Inspiration strikes at the oddest moments and in the strangest places. Perhaps it’s the coincidental meeting of someone on the ski lift, and in a few short moments you find out you have something crazy in common, like you went to high school together in a far away state and you were a couple years apart so you don’t know each other but you have a hundred acquaintances in common. And there you are, sitting in a two-seater with this stranger (who by definition is no longer really a stranger), dangling in mid-air, high above a steep gulch, and the ride is coming to an end. You literally go your separate ways and you never cross paths again. That happened to me once. It was both awkward and awesome. You marvel at how easy it would have been to not strike up any conversation at all with this person…how easily this major crossover could have remained unknown. And it makes you wonder how many other times you’ve been in someone’s presence, someone with whom you have a significant commonality, and it just never came up. It might not be song material, but it’s thought-provoking and it’s something you never forget. It’s also a tool some writers use in their stories to reveal something important to the reader, but more often than not, it’s too obvious that they’re using it as a tool; it never seems totally possible or natural. But then it happens in real life and I think to myself, I couldn’t write this shit!
On the other hand, sometimes the oddity of the muse is how normal it is, or easy to come by, such as a newspaper. You’re supPOSED to read the newspaper. These stories are just sitting there, waiting for you to notice them every single day. And sometimes there are real gems in there. Like this one: In preparation for a big move, I was wadding up newspaper and came across this article. I had to clip it out and keep it. This woman, Huguette Clark, 104 years old at the time it was published, is an heiress to a Montana copper mining fortune and is currently the center of a criminal investigation into her fortune and welfare. She’s been living as a recluse in New York and Connecticut all these years (she has a 42-room estate on Fifth Avenue, and a castle in CT surrounded by 52 acres that is currently on the market for $24 million). She was taken out of her Fifth Ave. home in a stretcher and is in some hospital but is alive and well.
There was a similar event in New York with an heiress in which her son and attorney bilked millions of dollars from her and a Manhattan district attorney’s office successfully prosecuted the case. There is a question as to whether it’s happening again in Clark’s case. Two guys, Bock and Kamsler, have been in charge of her finances but wouldn’t return calls about the investigation. Oh, and a little random detail: Kamsler is now a registered sex offender convicted of emailing pornographic pictures to underage girls. WHAT?!?!? The article continued onto another page that wasn’t present so all I have is this lead-in to a story with all the trimmings: mystery, money, locations, history, great characters with rich names, and unfathomable details. More often than not, I’m astonished at the real, and less impressed with fiction. There it was, right smack in the middle of my daily paper, just waiting for a song.
Huguette Clark is less personal to me than the guy on the ski lift, but here’s this story I would have thought either happened a hundred years ago, or never happened at all—just the made-up story of some fictional novel. However, this woman, as far as I know, is still alive and she got her gorgeous Reno divorce picture from 80 YEARS AGO posted in the daily paper in my hometown in 2010. I couldn’t write this shit!
Here are a couple pictures from around town (Under the Eaves antique shop and Book Nook) that got me thinking about the muse’s whereabouts. Whole little rooms loaded with material, and they are strictly created for perusing. Lucky me.