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10.17.02 8:25 p.m.

Because I'm Jewish, a lot of people ask why I killed Christ. What can I say? It was one of those parties that got out of hand. I killed him because he wouldn't become a doctor.

 -Lenny Bruce  

Previously in Xenology: Zanna decided she hated me because Nancy had a crush on me, only she is unable to admit this. I loved Sarah very much. Emily had a good birthday party last year in my backyard. Bryan dated below his station and age group. New Paltz was burdened with Nazis.

Touching Souls
Shortly after finishing the last entry, I received a letter from dear Sarah. I told you I was foreshadowing. Her letter honestly touched me, as she is so inclined to do, and foreshadows her eventual return. Her letter said, in part:

I have so much to say about everything, but I'm not sure I want to yet. The most consistent thing I do here is think. I have no friends to distract me, my life is my mom and stepfather and household stuff and work. And when I am not involved in that, I think. A major conclusion is that acid changed me more drastically than anything, made my brain a different shape. Although I sometimes wonder if sex affected me just as intensely, but in an abstract fashion so that it will take me years to understand.
Sarah, years ago.
I don't know, everything at this point is pretty much theory.

I miss you, [...] I think about you a lot. I read your website and I can really see your perspective. [...] But, in any case, what I mean to say is that being able to read your thoughts about so many things allows me to see you in a different fashion than I see most people I am close to. And it's really very interesting.

You are one of the few people in my life who I know will be around for a long time, and I know this just because I do not understand why. You make perfect sense to me in a way, but at the same time I think we represent for each other something close but so foreign. And for me, it's only been like that with a few people - my sister, my parents, Lexi, Jake, Ben, Sarah, Jeremy, Kristin, you. So few people make me confront things, challenge me, and I'm so fucking grateful for it. I only learn when placed in extremes. I want to thank you for catalyzing me.

Although right now I am in deep avoidance of southern New York as much as possible, Kristin has forced me into Red Hook twice since I left and it was so strange, when I do come back, and I will come back, I want to see you again. I really think what we need is to sit down and get comfortable and talk by ourselves. Cause that's where it all started, when you visited me in my room at Bard and I played you songs, and you are one of those people, for me, who I think I really like best alone.

So keep it in mind, a lot is coming. Things are just starting to get interesting. I can tell. Fall always makes me really excited, but this year, I have an entirely different perspective. And I was always the youngest, the baby, the innocent, the virgin. And this year I turn 21 and I am no longer any of those things. It's kind of freeing.

I miss you. Call me sometime, keep writing, you know I love you.

I am slightly electrified that, eventually, Sarah will again be within the sphere wherein seeing her is possible. She and I will make contact in the only way there can be true meaning between us, alone. I haven't the words to express that subtle joy it brings me to consider the potential reconnection with this almost holy entity in my life.
What is to come by the end of autumn? The Witch says a lot is coming and she is rarely wrong...

Old Acquaintance Be Forgot
As some of you may know, Emily's birthday was this past Saturday night. If you were not invited, I am sorry, but you should have called me or written me. I even wrote great invitations:
M is turning all of 23 (MY GOD SHE GOT OLD!), so we are throwing her a shindig at my house on Saturday, October 12th at 7. If you were privileged enough to be invited last year, it will follow the same format. We will be camping in my meager backyard and eating lots of junk food, tell stories around the grill, and generally annoying parents into wishing I wouldn't throw parties. It is okay if you do not wish to sleep over, though at night the ice weasels come. If you do want to spend the night, you need to bring sleeping bags and/or tents. And you damned well RSVP, or so help me god you will suffer my unbearable wrath. Bringing food (and telling me what you are bringing when you RSVP!) endears you to the gods. They tend not to drive mad those that bring food. Emily will give you direction to MY house (I don't know quite why). See you there.
And, to those of the invited guests that did not RSVP, which were all but two, I sent this follow-up letter:
Just a reminder, Emily's party is this weekend. October 12th at 7PM to be exact. You should tell me that you are actually coming or not so we know how much food to get. So, confirm now or we will eat your skin.
You think this would be enough to entice a few more calls from the guests...
As such, it was clearly necessary for Zack and me to buy gifts for M the Thursday before the blessed event. Furthermore, we needed to do so before Emily arrived at my house to do more general party shopping. It was like a spy mission. At a mall. For birthday presents. Maybe if we had spy sunglasses.
Just so I don't lose all of my good boyfriend street cred, it should be noted that I had actually ordered M presents on-line that had yet to manifest. Really, I'm thoughtful.
We spent a lot of time in the action figure section of a music and bookstore trying to choose just the right item for M. I ended up picking up a tiny tin case with a bunny that read, "Hi, suck it!" (which I later found was intended to be used for drugs but, in my naiveté, thought was just a cute key chain) and a Nightmare Before Christmas mug because everyone needs to drink coffee from a skeleton. However, the store lacked an item that I arbitrarily decided were essential to provide M. The inconsiderate bastards.
While at the mall, I noticed a shorthaired brunette girl with glasses positively and (were the other girl taller, literally) hanging off another girl that looked a trifle embarrassed to be so used. As they walked, the brunette refused to let go, which is a cumbersome position for the walkers and a tiresome one for the passers-by. This was clearly some girl who was trying to make her personal sexual preference a public and political statement, hoping that someone would voice their distain so she could feel oppressed by the heteroes. If one were to see a heterosexual couple in this position, one would find it disgustingly codependent and likely anticipate the quick break-up of said couple. Who could this pretentious lesbian be? Why, Zanna, of course. She did not acknowledge me, though she made it clear she had seen me. I don't really think I mind that she doesn't like me (especially given her reasoning for disliking me). I hope she outgrows this phase and can actually have mature relationship with women and not treat them as props in her personal passion play.
silly people  
Zack, just being Zack.
After Zack had procured one of his favorite, inspirational books (The Alchemist) and a CD for M. I picked up a few more sundry items that each had their purpose, though I forget now what, and we drove home just in time to get a call from M saying she would be late. Excellent, extra time to turn my room into somewhere people could actually sit. On the way home, we discussed a few estranged friends of mine, specifically Nick and Coley.
Zack mainly hoped that Nick was doing well for himself, as they were no longer in as close of contact, and we both fervently wished he was not dating a woman who was known for behaving in a less than admirable manner in all her affairs and with whom Nick is frequently in the company. For example, said woman had a penchant for acting as though she knows everything, to the extent that she would frequently fabricate new histories for herself to accommodate these stories. One might be inclined, with cause, to label her a pathological liar (she did tell people that I summoned a giant demon which threw her about her room, no easy feat). She also presumes that every human is attracted to her to the point that random, serious inquiries for sex from her seem permissible in her mind. When one rejects her constant requests for sex, she proclaims that this person has wronged her in some manner. I believe, aside from telling her she was full of shit about second degree initiation in Wicca involving sex, I "wronged" her by stating that I had no interest in ever being in the Rocky Horror Picture Show again. Oh, the vileness of me. Nick has this woman in the upper echelons of his production company, a factor that apparently alienated much of Nick's stable of actors according to Zack. I suppose there is only so many times one can tell a forceful woman with severe boundary issues that you don't want her to touch you before it becomes a hostile work environment.
As for Coley, with whom I have not spoken since she sicced her boyfriend on me when I didn't want to be listed on his website (it should be noted that Coley asked me to remove pictures of her from my website a year before, but that is a wholly different affair, apparently), Zack echoed a sentiment I have heard numerous times which can be encapsulated with "Coley needs to see more of the world, specifically more of the world that does not involve her boyfriend." I can't necessarily disagree, as she does seem insulated from new experiences by him. I suppose it is fear of losing her to someone in her age group, but it will do little good in the long run. If she is allowed to breathe and grow, she could do and be something wonderful. If metaphorically hidden in a closet, she will eventually loathe him should their union ever come to dissolution. I do care for her, though she may think otherwise, and would definitely prefer she be happy and content in life. It does not seem that popular opinion (which is to say, those who have independently addressed this issue to me) believes her boyfriend is granting her this potential. However, as he was her first intimate partner and provides for her well in certain ways, it is unlikely that she would see as her friends may. (Similarly, I was ignorant to the fact that several of my close friends avoided my company when it was shared with Kat(i)e.) Then again, I have not spoken with her closest friends, whomever they may be these days.
When Emily arrived, exhausted as always, we plundered Wal-Mart for the necessary party goods. A few hours, many ripe Halloween masks, and $50 later, we were laden with such festive goodness. This party could turn out quite well...

The day of the party arrived with many gifts called "torrential rain clouds" which turned the ground a festive shade of brown. I was, nicely put, having a wee freaked-out. I had thrown my share of failed parties and I had little interest in holding a repeat performance. However, I couldn't very well throw an outdoor camping party in drizzle, muddy ground, and 40 degree temperatures. To calm me down, Emily had insisted I play a bit of Chrono Trigger to take my mind off of the rain and the fact that Conor and Flynn said they were going to stop by when I got out of work forty-five minutes before and stay until the party began.
Cool people  
Conor and Flynn, partying down.
The phone rang and I knew it was one of the party guests. I steeled myself for the inevitable line of phone calls telling me that such-and-such would be unable to attend because she or he had better things to do than stand on my back porch and shiver while I failed to light the grill with the power of my mind. Indeed, it was a party guest, albeit one I nearly forgot had been invited. Lauren was calling to inform me she would not be in attendance. Given that she had never asked for directions since the day I invited her, it was rather a foregone conclusion. I think she expected me to be more sad and concerned, but she hadn't much surprised me and I frequently think she is a bit nervous of me.
The next call was from Conor. I began making my sad face, anticipating him telling me Flynn and he would also not be in attendance. Of course, given that he exceeds in being a wonderful person, he told me that Flynn and he would not be coming before the party but would attend the rest of the festivities. Lovely!
No more phone calls were received, thankfully, though the guest began arriving promptly at 7. However, despite the shiny cleanliness of my room, I had nowhere to put more than five. I popped in Reefer Madness to try to keep the room dwellers entertained while I answered the door and packed more people within.
Cool people  
M and Jerame, making s'mores.
Matt and Mike P. arrived at the door and I informed them that they were about to be packed like sardines. Matt self-consciously said, "Oh shit, you can smell that? I ate sardines two days ago." I looked confused and then explained that I was going to make them like sardines. Matt does not smell of small salted fish.
I was frantically whispering to Emily that I had no idea what we were going to do with all the guests. Already I had nine people in my tiny room that can comfortably seat three and no location at which we could be festive. Like an angel of some distant god, Zack announced that his parents were not home and we were thus free to use his home to remedy this situation. A thousand blessings on Zack's parents for not being home.
I gave my mother orders in her sleep to redirect any late-arriving guests to Zack's nearby home and we bolted with the bags of party food. In addition, Zack did us the great honor of making up homemade pizza because he is a king among men. With Melissa's donated 80's mixed CDs (including the theme to Inspector Gadget), the party, indeed, had the potential to kicked major butt.
Conor and Flynn arrived, toting my younger brother with them. I had invited him to the party before we left, because I felt terrible that his girlfriend and he had broken up earlier in the evening. At the time, he sadly declined saying he wanted to just be alone for and play on his computer with his computer friends. However, the tear-reddened eyes with which I was greeted when I said hello to him showed that he was not as composed as he would have liked me to believe.
Sad people  
Bryan, sad in a doorway.
Small wonder, as they had been dating for over a year. Still, I couldn't begrudge his coming as he likely needed bit of cheering and my friends tend to be the cheerful type.
The reasoning for the break-up, as I understand it, is that Jesse wanted to go off and be defined by her title of "teenager" which precluded having an actual relationship where she was treated well (if a bit overprotectively). I can't help but empathize with the boy a bit, as he gave the mutant organ he calls a heart to that girl and she cast it aside to, by her admission, be stupid and screw around with other boys. She has such noble ambitions for life, even for a sixteen-year-old.
If you read the entries from when we went on vacation in Lake George, it is evident that they were headed for this. Also, those you were not privy to this, they had been having arguments on the phone nearly every night, about which Bryan would tell me in great detail while I was trying to write. Aside from the fact that she is a sixteen-year-old girl, which is a wily and unpredictable species, I take it from his comments that she is a sixteen-year-old girl who wishes to sow her wild oats and relive the childhood is has yet to exit. She, however, was not terribly unpredictable, as Bryan had mentioned prior to this break-up that she was more interested in hanging out with her friends than him and had been spending a lot of time with a new friend named Travis who got left back for three years in a row. So clearly she is moving up in the world.
Everyone seemed to get along, even while roasting marshmallows on forks over the heating coils of Zack's electric stove. In situations like that, you find out who your real friends are. Yup, marshmallow roasting and war are the only true touchstones. M is my true friend because she roasted two marshmallows on a knife and gave one to me so that I might luxuriate in is crisp yet creamy joy.
groovy people  
Xen and Liz, proving the eighties will never go out of style.

While the pizza was cooking and Inspector Gadget was blaring on the stereo, I tried to explain to Anne and Jerame the virtues of eighties films. They were reassuring, because you knew that absolutely no plot would be revolutionary. They all featured the basic premise of teenagers getting into some sort of trouble, the male protagonist wooing the object of his affections in a wacky manner, and the ambiguously gay male couple that the protagonist (against all logic) called his best friends. Anne needed clarification on this last point, so I expanded that they were these two men in the film that went on and on about how much they wanted to be with any available female (clearly overcompensating) and yet never were seen outside one another's company and rarely in the company of actual women. (For further examples, I suggest you watch Once Bitten, Weird Science, or Killer Klowns from Outer Space.) I quickly turned left to Conor and Flynn and told them that they excluded from this characterization. Then my eyes widened as my brain caught up to what my mouth had said and I apologized once I caught my breath from laughing. To their extreme credit, they were just as amused. You just have to love men that can laugh at themselves.
Emily and I noticed, during the party, that Zack was frequently sitting alone playing his guitar. I asked him if he was okay, and he told me in an unconvincing tone that he was fine. Melissa later asked me how Zack was handling his break-up. I became justifiably confused and asked if she meant Bryan. No, she insisted, Zack had told her that Veronica and he were no longer coupled (thus why she was not at the party) and that Melissa was the first person he had told. I can understand that, Melissa is the sort with whom one would wants to speak and he is not terribly close with her. I asked him about it later and he told me that he neglected to tell me because this sort of thing happens often between them. I could understand that outlook, but I still care a lot if Zack is hurt for any reason. However, he may not get Friendly's this time.
Bryan, in better spirits, was later chatting Flynn's ear off about how cool Bard is. For your information, Bryan spent four nonconsecutive weeks there and Flynn actually attends those hallowed halls. Yet Bryan was playing quite the expert. I don't think Flynn quite had the heart to tell Bryan to shut up, despite the fact that he is Flynn and there is little that he cannot say. However, my barging in to try to save Flynn by diverting Flynn's attention did earn me Conor's accolades for coming up with the new slogan of Bard, "Hugs and Drugs Under One Roof."
While I was tending to other matters, Emily decided that she wanted to watch a DVD from Zack's impressive collection. Given that M seems to be wary of horror movies, one might imagine that she chose The Emperor's New Groove or something of its ilk. One would be wrong as, by the time I returned to the party, Stir of Echoes was playing.
scary people  
The Gentlemen, not invited
I have absolutely no issue with horror movies, so I wasn't displeased though I inquired to M whether this was a wise move. She felt, as she would be staying the night with me, that a little horror would not affect her. She was wrong, incidentally, as this movie triggered something in her brain that made her frightened for days until she did a spell to banish it. My assurance that her poltergeist would protect her didn't seem to make her feel much better, though.
There are two effects in movies that terrify Emily to her core. The first is when people move too fast, such as in Jacob's Ladder, or much too slowly, such as The Gentlemen on the Buffy episode "Hush." This film had liberal dashes on the former and thankfully none of the latter. Still, Emily held my hand so tightly, often over her eyes, that I think my rings gave her bruises.
No one spent the night, as my room was too cramped, so it was just M and me. Lying in bed, I became introspective and sad for Bryan. It is painful to see a family member who has just had their heart broken, their eyes bloodshot from tears. Also, I have been approximately where he is and it is a state I wouldn't ever want someone to go through. I hope it helps to give his depth and make in a more "real" person. I suppose the other extreme is that he could pull further from this world because it hurts. I don't think he has many friends outside of cyberspace who can comfort him, making his journey even harder. I hope he does not go back with Jesse, their relationship is over, as well it should be.
Emily was captivated and a little touched that I was crying because I was so sad and worried for Bryan, which is the mark of a good girlfriend. I don't think Katie would have really understood and I know Jen would have told me to stop because tears scared her. Jen would have also, possibly, called me gay. Thus proving, to my mind, that there are certain people with whom we are not supposed to remain.

A sunny day that wasn't too long ago, though it certainly feel so now, I was lounging on the lawn at New Paltz, trying to forget the concept of my next class. Concentrating on feeling the sunlight absorb into my pores and cleanse me, I was slightly startled when I saw Leah looming above me. She said, "Beware of dragons, because you are crunchy and good with ketchup." As such, I did the only logical thing given the circumstances. I nipped her calve through her jeans and gave her a fond greeting.
As we talked, she on her way for a run and I ignoring my next class, she noticed a strange, vaguely militaristic person in a black coat marching away from the Old Main Building. It was one of the Greek Nazis, one of whom I pestered last year. They are forbidden to speak to anyone outside their group and try to only to walk in straight lines. This Nazi rendezvoused with another, taller Nazi. They spoke to one another in whispers, with their hands covering their mouths. Leah was stunned by these people and wanted to know why they would do this. I gave the superficial reason that they want to join a fraternity or sorority (their genders are carefully hidden), though the actually reason as to why you would behave in such a manner constantly certainly goes much deeper.
They began to walk and actually pushed down a man who was walking in their straight line. I had always assumed the Nazis walked around, as they always had for me. You know what happened the last time Nazis got violent, right?

Soon in Xenology: Girlfriends and family. Grad class. Loneliness. Red Dragon. Toothlessness before godliness.

last watched: Stir of Echoes
reading: Easy Riders, Raging Bulls
listening: Rasputina
wanting: more magick in my life.
interesting thought: I will be completely unaware while strangers with weapons cut into me.
moment of zen: being reassured by an old friend.
someday I must: never need another operation.

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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