Summer vacation reading with my daughter
My daughter and I are sitting in matching chairs in our living room in San Francisco. She is just recently awake and wearing only her tank top and underwear, nursing a bug bite on her hand, sipping tea I've made for her stuffy nose, and occasionally ripping off pieces of tissue from the roll of TP she has brought with her to the living room and stuffing them up her nose to catch the snot. I have been up for hours and am showered, dressed in jeans and my favorite T-shirt from Detroit (my wardrobe still reps Detroit more than SF, though I've lived here a long time). There is a large, square patch of sun on the carpet between us, cast by the skylight above. I love to watch this square move across the carpet all day long, and I love that she and I are sitting here in companionable silence while reading books we both purchased last night at one of our favorite bookstores in the city. Hers is one I've never heard of, but it has a nice cover with flowers on it. Mine is Textbook, and as I read I am marking passages I will want to share with my high school students when I start teaching my Creative Nonfiction class this fall. I usually have them read Encyclopedia of an Ordinary life, and their final project for the course is to gather their writing from the term in a similar form--an encyclopedia, a dictionary, a repair manual, etc. They love this project, especially the seniors who feel it is a portable little snapshot of their high school experience. I already know that on the first day of class we will do "The Short, Collective Biography Experiment" (page 158) as a means of introduction. Sitting next to my daughter as we read fills me with profound happiness, but also with a little of what AKR refers to on page 169 as "cry-bliss," a midlife feeling for me that has become more acute after finishing a yearlong treatment for cancer about 4 months ago. I'm in good shape for now, and if I can make it to 2 years with no evidence of the disease, I'm in even better shape statistically. This moment is almost over, but I can't help but also think of my own connections to AKR, however flimsy: I too am from Chicago and am a writer, I love anagrams, my sister has had dinner at AKR's house (she is a friend of a friend and always talks about the drinking fountain), I once discovered a signed copy of one of AKR's children's books in a small bookstore in Alden, MI and thought "Cool, we were both here!", the Bean in Millenium Park is one of my favorite places on earth, and so on and so on. My husband makes amazing pie, so I'm good with not being the 100th response, but if you, AKR, ever want to say hi or meet at the Bean for coffee (I go to Chicago a lot) and to try to connect some coincidences OR if you are in San Francisco and want to do something truly unique and startling and wonderful, let me know.
San Francisco, CA