Month: April 2015

Bleak House, house buying, Hawthorne, Melville, and Bryant…

Bleak House CoverIt took me a month to read Bleak House, mostly because moving from Guam, buying a house, and generally not feeling great has been monopolizing life lately. The book itself is classic Dickens–brilliant and impossible to review. Everything that can possibly be said about it has already been said by more well-spoken readers than me.

Somewhere around page 300, I laughed out loud at something (this happened a lot while reading this book). The hubster looked up from his computer. “Good book?” he asked.

“It’s brilliant.”

“What’s it about?”

And for the life of me, even though I was already a third of the way through the thing, I couldn’t really say what it was about or where it was going. The action really starts around page 700, which is probably why so many people find BH such a daunting read.

Nevertheless, it’s brilliant. You should go read it now.

The hopeless situation of that Chancery lawsuit was a nice break from househunting and moving stress. Dickens takes effort to read when all you’ve read lately are more modern, American-authored books, and I needed something to keep my mind occupied.

So there was that, and it took forever to read, and it made me feel like I needed to go read every single Dr. Seuss book ever written to catch back up with my 52-book goal on the 2015 reading list. Although BH would qualify for several different items on the List, I’m counting it toward “a book that I own but never read,” because it really has been collecting dust for a while.

I found Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose!

I found Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose!

 

Side note: Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) was born in Springfield, Mass–the same town in which we’re buying a house. There’s even a memorial sculpture garden, and it’s kind of awesome.

This weekend I learned a little more profoundly just how much literary history is EVERYWHERE around here. The hubster and I went to hike Monument Mountain, just west of town, on Saturday. Google revealed that a picnic on that mountain once spawned a friendship between Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, that one of their conversations supposedly inspired Moby Dick. 

 

Poet William Cullen Bryant also waxed rather eloquent on the subject of that mountain’s rocky crags.

Let thy foot
Fail not with weariness, for on their tops
The beauty and the majesty of earth,
Spread wide beneath, shall make thee to forget
The steep and toilsome way.

Read the entire poem here, if you’re feeling dedicated.

Monument Mountain

The views up there were beautiful. But I’ve seen unquestionably more spellbinding mountains than that one. Did William Cullen Bryant ever visit the Rockies? That bears research, but I doubt he would have been as impressed by the Berkshires if he had.

I am a bad blogger. And a bad traveller.

They say the golden rule of blogging is to blog regularly.

Judging by that benchmark, I’d say I fail pretty profoundly, seeing as I’ve published all of two? three? posts since the first of this year.

I’m not without excuses. For the last month and a half, life has been one big international move. On March 2nd, the hubster and I flew out of Guam, travelled for something like 27 hours, then landed in Hartford, Connecticut. The only really consolatory part of that trip? Knowing that I wouldn’t have to travel it again anytime soon.

So, apparently the hubster has a sketchy travel history.

At four different airports, the conversation with the TSA began like this:

Excuse me, sir, I need to pull you aside for a moment and unpack every item of your carry on while you tell me everywhere you have travelled in the last five years. 

The hubster is in the Air Force. He has an extensive travel history. I don’t know that I could name every country I’ve visited or flown through in the last five years, and he’s traveled five times as much as me.

“I’ve been to Turkey, Quatar, Japan, the U.S. a few times, Hawaii, Russia, Uzbekibekibekistan…”

“And what was the purpose of your visit to Turkey?”

“I am in the military. I was deployed there.”

“But what were you doing there? And what dates were you in Turkey?”

….

Then, you know, you get to the domestic side of things after getting off a 14-hour-long transoceanic flight. And you overhear fellow travellers having the most edifying phone conversations:

Oh, you know, I just got off the longest flight everrr from Seattle to Detroit. …yeah, it was awful. The guy sitting beside me slept, like, half the time and I couldn’t even get up to walk around. I hate flying.

And then you watch the same passenger go up to the ticket counter and ask for an upgrade to first-class because of all the travel they’re having to endure that day.

Ma’am, you don’t understand. I have been in transit for FIVE HOURS now. 

One day it’ll be funny. Right?

In other news, we are here, we haven’t frozen yet, our poor Guam boonie dog, Frank, survived the trip (although he discovered a very entitled, needy disposition somewhere along the way), we found a house we love and are waiting to close on it, and in the meantime we’re living out of a hotel.

I spent most of my non-blogging time over the past several weeks not making much progress on the 2015 reading list, because I was reading Bleak HouseMore on that later.