Tuesday, April 06, 2004

The cruelest month

I'd been eager to get around to reporting that the mound of snow slush in our parking lot had just about vanished, when it started to snow. Brrr. Grrr.

It's fucking everywhere. Again. Damn snow.

I had to get out to the store yesterday. Again with the boots and the heavy winter coat. Again with the snuggly hat and the blankets, the weather shield for the stroller. Helena was none too pleased about the bundling either, but she's always excited to realize there's an excursion in store.

Helena is, in fact, the sweetest baby in the world. I say this with absolute objectivity.

Walking is now a viable mode of transportation. The excruciatingly slow chases around the living room are exceptionally funny. (Helena's not afraid to fall, and she does, but this is usually reserved for "controlled" practice walking sessions.) When walking to get places, she has to do it just right, stopping to correct her balance or fine-tune her direction. Slow, but steady.

Lego play has become more constructive than destructive.

She's getting to be a little . . . girly. This morning she found a string of beads in a box on a shelf in the bedroom. I own a few things like that, but I never wear them (no jewelry of any kind). But there's Helena, happy as a little girl, trying them on and admiring them, adjusting her "outfit," reveling in her adornments.

We watched Sesame Street this morning. I didn't know Cookie Monster had a mother. Cookie Mommy. Today's letter of the day is "B." B.B. King sings about it.

Friends from out of town visited the other day. We sat up late into the night, talking and drinking. (Needless to say, I'm still having trouble with adjusting to daylight saving time.)

We had Chinese take-out. My fortune: "Your success in life must be earned with earnest efforts." It's my habit to post the latest fortune on the fridge, not because I believe in fortunes, but because I get this feeling cracking open a cookie that I'm cracking open a bit of myself, the shell of my self; someone (me?) is trying to tell me something I need to be reminded of. This one is timely, as I'd spent the previous day griping that someone should simply write me a check for a million dollars on the basis that I obviously deserve it.

These friends like books. I literally live among stacks of books. Over the course of the evening, books were reached for, handled, perused. They would spark conversations. This seems natural to me. Homes that have no books, or even magazines, I find creepy. I dread the Trading Spaces crew coming into my home and replacing my Ikea shelving with decorative wall shelves, the kind that display objets and maybe three or four hardcovers, but just for show. You can't tell me my books are ugly and that they should be hidden from "society" (the neighbours we never invite over).

I finished rereading The New York Trilogy, by Paul Auster, something I'd started doing in preparation for his reading last week. (The festival is reported to have been a success.) I wasn't going to, but now I am adding this to my tally of books read in 2004 (that makes 10), but only because it was if I were reading The Locked Room, the third part, for the first time.

I've read the other parts a number of times. But not this one. I remember liking it least of the three, so discarded it from my memory. It's more traditionally narrative, to its detriment, I thought.

It's not a question of books "holding up" over time, as the characters in Oracle Night discuss. It's a matter of context and the ability of the reader to apply meaning, to imbue the reading with significance.

To some degree, we can intuit what needs to be revisited, reexamined, but much of this — this exploration of self, this contribution to personal growth — must be left to chance. How do you know where any book will take you? Do you presume it will take you someplace different, better, the second time?

I have picked up reading Oracle Night where Paul Auster left off:

. . . he begins to see a connection between himself and the story in the novel, as if in some oblique, highly metaphorical way, the book were speaking intimately to him about his own present circumstances.

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