The Ugly Wish Jar
image in honor of the Latino tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of the New Year. From here.
“Do you think the Muse will get offended?” I asked, more than a trifle anxiously, as I clutched my newly decorated wish jar.
“Um...” He seemed to be searching for a way to be diplomatic. “It might...amuse her?”
I took another look at my little jar, and I had to admit the truth. It is, shall we say, unpretty. No, I am not going to post pictures of it--it's frankly embarrassing. It looks a bit like a slightly advanced two year old was let loose with crayons and scissors (safety, of course). I am 34 years old.
Already I was looking for ways to distance myself from it...this childish scrawl, earnestly declaring my one great wish for 2008. Covered in crayon markings, some of them by Madam, most of them by me. I thought, “Maybe I should learn how to draw first, really take the time to find some nice magazine pictures...or I could ask Jessie to make me one! Yes...that would work!”
Because I realized that this amateurish effort, this ugly little jar, was showing me exactly what I need to know about writing as well. I need to get it out of my head, and onto the page, and at first, it will look exactly like the banner on this jar. Because there is so much I don't know. Because a lot of the time, it's just all a mess. But if it's outside of me, then maybe, maybe I can do something with it.
So the jar will stay as is, at least for now. If I suddenly develop more visual skill, I may improve it.
Then again, maybe the Muse will be amused enough to stay around.
Is it any surprise that I love New Year's Eve? Already a pleasant haze of nostalgia surrounds the last year, like a book I read and remember dimly. It all already feels, well, past, and the new year beckons invitingly, a new year in which anything might happen. Not that 2007 wasn't a good year—Madam grew taller and rounder and more tempestuous and funny. TEG and I re-discovered each other and our relationship, and started working together more with Madam. I wrote some stories that I genuinely love—that don't even feel like they came from me. I made new friends. I reached new insights about my family, and started to make peace with never quite getting their approval.
And this year, I followed so many of your stories, your adventures, found myself inspired, calmed, thrilled, excited by your words and your artful amazing selves. Thank you, thank you, for being YOU. I admire you all more than I can say. I hope this year is a continuation of all of the great things you all are already doing, and some new ones, for fun. And I hope that we all let go, finally, of those old ghosts of fear, of ego, of hesitation and self-doubt and silencing. I know I'm ready, and I know even more than you are.
If I had to pick a phrase to sum up my year, I would choose one that Madam enjoys. Whenever I make a mistake, drop something, miss a bus, my little Madam looks at me and says, “'S OK Mama.” in the most reassuring voice.
And it feels right to give Madam the last word this year.
Because at this time last year, she couldn't say anything at all.
Labels: navel gazing; family tales