Thomm Quackenbush, author

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    Xenology: Death of the Voles


    Amber calls to tell me her coworker moved a mouse nest and babies crawled over his hands, resulting in his terror. She says, "The mother" -- a fiend who had nibbled the heads of the sunflowers in the greenhouse -- "won't be able to find them if I move them, right?" She meant this as a question, but she wants only for me to assure her that it is true.

    I tell her I can't know that, but I have my doubt the mother would bother.

    She asks if she should leave the babies there or catch them and bring them home. I cannot tell her to leave them to a death by starvation.

    Their enclosure is a tea tin, the bottom covered in an inch of wood shavings from the two-by-one foot brick Amber brings with her. She had hidden the mice in a corner at her job in hopes none of her coworkers would notice or disturb them. There may have been more babies, but she could find only three when the day was done.

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    Q's in a Pod: Suck My Daesh Edition

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    We discuss terrorism. Amber and her plant homunculi are all for it. Hamburgers shouldn't be $20. You are not Luke, you are the Empire.

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    Xenography: The Writer As Prostitute

    I'm not sure when I became a prostitute. I doubt it happened all at once, that one day I shared myself for love and the next I could only get it up for the threat of money. At first, I did it because I enjoyed myself and figured there was nothing wrong with making money from something I enjoyed.

    Once you start writing for money, it is always something you know you could do. Why bother doing it for free after that? It is the same act at its core, the same mechanics, almost the same motion of your hands. Inside, you know the difference, but you never let it show, worried truth will affect the bottom line.

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    Xenology: Have Me as a Member

    She's a portable community

    A lifetime ago, I looked out the window of a bathroom at Bard College and my internal compass found its north. In the quad were twenty of my "gifted" peers spending a July day tossing a Frisbee around, playing guitar, and lounging in the grass as though we had forever. I had never felt so at home, so myself. Summer Scholars was two weeks of crushes, unpolished poetry, unplanned midnight concerts, cookie baking, and independent movies with classes in writing interspersed. If I had to describe my heaven, I could do little better.

    The next year - same campus, but new classmates and organized around sociology - was rigidly planned and so an imperfect repetition. When, years later, I had the pleasure of being an RA for this program, I saw it through the wrong eyes. It was work, not a unique adventure with my peers. I became the one enforcing the rules to ungrateful kids who wasted a formative experience obeying to me.

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    Q's in a Pod: Don't Do Drugs Edition

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    Is there some sort of racial component to the application of drug laws? First we are hearing of it. Have a personality beyond drug use.

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    Q's in a Pod: Sad Face Sociopath Edition

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    Bill Murray is a god. He is not the gods, I don't think. Trump is definitely not a god because standing for two hours is too taxing for him. Thomm probably isn't a sociopath. Trump probably is.

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    Xenography: The Privilege of Connections

    It seems only fair that I bow to the edicts of social justice and check my privilege before I go about poking motes of sawdust out of other eyes. I am a straight, white, cisgender male living in America during the internet age (though most of those demographics keep me out of the markets that interest me the most, that is my cross to bear). I grew up in a middle class household that fostered my genetic predisposition to writing and allowed me access to enough means and leisure to read many thousands of books before undertaking a career in the literary world. I have the talent, the drive, and the privilege to be in a field that rewards me while wrinkling its snoot at vernacular English from darker lips.

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    Q's in a Pod: God is Bed Edition

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    We discuss the Big Questions, along with Daniel breaking his sexual dry spell. When you think about it, isn't that the biggest of questions? We delve into tantra.

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    Xenology: On the Cusp of Old

    This baby will be ten this year.
    I'm pretty sure I'm the same age.

    My mother had been looking into going to the aquarium with my father, who unthinkingly pointed out that they would save five dollars if they went next year because my mother would be sixty and could qualify for the senior citizen's discount.

    I snort, because of course my mother isn't about to be sixty. I'm only thirty-five, so she...


    I look to the wall, where she has hung a collage of pictures from when my brothers and I were in diapers to kindergarten, then back to her. In my mind, she still looks like the woman in the photographs because it is from that version of her that I learned the definition of "mom." Yet she is now grandmother to a facially-pierced, young woman who takes driving lessons. I begrudgingly suppose that could make her nearly sixty.

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    Xenography: Blank Page

    I may have been one to tell you that, if you fancy yourself a writer, you had better be writing in volume daily. It is popular advice and, like most popular advice, it is worth nothing more than a thoughtful nod as it vanishes in the air. Authors say it because we are pushy elitists, but most of us take breaks where we just don't have it in us to write anymore. We let ourselves replenish, so why shouldn't you?

    There is no shame is taking care of yourself. You are not a machine made to write but a human being with a thousand desires not fulfilled by a higher word count. You need downtime, you need inspiration. You need sunsets without your first thought being how to get the exact experience down because you are not having the authentic experience if you are so concerned with writing it.

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Works by Thomm Quackenbush


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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