March 25, 2007

Wicked

On a rainy afternoon, with the woods outside my window cold and muddy, I retreated to the bathroom, locking myself in so that I could relax in a tub of hot water, taking time to myself to read by the grey afternoon light. From below, I could hear piano music and drumming and the muted voices of teenage boys talking and laughing. But in the little room at the top of the stairs, heat began blowing out of the register as the furnace clicked on, a soothing noise that drowned out the sounds of the household.

Warm water caressed my legs and my belly as I shifted into a comfortable spot, admiring the way my skin looks silky when it's wet, soaping up my hands to swish my body clean, and then wiping my hands dry on a towel before I picked up the book that I had set on the floor. While the steamy heat released the tension in my lower back, I disappeared into a world where powerful women cast spells, where animals have voices and souls, and a yellow brick road leads to the Emerald City.

A long afternoon bath, filled with the scent of lavender and purple-grey afternoon light, strengthens me. When I stepped from the bathtub to wrap myself in a worn, soft towel, I felt ready to return to the work week, ready to read the newspaper with its depressing stories, ready to a culture in which strong, confident, powerful women are often ignored and scorned, where a person who speaks the truth is often called wicked.

Wicked

28 comments:

Kyla said...

You skill with words is a gift, jo(e). Sounds like a wonderful afternoon.

Lisa C. said...

I love that book, but I hate reading in the bathtub. Too many books have met their untimely demise, but the saddest one was my well-loved copy of Lonesome Dove. That book (which was already thick) swelled up to 3 times its normal size. I replaced it a few years ago, only to jettison it on a trip to Iran in a last minute overpacking emergency. Memories...

susan said...

The next best thing to getting to see you at Four Seas is getting a naked bath shot anyway :).

More seriously....I love how much you love yourself. Such a beautiful, healthy thing, and so relaxing and lovely to read.

jo(e) said...

Kyla: Thanks.

Lisa C: Yeah, I've ruined quite a few books over the years. Once you've dropped a book in the water, it's done for. No matter how carefully you try to dry it, the pages swell up huge. I am sure this kind of photo gives my librarian friends nightmares. (I should probably put in a disclaimer -- the book in the photo is not a library book!)

Susan: I was thinking of all of you at the FourSeas and wishing I could be there to meet everyone for breakfast.

Anonymous said...

Here's a tip from my wife, a librarian: Put a wetted book immediately into the freezer. It will freeze-dry in a week or so, minimizing the swelling and damage. Many libraries keep freezers around as a hedge against plumbing emergencies.
Oh--and that's one hot picture!

jo(e) said...

It's funny how recognizable your voice is even when you post anonymously. Tell your wife thanks for the tip. I will definitely try it next time ....

Neil said...

I like that tip from anonymous. I've always wanted to read in the bathtub, but was afraid of destroying the book.

Jennifer said...

I love the idea of reading in the bathtub ... but I don't get the title. Why is it wicked?

jo(e) said...

Wicked is the name of the book I was reading.

Mona Buonanotte said...

A-HA! That's what I need...a long hot bath. I wondered why I was so cranky as of late....

Anjali said...

Sounds absolutely lovely. But how do you do that without getting the pages wet?

jo(e) said...

Mona: Yes, I recommend it.

Anjali: Oh, I have years of experience reading in the bathtub. I keep a towel on the floor just outside the bathtub and carefully dry my hands before touching the book. And I don't wash my hair until I am ready to put the book away -- otherwise water drips onto the pages. I really haven't dropped a book into the tub in years. Honestly. No books were harmed in the taking of this photo!

Anonymous said...

The kid just asked me yesterday (wistfully) *how* I can read in the bathtub...she hasn't mastered the skillset yet. delagar

kathy a said...

lovely, jo(e). i've lost a few books to water, so anonymous' tip is much appreciated.

how do you take these photos? i'm guessing the ambiance would be lost [to say the least] if you called in the troops for photo duty. but then i noticed your right arm is not visible. [there was another bath photo some time back, and i speculated it was a timed shot, camera set on something.] or maybe you have a reliable, discreet photo elf. :)

jo(e) said...

kathy a: I can just imagine what would happen if I asked one of my teenage sons to take a photo like this ....

I use a tripod and a timer. I don't have much patience with the timer, though, so I usually just go with the first shot I get.

Sue said...

This is a great picture jo(e)!

I adored "Wicked" also. It is one those books I really treasure.

Sheila said...

Alright, alright, alright already. The universe is clearly telling me to re-read all of Baum's Oz books and pick up Gregory Maguire while I'm at it. Can't argue with the zeitgeist.

I read books in the tub all the time but only copies I haven't spent much money on. I keep a towel on hand, but I'm much more likely to ruin books on my way in or out of the tub than when I'm actually soaking.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Everything you write about always sounds like so much fun! I've never read in the bathtub, at least not in the hindseeable past. (I have vague memories tugging of having done so long ago). Surely any woman who is sensuous and speaks the truth must be truly WICKED! :-D Mary

BeachMama said...

I love reading in the tub and don't get to do it as much as I would like to. I have to say I have to use about double the water though. It's neat that you set up a tripod to get the shot, I was wondering the same thing.

Ampersand said...

Ahh, nothing like a soak in the tub with a good book. And I love how you describe it.

Anonymous said...

jo(e), I have just finished doing this very thing, right down to bathing in lavendar-scented water. If my skin could take it, I would live in the tub. PS - Trade you my short, chubby, cellulite-ridden legs for yours! Then again, I guess the legs I have match the rest of my bod! ;-) Best to keep them. Thanks for a peace-filled post. Kathy in Ky

jo(e) said...

Kathy: Well, if you'd asked a month ago, when the damned knee injury was waking me up every night, I would probably have traded legs with you in a heartbeat.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

I haven't had a chance to take a bath (without toddlers in it) in years... This makes me wistful. And hopeful, that someday I'll have that kind of time again!

YourFireAnt said...

Naked Woman Reading Book. How subversive can you get!

;-)

julieunplugged said...

And I debated posting a shot of myself at the beach that showed a bit of skin. Shame on me. :)

What a great photo and post. And we love the soundtrack of Wicked.

SourDad said...

Wicked!

I loved the book, but I must admit my reading it in the car on audio tape doesn't quite match yours in the tub. Of course if I tied that I'd be buying the library a new book.

Silver Creek Mom said...

MY abosultely most favorite spot to read. Every chance I get.

KM said...

Jo(e), you're pretty cool, y'know. Just thought I should tell you.

Peace.