Thomm Quackenbush, author

10.13.04 2:07 a.m.

The stupendous fact that we stand in the midst of reality will always be something far more wonderful than anything we do.  

-Erich Gutkind

 



Previously in Xenology: Xen took chances and grew into this reality more so.

Sara the Goode

"I'm starving," moaned Sara the Goode during one of our half hour breaks from an interminable weekend class. She is a permanent sub at a middle school and, from what she had told me, she had been surviving off of crackers and chips. She does not paint a rosy picture of my future, a fact of which I never fail to remind her.

"So I'll buy you dinner," I offered. Currently in a place where I do not pay even half the bills I accrue through living, I can afford to be beneficent.

She declined several times and I persevered, knowing that her stomach would win over her sense of propriety or self-preservation. I was, after all, asking her to come with me to an indeterminate location despite only knowing me as a classmate. While I know that my intentions are honorable, I certainly wouldn't trust such an offer out of hand. However, I wanted to get to know her much better and I certainly couldn't let my prospective new friend to go hungry. The emaciated, though fine supermodels, to not make for superb conversationalists.
Sara  
Best picture available for now

Sara would only order off of the dollar menu at McDonalds and swore she would repay every penny of the $2.17 that her meal had cost me, though I insisted that I would somehow find a way to absorb this painful cost.

She is small with skin the color of tea, a dark haired elf that fits well at my side. She would constitute my first real Mount Saint Mary friend, and I only get one good friend per college. Keilana came from DCC, Lauren from New Paltz. Emily doesn't count, as she is more than a good friend and I was not yet going to New Paltz when I met her. This might mean that Emily gets to marry me, but we will have to study the bones in greater detail to know for certain.

I was concerned that Sara had gotten the wrong idea about my intent toward her, which was entirely, if bizarrely, friendly. I was therefore pleased to hear her comment absently about her boyfriend Jared as it means I could relax. She would later comment that she did not know what to make of me, as we grew to be fond and affectionate, but I made no effort to get in her pants. Though stylish and full of pockets, I doubt I could comfortably fit and it didn't occur to me to try.

My endocrine system characteristically plays a negligible part in my personal relationships. This is likely why Melissa insisted for years that I had never had sex and Keilaina has joked that I am smooth as a doll betwixt the legs. The impulse of gland secretions just never took hold of me.

I want to be able to hallucinate that hormones matter and that some surge of lust means love. It's been so long since I could feel infatuation with anything, except in a distant, artistic way. I want Stendahl Syndrome, where one is literally stunned by art.

I remember that bus ride with Jen and how we were just friends when we started the trip and somehow on the bus ride, it just clicked between us and we were in love. She didn't call it love... ever, as far as I am concerned. But it was something and it was hormones, maybe. I'm not sure, but it's something that I covet. Maybe it's the dominion of teenagers alone or that I am cerebral so my glands squirt things at me to confuse me.

If that's the way the world works, am I missing a critical lens? I don't want to think with my dick, but I do want that surge of pituitary hormone that makes everyone ache. I want to hold somebody's face and have no choice but to kiss them. I want to make out for an hour, just kissing and holding one another close. I don't want hook-ups, I want something real and long lasting.

I just want it infused with the bliss of adrenal glands.


Flipping Coins

The idea of choices obsesses me. Not the "what could have been" train of thought, because here there be dragons. No, instead I think of how the status of my life right now is directly related to the choices, miniscule and unassuming, that I had made.

Like the day I met Emily. I wasn't even supposed to be at New Paltz that day. I was skipping classes so I could register with the other students matriculating in. Furthermore, I remember looking at several girls at orientation, though Emily caught my eye the most. On the way home she told her mother that she had met the man she was going to marry.

If Kate and I hadn't had an argument as to the state of our non-relationship a week earlier, if I had been a little less brave, if I had spoken to a different girl, I don't know what path my life would have taken. That I wouldn't necessarily be with Emily is plain, but the ramifications thereto are great. So much of my life since that point has been made in consort with or reaction to Emily's presence in it. I would not be living in Walden. Very likely, my only exposure to Walden would be as a place I pass through to go to Pine Bush to alien hunt. I frankly have trouble placing the course my life would have taken unattached. I suppose I would be living at my parents' house still... beyond that, I can't quite fathom. I was a different person then.
M  
To think that I do not have her

You can't erase your past, is what I am saying. I couldn't expect that this renaissance angel would sculpt the course of my life to this point. I'm sure she could say the same, as she might otherwise be living in Colorado, attending Naropa University, and kissing the downy thighs of some crunchy lesbian.

I am who I am for the choices I have made. Aside from fits of needful writing at the wee hours, I rather tend to like who I am.

It is not only Emily. Most of those whom I hold dear have, owing to their proximity alone, curved my path. Perhaps not as much, as my commitment to them is less, but even now I want to remain in the area because it houses them as well. The world could be different if I had stayed in touch with KC Congedo, Kelly Iversen, Jason Oakes, or any of the other people who were once the focal points of my life. Their stars go on, as far as I know, but it is in someone else's sky.

I stress the importance of my dearest friend, but I am using technology as a shoulder on which to lean, rather than any of them. I write for a website that provides me better catharsis and therapy than could any flesh and blood person paid to analyze me. I purge these words from my head through literary trepanning, so I don't call up acquaintances in the depths of the night to tell them that I confirm their existences.

I do not currently confirm Conor's existence. I cannot get in contact with him, though I leave messages. What was once an idle curiosity as to his state has taken on urgency that I cannot even speak with his mother when I call their home. They screen their calls, I know, so I fear not to take this slightly personally, though I struggle to understand what affront I may have offered.

I have been thinking about Jen Egan a lot. I think that I had a true feverish dream in which she played a supporting role, though I don't remember the content. I just know I awoke and was mournful that she was not actually my friend. I tried calling her as well, or rather her parents. It may be presumptuous to believe that she still lives there. I don't know what would attach her here, job or relationship wise. I did not leave a message. I forbore so long at Zack's suggestion. I made the choice to listen to him giving voice and excuse to my fear.

I may have lost another chance to take the weight of how I treated her off my soul. I don't actually want forgiveness from her, nor do I care to forgive her for cheating on me with Nick. It is so long in the past. I bear only a passing resemblance for that be-braced boy, though I speak more of the content of my character than my mouth. It seems trivial and narrow-minded to not forgive her, which I did so many years ago.

It grows later still and I would that I could sleep. But, my muse is a bitch and a full soul. One must evacuate one's mind and bladder before resting, or they will be up several times with each. Had the blasted voice recorder not died because of overuse, I could spare my fingers the pressure and my eyes the light.

Perhaps my digitized confession would be enough there, that I could transcribe it later at my leisure. Instead, I type and wish I had a proper charger.

Again, small turns, pebbles under one's foot, can push us miles farther from home than a chasms before us could. The trail is easy to go back, but the path before us stretches out in infinite directions. I live with Emily in Walden because I met her at the New Paltz orientation, to which I was not yet invited. I only chose to go to New Paltz because this was the school where Kate went and it had thus been the school to which I desired to go. When Kate left me, I was still in love with her and still intending on going there. If Kate broke up with me sooner or more definitely, I may have gone to SUNY Purchase and be living a drastically different life right now... but I can't know. If we change a day or two, an action or two. If I am a little less brave or a little less cowardly, I never live in Walden. If Emily didn't train the morning she tore her ACL, she wouldn't have left college. She wouldn't have fought through a painful recovering and many lifestyle changes whose roots bear tiny fruit even today. The events go farther back, but you see the beginning. The chance of things happening as they have - though comprehensible in retrospect - is so astronomically high as to be dizzying. How can one even try to predict the future with so many paths unknown?

I try to keep the choices I make, particularly those of impulse (the cause of some of my greater life changes), in my mind. I ended up at the Randolph School because of a series of misunderstandings and my urge to get people off my back by making use of my otherwise wasted time and applying at schools. I ended up at exactly the place I would most want to teach nearly by accident. If I had gone to the health seminar like I expected, I would likely not have gone to the Randolph School and I would be spending sleepless night lamenting that I would have to student teach, rather than nights typing gibberish into Flea.

I suppose I will make my rest now. I have to eat birthday sushi with M and her family tomorrow, and event so astronomically unlikely that the universe shudders at the thought.



Soon in Xenology: More Randolph. Estrangement. The Haunted Mansion. More Sara the Goode. An election party.

last watched: Cheaper by the Dozen
reading: Counting to None
listening: Fredo Viola
wanting: To know more of Sara the Goode.
moment of zen: writing this.
someday I must: practice the White Flame Ritual more successfully.

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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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

Anthologies

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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