Skip to content

04.13.03 12:19 p.m.

Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.

 -Jane Wagner  

Previously in Xenology: I really hated Jenks.

Stressed Desserts
I have lately been so immensely stressed that my upper body feels like it has sprouted quills. Ordinarily, I am able to find time to relax, but this just isn't happening anymore.
My weekends are almost wholly consumed with working for ungrateful and snide people who can barely manage not to drool on themselves. I feel that there should be a fairly simple puzzle one must solve to enter the building. If one is so inept that one cannot, the library is not going to ameliorate this condition. (Yes, I am aware that the library is a public institution, but I am not getting paid enough to disinfect computer chairs because a morbidly obese patron has felt the need to soil it rather than visiting the nearby sanitary facilities.)
A little stressed
School is almost wholly comprised of fighting against tenured teachers who so loathe the profession and students that one's grade is determined solely on how one looks. I'll be frank, I thought I would find a class called "The Philosophy of the Arts" compelling and educational, but have ended up being bored by some slurring sectarian who thinks teaching is nothing more than reading aloud his senior thesis from 1957. Worse, he has decided that I am an ignorant, wooly-headed liberal owing solely to my physical appearance and has thus been overwhelmingly rude to me in class, though I honestly try to be as pleasant and engaging as is possible to combat this. However, my daring to actually have long hair in a time of war and civil insurrection is crime enough in his eyes. He dares to degrade my papers for grammar mistakes that are wholly his errors of perception. I know the rules of grammar, though I may opt to eschew them for informal writing such as this. Grammar is my field. I mentally correct the titles of books. Nonetheless, unlike was the case with Jenks, I will still attempt to be pleasant with this teacher.
When at New Paltz and not being harassed by teachers with sticks so far up their asses that they cough splinters, I am entirely ignored by my classmates who have unanimously declared me an Untouchable because I do not live in New Paltz. I know this is an old complaint, but it makes me feels so totally alone that people look through me when I am speaking. Emily assures me that it is their loss, and I intellectually know this to be the case, but I would much rather there be no losses. I just want people to warmly greet me when they see me in the halls. Or even to sit near me in any of my classes.
My home life is rapidly degrading. My family has assumed various sicknesses within the course of a few days and all purge to me, as I am the "healthy" one. If it is not their illnesses souring their moods, it is their social lives. My mother's latest (though technically old) friend was given a kitten that promptly died. It was such a sweet kitten. When I played with it, it climbed up to my arm, settled on my shoulder and licked my ear. Am I the only one who sees this as damned stressful?
I seem to have absolutely no time to just relax. I don't ever get to be in a place where I feel safe.
Owing to all of this, I feel on the brink of a breakdown almost every day. I am oversensitive to all stimuli, even things I should enjoy like music and food. I take affront so easily, though I am careful to not lash out at people. For the most part, my mood is not the direct fault of some sub-literate who can't understand that the computers at the library do not run a special internet or are not actually watching the users (at least not in a detectable way, thanks to the PATRIOT Act.)
I am supposed to be Zen! I used to be, thus the nome de plume. I don't know what has changed. I have more time off of school than I ever have before.
No, actually, that is bullshit. The only time when I can get away from all of this shit is when I am driving from one stressful situation to another. Alone in my car, some random audiobook drawing worlds on my windshield, I can forget who I am and need to be. I can't take this much longer and fear that I really am quite close to losing it.
I just need a vacation. I need to relax. I don't yet make anywhere near enough money to move out, though that would be the most logical step.
I want my life to stop being such shit. I do not feel fulfilled. I feel jerked around and sucked dry. I know that there are much, much more serious problems occurring in the world lately than my stress (which, likely, has more than a little to do with my sensitivity) but it gets harder to look through the windows of your room when it seems to be closing in.

Wheel of Fortune
We were able to steal a day of Conor's spring break (though it had begun to feel like a mid-winter recess again). Conor was well and greeted me with a warm hug. Before we could proceed into the great unknown, Conor sat me on his sofa and showed me pictures of various souls whom I "have to meet" soon. This wasn't a suggestion; this was a statement of a fact from the future. Everyone in the photos was dressed as a different figure from Lewis Carroll's imaginings. Flynn was the Mad Hatter, appropriately enough. Evidently, some students at Bard had decided it was in their best interest to hold an impromptu tea party. I bit my lip at the thought of all this fun that I was not having. This is precisely the sort of college experience I wished to and expected I would have at New Paltz. The only flaw in my plan in that New Paltz is to Bard as drunken groping behind a bar is to making love. It seems kind of pleasant at the time, but it really is very empty in retrospect and nothing real is accomplished.
You do understand that I still feel people are constantly holding costume tea parties behind my back, right?
We noted in my car that driving through I gentrified and enforcedly quiet town while blasting O Verona from Romeo + Juliet: Volume 2 provokes an intriguing reaction. All of the mundane daily activities occurring on the streets we passed took on sinister, gothic hues. It became apparent to both of us, sans speech, that an older gentleman carrying a plastic bag was obviously the possessor of a head that recently and violently lost its body and which he wished to dispose hastily. Imagine what he would have been doing had we been playing Barry White.
As we drove, he told me of a lass in his acquaintance who is adept with tarot cards and chose to offer up her talents for his use. He was initially reticent, as he is the maker of his own fate. However, the variables involved with a trip to see his dear Marina were too tempting to know. Thus, he had spreads done for Flynn, Marina, and himself all of which were correct and positive. Unfortunately, he neglected that it would not only be the three of them and a fourth person interfered in some manner that was not wholly clear to me, though definitely negative. The cards suggest said person would remedy her err, and cardboard is hardly ever wrong.
He also blindly picked out a card that would represent him. His choice? The King of Cups.

The King of Cups sits calmly in the midst of a turbulent sea and wears a necklace with a fish amulet. The fish is the symbol of spirit and creativity and represents, in this card,
The only emperor
the balance of the unconscious with the conscious. The King of Cups does not repress his emotions and unconscious impulses but has learned to accept and deal with them in a mature and balanced manner.
Behind him on his right, a fish jumps wildly from the tumultuous ocean, and on his left a ship remains steadily anchored. These images are a sign that the unconscious has been allowed to break through and has been recognized by the King, yet it remains within his power and does not overwhelm him.
The personality of the King of Cups is a combination of the positive water energy of the Cups suit and the active, outward focus of a King. Here's what he is like: The King of Cups is wise and understanding with a deep knowledge of the world that comes from the heart. He is a teacher and way-shower who guides his students with loving attention. He cares about others sincerely and always responds to their needs with compassion. He heals with a gentle touch and a quiet word. He is calm and relaxed in all situations, seeming to know intuitively what is called for at any moment. Others turn to him for advice because they know he will listen attentively. There is always peacefulness around him which others respond to. He is tolerant of all points of view and shows patience in the most trying circumstances. He gives others freedom to grow and develop in their own ways without asking anything in return.
Rather apt. Furthermore, it caused me to decide that my tarot deck would be deciding the what- and wherefores of our evening's plans. It seemed a great deal more reasonable that having either of us deciding.
We visited a park built onto an isthmus. Technically, the isthmus was a fairly new occurrence, having been made from decades of garbage dumping on the shore of the Hudson River. All the city needed to do was cover the refuse with a few feet of dirt, plant a few trees, put up a swing set and declare in a national park. It was the eighties, a lot of crazy and blatantly corrupt things happened.
"I want to walk as far out as we possibly can..."
Conor looked over at a collection of large, jagged stone slabs placed precarious upon one another in order to create a mini-isthmus in the center of the original garbage isthmus. It serves no functional purpose, other that looking as though it is the extended middle finger of the isthmus. Quite likely, given how much of a fuck-you a playground build of garbage is, this is purpose enough. "Hmm," said Conor, "okay."
What's on the menu this evening, Sir?
I hopped from unstable rocks ahead of him. "I once lost my cherished childhood doll here. Elka. I never found it again, but I think I always expect to."
Conor nudged a rock to the side. "Did it look like a broken beer bottle?"
"No, more like a monkey-ferret, actually."
As he fumbled about in absent search of monkey-ferrets, Conor took to picking up and growing attached to various objects. For a while, it was a bit of driftwood ensconced in fishing wire. However, when reentering the palm of the Great Fuck You Isthmus, Conor discovered what he could only explain as "the perfect staff." It was a six and a half foot eight inch wide stick stripped of bark. And it really helps the rest of the story if you understood that he carried this stick with him, placed it awkwardly in my car, and had to place it in Emily's before the night was through. The stick was a keeper.
We climbed to the top of bright red monkey bars to speak. I noticed a small boy about to climb a slide that was rather soaked.
"You'd better be careful, that slide has a puddle at the end."
He looked quizzically up at me. "I'm sorry, I don't understand you. I don't speak English."
"Tu hablas espanol?"
"Yes, I do."
Startled, I asked, "Then why do you answer in English?"
This was too much for the boy, so he stopped answering me.
After a conversation about a superhero with a star for a head who seemingly only heals people until he, unseen, kills large group of ne'er-do-wells and calmly says "Never speak of this," we returned to my house to await the arrival of Emily.
Emily was more than pleased with our plan to allow the tarot cards to do our thinking and interpreted the cards I drew. To her thinking, we needed to have her drive us somewhere and see a small, brown and purple dog that may have been a cat or large mouse. We may need a little work with our divination. However, not surprisingly, she decided the company of Zack was also on the menu.
A spider on a mirror
We ended up at Friendly's because... I really have no idea why. Friendly's isn't ever a destination, it just happens. Friendly's is like tripping, actually, but less healthy.
The hostess assured us that she would be with us shortly. "Don't worry," assured Emily, "we are infinitely patient."
They took us at our word and we stood for ten minutes, bantering about movies. Evidently Conor sister Margaret had seen Session 9 and took to informing Conor that she was very close to "going Session 9 on [his] ass." That Margaret, she's a scamp.
Apropos of nearly nothing, I exclaimed, "Oh, hey, Emily, did I tell you I gave you a new name?"
"No, what is it?"
"Saxifrage. It's a flower that grows in rocks and splits them open. Because you are both pretty and break things." As Emily cooed over how flattering she found this, Conor quickly scribbled it on a 3X5 card from his pocket. I've been quoted.
We watched Ringu after out unctuous meal. Emily insisted that she was more than brave enough to watch a scary movie, though she did have her eyes closed for half of The Ring. We chose to believe her, foolishly, because she can be so very convincing and nonchalant when she is trying to be a brave toaster.
The movie is creepier than the American version. However, much of the plot seems to hinge on the concept that two out of every seven Asian people is a powerful psychic imbued with psychometry or intense telekinesis/telepathy. Perhaps this is the case and it is just a vast conspiracy. However, it felt quite a lot like a deus ex machina explanation for information that is not conveyed in the script. Oh, no, now a little evil girl is going to scare me to death. Fucking fuck.
However, I hear that she is buxom and claims victims in the nude in the Japanese television series.
Emily was more terrified than I have ever seen a person be. She insisted that I walk to the bathroom with her and, one she was within, insisted that I stand in the bathroom and protect her. When we drove Conor home, even with the help of his huge staff, she could barely stop shaking and was grateful that Zack suggested he remain in the backseat until the return trip.
Before you die, you read this entry, but the king of cups will protect.

Soon in Xenology: Marriage. Benson. Zack. Bluffs. Recognition.

last watched: Ringu
reading: All the King's Men
listening: Rent
wanting: A rent free apartment.
interesting thought: A lack of reality frightens M.
moment of zen: Relaxing.
someday I must: get an apartment.

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.

eXTReMe Tracker