Clippings

I will never forget how I stepped out of the shower and heard people down in the street screaming, or how it was Carolyn who heard them screaming and called me to the window. How my parents in Virginia called us, frantic, telling us about the Pentagon and wanting to know how close our Brooklyn apartment was to the World Trade Center, or it was actually NPR that told us about the Pentagon. How our landline phone eventually stopped working but the internet persisted, or the landline worked but everyone else’s phones gave busy signals, so we resorted to email. How I emailed our bosses at...
Global thinking is supposed to save the world. Throughout my life — and particularly as a student — I have been told time and time again that we just need more universal understanding, communication and focus. We are, after all, “citizens of the world” and responsible for the advancement of international discourse, for “bettering” things for others, for increasing connection. My education has glorified phrases like “big-picture thinking,” “globally-minded” and “far-reaching implications.” I have been taught that for work, conversations and perspectives to matter, they must be relevant to as...
If your summer reading list needs a bit more intrigue and suspense to it, look no further than a book by John Le Carré, the English espionage novelist who passed away last December. But if you aren’t a big thriller person, I still recommend Le Carré: The author — whose real name was David Cornwell — was also one of the finest novelists of the 20th and 21st centuries. Not spy novelists, mind you. Just novelists, period. If there is a class of 20th-century British writers Le Carré belongs to, in fact, it would not be in the pulpy dregs of Ian Fleming or the comfort food of Agatha Christie...
Language possesses magic. Right now, much of its power is tuned toward harm. So much of the English language has been curled, hammered and molded around colonialism. Our stories are heavy with capitalist urgency and linear processing, our metaphors are thick with violence. The heteronormative bent of our tongues means we connect healthfully not because of, but despite, the words we speak to each other. I don’t buy it — I’m convinced there’s more grace to be had in our speaking. I’m a lover of this transforming being we too often do not recognize for its bold power and dynamic panache. I just...
The COVID-19 summer of 2020 taught us that being outside was safer than being inside, as long as you had a mask at the ready and stayed at least six feet away from the nearest human. Well, the early summer of 2021 has me wishing the insect world would learn how to social distance. Is it just me, or are others also sensing that bugs — not the essential pollinators, but the kind that can really harass you — have grown stronger, more abundant and bolder during the past 18 months, while we humans have been so intently focusing on germs? I’ve seen almost 60 summers, but none have boasted the...
I never was good at math, ever. But I liked to read as a kid, and to write. I got that from my mom, who was the wordsmith in the family. When I asked her what a word meant, she just pointed to the dictionary on the music stand in the living room: “C’mon, Ma, just tell me!” I whined. Wordsmith: what a good word to describe someone who has a way with words, like an artisan, a blacksmith or locksmith or the other smiths — someone who toils with words. It’s a craft; you get better at it the more you do it. I even enjoyed diagramming sentences in the seventh grade, all these diagonal lines...

PHOTOGRAPH BY MARTHA Lentz: “Capturing the light, freezing moments in time, simplifying the chaos, balancing the business — this is what I seek. Shadows, reflections, fog, angles of sun, nature’s beauty — this is where I find it.”
I am not a winter person. I don’t like winter. Never have. I have lived in Maine or Vermont nearly my whole life. That’s probably why I don’t like it: pure Yankee obstinacy. I don’t want to live anywhere else though, even in winter. Winter is winter in Vermont, but not all winters are the same. Some are better than others and this has been just about the best one I can remember. It has been a pandemic blessing, a beautiful winter, with plenty of snow for skiers, cold enough weather for making snow and keeping it on the ground, but not brutally cold temperatures, below zero . . . (At least...
For 36 years, my job was all about mingling with people. In their homes or businesses, in coffee shops, schools, office buildings, on park benches, in statehouses, homeless shelters, college campuses and packed meeting rooms. I was once accorded 10 minutes with the late Gov. Richard Snelling — if I didn’t mind interviewing him in his car while en route to his next appointment. This was, after all, before cell phones. Sure, the phone works in a pinch, but my preference has always been to look people in the eyes when asking them questions. There’s no real substitute for personal interaction,...

REINA MARSALA KIRKALDY
We lost one of our two rescue dogs late last week, and one of my first responses was to write her obituary.  If I were a runner or a woodworker, I probably would have grieved by pounding the pavement or starting a new shop project, but my instinct was to sit at the laptop. Plus Reina had a tale to tell as well as a tail to wag, which she did often, except not while being petted. Doing two things at once seemed a bit much for her to handle.  When the piece was written I figured it would be shared with friends and family on social media, and it was.  Then I considered that at least a few...
U.S. presidential elections are often followed by calls for unity — or presumptions or hopes that unity will somehow prevail. Many of those calls and presumptions and hopes have appeared on the editorial pages of this newspaper, which was founded in 1946 by William and Celine Slator. “The amazing thing about America is its ability to go through a bitter campaign, lose and come up smiling the next day,” reads an unsigned editorial (common at the time) published on Nov. 12, 1948, days after Republican Thomas Dewey lost his bid to unseat President Harry Truman, much to this paper’s chagrin. “All...

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Addison County Independent