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06.27.02 1:20 a.m.

Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come.


 -Matt Groening, "Life in Hell"  




Previously in Xenology: I ceased my acquaintanceship with Kate for the necessary time. I agreed to be an RA at Bard Summer Scholars.

Scholarly
I just came in from jumping rope. I am pretty much drenched in sweat, as I was using the exercise to provoke my creative juices (as it were) and got a little carried away thinking. On the plus side, I am approaching the realm of "decent" in my jump rope ability. Prior to this, I frantically packed all I could and readied two cameras (neither digital) for the trip. I clean and organize when I am nervous. Possibly the only time. Anyway, I will write until I lose the ability once more.
I am understandably nervous about this two week excursion to Bard. Frankly, were I to be asked at this very moment if I want to endeavor on this little adventure, I would throw Beartrand Russell the Theosophical Teddy Bear at you and run. I want to stay right here and not have to deal with any of this.
I feel like this is counting down to something. Like I am living on borrowed time. Right now, in a very calm and reasonable manner, it feels like my life will completely get put on hold or end, as I know it, tomorrow, when I go to Bard. I was actually dreading the fact that I have to work all day at the library the Saturday I return, as though this were happening this Saturday.
It is not unprecedented for me to feel that Summer Scholars is a literally life-changing experience. The first year, after I returned, I wept to Coley on the phone because I realized that the person I had become at Bard was no longer someone I could be in the realm of home and high school. It was similar, though not as strong the second year. Jen leaving me for Nick usurped my tears then.
I do not wish to leave Emily. There is some pained, illogical voice in the back of my head that reminds me that I have never had a relationship that outlasted my fortnight excursion to Summer Scholars. Granted, I was a far smaller lad at the time and relationships, by their very definition, are a great deal less mature at that stage. I certainly cannot fathom Emily falling prey to the killers of those prior relationships (though, if we are to be perfectly frank, I ended one of those relationships before I left and Alison had merely "forgotten" that I didn't think she and I made sense as a couple and thus had to be "reminded" when she came home from Lapland) which were incompatibility with the partner as was the case with Alison, driving me further from her than I was, and infidelity as was the case with Jen. Emily wouldn't cheat on me. I have a great deal of trust in her. However, she did worry that I would be whisked away by Sarah, who lives by Bard. I explained in the politest possible terms that Sarah is not high on my list of girls I desire. She is a good friend, but I don't have passion for her. Nor do I have much interest in cheating on Emily, for obvious reasons.
I worry that I am going to forget something important as well. It wouldn't be the first time. I am exactly the sort who forgets that one essential item. When I was at Scholar one year, my mother (who was to drive me up to Bard) walked to the front of my yard barefoot to get the morning paper and accidentally stepped on a piece of broken bottle, severing an artery in her foot. My older brother claimed that one of his friend's dogs had been carrying the beer bottle around in its mouth and had accidentally dropped it. I somehow doubt this.
As such, when I was ready to go, my mother was severely drugged and totally unfit to drive me. More so, she was unable to muster a more motherly reminder of what I was likely forgetting than, "Uhhhnnnmmhuwa??" I ended up lacking quite a bit more that I thought possible, given the sheer poundage of what I had remembered to bring. I had to solicit my older brother to drive to Bard and leave a bag full of sundry items tied to a pillar in front of my dorm. I think he did this of guilt for causing my mother to lose quite a bit of blood. The tying to a pillar was wholly his idea, but it got me what I needed.
(As a side note, I was forced to drive up to Bard with my father in his truck, the selfsame vehicle used to transport my mother to the emergency room. It hadn't been cleaned and at the floor of my seat was a towel wet with my mother's blood. I was so distraught by the whole experience that I didn't even think to check for what I was missing until the night after I arrived.)
Emily and I spent much of my mother's money (though not anywhere near how much Emily expected) on various necessities at Wal-Mart ("Where good Christians shop for heavily censored movies and music"). She rode around in the cart and read me list items in a helpful manner. She escaped shortly before I splurged on a frightening one-dollar doll that features a baby face and a panda body. I chased her around with it moaning "Why?" in a guttural grunt. She was not amused.
Oh, and do let me reiterate my fear of not knowing what I am to do while the students are at class. Hopefully plan activities for the kids and read Neil Gaiman. That is the only thing I feel qualified to do.
I will also be missing the Independence Day with my friends, several carnivals, a paternal family reunion, being with Emily while her parents are away, and a handful of graduation parties. Summer Scholars damned well better be worth these sacrifices.

A Menina Causada Dor Sabe Não De O Que Fala
Several days ago, because Kate is soon to leave for New Zealand for six months and I am soon to Bard for two weeks, I agreed to meet with her. I was of decidedly mixed feelings about the whole situation, understandably. I confess yet again that I cannot find it within myself to trust her most of the time, especially when she tries to encounter me alone. I do not think this is exactly called paranoia, more like "twice bitten, once shy."
I told her I would meet her at The Juliet's. Or possible just Juliet's. The colloquial name of the establishment occasionally requires an article. It was originally a movie theater many years before I set upon this Earth. At that time, it was Juliet's Theater. No mention of who Juliet was. Over the years, it changed hands and purposes until it found its current purpose as a small restaurant and billiards hall. Still, it retains the moniker of Juliet's. Best of all, it is a public place where I will not feel pressure or anxiety from Kate.
I walked in and did not see Kate, though I was late. I perused the overpriced pseudo-gambling video games offered. One beeped at me accusatorily and I hissed in response. When I turned back to wait for Kate outside, I saw her staring out a side window, utterly oblivious that the world turned around her. I ask how long she had been sitting there and she said something to the effect of, "Not long. Long enough."
Smoking  
My camera is broken and so is my photo software. Let's imagine she looks like my description of her, shall we?
She was wearing a stiff cotton shirt that she couldn't quite fill out, leaving her looking like a half-stuffed doll. Her dark-rimmed glasses gave her the air of a 1950's girl waiting for her date to the sock hop, and the purple plastic barrettes in her dark chocolate hair forced her to appear adolescent. I had tried to wear my most attractive clothes that fit the humid weather, not to entice her but to firmly stick the idea in her head that I was a together and appealing human being without her. It was a cheap trick, played only in my head, but it helped my confidence.
The excited and apologetic waitress sidled over and asked our orders. Kate asked for a meatball sandwich that made me wonder when her metabolism is going to give out. She explained that she was very hungry, as she had not eaten since breakfast, when she had bacon, eggs, and sausage. Any moment her metabolism will revolt. I am certain of it.
The conversation was a bit awkward at first. We watched strangers out of the restaurant windows and pondered what they were doing. Eventually, the conversation turned to her issues with her family. While I will not go into them out of decency, it was nice to see this other side of Kate as the mediator and shoulder to cry on within her family.
After we ate, rather then get physically competitive with Kate while utilizing a phallic object, I suggested a walk around Vassar campus. It involved that ever so pleasant element of being outside in a public place with many distractions that so appealed to me. We walked and discussed how she was allowing her hair to grow, thus the necessity for barrettes. I know, reading this is likely similar to watching her hair grow, so we will move on.
I thought I had a decent idea about the layout of Vassar. I was, of course, wrong. It was not too long ago that I was allowing Bryan to lead me around this campus and getting me horribly lost (which was, actually, why I thought I now could lead Kate around). I told her that there was this amazing garden that I was sure was exactly like New Zealand all year 'round. Except, you know, completely different. I am fairly sure New Zealand sees a rather frigid winter and doesn't have overeducated gardener masquerading as botanists to tend it. Possibly it was identical in size.
I commented in a whiny fashion that New Paltz campus offered none of the finer elements of Vassar, such as the herds of peacefully romping deer, the trickling water (the Gunk does not move, it is a flood), the majestic scenery, the vistas. We have... nazi ducks. That is about it. Clearly my State University education lacks this aesthetic element. I am so getting ripped off. I would include an exclamation, but I make it a point to have absolutely no idea how much I am actually spending to be at New Paltz. There are some things of which it is just better I remain ignorant for the moment.
After giving Kate the lead and usurping it, I stumbled upon the gardens. They were fairly lush, though not as spectacular as I had remembered. I decided to carefully examine the glorified lawn gnomes. I very much wish I had my digital camera so I could share these with you. They were positively evil. Any moment, they were liable to jump from their pedestal and demand their fairy gold back. There was only one that still had distinguishable pupils. He also had his mouth frozen in a laugh. I peered in this gnome's mouth and noticed coins within. Despite Kate's underwhelming fear that the gnome would bite my finger off, I slid my finger within and pulled out a penny. I was content with my find, but Kate insisted I return the coin to prevent the gnomes wrath.
While still in the garden, she informed me that she would not be returning to New York at least until the middle of November. It seemed like so much time to be away from everything she knew. Of course, that very well may be exactly what she wants.
We wandered a bit more and discovered that the Vassar squirrels are inordinately friendly. We found one calmly eating a candy bar and another walked up and licked my sandal. I want a squirrel. We sat for a while, convincing the squirrels that they wanted to eat granola out of my hands. They weren't as fond of Kate's, but I did have the food. Squirrels are intelligent enough to notice that sort of thing.
We ended up at a shady bench, not terribly close to any friendly squirrel. No matter. We ended up discussing her drug use for a wee bit. She informed me that she has done speedballs, which she defined as a mix of cocaine and heroin that gave her an intensely painful headache ("worse than my worst migraine") afterward. I later told Melissa, our resident drug expert, about this claim and she quickly disputed it thusly: "First of all, if that girl had done cocaine and heroin she wouldn't have a headache. She would practically be in a coma while coming down and certainly wouldn't be feeling shit. These are high-grade painkillers. See, coke is an instant high. You snort it and BAM you're high. Heroin, on the other hand, doesn't kick in for about ten... fifteen minutes. So when she was coming off of the coke, a stimulant, she would just start getting the effect of the heroin, a depressant. She'd be asleep. Now, it is bullshit that Kate did a speedball. I know heroin addicts who've been doing it for seven years before they can do a speedball. It would be too much a shock to her system and she'd die." All of this makes sense to me, so I am thinking that some dealer gave her purposely inferior merchandise. She also claimed to be fond of opium, if she could get her hands on it. This I could more see. Kate made sense as some languid bourgeoisie addict on the floor of a 1930's opium den mumbling out some erroneous Marxist philosophy between deep swallows from a pipe of a cephalopod narghile. Or maybe that was just me. Melissa also disputes this claim, stating that opium is so rare in this area that she most probably was smoking good hashish and was unaware. The effects of really good hashish are identical to those of particularly poor opium.
I also asked her about her feelings of beer. As I have covered, it seems to me that there are a lot more appealing ways to drink oneself to oblivion without the help of something that is compared in both color and taste to piss. She said she originally agreed that beer tasted like urine, but she drank it anyway because it would get her drunk. Cheap red wine will accomplish the same affect and is far more appealing in my opinion. Then she entered a stage where she didn't much care about the taste and it still got her plastered. Vodka, for its medicinal foulness, is easily mixed with other beverages and efficiently removes one from one's senses. She then began to love the taste of beer and currently salivates often when thinking about one. I contemplated this briefly and decided no food or beverage provoked Pavlovian salivation in me. I further searched and decided that only anticipating a kiss does that particular trick. I am not sure that I feel I am missing anything.
This line of conversation lost its interest for Kate, so we moved onto philosophy and psychology. I think she was a bit shocked that I can more than hold my own with her. It is residual desubstantialization of me in her eyes post-break-up. It is harder to transcribe philosophical conversations without a tape recorder. I basically shared the point that schizophrenia can loosen one's bindings to this world and thus provide the sufferers with knowledge that they could not have come by using their five senses. Melissa has shared several anecdotes that featured a client informing her of her birthday out of nowhere, knowing who was in the building that shouldn't have been, and forecasting the future. As such, the insane were often regarded as "divinely afflicted" in some cultures. Where did they come by this knowledge? I took the Jungian approach that there is a collective unconscious that can be tapped into. This was an academic exercise to joust with Ms. Kate. I am not certain I wholly believe this, but it would point out why mythology seems to feature the same themes. She had not read any Jung, only Joseph Campbell, so we had to build theory together.
She made some flip comment about how she might offend me because I was Pagan. I stared her cheek down (she was looking at the lawn when she said it) and I stated that I am not a conventional Pagan, whatever that was. My religion is not a point of contention. I don't generally get offended anyway.
While we were sitting, chatting idly and watching birds, I told her with the edge of tears in my voice that I would miss her. She instantly rejoined in a high tone that she would miss me too. I looked at her and repeated what I had said with added emphasis. She understood and gave me an honest requite, which I certainly appreciated.
On the walk back, we reminisced a bit. I reminded her of the off-colored joke she had told at the cast party to which I took her. She laughed and said, "Your friends thought I was a nigger hater, but I'm not a nigger hater." (By the way, save your complaining e-mails. This is what she said and I am recreating it exactly. If you do not like the word, I recommend you stay away from most rap music and the work of Alice Walker. I am not going to censor the word, because it is just a word and I don't expend much effort censoring my thoughts). I patted her on the head, mock reproachfully (as I do not believe she was using the word to be racist, she has slept with African American boys) reminded her, "The word is 'racist.' You are not 'racist.'" She smiled and again said she was not a nigger hater. I noticed that there was a dark skinned gentleman walking our way and asked Kate if she would like to say that a bit louder on a street in Poughkeepsie. She politely declined.
Not at all tearfully, we bid each other adieu for the next six months.


Soon in Xenology: French porn. Triveccians. Emily's new job. Flying carnival.

last watched: Waking Life
reading: Psychic Warrior, Myths to Live by, American Gods
listening: Best of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
wanting: Not to have to be so alone at Summer Scholars.
interesting thought: If I refused to do anything that helped support terrorism, I'd be arrested for tax evasion.
moment of zen: bidding a fond goodbye to Kate.
someday I must: look back on all this and laugh.

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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