December 17, 2007
I recently heard from a magazine editor who wanted to do something on Schuyler's Monster for the magazine's February issue. After he got a copy of the book, he suggested something different. Rather than a standard minireview of the book itself, he wanted to do a story about us and the book, but with a twist.
He wanted to interview Schuyler, on her device, via email or instant message.
I initially hesitated, although I'm not entirely sure why. I mean, I try to insulate Schuyler from all of the book spazzing and hype, but that's perhaps a little naive, considering that she is the title character of the book, her face splashed across the cover. For better or for worse (better, I feel pretty sure), Schuyler's along for the ride on this. Furthermore, I dig this magazine, which is both a little fancy and a little shit-disturbing at the same time, and I like the executive editor, whose writing I am familiar with from his days at a now-defunct Dallas weekly alternative paper. It was an interesting idea, one that simultaneously triggered my defensive dad reflex and my curiosity. After consulting Julie and Schuyler, curiosity won out.
In the end, we opted for an interview conducted over email, partly because I wanted to be able to take time with Schuyler to make sure she understood the questions, and partly because I wasn't entirely sure how to make the Big Box of Words work with an IM client. (Incidentally, it turns out that it is stupidly easy.) I won't go into the details of the interview itself, since that's obviously for someone else's publication, but I felt like it went pretty well. Schuyler was very careful and particular in her unusually long-winded responses, and the only help she needed from me was in spelling some words she couldn't find on her device.
There was a question about her dreams, and while I'm not 100% sure she entirely understood it, I was nevertheless interested to see what she'd have to say. Schuyler's dreams have always fascinated me, mostly because of all the parts of her life that we are occasionally privy to, her dreams remain the most unreachable. She has never shared them with us in any meaningful way; I can only think of one time before now, after she was troubled by a bad dream about monsters of some kind. But even then, she didn't seem frightened, only very sad, and she wouldn't share any details.
That's how it is with Schuyler. As she gets older, some doors open up to us, and we can see parts of her world that were closed off to us before. But she can slam them closed whenever she wants, and sometimes she makes that choice, particularly when she's pissed off. She stops using her device, throws her arms in frustration, and starts jabbering in a stream of Schuylerese that is two parts Martian and one part whine. Schuyler can be a pill when she chooses to be.
Even when she's happy, though, there are doors seemingly forever closed to us. Her dreams are her own, and so are her songs. She breaks into little melodies of her own creation, with lyrics that go forever untranslated. I'm learning not to ask her about her music, as that is the fastest way to make her stop singing. When Schuyler sings, you listen and you take the part that is meant for you, the sweet and untethered melodies that flit around like moths, never landing, always moving. The lyrics we just have to live without. They are hers alone.