Thomm Quackenbush, author

06.07.05 7:52 p.m.

The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.  

-Vincent Van Gogh

 



Previously in Xenology: Emily was awesome. Stevehen left the left. Sarah left Xen's life. Dives Dives dated a boy.

Bingo

I cannot possibly convey how utterly cool it is to have a girlfriend who beeps me just to say that she has caught a hawk. Her job takes her away from me a lot, two nights a week on call at the very least. But I never imagined being with a girl who cooed to majestic predators and captured them. It's a bit like winning the lottery when you thought you had a bingo card.

Interesting Times

There is a Chinese curse that translates, quite simply, to "may you live in interesting times." That is powerful mojo.

My life has become decidedly interesting, which is positively excellent for you and less so for me. Man cannot live by my droll musings alone. I wouldn't have to have two jobs if they did.

Sarah is out of my life. Of this I think I may be quite certain. Nothing new had happened on this front and that is wholly the issue. I think that this is a deep shame, having known and cared for her for so very long without seeing her. My sincere hope is that she will find whatever she is looking for and then contact me, but it is a fading hope. It is possible, likely even, that she took no small affront to the fact that I thought she was crazier than usual. And I did yell - yes, actually yell - at her to stop trying to convince herself that Emily was intimidated by her, as Emily most certainly would not be. But, in a longitudinal perspective, I could hold nothing against her. Off-putting dots in a long and pleasing line, at the worst.

Stevehen is in Massachusetts, and may not return to the noble shores of the Hudson again. Or he'll come back in August and we'll deprogram him. His sudden departure still comes as a shock to me. I think of people with whom I want to hang out and the list-making portion of my brain does not recall that he is hundreds of miles away embroidering hats.
Emily and Dives Dives  
M and Dives Dives

Dives Dives has left her boyfriend of very many years because he persistently mocked her religion in a thousand small ways. It is almost hilarious to think of a guy who is dating a sweet, intelligent, and open-minded girl like Dives Dives blowing it because she believes in the divinity of nature and practices yoga. Really, who willingly screws up a relationship with a girl who knows yoga? This is simply not the mark of an intelligent behavior. Sure, he repented and recanted after the break-up, but she stood her ground. A week of apology does not make up for years of subtle degradation of her vision of divinity. I don't otherwise fault him, as I do not know him. From what I heard prior to this, he was a fine enough fellow to have won Dives Dives's heart and kept it this long. That seems like an honorable mantle.

Laughing So We Do Not Cry

I rushed to New Paltz ahead of Emily, who was coming from her parents' house and was running late. I have taken it upon myself to inform people of the situation with Emily's father so that she will not have to. She is fine with people knowing and prefers it, in fact. She just does not want to have to be the person doing the telling.

Zack and Cristin met me outside of a coffee shop at my behest. This would be only the second time that I had purposely communicated with Cristin and I momentarily felt awkward to be bearing such heavy news to her, but Zack treated Emily as a beloved sister and had always well regarded her father. He deserved to know without hesitation.

I clutched a box containing Emily's sandals to my chest and related the story to them. I couldn't help but laugh at the hand of fate, this whole situation being so overdramatic and bursting with soap opera fodder, and was slightly concerned that Cristin would find me macabre. It is just so much to process all at once, or even with a few days digestion, that I laugh so I will not cry.

Zack and Cristin bore this with gravitas. What else can be said in these situations? So we shake our heads at the ground that will swallow us all and try to move past the subject of mortality.

"Cristin knows Evan," Zack gleefully related after the silence had passed. "Used to have a crush on him. She knows Mike M. too."

This was funny. I have always liked the degree to which new people are already interwoven into my life through past associations. "What did you think of Mike?"

"Very creepy," she stated. "He used to look at me - leer at me - while I was ripping tickets when I worked at the movie theater. I told him that I was twenty and too old for him." Mike, at this time, would have been about thirty and change, but did tend prefer those girls who straddled he underside of the line of jailbait.

"He used to ask girls he was interviewing if they were bisexual, supposedly," I informed. Mike's maladroit sexuality was the stuff of many urban legends. I suppose, to misquote P.T. Barnum, we should say whatever we wish about him so long as we get his name right; it is better than not being mentioned.

"Yet another reason that I'm not his type," Cristin pronounced.

"He also once told me that he wanted to kill and rape a woman. In that order. Possibly it was a grandmother, but don't quote me."

Cristin just laughed so she would not cry.

About this time, Emily walked carefully toward us from across a parking lot. She looked down occasionally for impediments, as she was completely unshod. It was very good I had remembered to bring her new sandals, then.

A meal later, Emily sharing my second breakfast as the first food she had managed to keep down in days, Zack and Cristin retired to Zack empty apartment two hours early to prepare Zack for his job a mile up the street.

Emily darted into Manny's, an art store that could exist nowhere else but at the teat of New Paltz. Manny's is a staple and a landmark for the students, though existing at the hub of Main Street, it is not much of a landmark. The inside is unpretentious, art supplies occupying those places another stores would make look shiny. Manny's is the store room for a much larger stationary and art store that does not exist.

Within, Emily bought a black, blank book and a small tin of pencils. As we sat on a bench outside the store and watched foot traffic go by (which is a spectator sport in New Paltz, almost entirely owing to the self-imposed differentiations in the human species there), Emily sketched two metal posts and their surroundings pavement. I have so rarely seen her sketch, only a tree a few years ago, though always remained confident that it was her genetic imperative to draw well. Chiaroscuro shading runs in her blood and managed to make even this mundane bit of the urban landscape distinct.

I love to watch people do most any creative endeavor, particularly from the beginning; it's the process of the thing that appeals to me far more than the finished product. It was so quiet between us and, though I was unabashedly watching her draw, it did not feel voyeuristic. I was just very much in love with her and imagining sitting on benches for many years hence and watching her render the commonplace in graphite.

"That is very good," I assured her. Emily, I feel, needs positive reinforcement to continue any creative pursuit that doesn't end in broken boards or dented chest protectors.

"Thank you, but it really isn't."

"It's better than I could do, and that's really the only scale by which I can judge. Either it is 'better than I could do' and therefore good or 'not' and not. That is."

She conceded this point and used her finger to make the shadows smoother.

The book is small enough to fit in her purse, which was precisely her intent. She will carry it around and sketch when the mood strikes. If I do not pester her, she may even show me her sketches, she assures me.

Once Emily was satisfied with her posts, we made our way to The Awareness Shop. All college towns, as far as I am concerned, contain a shop like The Awareness Shop. A place one can purchase exotic rocks with purported attribute enhancing gifts from a frazzle haired woman. College Pagans have a lot of money to spend on things one can find on the ground and I love them for it.

The shop did not have the bit of stone I was looking for (moldavite, a green meteor rock that is the closest thing you are going to find to kryptonite and said be do all manner of exciting and unlikely things if used properly), but Emily had me buy her The Pagan Book of Living and Dying, a book she very likely needed.

Soon in Xenology: Free Spirit

last watched: Mr. and Mrs. Smith
reading: Postmodern Magic
listening: So-Called Chaos

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

The Night's Dream Series

We Shadows by Thomm Quackenbush

Danse Macabre by Thomm Quackenbush

Artificial Gods by Thomm Quackenbush