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Today, I heard this woman say, out-loud-and-in-front-of-lots-of-other-people, “I pray that the unemployed find hobbies.” Hobbies? I didn’t believe that she would really have said that — especially after someone else had prayed that the unemployed find jobs. Now that got a huge Let Us Pray from me. But Hobbies? What was she thinking? To give her the benefit of a doubt (only one), maybe she was suggesting that it would be better for them to think about other things like woodworking or macrame than no money coming in, no prospects, and self confidence going down the toilet. I wanted to confront her — politely, of course — because it felt wrong for me just to let it go. I mean, after all, I have counseled hundreds of unemployed and listened to their stories of just how debilitating it is not to have a job — making it pretty hard to get your enthusiasm up for a hobby. I wanted to talk to her about Niall and Adullah and Margarita and Fatama and Mohammed and all the other unemployed out there who really don’t have time for a hobby because finding a job is a Full Time Job.

But when I saw the woman after Mass , I just couldn’t do it. For one thing, she was even older than me so I felt that old sense of guilt I used to feel when I’d say something rude to my mother. But what really stopped me from saying anything was that she reminded me of Bunny Christy. And then I knew. The words weren’t really about work and hobbies. I was supposed to be there to hear those words to get me riled up and off my writing duff and get something down for this week’s blog.

Bunny, you see, is my muse — and a clever one at that. I know it’s true because a psychic told me or was she a clairvoyant — well she was one of those who claimed to see Beyond the Beyond. I always get them confused. Anyway, this woman who I had Never-Met-Before-in-My-Entire-Life, told me that there was a grey haired woman with a good sense of humor in the Beyond who was looking out for me. This could have been pretty creepy but it was a particularly lonely time in my life so I was just thankful that someone cared. Since Bunny Christy was the only grey-haired-sense-of-humor woman I knew who had passed over, as they say, it had to be her. I adopted her (or did she me?) as my amusing-muse from then on.

I couldn’t find a better one. Bunny — living and dead — always had a sense of style and drama about her in everything. I met her in the 1980s in DC. My therapist thought it would be worthwhile for me to get to know her — it was one of the few things she told me that was worth her fee. Bunny was a fabric-artist-all-around-fascinating woman who held journal writing classes at her friend’s Georgetown house. The address was much more prestigious than the house that was for sure. But what happened there was magic. Every week, ten or twelve of us would sit around and write mountains of words from prompts Bunny would give us. Then we’d read what we wrote and Bunny would sigh out loud at the wonder of our imaginations and thank us for writing. At the end of the evening, she’d dig in the pockets of her voluminous skirt that hid her colonoscopy bag, and hand us each a prize, a token, a talisman to get us through the next week. I still have some of them — a little purple car with a red rose attached, a female pugilist, a scuba diver, a real starfish.

But best of all, she wrote me letters and they always arrived just when I needed them — just as a good muse should. In one she wrote, “I love you, Ann. And sometimes I just have to repeat that I know you are a gift to me from God and the Eyermans and whoever else made and led you to be who you are.” I saved it in the little silver box she wrapped it in and I take it out every now and then to remind me that I am truly blessed by the best muse the Here or Beyond could provide.

***

Since it’s All Saints Day I want to send praise and thanks to my very own Litany of Saints:  my mom, my dad, Madeline, Jim Doone, Presentacion, Vincente, Electo, Lourdes, Pepe and Sheena from Benidoleig, and Mai and Lena here in Toronto, Bunny, Crazy Maggie Wasteneys and the Chatmons in DC and everybody else who left without me knowing — Thank you for Watching Over Me and Amen.

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