Friday, March 31, 2006

Creamy goodness

We came out of our metro station this afternoon and saw the cremerie across the street lit up and open for business. So after supper, we took a little walk. As did every other family with small children in the neighbourhood, not to mention young lovers and gaggles of teens. I wouldn't be surprised if the first day of ice cream season is their busiest.

I'd planned on being content with watching Helena enjoy her vanilla, maybe lap up her leftovers, but I ended up taking a strawberry cone for myself. Which is just as well, because we both like both flavours, and on a good day (like today) we're both pretty good at sharing. Tomorrow evening we'll bring J-F with us and get chocolate too.

Books! Flowers!

Yes! We're still reading Middlemarch! Discussion of Book III is now underway.

I have my ticket to see David Bezmozgis, Tim Parks, and José Carlos Somoza next week at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival. I haven't read anything by any of them but was lured on the strength of Bezmozgis' reputation alone. As it happens, I found a copy of Natasha and Other Stories in the sale bin yesterday, and figured I may as well see first-hand what I'd got myself into. I whipped through the first half of the book last night in bed. It's lovely.

By the way, if anyone's interested, Susan Glickman herself responded to my little rant regarding the lack of information regarding her just-released novel and provided a synopsis.

Also from the sale bin: Hilary Mantel's Beyond Black. I enjoyed a previous work of hers, but having heard her in interview a couple years back I was thoroughly turned off by her self-centred self-importance and thought I could never read her again. However, I've heard nothing but good things about this book, and I couldn't resist the sale price.

The sale-bin pièce de resistance: Harold and the Purple Crayon! Many thanks to Suzanne for first alerting me to existence of this little gem, lodging it so firmly in my memory banks that as I ran my finger over its spine I was able to instantly recognize it for what it was. Helena and I have so far read it twice together (and I read it twice on my own) — it's a hit. While it does have some troublesome existentialist underpinnings, for the time-being we will revel in Harold's resourcefulness and his ability to immerse himself in his art.

There's still a tiny patch of dirty snow in our courtyard, but there's no denying that spring is in the air.

Helena crafted a play-doh flower for Papa, which I didn't have the heart to disassemble.

Near her daycare, they're selling gerber daisies, which I can't resist, to support AIDS research. Lucky me, as they were packing up for the day, they threw in an extra handful.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Growing pains

Oh, but there are growing pains! That is, a million little weird things about the girl, some of which greatly annoy me. Some of which are fucking annoying.

It's been (and will continue to be) a long week. J-F's away. Helena is moody, stubborn, and testing me.

These annoyances have been going on for a few weeks, directly correlating, I think, to her insistence on sleeping sans diaper (or overnight pants), which means about half of those nights she wakes up having wet her bed and the rest of the nights she wakes up because I guess it's become a habit, which means she's generally not as well rested as she ought to be. Nor am I.

Friday night she woke up screaming. She cried and I paced with her and she complained about her ear. No fever and I couldn't see anything in the dark, and god forbid I turn on a proper light and incur the wails resulting from the bright sting to her eyes. A dose of Tylenol, an hour of her crying and my pacing, and we fell back to sleep. Morning came and I gave some thought to taking her to a clinic, but nothing close by was open, and there was the pesky logistical matter of getting J-F to the airport and the more emotionally wrenching one of seeing him off. Taking Helena to a clinic was just so damn inconvenient, particularly since she claimed she felt fine, and she seemed fine, so I didn't, because that's the kind of horrible mother I am.

Tuesday Helena gives me a hard time about getting ready to go to daycare. I give us both a minute to calm down, got my own shoes and jacket on. I find her curled up fetal-like on her bed, feigning sleep. So I tuck her in and stroke her hair, call the daycare, and Helena sleeps the morning away.

Wednesday morning she tells me she wants to stay home, and I feel guilty. I have no work this week. I had plans for a little spring-cleaning is all. And my daughter wants to stay home, dare I say spend a little time with me.

Helena's back at daycare today for an excursion to the science centre, which I've been building up in preceding days so she wouldn't show too much resistance in the morning.

When it's good, it's really good. But the bad is frustrating beyond belief.

1. How none of her socks are comfortable for her. Or shoes. But it starts with the socks. And I've always given this rather serious consideration, given her history with eczema, always the worst on her feet and ankles, which look fine at the moment. But every year for the 3 years of her life so far, as winter gives way to spring her baby flesh turns scaly and she starts to scratch it raw. So. Cotton socks. Are hard to find. And I find myslef wondering if 95% cotton, 5% lycra is enough cotton. But the princess has issues with loose threads and noticeable seams. The Dora socks she screamed to own have never been worn. I've been turning most of her socks inside out so the seam across the toe isn't directly rubbing her feet. But add the pressure of shoes and she still feels the pea through the mattress.

2. How none of her underwear is comfortable for her. Most mornings she tries on all available clean underwear, usually settling on the last pair. If we're staying home, the underwear comes off within the hour. I've bought dozens of pairs of underwear, some cheap, some expensive, all 100% cotton. Some days I think we've found a comfortable fit, and I determine to buy a dozen exactly the same, but I've already cut off the tag (because tags irritate Helena, even more than the scratchy remnants often left behind), so I don't even know what size they are (they could be anything from 3 to 6, depending on brand and style). But it doesn't matter, because there's no guarantee that what she settles for one day is good enough the next.

I honestly can't gauge how reasonable or not she's being. No one should have to wear uncomfortable underwear! But don't we all put up with a little discomfort now and then? Maybe I should never have let the first pair come off.

3. Last week on entering the living room she freaked out that J-F's shoes were on the floor in front of sofa (but not even casually strewn, but placed neatly). Freaked out.

4. Hand-washing, dawdling over. This more than anything leads to tears. And I find this odd, because she used to love washing her hands. She scolds her cousin (so-called, as shorthand for a complicated not-directly-blood-sharing but in-the-family relationship), who's a year older, for not washing her hands after using the toilet, even bringing her a stepstool and leading her hands under the tap. So she knows she's supposed to, she knows how, but she defies my telling her to.

5. Bedtime used to be so easy. We left her to cry it out in her crib only a couple times when she was a baby. But sleep generally came easy. There were occasional glitches, after long days with visitors, when travelling or upon our return, for a few weeks when we moved house — all understandable. But recently, after a story or two, she looks at me sadly, "Je ne veux pas rester tout seul." I acquiesced a couple times, sat with her till her breathing changed, but I fear I've created a monster. It seems a small price to pay, 10 minutes watching your angel drift off, but...


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Underwear! for everyone!

Today marks a rite of passage in our household. Helena and I were chatting this morning about getting out shopping today, and she suggested we add pull-ups to the list. I had to think about this.

Helena hasn't worn pull-ups for some time. She has, however, been wearing a diaper overnight, until a few weeks ago, when after a few evenings of unfastening and refastening diapers and Helena tugging and crying it was determined that size 6 diapers really are too small. Genius that I am, I suggested she wear a pull-up, of the half-bag still sitting in the cupboard — not the greatest in overnight protection but better than nothing. Then we ran out. So I bought some "overnight pants," although the reassurances on the package that bed-wetting is common did make me wonder what age-group these are intended for (it never struck me as a problem that my 3-year-old can't stay dry at night). But it turns out they're kind of big. Not monstrously, but enough so that Helena won't even consider trying them on. So I told Helena she was a big girl and she didn't need to a wear a diaper or a pull-up at night — she could sleep in her underwear if she wanted to. So there's been some bed-wetting recently, and some laundry, but not nearly so much as I expected there to be, and when there is, I offer up the overnight pants, but she won't hear of it. So I wondered why she thought we should buy pull-ups.

It turns out, they weren't for her, but for Teletubby Dipsy. The pull-ups-aren't-toys argument and the they-cost-money factor didn't make make much impression on Helena, maybes because Dipsy's been wearing her too-small diapers for weeks already. So I suggested maybe Dipsy didn't need diapers or pull-ups anymore.

So today, our two Tubbies, Dancing Elmo, and a baby doll are sitting around the house fully toilet-trained, wearing Helena's too-small underwear. And birthday party hats (cuz they were there).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Last night

When I finally went to bed last night, I just lay there, my body clenched into a tiny ball of a fist against the cold air and J-F's sleep-moans, swinging against as yet undreamed nightmares about having disturbed authorial tone and leaving some participles dangling in my wake.

I couldn't sleep. I couldn't brave leaving my coccoon to retrieve Middlemarch or The Dodecahedron. Instead I reached my hand out cautiously and settled on Stefan Grabinski's The Dark Domain, giving way to a fitfully dark place indeed.

I slept eventually. I dreamed about a dodecahedron, and about AS Byatt — her book's ribs struggling to hold their intended shape, holding boxes within boxes within boxes, contents under pressure, and Alice was inside.

I held the dodecahedron in the palm of my hand, admiring the elegance of its geometry, even if the edges are a bit rough. It could almost fold in on itself. It's made of metal scraps, hollow inside. The air whistles through it. Alice wants it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Just so you know

1. Work deadlines are creeping up on me, preparing to bash me on the head from behind and leave me unconscious.

2. Sunday evening, the child threw up. Copiously. And all over me (2 different outfits), in addition to all over herself (also 2 outfits), her blanket, the sofa, the floor. She hadn't been showing any signs of illness. I think it had more to do with our afternoon snack, when I made hot chocolate and she ate half a box of cookies when I wasn't looking (even if they were those delicate almond thins). Monday morning she rushed into our room exclaiming, "I'm not sick anymore!" It seems she's drawn some correlation between feeling better and throwing up specifically all over my pants.

3. This morning, child refuses to go to daycare. This is unusual. I can't bring myself to force the issue. No fever, but general malaise and a bit of diarrhea. Mother-in-law is expected to swoop to the rescue shortly, so maybe I will meet my deadlines after all.

4. Over the last week, I've been sneaking peeks at The Dodecahedron, by Paul Glennon. So far, it's amazing. More on this later.

5. It seems I've been leaving typos in my wake, wherever my personal and professional correspondence has taken me these last couple days. This does not bode well for work at all.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Seatbelts! So we can be safe!

Yesterday morning, while I was already at work at this very desk, J-F and Helena were driving downtown, to work and daycare. Helena taps J-F on the shoulder from the back seat. She waves, "Hallo, Papa!" all smiles. Seconds later she has clambered up into the front passenger seat, so proud that she can unfasten the buckles of her carseat (which she's just about outgrown) and exercise such mobility. J-F is, well, in traffic, busy driving, and all he can do is yell, terrify her into a state of paralysis so that she desists from climbing or squirming. Helena is in tears.

They arrive at daycare, Helena still very much distraught at the nonstop verbal lashing she endured till they reached their destination. Her educatrice inquires as to the problem and upon hearing about the misadventure proceeds also to scold Helena.

The good that comes from this: the morning's activities were scrapped in favour of watching a video on car safety. Helena was asked to do a presentation to the rest of her group, along the lines of "This morning, Papa was very angry at me..."

Friday, March 17, 2006

City of words

The 8th edition of the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival takes place April 5–9, 2006. The programme is now available.

The website is hellish to navigate and information on the authors, their works, what they might be discussing or reading from is scant. (Case in point: the title of Susan Glickman's first novel, The Violin Lover, has a certain appeal to me, but that's simply not enough to entice me to attend its launch or a reading of it when I weigh the cost of admission and my precious time against the unknown. Is it a romance? historical? experimental? what? If you don't tell me at least some basic stuff like that, I'm not paying to find out.)

Here are some of the events that hold interest for me.

Readings, of course:
I'm planning on seeing David Bezmozgis, maybe Yann Martel, a couple others. There's a temptation to attend Leah McLaren's reading, only to heckle her, but I'm not sure I want to pay money for that privilege.

Remembering Irving Layton:
A panel discussion, including a former prof of mine.

The Good Old Bad Days:
A conversation about Montreal in the 40s, including William Weintraub, author of City Unique, which is a fascinating read.

This year's Blue Metropolis Literary Grand Prix honours Michel Tremblay.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Monday, March 13, 2006

Seen this weekend

1. Friends! Even though we had to drive more than 2 hours to get there, and then back, and even though, if we're actually leaving the house and spending money, I'd rather we treat ourselves to a bistro brunch, or cocktails, than overpriced, and overrated, buffet. It's nice to be reminded that I know real people, not just virtual ones, and that I still like them.

2. Formations of Canada geese. They're coming home!

3. The Legend of Zorro. Cuz, well, it's Zorro! and there's swordplay! (And also Rufus Sewell, who appears in the BBC production of Middlemarch, which I look forward to seeing soon.) Zorro's no musketeer, but he'll do.

4. Bear, napping.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The interminable cuteness that is my daughter Helena

1. The way she says D is for Don Quixote, H is for "moi."

2. We go "see animals in the park." She ushers us into our bedroom, stopping in front of the cat at the foot of the bed, pointing out the sharp teeth on this wild tiger. Next stop, the giraffe, played by her stuffed elephant, which is sitting next to her stuffed giraffe.

This morning's safari featured snakes, grasshoppers, and spiders.

3. The way she governs her little entourage of dolls. She has taken on the role of educatrice to them, so once they're tucked in for naptime, she sits nearby and scribbles notes on their behaviour, appetite, and bowel movements.

4. She asks to watch her stupid Caillou Christmas movie en espanol, evidently tired of both the French and English versions. (I offered Spanish as an option one day and apparently it made an impression. Warning: Caillou's Spanish mommy can't sing — she makes me want to tear off my fingernails.)

(Can I get Caillou in Polish?)

5. The way she knows when I'm losing patience with her. She bats her eyelashes and makes kissy faces at me. It's my kryptonite. All stern disciplinary resolve dissolves into laughter.

6. She carries with her everywhere one of my itty-bitty book lites (though neither of the two contraptions I own actually goes by that trademarked name), with the unfortunate result that my attempts to read in bed are generally thwarted by spent batteries.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Things that blow my mind

...within a generation, biology will face its ultimate identity crisis. Researchers in the field of nanobiotechnology are racing to achieve the complete molecular integration of living and nonliving materials. We will hack into the CPU of life in order to insert new hardware and software. The purpose is to extend the capabilities of biology far beyond the limits imposed by evolution, to integrate the incredible biochemistry of life with the equally spectacular chemistry of nonliving systems like semiconductors and fiber optics. The idea is to hard-wire biology directly into any and every part of the nonliving world where it would be to our benefit. Optoelectronic splices for the vision impaired, micromechanical valves to restore heart function.

But the moment we close that nano-switch and allow electron current to flow between living and nonliving matter, we open the nano-door to new forms of living chemistry — shattering the "carbon barrier."

The universe:
The burst, named GRB 050904, originated 12.8 billion light-years away, which means it occurred 12.8 billion years ago and the light took that long to reach us. It erupted very nearly at the beginning of time.

You know, everything!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Books to movies

Books into movies:
And a not-so-funny thing happened. The books began to change the movies. (André Bazin argued that the Italian neorealist school was really "the cinema of American literature.") And the movies began to change the books.

There was an element of mercy to this. Authors no longer had to lard their chapters with physical description in the manner of a Balzac or a Trollope; the fund of common visual reference bequeathed to us by movies (and later television) meant that we were all, writers and readers, on the same page. Except that the page itself was changing: Text was losing ground to image.

(I wonder how different Middlemarch would be were it written today.)

Bibliophiles fall back on the assurance that books alone can draw us into the human soul. Or, as theorist George Bluestone puts it, a film "can show us characters thinking, feeling, and speaking, but it cannot show us their thoughts and feelings."

Increasingly I find authors are afraid to show us thoughts and feelings, thinking it more clever if we're made to infer them from the characters' actions and words, from the juxtaposition of scenes. But what's wrong with clearly writing about what's inside a person's head? This is precisely why I like authors like, for example, Auster and Saramago and others think they're overrated.

Larry McMurtry:
And finally I'm going to thank all the booksellers of the world. Remember, "Brokeback Mountain" was a book before it was a movie. From the humblest paperback exchange to the masters of the great bookshops of the world. All are contributors to the survival of the culture of the book. A wonderful culture, which we mustn't lose.

We won't lose it, but it will evolve, again, and again.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Update on reading Middlemarch

Henceforth I will not utter a word on Middlemarch here (unless I feel like it). All discussion will be confined to Reading Middlemarch (as much as one can confine literature or keep it from spilling over into real life).

I think I've tracked down everybody who expressed interested in reading along. If I've missed you, I apologize — please contact me again. Or reconsider your anti-Middlemarch stance — there's still time to join us!

Also, I'd like to highlight Rachel's apology in advance for being a Middlemarch smartypants and a hog. For this I also apologize to the rest of you.

Thanks for everybody's kind comments and emails.

Now. Back to work.

Friday, March 03, 2006

The week in transit

I've been responsible for much of the dropping and collecting of the child at and from daycare recently. There have been developments in matters related to public transportation, general mobility of said child, and of course my reading habits.

1. Helena doesn't much like crowded subways. Who does? During rush-hour somebody usually offers us a seat, but not always. I've tried a few times to get her to stand on her own, but in the time it took to crouch to let her down easy I realized just how unpleasant the ride would be for one who's only just over 3 feet tall. So I usually balance her on my hip. Earlier this week, I warned her I'd be putting her down for a minute when we pulled into the next station, so I could readjust my stance. And very bravely, and I suspect even in sympathy for the plight of the heavy load I was carrying (being said child), she told me she wanted to try to stand. And stand she did, holding onto the pole and lurching in fun with the train's momentum, the rest of the way and every metro trip since, even when seating was available.

2. Helena walked of the train onto the platform all by herself. "J'ai pas tombé dans le trou!"

3. Helena doesn't much like escalators. (Some of her classmates are pros at escalators; Helena opts for regular stairs.) She tried once, about a year ago, to step onto one, but she turned back at me in tears. So when regular stairs are not an option, I balance her on my hip. This week, she wanted to try. She did not turn back, but after we stood there for about 5 minutes, Helena mesmerized by the patterns of moving lines, I had to lift her on. But she rode up (and later down) on her own 2 feet, hand on handrail, and stepped off without hesitation.

4. Helena on hearing the subway approach, stretches up her arms for me to lift her. After a few runs this week, she held my hand till the doors opened; we stepped on to the train together. "J'ai pas tombé dans le trou!"

5. I had a fit of panic when, returning home alone, I finished reading the book I'd been carrying around in my bag, with 3 stops (of a 5-stop trip) still to go. Once home I wasted hours (!) looking for unread books the right size for my next metro journey, tucking them into my bag to check for fit. Luckily, I found a couple Penguin 60s (Virginia Woolf, Killing the Angel in the House: Seven Essays, and Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell). I finally settled on a Dover Thrift Edition (Dostoyevky, The Gambler), greatly relieved that I'll have metro reading for the next while. Sure I like hardcovers, finely textured paper, and gloriously illustrated covers as much as the next reader, but really, there's a lot to be said for pocket-sized (and cheap) paperbacks when you're just trying to make the commute go by a little faster.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Middlemarch reading

As mentioned, I'm about to embark on George Eliot's Middlemarch. Diana has already bravely agreed to accompany me on this journey. Anyone else?

Email me, or leave a comment below, if you're interested in joining us. Because it's nice to have a group of people to turn to for encouragement, questions, comments, clarifications, insight. This is an unstructured approach to get 'round to reading a "great book," to see what all the fuss is about. Read at your own pace!

(The text is available online; I picked up a bargain copy a while ago.)

If responses warrant, I'll set up a separate blog à la last year's Don Quixote project, where readers can post their thoughts, raise questions, link to background material, etc. Or else I'll just bombard you all with my own progress here.

Heck, does anyone even read this blog anymore? Now would be a good time to leave a comment: click on "comments" at the bottom of the post (Oh wait, it says "fish" — is that what confused you?) and type. (This includes you, Iwonka.) Let me know if:
A. I bore you, utterly and completely.
B. You have no interest whatsoever in reading Middlemarch for yourself but yearn for the vicarious thrill of my interpreting every sentence.
C. You wish I'd take my attempts at critical analysis elsewhere.
D. You've read Middlemarch and can't wait to see me make a fool of myself.
E. You love me, no matter what.

While I hope to finish Middlemarch before October, I do intend to give it a considered reading, pencil in hand (that is, I won't be rushing through it this weekend; this should take me well past the middle of March).

I have thus far read the prelude and two whole pages of Chapter One. So far, so good. I'm motivated. This book is now at the right time and place for me.

That Spanish woman who lived three hundred years ago, was certainly not the last of her kind. Many Theresas have been born who found for themselves no epic life wherein there was a constant unfolding of far-resonant action; perhaps only a life of mistakes, the offspring of a certain spiritual grandeur ill-matched with the meanness of opportunity; perhaps a tragic failure which found no sacred poet and sank unwept into oblivion. With dim lights and tangled circumstance they tried to shape their thought and deed in noble agreement; but after all, to common eyes their struggles seemed mere inconsistency and formlessness; for these later-born Theresas were helped by no coherent social faith and order which could perform the function of knowledge for the ardently willing soul. Their ardor alternated between a vague ideal and the common yearning of womanhood; so that the one was disapproved as extravagance, and the other condemned as a lapse.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


David was a genius.

I knew David from the university. He approached me casually one day, hoping to come up to speed on The Death of Ivan Ilyich. He'd noticed I was in many of the same classes as him. That is, he was just hanging out on campus, sitting in on what he thought was an interesting sample, but eclectic mix, of classes, in a couple cases officially auditing them. Metaphysics, 19th Century Russian Literature, Computer Logic, Modern British Poetry. And there I was, actually enrolled in them.

We went for coffee. He quizzed me a bit on my course of study, mining me for information really, how to consolidate these interests into a practicable academic path toward... something.

Of course, I didn't know the answers to his questions. We were essentially doing the same thing, trying to find ourselves, only I was paying a lot more money for the privilege.

The year passed, measured out in coffespoons after class.

Eliot's Four Quartets.

He pressed Cortazar's Hopscotch on me; I loaned him my Calvino. He stopped by my place whenever he was passing by. We had tea and listened to my Philip Glass.

We saw Man Facing Southeast, twice, and argued Bach's mathematical head versus Beethoven's wild heart.

We stared at Francis Bacon's pope-in-a-box.

I didn't know anything about David really, beyond his ideas on art, literature, music. Maybe that's all that matters; I knew him in a "pure" way. He was very private. I think his mother was ill, very ill. Or maybe she just had the flu that week.

I, on the other hand, was an open, and, that year, very emotional, book; he heard all about my family, friends, and romances.

He took me to a Christmas party, hosted by a Polish friend of his. In the kitchen was a young Jesuit studying for the priesthood. That night David argued him out of God. Later we heard the monk had packed his bags, hadn't returned to school, hadn't been heard from since.

After much research David had found a college he wanted to attend. He spent months bouncing his essay for application off me, how our perception of art is a product of our experience.

Before he left for the States, he brought me a cassette tape of Beethoven's Late Quartets. To this day, it's the most excruciatingly beautiful music I've ever heard. (I have it on CD now, many recordings of the same pieces, in fact.)

We exchanged a letter or two, then fell out of touch.

Something happened to him. He'd seen things that terrified him, but fascinated him. Terrible beauty. I don't know if he finished his program.

I saw him once — no, twice — after he came back. We ran into each other in the street. The first time we immediately adjoined to the nearest coffeeshop.

I don't remember the details; I think now that whatever it is I heard frightened me too much at the time to seriously consider it. It seemed so unreal. I was incapable of deciphering the truth of it. He admitted his own memory of the events was sketchy. I don't know if it was part of his studies or a job he took or a cult he joined. A charismatic entrepreneur and mentor. They travelled (Africa? South America?). Something about isolation tanks, mind control experiments.

Frankly, I have no idea what he told me that day. The impressions I retain are as likely to be a feeble interpretation I pieced together from his cryptic behaviour as to bear any relation to the conversation that transpired between us, let alone to what really had happened to him. He told me because he needed to tell, but as if in confession, as if no living soul, myself included, could bear the weight of knowing what it was. I wonder that he didn't hypnotize me himself to erase all — most — traces of what he'd said.

The second time we passed each other in the street was insignificant. The connection was lost, both of us still, I think, trying to find ourselves, but too caught up in the practicalities of the day to day to devote ourselves to that task properly. Maybe I should've looked for myself more carefully; I think he could've helped.

Years later I was dating someone who, it turned out, and I don't recall how we figured it out, had been at that Christmas party and knew David. I heard he'd married, was working in IT.

I don't remember when it was, whether soon after first meeting or the last time I saw him, David told me I had to read Middlemarch. Had to. His urgency scared me. I didn't read it then, but I'm about to.

Sometimes I wonder whatever happened to David.