Friday, September 3, 2021

Different kinds of muses

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.


  1. First off- I didn't even begin to realize that was a jigsaw puzzle. I swear- I thought it was just a really nice work of art.
    Secondly- creating a web site? Is there nothing you cannot do? I had no idea you had that ability.
    Thirdly- yes. Your dream was spot-on. Our souls have been sucked to the point where I can hardly believe we have any left at all.

  2. Your skills and focus and your abilities astonish me. Attention to detail, little wonder you are bone tired- living in this country's desideratum continually , ramped up as it goes. One horror following the next as subtle as a hammer- exhaustion is inevitable. Numbing!
    Your dream is totally accurate.
    The hills and valleys of the city's streets, where the soil can not absorb rain will be more of a problem as climate change ramps up - the earth will indeed shake us off, but not today, we still have time to make peace with ourselves, recycle, plant a tree, do the good things, and then, who knows.

  3. I’m glad you and your loves stayed safe during Ida. Some days I think we are in the end times, hurtling backwards at the speed of light.

  4. Perhaps you can start a side hustle? Web design? Why not?

    I had a very vivid dream last night, reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. Everyone's thoughts came alive. I even knew I was dreaming and was impressed with my own imagination, in my dream. Too funny.

    We're back home. The laundry is done and everything put away. Gracie doesn't know we're home yet so no Jack for the weekend. I love him but we need time to recharge too.

    Turn off the news. I know it's so hard and I suck at it but I know it's killing my soul too.

  5. this new law in Texas is just bullshit, there are no provisions for enforcement or punishment. they think intimidation by harassment will enforce it. they think the possibility of a 10K reward will cause everyone to spy and snitch on their neighbors and friends. but first they have to prove that the uber driver that took a woman to a clinic severely impacted their lives in a negative manner. I would hope the courts would throw out such frivolous lawsuits. I did see that there is a website established to provide women in Texas with the abortion pill, no proof of pregnancy needed, so that they have them on hand when needed. of course so many poor and marginalized women will still suffer and go back to back alley abortions.

  6. and for being the most intelligent species (so we tell ourselves) this planet has produced we obviously weren't smart enough to not make it uninhabitable. living in hurricane country, flooding is not a new thing but it is now for so many who never have had to deal with it before. good thing to be living high up.

  7. I was watching a bit of news somewhere about the flooding in NY, and I noticed three firefighters standing on the side of rushing water as cars were being washed down stream. One firefighter briefly turned his head toward the camera for a second, and I shouted "that's Rosemarie's son!" Maybe it was just my imagination, but it looked so much like him.
    I LOVE that you designed a website. Just adding one more piece of the puzzle of your amazing life. You have so many talents. That puzzle in the photo looks like a piece of art. I had no idea it was the puzzle. Wow!
    And yes, "how fucking exhausting the news is, every soul-sucking day." You summed it perfectly. WTF, Texas? Take care there. Stay safe and thank you for all you do.

  8. You and your family have been in my thoughts during the severe weather.

    Yes. Different kinds of muses.

    Love the red typewriter. My mother wrote poetry and short stories in the first part of her life and when my sisters and I were children. She gave us each a typewriter like hers. I wrote poetry and one short story along with all my college essays, on the one she gave me. I passed mine on to a woman I worked with who came from El Salvador and whose children were learning to type, in the last days when manual typewriters were used.

    In thinking of the fallout from the news, I remember Jacob Lawrence's Hiroshima series showing the devastating effects of something that fills our lives so thoroughly. No relief. Not everyone survives but those who do survive know there must be a better way for us all to live.

    Sending love always.

  9. Good for you for helping your cousin, and your son is amazing. I thought of you when I saw the flooding and I'm glad you are okay. Florida now has plans to introduce a similar bill like the one SCOTUS let alone in Texas...

  10. How does one even design a website? Fortunately google was kind enough to give us blogger, otherwise I'd still be sticking photos in albums and making labels for them. I love that your cousin is suing the bad people and telling other peoples' stories. Ya'll are such a creative and talented group of people.

  11. I have a bright green glossy vintage typewriter that I bought myself for my fiftieth birthday. I love it so much. I think you should go for it and get yourself a red one. That last paragraph was a punch to the gut.

  12. I would love that jigsaw...lots of different parts to it, and no huge areas of trees or water etc! Glad that your son was OK in the floods. I was worried about you all, and especially for him, knowing he would be in the thick of it. I was just looking at some videos of the streets and subway on Twitter before I got up!

  13. I wish I still had my father's old aqua blue manual typewriter. Did all my school/university papers on that machine.

    Thought of your son being out there during the storm. Glad he is okay.

    As for your dream/nightmare--the news and the level of stupidity in this country is definitely, exhaustively soul-sucking.

  14. The great satisfaction you get from designing websites sounds very appealing. I hope you give it serious consideration. As a proven writer, editor and website designer with a track record ... I say, "Go for it!" As for the news, I know what's being broadcast, don't like it and filter heavily. Personal sanity is key.

  15. Glad you are safe! It is hard to take in all of the tragedies and problems and crazy politics going on all at once!
    Hope all can stay safe and find peace.

  16. The news IS soul-sucking. It's just one terrible thing after another. Interesting that in your dream you were supposed to sit on a jury -- as if you feel somehow responsible for all this insanity, or called upon to pass judgement on it or to stop it. That's a heavy burden! I wondered about you during Ida. Glad to hear you and your family are OK.

  17. There is not much to read that is not horrible, these days.
    Web Site design - good for you! But there is one thing about computer design that I have found over some years of working with it - there are always glitches and the software always won't do quite what you want (and is advertised to do). So relax. You are as much of a pro as any of us.