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01.22.03 1:13 a.m.

May those whose holy task it is to guide impulsive youth, fail not to cherish in their souls a reverence for truth; for teachings which the lips impart must have the source within the human heart.

 -Charlotte Forten Grimke  

Previously in Xenology: Emily was a Broadway baby. Emily and I worked at the Renaissance Faire. The fate of the world in M's hands!

Lipton Tea
Ha! I defy Emily! Defy her! Shortly after my last entry, who should approach Emily's father but James Lipton. And what really struck me about James Lipton was that he wholly and completely remembered our dear Emily. Perhaps he remembered her audacity more than her singing, but I find this to be irrelevant. He did remember Emily in a fond fashion. He even seems a trifle embarrassed that he had failed to procure Emily backstage passes to Les Miserables the last time and offered to give her new tickets. This was not necessary, though a very nice gesture on his part.
Emily is secretly planning on one day attending the Actor's Studio in the city as it would be wholly free to her. But it is a secret, so SHHHHH! First she intends to get her degree in nursing so she has a functional means of employment. Then, and only then, can she bask in free tuition at the Actor's Studio.
Needless to say, I am both proud and jealous.

Speaking of college and tuition, I have begun a new semester at New Paltz. In fact, I am late to start this entry because I was revising a script to appease my priggish drama teacher. However, despite my lateness, I am getting ahead of myself.
I arrived to my first class half an hour late because I had to park just north of Siberia and walk to campus in appropriately frigid temperatures. As the mercury drops, so too drops my motivation to leave my warm house/car and trudge. I expect this was the attitude of most students as most of the cars had clearly filled the lots that were actually on campus around eight. This is, perhaps, the only discernable drawback to starting ones academic day after noon. However, to his extreme credit, my first teacher didn't even flinch at my lateness. Less the being wheel-chair bound, he is the sort of teacher I would aspire to be (if, indeed, I was in the mood to aspire to be a teacher). He read over the students' submissions as to the best books written in the twentieth century and playfully derided the choices. It was really very rakish. At least it seemed to be from my vantage point in the back of the room on the floor. It seems that every desk in the room had been occupied by strangers who had not been informed that I would be arriving fashionably late.
My next teacher is the head of the philosophy department. If this alone is not enough of a warning sign, and it damned well should be, he is also the sort of man who feels the need to include phrases such as "three absences equals one failure" in the syllabus. And, likely the greatest red flag, it has the innocuously evil title of "The Philosophy of the Arts." Nonetheless, perhaps because he has a slight lisp, I find him to be a bit of a goofy hard-ass. This is important, because it is most definitely a creature with which I have experience. Aside from that, all the papers for class equal less than twenty pages and it is most certainly the type of class wherein conversation is not only encouraged but necessary. So I shall deal.
My dramatic writing teacher may well be the burr in my saddle, if I may be so colloquial having only been on a horse five times. The teacher reminds me in no small way of a despondent Steve Martin, possessing the overblown dramatics inherent in all drama professionals and salt and pepper bowl cut that could easily conceal an arrow. He informed me in front of the students that he feels that I should not be in his class, given that I had not taken this course last semester.
"Are you prepared to get a C in this class?" He lisped.
"No, I am prepared to get a B+ at the very least through quality work." I responded. This, however, was not good enough for him so he had me meet with him after class. He asked me to please drop the course. I told him that I was signed up for his class, had ended up in classes to which I was less suited (I got a B+ in the graduate level literary criticism course, by the way), and had taken dramatic writing classes before. He asked if I would give him one of my scripts and I happily replied that he would have in Thursday. Only then did he shake my hand and welcome me to the class.
He will be trounced, you understand. B+ at the very least.
My final teacher is a bit of a hippy. He reminds me a bit of Zack's jack-of-all-artistic-trades father, which is quite the compliment. I am trying to endear myself to him, which may not be too hard. He asked us to write a story of Joycean epiphany and I quickly replied, "So I can write in total gibberish?" referencing Finnegan's Wake. He nixed this plan, but no one else knew of what we spoke.
I think I shall survive my final semester at New Paltz intact.
Now if I could only have anything bordering on an actual friendship with anyone on-campus...

Cold Blooded
Emily and I were invited to a masquerade party in honor of the birthday of a member of her coven. Given that we have exactly one mode of costuming, we decided to be vampires. I skimmed through the discount rack at Hot Topic, coming out with a gray bodice for M, and bought two pair of fangs for the occasion. Other than that, I rightly assumed that I had all one needs to look like a modern vampire.
For my array, I merely wore black vinyl pants and a fishnet shirt with a shimmering red and black one over it. Evidently, with my hair down, I am something to the rough extent of sexy. The effect is somewhat lessened when I try to affect a generic European accent. Emily wore my other fishnet shirt, as a man needs only two at most, over a sports bra and velvet pants. Her hair was gooped into curls, with the definite effect of making her look like a very evil doll. I may be a sick man for saying this, but she was delectably bitable like this. Unfortunately, the fangs failed to solidify (and also look immensely goofy) thus were discarded.
To increase out death pallor, we stopped at a drugstore to buy cosmetics while in full costume. At the checkout, I assured the clerk apropos of nothing that "we are not freaks." Though, I suppose, we somewhat are considering how fun we think it to dress up. Or, perhaps, how much I vaguely enjoyed putting on black nail polish while Emily caked baby powder onto my face until I sneezed a cloud.
At the party, we were told to grab bits of smooth glass from a tin and take a mask and card. I filled my pocket with clear marbles and slabs because I seem to have a few magpie genes. We decided against the masks, as our faces are pretty much the only way to tell that we are supposed to be the undead and not merely gothic. The cards contained various questions that we were to ask strangers at the party for some reason or another. As I happened to be one of the answers, I chose not to boycott this on general principle that I was not at summer camp, though I only participated by handing Emily the card.
I followed Emily to the room where people had gravitated, likely because there was hot food. I sat in a chair and observed the congregants. They were getting a lot of social miles out of the cards, which was the point of course. Still, I was essentially Emily undead lapdog, following her from room to room because she was the only person with whom I cared to speak. If she were speaking to someone, I would contribute when appropriate. However, I was not striking out on my own at such a large gathering. I might be swallowed by the widow in the inexplicable dog mask.
Eventually, Emily and I found a couple that remembered us from the Ren Faire. The wife was one of the psychics and a servant of the woman who told M that the fate of the world is in her hands.
I approached Emily and the couple, already in progress of speaking, after having seen a tiny child dressed as a dinosaur. "I thought for a moment that I wanted a child," I confessed, "but I have changed my mind. I now want an imp. Something about mid-thigh that follows me around and does as I ask it without it ever growing taller or asserting much independence."
Emily laughed at my revision and informed me that there is a dearth of imps these days. The psychic scoffed at me, "I welcome you to borrow any of my imps whenever you get this urge."
"No, that won't work. Most of your kids are too tall and independent," I glanced over at one of her girls adorned as a princess though carrying a paintball gun, "and they are armed..."
The conversation resumed with a discussion of the psychic's former employer. Evidently, after the boss imposed on the woman for a week or so because she was homeless, she acquired sudden amnesia and completely forgot whom the psychic was. Yes, I know you think the psychic should have seen this coming. Must you always be a smart-ass?
"She once screamed at Emily that the fate of the world was in her hands." I shared.
Emily blushed at this. "Yeah," confided her former employee, "she was pretty damned crazy. She did that sort of thing a lot." So I suppose that should make Emily less messianic to some of you. I'm sorry.
About this point in the conversation, a woman dressed as a flapper approached us who was wearing two fox stoles around her neck. Emily and I were so dreadfully frightened, as these carcasses had eyes and were staring at us. Emily swears they started blinking at her. Being the sweet man I am, I turned my head slowly and blinked at her. She pushed me away, as well as could be expected given that she was petrified with fright. I concentrated my will on resurrecting the foxes to attack the flapper, but I had already expended my miracle for the day keeping the crazies in check at work.
Once the flapper was subdued, we were led into the hot food room (I can conceive of no other purpose for it) to play a game. The game involved our having a blue slab of glass and our completed card. The slab I had, though the card had been stolen. Thus, Emily and I would be working from memory. By "from memory," of course, I mean, "by looking at the answers the person seat to either side of us had." For each correct answer, a gift was given. However, there were only about seven gifts so a giver of a correct answer was to steal a gift from another player. How terribly cruel. The first package we received was heavy and square. Emily and I cherished it and hid it whenever someone was answering questions. Nonetheless, people took it from us. Whenever we gave a correct answer, I would demand our present back. I did this for the entire game, much to the amusement of the participants. It ended up being a lyric-a-day calendar. This is not important, because it is our lyric a day calendar.
Before we left, the owner of the house loaded Emily up with herbs and pickled vegetables. She was immensely nice, though I would be too if I had a house such as hers from playing the stocks. She could not give me anything, because I was quite content with the calendar and my hand full of marbles. Unfortunately, she did not give us herbs for remembrance, as we left Emily's bag at her house.
And, yes, this is important to the next entry.

Soon in Xenology: Kate's dates. Skiing with Dave. Dinner with family for a birthday. Elza.

last watched: Mr. Deeds
reading: The Salmon of Doubt
listening: Rarities, B-Sides, and Other Stuff
wanting: an imp.
interesting thought: this beginning might stick
moment of zen: being dead sexy for a little while.
someday I must: ski.

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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