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Amber the Vet Tech Student | 2016 | Material Rewards


Night and morning are making promises to each other which neither will be able to keep.  

-Richard Shelton

Monday Morning of the Year

Now is the tradeoff for two months where I am able to pursue my writing in a more or less full-time capacity (though usually "full-time" only amounted to three to five hours of focused work five or six days a week). I wonder what I could achieve if I were left to my own devices even longer. I nakedly envy those who are able to sit and write all week without having to interrupt their flow with more tangible work, but I have yet to earn that. I am not certain I ever will.

Night comes sooner. I am no longer in the moment. All the philosophy that soothed me through the summer leaves me when I can calculate without struggle my hours until my day job begins anew. It reeks of mortality. I will have to cut my hair into a more conservative style to suit state expectations for what a teacher should look like. I can no longer have a few hours of peace to read, eat, and exercise before leisurely walking to the library, listening to podcasts.

Amber has gone back to school after six years away and is devoted to her studies in a way that precludes much genuinely free time. I don't know when this will no longer be the case; she talks of getting her doctorate and I believe she could. I cannot ask her to do the emotional labor of soothing me through this transition yet again. I feel the changes of my life accumulating as this summer ebbs into my past. It is the epitome of no surprise because this happens every year. I am no stranger to the turning of the seasons, but I fight against them effetely, if just out of habit.

I can't say I particularly fault fall, but winter is the bane of my existence. In winter, I gain another year of age, and we saw what a fun existential slump that pulled me into this year. I feel as though I have little ability to live through winter, though I manage it every year. In the past, I have told myself I love the Hudson Valley nine months out of the year and endure the other three, but I don't know how true that is. I might be fine living in a place where winter never came.

I have made psychological progress this summer. Amber attributes this largely to the fact that I was able to sleep, though I usually went to bed and woke alongside her so she could go work; I don't think I overtly got more sleep than I would any other time of the year.

When I was a teenager, I spent weeks away from my home several summers. During these times, it was as though I couldn't wait to shed the aspects of my personality I had outgrown. I dreaded the return to my normal life because I couldn't maintain who I had become. I had no interest in reverting but, placed back in those conditions, I understood the inevitability. I am a product of my conditions and work best presently in my glancing solitude. I walk to the library every weekday, put in earplugs or earphones, and work. For the most part, no one tries to talk with me, though I am unfailingly courteous when they do. I take a small lunch in the rocking chairs on the library's porch, watching the foot traffic and eating a sandwich I had packed, then return to write for several more hours. Then, I walk home to meet Amber. It is idyllic, so much so that I had to brush off a mote of resentment when I went on trips, because any outside adventures impinged on my time writing.

Now have ten months of dispiriting and draining work until I again have that freedom of movement. I understand on an intellectual level that this freedom is purchased by my labor, I just begrudge it constantly until I again find the flow and realize my life doesn't end after the first week in September. It merely takes on new complications.

Work lays a heavy burden at my feet. I have to find a place in my mind for a couple dozen broken, intentionally noxious boys and the tension of office politics (some people cannot function without a steady stream of drama in their lives. These people fancy state work for the added health benefits and the captive audience). I want to be okay with my job because it does give me the opportunity to spend months away from it. I acknowledge that I am good at it in a way most people would not be, but it nevertheless weighs on my soul.

Most people are not lucky enough to devote such a chunk of their year to their true passions (even if it only amounted to an overstuffed novel that will be hard to place once I complete editing it). For that alone, I should be grateful for the opportunity to work my day job. Though this is the Monday morning of my year, Friday night will come again.

I simply wish it could refrain from spitting icicles at me come Wednesday afternoon.

Soon in Xenology: Faces.

last watched: School Live
reading: Hogfather
listening: Cat Power

Amber the Vet Tech Student | 2016 | Material Rewards

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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