Muses and Other Difficulties

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She slams her hand on my desk, hard.  She wants to make sure I’m paying attention, that in the mess of numbers and corporate numbness that has been my life for the past few years that I haven’t forgotten about what she’s capable of.  What we’re capable of.  I have a cold, my voice is weak, I’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks.  I’m just–

You are always “just”, you lazy slag.  Just trying to survive, just trying to get through the day, just trying to hold onto a couple sanity points.  Maybe you should do more than “just”, poppet. 

Her breath is warm, her voice is soft and menacing, her Marc Jacobs eyeliner is smeared and her Chanel flats are scuffed.  She won’t admit she can’t wear heels anymore.  That would be a weakness and she detests weakness.  She knows the hollowness she can make me into.  She knows the fires I can light.  She knows what a fat bougie house cat I am.   We stare at each other, my blank hundred yard stare that makes her insane and her intense scrutiny, finding me wanting as always.  Just a Muse and her girl.  I try to ignore her and go back to sealing second notices.

But she won’t be ignored.  Nay, nay, she’s not about that life.  I could see her debating whether to kick me hard so I pay attention.  So I don’t let this moment slip by like so many other moments that came and went unanswered.  If she should call her sister, The (Goddamn) Universe (Herself) to shake my ant farm so hard that I’m gasping for breath and on my knees, shaken out of my complacency and forced to listen.

She sees the smudges under my eyes, the marks on my arms from the seemingly endless battle with the poison ivy in my yard, the extra weight I’ve put on as a protective shield between myself and the world.  She thinks about me pinning a smile on and trying to be a person for my loved ones, me grimly scrubbing my tub and hanging my clothes, the endless stacks of paper on my desk that I try to untangle only for a new pile to appear, the worst version of spinning straw into gold.  Lighting bundles of rosemary and sage that I dried myself and hoping it’s a magic of some kind.  For a moment, she softens.  She remembers that I was never meant for this life, not really.  But that I keep trying anyway.  

She crouches down next to me at my desk and brushes the hair out of my eyes and gently straightens my necklace.  She puts her lips close to my ear and whispers, Hey.  This is not all that you are.  This is not all that you are meant to be, what happens all day here.  You are more than this.  Look inside your tiny terrarium.  Look at everything you’ve grown.  Put your hands to your own earth, feel the seeds underneath.  You are still growing, baby.  You are still growing.

I took a breath and took some time off, to try to find what I could sprout in a few days.  It hasn’t gone to plan – I had plans to swim like nude mermaids in the moonlight with River but I had such a crippling panic attack instead (like normal people do with time off) that all I could do was hit a hard reset through meds and sleep.  I got so engrossed in writing and finishing an entire short erotica from start to finish in the lounge at my new pretend country club that I didn’t work out (though I did have a New Old Fashioned and lobster bisque with Jow after).  I’ve watched far more Orange is the New Black than I planned.  I haven’t really worked out.  

But I have: 

  • Put my literal house back in order
  • Written and edited so much!  More than I have in years.
  • Spoken out publicly against consent violations
  • Worked on learning to use my tripod for various future endeavors
  • Played Scrabble with Jow
  • Packed Limited Edition Orders
  • Went to The Blue Moose for the last time with Jow for brunch before they close shop and snagged the last tee shirt
  • Steamed my new silk kimono with spring water and rose water
  • Long, leisurely conversations
  • Dinner with my mom
  • Set some intentions
  • Made a farmer’s market charcuterie plate for dinner with Jow 

I’m not breathing easier.  If anything, finding where I feel like myself has given me more panic and more uneasiness, despite how lovely this all sounds.  It’s become foreign to me.  I’m still getting my bearings with it.  I’ve actually been profoundly uncomfortable on my days off and I wake up in a panic and I’m never quite sure if I’m doing what I should be doing.  But that’s what magic is when we do it right.  Uncomfortable af until it blooms.


Deborah Castellano
Deborah Castellano's book Glamour Magic: The Witchcraft Revolution to Get What You Want is available for purchase through Amazon, Llewellyn and Barnes and Noble.
Her frequently updated catalogue of published work is available on Author Central.

She writes about Glamour Magic here at Charmed, I'm Sure. Her podcast appearances are available here.

Her craft shop, The Mermaid & The Crow specializes in old-world style workshop from 100% local, sustainable sources featuring tempting small batch ritual oils and hand-spun hand-dyed yarn in luxe fibers and more!

In a previous life, Deborah founded the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk convention, SalonCon which received rave reviews from con-goers and interviews from the New York Times and MTV.

She resides in New Jersey with her husband, Jow and their cat, Max II. She has a terrible reality television habit she can't shake and likes St. Germain liquor, record players and typewriters.  


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