The page above is an excerpt from Chapter X, Why Women Who Do Too Much Housework Should Neglect It for Their Writing.
The book smells like the crackling-spine Berenstain Bears books I used to get from the library. It has the crackling-spine sound, too. I like to smell books right in the neck, in the heart, at the top. Ink and page and dust and shelf. Worn, musty carpet and metal shelf dividers. Must. Inhale. Books. I love the rubber-stamped address marking the book’s rightful place, and the thick paper.
Our little community college library lets any local resident get a card, and I leave there wanting to kiss every librarian for her goodness.
Nearly thirty years of hopeful writers did what I did today: stood at the counter and waited as a librarian crackled the back cover and stamped the stamp. I hope the library filled them, and Ueland filled them, writing filled them.
Mixed in with the paint, she used scratches and ash. Some of the ash banged off when we tried to hang the canvas.
An off-centered figure enters the painting, outlined in dark. I can’t tell if the figure is a man or a woman, and I think she did that on purpose. It has hands like mittens, cradling dark dirt.
Our bedroom is peppered with orange accents (which they say you’re not supposed to have in a bedroom, because the color wakes you up, but we do), so we wished her painting had orange. To match the pillows. We took the painting home and discovered that it did. The crouching figure, kneeling in the dust, has orange in its underarm, on its shoulder, dusting its kneecap. There’s orange smattered in the ashy chalk, orange highlighting knuckles. We were shocked. Now we loved the painting even more.
I waited patiently upon the LORD;
he stooped to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay;
he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure.
Psalm 40:1-2, Book of Common Prayer
We prayed through the psalms as a neighborhood, gathering in a makeshift chapel with homemade paintings on the wall and candles with wicks that sounded like rain. One neighbor told us Psalm 40 was her birthday psalm, one she’d read daily for the year. She said she pictured God stooping to pick up a baby in a crib.