My mother was an avid shoplifter. She is Bipolar and prone to extreme behaviors, to put it mildly (I’ll tell you about visiting murderers in prison in another entry). I’ve always thought of her as a combination of Auntie Mame and Mommy Dearest. But, really, pick your metaphor. We are borrowers, sponges, knitters together of many pieces, or thieves (but never plagiarists) in the night, synthesizing our experiences into art. Every book we read, play we see, every nasty break-up and passionate beginning, every odd dream, sensory memory, and cloud we watch can find its way directly or abstractly into what we write. Randomness is being more intentionally open to this, to steal words and images and to create something original, what the Dadaists call collage.
My mother was certainly a random shoplifter. She stole dog beds, mini-bikes, make-up, and clothes, but only from the corporately owned stores. A socialist at heart, she would never “steal from the little guys.” Now, at ninety, still witty and bright, she is kept from her crimes by my brothers, and her wheelchair. I wouldn’t be a writer without her.