Wanted: One Muse
From The Faery Gallery
It appears that my inlaws made off with my muse—perhaps luring her away with promises of a lovely sari. She’s always been a bit vain, that one.
Or maybe she’s off in a corner, sulking after being all-but-ignored this week. I didn’t think it would happen. I allow myself to dream the same dream whenever relatives come by—that I’ll have time to myself, time to write without the fire at my back of knowing that, at any moment, Madam might need me.
It never works out that way.
My inlaws are nice enough people—stereotypically Indian in their love of elaborate meals (seriously, I sent TEG a text message at 10am one of the first mornings saying simply “three dishes made already”) and loathing of the snowy weather. They prowled around my too-small apartment, alternately playing with Madam and bemoaning the cold. Thank goodness I had the foresight to hook up Zee TV, thus allowing them to follow all of their favorite (albeit cheesy) Indian soap operas without a break in the action.
They are also stereotypically Indian in their deep grained distrust of a need of “privacy.” If I were to ease myself into another room for a moment, say, to sneak a quick peek at my manuscript, inevitably a relative would troop in, asking if “everything was fine? Are you hungry?”
So. Not so much with the writing at all this week. It always amazes me how quickly it can all be snuffed out, how fragile and tentative this new writing-self of mine is. One week can feel like I’m teetering on the brink of that old void of wordlessness where I lived for so long.
I hate that.
My imagination is an old jalopy, rusting by the side of the road. Fly droppings caking on the blistering paint. I try to kick start it, using my favorite methods. Beloved comfort reading, blogs, Sunday Scribblings.
So back to the comfort reading I go. Did you all know there is an annotated version of Anne of Green Gables? If you are a fan (and you MUST be. No, really.) go check it out.
Finding the Anne books was like seeing myself in print for the first time. Not the workaday, commonplace self. None of the surface details match—I don’t have red hair (although I’ve always longed for it), I’m not an orphan (thank heavens). But…Anne reflected something essential in me—celebrated all those parts of me which usually met with an eyeroll from my more Marilla-like parents—the nonstop talking (and the allusions to books I’d never read and words I’d never heard spoken), the naming of things all around me.
I always found Anne’s rapturous pleasure in the beauty all around her inspirational. I knew just how she felt. Sure, she spoke of Lombardies and birch paths and Lakes of Shining Waters instead of faces streaming past on a busy city street, music trailing behind cars like a perpetual parade. She didn’t see the houses clustered on top of each other the way I did, the jagged skyline jutting into the sky, those buildings and their shadows surrounding me like benevolent mountains.
But it was beautiful to me, probably because it was all I knew. I don’t think you have to teach children to love their surroundings, to see them as beautiful. I think, alas, that too often people learn to be ashamed of them as adults.
While in college, I mentioned to a friend how much I loved the energy of Harvard Square, because it echoed something of the place where I’d grown up. She replied, disdainfully, that she thought Harvard Square was a slum.
Anne looked at her small town of Avonlea and saw beauty. I looked at my big so-called slum and saw the same.
Something I need to remember today, when it’s my mind that is the slum, sullen and unwilling to give me the soul food I need.
And so I sit, and wait for Myrtle, my muse, to return, perhaps draped in clouds of red sari glory and brimming with stories to tell.
Labels: the unfolding of me