Thomm Quackenbush, author

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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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    Xenology: Kest, Who Stole Daniel

    Whoever wins, we lose.

    Across the brightly painted table in the Mexican restaurant, Daniel, puppyish, presses his forehead against Kest. He has an easy foot on her, so the geometry of his leaning cannot be casual.

    She was not supposed to be here tonight, but misjudged when she would be able to set up for her show in New Jersey. She decided to make the best of it by driving through another border to spend an unexpected night with Daniel. He understandably cancelled our standing date for podcasting and met us for dinner instead.

    Kest's lips curl into a sedate smile as she turns her face to meet his, giving him an unselfconscious kiss. He returns this, then takes her hand and kisses the middle knuckle.

    I have never seen Daniel seem this happy in another. When I first met him, he lived with his ex, Hannah, with whom he still had complicated feelings. I have since known him through long distance discontents and local pining. Prior to this moment, I doubt I'd seen him kiss anyone. Most of my relationship with Daniel thus occurred when he was romantically dissatisfied. This state is not a cornerstone of our friendship, but its dust got in the foundation as we built them. Though he wanted female affection, it didn't plague his daily movements.

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    Xenology: The Birds and the Bees

    I have no idea how this guy ever had sex...

    When I was about the age when I would much rather have been leaping headfirst into piles of leaves, my father waylaid me to have The Talk. I am not sure what possessed him to choose this particular moment. I had not expressed sudden interest in young ladies. My interest had existed since I was at least in kindergarten, sneaking guilty pecks under the jungle gym. Too soon after that, my older brother had discovered and subsequently shared purloined hardcore magazines, but their existence was an open secret in our household; he couldn't have decided I was in need of paternal intervention because I had skimmed Penthouse Forum the same year I read Goosebumps.

    I don't know that he ever took my brothers aside for a similar conversation. Given his nervousness in proceeding, asking me if I knew the differences between boys and girl, I would guess at least my older brother had been spared.

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    Xenography: Writing for Exposure

    A few years ago, I received a solicitation from a complete stranger asking if I wouldn't mind contributing to a book. Upon requesting the particulars, it became clear that this person had no publishing credentials and would self-publish, that the book was to exist for the "editor's" personal profit and not in order to benefit a charity, and that I should be glad to write for him for exposure in lieu of money. He seemed startled that I was not keen to have him profiting off my name and efforts.

    The book never came out, of course.

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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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At Double Dragon