I’m at my grandparents’ in Missouri for a couple weeks, and there’s a cricket in my room. At first he was in the corner by the chair, chirping cheerily and loudly all night long. He kept me awake, but when I searched for him, I couldn’t find him, and the internet informed me that he would probably live for weeks on end. I was a little lonely after my sister left so I resigned myself and thought, “Oh, well, I guess it’s nice to have a friend.” One night he seemed to be in the closet and one night in the shower (though I was grateful to find it empty when I got in a few minutes later.) Eventually I thought there might be two of them, calling back and forth to one another about secret cricket things. I would lay awake listening, and wondering what they were saying, and generally wishing that if I was to have roommates we could maybe all be on the same sleep schedule at least one night a week.
Then on Saturday evening I was sitting in my chair reading, when my elusive friend emerged from under my bed. He was larger, uglier, and altogether looked much more like a cockroach than I thought he would. He stopped in the middle of the carpet and stared, so he may well have been thinking the same thing about me (though I know I don’t look like a cockroach.) In any case, I immediately realized that I had been deluding myself to think of him as a friend and that we would in fact always be mortal enemies while he insisted on keeping me awake at night. I lunged for him with a shoe and he retaliated by taking one great leap back under my bed. So I turned out the light and took a less impressive leap onto the bed and under my covers. He continues just as awful every night, and I’m seriously considering moving down to the end room just to escape, even if it means having to wash an extra set of sheets.
I’ve been doing other, more valuable things than running away from crickets, though. Last night after Sally had had her fill of the game between “the Spurs and the Heats,” I watched the first bit of Ken Burns’ documentary on the Civil War to help me out with teaching next year. At first I nearly cried because it was so good, and then I settled down and took notes.
I’ve also been reading. Or, rather, spreading books all over my bed, face down, and switching between them at a hectic pace.
The Wingfeather Saga (by Andrew Peterson, yes, the one whose music you love): As I said so many times this year, I’m not normally into fantasy, but these were lovely, the footnotes in the first book particularly. If you like very large puppies, people who can fly, and noble twelve-year-olds, you will like this. (I would guess it also has a niche market with people who hate cows and forks.) The fourth and last installment comes out later this summer and I’m pretty excited.
Between, Georgia (by Joshilyn Jackson, worth it for her first name alone): I found this in the massive Ed McKay’s in Chattanooga. I enjoyed it. It was worth the time I spent reading it. Now go find your own summer novels at McKay’s.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (by Milan Kundera, that Czech man): I’m part way through this. I like the bits about the one character’s crass mother, but every time he goes back to talking about all these love affairs that all these neurotic people are having with each other and obsessing over, I get bored. Probably won’t finish it.
Radical Femininity (by Carolyn McCulley, whom I know nothing else about): I’m not a huge fan of the title. (As my dad says “I only like the word radical in math. It actually means something there.”) But I like the history in it very much and wish there was more of it. Also only halfway through, so the verdict is still out.
Home (by Marilynne Robinson, she of Gilead fame): I’m enjoying this. I like Glory. I like her father. I like John Ames. I like their little town. But here’s the thing: they’re all preoccupied with and fascinated by Jack Boughton and his sudden reappearance, and I’m not. I’d like to move along and hear about Glory’s divorce and other things that are not Jack. But then again, I’m halfway though. We’ll see what happens.
Mere Christianity (by C.S. Lewis, of course): I don’t think I’ve read this since high school and I’m very pleased to be coming back to it again. It’s my grandparents’ copy, but I’ve been sneakily marking the bottoms of pages for bits I want to copy down. Hooray for truth.
After I’ve finished wading through all of these to my satisfaction, I plan on rereading all the Little House books for the first time in a very long time, and then moving onto Robinson’s Housekeeping (not about Jack Boughton! Hurrah!) and the “spiritual biography” of Flannery O’Conner that Mary got for me. Please write me a letter and tell me what you’re reading, in great detail. I will add it to my list and perhaps get to it in five or ten years.
Alice, Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being is worth finishing. It’s not ALL about sex, though in my opinion too distractingly explicit for high school students, or even for the college students to whom I used to teach it. There’s hilarious grim satire of the Communist state; a lively description of the Prague Spring (which will help you know that bit of Cold-War history); and even a weepy romantic ending that fully qualifies for Kundera’s own def of kitsch. And it is a novel of ideas.
Put out some bug and mouse poison.