“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.” ― Milan Kundera, Ignorance
Curiously, despite its solemn and dramatic consequences, the Spanish Flu remains a relatively untold tale in American literature. Sure, we have scientific publications up the wazoo, along with copious journalistic accounts of the 20th century’s most infamous influenza pandemic. But most of the leading writers at the time did not address this public health catastrophe in their literary endeavors.
Our fiction libraries are not completely devoid of this historical disease. A handful of novelists…
“People living alone get used to loneliness.”
― F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender Is The Night
“The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture ‘This is a pipe’, I’d have been lying!”
― René Magritte
About two decades ago, while working on the 25th floor of a Manhattan skyscraper in Rockefeller Center, I stopped in the hallway to chat with the new marketing assistant from California. …
I almost didn’t graduate elementary school.
This wasn’t due to lack of academic prowess, nor a result of any behavioral missteps. In fact, top of my class, with straight A’s and gold stars on every report card, I was the ideal student: Quiet. Calm. Respectful. Attentive. Smart. Curious.
The reason I almost failed out of elementary school in 1989 was due to a microscopic pathogen. At the age of 10, halfway through Grade 5, I contracted mononucleosis (aka “mono”), seemingly out of nowhere. It knocked me out, and down, for months. …
“I thought I was really changing my life when I went out to California. Of course, now it sort of feels like a dream. But at the time, it felt so real.”
— Pete Campbell, Mad Men
I’ve had one recurring dream over the last decade. The elevator pitch version goes like this:
I leave my lifelong East Coast existence, and I move to San Francisco. Usually, the reason for relocation is a work opportunity. On occasion, in classic Rom-Com style, I follow a guy. Regardless of its transitional origin, the dream always begins, and remains, in San Francisco. No…
I checked my email every five minutes while I wrote this article. Even worse, I touched my phone every 30 seconds to see if I had a new message. When I reluctantly discovered zero notifications, I skipped over to Facebook. Mindlessly scrolling through my feed, I temporarily sidetracked into LinkedIn (What are my CEO friends posting about marketing automation, and do I care?), then to Twitter (What are my Facebook friends reiterating in only 280 characters?), and occasionally to my WordPress analytics (Has anyone from Senegal visited my website today?). When all of this failed to fulfill me, I texted…
Walk outside after 5pm.
Acquire five mosquito bites in under five minutes.
Walk back inside.
Spend the next two hours applying tea tree oil to bites.
Vow never again to go outside after 5pm.
Walk outside at 4pm.
Light three citronella candles.
Position citronella candles directly around perimeter of body.
Acquire five more mosquito bites in under five minutes.
Complain to all friends that the mosquitoes in Virginia are “simply impossible this summer!”
Friends nod and scratch in agreement.
Scurry back inside.
Spend the entire evening applying tea tree oil and ice packs to…