Thomm Quackenbush, author

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    Xenology: Grok Doubleplusungood and Jalad at Tanagra

    If I do not figure out how to communicate with more people, I am going to end up alone.

    You might think that, given that I am a writer who has loaded almost all of his talent points on linguistic mastery, I could manage to make myself known, but no. My sentences are puzzles I continually drop in hopes someone's eyes will brighten in comprehension. Phrases that will almost literally charm my pants off will make a most of the world consider you an obtuse prick. Context is everything.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Our Digitally Departed

    I try to avoid social media because scrolling down its infinitely replenishing page of other people's curated accomplishments and pains is not a mentally healthy activity. Facebook is the petri dish for Fear of Missing Out.

    That said, I look to that site's "On This Day" feature to show me a time lapse of where my life was in years past. Mostly it makes me feel better, because I have lived in penury, on unemployment, near abusive neighbors or thirty teenage boys in indentured servitude and no longer do. In my past, I am going through a bad breakup, but it is almost over. I wish I could hearten that younger self, but he was stronger and healthier than I remembered. He lives through this and grows.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Our Nameless Cat

    I get home from work. Amber hops in front of me.

    "Guess what I saw?"

    I cannot imagine and tell her so.

    "I saw his balls," she tells me with pretended awe. "Now I have to catch him and get them cut off."

    See the rest.

    Xenology: The Blackout of '17


    This is the beginning

    A tree falls in the high winds of a brief squall, landing on the power lines outside my apartment. The weight jerks the cords that attach to the exterior wall, tearing the corner of the building, resolutely stopping electricity. When someone chainsaws the tree to free the lines, they manage to rip off most of the wall, exposing the insulation. The heat and water stops.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Liz the First

    Liz was a potential therapist, only my insurance didn't cover her. She offered to go outside my insurance at a reduced rate, to have sessions only every other week to lower expenses, to stay a little late (but not quite late enough for me not to rearrange my work schedule). With ample regret, I declined, writing that I hoped our paths crossed again.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Seeking: Sherpa

    Dear Therapist I Do Not Yet Have,

    I have been trying in earnest to again work out the last few psychological kinks between me and full happiness. I acknowledge this won't be easy.

    Not for me. I am willing to work and so ready it is obnoxious I haven't started proper therapy yesterday.

    No, it won't be easy for you.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: The Lake of Better

    I have never been so aware of it because I saw no difference between my mental quirks and me. I believed I was only moody and that my thoughts in these moments were unfortunate truths. Now I know they are only distant worries grown malignant. I think about my anxiety and depression now because they are something outside the core of who I am, the true me, and I am frustrated that looking them in the eyes doesn't make them back down far enough.

    See the rest.

    Xenography: The Introspective Ouroboros

    Introspection can be lethal for a writer. Then again, so can water if you drink too much. If you can moderate your intake, it sustains you.

    A writer doesn't work with pen and paper. We draw from our reflections, often painful or erstwhile private. Unfortunately, once we stick our pens in this dark fountain, we get addicted.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Benevolent Dictator

    Our marriage has become a benevolent dictatorship. This wasn't the arrangement I would have preferred. I have been lectured by lovers as to how things ought to be. I have been carried in the wake of surer spirits.

    With Amber, I offered and attempted a democratic oligarchy from the start. "What would you like to eat?" "What do you want to do this weekend?" "What do you want to watch?" Instead, there was a bloodless coup, installing a dictator against his will.

    See the rest.

    Xenology: Late for the Love of My Life

    We tell ourselves that the good things in our lives happened the soonest they could. Otherwise, we mourn the moments that could have been better spent.

    I wish I could have given Amber more of my past. We should have met nine months earlier at the Samhain ritual I meant to attend, but to which I was late because I was depressed and lost. My girlfriend then at the time did not want me - wanted other beds with members of her own gender - but she loved me (or loved something in our relationship) too much to resolutely let me go for another seven months after introducing the topic of leaving me. She was too worried of hurting me, even to the extent of it making her miserable and desperate.

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