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04.04.02 1:00 a.m.

It is an inexorable Law of Nature that bad must follow good, that decline must follow a rise. To feel that we can rest on our achievements is a dangerous fallacy. Inner strength can overcome anything that occurs outside.

 -I Ching  

Previously in Xenology: I go see movies and have a sleepover with Zanna and Alison. They, in turn, accuse me of boinking a minor. Emily and I lack the motivation for real exercise. Emily lives in a world with more solemn, non-atheist holidays.

I Know This World Is Killin' You
Today, returning Emily to her car after classes, whom should I stumble upon but Alison. You remember her, don't you? Hmm... guess you don't. You are aware we (I) have a section dedicated to old characters that might pop up again, right?
Nonetheless, I will give you the quick recap. In my, according to her, "serial monogamy" days, I dated her for a few months. It didn't really work out, because she was an only child who lived on a mountain and I thus had vastly different formative experiences that led to me hiding on my roof once near the end of the relationship. Nonetheless, we remained friends for many years and she is, I suppose, to thank for my friendships with Conor and Kendall, which I very much cherish. She used to tell people at New Paltz that I was a pillar of the Pagan community, which I think she meant as praise. (Though, seriously? Being a pillar of salt often seems more appealing and better for everyone's blood pressure.) Last year - around this time, actually - we had what one might call a bit of a falling out. Zanna was behaving malignantly toward me (though her interactions with me never did quite seem right) and, as malignant things do, was spreading rather harmful stuff around. I believe the gist was that I was seducing our mutual associate Nancy, who had a crush on me, into deviant lifestyles. Something like that. I told her I was not and that I didn't appreciate her treating me this way after having been my friend for years. She attacked me further. I stopped talking to her, seeing a full Zannectomy as the only way to stop the spread. I think it is all chronicled herein in a few entries. Anyway, to the point, Alison believed that I had done such a thing, though she should have known better. Alison either helped spread it around to her friends at New Paltz (which I know because they asked me about it) or Zanna did it for her, though I have to say that they largely didn't care because it was at least three degrees away from their lives. After this palpable puisne proceeding, I didn't much talk to either of them. I heard that Alison had chosen to spend a semester abroad, which I thought would likely be good for her.
Okay, now you are largely brought up to date. Do you feel better for it?
She was wearing a long, black coat, an item of her ensemble that might be permanently affixed. She is a petite girl who had the misfortune of blossoming overlarge breasts, though I am not certain this is unfortunate for her. She is also very pale and bruises remarkably easily. She always insists, however, that she is not fragile and I am inclined to agree with that in the physical sense.
She told me that she had gone into a comic book store to reassure herself of her attractiveness. I told her that any female is attractive to those who spend enough time in a comic book store, but in a way that insulted those in the comic store and not her. She smiled and said, almost as one word, "Oh you're so sweet, why didn't I date you, oh that's right, I did." The fact that we dated when we were sixteen is one of those things that are brought up at least once when I talk with her. I have learned to accept it, though it used to make Katie want to drive an ice pick into Alison's skull.
She updated me on the events of her life since she left. I will try to reconstruct as best I can. You should also probably keep in mind that the entire story was told as though it were the punchline of a very clever anecdote or the tone will be lost on you. "I did the whole sleeping-with-random-people thing, got bored of that after a few months. They weren't, like, strangers or anything... I drank a lot. I got drunk with my father, which was weird. Can you imagine my father very drunk and laughing at everything? I would have been weirded, except I was drunk too. Umm... I got a bottle to the head. This girl who had a thing with Simon (the guy she was seeing in England) this one time got jealous and threw a bottle at my head and I said {deadpan} 'Ow, that hurt.' She said that I said, 'Ow, that hurts, bitch' but still all monotone. Simon came in and said that I said, 'Ow, that hurts.' but he didn't hear the bitch part, so I don't think I said it. But he was worried about me, because there was blood streaming down the right side of my head. I had to get stitches. The scar is almost gone by now. So, I came back here, got on medication, dumped my boyfriend so I am boyfriendless and here I am now. So, what's new in your life?" Do you understand that it hurts trying to recap other people's comments and that is why I don't do it often? Really, there was pain.
I told her very little, actually. I think I told her that I wasn't really talking to Kate anymore. She then shared a story with me, similar in tone to the one above, that I will summarize thusly. Kate said hi to Alison. Alison was rude, stating emphatically that she didn't like Kate when I dated and certainly shouldn't have to put up with her now. I may have quietly nodded at this point. Alison asked about my new girlfriend. She has, in fact, met Emily a few times. Alison, however, doesn't remember my girlfriends unless she is forced into interaction with them several times. Once she, arguably mistakenly, called Katie "Jen" and almost incited Kate to cut her head off and carry it on the gouging ice pick (Kids, don't try this at home. Ice picks are only for breaking ice and stabbing people with. Do not carry heads on them!). I raised my eyebrows slightly and explained that Emily wasn't new, having existed in my universe for almost a year now, nor as she, exactly, my girlfriend. I verbally mused as to what she qualified, finally stating that she could be called "girlfriend" for ease of discussion. This is, of course, where that discussion ended. Easy things never last long.
Instead of discussing life, Alison launched us into a discussion of how very homoerotic Smallville is. I agreed that it was heavy on the barely concealed subtext. She informed me that she is going to a convention for it. The show just came out and it already has a convention. And she is going? Hmmm... I am picturing many a rainbow flag there.
As I was wearing sandals and sitting on the trunk of my car, my toes had become hypothermic piggies that would be going to the hospital if they weren't wrapped in blankets soon. Thus, I hugged her goodbye and said I would be returning home now. Only so long a man can discuss the burning homoerotic desire that burns fiery in the loins of two fictional characters and not feel a little funny about himself.

I Never Take My Skates Off
I got roller blades. Yes, I know you are thinking that this is massively unimportant to any storyline. I politely bid you to bite me and suggest that, perhaps, you are new here.
Emily and I decided that, as the weather will turn nice if it wants to see its children again, we clearly need something to do for the massive breaks we had in between classes. The gym wasn't going to work for us, because we are unmotivated monkeys and there were men with biceps bigger than my head who never leave. We obviously couldn't be around that sort of a crowd.
After getting the skates and padding, I had grandiose delusions of gathering equally motivated friends and playing roller tag at the abandoned mall near us. All night lighting, few cars, lots of space. And you thought this wouldn't figure into future plots. Clearly, I seek to break my extremities and be arrested for trespassing!
The night before M wanted to skate with me on campus, I sought to practice a bit at the elementary school parking lot near me. It is close enough to my house that I would not faint from blood loss before being found. I only fell once, to my credit, though I imagine I flailed quite a bit before I got the hang of it. Then it turned out after fifteen minutes of practice that I was wearing the roller blades on the wrong feet. Which says quite a bit about me and the skates, respectively.
When I finally tried skating with M, I didn't fall down. Granted, several of the muscles in my lower back were sending Morse code pain signals up my spine to beg for mercy, but I did not look like an idiot. Emily admonished me, as she had no practiced and thought my hour of practice would make her look amateurish by comparison. She looked no worse than me, save when she was rolling down a slight incline chanting to herself "I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die..."
However, it turns out today that her ankle is still very injured and we will not be able to skate together until she heals more completely. This is just the way these things go when dating the slayer.

Roman Torture of Rodents
My parents' friends Charlie and Gloria came over to dye Easter eggs with us on Sunday. My parents have known them forever. At least according to my twenty-one year old brain, that has no memory of their not existing. That's almost existential when you think about it, which you likely shouldn't. Existentialism rots your brain. I remember being a shy four-year-old, hiding most of my body in a sleeping bag so I could check them out and still feel protected. They are, very likely, some of my parents' oldest continual friends.
We only ever see them anymore for this one annual event. I know that they only live a bit away from New Paltz, thus they are fairly close. Yet this is what their relationship to my family has become. They come over, we eat, we dye eggs and drink, we talk, they go home. Next year in Israel! I am not complaining, I just think it is curious.
Charlie and Gloria have been together for quite a while. They aren't married, however. It is possible that there was a time in my life where she didn't exist, but that was likely around the time that I was more concerned about the fact that my favorite doll Elka had her face chewed off by our dog than that there were other people in the world. (Elka was kind of a peachish monkey with cream-colored fur and I used to bring her with me everywhe... what? Right, journal entry. Easter. Got it.)
The came over, bearing the gift the Magi left behind, chicken wings. I was definitely grateful, as their wings are one of the best foods that exist. As Emily had brought over a six-pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade and my house had plenty of wine, this sounded party-inducing. Not to worry, M and I split one Mike's and it took us an hour to finish it. We are not fond of the idea of being drunk.
Dinner quickly turned to the topic of where we were when we first heard about the events of September 11th. I saw, again, that this had become the Kennedy shooting of my generation. I don't much like the idea that any generation should have to have a traumatic experience that binds them together. I mused, silently, how I would one day tell my children I found out about it from their Auntie Melissa who said, "DUDE!!!!" Maybe I can glorify it a bit more. I don't think I can describe the unreal sensation I feel when other people talk about that day. It is still chilling to think I could have lost Emily in the attacks.
I am making this dinner sound very serious, and it certainly wasn't. They never are. I was remarkably impressed how well informed and intelligent Emily seemed in discussions with my parents and Charlie and Gloria. I was mostly sitting, enjoying the food immensely, and absorbing other peoples' stories. This is my default mode and I generally only speak when I have something immense of value to contribute or I am attempting to be clever. Emily, on the other hand, actually knows things! Things that can be utilized! In conversations! With people twice her age! It makes me proud to be associated with her.
After a short break to aid digestion and get more alcohol, we started dying eggs. I dyed two, badly. The wax crayon provided didn't work and I quickly lost motivation. I began playing with the hot glue gun, feathers, pom-poms, and pipe cleaners my mother made the mistake of thinking were going to be used on the eggs. I started off rather simply by making an armless, red, bipedal pipe cleaner demon with google eyes. But that seemed somehow wrong. I knew then that I had to make a pipe cleaner Jesus to commemorate the holiday. It only seemed right. He didn't look much like Jesus, so I hot glued him to a pipe cleaner cross. Ah, better. Emily informed me that I am going to Hell. Then she asked how I managed to make google eyes look mournful. I shrugged and asked if I should use tiny red pom poms to show the blood coming out of his wounds. She said I was horrible and forbade me to be anything of the sort. So I made a pom pom bunny instead.
Now my house will be burdened with many pastel, hard boiled eggs with feathers and pipe cleaners sticking out. My pipe cleaner Jesus got hot glued for these eggs!
The actual celebration the following day was pleasant. Emily and I were still a little out of sorts from having hung out with Melissa after egg dying (more on that in the next entry). She was impressed that I got such a large basket full of chocolate. My parents had given her a smaller basket with a little, antique-looking bottle in it (surrounded by candy).
She was further impressed when we went into the front yard to try and find eggs. It has been greatly scaled back from prior years. One year, it was neighborhood wide and there were new bikes waiting for us at the end. Another year we had to complete tasks for various people to get the clue for the next egg. My mother was quite the artist with egg hunts, however she was forced to scale back as we got older. Still, finding one egg was exciting for M.
We answered trivia questions for silly prizes (such as the huge tick with the silver plastic ball on its back that sits on my monitor as I type this) and eventually were charged to find eggs on my mother's dresser that contained money. The money, I think, was most impressive to M, though she didn't get any.
Overall, I think we gave her a nice commercial holiday.

Soon in Xenology: A return of space mutants. Maybe a ghost. It's been awhile since my reality was infused with the paranormal. I am not depressed. Ennui at work. Stoning the heathens. Blaxploitation midgets. Arsenic and old lace.

last watched: five minutes of Moulin Rouge
reading: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
listening: My Aim Is True
wanting: a life less ordinary.
interesting thought: I am twenty-one and teething.
moment of zen: being warm, under blankets, with superb company on a windy day.
someday I must: finish reading Sluggy Freelance.

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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