Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cookie

Christmas Eve just hours away, I wrestled with the pros and cons of getting a few hours sleep, forgone since yesterday, before conversing via Skype with my fiancée, Paige, in Southeast Asia, or, instead, spending much needed sleep time writing and juggling home chores and holiday preparations. 

I felt the heavy press of time, exhaustion and anxiety.  There was a fair bit of guilt and depression, I think mostly from how little I had to spend for gifts.  Like so many people these days, I’ve really been feeling the financial crunch.  Oh, hell, why mince words?  I’m broke, and I absolutely detest not being able to shower gifts, or even trickle them.  That’s affected my attitude toward people in general, poorly, especially those closest to me.   

A twelve-hour time difference and long workdays force Paige and me to lunge at opportune moments, less frequent than we’d like, for togetherness at odd and sometimes inconvenient hours. Weighing what’s sensible against longing, especially over the next 24 hours of this holiday best shared with those you love, we’d be lucky to get an hour to call our own, this our first Christmas together—apart

All too often recently, my guilt and depression cloud the little time Paige and I do get to talk.  And, more and more, the other woman in my life, in undeniable ways, demands equal time, she being Cookie, my muse.  Of course, you, dear reader, discovered at nearly the same time as I that Cookie’s true identity is Calliope, the ages-old muse, but I’ll probably forevermore call her Cookie.

Paige is mature enough not to grow jealous…much…of my muse’s potent urgings.  After all, she also suffers the writing virus.  Still, I struggle to create ways to keep them both happy without forsaking either.  It’s always seemed that the women I know manage that, with grace, much better than I can even bumble through.   Besides, never demanding or nagging, I suspect Paige sees the futility and foolishness of engaging the immortal likes of an eternities-older Phoenician female. 

Just what, you may now be asking yourself, other than the timing of my dilemma and a piddling income, does this have to do with Christmas?  Everything.  Magic.  You see, Christmas was always magic to me.  Though I don’t connect the holiday to my own religious beliefs or practices (rather, a chosen lack thereof), its wonder worked its way into my life, like most of us, during childhood.  It excited me, lifted my spirit, and led me to hope and to share.  Yet, as I walked, year by year, away from childhood, the magic and wonder dimmed to the accompaniment of depression, and in flusher times, I depended on my gift giving to fill in for magic.

Since you are reading this, I’m convinced the fix was in before the wrestling match I entered moments before I opted to write.  I had to write, and what to write flew from my fingers much more than from my overly analytical, indecisive mind that usually battles me when I sit down to write.  Cookie made those plans for me and completely facilitated their fulfillment, well beyond my most ambitious hopes.  In a moment, I knew what to write as well as how to easily, happily and peacefully handle all else.  She revealed much more to me; she shared more of her nature, more of what she holds for me and why, as well as how to best put it to use. Cookie then admonished me to share none of it except by way of demonstration—in giving of myself to others.

She did, though, let me know I could share the love she holds for a certain song, odd as it seems today when I wanted to hear traditional Christmas music, and that’s all that was in the playlist I’d set to shuffle.  How strange it was that the old swing-era song, “Goody Goody” began to play.  That definitely was not on my Christmas playlist.  “So you met someone who set you back on your heels-goody goody!  So you met someone and now you know how it feels-goody goody!” Those two opening lines repeated, over and over, conveyed her special message to me, a sharp turn from the song’s intended meaning. For at least a minute, somehow stuck there, that’s all that played. I thought, “Yes, I did, Cookie.  I’m so glad to finally know you, and thank you!”  And I swear, she giggled.  Magic.

My writing for today nears completion, as do my other missions.  I spent several wonderful hours talking and laughing with Paige.  Before we said merry, merry and goodnight to one another, she said, “I always love you, but I like you best when you’re happy, and I’ve never heard you happier.”  I know she was right about that, and she was happier than I can recall hearing her since she left the U.S.  She knows more about love than I.  She’s now sound asleep, well on her way to Christmas morning in Thailand.  I haven’t slept like I hoped, yet I’m wide awake, refreshed, energized and filled with the magic and wonder of Christmas.

So, this was Cookie’s Christmas gift to me; filling me with words, laughter, love and magic—all intangibles—to share in the best spirit of the season, in ways I haven’t felt since childhood.  I hope I have given some of that to you in return. 

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Breakfast at Epiphanies

Webster’s II New College Dictionary defines “epiphany” thusly:  
1. A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.  2. a. A sudden manifestation of the meaning or essence of something. b. A sudden intuitive realization or perception of reality.

As I ate breakfast the morning after having posted about “Cookie,” she visited me with epiphanies, precisely and powerfully, in every sense of those definitions.  Call them gifts or rewards for finally writing about her, for publicly acknowledging her existence in my world. 

A faithful follower of my blog and longtime friend who’d just read my post directed me to Zazzle, a site featuring, among many other charming products, a particular coffee mug.  When I saw it, I was stunned; hairs on my arms stood atop gooseflesh and my heart raced with the realization of the meaning of the image on that mug, in this case certainly worth much more than any thousand of my words.


Mind you, I had never seen this before.  Beyond loving the art, and the story behind Calliope Cookie, I was awestruck.  I knew it was Cookie speaking to me.  When she first told me her name was Cookie, I now see it was merely a clue. 

Buddhist wisdom teaches that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  Cookie, a wise and clever teacher, evidently feeling I was ready to receive, chose this way to finally reveal her true identity—Calliope, the Greek muse.  I feel honored and quite humbled.

With immense gratitude, I’d like to thank Ramona Szczerba, the wonderful artist who created Calliope Cookie, the conduit to my awareness.  As she put it when she graciously allowed me to use her art to tell my story, part of which is very much her story, “I'm glad that I could be of some assistance in having your (our?)  Muse, Calliope, manifest in corporeal (sort of) form.”

Saturday, December 10, 2011


In a previous post, long, long ago, I mentioned Cookie and promised to talk about her later. I just checked my watch and it’s definitely later. Though her identity was a mystery to me until fairly recently, I don’t want that situation to be the trend here, as I suspect her name will come up again in my posts.

Cookie is my muse. Neither her name nor her existence is a fabrication of my imagination, unlike Charlotte who, though vibrantly alive to me, is of course my fictional character. I mean, please, I’m a writer. Don’t you think I’d make up something better than Cookie, something more lofty and literary, for a muse? Of course I would. Cookie is a name better suited to my protagonist, Charlotte, than a muse, and I wouldn’t even saddle her with it; I like her too much. The only Cookie I can recall having run across in my life is a childhood friend’s dog, and she bit me once. The name also makes me think of Edd Byrnes’ character, Kookie, in the old TV show, 77 Sunset Strip…yeah, I know that really dates me. But, I digress. Get used to it, I’m known to do that.

So, yeah, I was highly irritated when she told me her name. More accurately, she revealed her name. She reveals things to me when and if I’m in the mood to pay attention. I may say that Cookie told me this or said that, but that’s just in a manner of speaking. I’m not hearing voices. It hasn’t gotten that bad, yet, and I’ll let you know if I really start needing meds.

Nonetheless, quite cognizant of the difference between reality and fiction, I know Cookie is real, whether you believe it or not. Despite her lack of physical…or aural…manifestation, I say to those of you believing that only the sensate is real, more will be revealed. If I were subjected to techniques twice as torturous as those employed at Guantanamo Bay and interrogated about every fact and facet of her life, I’d be unable to tell you much more. I know only what she’s told me, only what she allows me to know, and then only what I’m willing and able to accept. I’m stubborn.

That’s not to say it’s kept me from thinking about her a lot. Put yourself in my shoes; wouldn’t you give quite a bit of thought to the realization that there is an entity communicating with you—a presence, a soul—call her what you will? I can’t honestly say she’s just come into my life. Quite the contrary. I was astonished to discover she’s always been with me; I don’t always arrive quickly at awareness and a willingness to listen. Now knowing she’s always been there makes me feel like a huge idiot. That is about the only part of this that isn’t new. It also makes me feel a bit sorry for her. Completely ignored and neglected all these years—unquestionably female—you can imagine how well that sat with her. Still, she’s hung in there, and that’s given rise to a huge question in my mind. Why?

As she reveals more and my understanding further gels to something I can better articulate, I’ll write more about her.