Belief that alien life exists on other planets is persuasive, sensible; nearly 80 percent of Americans do believe it, according to a 2015 poll. But belief that the aliens are already here feels like something else, largely because it requires a leap of faith longer than agreeing that the universe is a vast, unknowable place. Abduction and contact stories aren’t quite the fodder for daytime talk show and New York Times bestsellers they were a few decades ago. The Weekly World News is no longer peddling stories about Hillary Clinton’s alien baby at the supermarket checkout line. Today, credulous stories of alien visitation rarely crack the mainstream media, however much they thrive on niche TV channels and Internet forums. But we also still want to believe in accounts that scientists, skeptics, and psychologists say there is no credible evidence to support.
These are the facts. I am in my 40s. I have a job. I am married. We have children and a flat with no garden, and a mortgage and a fridge-freezer and a navy blue estate car. None of this is a surprise. Is it?
Except… a mood can gradually take over, change the way you feel about the facts. You know how it is to fall out of love with someone? How the way their teeth clink on a mug as they drink their tea can make you hate everything about them, even though they are the very same person you once found so bewitching? I did not feel this about my husband. I felt it about myself. About my life, and who I had become.
“Living With a Dead Language” is a delightful mix of grammar and growth, words and wonder. Patty and her book are both full of life, epitomizing the Latin phrase ad astra per aspera — to the stars through difficulties. Those readers who never encountered Latin may overlook this book, but, to use the Roman poet Horace’s phrase, consider letting carpe diem be your catchphrase, or even carpe noctem: seize the day or seize the night and read this book.
In the park, there are 9,485 of them. You sit on them. To rest. Read a book. Sip coffee. Polish off a pulled-pork sandwich. Feed the pigeons. Wait for a friend, maybe a spy. Or it’s a sluggish day when you have nothing to do, and this is a delicious place to accomplish absolutely nothing.
Or you can drift off and muse on the plaque affixed there, representing a story behind the bench. The Central Park bench. You aren’t just sitting on wood. You are sitting on memories.