Prompts & Muses, Ideas & Memories

I’ve always been taken with the idea of artists and writers and their muses. There was an article on Arkansas filmmaker Jeff Nichols recently and the manner in which he creates much of his work around one actor’s particular attributes. I like the thought of something being created with that sort of focus… as opposed to the films written toward the audience that can be portrayed by any young up and coming actor… as opposed to the story that begs to be told and is not written to the masses, but rather written to tell the tale.

That’s probably why I love the difficult and unbearable types such as Hemingway, Hugo and Gabriel Garcia Marquez – I relate to the story that wants to be written whether it is well-received or not.

Our family was chatting over the long holiday weekend about Pavlovian tendencies. I mentioned that I feel as though turning on the dishwasher is a quintessentially sleepy-time move. Mom always started the dishwasher at night, and so it symbolizes “day is done, gone the sun…” to me. If I meandered downstairs in our house at night while growing up, I’d hear the steady thump of the dishwasher. As a result, I feel compelled to start mine at night… and if I start it at another time, I have the sudden urge to bed down for a nap. It’s uncanny.

Our youngest is enjoying a pretty predictable daily routine, and it strikes me again and again how much kids (and adults) crave and appreciate predictability and rhythms. We want to know what comes next. Honestly, it makes the variations from the norm all the more exciting and enjoyable when we know we can return to what we know.

Each day, she hops up and goes to get her bowl. We tell the same daily jokes and lines, but ultimately she wants a banana peeled, broken in half and handed to her in that bowl. My failing to buy bananas is not really valid: they are anticipated, daily.

My dad throws in the story of his years pursuing an engineering degree at Georgia Tech, and the semester he had an 8a course followed by a break before his 10a heat transfer (riveting!) course. He would spend the hour in the student union with a Honey Bun and a cup of coffee studying for the heat transfer course. He said that for years in his professional career he would reference that text book and get a sudden, inexplicable craving for a bun and a cup of joe. It took him ages to place the correlation.

The ringing of a bell to signal us to want or expect a particular reaction is an intriguing facet of human nature. I’m curious: are there routines in your life that you follow without variation because that’s just how they are? Do you have sequences of events that evoke certain sentiments or behaviors?

I’m intrigued by the idea that we do things a certain way because that’s how we saw it demonstrated, and therefore that’s how it has to be. Obviously, the way our own parents did things is the only way.


I have to start the dishwasher now so that I can go to sleep.

7 thoughts on “Prompts & Muses, Ideas & Memories

  1. My mother loads her shopping car in a perfectly orderly way. Veg up top, light-weight boxes up front, cans in the back to prevent sliding, and meat neatly quarantined. It drove me crazy. I wanted her to loosen up.

    A few years ago I was checking out of a market, and the cashier complimented me on my nice, neat shopping cart.

    I called Mom because I thought she deserved that laugh.

    • LOVE this, Stephanie.

      I’m SUPER obsessive about the way I shop and load my groceries (plus, I use my own produce and shopping bags to amp up the annoying factor), to the point that I always go at odd times and use self checkout so it’s done my way. Wow, did I just confess that oddity out loud?!

      Your mom definitely deserved that laugh. I always share that stuff about her effect on me with my mom, too.

      Thanks for stopping by – loving keeping up with you lately and wishing you well!


    • How fun! I didn’t realize you all did that.

      By the way, Mom & Dad & Fred & I were reminiscing and laughing about some of the Mary Jane Christmases during Thanksgiving. A certain year when we apparently did an inappropriate strip tease to the Full Monty in front of our parents, in particular…

  2. Thom and I definitely have a routine that began way back when we were first dating: I come home from work to a cold drink {back when we first met it was a glass of wine!} and he begins dinner while I sit down to relax, catch up on emails, etc. Then I help finish up the meal prep and we eat together. I do dishes and then we settle in for the night. Predictable, yes. Comfortable and comforting? Most definitely. On nights when the routine is interrupted or ignored completely, I feel out of whack and disconnected from him.

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