Sitting on the couch waiting for my daughter to dress for school, I’m watching the tree in the yard through our front window.
As I gaze at it, half-asleep, two leaves on the tree begin to move rapidly to and fro, while the rest of the tree remains utterly motionless. Two leaves. Just two leaves on an entire tree, in frantic motion, as though alive, while the rest of the tree sits still as a statue.
How is such a thing possible?
Perhaps each life has only one such moment. Perhaps this is the most important thing that will ever happen to me, even if I never quite know how or why.
It felt like a visitation.
I am listening to an NPR interview of someone on Slate who compiled a “50 greatest literary deaths.” The hostess asks the interviewee for his favorite on the list. He says it’s the conclusion of Thelma and Louise because he so admires their effort to “escape the bounds of masculine society”:
“You want them to escape forever…And if this is the way they got to do it, this is the way they got to do it. At least they're together in the end. And it doesn't show us, you know, the gruesome part. It shows us them at the top of the world. And it allows us to imagine that they're sort of just continuing this adventure forever.”
But they are “escaping the bounds of masculine society” by killing themselves to escape facing the law for having killed a man. A loathsome man, yes, but a man who posed no threat to them at the time Louise shot him dead. They have clearly committed a serious crime, and this is why they are being pursued by the police, not some fantasy about patriarchy needing to wipe out feminist resistance.
The deaths of Thelma and Louise in that film are awful, and they achieve no moral end. They serve as a way to glorify two criminals in just the way the cinematic deaths of Bonnie and Clyde did.
Why Amy Wax is my hero: Contacted by Inside Higher Ed on a story they are doing about her situation, she tells them: “I would never speak to you guys in a million years.”
I found an image online, a mummy portrait on wood of a young girl from Roman Egypt between 120 and 150 AD.
These portraits, many of which have been incredibly preserved over the centuries, were mounted over the face of the mummy of the deceased:
It is a startlingly striking form of funereal art.
That broad aesthetic appeal, though, is not what caused me to download this image and then look into its history.
The girl depicted here bears a remarkable resemblance to my own eldest daughter when she was a few years younger.
When I first saw the image, I gasped in astonishment at the likeness, as though I were seeing my child looking at me from outside time, from before my birth and the possibility of her own existence.
I once spent an entire day looking, ever more frantically and despairingly, for lost passports in our house.
Losing important documents was only part of the anguish. More upsetting was the idea that I could manage to forget where I had left such important documents and that they could apparently vanish into the aether, absent in every likely place I might have left them. Were malevolent spirits toying with me?
They turned up underneath the drawer I’d left them in, knocked over the back of the drawer by the overload of papers therein.
The feeling I had when I found them was elation mixed with the fear that looking in terror for things lost that are hidden inches from where I am looking for them is going to be the story of the rest of my life.
I was at the auto center this week to get my car inspected. The television was on in the waiting room.
The View began.
The room was full, maybe 20 seats or so. Immediately, two women in the corner began loudly expressing their disgust at the program: “How is it still on?”; “I can’t listen to this crap, can we ask them to change the channel"?”
There was a long segment at the outset of the show on (what else?) Donald Trump. Various spitting rants about how despicably evil he is. Then something on Jennifer Lawrence disowning her father for his conservative politics.
Finally, the real action: the guests came out. They were Hillary and Chelsea Clinton.
The room was now alive with visceral antipathy. Mrs. Clinton Senior went on a long monologue about the raid on Mar-a-Lago, saying that no one is above the law.
Several people in the room were by this point laughing aloud. “It’s comedy,” said one man, “you have to take it as a comedy. They can’t be serious!”
These are central Pennsylvanians, referred to by many of my colleagues with malicious and prejudicial insinuation as “Pennsyltuckians.”
These are my people.
Rita and Fred and Pagey and Percy and Jonesy and Bonzo.
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"The feeling I had when I found them was elation mixed with the fear that looking in terror for things lost that are hidden inches from where I am looking for them is going to be the story of the rest of my life." Do not fear. That is the rest of your life. You will have something in your hand, and you will not be able to find it. You will become a master illusionist, the finest of magicians, a one man Penn & Teller except you believe in God, and God and you alone are the audience. Do not be afraid.