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04.08.02 9:25 a.m.

We encounter the grinding wheels that sharpen our mental blades many places in life. Adversity, school, parents, spiritual guides, books, experience are all sharpening teachers. As we grow older, to stay sharp we must find new grindstones to whet and sharpen our potential and keep us at our brightest, most penetrating best.


 -Robert Kall  




Previously in Xenology: Easter eggs were dyed. Melissa and I laughed at a wall and couldn't explain why. Emily returns her claddaugh ring to me, since I am unsure of commitment. Melissa gets a new job. I theorize that M is psychic.

Sweet, Sweet Icing
I am going to attempt to play catch-up, so we can get to some news.
After dying Easter eggs, M and I called Melissa who had told us earlier in the day that she sought adventure. The adventure, by this point, had turned into a little soirée at Liz's house. Still, we didn't exactly have much better things to do and like parties that were addressed as "soirées," so we agreed to attend.
Shortly after leaving my house, we noted that there were numerous fire trucks, police cars, and an ambulance at Friendly's, which would certainly be a detriment to the name. The cops seemed keenly interested in a few men and their car. However, we could really deduce what part the fire trucks played, as we saw no smoke and smelled no fire.
On the way there, clearly already attuned to the mood of the party, we stopped at 7-11. There we witnessed an enormous mug with wrestlers on it. It was as big as M's head. Clearly this needed to be procured for Emily's tea drinking needs on campus. And it came with an obscene amount of Slurpee as a bonus. Who are we mere mortals to refuse?
Laden down with our glucose requirement for the next week, we arrived at Liz's. We took a guess as to which house it was, judging by the pink bicycle outside and the sound of clear revelries within.
Soon after we arrived, the pizza man cometh bearing the fatty fruits. Denise handed him a wad of money, said "hot shit," and shut the door. As, I think, she handed him more money that she should have, he was fine with this. M and I were deprived of individual meals owing to our lateness, but were welcomed to the pizza. We gathered around the table like a massively dysfunctional family. Melissa tried to enumerate the roles we each possessed. Melissa was made grandmother, Angela a crazy aunt, Liz a daughter, M the mother, and myself... goldfish, I think. My role seemed creepy, otherwise.
Emily and Angela commiserated about keeping Passover. This allowed the story of when Angela, trying to follow Jewish doctrine, took the sausage off her McMuffin, ate the rest, looked at the sausage, and summarily consumed it. Still, she was trying to eat her non-breaded wings so she would not be committing a sin.
Liz left the table soon after to smoke. She had earlier offered me a cinnastick (I am so the trademark whore), so I thought that she was quite done with them having left them on the table. I asked if any were left and was given a box containing many. And the sweet, sweet icing. We all ate of the cinnasticks and their sweet, sweet icing (even Angela, convinced to sin against her religion by the sweet, sweet icing). Liz, however, was not happy when she returned. I guess she wasn't done.
There was, in a Passover spirit, use of the bitter herb. Actually, it might not be bitter. I've never tried. We ended up all laughing for a good hour at a very shy Angela, wearing a gold, sequined shirt, talking into a mop. I would say that you have to be there, but I'm not sure it would have been funny to you even then. It was hilarious, though.
By the end of the night, we were forced to watch A Goofy Movie by Mike. You would think we could have just gotten up and left, but no. We stayed until the end. We became emotionally involved in these characters. Kids, just say no to bitter herb!

A Short (No Pun Intended)
This is a quick story, because I think it is funny. Melissa was going to White Plains to fill out paperwork for her new job in a group home. She had become very lost trying to find the right place and decided that she would ask the next person she encountered for directions. Of course, immediately after deciding this, she encountered an African American midget who graciously (in a 1970's cool kind of way) showed her where she should go and walked a little of the way with her. She felt this had to be a good sign.

Seven Years
The other week, leaving work, a middle-aged Hispanic man approached me. I had seen him and the group he was with and got definite hostile vibes from that direction, so I had my keys poised for a painful punch. He asked me if the car I was walking toward was mine. I answered in the suspicious affirmative. He pointed out that I now lacked a driver's side mirror and stated, unctuously, "Maybe a car hit it or somebody ripped it off. I don't see no scratches, so maybe somebody ripped it off." I eyed him and the gang behind him, whom I recognized as containing relatives of the guys who tried to mug me, and groaned though clenched teeth, "Now you wouldn't happen to know where my mirror went, would you?" He pointed to the right and three feet in front of my car, a place where my mirror would have only been if placed. The lack of scratches on it and fact that it was whole (save being removed from my car) confirmed this. He repeated, guiltily, "Yeah, I guess somebody ripped it off." I stared him in the eye, treating him as though he were a misbehaving child, "And do you know who did this?" He looked over his shoulder and said, "No, man, I didn't see nothing." I felt it was in my best interest to take my mirror and get the hell out of there. I knew who these people were.
When I told my mother, who works in the schools that these punks occasionally attend, she said that she would spread rumor that I had placed a curse on the family, known to be immensely superstitious and fearful of witches. The law, as I experienced when I got mugged, would do nothing and harass me for many months trying to get my silence.
My boss at the library (I had to file an incident report) left a sweet note in my box that said, "The cops say that Main Street is run by toughs, but I guess they don't mean the librarians." Aw.

Metaphysical Feats Over Quesadillas
After work Saturday, Emily and I returned to my home. Little did she know that I would sequester her here until Monday morning.
I told her to wait outside my room while I got a present for her. She patiently waited, eyes shut. I told her to open them and pick a hand. She asked, "Do I not get what is in the other hand?" I told her that this would have to be the case, the fates had not decreed she get what is in the other hand if she chooses wrong. She thought carefully and chose my left. I tossed her claddaugh ring to her and said that I wanted her to stick around for a while. She smiled broadly and gave me a hug.
After a few appetite-inducing minutes of Secret of Mana, we went to Friendly's. It had clearly not burned down, as we had thought. Emily informed me that an associate of hers said there was a bad drug deal and flaming bottles were thus thrown at Friendly's. That didn't wholly make sense, but I was willing to accept it as true.
While waiting to be given food, I asked Emily what I should name the two ram/goat heads that were on the bracelet I just got back from the jeweler. I insisted that they should have names, especially as my jeweler had nearly fused the bracelet on my arm and I had yet to find a way to take it off. She thought for a moment and announced, "Ramulus and Remus." I would have fallen out of my seat, save that I was sitting on a bench. This was the exact set of names I had come up with. When I inquired why she chose these names out of any, she muttered, "Because they were the twins and, you know, Ramulus?" My reasoning went further than this, as the goats looked Greek to me and Romulus and Remus founded Greece. I took this as a definite sign of telepathy between us.
We also mused about the nature of fame. We have links to famous people. Emily's father is so well respected a painter that his work sells for tens of thousands of dollars. Emily's mother almost gave birth to her while having dinner with Walter Mondale. Her parents also used to hang out with hordes of people whose names I instantly recognize and promptly forget. M addresses them by nicknames, which is unnerving at first. Emily herself was a child actress. And yet, we are not famous. No one really knows who we are. M was actually disappointed that she doesn't show up on the Internet Movie Database, as she has done more than some of the piddling extras that list themselves. But, hey, at least she has a website about herself (granted, I am the one who maintains it...).
While she was talking, I was taking notes on my new organizer that I bought specifically for this website. Well, new is a relative term. It's new to me, but I bought it through an on-line police auction, so it was likely once a drug dealer's Rolodex. Not surprisingly, that makes me enjoy it more.


Soon in Xenology: Ennui at work. Arsenic and old lace. M ruining the end of Army of Darkness. Conor and the dirt mall. Venessa leading us to ducks and vanishing. Why vampire movies suddenly suck (and I don't mean blood.)



last watched: Powder, Army of Darkness
reading: Good Omens
listening: The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
wanting: more motivation to do as I should.
interesting thought: I don't know that the jewelry changes how I feel.
moment of zen: not sleeping in an empty bed.
someday I must: be satisfied with this site.

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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