Why not write in a foreign language? If people feel free to choose their profession, their religion, and even, these days, their sex, why not just decide which language you want to write in and go for it? Ever since Jhumpa Lahiri published In Other Words, her small memoir in Italian, people have been asking me, Why don’t you write in Italian, Tim? You’ve been in the country thirty-five years, after all. What keeps you tied to English? Is it just a question of economic convenience? That the market for books in English is bigger? That the world in general gives more attention to books written in English?
The journalist Michael Kinsley was 43 when he learned he had Parkinson’s disease, and about 50 when he announced that fact to the world. Parkinson’s is a slow sickness. (“You still have to floss,” his neurologist told him.) Mr. Kinsley is now 65, with body more or less intact, and wits entirely so, if his superb new book is any indication.
“Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide” isn’t really about Parkinson’s. It’s about aging in general. More specifically, it’s about how the baby boomer generation, which is now rounding third base like a herd of buffalo and stampeding for home plate (which is a hole in the ground, as the novelist Jim Harrison liked to say), will choose to think and act in the face of it.
How do you make a friend now? Dr. Levine says the first step is to get over the stigma that something is wrong with you if you don’t have enough friends or are looking to make more. “As an adult, we think that everyone has their friends and we are the only ones seeking them,” she says. “Nothing could be further from the truth.” Women especially feel judged if they don’t have friends, she says, since they’re supposed to be good at friendship.
It may be harder for men to make friends. Women feel more comfortable reaching out to others, says Geoffrey Greif, a professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work and author of “Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships.” He says that men often worry that reaching out to another man might be misconstrued as a sexual advance. And, in general, “they are less willing to be vulnerable,” he says.
Our daughter knows the word lawn, of course she does, and the word still sounds green, it still sounds like leisure. And there are still people, rich people, like the Stanhopes on the other side of the wall, who have private lawns.
But when we take Lulu for a very special fifth-birthday outing to the Botanical Garden across the city (bus, subway, bus, grass for the masses) and promenade on the lawn where the cherry trees are blossoming, she asks, “What’s all this grass for?,” and then I feel bad, like why the heck didn’t we bring her here when she turned 2, 3, 4?
And then I’m remembering that time last summer when we rode the subway out to the shore and I said, “Don’t you love the sound of the sea?,” and she said, “Yeah, just like WaveMaker!,” which is the machine we’ve used ever since she was born to try to drown out the sound of sirens and other bad things. And then I’m remembering when we took her to the urban stables, five-minute pony rides on the sidewalk for $16 a pop every Sunday morning, the dirty white pony (Marshmallow) stepping carefully among blowing candy wrappers, and though Lulu was so stiff with terror that I had to pull her off after 45 seconds, she insisted I feed Marshmallow a few of the baby carrots we’d brought along.