First, for fall break, Elspeth was going to come up and visit. Then she emailed and told me she wasn’t going to be able to make it, so I came up with plans to go down to the orthodox monastery in Ellwood City, and ran around telling everyone I was going to be a nun over break. But then their guesthouse was full, (“no room at the inn,” Jackie and I decided,) so now break has come and I am holed up in my little apartment with thick socks on and corn and bacon chowder in the crockpot. My own sort of monastic living.
Wednesday afternoon I got a package from Elspeth in lieu of her visit, which contained tea, biscuits, a despairingly sassy mug, and my favorite of all: gummy Flintstone vitamins. I can’t get sick now, can I? I mostly sat in for the evening and begun reading As I Lay Dying, took a brief walk in the rain with my friend Mary, and discovered that, glory of glories, there is whole season of What Not to Wear suddenly available on Netflix. I’m not prone to these sorts of statements, but I’m fairly certain I could actually be friends with Stacey and Clinton. More than one episode has gotten me perilously close to crying, and I have definitely squealed—they just look so marvelous and happy, even if Carmindy the glowy make-up lady does slather an obscene amount of foundation on every single one of them.
Yesterday morning I borrowed Ali’s van and went out and spent more than fifty whole dollars on groceries for soups and things, then felt like superwoman carrying almost my own weight in foodstuffs up the stairs in one trip. I played hymns on my cello, and went out to wander around in the neighborhoods even though it was just about to rain. (Though really, it was just about to rain for all of yesterday, except for when it actually was.) This may be sacrilege or something in this cloudy part of the world, but I like the way fall looks beneath a thick grey sky. The colors are deep and saturated and drowsy. In the evening I went over to Haley’s and we made dinner and talked about Shakespeare and cross-country road trips and Dr. Brown herself.
I came home to plan for the little class on devotional poetry which I am hopefully teaching in January, and found I wanted something from my old creative writing syllabus from last fall. So I called my dad and he dug through my huge box of papers, and cheerfully read off the titles of everything from Classical Ed on back through junior year, in an effort to make me regret I ever asked. He was positively intrigued to find a poem I had written which he thought was about my mother’s rouge. (It wasn’t.)
In any case, I went to bed early and lay there reading more Faulkner, which I’m pretty sure I’m enjoying. There is something about sitting down and trying to actually write a novel myself which causes me to drink in other’s good prose like I’m parched. And though Faulkner jerks and spits and just generally behaves in an ornery fashion, he knows the way beautiful language works, that any voice can speak poetry, that a great part of reading and writing is listening. I fell asleep to his words last night.
The title up above is from a John Donne poem about being in love, which I am not. But though it’s just me here, I have plans to fill this little space with good cooking smells for hours on end, to scrub out the bathtub, to vacuum the thick carpet, to sit down at my computer and courageously introduce a villain into my story for good and all. For now, this little two-room apartment with its finicky lamps and pile of dirty dishes and sunlight sliding through the blinds is plenty enough for me.