May 23, 2019

My Unchanging Life

“Friday evening, 8 p.m., early summer, New York City. I sit at my desk, face aglow in Macintosh luminescence. On the desk sits the detritus of the hour, of the day, the week, the season. There is dinner of sushi in the little takeout tray from the supermarket. There is leftover coffee in a mug from the afternoon. There are books and notebooks and checkbooks. There are pens and lip balms and hair ties and postage stamps and unmatched earrings and a MetroCard. There are a gazillion paper napkins for some reason. There is a computer modem whose lights flash with the irregular, listing cadence of a heart murmur. There are several Word documents up on that glowing screen, each competing for attention, not so much with one another, but with the email interface to which all roads lead back.

It is 1997. It is 2017. It doesn’t matter. It is both. In 20 years, my life has come full circle, 360 degrees for real. People often say 360 degrees when they mean 180. They say full circle when they’re really talking about a semicircle. It’s an oddly human error, as though they can’t quite grasp the concept of a human being turning on an axis as readily as the earth itself. But in my case, it’s true. At 47, my life looks uncannily the same way it did at 27.

How did I get here? Nearly two decades ago, I moved from New York City to the Midwest and then to California, where I came as close to settling down as I’m probably ever going to come, which is to say I got married. Nearly two years ago, the marriage ended, and I got in the car and literally drove through my life in reverse. I drove west to east, backward in time, until I landed right back where I started: alone in a scuff-marked apartment in a clanking old Manhattan building much like the one I occupied in my twenties, eating supermarket sushi at my desk and trying mightily (yes, on a Friday evening) to complete a writing assignment that was due a week ago.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"The results were surprising. The center-right coalition, led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, remained in power against the opposition Labor party, which had led in every poll for years."

"Anger seldom works against Trump; he owns the currency and can always issue more of it. In addressing the rogue President directly, or speaking about him in the third person, Pelosi usually adopts a tone that is more sorrowful than angry..."

"I am Mizrahi, as are the majority of Jews in Israel today. We are of Middle Eastern and North African descent. Only about 30% of Israeli Jews are Ashkenazi, or the descendants of European Jews."

"Kids are exposed to plenty of controversial social issues on a daily basis. And if parents don’t want their kids to watch “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” they can turn off the TV."

"Are public-school teachers really underpaid? It’s a claim often made during teacher pay disputes, but the same data and statistical methods that produce the “teacher salary gap” lead to some ridiculous conclusions..."

"Tech companies are getting into the business of making cities. We need to stop Silicon Valley social engineering before things get even worse."

"Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life: Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government."

"“What name . . . shall we give to the darkness of hell...?” The question of how we can name a place such as this is at the center of scholar Scott G. Bruce’s new anthology The Penguin Book of Hell."

"She had all six of her kids — ages 5, 4, 2 (twins) and 10 months (also twins!) in her 10-seater van. To get the kids a quick snack, Curry parked in front of the Cobbler’s Café."

"Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said they grew up typically eating dinner at a kitchen table, but a little less than half said they do so now when eating at home."

"If you tied a rope tight around the Earth’s equator and then added a single yard of slack, would the extra material make any noticeable difference to someone standing on the ground?"

"While American Jewish women face attacks on our freedom and rising anti-Semitism, abortion opponents are appropriating Jewish history in order to push an agenda that hurts women."