I had a rough day at my new job. This comes with the stress of a beginning. There is always so much learning that goes on daily. Whenever I feel stressed I head to the beach. The dog and I bring a tiny picnic of water and fruit. She will hop into the passenger side and we head off. The shores are always packed, but by some miracle it wasn’t on Wednesday.
The ocean is my bathtub with its water still warm from the day’s sun and a vastness that is almost numbing. My head goes under the waves and my nostrils fill with salt. As I was move about something touches my leg. Must be seaweed I think as I lift my head. I have spent hours floating in the water and nothing has every touched me. Again something whizzes by me and I squeal like a girl leaping out of the water.
Some Haitian fishermen comes by to check on me. In my broken Spanish I explain that something keeps touching me. He laughs and points to like fish I had never encountered. “Hibiscus,” he explains pointing to these silver fish. I am intrigued. I ask if they bite and he laughs at me. “No, no nina.” He laughs as he walks away and throwing his net a few feet away.
I debate whether or not to return to my spot in the sea. The situation reminds me of the fish pedicures in Thailand where you sink your feet into a small aquarium allowing the fish to nibble away dead skin. I wasn’t into it them, but now I though why not. I slowly approach my spot and lay down. The fish welcome me back and proceed to tap into me. Between the warm water and what feels like little kisses from their surprising warm bodies, I lull into a meditative state.
I am more of a giver than a receiver. My mind is more of a man’s than a woman’s. My aggressive nature that helped me survive being on my own for so long has a hard time being. I always go for what I want and now I am learning how to be more feminine in receiving than masculine in doing. So as I lazed in the sea I let these little creatures frolic about my submerged body and delighted in their tickling bodies.
I only left reluctantly when a few teenagers being rebellious with their dangling cigarettes began to film each other twerking. Miley Cyrus may be adorable doing it, but these girls were so harsh with their movements, it was embarrassing to watch. The dog greeted me with boundless energy begging to go home as I emerged in my own mind as the Birth of Venus. Gladys loves the sand, hates the water. She jumps around me much like the fish did. I mentally said good-bye to my tiny companions thanking them for a magical experience that I vowed to put in my new book.
It is better to give, but sometimes a girl needs to learn how to receive- the ultimate luxury.
My name is Maureen. A solid, old-fashioned Irish name, which means the dark in Gaelic. My mother’s name was Breege Henry. We come from County Mayo in the West of Ireland. My Grandfather wrote a book based on local tales and I like to think while I never really knew this stern man, he smiles at my writings. I am his granddaughter: a Black Irish girl who writes as well.
I can’t ask my mother too much about my name since she died when I was 23. She was a beautiful, flawed woman who taught me to be tough. When I was younger growing up in Miami, people would be confused by my name. There were Davids or Rauls in my classes, but not someone with a strong name like mine. One kid told me my name sounded like moron; I kicked his ass by gently letting him know he was worthless on the school bus.
As I grew up, I found strength in my name. It takes a bit of character to have a strong, pure ethnic name. A name that held its own was what I needed more than my crown tattoo or my Chinese character for angel. Maureen let people know I meant business.
Maureen is a strong Irish girl who dances to her own beat, drinks beer, and will write you under the table. I will smile at you showing all my teeth, but secretly light candles for people who are going through a rough patch never expecting anything in return. Maureen connects me to my Irish heritage and lets me feel as if my mother’s heart still beats any time I feel mine is breaking.
The idea for my first book came when I was twelve listening to how my grandmother’s family lost their wealth in Cuba due to a fire. My grandmother is legendary for her sadistic abuse of my father, but I felt this was an interesting story and could explain her brutality. Nothing took shape for years because I just didn’t know how to begin. Then when I was ready, I didn’t know how to develop characters.
I sat in meditation until a name came to me: Neptuna. Who would be named this? Then like a rustle of sheets, she whispered her story to me. I think I wrote for twelve hours straight before my dog realized she missed dinner and did her feed me tap dance. Inocencia came next as did the fictional Caribbean island. For five years I wrote about all this consumed by a territorial muse who did not want me to stray.
It didn’t get published and I fell into a tantrum. A psychic said my second book would be the breakthrough. I stalled. How much rejection can a chick take, I wondered not ready for another big commitment. A few ideas came, but I tired of them quickly: a short story collection about girls with the same name residing in Miami, a collection of essays on my dysfunctional family and finally a book of lucid dreams. I rejected all of them.
People say ideas come when you least expect them. I scoffed at the notion. Nothing comes unless you work your bum off for it. I started living and had some adventures. I was thinking of one adventure when I started questioning what would happen if a hurricane came. Both of my books deal with the aftermath of hurricanes. I guess Hurricane Andrew could be a phantom in my brain.
A man of all things became my muse. I’m not exactly a reverse chauvinist, but it took me a few years to realize men have feelings outside of destruction and anger. Not particularly a reader himself and the only blonde I have ever been attracted to (besides my beloved David Beckham), I suddenly saw my muse as an intriguing riddle with layers of subtext and nihilism. I began writing and writing. I can’t spend hours on my new project which is the way it goes when I have hours of luxury during the summer and none during the year. I had waited for over a year to be inspired. The wait was worth it.
An added bonus is not naming my muse and letting people think it is really them. One of my female friends asked if she was the inspiration. When I explained it was an actual man, not one I know very well at all. She winked and asked again if it was her. If I ever found out I was someone’s muse, I would dissolve into molecules of happiness. Some of the minor characters are from my life, but they are only mentioned in the first ten pages fleetingly. Not enough for anyone to feel flattered or annoyed. My muse is clueless about my doings. I admit it is a strange compliment to be someone’s Gala.
For those feeling uninspired, stop looking. Just go out there and let the universe drag you in a million directions. Don’t sit at home fighting the wait. You can’t win against creativity. It enslaves you on its clock, not yours.