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06.09.03 8:06 p.m.

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.


 -W. Edward Deming  




Previously in Xenology: I didn't much like New Paltz. I had a philosophy professor that should not be allowed to teach. I got mugged. Emily and I decided to pursue even higher education.

Yes, I Realize This Makes Me White Trash
A few days ago while showering, my mother walked in the bathroom. This is was no shocking event and just seemed to be an implied casualness. I was behind a curtain and far more interested in shaving without resulting razor burn than in my mother presence in the bathroom anyway.
From across the small, steamy room came a question. "Are you sure you and Emily want to get an apartment?"
I threw down one of the razors, as it was dull. I felt the skin rise where there would be a red mark. "Yes, I am quite sure. She will be going to Pace. I will be cloistered at Mount Saint Mary. We will need a place."
There was a silent during which I inspected and selected a newer, keener blade. The pause continued, slightly heavier than the moist air.
"Would you and Emily want to live here?"
I cut myself at this question. This had never been an option, had never been something I would have considered. Part of getting an apartment was the eventual necessity of escape from parents. Then again, living with Emily was more my goal, no matter the means. Coyly I compelled, "Your strange Earth words intrigue me, tell me more."
Weird  
Emily is apprehensive
"Well," she began tentatively, "The food here is very cheap and Bryan will be moving out at the end of summer and won't be needing his bunk bed, so we could put it on top of yours and you and Emily could live in you room. Your father thought you wouldn't go for it, but I figure Emily would migrate up to her own bed after you two had fun."
I scoffed beneath my shaving cream, which cause some to get in my mouth. "No dice. I can barely live in my room, there is no way Emily can fit on a regular basis. I don't think it is geometrically possible..."
She was quiet again. "Well... what if... when Bryan leaves for college, what if you two moved into his room?"
This was a far more appealing solution and rather to what I wanted to lead her, as his room is quite a bit larger than mine at present. Yet there was still something that needed smoothing out. "Bryan literally treats his room like a public toilet. Can we scour it with bleach and maybe burn it?"
"Yeah, sure," she began, "That sounds good. We just have to make sure he gets into Merrywood first."
When I spoke to her, Emily was both shocked and pleased with this news. Showing our like minds, she made sure we had permission to gut his room as much as was necessary, by which she meant totally. Napalm might be the proper tool. It would not solve the problem of her keeping her beloved greyhound with her, but that was likely to be an issue even if we moved to our own apartment. Moving into my home was not ideal as she wanted to "do adult things," in the non-pornographic sense of the term. However, this is a little step that could feasible allow us both a place to live while we go to school and a way to save money while paying off student loans and car payments, which are very adult things as far as I am concerned.
Unfortunately, all of our future plans, whether or not Emily and I occupy my parents' house for a few semesters, are wholly contingent on Bryan's acceptance to a college in Pennsylvania to learn how to communicate with the deaf. Check out his web page, and let me know what you think his chances are.
It is not that I am overwhelmingly in love with the idea. Imagining a place that is distinctly Emily's and mine is so wonderful I get lightheaded. I want to look out our windows while I eat our food. But I would have to work more hours at a much better paying job before that is feasible. Or I could do at much of the white trash does and tack my dreams to the lottery, which I will certainly win because I have this system wherein I pick up tickets that other people dropped. Foolproof, you see.

Systematic Victimization
I am writing this from Emily's bathroom. She fell asleep as we were watching Cronos. I was not yet sleepy, so decided to have a good think and mull over my life at the moment. This was a bad move. My ridiculous former teacher's ludicrous accusation of plagiarism quickly rose to my mind and scalded me.
If this were not bad enough, and it most certainly is, I received the much huballoed letter from the Dean of Liberal Arts informing me in classic form letter style that she wholly and completely supported my former teacher in all charges he may choose to level against me because, shucks, he is the head of his department and not at all wont to be a lazy, abusive, passionless fuck. Who cares what students think (and I have been led to believe by former students in whom I place credence that my former teacher "does this"), students are temporary. Professors that read off piece of paper rather than teaching and who are unable to respond intelligently to simple questions the students may ask about the texts, they are permanent. Plato speaks quite eloquently about just such a situation. My teacher is the unjust man who passes himself off as and is believed to be a just man. He attained his position through injustice and abuses the faith place upon him. I, on the other hand, am the just man who is believed to be unjust. I know I am right, but am not believed. Thus, the unjust man masquerading in the face of justice will torture me.
Weird  
The unjust man
However, no matter how lofty of a position he attains and no matter how much I am punished for acts I did not commit, I am the happier person. He will continue to commit unjust acts in an attempt to achieve the happiness that I natural have as a result of my condition. And just so you do not this paragraph sprang from my former teachers lectures, I learned all of this reading a few pages of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale
My gods, I haven't felt this utterly and totally raped by the system since I was attacked for Jen's $2 in high school and the cops kept harassing me to drop the charges because "[the perpetrators] are good kids and wouldn't have done it." If you remember correctly, the cops felt it was both reasonable and prudent to play bad cop/bad cop with me hoping I would confess it was actually a drug deal gone awry. It was not, I did not drop the charges, and thus I spend seven months being pulled out of classes and receiving angry phone calls from the police.
Unfortunately, I exist in a universe where my thoughts manifest reality. Yesterday, during one of the most harrying days of library work I have ever had the misfortune of experiencing (especially given that I was filling in for someone else), a large man approached me. He leered down at me and asked, "Don't I know you?"
I was suddenly seized by inexplicable fear. I get this question a few times a month and my answer if almost always, "I don't know, do you?"
"Yeah, I do. I think I went to school with you." My head was screaming the name of the guy who had held a grudge against me, though never for any reason I could determine, since sixth grade. This would also be the guy who had his friend attack me for Jen's pittance. And the man I pressed charges against five years ago. Of course, that would be ridiculous. That guy was about 5'5" and thus why he himself never touched me. Also, I read that he had been convicted of kidnapping and raping some girl a town over, after a string of random violent crimes. It would make absolutely no sense for him to be at my library, a foot taller, with a huge... prison... build... oh fuck.
"Yeah," he continued, "I did go to school with you. Remember me?"
I steeled myself, "Yes, I remember you."
He smiled. "How is your mom?" My mother had taught him when he was in elementary school and I guess he felt as fondly toward her as he did violently against me.
"She is fine. Teaching preschool now."
"That's good. Tell her I said hi."
I nodded, trying to remain brave despite his evident lack of menace. "That I will."
Right about here, because she sucks, my coworker decided to go look at books. I tried to calmly go about my business and not look at him once. Also not conspicuously not look at him. My god, his arms are as thick as my legs. Fuck.
As soon as my oblivious coworker returned I informed her I would be back in a moment. Then, like a knight errant, I bravely hid in the staff room. The library director was in there and I explained the situation over a glass of spring water. As I had once had a restraining order against this particular gentleman, she told me to stay back until he left. She agreed that I should not have to deal with this situation. I felt quite the coward and more so now that this person knew where I worked.
Why wasn't he is jail? Isn't kidnapping and rape worth more that three or four years? That's a big crime.
Our reference librarian, who acquired this job only after a long and distinguished career as a police officer, was also apprised of the situation. He informed me, fifteen minutes later, that the patron in question had left the premises after being very polite to the staff in the library. "Maybe," he suggested, "he found religion in prison."
I am not happy.
It's not that I fear this guy. I don't. If he wanted to hurt me, he easily could have. It was merely that he was this very tangible representation of the victimization I once felt from the system. It took nearly a week before I could feel warm again and every time the phone rang or a saw a police officer in my school (not as rare an event as one might imagine), I would suddenly feel as though I had no body heat. I am not scared like I once was and a group of dogmatic bureaucrats is hardly the same thing as a gang and the Beacon police department. Still, it is painful to be reminded that "the system" doesn't always exist to protect me and that unjust people can manipulate it through their illicit ministrations.


Soon in Xenology: My interview. Weddings. Parties. Nationals.

last watched: Cronos
reading: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy: Fear and Trembling in Sunnydale
listening: Leonard Cohen
wanting: $1000 a week for life.
interesting thought: I think I would be happier without the torture.
moment of zen: Seeing an option.
someday I must: Mourn.

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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