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"Those boundary conditions and the rhythm they encourage make my work possible."

The Muse is off galavanting this week. Part of her job involves galavanting, traveling off to conduct business somewhere else. She's done enough of this over the past decade that this week she was named Grand PooBah for Life by the Marriott Hotel Chain. This guarantees that she receives special service, a steep discount, room upgrades, and free high speed internet for life at every Marriott-owned property in the world. She almost always travels alone, leaving me to tend fort while she forays off into hostile territory. Our little fort hardly needs tending, save for watering the plants, so my schedule opens waaaaay up during these absences. Her away schedule allows for two brief check-in periods each day, one while she wends her way to her first morning meeting and another as she wends her way back to her upgraded room and high speed internet service at the end of another over-long day.

These check-ins usually find us with little news.
We're apt to just keep the line open as she walks across town. I hear her every step along with the usual city background noise. It's just as well that we have little to share since telephony has yet to advance to the point where a caller can walk and carry on a phone conversation at the same time. I track her exact location on a phone app, so it almost feels as if we were walking down that sweaty street together rather than a couple of thousand miles distant. She's soon enough off to her first meeting or weary bed, anyway, and I have my disrupted routine to maintain. The rest of my morning or evening opens up into a rather looming chasm before me. I could decide to do anything at all and usually choose to do NuthinSpecial instead.

A life, particularly a shared life, develops a certain rhythm about half-filled with minor inconveniences. In ours, these include my making sure that The Muse is at least thinking about getting out of bed by six-thirty, driving her to The Lab, and returning to shuttle her home at somewhere between five-thirty and seven-thirty, depending, exact time decided on the way in that morning and usually shifted a half hour further out once I arrive at the visitor's lot to pick her up. Between these points, I'm free to roam, though these light constraints contribute to creating a certain rhythm to my day. If I've not written before I zoot her down to the lab, I set into writing shortly after I drop her off. I usually choose one of three coffee shops as temporary writing spaces, and finish about an hour later. Then, I make my usual rounds, plotting that evening's supper and almost always finding an excuse to visit the library. I'm often back at the fort by lunch.

In her absence, I'm most likely to just stay put, finding no good reason to extend my range any further than I can conveniently walk. I often miss meals or simply decide to forego them when The Muse is gone, more than half the purpose of any meal being the companionship it encourages. I'll write some more or, more likely, read through the afternoon. With no specific time set aside for stopping, I might continue my afternoon activities until early evening, when The Muse will call having already dined and on her way back to her upgraded hotel room again. Her homecoming's a small challenge. She'd like me to drive halfway to Kansas to fetch her at the airport, a two hour round trip in traffic. I usually plead her down to meeting up at Union Station downtown, still an hour minimum round trip, but one I can make without resorting to freeway travel.

I'll be standing on the platform as she exits the airport train, we'll walk the few blocks to where I've parked The Schooner, and we'll return to the fort where she'll crash and smolder in recovery for a day or two. Then, after she's recovered, the familiar routine will kick back in to regulate our lives again. I realize that she's the underlying regulating force in my life, which further amplifies her role as The Muse. Inspiration's only a small part of a writer's routine. Regulation plays perhaps a more influential role. In her absence, I might find myself unable to find a wrinkle in my undifferentiated day to write a damned thing. The edges her schedule injects into my schedule seem to define the space within which I create. Those boundary conditions and the rhythm they encourage make my work possible.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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