The Storming Bohemian Punks the Muse – Covid 19 Edition #8: “Can You Smell What this BOHO is Cooking?”
This morning, as I sit down to write a journal entry, I find myself wondering: why do I do this? It is a real question. I know that I am writing for publication on Litseen, and I’m proud of “The Storming Bohemian Punks The Muse.” But, I also know these facts: I’m not getting paid for it, and if even a dozen people read it, that would be a lot. And, really, even to get a dozen readers I have to basically beg for attention on the Internet.
All my life I have been aware of inner compulsions. A sense that if I don’t do certain things, I will somehow collapse, completely lose my sense of self-worth and identity. My writing may be an attempt at art of some sort, but it could just as easily be described as an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
I mean I do it, essentially, for the reason that if I don’t I feel bad. That’s not quite it. It’s more that if I DON’T do it, I don’t get to feel good. That’s the essence of obsessive compulsion, right? And with this thought, a memory:
I am in third grade and I am a failure at almost everything. I am sitting in a boring classroom, with blank walls, and plenty of dust. I don’t want to be here. And I’m thinking a deep thought. Mrs. K is sitting in her chair, from which she rarely rises because she is very fat. She likes to talk a lot about herself. She is kind, but not very interesting, not like Miss J from 2nd grade whom I adored. Mrs. K strikes me as kind of stupid. The thought I am thinking, as Mrs. K babbles on about nothing, is this: “Why can’t they just let me be me? I’m only a little boy! Why can’t I just be myself? Why do they keep making me do stuff?”
The stuff I didn’t want to do was arithmetic, at which I was very bad, handwriting, at which I was very bad, and rope climbing at which I was worse than you can imagine. I was very good at sitting in corners and reading books, and I liked to think about big ideas like, for example, why I had a shadow, or what the trees wanted to tell me, or whether there was really an invisible man. Nobody else seemed to care about what interested me.
When I could do what I wanted, I played the piano or practiced magic tricks. I was good at both of those. When I played the piano, everybody else was impressed. When I practiced magic tricks, I was impressed. I would sit up at night, after bedtime, secretly keeping a light on, and practice the paddle trick or the French drop over and over again, amazed when the little drawing of the hat suddenly changed to show a rabbit peeking out or the coin that I dropped into my hand disappeared.
I pored over a book the size of a doorstop, the catalog from Lou Tannen’s Magic Shop in New York, which I figured had to be the most wonderful place in the world. I dreamed of owning the square and circle production cabinet, the linking rings, the color-changing handkerchief, or the rainbow ropes. I thought that happiness would surely be mine if I could master the Chinese rice bowls or perhaps even the levitating lady. If I could do all that, then it wouldn’t matter if I couldn’t climb their stupid ropes. I’ll fool them all, I told myself. I have secret powers they can’t even imagine.
Writing stuff is my secret power. I still do card tricks and go to magic shows, and it’s still fun, but the real mystery, the something-from-nothing miracle is what comes out when I sit down to write a poem or a “Punks The Muse” column. Sitting alone, pushing words around to make sparks, to pull rabbits out of hats, to see an idea or a feeling swirl up off of the page and engulf me from nowhere and imagine that a reader somewhere will listen or look and experience something like the same thing, to have an effect on someone, even if it is myself alone—that’s how I spell relief.
When the words work their magic, I am me. That’s what I do it for. The rest is gravy.
Anybody know what I’m talking about? Can you smell what this boho is cooking?