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07.03.02 10:45 p.m.

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions.


 -Alfred Lord Tennyson  




Previously in Xenology: I agreed to be an RA at Bard Summer Scholars. Emily fretted over my absence.

Stank and the Power of Snark

This will make journal entry number two by M. Its weird writing Xen's journal, because I am never 100% sure about where he is and whether he is truly enjoying himself. One would think that this would be an easy thing to figure out, alas with Xen, sometimes it is more difficult than one might imagine to understand how he feels. I admit that this is partially my fault, since I am often wont to jump to the conclusion that he is miserable, rather that assume that he is truly fine, and that the statement "I'm good" doesn't have more depth to it... Another reason that I may not be the best person to be able to tell is that my shortcoming (of many, I'm afraid) is that if he doesn't tell me daily that he misses me, or I don't talk to him in a meaningful way that I means that obviously he doesn't like me anymore and will leave me at the next opportunity.
Oh, yes. I had forgotten that I am wholly fickle and totally wont to being seduced by sixteen-year-old tarts that barely seem like they can tie their shoes. I was never at all fond of intelligent, alluring, interesting woman. Especially not those that daily display numerous fiendishly attractive abilities, such as conversational skill, humor, fighting skill, general kinesthetic intelligence (specifically dancing skill). Nope, give me a barely formed monkey child any day. Away with you beautiful and legal women!
This is likely my own paranoia and is something I should work on in order to maintain sanity and self esteem.
Do you think I helped?
Still it is difficult, and at the same time I work 100% at not seeming clingy... This is not a web I enjoy being in. I like seeing Xen, talking to him, being part of his life... This absence is likely harder on me than it is on him since he is having adventures and perhaps has little time to think of me.
I do not know who this Emily girl is. Where did she come from? What is her purpose here? Does she like shells and cheese more than macaroni and cheese?
I, of course, miss her quite a bit. She is somewhat right that I was often too busy to indulge in active missing of her. Speaking with her nightly further helped to abate my lack of her presence, so I was rather in fine shape.
In a way I hope this is true, and that he is having more fun than I am. Every time we talk he sounds exhausted and miserable, though he states otherwise, and I believe him since he has no reason to lie to me. I really, really hope he is having a good time, I want this to be wonderful as I have said before.
It is wonderful, actually. As I stated, it feels as though this is all I have ever done. This is just another stream that my life could have taken and I am immersed in the universe where this is so. This does not eliminate my other life, but there is a permeable membrane between the two lives.
Right now it seems tiring, annoying and without good food.
The feeding trough  
I'll let you in on a secret. At Kline, the Soylent Green is about the only thing that isn't made of people.
Precisely like college. The dining halls is certainly not doing us any favors (nor should they, given that the kids have a penchant for trying to take the food nasally or starting food fights), offering us the exact fare I am certain students receive during the school year. At least when I was here as a scholar, we had the option of going to DeKline (which always seemed like a joke in itself) where we could order actual food we wanted. My kids have to eat the buffet fare that is put in front of them three times a day. I have been living off of salads and orange-cranberry juice spritzers that I make (the other RAs enjoy my beverages, as they swirl in an aesthetically interesting fashion). With the walking and bad food, I should be losing quite a bit of weight. Not as much as Dexy, though, as she seems to only eat Cocoa Puffs and toast with Tabasco sauce on it.
So far the things that have progressed are as follows: Xen has professed his love for Dexy and Jacqueline, two of the RAs.
Dexy has an innocent sort of charm, she definitely seems agreeable to my thinking. Jacki, as I have covered, kicks major butt. She is someone to whom I would immediately gravitate in my normal life. This experience has merely forced us to work together and bond together much quicker.
I am not as sure Dexy and I would have gotten to know one another normally, but she seems very sweet. The day the children and their parents arrived, it was only her and me manning the fort (or dorm, if you will). Jacki and Wayne were shopping for various necessities (at the dollar store, of course) and the keys to all the kids' rooms were locked in Jacki's dorm. So Dexy and I had to deal with sixty or so aggravated parents and their uncomfortable children. In such situations, you have to be able to trust the man providing you cover fire. As it were.
If it helps, I made the kids' parents move them in. I sat and sighed dramatically when approached. I am lazy in my working.
Jackie told him that he is officially an unofficial TA at New Paltz now since he hangs out with her and is cool. I get the feeling that he is much loved by his fellow RAs which surprises me not at all.
She certainly feels I should invest in a Masters Degree at New Paltz. Given that I get along rather well with her and her officemates and was rather planning on doing so anyway (at least this week), it seemed like a good idea. Though the fact that Jacki suggested this made me smile so much I nearly vibrated. At least on the inside. Outwardly, I think I smirked slightly and said I'd definitely give it some thought. I have a reputation to maintain!
The students, on the other hand, seem like they might be akin to Satan. Really, as Xen pointed out they are supposed to be the smartest, brightest, cream of the crop in Dutchess County. Instead they behave like 13-year-olds away from home for the first time. Some of them are the verge of being kicked out of the program and its only 4 days into it!! Really, that's ridiculous.
This is true, we have more than our fair share of vile monkey children. Aside from the food fights, several girls felt the need to print up fifteen or so flyers featuring the phrase "Become a Bigger Man" and featuring an image of an anatomically impossibly turgid Pan figure (I am certain that the lasses had no idea it was Pan, they were merely excited at the sight of a large member on a statue) and slip them under all the doors on the boys floor (except for Wayne, showing that they have more fear/respect for him than they do me. Erg).
There is one student who I would like to meet, if only because I sense a kindred spirit. Xen believes (and I concur along with Wayne) that he has BDD, or Body Dismorphic Disorder. What this means in the simplest explanation is that this young man has no concept of his physical body. He believes himself to be fat and thus goes to the Bard gym everyday. He is similar to an anorexic except that his self-hatred is more pronounced and his will to do something about is not as strong, if only because it is not an obsessive trait. He has given up in a way, because his life has always been like this, unlike an anorexic who may have grown into their disorder, this young man might be hard pressed to remember a time when he was happy. Chances are he also feels worthless in others eyes, and believes himself to less than he really is.
Actually, it seems possible that the boy was mostly joking about this. Wayne believed this was so after getting to know him a little better. He also enjoyed frequently asking the RAs if we hated him. I would tell him that it was not that we hated him, it was merely that he smelled like a circus. This sufficiently confused him, so he stopped asking me.
This little entry was not quite what I had intended to write when I gave myself 10 minutes before work... Ah well, perhaps there will be more later, and perhaps next time I'll stop being stupid about Xen and me. I should stop worrying, I know this to be true, I remind myself everyday. Maybe one day I'll follow my good advice.
Yeah, she certainly should stop worrying. I like her and am not likely to spontaneously stop.
Onto other matters that Emily neglected to cover. Wayne, Dexy, and Jacki found an evil altar in the basement, which I will investigate and photograph. Evidently it was in a locked room in the uber-creepy sub-basement and consisted of many burnt candles around a soiled mattress. There may have been other things, but this was all that was described to me.
There is a giant smelly dog that stalks our group and turns up wherever we are going to be. I have named him Stankapotomus Ferdinand Bermeda Gonzolaz or Stank for short. He does not apparently belong to anyone and certainly has no fear of humans. He will walk into the common room when we are having meetings, sniff the children (who all smell like circuses), and walk out. We would close the doors to keep him out, but that would rather turn the dorm into an oven. I'll bear with a giant, smelly bear-dog if it will keep me cool.
I am actually bonding with Zerk (I like pseudonyms), the type A girl. She complains loudly when she perceives that we might be a microsecond behind schedule. Granted, Jacki is frequently a little late, but that is usually only when we are supposed to be taking them to meals and whatnot. It is better to be late then.
She also criticizes the staff and our plans loudly and frequently. I finally got tired of her and was more snarky to her than she was to me. And she settled down a little. The power of my snark is strong than hers. I don't think anyone else thought to be sardonic back to her. I hold power.
I think from the moment I met Zerk, I saw a sort of light in her. I remember scoping her out on the first day. She had a huge orange bag on her back and I offered to help her with it. She declined my help, fell to the floor and detached from the bag. I was suitably impressed.
We watched The Matrix the other night and I ended up sitting it out in the TV lounge with Kitt and Zerk. Kitt has a very low tolerance for violence and needed to leave the movie just after Neo eats the pill that shows him reality. In mentally tittered at this fact, though I choose to believe it was coincidental. Kitt, Zerk, and I ended up watching the end and beginning (in that order) of The Iron Giant and an episode of The Munsters. Much less violent, save that I wanted to kill the child in it and Jennifer Aniston for speaking. Though the squirrel bit was redeeming.

A Matter of Pride
As you may know, Emily was to be self-sufficient after she graduated. This was the plan and she was putting her pride on the line to accomplish it. I was proud of her for attempting it. I realized that this meant that she had to put in more and longer hours at her gym and understood that this was something she had to do, despite the fact that I knew it was killing her.
M, cleaning  
Emily doing manual labor (granted, she is making pizza...)
One night in her apartment, she nudged me and asked if she could tell me something that I was absolutely forbidden to tell any of our friends or write about in the journal. I, of course, agreed (she has sinse rescinded this wish). Near tears, she confessed that she has to work as a cleaning lady to earn enough money to support herself. It pained her to have to lower herself to do this manner of job, which she felt was degrading.
I had certainly noticed that her increased work schedule was adversely affecting her self-esteem, though I couldn't have guessed this was the reason. Still, I was rather proud that she had gone so far to keep a promise to herself. I rather think I would have leeched money off my parents until I could find something in my area of expertise. She is a fully certified personal trainer, a job that should earn her five times as much as I earn an hour. Instead, she was made to clean toilet bowls and empty rubbish bins.
As though a reward for her dedication, a few weeks after starting this additional duty, she was hired sight unseen as a worker at the All-Sport near my home. It is not quite a permanent personal training position as she would desire, but is allowed her to quit the cleaning job and gave her the opportunity to get personal training clients at both gyms. In theory, she now has lots of money and no trouble sleeping.


Soon in Xenology: Flying carnival. More on Summer Scholars.

last watched: Waking Life
reading: American Gods
listening: A Tribute To A Work In Progress... : Black Crowes
wanting: the kids to be fed Ritalin.
interesting thought: There's just some men you can't reach.
moment of zen: the night air.
someday I must: visit Bard at night with M again.

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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