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03.10.03 12:28 a.m.

In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.


 -George Orwell  




Previously in Xenology: I tended to enjoy plays, though not ones Bryan was in. Kate and I tried to make plans to hang out. Quite a lot.

Goodbye, Tedious Play
My little brother was recently in Our Town. I had never see the play before and had only experienced any of it through the final episode of My So-Called Life, so you can imagine I was initially favorably biased. Thus I had certain expectations for the innate goodness of the play, as it could be used to effectively in one of the best television programs that no one watched. If you have learned nothing else from this entry, learn that expectations are slippery, fragile things more that a bit like greased glass.
filler  
Bryan did not give me pictures of the play, so here is a giant duck.
Emily and I arrived late to a nearly empty auditorium. The play was already under way, though they could have easily waited for us with no repercussions.
The play was monotonous and dull. Most of the actors were clearly making their stage debut tonight. If I may be so judgmental, many should also be making their final stage appearances. It would have been better had they taken ill and their parts played by puppies. That would have done rather wonderful things for the production all around. All those adorable puppies frolicking about on the minimalist set, chasing invisible balls. Aw.
My little brother was playing a drunken preacher, which evidently entailed his screaming randomly and walking with a pronounced limp that switches legs. Perhaps this was Method acting. Emily seemed embarrassed by this, though I was not clear if she was embarrassed for Bryan or herself.
I joked with Emily after the intermission that there were five more acts and three more intermissions, each one longer than the last. She pursed her mouth and warned me on pain of angry glare not to joke about such serious matters. She then gleefully noted that an intermission meant the play was half over. I joked, fearing no glare, that this was exactly what Thorton Wilder wanted us to think. Thus, when the second intermission came, she glared rapiers at me.
"You did this!"
"No, really, I had no idea. I am as horrified as you. Maybe it is all a joke and the play is actually over... It could be existential like that."
The final act was actually quite touching and I started to tear up until Bryan, the sedate, dead preacher felt the need to yell. Repeatedly. And quite angrily. For no discernable reason. Thus killed was my only attachment to these characters. My dead attachment is busy returning to life and lamenting over the good plays I had scene.
I decided almost immediately after it began that there need only be the final act and that everything else was implied, like an iceberg. We need only see the tip to understand that there is much beneath. There is positively no reason for the first two acts. They were almost stereotypically bad, as a school play would be depicted out of the pen of a hack sit-com writer.
I also decided that I wanted to visit Thorton Wilder's grave and yell at him in an ironic fashion. Stevehen, who is quite good at being at DCC though he was supposed to have graduated, added his unique perspective to the play. To him, the narrator was some god-like time traveler with necromantic abilities who was just wasting time in this dimension. Given this perspective, the play wasn't that bad.

Revisions and Indecisions
I decided a week or so ago that my junior year of high school was likely the happiest year of my life. By this, I literally mean the school year. We will excise the event of the summer, at least until I began to kiss Katie (which is a wholly different chapter).
filler  
Oh no! He attacks!
Thus, nothing before or after will be acknowledged on this stage of memory.
I started working at the Haunted Mansion, meeting many new people (most of whom I would later find morally and mortally disgusting and of whom I would passively wish death), a sweet girlfriend (who wouldn't admit she loved me until after I had given her my chastity), and a really close best friend (who was so jealous that I was having a relationship with Jen that he started putting me down like he could judge his own worth only by comparison and who stole Jen's affections when I was away for two weeks). Life was pretty good. I was doing well in school (save for physics, the only class I almost failed). I had no real trouble (except for a gang and the police constantly harassing me, both for the same reason). I was heading a sketch comedy improv troupe (which ended up getting hijacked to make barely functional students feel better about themselves by giving talentless PSAs to the apathetic throng). Good times, good times.

That Whole Horse Thing Is an Urban Legend
I saw Miss Kate the Great a few nights ago. The intention of the evening was to see New Paltz's production of Ibsen's A Doll's House. The folly of this is that we actually had made a plan, so it clearly could not occur.
I arrived early, at her suggestion, so we could spend some time together prior to seeing an early attempt at feminism on the stage. I was somewhat nervous, as I had not spent more than fifteen minutes with Kate in many months. For all I know, she could know be a vegan, heroin addicted, Asian midget now. She is changeable that way.
When I finally found her house, we sat quietly in her room. I peered about, trying to extrapolate from her decor what her life was like. However, her room told very little. A stack of assorted books on one wall, including that dangerous book of Nabokov's poetry.and my copy of Fight Club. Neither looked to have been read while in her possession. She had a few pictures from magazines tacked to the walls, but nothing new. Elvis, Kate with a giant sheep, a doll drinking champagne from a bottle. Nothing much telling. She kept cans of beer in her windows to save on refrigerating them. The room seemed starkly empty despite its lack of area. I lay on her bed and rolled the thought in my mind that she has dreams on this pillow. Then I realized she also has sex on that pillow. I sat up.
Kate rocked in her chair and told me how she has recently been very much into rockabilly, to the befuddlement of her mother. From her chair, she read The Communist Manifesto, which she notes has a red cover. She told me that she has a theory as to why communism failed it Russia; it failed because Lenin forced the revolution before there were means of production to be seized. From the chair she also wistfully listens to the conversation and life of Chris, who lives a floor below her. She says his name as though it is soft around the edges.
We walked to dinner at the Moonlight Cafe. I ordered a small salad and water, not feeling physically hungry as I watched her. She consumed something billed as a salad, though it contained a guinea pig full of ground meat and came in an inverted beach hat of fried dough. She offered me pits of the shell and I ate is as though it were the Eucharist, though I only know of the Eucharist through choking in down during Godspell. I talked much and she talked little, likely not knowing what to make of me.
I was expecting some commingling of energies. Our energies, opposite secondary colors sharing only blue, failed to result in anything but a tie dye. We were together, but quite separate.
On the walk to the play, I tried to explain the content of my soul. However, she rebuffed most of my conversation, walking quietly though the night's chills. As we walked on campus, I mulled over the pleasant nights I had spent in New Paltz . I asked her what her favorite memory of the town was. She chided my question as a ridiculous one and refused to answer. I told her of my night with Emily and Conor. She made a vague "hm" in response. Thus, I decided to stop speaking with her, as it was doing no good.
However, I forgot my decision for a moment and asked, "When were you happiest?"
filler  
We are friends again
"I don't know, what kind of question is that?"
"An honest, straight-forward one."
The silence drizzled.
The play was sold out when we arrived. There was a woman outside, chanting "You got a ticket? Ticket? You got one?" We did not. We left.
Kate wanted to know if I wished to go see her friend Matt's band. Matt is another ex-boyfriend of Virginia. So am I. I said I might, as it might be adventurous despite the fact that my last experience with his band gave me my yearly dosage of dissonance. She said that there might be people there whom I hated. I was shocked and confused.
"Who? Who do I hate?"
"Rick."
"Huh? Who's Rick?"
She made a sternly sad face while I tried to deduce the identify of this Rick person. She still looked sad and a little surprised that I didn't have instant recall of him.
I remember that it was his bed she was sharing (though she insists nonsexually) when she was "trying to get over me." What she actually meant by that was that she was using him and allowing herself to be used by him in order to feel better about being attracted to me when she had no interest in being with me except when she somewhat did. Don't try to make sense of that, it doesn't. Still, I don't have much of a reason for hating him anymore. I didn't even hate him then, just hated the situation I was in for loving Kate. It is Kate's life, I didn't sleep with him and he didn't sleep with her to spite me.
We walked to the video store to rent Waking Life. As New Paltz students lack the basic common sense to categorize logically, Waking Life was in the comedy section. I think it was next to Schindler's List, because we also lack a comprehension of the alphabet. As we walked home Kate "conveniently" remembered that her room lacked a VCR, thus we would have to watch the film with Virginia. I didn't mind.
Kate informed me that Virginia has rather cleaned up her act. After having dated a severe alcoholic while in London, she noticed that getting drunk had lost its luster. I think she is also largely drug-free. She is single, though she claims to want only a boy to kiss, not a sex partner. This is evolution, I believe. She showed me bits and piece of her senior project (I don't seem to have a senior project), which was on hygiene. Ironically, this meant that part of her project was used cotton swabs, nail clippings, and an envelope full of hair. There were also pictures of people brushing their teeth and whatnot. It is possible that I do not really get art.
"Which picture is your favorite?"
Kate interrupted, "What is with you and favorites tonight?"
I gave her a sideways glance and importuned Virginia to continue.
"I don't really have a favorite right now, but I am doing something different. Most people only have fifteen or so big pictures. But I am doing fifty small pictures and sticking them all together."
"Wow, V, that's a really cool idea." I looked over at Kate, "See what a great answer I got from my question, Kate?"
Kate wrinkled here nose at me and returned her attention to the television.
Over the course of the film, I discovered that Kate is evidently in a steady relationship with Virginia's ex-boyfriend Tony. She was attempting hallcest with Chris, the man beneath her. While Tony is evidently pleased to be with her, Kate has already expressed dissatisfaction at the idea that she was in a happy relationship. Kate panics when trees in a glade take the shape of a cage.
Kate seemed to enjoy the movie, though I dozed off at one part and awoke to Kate and Virginia laughing at me. Kate did not get the same experience out of viewing the film that I did, saying only that it was "a little heavy on the monologue." This, of course, is the point of the beginning. Perhaps her next viewing will reveal more.
There was an odd moment, though it existed solely within me, when I realized that I had been intimately acquainted to varying degrees with both of the women in the room. I had seen both of them naked. I was very much content with this staying in the past tense. Its is not that either of them are in the least bit unattractive (far from it), they just don't exist in a context that makes my past experiences with them explicable.
After the movie, we spent a more time in Kate's bedroom. I picked CDs out of her collection that were not rockabilly. She did not recognize either and was quietly judging me by my choices. Oh, she claimed she wasn't, but we know the truth.
Against my fear of new people whom I think dislike me, Kate and I visited Chris and Julie one floor below. Chris informed us that Tony had just left his room. At no point did Tony apparently walk up the small flight of stairs to Kate's door and drop her a kind word or a kiss. Chris and Julie were drinking and talking, thus they very much welcomed the company. I do not remember what I added, only that I did not feel left out.
When I returned to the room after answering a page, Chris presented me with a slip of paper that read, "I am [Xen] and I am not dreaming." The purpose of this slip was to allow me to lucid dream. I needed to look at the paper repeatedly during my waking life and would thus repeat the action in my dream, only to discover that I was dreaming. I was quite touched by this small gift and stuffed it into my pocket.
Kate bid me adieu shortly after and gave me an open welcome back to her apartment any time.


Soon in Xenology: The city. The war.

last watched: Waking Life
reading: Last Chance to See
listening: Transformer
wanting: To write like Andy Warhol painted.
interesting thought: I have muses.
moment of zen: Being myself in my dreams, always.
someday I must: finish what I have started

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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