It was a cold and snowy night.
My young son and I were watching Olympic dreams being realized and dashed, the athletes occasionally pixelating into the digital matrix of a cheap antenna. I marveled at the mettle of a person so fully committed to something that lasts 90 seconds every four years. Like sex…
There was a knock on the door. I froze.
Had I ordered something on Prime Now and forgotten it was coming?
It seemed a little late for someone to try and talk me into allegedly lower electricity rates.
Those were the only plausible explanations for a late night knock on the door of the Ugly Condo. If not them, then who?
“Go in the bedroom, Gavin,"
“What is it, Mom?”
There was a second, more impatient rat-a-tat on my door. Munchkin the Wonder Dog shared my skepticism and growled a low, useless warning in the general direction of our mysterious visitor. I curbed my dramatic urge and left the baseball bat in its place in the foyer. Moving in slow motion, I brought my eye to the peephole and focused on the shorty on the other side of the door….. and there she was:
OMG…..OSM. With fantastic hair. She spoke:
Lemme in, woman. ’S cold as shit out here!
I had sensed that my missing muse was nearby for a few weeks now. It had been a while - she's been gone over a year. She took off without warning around the Inauguration.
In her absence, I picked up the pieces and my camera and became "When Jenn-Anne Snaps." I combining my love for writing with a new passion: photography. I created tiny photo essays for a while before being infected with a nasty sports photography bug and temporarily abandoned this space and set up camp on a local baseball diamond.
But true love is a co-dependent son-of-a-bitch, apparently.
A New Year’s clutter purge had sharpened my mental signal a bit, and I was hearing her Whisper again. It was distant but it was there. Thankfully I’ve developed a healthy cynicism about the creative shizzle she drops into my ear and I've dialed back all expectations and aspirations surrounding her so-called 'good ideas.' I maintain a 'Believe it when I see it' attitude at best. So I wasn't really expecting anything beyond that whisper.
You got any blue corn chips? she asked, pushing past me into my living room.
"You gonna take your shoes off?" I clipped.
Why would I do that? Your floor is filthy.
I know, right?
OSM plopped herself onto my Ugly Couch. Munchkin jumped onto her lap like no time had passed. G peeked his head out of the bedroom. "Oh, hey OSM. I like Goosebumps books now!"
Cool, G! RL Stine is a writing beast. G smiled at her then went back into his room.
I wanted to punch her face. I wanted to curl up on my couch and lay my head in her lap. I wanted to kick her ass out. I wanted her to lock the doors and keep her here forever.
Johnny Weir…..ammah right? she barked. What must it feel to be that 'out there' and still be so well received, eh? Whateves. So DO you have any blue corn chips? Oh, wait. That’s right. You’re off carbs these days. You’re gonna write about that soon.
(DON’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO!) “Maybe. We’ll see.”
She didn’t even look away from the TV: Yep. You’ll see.
Floodgate: shattered. I inserted myself between OSM and Weir’s bedazzled headphones.
"Why are you back? Where did you go? Why did you leave?" I felt embarrassed by the crack in my voice. I desperately wished I could stand down my muse with a detached, stoic-cool vibe but who was I kidding? She’s a part of me. There's no fooling her. I dropped my crossed-arm superhero pose and sat down on the pile of unfolded clothes on my armchair.
OSM muted the TV, and stared at Johnny’s shimmery, muted lips as if he was mouthing to her the words he wanted her to say to me. After a moment she turned her gaze from Johhny to me.
I had to leave you for a while…. to give you the space to move through the heartbreak of that newly elected piece of shit. And frankly, I had to leave for myself. I got a little bored - I mean how many different ways can I say OH MY FUCKING GOD WHAT THE FUCK JUST FUCKING HAPPENED FUCK? Survival in the icy wilderness sometimes means just staying near the fire so you don’t freeze to death.
She scratched Munchkin’s belly.
But eventually, you have to go back out and commence the hunting and foraging. Corn chips?
"It's too late! I didn’t think you were coming back so I changed my moniker and everything…I’m WHEN JENN-ANNE SNAPS now."
Just change it back. I like your pictures, by the way.
I blushed. Oh that muse knows how to get to me! "Thanks. Yeah. I love it. The sports photography thing really confused me, though, woman. Where did that even come from?”
A soul tattooed to the infinite ain’t ever gonna make sense, silly. Writing, photography, it’s all the same. Life is about moments: catch them if you can, in any way you can. Now grab your phone.
I did. “I have an iPhone now!” I felt like a child showing off a pretty shell to a grandparent - so proud!
I felt like a child showing off a pretty shell to a grandparent - a little embarrassed by my over-enthusiasm for something that turns out to be pretty mundane.
You are going to text the following things to yourself - things that I’ve been filing away as I’ve watched them happen. Things you are going to write about. Ready?
Me: “Yep. Go.”
(ONE HOUR LATER)
……and then, of course, you will do a two-part series about that reality show you were on that featured your sister. That won’t be for a while but text it to yourself so you don’t forget. In fact, get those pictures off your camera now and start writing so you don’t forget stuff.
I pouted out loud but she didn’t care. Yah..it’s gonna take some time to get the momentum back, JA. Boo hoo.
She pointed the remote back at the TV. Johnny Weir’s voice came back on ….something about bird gloves. I reached over and muted him, again.
“Listen…it’s a bit surprising, kind of awesome, but mostly one hundred percent annoying to see you again.”
Doesn’t my hair look great?
“….it does, but what you did just there - that hair comment? That is exactly what makes me so nervous about this whole grand entrance crap. You can’t stay on point - EVER. You come in with such big talk, you have me writing into the night, and then it’s like ooooo, a camera. LET’S GO WATCH BASEBALL ALL SUMMER.”
I grabbed a sock and started digging for its match.
“You….you never………stay in one place."
OSM removed a leaf that had gotten lodged in her cleavage and balanced it on Munchkin’s sleeping head.
“What if I tell people you’re back and everything and then you up and leave again?”
“I mean I love you to death, OSM but I don’t trust you. You are all over the place, woman. Frankly you embarrass me sometimes with how quixotic you can be”
The match for that sock is behind your headboard if you’re looking.
"And if I’m being honest, I may have lost faith in you, too. You don’t finish things. You’re like an infinite rebound relationship.” A tear leaped from my cheek to its death on the floor.
So? I’m here now.
“There’s enough people out there writing shit. I’m just one more voice pandering for eyeballs in an ocean of writers.”
"Sometimes my favorite posts get the least amount of attention."
“I may not be able to write something every single week. Work can get crazy busy.”
"There are big obnoxious ads in the middle of the page on my blog platform now."
“Facebook has changed its algorithm. No one will even be able to find my stuff."
"I'm not breaking any blog subscription records."
And there it was.
My relationship with my Muse is my longest intimate relationship - and it’s a wildly dysfunctional one at that. But the heart wants what it wants - a truth nugget that has sucked and continues to suck in every passing decade of my existence.
For when love chooses you, you say yes. I offered her a sip of my Diet Mountain Dew. She accepted, then said, Take a chill pill, Lena Dunham. Look, this is not the time to go word-hermit. I’m not asking you to finish your novel. Not yet, anyway. Just start writing again. Post once a week. Boom.
And get some blue chips in this house. Think of your guests. Your snacks and your writing shouldn't really be about you, anyway.
Once again, I couldn't say no to her. And a good blue corn chip can kind of rule the earth.
How about we watch some Olympics? Do you think the skeleton athletes secretly think the bobsled athletes are pussies?
“Yes. Yes, I do. Doritos okay?”
Sure. It's a start.
That's my piece, and that's my peace. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my silly words. It truly means the world to me. Carry on...
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