When I am frustrated with a project or just in a rotten mood, I find that a walk can make all the difference. After my flying machine debacle, I wanted to clear my head (and get away from Bubo’s laughing, honestly). So I meandered through Prospect Park and over to The Brooklyn Museum. Museums intrigue me; like my house they are chock-a-block with fascinating artifacts, some valuable and some not-so-valuable. Unlike my house they are organized with name plates of information and full of strangers. I like museums, and I’m glad I don’t live in one.
I went to the third floor to the Mummy Chamber. I am fascinated with the Egyptian belief system and, of course, the mummification process. But more than anything, it strikes a cord with this old goat that the Ancient Egyptians had no word for art; just standing in the exhibit at the museum one is surrounded by what we call art. For the Egyptians, these objects and practices were just part of daily life. In their minds, if you are going to spend the time to make a comb out of stone, then add a scarab to it, or a relief of a woman. It’s not art – it’s life. I like that.
The museum has a number of mummies (with CT scan copies on the walls) and an over-twenty-feet-long Book of the Dead scroll. This chamber is kept darker than the rest of the floor, and it is beautifully quiet. I think you know where I’m going with this.
I dropped my eyeglasses when I leaned forward to look at the Book of the Dead. It took me a bit to crawl beneath the case to find them (my flying machine crash worked these old bones over), and when I did, I’m ashamed to say, I couldn’t manage the balancing act to put them back on whilst on all fours. I lay down on my back. I put my glasses on. I don’t know what came over me. I fell asleep.
I’d be more ashamed if I hadn’t slept so well. I admit to being a bit of an insomniac – there’s always so much to do and so much to see and so much to learn. But beneath the Book of the Dead, I slept the sleep of, well, the dead.
Is it more shameful that I slept beneath such an important artifact in a respected museum or that this respected museum’s staff didn’t find me?
I slept for nearly 15 hours. Apparently, I needed it. An elementary school child found me. It seems her field trip of compatriots was too much for her and she crawled beneath the Book of the Dead for a snack of dried cereal and dried apricots. I love dried apricots. I was rubbing the sleep from my eyes, trying to get my bearings, and the blessed little creature was sitting cross-legged at my feet.
“You must be very hungry.” She whispered. She placed a pile of apricots on my leg for me. I reached down, my back much less sore than it had been (sleeping on a hard service works, apparently) and gratefully snacked on the apricots. She smiled. I grimaced.
“I’m not a mummy.” I said in a whisper.
“Not anymore, you’re not.” She replied. She finished her snack and crawled out from beneath the scroll. I watched her feet march down the hall, a few beats behind the caucauphony that was her field trip.
Once the room was quiet, I rolled out from underneath the scroll, dusted myself off, and wandered back into the exhibit.
I probably would have gotten more of an earful from Bubo when I got home if I hadn’t gone into great detail about the mummification process and the Ancient Egyptian practice of mummifying their pets for burial with them. I described a gorgeous sarcophagus in the shape of a bird and Bubo huffed and headed to the garden. She had unplanted all of my herbs while I was at the museum.
We’re back to normal this morning, though. In the night, she left me a present on my window sill: a dead squirrel with a note in Bubo’s surprisingly beautiful handwriting. It said “You may mummy-fy this.”