While America continues to burn, the newest conflagration being the Texas vigilante six-week abortion ban (I am worn out with trying to wrap my head around it, and won't get into it again here), I spent the week making a website for my cousin, who has started her own editorial business. She a wonderful writer, and even though she has a day job as a civil rights attorney (and is helping to sue several state governors for putting disabled students at risk with their ban of mask mandates), she also finds time to write books for people whose stories capture her imagination. I always run my book contracts by her to get her advice, and when I ask her how much her fee is, she says, "Give me three times what you charged me for the last editing job you did for me," and we laugh, because three times zero is as cheap as it gets. Family economics is a blessed thing.
But making websites. It slides right into my OCD groove like it's found a natural habitat. I spend hours upon hours, adjusting boxes, choosing images, editing text, catching echoes, making sure there's enough negative space, adding links, adjusting some more, and I sit there striving endlessly for perfection. My cousin is thrilled with the result, which went live with her domain name this morning, so all in all, it's been a very productive week. Plus I forgot to eat most days and slept soundly each night, exhausted from excessive concentration. Maybe I should have been a website designer, with real training that would remove my constant need for trial and error and workarounds. Could be I wouldn't have this intransigent weight issue. Writing manuscripts definitely makes me want to siphon off the stress by eating, whereas designing that website for my cousin this week made me forget myself entirely, like time itself no longer existed.
That puzzle up top, all 1000 pieces are now connected on my dining table, that red typewriter taking me back. It makes we want to own one in real life, a beautiful vintage expression of the muse that chose me. Everything else in the picture looks as if it might have existed on some shelf in my mother's or my grandmother's house, the vase, the jewelry box, the little ceramic angel, the candle cages, the gravitas of the books.
Hurricane Ida hit New York City two nights ago, bringing the kind of flash flooding our streets have never seen. The man and I were safe inside; for us it was just a hard rain lashing the windows and whipping the trees. But my son was on shift at the firehouse throughout the storm. He said they responded to thirty-two different calls in four of the five boroughs, and did not sleep all night. At one point, he was thigh deep in water on the highway, checking abandoned cars to make sure no one was trapped inside as the water swirled them away. This is the muse that chose him.
Just before daybreak this morning, I dreamed I was so tired I couldn't get myself into the shower to get dressed. I was supposed to sit on a huge jury, hoards of people were climbing a marble staircase to the courtroom, and I was meant to be among them, but I was so bone weary I couldn't make myself join them, and my brother, who looked like my son in the dream, stretched out next to me on the bed and whispered, "Are you okay?" I woke up then, intensely relieved to discover I felt completely normal, not tired at all, and I realized my dream was about America, and how fucking exhausting the news is, every soul-sucking day.