Thomm Quackenbush, author

04.23.02 8:41 p.m.

His favorite game was to find somewhere inaccessible and out of the way, and go read there for hours. He knew that he could go to Narnia or Oz or Cimmeria or New York if he just said the right thing or rubbed the right magic charm, but it just never happened.


 -Neil Gaiman  




Previously in Xenology: Emily attained the rank of black belt. Evan, Melissa, Emily and I see weird things in Pine Bush. Dances with Bunnies is generally a ditzy New Age person. Bible Boy was a generally annoying creature with a blurry concept of personal boundaries. Various odd events and coincidences are attributed to paranormal abilities of the mind.

Lethal Weapon Three: I'm Still to Old For This
Ah, a new computer and a new entry. Life is good.
Where to begin? I suppose chronologically will have to do. Emily went to a qualifying tournament and did forms (she went through all the movements of one form, for the Tae Kwon Do illiterate) and sparring on a lark. She assumed that, while she is immensely good at what she does, she wouldn't place.
 
Give good kia.
Of course, she did. It does help that she rather cheated to increase her weight class by wearing the full coats of associates at the weigh in. As such, she was much faster than the girls she was fighting.
I am now dating the third ranking black belt in New York State. It's a good feeling for me to know that she can keep people around her safe. A good feeling in a masculine way. You get that, right?
For days, Emily was frenetically jazzed to the point of near constant mad grinning. She could now go to Nationals, where she could theoretically qualify to be part of the American Olympics team in Tae Kwon Do. Granted, she would likely lose. Her words, not mine. There would be girls in her weight class that trained almost constantly and would quickly dispatch M. But she would have gotten this far, and that was enough for her.
This is where the other shoe drops, as it is so wont to be in this bipedally run world. Her master informed her that it would be a waste of money and effort for Emily to go, as she would only be competing in forms and had only been practicing her new black belt form for six months. While she can do amazing things with her body, she isn't enough of a prodigy to defeat people who had been practicing for years. She was, understandably, devastated as she had gotten her hopes up to a height usually reserved for the seraphim. However, her mother and I helped her feel better. I by reminding her this meant she didn't have to lose fifteen pounds in the course of a month and her mother by possibly paying for Emily to attend Olympic training camp for a week, a long time fantasy of M's.
I am dating a lethal weapon. Cool.

The Immortal Bunnies in Pine Bush
As I think I have well established, Dances with Bunnies in one terribly strange rodent. Yet, despite the depths I have reached in my estimation of her, she has forced me to dig a little deeper.
Last week, she graced the class with the announcement that she was immortal. My classmates reacted with the tentative incredulity that one would expect from thinking beings and politely asked if she meant that her soul was immortal. No, that wasn't what she meant at all. She meant that she herself was physically immortal and could choose not to age. One would then be inclined to wonder why she feels the need to dye her graying hairs or keep the crows feet by her eyes. She further explained that she is choosing to get old, but she could stop at any time. Someone's been misreading Jitterbug Perfume just a little. How pretentiously self-aggrandizing. Any moment, she is going to inform the class how she has Jesus is in her cupboard. Wait, that's Another Roadside Attraction...
This week, she began to tell us how she is very much in touch with the star beings. I yawned quietly and got myself cozy with A Game of You. This was going to be a very, very long fuzzy, white light monologue where she become the center of the entire universe and all its para- or preternatural occupants.
 
One of the streets.
My ears perked up with she said the words "Pine Bush." Bitch was on my turf! She described how she and her husband witnessed a glowing white object explode into white and orange flames in the sky. Then it followed her and her husband around and obeyed their commands. Right. I asked if she had read Silent Invasion, which takes place primarily in Pine Bush. She said that is where she learned of the star children who are helping humanity. While no one else in the class could tell, I knew immediately that she was trapped in her own growing heap of proudly ignorant bullshit. Silent Invasion is Ellen Crystall's descriptions of her encounters with these ships that she doesn't understand and witnesses frequently. However, Crystall chastises those who see these objects as a benevolent, psychic phenomenon such as DwB. She feels that this is a supertechnological, not supernatural phenomenon and they don't have the best intentions of mankind in mind. Funny that DwB got the polar opposite out of the book, isn't it?
A classmate offered that her boyfriend lived on one of the roads where the UFO hunters congregate. I asked if she was referring to Searsville Road. She confirmed this and DwB, acting as though she felt inadequate, tried to usurp my question and said that a lot of activity occurs in Sarsville (sic). Strange woman. She tried to talk about another book, which I promptly identified as Night Siege. I do not think my having knowledge of this topic that I am sure she thought would blow the whole class away pleased her in the least.
I pulled M out of her class and told her all that DwB had been saying. M scoffed at the absurdity, as well she might. Then she informed me that she had just been thinking about returning to Pine Bush, a thought to which I had no objections. It appears that this is in our near future.

No One Victimizes the Ninja
It appears that Bible Boy is going to have to get taken care of. It is nothing new that he lusts after Emily, despite her repeated insistences that he is a vile monkey newt and she only has eyes for me. However, he has taken to switching his seat to sit next to her no matter where she chooses to sit in the room. Furthermore, he touched her repeatedly without her consent. Rubbing her upper arm, touching her shoulders when she tells him to back off. The end result in that this deluded freak is making Emily feel victimized.
Both her mother and I have advocated that she speak to her teacher about this sexual harassment (which is exactly what this is.) She is frightened, which is understandable. But she has to be strong. He clearly is trying to see how far he can go and obviously has absolutely no respect for her if he is continually and consciously making her uncomfortable with his advances. And if he is doing this to M, it is very likely that he is victimizing other women in likely more severe ways.

Molehills
Not to sound like Dances with Bunnies (gods, if I ever sound like that to you, please stop listening to me), but more apparently psychic or magickal things have been happening lately. You are free to write any or all of this off as odd occurrences and coincidences. It is 2/3 that at any given moment anyway.
It began last week. I had placed a scrap of paper requesting help in the realm of psychic abilities in my labradorite face locket in hopes of manifesting it. So, you should consider that the concept of psychic abilities was already purposely set in my mind.
I had been feeling weird all of last Thursday. Certainly not bad. More like there were very happy, very fuzzy bumblebees finger painting with psychotropics in my brain. I was actually enjoying the sensation and attributing it to the pleasant weather. I was sitting in my Spanish class, not paying the least bit of attention to whatever the teacher (The Puerto Rican Gelfling, since all my teacher need names) was going on about. Irregular past tenses, I think. I was
 
My star pendant.
drawing finger painting bees or reading, most likely. Suddenly my head buzzed strongly and I knew I would be the next person to be called on randomly. Of course, fulfilling my prophecy, she did. Without even looking at the sentence in the book that I was to conjugate (please understand that I was iffy on past tense conjugation on its own and thus would have no idea about irregulars), I delivered her it perfectly. I went back to whatever task was distracting me and realized that I had absolutely no idea what I had just said or how I knew that was the sentence. I thought carefully, retracing my mental steps, and couldn't find where I had gotten that answer from. It was like free association.
That night, I awoke to find that the labradorite face had come off the steel ball chain I had it on. The chain and my mysterious star pendant were lying on my bed. This has never, ever happened before. That chain had taken being pulled off a tree branch before without breaking. On close inspection, I realized that the clasp of the chain had actually opened up while I was sleeping. I can imagine ways this could have theoretically occurred, but it is still damned weird, given the day I had already had. I transferred it to the silver chain with my angel egg and definitely thought the face seemed happier.
In addition, I have been having remarkable success with my St. Anthony spell. It is a little chant that goes:

Saint Anthony
Saint Anthony
Please come around
There's something lost
That can't be found
to be said while envisioning the object. So, yes, it is entirely possible I just end up finding the object on my own, but it is happening a lot faster. And, no, I have no problem with invoking Catholic saints. An aspect is an aspect.
There is one way this spell has helped me to my bafflement. I had lost twenty dollars lent to me by my mother, and she rather wanted it back. I couldn't fathom where I had lost it, so I did the chant Sunday night. Sunday through to this morning, it was tumultuously windy outside (unofficially, I am blaming the earthquake, since NY gets so few and thus we should blame it for everything we can). In addition, it rained a wee bit in the night. Walking to my car this morning (as I have no Monday classes) I found the bill lying outside my car. It shouldn't have been there. But that is where I envisioned finding it and that is where I indeed did.
Since then, there have been little things. Knowing what people are thinking and feeling when they are trying to hide it. Nothing new and nothing that unequivocally couldn't be coincidence.

Death of the Endless
Recently, tertiary deaths and the concept of death have appeared in my life.
My elderly neighbor next door passed away of old age a few days ago. Certainly we didn't think she would bury us all, but death is always sudden no matter how much it is expected. I told M of her death and she whimpered, "The nice one that gave us those great candy bags when we went trick-or-treating?" I confirmed that this was so and Emily commiserated with me for a moment. She was a sweet woman and she put up with my older brother and his friends during their rebellious stage. The world was better for her having been a part of it.
Tonight, Emily called me weeping and exacted a promise from me that I would do nothing to ever put my life in danger and that she loved me so much that she would be ruined if I died. I swore these oaths to her and she informed me that the mother of two of her Tae Kwon Do students had driven her SUV off of a bridge and died. These children are essentially orphans now, though their grandparents are looking after them. Emily had the task of explaining what had happened to the rest of her students and I could tell the task devastated her.
Like most mortals, I do not like death so close. I do not mind that I am mortal, as I have enough religious faith to believe my soul will live on, but the death of those close to me could darken my soul. I would not be better for their loss.

Notes From the Underground
While seeking out a copy of Macbeth, I happened upon the copy of Notes from Underground that Kate was so intent on getting during our last conversation. As I bore her no ill will and it was her desired property, I sought the best way to affect a return of it. My first thought was to wordlessly, but amicably, walk up to her and hand her the paperback. M nixed this idea, as it could be perceived as too confrontational and would give Kate a chance to yell at me. I don't think Kate would yell at me, but I saw the point. Mailing it too her seemed far too petty and annoying. Throwing it to her, too violent. Employing one of my friends as the envoy, too juvenile and still has that confrontational air. After all my careful consideration, I ended up just handing it to Jeff, because he is in my Shakespeare class. Ah, simplicity.
I still have no idea what to do about Kate. I am not sure if my feelings of reconciliation come from a place of strength (I can deal with her, accept her, and forgive her) or weakness (well covered in this journal). We'll see.


Soon in Xenology: Kandahar. Desubstantialization. Blow. Martin Luther King estate. Avril getting hitched. M is glad I am strong enough not to become a goth just because I am reading Sandman. Art opening. Emily wearing the dress she stole from Bard, only to be punished when she discovers it is see through. M teaching in the zombie dress. Scooby Doo boxers. Emily admits her mother can be wrong. M checking out a strange guy. Who gets ala? Are you in a band? Quaffing the corruption of the electoral college. Amelie. ET.

last watched: Blow, Kandahar, Amelie
reading: Worlds' End
listening: Debut
wanting: contact.
interesting thought: reality is slipping.
moment of zen: getting my new computer functional so I could contact the world.
someday I must: be content with my mortal container.

Thomm Quackenbush is the author of the Night's Dream series - We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods - published by Double Dragon Publishing. He has previously written for Cave Drawing Ink, Broken City Magazine, Paragon Press, and The Journal of Cartoon Overanalyzations. He likes when you comment.