Thomm Quackenbush, author

08.08.02 1:19 a.m.

In my real life, I'm a cocktail waitress
Dodging men's hands
Instead of bullets
And you're a bass player
in a band
That got a deal.
Dealing with assholes
Instead of explosives


 -Jill Sobule, "Resistance Song"  




Previously in Xenology: Kate disappeared to New Zealand. My world slowly lost focus and substance. (These two facts have nothing to do with one another.) The library patrons were various sorts of screwed-up. M and I toiled at the New York Renaissance Faire.

A Long Night's Journey Into Day
I have had severe writer's block for days. Maybe weeks. Things occurred that I clearly knew were going to effect the on-going narrative, and yet, I physically couldn't manage writing a blasted word of it. Granted, it has only been a week, but it seems very long when one is used to writing many pages a day. I think too much work has removed those long, lonely hours late at night when my muse strikes me. All I ever want to do it read, largely The Princess Bride right now.
Little has changed, if we are to be completely honest. I am as reticent to write now as ever. My additions to this site are like creating life out of primordial soup. All the conditions must be there or all you get is muck.
Tonight, many hours ago but clearly after dark, I opted to go rollerblading. I realize that make little sense in context. Bear with me. I initially wished to go to Glenham, my power point, and do a small ritual importuning a Muse or two to spare a bit of time for me. However, rollerblading seemed to make a lot of sense as I am a lump-like shame to my personal trainer girlfriend. She weeps frantically at my sad, skinny arms. I often need to put a bucket under each eye to prevent her from soaking my carpets.
My mother inquired as to where I was going, a question she often seems to regret the moment I give her the true answer.
"I thought, perhaps, I could do with some rollerblading."
Gazing down at my feet and inquired (already seemingly realizing that this way leads to madness), "You are going rollerblading in sandals?"
"Obviously not, sandals don't have wheels. That would be silly. I need the sandals to walk to my car where the rollerblades are kept. Perfectly reasonable."
She looked appraisingly at me, then out the picture window to the rapidly blackening sky, and offered a half hearted, "Have fun." She had expended her one random, psychic mommy point by asking me to not go to a party at Angela's for fear I would never return home in the same number of pieces. She knew she was positively powerless to stop me from wheeling around, uncontrolled, in black clothing.
Man in Black  
I often wear a black leather jacket and shorts.
I discovered that I was just the slightest bit rusty on the skates. I had somehow forgotten that my blades do not have brakes. Nor, as far as I could surmise, a steering wheel. As such, when a suspect car slowed to a stop near me and reminded me that there had been a brutal beating a few months ago a bit away from my home, I took off at top speed toward an intersecting, perpendicular roadway. As such, figuring that I possess just as much finesse as cinematic figures, I extended my right hand in an effort to grab the yield sign and execute an amazing turn worthy of... Rollerball, I suppose. The funny thing is, the thing I didn't really expect, I don't actually have a stuntman (the budget forces me to always do my own stunts). As such, I did what would have been an excellent break dancing move, had that been my intent. As it was not, I scraped the non-protected areas on my hands rather badly. Beginner's bad luck. I continued on.
As I crested the hill where I once saw the moon rise and was saved from self-destruction... oh, I don't think I ever told you this story. I'll be quick about the digression. It was many, many years ago. By which I mean five. I had been having what might be considered an affair with a lesbian by the name of Kelly. Neither one of us had partners, though we were both keenly interested in other parties. We had no real commitment to one another beyond the bonds of friendship, we just made out and fooled around occasionally. Outside of hormonal groping in her backseat (and once in the local cemetery, where she gave me my first hickey), we were just good friends.
One night, after we had been doing some witchy stuff, we ended back at her secluded car kissing passionately. Again, let me stress, she was and is a lesbian. Just a damned cute, man-friendly, "Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy" lesbian. She tried to, a little forcefully, take our relationship to a level that would have impinged upon my relative innocence. I got scared and a little sick with the whole situation and bolted out of her car. I ended up washing my hands in the river (which likely made them dirty, but it was symbolic and I was melodramatic). I wander around in the night for hours, massively depressed and hurt at having been so roughly treated (especially since I had a good foot on that girl). Of course, this was before I had proper communication skills and self-awareness, so I internalized this trauma and decided that I was a terrible person for allowing the situation to escalate to this point.
After a goodly amount of purposely aimless wandering, I found myself on a hill by Glenham very near to wanting to die. As a digression of a digression, I never would have actually done myself physical harm. I just would have felt horrible. So, I was predictably weeping at my lack of purpose in life (this is to what my self-directed slander had turned). Though stinging red, tear stained eyes I witnessed the full moon rising over the mountain before me. I literally fell to my knees and cried very cathartic tears because I felt a divine presence in the moon rising. I felt that this divinity was enough of a purpose to continue on.
Returning to the present, this was the hill I was cresting. Of course, I recall the above story every time I am near that particular area as I did tonight. I saw a multitude of dark green lightning bug rise from the ground and felt the smallest echo of the divinity. I rolled down the hill in a fairly awkward fashion to the blacktop rectangle twenty feet below. I skated about, as it was out of the way and dark. No one would see or disturb me.
I quickly tired and fell on the dewy grass. As I was drenched in sweat already, I rather appreciated the clean dew. Staring up at the stars, I had the sort of profound revelations that are part and parcel with looking up at them. They hardly carry much meaning when transferred to this milieu, which was one of the points I felt I was given. I will set aside the obvious sort of revelations about how we are so tiny in this perhaps infinite universe. It is lonely and you have heard it before. Humans are two-dimensional being in our thoughts and actions. We see and concentrate only on what is directly in front of us, ignoring that which surrounds it. This is meant both literally and metaphorically for the denser members of our audience. People do not see things in the sky not because they are not there, but because we have learned to ignore the sky.
Never let go!  
She is trying not to get pulled away by a fifth dimensional being. She'll be fine.
Nothing dangerous is likely going to fall on us, but we have to be careful of the people in front of us. This lack of perspective inhibits our awareness of ourselves and our place on this planet. There was also a little bit about how fifth-dimensional beings could be present constantly but we do not see them because it is exactly like watching an airplane in a totally dark sky. It can only be really seen when it is allowing itself to be seen (when its lights flash), otherwise we only occasionally make out something like an outline and attribute this to an optical illusion. However, the existence of an intelligent being that cannot be seen because humans lack the capabilities seemed a lot less important. It was mostly that there were a lot of planes out when I was star-gazing.
My revelations, if they may be called that without an air of pretension, seemed very much right to me. When I witnessed two shooting stars in a row, I felt further justified. I also realized that my hand had remembered that it was injured and began to issue forth all the blood that was otherwise being used to keep my muscles from revolting. I did quick first aid to stop the flow of blood and decided I should likely head home and start writing this.
I opened the door, walking as though I were a newborn foal, and my mother sighed and pronounced, "I was just about to remember to get worried."
I tried to explain that I needed water and she needed to get out of my way, but it came out something like, "if I were fifth-dimensional, I could just walk to a time when you weren't there." Bizarre, but effective.

Substance Abuse
What to tell you now? I work for too often for an unappreciative public. In fact, the patrons are slowly disappearing. One old woman from the asylum disappeared, perhaps into the world inside her shopping bag. Another patron, fond of taking out every DVD available within the system, up to and including Triumph of the Will, is going to be going to jail for a while for slashing a rival drug dealer according to the rumor mongers that pass through our doors. Oh, and the Poughkeepsie Journal. Yet another patron is in a coma, and perhaps brain dead, from taking an herbal diet pill. This is all within the course of a week, which leads me to believe it is indicative of some pattern I am just neglecting to grasp.
I ponder what exactly I would be happy doing, given the combination of my interests and motivation. I am damned good at serving the public in non-profit situation. I just happen to consider the public with which I deal a tad on the... "waste of perfectly good proteins" side of the coin. Not all of them, but I should not have to deal with mental patients and violent drug dealers in a library setting. I also am a clever and literate young man. I fancy myself a wordsmith. I desire to have a little more input in the would at large than, "Thank you, have a nice day." or "you have a thirty-cent fine for Sex for Dummies, How to Care for Seven or More Young Children, and Welfare and You." None of this is new. However, work is the most pressing matter and all I do when I am not reading.
I am trying to substantialize my world, because I have just been floating from day to day and never touching the ground. It's been happening for a while. I sort of just let circumstances take me where they will and am not overly impressed with any emotion. The easy-going stoicism would be helpful had I more adventures. When sitting at home staring at a computer screen because I want to write and cannot, it is more indicative of depression. Writing comes from passions, as least writing worth having been written. Stoical writing is little better than a technical manual.
One of the only things, petty though it is, that excites me right now is that I am getting my jeweler to recast my broken star pendant and add stones to it. Which is a little materialistic, I admit. But it is representative, to me. I have been ignoring my spiritual side, which is omnipresent if neglected. This likely is part of my imbalance. I no longer have faith in little miracles. Or, perhaps, little miracles seem so ordinary that I cease to care deeply. People can tell me they can see dead people and I will nod my head in calm understanding. It seems like something that might be true and certainly not something unprecedented. The paranormal, which does have an almost religious aspect in society, is just normal to me. It isn't that I experience it overly often, though I love a lass possessed of a poltergeist (which does not possess her). It is just that it is something I accepted and it no longer holds the tingly intrigue that supports shows like the X-Files. Or was that sexual tension?
It seems all the things I with to talk about take place solely in my head. Nothing much is occurring in real life. I greatly look forward to my vacation in Lake George, more so after having understood the tedium that is working thirty hours a week dealing with the unwashed masses. I think about going on vacation in general, and with Kate in particular. It had a great time on vacations with her family. I know I bitched constantly beforehand, out of fear, but they were honestly happy memories on the whole. I wish I had been writing in a journal then because I would like to be able to look back at these things in my own words then.
Maybe I spend too long in memories, but I hope they will allow me better understanding of the present. Plus, even when they are painful, they help me to know myself and help me to be a better person now. ("Better person" only by my own definition. Society is too confused to be allowed to define me.)
So... I still cry when I read an article about September 11th or see a news report about what is going to be done on the site. I am not a soppy mess in general. As I have covered, I am mastering that stoicism thing. But just seeing a picture of the planes crashing into the towers makes my hair stand on end. It was a national tragedy and all blah blah blah. But I don't much see why it should affect me so much and so deeply still. It was shocking and terrifying at the time, but it has stopped. I don't really understand. I was blessed to not have anyone I know die.
I am starting to appreciate the world again. To look at a flower blowing in the wind and allow myself to adopt an innocent mindset where the picture is not put in a folder and filed under "Flower > Wind > Breeze." I lost a lot of what makes me deserve the moniker Xen, and I need to own more of it if I am to be happy.

The Renaissance Still Has Pepsi
Emily and I paid a visit to the Ren Faire on Sunday, with our contest winner and guest. We were supposed to meet Jacki there, but my younger brother neglected to pass the message onto me that this would not be coming to pass. He is, in this way, profoundly evil. Like the Olsen twins.
I was in garb, as were Bryan and Jesse. Emily had better taste than that, though she clearly had no problem with my garb. Unless you count a promise to tear it off of me a negative comment. Bryan and Jesse managed to restrain their Hallmark styled pabulum for most of the car ride up. Were this condition not to have been met, we would have restrained them with our belts to preserve our sanity.
Sweet Sister Satan!  
M playing with devil stix last year to attract the invisible customers.
After nearly fighting with the pugnacious parking attendant, we entered and found nearly nothing different. Of course, I had not much expected things to be different. Why mess with the formula of alcohol, silly costumes, weapons, and lots of 13-year old cleavage? What could go wrong there?
We immediately darted to our old booth, expecting to find it rented out to different people and discovering that it was still Rozalisa's. We lightly grilled the two tarts at the booth, who seemed almost impressed when we revealed that we used to run the booth. Evidently, people have come to the booth and ask where M and I were. Aw, the flattery spared these creatures further grilling. However, given that they were doing far more brisk business that we had done on our best day and were not even slightly attempted accents irritated us.
We stopped by Rose's on Mystics' Waye several times, but she was always with a customer. Which was very nice for her, but we wanted to speak with her. Instead, we walked about to all the places we could never go because we were anchored to our booth. That took five minutes.
Emily was clearly looking to buy me something, but I could not deduce just what. Or, I suppose, why, since she is living a real life and needs money. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no need to savings and can spend it all on having strange jewelry recast.
As we were in the area, we visited my cousin Katelynn, who was hawking fairy dust. We greeted her and, after a gentle chiding, Carol the maker of fine fairy goods. Within the course of a minute, Carol had offered Emily and I both jobs for the last couple of weekends. We stated that we would have to think this over, as we were already overcommitted. We walked maybe a hundred feet before Emily jogged back and accepted for the both of us. And I thought we could actually escape.


Soon in Xenology: more shenanigans with one character or another. A trip to the Renaissance Faire, perhaps? A vacation in Lake George. Working at the Ren Faire.

last watched: Dark City
reading: The Princess Bride, Tales Too Ticklish to Tell: Bloom County
listening: Either/Or : Eliot Smith
wanting: My pendant to be whole, bejeweled, and consecrated.
interesting thought: A slightly different perspective and a little blood flowing is all that is needed to see things clearly.
moment of zen: seeing shooting stars.
someday I must: show M what I saw tonight.

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.



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