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08.17.02 11:08 p.m.

The wages of sin are death, but the benefits include dental, major medical, two week paid vacation, pension fund, and stock options. Actually, taken as a package, it's a rather attractive deal.

 -Tim Mefford  

Previously in Xenology: I hung out with Matt and mused philosophy.

Drugs Are Bad
Do you know why I have always shied away from the idea of doing drugs even when I was very much a part of the supposed drug counter-culture (which in no way is a counter-culture anymore, it is a definitely part of the accepted society)? Even when I have surprisingly little issue with others doing drugs around me (as long as I am not dating them and they are not causing themselves great harm)? It is not even wholly because I value my brain and its functionality as it is, which is quite nice. It is because I fear that I would then lose my credibility which, admittedly, if likely not that great anyway. Having tripped, my perception of a malevolent sensation or of unexplained lights in the sky would be possibly considered a byproduct of drug use. I cannot allow this factor to be considered when I am already treading on thin enough ice when it comes to my perceptions. Worse, perhaps I wouldn't be able to trust my own senses then at a crucial moment. So, no drug use for Xen. I will just have to work on altering my reality the hard way.

My family, Emily and I leave for Lake George on Monday. I honestly do not think I have ever appreciated an impending vacation more than I have this summer. Having worked nearly all of July at Bard and at the library, I was harried. Some days when the system was down and I had twenty patrons with twenty different complains for me, the thought of horseback riding with Emily or going out to restaurants every night was the only thing that kept me from returning the verbal fire that was being machine-gunned my way. Actually, I am being dramatic. I tend to just consider the people who yell at me more animalistic and sublimating their bad day upon me. I have nothing to do with their attitude and have no reason to much care that they are yelling. They are idiots. Yes, I am okay with that. I am enlightened.

Seventeen Year Cycle
I hung out with Matt again a few nights ago. He had walked over to my house after I got out of work. I was still eating my much needed dinner when he arrived so I put on Waking Life. This served the dual purpose of allowing me to finish my dinner guiltlessly and exposing him to some of the philosophy I had so inarticulately tried to share with him the prior time we hung out.
It seemed to serve both purposes admirably. He seemed enthralled and effected, which pleased me immensely. That I could share something so important to me with him made me feel very satisfied and warm. Plus, I got to finish my mashed potatoes, which also made me feel very satisfied and warm.
Afterward, we took a walk to the dock near my home. We ended up on the topic of religion, to no one's surprise. He articulated it well by offering a metaphor that modern religion was like someone had taken all the foods that they found delicious and put them in the blender. Strawberries tasted great, so they were thrown in. The same went for bananas. He was very fond of sardines, but didn't think they should be mixed with the fruit. However, most people today readily accept an unsavory mixture of foods that someone else once liked without really questioning what went into it or why. Sure, they still know about the strawberries and honey, but what about the bananas? I suggested, extending from his metaphor, that the problem was that most people were told not to ask what they were being given and didn't think to make their own drink from foods they found savory. Also, those that did mix their own foods often did so foolishly, loading up on chocolate and ignoring the fruits and vegetables that provide nourishment. Thus, we have a generation of spiritually malnourished New Age people, like hummingbirds full of Nutrasweet, with tummies full of absolutely nothing of value. As such, they wither and die. Then we have people swallowing a disgusting mixture that isn't the proper food for modern souls. Some get it right, figuring out the recipe for themselves and growing strong, but they are the minority.
This is how god and cicadas see me.
As I walked along the thin, wooden railings of the dock, I shared with him my belief that there are patterns to life that will keep reappearing until one discovers the meaning behind them. For example, I have been seeing shooting stars very often since my first rollerblading excursion to Glenham. I see them when others are around and have just looked up half a second too late. This has to mean something other than that Earth and the Leonid belt are meeting for a summer romance. In addition, the same day I spent time with Matt, the name Serafina kept coming up. Given that I had never heard of the name prior to that day, I took it as some sort of omen, though to what, I cannot be certain. I thought, perhaps, it was the name of a person I would be meeting, but that seems far fetched. We will see if anything comes of this.
Matt spoke of having been at this dock a few weeks ago and having seen a man walking across the bridge. At first the man was walking confidently in the night, proudly even. When he realized that Matt could see him, however, he hunched his shoulders in defeat it seemed. Matt noted with no lack of disappointment that this is precisely how he would have behaved had he been in the man's situation.
Somehow our conversation veered onto the topic of entomophobia while watching a cicada slowly walk across the yellow lit pavement. I leaned in close to watch its slow-motion scuttle, marveling at how something could be both repulsively ugly and fabulously beautiful simultaneously. Matt has nightmares that insects take over the world and just keep getting bigger. I tried to assuage his fear by telling him that Earth's gravity keeps insects from getting any bigger, for if they did, they would suffocate and be unable to move. I am not sure this did much to convince him of their relative innocuousness because he began speaking of the group mind of bees. If they can't beat us in size, they could certainly to it with sheer numbers. He related an anecdote that took place many years ago wherein he and several friends, under the influence, took tennis rackets and used carpenter bees (which had been plaguing his friend's home) bad eyesight against them. He stated that they likely whacked thousands of the bees that night. From then on, whenever the surviving bees or their descendants saw them, they would offer Matt and his friends a wide berth, even to this day. He felt this meant that they had communicated a legend about giants that committed genocide one night and it caused the new bees to fear them.

A few nights ago, I visited Emily in New Paltz. She was shocked because she feels that I hate to drive. I do not have hatred, just no fondness. I like being driven, but then I can nap. (While writing this, I greatly want to take a nap. However, I am at work and they might frown upon my curling up behind the desk for thirty-nine winks, give or take one. Incidentally, when I used to work at the Children's Museum, we once let our coworker sleep off a hang-over behind the desk. The patrons weren't anywhere near as amused as I was.)
When I arrived, Emily was destroying her room while watching The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Her floor was soaked from a malfunctioning dehumidifier which, given that she was moving into yet another new room because of the mold, hardly bode well. She was shocked that I was early, until she looked at her watch and realized I was actually on time (which, to me, is very early) and she was behind schedule. She scurried to make me chicken tacos and began bitching about what utter slobs her summer flatmates are. Given her vehement tone, I had guessed that she had been cleaning up their messes for most of the day. I sat quietly, hoping that she would not be this angry at me for not doing the dishes should we ever live together.
The tacos were very good, naturally. I decided that I wanted to start calling M "Taco," but she vetoed this by virtue that this was the name of the yippy dog her land lady owns. I offered to call her Burrito, but she said she was not Mexican food. I did, however, decide that I am going to start calling people "fucking tacos" as an insult henceforth. What possible recourse can one have when called a fucking taco?
She made me finish watching Pricilla, though it had been severely edited for television. She related her story about having watching this movie with her dorm mates at Trenton every night. I cannot possibly fathom why. Well, the gay positive kid was cute. Other than that, I think there are better movies with which to be obsessed. Given her penchant for Scotland, might I suggest Trainspotting?
I made some teasing remark and she said, "Well, I was going to buy you ice cream, but now I don't know." I started whimpering and made myself cry a little, because I have to keep my acting chops up somehow. She, taking this very seriously, gasped and asked what was wrong. I sobbed, "I want ice cream." She cooed that she was kidding and would, of course, buy me ice cream. Peanut butter ice cream. With peanut butter cup chunks. I smiled, but didn't stop crying. She added, "But only if you stop with the waterworks." I blinked my eyes and it stopped. The proudest day I ever had is when I learned to cry on command.
I opted to walk, because the journey is half the fun. Plus, I would be able to work off 1/8th of a Reese's Cup on the mile walk to the ice cream shop. Walking at night in a college town, even when school is not in session, is always an experience because the streets are lousy with lethargic college students eying every thing that moves. Not moving in the slightest to affect any sort of change, just staring from doorways.
While passing a rock, I swore I saw a tiny humanoid figure crouching there out of the corner of my eye. Of course, when I looked directly at it, there was absolutely nothing but a rock. Seeing figures out of the corner of my eyes that turn out not to be there has been happening often to me recently, as I confessed to M. I don't think I am suddenly prone to visual hallucinations (though I would opt for that explanation before a more supernatural one), I think I am just experiencing strange optical illusions, perhaps. Emily stated that she has been experiencing something similar, except that she sees small animals. Okay, how about ergotism? That seems credible, right? Some sort of hallucinogenic flour in our chicken tacos? Fucking tacos.
When we arrived at the ice cream shop, it had just closed. Evidently our dalliance to make sure we were not hallucinating elves took enough of our time that I didn't get to have my ice cream. Damn. We went to the gas station instead and I got an ice cream Snickers bar, which, while definitely not being the same experience, was satisfying enough. From there, we found a playful little kitten limping through the streets that was attacking and eating larger bugs. Possibly cicadas and carpenter bees.
Emily perked up after we returned to her apartment and she had a shower, so the night was decidedly enjoyable. (I'm being gentlemanly and subtle here. Freshly showered Burritos are irresistible.)

Soon in Xenology: Before Sunrise. The Princess Bride. My Lake George vacation. Working at the Faire again.

last watched: Waking Life
reading: The Salmon of Doubt, Flashbacks, The Truth Behind the Men in Black
listening: Emily sleeping.
wanting: A moa or, perhaps, giant sloth.
interesting thought: I get to go on vacation.
moment of zen: leaving the faire.
someday I must: visit a cave.

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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