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    Xenology: Too Far Away for Me to Hold

    It had been nearly twenty years since I had gone to a concert The Chance. I remember it as cozy, but large warehouse. If one wanted to - and I sometimes did - it was no feat to find a dark corner for some surreptitious fooling around with someone whose name you had barely deciphered when shouted over the thump of a speaker twice your height. Every show broke out into moshing, stage diving, crowd surfing. The bouncers looked the other way until actual blood was shed.

    Xenology: Daniel, Kest, and the Quiet

    The Quiet is a fifth entity in the room, peering over our shoulders to see what we are reading, lengthening minutes to hours. I do not begrudge it, because I want my time with my prodigal Daniel to last. Kest and he arrived on Friday, in the evening. Amber and I were uncertain when they would leave again because we didn't care to have the answer. If we did not know, maybe they would never remember to leave.

    As we sit with our respective books, me occasionally scribbling notes, The Quiet fills the room, draining away energy. I doze off, which bespeaks a rare feeling of safety when in a room with three other people and an intangible force. Inertia rules these interactions at home. I feel I am the only one present who wants to do things to move the day forward, but know I will be overruled by committee if I try to press my momentum on them. It is a vacation of sorts for Daniel and Kest and I will not make it about me, except in retrospective retelling.

    Xenology: Fireworks Apocalypse

    Fireworks are not meant to be the end of the world.

    For a decade, I would attend fireworks displays and imagine I watched the pyrotechnic volleys of dueling armies far too close to escape, too explosive or radioactive. We had chosen to gather together in a field our children and elderly to observe the doom that none of us would survive, because there should be a splash of magenta and green in the sky to commemorate our end.

    Xenology: Thirty-Seven Questions

    "There is this app that can make you fall in love with anyone," says a woman at Holly's housewarming party and goes on to explain that one asks another person a series of questions - I think she said thirty-seven, a number which I think I would only let someone ask me in a row if I already thought I had a good chance of loving them - and then stares into the other person's eyes for five minutes. I don't see why this needs to be an app. The job could be done just as well with a sheet of paper and a stopwatch, but she is pleased with the concept. "Except I haven't found anyone I want to love, so it just sits on my phone."

    Xenology: What I Do on My Summer Vacation

    On the bottom line, I am a technically a teacher. It is not what I tell people at dinner parties unless pressed, but it is what is written on my biweekly paychecks. I have a Master's degree in education I have been paying off since twenty-five and shall possibly be paying off until I retire, so I ought to use it.

    For years, I have declined working at my facility in the summers. I could - juvenile justice does not take a break when the days grow longer - but I do not care to. I did for a few summers, then I took one off while planning my wedding. After that, there was no going back. If you had the option for two months off with pay to do whatever you would like, I imagine you would take it.

    Xenography: Dancing Instructions from the Beyond

    Since Melissa died, the lack of her in my life -- even as a concept, even acknowledging that our relationship around the time of her death was more contentious and distant that it ought to have been - has been palpable. I wonder if this isn't her sending me messages from the beyond and can think of few more interesting guardian angels.

    Two men with whom she had relationships - I'm hesitant to necessarily call them both romantic relationships, though one might assume so if one squinted while walking past - have recently and independently appeared in my life with friendly overtures.

    Xenology: Wake to Sleep

    My fitness tracker measure sleep not in when I click it to tell it I am going to bed or when it buzzes me awake, but rather how still I was between those points. If I fidgeted through the night, if I got up to write an email out of anxiety, if I got up to use the toilet, if I went to bed jittery, that counts against my total. I am in bed upwards of eight hours most nights. In the morning, I synchronize and discover I have every right to feel lethargic, since I slept only in the mid-six hours, the balance spent on tossing and turning or hazy fretting over things absent sleep will only exacerbate

    Since getting a tracker, I try to stay in bed when sleep escapes me, as if to trick the band through stillness, which sometimes lulls me back to sleep.

    So it is with friendships.

    Xenology: A Citizen of the Sacred and Mundane

    Jesus said one cannot be the servant of two masters. What he did not say - or what was left unrecorded except in some Apocrypha that never made it out of the Vatican archives - was that one cannot be the citizen of two worlds. Even he couldn't manage it long and he was literally meant to be a god incarnate.

    Xenology: Not a Bad Gig on a Bad Day

    When I mention my job to new people, there is a common misconception that teaching English to adjudicated minors is difficult. Surely, they are so violent, so obnoxious, so challenging that I am constantly emotionally drained and hate every second I am there. Without a doubt, I must always be looking for any other job just so the toll on my soul is not so heavy.

    Let me disabuse you of this notion by taking you through my worst, composite day.

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