Wednesday, November 28, 2012


So far, so good, with my new routine of Early Arisal (isn't anyone getting that reference to Hedy Larue? She was also not yet accustomed to early arisal.) This morning, it was 5:30, and the ideas began to burst in my skull, and up I got. Coffee. Candle by the icons, lamp by the chair, silly sleepy cat that should have stayed on the bed blinking at me in confusion from the arm of the couch across the room. Journal. Pen. And ... begin.

I spent a lot of time doing exactly this, when I was a kid. I wrote. I read. This morning, I looked - and questioned. See ... I'm reading Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project (which I highly recommend), and she says that someone once shared a trick with her - a way to figure out the answer to, "what is your passion?" or, "how do you play?" or other similarly intended queries. What's your thing? One way to find the answer is to ask yourself what you liked to do when you were ten years old. (me: read. write. sew.) Another way to find the kind of pastime you, yourself, actually enjoy is to "do what you do." Don't look for motives or zing or "passion," but look instead at behavior. (me: read. write. sew. cook.) And then, be happy with that. Stop looking everywhere else for all the things you suppose you "should" enjoy, and just enjoy what you enjoy. Do what you do. Love what you love.

Well, I love books. A rather bemused visitor to our student housing apartment years ago got it right. He had been with us for, maybe, half an hour, when he commented, "You guys don't just love reading. You love books. You love the books themselves!" We do. I do. I love the way they feel and smell, and I love the way they sound when I turn the pages. I love propping them open, several at a time for reference while I'm doing a project, and I love stacking and restacking, shelving and reshelving, endlessly arranging them as the primary design element they have always been in our home. And I love the way they're made. Most of all, I love endpapers.

Covers can be beautiful, and a gently mellowed cloth cover is the stuff of bookish-ness itself, but endpapers are camaraderie. Endpapers are the meeting place of friends, and the openness of free conversation. The stuff we already agree on, and understand together, and refer to without needing to belabor the point. (All of these images are linked to their sources. Go ahead - click on 'em.) Nothing. Nothing more wonderful than the map of the story, the touchpoints of the narrative - the uber-illustration - the meta-metaphor.

Of course, there are endpapers that are merely beautiful, and not metaphorical. These are the crystal goblets for water at the table and miniscule bits of clarity for the sherry or the port. These sorts of endpapers are more mood than map, and they have a bit of understated high class - the kind you know when you see it if you're the sort of person who sees such things. These are the endpapers that hearken to a day when a book was not in every house because it was not a think picked up from the display at a supermarket. Books, expensive, more rare, more precious, had endpapers like this in the olden days.

The Junior Instructor, Book 1, let you know about the wondrous possibilities by putting a traveling circus just inside its cover, and there's no wondering about boredom or long passages of incomprehensibly boring narrator's voice once you've peeped behind the cover of the book about Kit Carson.

But my favorite ones are maps. Diagrams of houses and grounds, or maps of where they were when they all went there, and how they all got back again.
This morning, while I was writing in the darkness before the sun made the black sky into the blue-gray of light on this November morning, I realized that I have begun to make endpapers of my own. Probably, if I can talk about it intelligibly, I will say a lot more about this - about the narrative (and Narratology) of a story (or a set of stories) about me (or the parts of me - or the people I know - or the ones who live with me and have not yet been written). But for now, I am in the fireglow warmth of the discovery of endpapers, materializing during the quick ballpoint scribble on a Wednesday morning.

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