When I further show myself to be generally intelligent, fairly well spoken, and occasionally well informed, I am pleased to know that this person has had to ungroup me and try to figure out where I fit.
That, of course, is one of the issues. Where does little Xenny fit? (and, no, you are not allowed to call me Xenny. I'm barely allowed to.)

Being Malled
M called me a few hours ago and told me that her shopping excursion with Beauty School Drop-Out was terrible and she needed me to come and rescue her. I figured I should actually make the effort to deal with the world today. It would motivate me to shower, which couldn't be a bad thing. Showers were invented by a benevolent god that understood the need to be surrounded by a steamy stream of soothing water and lots of plant-derived cleaning products. Plus, I like the idea of rescuing people, as it makes it sound like I am having an adventure.
A trifle late, I arrived and found M and BSDO sitting on a bench outside the local goth clothing store. I sat beside M and was shot a pained glance. M did agree to go on a shopping trip with the ever annoying BSDO when BSDO had a $300 check and M was close to broke. She should have expected that it would be this bad. After we were outside of BSDO presence, M shared that BSDO bought for herself every item of clothing that M admired and threw a fit when M wanted to go look at watches for herself for five minutes. I just nodded, as this completely fit my view of BSDO and thus could not be processed as new information.
Emily informed me that we were now going to drive to go grocery shopping with BSDO. I was confused, as this did not sound exactly like saving. No, actually, this sounded a lot more like continuing to hang out with the very creature I was supposed to be saving M from. As such, I didn't really understand why I was asked to appear. Certainly not for food shopping help, as my skill in this department is lacking. Shiny packaging is inherently better than non-shiny.
I drove her to the grocery store, though we didn't speak much on the way there. I was still irked, as I didn't know why I was made to take this excursion. I could have been hiding in my room, writing.
Soon after we arrived, Emily told me I should just go home as "[she] want[ed] at least one of us to be happy, and it isn't going to be [her]." Eventually, having lost all the goodness of feeling that I had accumulated sitting in my poorly lit room on this bright, sunny spring day, I decided that she was right. It made a lot more sense for me to be as far from BSDO as I could, as my main urge was to through frozen heads of lettuce at her.

Do Not Eat Matzo If Lid Is Not Depressed
Last night, I went to Passover at M's house. I was anxious and worried; I tend to be when involved in religious rituals I don't really understand. Frankly, a few years ago, I thought a Seder was a mythological, goat-legged man so this could have turned out very badly.
Added to this vague uneasiness that I would accidentally do something immensely offensive, was the confusion about what Emily and I are. We aren't, strictly, a couple but we are dating (I think). We hang out quite a bit. We kiss occasionally. She spends the night when I can't sleep.
Oh, wait, you didn't really know about that, did you? Well, it leads into another point, so I'll allow the seeming digression. Ever since I stayed up all night with Sarah, Melissa, and Matt, I have trouble sleeping. Maybe it upset my biological clock to such an extent that my body forgot when it was supposed to sleep. But lack of sleep has made my capsizing emotional state all the worse. Xen needs sleep if he is not to start eating the flesh of the livin... I mean, not be a sad monkey.
Emily informs me that I may be depressed, which frankly came as a shock to me. In my world, depressed people think often of suicide, had something clinically wrong with them, and wear black constantly. Stereotypes are easier to process. I didn't think I was depressed. I had no interest in dying, as that didn't really solve any problems and would put quite the damper on my social life. I had only worn all black once since all of this happened, and I was intentionally being overdramatic in doing so. And I didn't have any interest in having anything clinically wrong with me. I was just a little sad and confused, not in need of Prozac.
Okay, I think you are good on the background. On with the show.
I left my Spanish class early to meet up with M. My teacher asked where I was going so fast (which is strange because I frequently walk out of her classroom when I get bored to stare at grass or count the number of people on the playground). I affected a pouty voice and exclaimed, "I have to go to Passover dinner!" At this, the class cracked up and the girl who sits in front of me (also the one who asked if I was wearing pentacles) professed love for my existence. I can live with that.
After ducking out of class, amid appreciative giggles of my class, I looked around for M. She wasn't immediately available, so I tried to find someone with whom I wanted to talk. I wasn't feeling terribly picky. Preferably Sara(h) the Scarf Girl, so I can take her off the Loose Ends list on this site, or Jim to thank him for possibly getting me a summer job (more on that below). No such luck, everyone was too damned busy listening to a bad song about smoking po-ot in the mor-hor-na-ing.
Emily was distinctly irked at having to do go to Passover. She confided in the car that this used to be her favorite holiday, presumably when she was closer to being Jewish and actually lived at home. She couldn't exactly place why she was so displeased, though the idea of eating a huge, religiously based mean with members of my extended family might give me reason to be less than happy. Good Omens (I needed something with a consistent plot after immersing myself in Summoning Spirits), I decided that all my friends' personalities could be charted based on where they would be as angels after The Fall in the bible. Conor is likely closest to the divine consciousness. Nessa is a very minor demon (she would be more like a naughty fairy). Sarah is an earthbound angel, sort of experimenting and exploring. Zack is at the same level as Sarah. Melissa is possibly something evil doing a very great good. Emily is an angel with amnesia, slowly remembering. Tina is a cherub. Stevehen is a demon, for his doubting, but he isn't a particularly evil one. Eileen is close to the divine. Kate, I think, fell. She's not really evil, but she definitely broke her wings. I am a free agent, helping the lower echelons of either side as long as they are interesting. It should be noted that I wouldn't have any specific objections to someone who labeled his or her self evil, unless they were boring, not actually evil, or acting on their evil. I think Emily put this in terms of Dungeons & Dragons, a game I never really played. So, I guess, Conor and Eileen are chaotic good, heavy on the good. Sarah, Zack, Emily, Melissa, and I are neutral good. Nessa and Stevehen are neutral evil (I suppose?). Kate is chaotic evil? Tina is somewhere between lawful and chaotic good? (Frankly, I did a lot of research on the Internet for you people because I didn't remember the alignments and I still don't really understand or like Dungeons & Dragons' classification of people. I think they are deficient, especially in adequately describing evil characters. But, hey, it's better than Pokemon trading cards, so play on.) Note the relative lack of lawful people in my life? I think that says something, but my head aches from looking at a D&D site, so I'll let you figure it out.
When we arrived I was panicked. My instinct was to hide in Emily's room until we could go home and not interact with any extraneous humans. Dealing with an extended family that isn't yours in at least thrice as frightening as your own. Especially since these people knew me and would have questions about how I was doing and such. Bad scene. Had to hide. M has a comfy dark room. Ooh, and Beartrand Russell, the teddy bear M gave me for Valentine's Day, was there. Well, I couldn't very well let Beartrand be all alone in that dark room, now could I? No, that would be cruel. I would just stay in here until Beartrand felt safe...
M, however, had other plans. She wanted me to interact, fight all of my instinct and nurturing feelings for the stuffed bear. Ooh, he is so darned soft. So, leaving Beartrand to the mercy of the giant stuffed Scrappy Doo that I call Dawn, I tried to interact. Nope, still wanted to run and hide. M made me an orange juice and wine cocktail. Ah, alcohol, the greatest social lubricant (next to Astro-Glide).
I "talked" to "other people," largely about the new room Emily's father had built and the rising moon, until my drink ran out. Then it was time to try to hide again, though M stopped me, insisting that is wasn't healthy for me to want to hide. Drat.
Emily and I quietly joked through the Passover ceremony, as is our wont with things that insist upon existing. It was longer than I expected, though I gleaned from the others that it ended quickly. It should be noted that my knowledge of Passover comes from Lambchop's Passover and Rugrats - Passover. Just so you know.
One of the higher points for me of the religious ceremony (I felt out of place. Once, Kate had me go to Mass with her family. They all got up to get the Eucharist. I stayed seated, insisting that I was full), was when her father recited all the lyrics from a Bob Dylan song as a prayer. He is a respected artist who can sell his paintings for tens of thousands of dollars. He is allowed his eccentricities. Bob Dylan is Jewish, after all.
I was very empty feeling by this point. Not really hungry, though I am sure that was some part of it. Emily had promised me lots of yeast-free foods that I could gorge myself on. However, most of it didn't seem at all appealing to me. Unless I can readily identify a food or it smells really good, I tend not to eat. Things with names like koogel tend not to be seen as food in my world (though I tried some potato koogel when they told me it was like hash browns. See kids, just identify icky food with words on the Denny's menu).
When M brought out matzo ball soup, I was in a strange mood. I think I had a sudden bout of social anxiety disorder and I didn't want to sit with a bunch of people I didn't really know without M acting as my social buffer (she was in the kitchen, helping her mother). I tried some of the soup, but it wasn't a food I liked. Increasingly, I was having trouble dealing with the fact that there were strangers around me. Finally, near tears, I hid myself in M's room with Beartrand again. I was, colloquially put, freaking out and I had no idea why. I had deal with a room full of strangers before. Hell, I had gotten up before a room full of strangers and done bad improv. If I didn't have stage fright, I certainly shouldn't have issue with my best friend's family, right? Despite my intellectualization, I was still jittery and wanted to be alone in the dark. M finally came in and told me that I should seek therapy should I continue to be depressed and act in this manner. I don't think telling me I was depressed necessarily helped in this situation, as it gave me an inappropriate word to attach to how I was feeling. She told her family that I was not feeling well, in order to buy me more time alone, however.
I finally reemerged, thinking that some food would make me feel better. It has worked before. M had put some turkey on my plate, while confiding that most of the other food was inedible. Damn. I ate a lot of turkey and a slice of pickle, as I could identify the food with little trouble. M had a few stalks of asparagus, which is foul to me. I rubbed the back of her neck to thank her for buying me time and she cooed, smiling, "Why am I so adoring when you are so frustrating?" This was, simply put, one of the worst things to have said at that moment. I know she meant it in a compliment, but I was hurt that she chose to phrase it this way. Because I am having a difficult time in my life right, she is a saint for still liking me and I am less worthy of being liked? It stabbed at a lot of the issues I was having and I had to restrain myself from hiding back in her room.
We left soon after. Emily's mother was furious at Emily for not spending the night to clean up, though as Emily had a class in the morning, I thought this was a little ridiculous. As Emily put it, every issue a Jewish girl has comes from her fucking mother. Well put. Emily was trying to fight off the barbarian hordes of Jewish guilt her mother had presented her with before M left. Can't ever let the kids go home empty handed.
M apologized for her remark to me, stating that she was trying to be nice and it came out wrong. I forgave her, because I understand how things can get fucked up in the course of living.

Summery Employment Opportunities
While playing Frisbee yesterday, I happened by Jim. Jim was the Resident Director for Summer Scholars at Bard in 1998. He is a great man and actually the origin of one of my favorite memories. All the different groups of Scholars came together on the fourth of July in order to watch the Mid-Hudson Philharmonic play while fireworks went off. However, torrential rains starts just after they did, so it was cancelled. We had to gather everyone from our college us and bring them into the bus. I was appointed to find them, because I was able to get to the bus quickly. Driving away (slowly) we were surrounded on all sides by people who had parked far away and who were cursing and clawing at the bus. It was almost horrifying. On the way home, Jim started playing classic rock songs on his guitar and the entire bus sang along. I know it sounds cheesy, but I felt so happy and fulfilled there. I was welcome, respected, and enjoyed. Friends surrounded me. There was a thunderstorm outside. And "American Pie" permeated the air.
As luck would have it, Jim became a graduate student at New Paltz around the time that I arrived there. Shh! You be quiet with your "You expect us to believe this?" And your "Why should this person reappear in a different, albeit similar role, exactly as Xen appears on the scene?" It's reality, it doesn't have to make sense.
So, on happening by Jim, he asked me if I was still interested in being a resident advisor over the summer. I assured him that I definitely was, but I had biological needs to attend to and return momentarily. I darted through the building to double back and get the barefoot M. She was understandably confused, as I was gesticulating wildly for her to come to me and didn't wish to be sighted by Jim.
Jim took us up to his office and the woman whom we were to speak to arrived shortly thereafter. She seemed about our age (as did everyone else in this office, which makes sense given that they were all grad students) and decidedly cool. She took our information and we gave her ours. I tried to hype M up, subtly, by pointing out that she is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, teaches it, and thus responsible. She lied and told them that she knew her way around campus. I do, so this shouldn't be too much of a problem.
Overall, I had a good feeling about it. The woman said she wasn't sure if we would be needed, because she was given vague directions as to hiring and may already be fully staffed. Or we may be the only ones that have spoken to her. This will all be revealed in time.

Call Me Morbid or Absurd
E-mail is a wondrous tool. Days ago, I received an e-mail from Sarah. It spoke of many things, deeply, as her letters tend to do. One of the more important strains for me was why she didn't want to kiss me when we were together. I know this sounds petty and silly to you, but it is more to me.
If you've read this journal and its accompanying conversations half as obsessively as you should, you might know that a kiss between Sarah and I has been a much hyped concept. It was one of the main topics of conversation between us for years, actually. It inspired her to write a song about me called, "to kiss him." It seems to be a big deal.
The reasons she didn't initiate a kiss are but two, but a crucial two. The first is that she saw how the kiss between Kate and I seemed to destroy our friendship. This wasn't actually the case, but the whole experience did make me feel hurt and disrespected. While I know this would not have been the case with Sarah as our relationship and intentions are very different, I love and respect her for having said this. It makes not being kissed almost as fulfilling as being kissed. Her second reason is that she feels, likely correctly, that things are not over between Emily and I, and she had no interest in coming between us. While she doesn't know M, she saw kissing me as disrespectful to her and likely to cause her a lot of unnecessary pain. I can definitely see things from this perspective and I have to applaud Sarah for having acted so honorably given that, when we were younger, we talked at length about kissing. If you hadn't noticed, I am pretty damned fond of people showing honor. So, Sarah is definitely still in my good graces, frankly more so.
Ah, but she is not the only person I received e-mail from. I would like you to note, in advance, that I was going to write this prior to having received this letter. The fact that I received this letter changes none of the sentiment, only the details.
Kate sent me a letter today. I frankly knew one was coming, because I got uncanny about knowing that sort of thing while she was away. The letter said that she was sorry if she did something to hurt me so much that I reacted by shutting her out, that she wishes I would talk to her, and that Stevehen read the journal and said we were both acting childishly. Since I don't think Stevehen would judge Kate on what I say about her behavior, I am going to presume that she is judged as acting childish outside my writing.
It is not pleasant for me not to talk to Kate. Not to have her in my life. But it seems necessary right now. She was someone very important to me and I don't think anyone could really argue against that. However, she is an addiction for me. I made this analogy before in the journal, after the kiss. At words on a screen, I can be mad. My anger will ebb rather quickly, especially given the length and depth that I had known her. However, seeing her is more difficult for me. With enough light to chase away the shadows, she is someone my heart recognizes. Hearing her would be worse still, for no amount of cigarette smoke can rough her throat up enough. It is always the voice of someone I love that is flinging curses at me. Smelling her hair, so baby fresh and sweet, would be unbearable. Our olfactory sense is the one most tightly linked with memory. Smelling her body affects my body in ways I can't stand.
It is not salutary for me to have any relationship with her right now. I am not mad at her, though I will admit that I thought her life would be different than it is. Better, by my standards (which are not societal standards, biblical standards, traditional moral standards, or her standards). But this is not the issue, despite being well documented herein. We will perpetually clash, because our worldviews are so dissimilar and we are both strong-willed. Kate says in her letter that her exterior has changed, but her core is the same. I do not think this can be wholly true. While we were together, she told me that, when she tripped on LSD, she usually arrived at a point when she was just alone with her core. Everything else fell away and she could just see herself. However, once she started loving me, I was at her core as well and I was a part of it. After she left me, she joyfully showed me a craypa diptych that features the part of her core that contained me breaking off and floating away. This meant that I was no longer a part of that core and she was done with that. Thus, the message seemed clear to me at the time, her core can change. Also, as I have said before, she did change when she was with me. She incorporated some part of me into her and was a different person, one interested in romantic love, one that tried to be clean of drug, cigarettes, and alcohol, one that wanted to go to college. She isn't that person.
I am sure she thinks she has grown and I am not going to step on that. It is her path and she seems to enjoy walking it. I would not walk it, but I can't judge it from my path. (Well, I can because I think that drinking to excess, smoking things that make one reek, hiding in drugs, and boinking people with whom one is not in a fairly monogamous relationship is dumb, especially when not done with finesse. But, you know, I probably shouldn't judge.) My path tells me that I need to avoid negative influences if I am to be content with my life again.
Why is it viewed as okay for her to end a relationship because it didn't feel right to her and it isn't for me to do it? She thought I was a bad influence, because I made her feel guilty. Well, that isn't strictly true. The fact that she and I existed in an exclusive relationship made her feel guilty that she was not telling me that she was smoking a pipe, though I was pretty much okay with it. Pipes smell a lot less. Still, similar situation, except the total opposite.
Bwah, I keep digressing. Emily said Kate is sore because I said I wanted to stop our association and Kate had assumed that she would one day just tell me to go away for good. I'm not sure if Emily really believes this, though I think it fits the character of Emily to say that she believes this and the character of Kate to think she will be the one who rejects friendship with me. I am less certain of the Kate character's interactions, which is actually one of my points. I'm not exactly sure what she thinks. Why she wrote the letter to me. How she is feeling reading this (I think I know her well enough that she will read this).
Okay, recapping, then sleeping. I am not mad at Kate. I acknowledge that she thinks she is walking the right path for herself; that she is the same person she was before she met me, and was only different owing to the part of me she internalized. I think she could be a pleasant person to know, but I can't be the one knowing her if I am to be content with my life. This concept doesn't make me happy and there are times that I just want to hear her voice. However, I am trying to look toward the long-term good, rather than the short-term glow of hearing her.
Now, sleeping.

Soon in Xenology: Stigmata. The church and religion. Existing on certain planes of reality more than others. Zack and the one who doesn't speak. A return of space mutants. Maybe a ghost. It's been awhile since my reality was infused with the paranormal.

last watched: Dangerous Liaisons
reading: Sluggy Freelance
listening: Ten
wanting: rollerblades!
interesting thought: People celebrate today because their Messiah got his body pierced, in the bad way.
moment of zen: finishing this entry.
someday I must: return to relative normalcy.

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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