Bleak House’s Surprising Binding


Books always meant a lot to me. There are pictures of my 8-year-old self with a copy of Hardy Boys, hardcover.

I never finished the book. All that mattered was carrying it around, having it in my hands.

At 8-years-old I didn’t know what binding would do to me.

Books seem like a simple technology, but have you ever stopped and looked at the spine of the book you’re reading?

Hardbacks never seem taxed.

Paperback, sometimes, surprisingly, hold together.

I’m thinking of Bleak House by Charles Dickens.

Binding is valued.

A ream of pages isn’t worth anything until you bind it.


*   *   *


This is what I plan to do this weekend: bind books.

I have the book blocks on hand, ready to be cut.

This weekend, starting Saturday morning, I will open the blinds above the kitchen table and I will move the jig and materials from the study into the kitchen.

From hibernation into action.

Music will be playing and I will have French-pressed coffee steaming the window.



What I want is for nothing to be on my mind.

The other day I came home and put my legs on the futon.

My heels left an imprint on the blue blanket we use as a comforter.

I meditated while looking at the imprint.

After I meditated I wrote:

meditating in the study: listening to traffic on congress, honking, the person in the apartment under me flushing the toilet, my stomach and my lungs, the air through my nostrils, honeyed cat wetting her tongue before she licks down the coat on her back, Lenny itching himself, and then everything is still between the three of us, Lenny is lying on the carpet spying under the bed at honeyed cat, who is a statue watching me meditate. I see how these animals always are in the present. they hear it all as it happens, and they see it too. they may register hunger and react, or a bowel movement, but other than these instincts their minds don’t wander, they aren’t distracted, they are 100% present.

And when Bridget knocked on the front door, when Lenny became quadruped, I went to the front door and opened it.

Meditation over.


*   *   *


We’re walking to the park, three of us, Bridget, Lenny, and me.

I imagine us being a Norman Rockwell painting.

But my foot hurts. It’s weird. I wasn’t expecting my foot to hurt. It feels like I kicked a bag of Lenny’s dog food and something jammed.

Of the many bones in feet, two (or more) are jammed.

Like an idiot I run 2.5 laps with Lenny. He puts up a fight the whole way. Throbbing in my foot.

This is reality.

I do pull-ups in the field.

I look at the moon even though it’s still daylight.

Daylight moons make me think of Melancholia.


*   *   *


In the morning, 12 hours after meditating while staring at the imprint of my heels on the blue comforter, I take Lenny for his morning walk.

Dogs always have to relieve themselves, and I understand it.

I don’t mind being at the mercy of a dog’s needs.

A dog, especially a domestic dog, is pretty much a human.

“Go poop,” I say. I say, “Go poop.”

I stress poop. You wouldn’t understand: mornings before work.

On the way back upstairs, back into the apartment, our home, where Bridget dries her hair in our bathroom: a shooting pain in my knee.

It’s nothing, I think. I think, It’s a sharp pain in my kneecap. Nothing at all. It will go away. So will the pain in my foot. Don’t think about it.

Next step, the pain intensifies.

“Ouch,” I say. I say, “That hurts.”

In the foyer I announce my pain to Bridget. She doesn’t want to sympathize too much.

He’s still young, she thinks. She thinks, relatively.

A pain in my kneecap will go away.

And my foot will feel better.

Everything will be all right.

Or is it spelled alright?

Hey, don’t think about it.

Don’t dwell.

April 9, 2013 7:39 pm

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