Hail the Baguette

Posted December 1, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

I haven’t eaten a baguette since early May 2007. That’s the last time I was in Paris, where the baguette was born and still rules the French bread world. More than six billion baguettes are sold in France every year, according to the New York Times.

I did not eat a daily baguette during the six years I traveled back and forth to Paris, although my hotel often sent up a small baguette with my coffee or tea for breakfast. But a baguette, as subtle and crunchy as its taste and texture may be, is not exactly a bread full of vitamins and other healthy ingredients. The French baguette is composed of just four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. Keep it simple. Keep it fresh for a day. And then buy another one tomorrow, and another one the day after that.

A fresh baguette is a daily joy. It is not built for leftovers. You do not store a French baguette in a plastic bag to be enjoyed day after day. That may be the American style. It is not the French way of living.

But today, I bought myself an American baguette from a local bakery that specializes in baguettes. The bakery is called Bread and Chocolate and its breads are carefully and sincerely made to capture the French style. But its ingredients expand slightly on the French model. In addition to the water, salt, and yeast, it includes malted barley and enriched flour. But the taste is as French as you’re likely to get here in the States. And it is nearly two feel long!

I bought the baguette as a way of celebrating with my French friends yesterday’s news that UNESCO has just added the French baguette to the UN’s list of “intangible cultural heritage.” It is now officially a cultural keystone of French culture as recognized by the leading international organization. The French and the baguette are as one. It is as if they were knotted at the waist, wrapped in each other’s tender arms as lovers, Gemini twins in a world of fractured cultural collisions.

The baguette is as French as the Seine, as much a part of French family life as water, as natural as sex, as essential to French life as conversation.

The Times quotes the president of the National Federation of French Bakeries and Patisseries: “When a baby cuts his teeth,” she said, ”his parents give him a stump of baguette to chew off. When a child grows up, the first errand he runs on his own is to buy a baguette at the bakery.”

I don’t remember what the first errand was that I ran as a child. Maybe it was to buy a newspaper or a can of tomato soup. Maybe I never ran an errand as a child. Maybe I just stayed home and waited until supper was served, and then after supper listened to The Lone Ranger on the radio.

Bread was always just something I put peanut butter on. It still is.

Decent Members of the Community

Posted November 17, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

It was a gray, ordinary morning, if such a morning can be called ordinary.

If any morning can be called ordinary.

The two men, who lived separately, woke up early, washed their faces, put on their work clothes, ate a simple breakfast, and then headed for the farm.

They were both in their sixties. They would never again wake up early. They would never again eat breakfast.

They did not know this yet. They would never know it.

The two men lived in a small poor village and worked on a small farm. They did not own the farm. They were hired workers. But they treated their work seriously and took the sweat of their labor as a sign of respect. Respect for themselves and for the land they worked.

They had been working the land most of their lives. They knew what needed to be done and how to do it. The landowner was lucky to have them. Their needs were simple and their pay was modest. But it was enough for them to have food and shelter and to watch television at night and to have a few beers on Saturday.

There was serious fighting gong on in the country over the border to the west. But that was there, not here. The men followed the news on television but figured the trouble would stay on that other side of the border. They would do their work and live their lives on this side and be safe. At least for awhile.

Their own country had had serious trouble over the decades and the centuries. But things were ok now. There was a school nearby filled with children who were safe. And the land was good and the crops were plentiful.

The two men felt sorry for the people on the other side of the border. That country was being attacked by bombs and rockets. And for months, enemy soldiers roamed through the towns and cities of that neighboring country, shooting men, women and children in the streets and bombing their homes. It was terrible.

But that was over there, not over here. Over here, the two men and their neighbors could live their lives safely. They could work the land. They could sleep peacefully at night. The children could study and play. It was unfair, maybe. But life is not always fair and at least for now, this side of the border was safe.

One of the men drove the tractor into the field to bring in a load of corn. He was on his way back to the barn to join the other man, when the missile hit. It was four o’clock in the afternoon. The sun was setting.

Both men were killed instantly. They were the only two. The missile was called a “mistake.” It was fired accidentally by the people being attacked on the other side of the border. It was not supposed to land on the farm. It was not supposed to kill anyone in the small village.

The governor of the local region said that he knew both men. “They were very decent members of our community,” he said.

“Decent members.” Not much of a soliloquy.

In describing the deadly event, the New York Times did not include the names of either man. I assume the reporter didn’t know their names. Hired men in their sixties who work the land in poor villages do not generally count for much.

They lived a small life in a small village in one of the poorest sections of Poland.

When they left their homes that morning to go to the farm, it was just an ordinary day. The corn would have to be brought in from the field. They knew what had to be done, and they would do it.

It’s what they did. It’s what they had always done.

VONNEGUT AT 100

Posted November 11, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

Today is Friday, November 11, 2022. If Kurt Vonnegut had not died in 2007 or anytime between then and now, he would be 100 years old today.

That’s a nice thought. Of course, that’s easy for me to say. I’m not sure Vonnegut would have been all that happy having lived so long. He thought he had already lived long enough when he was in his 70’s. Enough! is what he often said about what was expected of him, and that included life.

He did die — accidentally — in 2007, when he fell down the front steps leading to his New York apartment. He hit his head on the pavement and died a few hours later. He was 84.
:
The most famous and most revealing character he ever created was the failed science fiction writer, Kilgore Trout. Trout appeared in three or four of Vonnegut’s books, often standing in for Vonnegut himself. Trout had many of the same attitudes as the author and was inclined to say many things that isolated him from most commonsense people.

That’s where they differed, since Vonnegut was an immensely popular public figure, often interviewed and often the commencement speaker at numerous universities. But Trout was his fictional stand-in, who stood on the margins of a lumpy and creative literary life. Here is what Vonnegut wrote about his relationship with Trout. It’s from Kurt’s novel-memoir, “Timequake”:

“Trout doesn’t really exist. He has been my alter ego in several of my other novels. But most of what I have chosen to preserve from Timequake One has to do with his adventures and opinions. I have salvaged a few of the thousands of stories he wrote between 1931, when he was fourteen, and 2001, when he died at the age of eighty-four. A hobo for much of his life, he died in luxury in the Ernest Hemingway Suite of the writers’ retreat Xanadu in the summer resort of Point Zion, Rhode Island. That’s nice to know.”

Vonnegut wrote that in 1997, when he was 74. Ten years later, he would die on a New York sidewalk at the same age as Trout, his fictional alter ego.

The two men, who lived side by side in a unique fictional relationship, would end up dying at the same age, 10 years apart.

Vonnegut had a unique way of making fiction and reality reflect each other in a funhouse mirror. His most famous novel, “Slaughterhouse-Five, The Children’s Crusade,” tells a brutal story with charm and off-beat humor and fantasy that makes you swallow the awful reality of World War Two as if it were a glass of lemonade spiked with a touch of rue.

I wish he had made it to 100 — if only to have his presence around to remind us that all of today’s craziness is just par for the course.

In and Out of Time

Posted November 5, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

I am having trouble shaking the melancholy: emotionally and physically. It began four weeks ago. I think I contracted the RSV virus. At least, something was wrong. Scratchy throat, low-grade fever, blowing ‘buggers’ from my nose. General weakness.

I tested negative for covid two times. When I saw my primary doctor for a previously scheduled ‘follow-up’ exam, he said the virus was all over the place. Even inside his own family. A mysterious thing. Serious for some people, but more a nuisance for everyone else. It hounded me for nearly three weeks.

But I got my flu shot anyway and a week later, the covid booster shot. So I felt lousy but was now ‘protected.’ Trouble is, the barn door was still open and the horse by this time was in the next county and running like the wind.

Then there was the pill drama. A refill of one of my long-term daily medications went rogue. But I wasn’t sure which pill. It was either the lisinopril or the atenolol. I’ve taken both for years. But now, when I took them together in the morning as usual, something caused my chest to feel strange and spooky and off-balance. That lasted for 10 days. I started to experiment by taking one pill later in the day or not taking it all, just to see if I could pinpoint the villain.

I finally called my cardiologist and his assistant called back and we talked about it over the phone. He later called again and said my cardiologist wanted me to go to the emergency room at Yale-New Haven Hospital and have an in-depth analysis of my heart. I went the next day and checked in and spent six and a half hours on a gurney in the middle of the open area of the emergency room.

They took many blood samples, x-rays of my chest, and constant monitoring of my heart activity. Meanwhile, I had already singled out the lisinopril as the villain and had stopped taking it. It was only 5 mg a dose. The chest discomfort stopped within a day and a half. The results of the emergency room in-depth analysis was positive. The heart looked ok and the doctors concluded that it wasn’t my heart that was causing the problem.

I informed both my primary care doctor and my cardiologist in writing that I had stopped taking the lisinopril. Neither one has raised an objection as of today. When you’re 85, doctors tend to give you some leeway. I mean: how much more time do I have to take pills?

All of which has descended on my psyche with a reminder that I am lurching through the twilight of my life. You can ignore the fragility of your body, more or less, for much of your life. You can concentrate on your ideas and stimulating emotions and travel and think about next year and the year after that.

But when you turn 85 and the body starts to complain in sometimes subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle ways, you begin to shorten your perspective. You focus on what you should have focused on all along: the one-day-at-a-time plan.

And yet, that can hurt, too. Yesterday, when I was in Edgerton Park here in New Haven, and sitting in my folding chair, in the midst of a cascade of falling leaves, and was admiring the beauty of their descent and the quiet of the late-afternoon, I wondered how many more times I’ll be around to sit amidst such quiet, autumnal sanctity.

I’ve sat through so many autumns, so many quiet moments inside the heartbeat of Nature. Sometimes in a park, often by the sea.

Nature can lure you into the false feeling that you will always be here to watch the falling leaves, the restless tides, the changing seasonal personalities. You just loosen your grip on time and let the moment live comfortably in a beautiful vacuum in which there is no yesterday or tomorrow.

And then you fold up your chair and head home, where the pills live.

And the reality of that moment reminds you that forever is not on your side.

And Then The Day Shifted

Posted October 24, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

I was up this morning before the rain. It was my usual time. I prepared breakfast, read half the two newspapers I have delivered each morning. I’ll read the front sections later, during breakfast.

I made the bed, washed up, put on my walking clothes, put the two bags of bird food in my shoulder bag, took my morning pills, put on my raincoat and camouflage cap and headed out the door.

I started down the front steps and suddenly the rain came down like an ambush with such force that it drove me back up the stairs.

Normally, I drive my car to the two areas where I feed the birds. The whole circle takes about 20 minutes to complete. Then I return home, park the car in front of my apartment and then go on my daily two-mile walk along the greenway and through the Yale campus.

But today’s heavy rain put a stop to that. The birds would have to fend for themselves. No peanut pieces, no hulled sunflower seeds. They would have to rely on their wits.

Of course, they always have to rely on their wits. All wild animals do. My food is just an extra gift they add to their diet. I make it easy for them to eat good food that sustains them. But I never have enough for everybody. The ones in the know wait for each morning’s miracle: food they never get to eat elsewhere and laid out for them to just walk around and eat. They will have to rely on other sources for today.

So I took off all my walking clothes and put on my inside clothes and made my lapsang souchong tea and poured almond milk on my multigrain flakes, and brought my tray into the front room and ate.

And I remembered Hemingway and the way he began his wonderful book, “A Movable Feast.”

“Then there was the bad weather,” he wrote. “It would come in one day when the fall was over. We would have to shut the windows in the night against the rain and the cold wind would strip the leaves from the trees in the Place Contrescarpe. The leaves lay sodden in the rain and the wind drove the rain against the big green autobus at the terminal and the Café des Amateurs was crowded and the windows misted over from the heat and the smoke inside.”

I read those words this morning in my copy of the original 1964 edition given to me by Joan a year before she and I would travel together through Europe.

She wrote inside the book: “A pre-birthday present — a bit of one man’s magic for a person with more.”

We were together for three years, before going off to live dramatically different lives. She would live in Italy for many years before coming back to the States married to a man from the Italian cinema. She would die 20 years after she gave me the book.

The rain is still falling. I’ve given up on the idea that I can take my two-mile walk. I will hunker down, instead, and pretend that today is just an ordinary, rainy day.

The Flu Story That Wasn’t

Posted October 16, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

As it turned out, it wasn’t that way at all. It still isn’t. The last time we got together, I told you about my ‘flu’ and how I had survived it and was feeling fine.

And really, I thought all of that was true. Except it wasn’t true. The reason I was feeling fine was because I had started taking the miracle drug, Extra Strength Tylenol. And Tylenol will make you feel fine no matter what the discomfort is. You could be shot with a 12- gauge shotgun and Tylenol would make you feel as if you’d been bitten by a mosquito. .

It wasn’t until I stopped taking Tylenol that the true nature of my discomfort came through and I felt lousy. My fever was never higher than 100.3. But the muscle pain in my neck and along my upper left arm made it hard to sleep.

And I felt miserable day after day. I stopped taking the Tylenol after a couple of days because of its interference with my bowel movements. I also took two Covid home tests: one on Saturday and another on Monday. Both came up negative.

I was scheduled to see my doctor on Wednesday. It was a follow-up visit we had planned months before. It had nothing to do with my bad cold. But when I showed up at the doctor‘s office, sounding like a deep-throated Bogart, the secretary wouldn’t let me see the doctor. I might be carrying the dreaded Covid. I told her I had taken two home tests the previous four days. She said that wasn’t good enough. I would have to be tested by professionals at Yale. She gave me a telephone number to call.

I left the building and drove to a Yale medical center a half-mile away. The people at the center told me they don’t do such blood tests. But they gave me a different set of telephone numbers to call.

Nowadays, if you’re feeling sick, don’t go to your doctor. Go to a blood-testing place. I remember when doctors actually made house calls. I remember Dr. Jack sitting on my bed at home, while he placed a thermometer in my mouth, and felt my forehead. In today’s ‘modern’ age, doctors prefer to look at computer screens. I hardly ever take my clothes off in a doctor’s office anymore. I am just a digitalized robot in our brave new world — an atomized entity.

I called the right numbers, made an appointment for that afternoon, drove over and had my nose reamed by Yale technicians for two tests. By noon the next day, I was notified on My Chart that I had tested negative for Covid and for the flu.

But I still sounded like Bogart. So I cancelled tomorrow’s appointment with my dermatologist. (I do take off my clothes for her!) Two doctors up and two doctors down. Untouched by modern medicine‘s cautious hands! No messy human fallibility left behind. No three-dimensional sweat.

It’s been a little more than two weeks that I have felt lousy. But I do feel somewhat better now, though slightly flushed. My temperature this morning was 98.9. I take no Tylenol or any other pain reliever.

I ate cashew butter on a toasted English muffin for lunch today. I plan to eat a pasta salad from Nica’s for supper.

Tomorrow or Tuesday, I will go for my annual flu shot at the local supermarket.

Later in the month, I will go for my latest Covid booster shot.

It would be so nice, if sometime before fall turns into winter, a person were to ask me how I felt, and I could say I feel good.

“And how about you?” I would reply.

And he would look at me and say, “god-damned Trump !”

Surviving The Flu

Posted October 11, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

I am just coming off a weeklong struggle with the flu. It wasn’t a deadly kind. My temperature stayed around 99 and 100. At one point it reached 100.2 and then 100.3.

But this morning at 3 o’clock, it read 98.5 and at 11:49, 98.1. So I assume I’m over it. My voice is still low and scratchy. I sound like a sexy gangster. Someone who can speak slow and low over the phone and tell you to pay up . . . Or else. Or a lover, whispering sweet nothings into an ear ringed with wisps of hair damp from the Mediterranean.

At 3 o’clock this morning, the pain in my neck and right shoulder was so intense, I could hardly roll over. I had to get up and take two Tylenol.

But by 8 o’clock, I was feeding the birds next to Yale’s hockey rink and then next to St. Mary’s Church. By 8:30, I was walking down the greenway, through the Yale campus, and two miles later, back to my apartment. I met a 15-year-old dog named Henry on my walk. A small, gray fellow with wisps of light gray hair curling above his ears. He is suffering from the body’s breakdown. But he’s still moving along, at his own pace, and his female owner gives him all the time he needs. They’ve been together all 15 years. I gave him a couple of Blue Wilderness chicken treats, which he was happy to taste. He stood quietly, while I gently placed the treats between his lips. And then he turned and slowly followed his companion up the trail to the north.

We find inspirations for living wherever we can and from whomever we meet. Henry’s timing into my life was perfect. I felt better for having met him. I hope he felt a little better for having met me. We are both running out of years, Henry and me. But we are still walking on trails, still putting one foot in front of the other, trying to compromise with whatever is falling apart inside our bodies.

Meanwhile, the birds keep showing up for the food, and I keep showing up with bags of it. They come meet me when I step out of my car and fly ahead to the feeding space. All kinds of birds: sparrows, pigeons, doves, grackles, a couple of blue jays, starlings, three or four squirrels, a chipmunk, some birds I can’t identify. And I bring plenty. Hulled sunflower seeds and peanut pieces from the Amish in Pennsylvania. The crème de la crème. It costs me plenty, but I’m not saving money to buy a house or to vacation in Cancun. So I feel free to spend it on their behalf.

I vacation every morning, in their company. And sometimes I meet someone named Henry and it is unique enough to feel like a miracle.

It’s as if Nature is telling me, “Be glad you don’t live In Ukraine . . . Or anywhere else. Be glad you’re here.

And I say I am glad I‘m here. And then I continue down the trail, watching the leaves die with such beauty. It’s almost a lesson, I think. It‘s almost a command.

The Flight

Posted October 4, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

A gray, raw, sunless and damp day. It rained for awhile during my morning two-mile walk. But the birds were there. They ate, as they always do, with much excitement.

Feeding them is one of the few things I do that I feel justifies my life. I feed them good, healthy and delicious food and they eat it with excitement and pleasure. And there’s always more than enough to go around. Even with a hundred birds of different species and sizes and colors.

They wait for me each morning and often come up to my car when I arrive and then accompany me to our feeding area.

I wish I could do as much for the Ukrainians and for the Russians — mostly men — who have fled Russia rather than be drafted to fight a cruel and senseless and profoundly immoral war.

The New York Times print edition this morning runs a two-page spread of 12 photographs of some of the men who have crossed Russian borders to avoid the draft. More than 300,000 young and middle-aged Russian men have been earmarked for slaughter on the bloody fields of a neighbor with whom they have no quarrel.

Young Russian men in their 20’s and 30’s and some older than that. Torn out of their daily lives for no good reason, to fight and die for no good reason. Having to leave their wives and children, having to leave their careers, having to leave their parents and their friends, having to leave a life they thought was theirs to live, and to go fight, without sufficient training, in a country that is killing the invaders by the hundreds and then by the thousands.

One photo in the Times shows a 37-year-old Russian man, named Sergei, who managed to escape into Georgia. He is hugging his young son and daughter in what could be a hotel room. The son looks to be 10, the daughter perhaps 8. Sergei’s back is to the camera. The young son looks at us with a kind of numb, sleepy gaze. His arm rests against his father’s shoulder. The daughter is enveloped in her father’s arms. What is to become of them now? Where is Sergei’s wife and the children’s mother? How will they live their lives from now on? Where will they live? What will the father do for a living? Where will the children go to school? Where will the money come from? Multiply these questions by a hundred thousand or more Russian men and their families in flight and 43 million Ukrainians clinging to their homeland in blood and thunder.

All because of one deluded man who treats his historical fantasies as the voice of God and is willing to sacrifice the real lives of real people on the blood-soaked fields of his pathological ambitions.

My birds will come and go. But this war — and the lives crushed by it — will live for the ages among history’s most senseless crucifixions.

Russian War Traps Us All In Blood

Posted October 1, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

Once upon a time, things that happened far away pretty much stayed far away. We could read about them in morning and afternoon newspapers. We could listen to reports about them on the radio. We could sail to them on ocean liners or fly to them in airplanes with propellers.

But even those far-away events could eventually intrude on our local time and space. World War One was the first serious intruder. Then came World War Two, then Korea, then Vietnam. They were all wars. But even within those wars were events that stood on their own, like the Nazi death camps and global starvations and ethnic annihilations.

And then there was the Soviet Union’s invasion of Poland and Czechoslovakia and Hungary and the dividing of Germany and the Berlin Wall and ‘Checkpoint Charlie,’ and the Cold War. And suddenly Yevgeny Yevtushenko was on the Merv Griffin Show talking about Kurt Vonnegut and John Updike.

And even though most afternoon newspapers died, television took over and made distant events available 24 hours a day. And airplanes became jet driven and ocean liners were replaced by sight-seeing cruises.

And nuclear bombs and missiles were stockpiled like frozen salmon. And the internet and social media connected to everyone’s nerve endings.

Meanwhile, we all sabotaged Planet Earth and its land and its oceans and its rivers and its animals, and we burned its rainforests to make hamburgers. .

And so here we are: up to our neck in everything dangerous, while Vladimir Putin goes crazy in front of our eyes. The question is not whether, but when, he will step into the nuclear nightmare and take the rest of us with him. .

And still, my heart breaks over the suffering of the Ukrainian people and even by the young men in Russia trying to get out of their country before they are sent to their deaths in a war that can’t be won. The wives and young children they are forced to leave behind weep like victims of Greek tragedy. The young children kiss their young dads goodbye, perhaps for the last time, both hearts breaking in a chaotic moment of shared anguish.

This human experiment that has lasted thousands of years is such a goddamn failure; it staggers the imagination. What the hell was Nature thinking of when it invented us? What are we thinking of, as we stumble over one bad, deadly decision after another?

If only we didn’t hurt the children so much and so often. If only we had the decency to spare them. We might have given ourselves a moment of distinction. We might have justified our existence.

But, instead, we decided to hurt them, too. To ruin their lives, the way we’re ruining the life of the planet and everyone on it.

And so the next chapter is being written where East Europe dovetails into Russian mythology.

On one side, you have people bleeding. On the other side, you have people myth-making.

As we’ve shown over and over again, it’s always the blood that decides things, no matter how flattering the myth.

It’s always the death and destruction that defines our place in the world, not the rose garden in the middle of Ground Zero.

To Live A Life

Posted September 27, 2022 by V. Galligan
Categories: Uncategorized

If we’re lucky, we get to choose what we want to do with our lives. But for most of us, we’re not sure what we want to do, and so we take it one step at a time. We try this; we try that. We go here; we go there. We go to college, if we can. Maybe we go on to graduate school, thinking that will open up choices we like.

But in the end, we follow a trail that’s both practical and incidental. Doors open; doors close. Things happen. We meet people. We face rejection. We respond to surprises. We succeed. We fail. We try again.

And time passes. What we may have thought was possible, becomes more cloudy. What we never gave a thought to, suddenly seems inviting. What we have a talent for, leads to more choices. What we thought was a sure thing turns out to be disappointing. What feels comfortable doing becomes our career.

And then we retire. And then we die. And that’s that. End of story.

A hundred years from now, everyone reading these words will be dead. Some of us will be dead a lot sooner.

So what do we do about all that? We have two boundaries: birth and death. There is no third one. Whatever we do or don’t do won’t matter after enough time passes.

And so Hilaree Nelson decided that what she would do with her life is climb very tall mountains and then ski down them. That’s what she wanted to do with her life and that’s what she did.

She had a romantic climbing buddy named Jim Morrison, and the two of them climbed some of the tallest mountains in the world and skied down them. The mountains they climbed tended to be in the Himalayas and were higher than 25,000 feet.

At 49 years of age and the mother of two, Hilaree was famous among mountaineers. Very accomplished, very professional, very brave. And, no doubt, very happy.

A couple of days ago, Hilaree and Jim scaled the 26,781 high mountain called Manaslu in Kathmandu, Nepal. They made it to the top of the world’s eighth-tallest peak, according to the New York Times. A mile is 5,280 feet. You do the math.

Then Hilaree and Jim put on their skis and started their run down the massive slope. Jim made it to the base camp. Hillaree did not. She appears to have fallen into a 2,000 foot crevasse. The chances of finding her, let alone rescuing her, are virtually nil.

One of the members of the team said that “it takes three days to reach the incident site from base camp. Weather is hampering search and rescue operations.”

In other words, Hilaree is gone. On a mountain she had just climbed to the top of. On an icy, snowy mountain slope she knew how to navigate and loved with all her professional guile.

She was not hit by a car, did not die of cancer, was not stabbed in a street, did not drown in an ocean, was not gunned down in a war.

Hilaree Nelson died on the very mountain she had just conquered. She fell into a crevasse in the middle of a triumphant ski down a hill high above what most people will ever see, with all the icy, crystalline beauty of snow high above the normal frost line.

In the midst of one of her greatest achievements, she fell into a great, yawning maw that converted her death into a permanent metaphor that rescued her oblivion from the dreariness of time.

Meanwhile, the rest of us continue to live our lives below the frost line and wait for our bank statements to define our security.