Thomm Quackenbush, author

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    Xenology: Late for the Love of My Life

    We tell ourselves that the good things in our lives happened the soonest they could. Otherwise, we mourn the moments that could have been better spent.

    I wish I could have given Amber more of my past. We should have met nine months earlier at the Samhain ritual I meant to attend, but to which I was late because I was depressed and lost. My girlfriend then at the time did not want me - wanted other beds with members of her own gender - but she loved me (or loved something in our relationship) too much to resolutely let me go for another seven months after introducing the topic of leaving me. She was too worried of hurting me, even to the extent of it making her miserable and desperate.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Madeline, Who Makes Zines

    Amber and I wait at Outdated in Kingston because I wrote, for the second time in four years, to a local woman on the internet dating site I use as a garden for potential new friends. I received no response last time and did not begrudge it. Women get so much harassment and illicit attention on the internet. It's impossible that some earnest messages would not go ignored and it is a far better thing than withstanding the barrage with full attention.

    This time, I apologized for giving it another shot and updated her as to how my life had turned out in those four years (girlfriend is now my wife, I am working on a different book). I didn't expect anything more than my message going unread again, but her profile seemed worth another shot.

    See the rest.

    Comfortable in Their Skin

    The resident slams his hands against the pea green brickwork of my classroom. I do not register this as unusual until I realize that he is distraught not because of a bad phone call or that the administration handed down some deserved discipline for wanton misbehavior. He is beside himself with grief because someone told him he couldn't be Korean.

    Whoever corrected him wasn't crushing his dreams that he could move to South Korea and become a naturalized citizen - though this would be a hard road he wouldn't want to walk outside of his fantasies - but that he would never be, in his words, "an Oriental."

    See the rest.

    Xenology: False Starts for a Star

    She deserves the world

    This weekend, I drove and got Chinese food, managing to lose my MP3 player in the process. I watched a strange horror movie from the seventies where every character that did not want to chew the face off the thirteen-year-old protagonist wanted to molest her - and one succeeded in giving her a bath on screen. I took a walk into town and back, catching Pokémon along the way. I took my car in to get inspected and ended up waiting four hours for all the necessary repairs until Amber could rescue me for lunch, finishing one superb book (Trigger Warnings) and putting a sizable dent in a bad one (Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis). I went grocery shopping. I enjoyed my more-than-monthly talk with Daniel. I used my stepper to appease my Fitbit. I had a revelation about a book I will likely get to writing in a few years enough that I can foreshadow it in the alpha copy of my current book and scribbled down the necessary notes. I listened to the entirety of the S-Town podcast, intermittently crying from the pathos. I took my bike out of storage and gave it a tune-up. I fixed the cover of Amber's neglected bike (during the season where one could ride a bike, she does hard labor in the sun and has no energy for cycling after). I cleaned both our bathrooms. I did four full loads of laundry, then folded them and put them away. I rode my bike four miles to make sure all the gears worked, then tweaked the bike a little more. We took Amber's car in to get an oil change and tires and ended up finding out it needed hundreds of more dollars in repairs. I went to the grocery store again and picked up fresh fish for dinner, then made dinner. I watched a Monty Python movie for what was sure to be the twelfth time. I had a lengthy conversation with my father about a future Guys' Night Out.

    Amber studied.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Greedy Kindness

    I am endeavoring daily for one kind act. I do this for myself, so it is far from altruistic. When I can imagine I have improved a stranger's life a little, I get a jolt of pleasure and perspective. Maybe I am wrong and only flatter myself. The notion of kindness is only real in the mind of the one performing it. There are no guarantees on how it will be received.

    (I won't tell you my presumptive acts of kindness. That deprives them of what little honor they may incidentally have. Kindness for bragging rights is no kindness at all.)

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Low Tide

    I don't want you to get the wrong idea. My writing is sometimes born of venting. Not the best writing, I warrant, but possibly the most frequent. I concentrate as much of it as I can in one place, distilling it from a watery sap to what I hope is delicious syrup of my lyrical anxiety. By the nature of the medium, you only get a cropped and altered snapshot I hope you don't take as an honest selfie, as this is not how it is ever intended. This is an artform, a product, not something candid and unrehearsed. Depression and anxiety are not my every day, but fearing when they return is to varying degrees.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Crossing the Bridge

    Chris asked when we are free over the week so that we might stroll on the Walkway Over the Hudson. The protective insect in my head, safe in its asocial carapace, says we are never free during the week. I am permitted - nay, encouraged - to pester people into hanging out with me Friday and Saturday, preferably in the evenings. Sunday during the day is allowed, but it is fixed beside what is usually a school day.

    See the rest.

    Xenography: Dying Is Not an Art

    Mental illness is not romantic, though many artists reflexively credit their coping mechanisms for driving their art (the world is holistic and everything affect creation one way or other). Those who fetishize our mental illness are the spiritual decedents of the swallowers of lead centuries ago, so they could approximate an arty death by tuberculosis. If they could actually feel what went into that novel, painting, or album, if they had to live with the mental illness that treated this art as one avenue of therapy, they would be more careful with their genie wishes. Instead, they are hayseed tourists hucking peanuts at the freaks, jealous that they are not weird enough to be in the show.

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    Xenology: Eidolon and Daemon

    The difficulty with a mental illness - and something they should teach you on the first day of mental illness orientation - is that you are usually the person least able to explain how long or intensely you have been feeling something.

    Feeling the last barbs of an anxiety attack I abated, I ask Amber if she believes that I am more neurotic than when she met me. She need think no more than a second before she pronounces that I am much better than I once was.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Good Riddance (A Series of Masks)

    I love No Such Convention. It is, as I am not shy to say, the weekend when I usually feel the coolest. I receive a kind honorarium and, this year, a hotel room like all the other guests. I did not ask for the hotel room, but I was told one had been acquired for me and for the weekend I was about to have, I would prefer closer and more impersonal accommodations than staying with my saintly mother-in-law, who would be working a schedule opposite Amber and me. I think it best that I always be provided a hotel room in the future.

    No Such Convention requires my primary mask for the weekend: an affable and slightly eccentric author. In acknowledgement of that, I wear a long black coat with bright red lining, which I feel makes me resemble a party magician. I am downright jubilant when I arrive to the convention Friday night, ahead of Amber who still had things to pack to bring.

    See the rest.

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Works by Thomm Quackenbush


Find What You Love and Let It Kill You by Thomm Quackenbush
Pagan Standard Times: Essays on the Craft by Thomm Quackenbush
A Creature Was Stirring: A Twisted Christmas Anthology by Thomm Quackenbush
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At Double Dragon