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Kissing on a first date or even going on one? Will we always have to wear masks and count the days till vaccine appointments? Predicting the future is hard. The author of eight books about future pandemics, McGuire thought nothing would surprise her when COVID flipped our world upside down last year. Instead …. What I got wrong was optimism.
As we pass , deaths in the U. The question is: How much? Some of our pandemic prognosticators agree. And after every disaster, governments and other agencies do evaluations and talk about what went wrong and those lessons very rarely make it into policy. So we see this repeated over and over again. Most of our forward-thinkers agreed on the smaller points — and not many of the outcomes are positive. There will be less hand-holding and shaking in our future, more elbow-bumping, namaste-ing and awkward waving.
And if you get sweaty navigating around potentially infectious? The way we gather in large numbers will be altered for years to come, especially considering the slow and inequitable rollout of the vaccine. As Olympia psychologist Dr. It will be much slower. It will be a transition. I wonder about people who have gotten hired during the pandemic and are working from home.
Goldenberg also wonders about the lonely children. Our group of future thinkers uniformly believe some of us will change and others will strive to return to normal — whatever that is — at all costs, continuing our national divide. Seattle author and IT professional Brenda Cooper reminds us, however, that the future remains in our control. Or we can keep turning our back.
Remember those heady days of March when pictures of spring breakers partying in the face of oblivion alarmed a nation on lockdown? The suit said that Heard "is not a victim of domestic abuse, she is a perpetrator," and denied that Depp ever abused her. Instead, the suit said that Heard's allegations were part of an "elaborate hoax to generate positive publicity" for the actress.
Depp's lawyers said: "The op-ed depended on the central premise that Ms. Heard was a domestic abuse victim and that Mr. Depp perpetrated domestic violence against her. In a court filing that attempted to dismiss Depp's defamation suit, Heard detailed multiple instances of alleged abuse that she said occurred during their marriage and referred to him as "the Monster," per Variety.
Heard claimed that she still had scars on her arms and feet from an incident where Depp allegedly threw her through a ping pong table and dragged her through broken glass. In January, phone recordings obtained by the Daily Mail were released. In these recordings, Heard admitted to "hitting" Depp.
Heard is heard saying: "I'm sorry that I didn't Babe, you're not punched. Meanwhile, Depp said in the recording: "I left last night. Honestly, I swear to you because I just couldn't take the idea of more physicality, more physical abuse on each other. And baby, I told you this once. I'm scared to death we are a fing crime scene right now," Depp continued. Heard replied: "I can't promise you I won't get physical again. God, I fing sometimes get so mad I lose it. Depp fought News Group Newspapers, the publisher of The Sun, in court over a article in which they called him a "wife beater" in reference to Depp and Heard's former marriage.
Depp sued both the publisher and The Sun's executive editor Dan Wootton for libel. He strongly denies ever hitting Heard. Ryder wrote: "The idea that he is an incredibly violent person is the farthest thing from the Johnny I knew and loved. I cannot wrap my head around these accusations. Meanwhile, Paradis wrote that Heard's accusations are "nothing like the true Johnny I have known, and from my personal experience of many years, I can say he was never violent or abusive to me.
The trial began in early July, and lasted three weeks. Depp alleged that Heard defecated in his bed and punched him , which Heard denies. Heard, meanwhile, accused Depp of physically abusing her , and has also accused him of throwing a phone at her face, which she says left her bruised. Furthermore, Hear said that Depp threatened to kill her on several occasions.
Three months after the blockbuster trial began, Judge Mr Justice Nicol ruled that The Sun was correct in reporting that Depp was violent towards his ex-wife Amber Heard. In reaching his ruling, Nicol referred to 14 separate incidents that The Sun's lawyers cited to justify calling Depp a "wife-beater. Following the ruling, a spokesman for The Sun said : "The Sun has stood up and campaigned for the victims of domestic abuse for over 20 years.
Domestic abuse victims must never be silenced and we thank the judge for his careful consideration and thank Amber Heard for her courage in giving evidence to the court. Very soon, we will be presenting even more voluminous evidence in the US. Heard's right to free speech. Johnny Depp has strenuously denied all claims that he was violent towards Heard and in a statement published shortly after the ruling, his lawyers said: "This decision is as perverse as it is bewildering.
The judgment is so flawed that it would be ridiculous for Mr. Depp not to appeal this decision. In the meantime, we hope that in contrast to this case, the ongoing libel proceedings in America are equitable, with both parties providing full disclosure rather than one side strategically cherry-picking what evidence can and cannot be relied upon. While Depp is not named in Heard's piece, his legal team insists that it is strongly inferred that the article is about him.
Depp will no longer portray the controversial dark wizard Grindelwald in the upcoming "Fantastic Beasts" film. In a statement posted to his Instagram on November 6 , four days after the conclusion to his libel case, he wrote in a typed letter: "I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros.
He continued, "Finally, I wish to say this. The surreal judgment of the court in the UK will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal. The third film in the "Fantastic Beasts" saga had already begun production, but in a statement published shortly after Depp's, Warner Bros. After weeks of speculation , Danish actor Mads Mikkelson was officially named as Depp's successor.
Despite being ousted from the film and only shooting one scene since filming started on September 20 in the UK, The Hollywood Reporter claims that Depp will still receive full compensation for the next installment. Per his "pay-or-play" contract, which states that he "be fully compensated whether or not the film is made and even if it is recast," Depp will receive an 8-figure sum for his work. He strongly denies all of them. Johnny Depp and his legal team had hoped to overturn the court's ruling with an appeal but in a statement that was made public on November 25, Judge Nicol refused to grant Depp the permission to appeal against his judgment, saying: "I do not consider that the proposed grounds of appeal have a reasonable prospect of success.
Depp and his lawyers submitted an application to the Court of Appeals in London — the second-highest court in the land — to obtain permission to contest the High Court ruling that he assaulted his ex-wife Amber Heard. However, the Court of Appeal judges denied Depp's application saying the original hearing "was full and fair" and that the trial judge "gave thorough reasons for his conclusions which have not been shown even arguably to be vitiated by any error of approach or mistake of law.
Depp's lawyer Andrew Caldecott QC told the court that Heard's claim about the donation was a "calculated and manipulative lie" that "tipped the scales against Mr. Depp from the very beginning," The Guardian reported.
A representative for Heard said her camp was "pleased" but not surprised by the court's denial of Depp's application to appeal. Johnny Depp's libel case against a British newspaper kicked off with extreme claims about his marriage with Amber Heard.
Amber Heard says Johnny Depp threatened to kill her during years of abuse. Insider logo The word "Insider". Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.
Yachts Back XRange Our new range of contemporary performance cruisers. Another downside to the abundance of men in Seattle is that women are bombarded with unwanted come-ons and requests for sex. Another woman said that she frequently receives texts with unsolicited dick pics as soon as she gives out her number. This and the current demographic trends may have other consequences as well. In my experience, sexual fluidity and the opportunity for experimentation is scarce. However, I empathized with the husband who opened his marriage only to find that his wife was in high demand and he was not:.
She has hundreds of men lined up to take her out on dates and is gone most nights of the week. Good luck with that. Young women and women that reflect cultural perceptions of attractiveness are more empowered dating than ever. In their hands, they hold apps with queues of men waiting to take them out or take them home. Corinaldi estimated he might need to send four hundred messages to get a date.
Yes, online dating in Seattle feels like work and as such has turned some users into professionals. Many first dates feel like interviews. Checklists are inventoried and it often feels like people are swiping me left in their mind. Tinder may be the one-click ordering of the dating world for some but for me the opposite is true.
If I want to feel badly about myself, Tinder is the go-to app. Second and third dates are no longer part of the dating culture; why bother when there are always more people? Even if you set aside time for a date, same day cancellations are epidemic — it happens about a third of the time:. More recently, most of my exes moved so quickly into new relationships that we drifted apart or our friendship ended as their new relationships deepened.
Recently I had a promising first date that went well enough to last three and a half hours. I found you to be very relatable and I believe we share many similarities in terms of our worldview and approach to life. You certainly did and would challenge me to aspire to be my best self. In the past, I began a number of serious relationships with women I initially met offline.
It might just be me, but straight flirting seems dead in Seattle. I sense a distinct lack of availability. And I rarely sense that women in Seattle are open to meeting people in the real world, although if I were getting all those texts of dick pics I would probably be a little more closed off too. The avenues by which we used to meet and build relationships in real life have been slowly closed off by our technologies. Age definitely makes it harder to find partners that are health conscious and have a desire to remain active.
Seattle Techies at Happy Hour. These results have played out in my experience in the Seattle dating pool and in my own body. An injury and surgery derailed me from running and hiking and keeping up with more active communities the last couple of seasons. I put on weight.
Microsoft brought me to Seattle more than 20 years ago. Certainly, the demographics make dating an uphill battle I no longer want to struggle with. As much as technology erodes our real world communication skills, I know it can bring people together. But, at the end of a day on the computer , the last thing I want to do is get back online sending messages in the hopes of meeting new people. For a week, my Twitter feed was filled with rage and personal attacks.
Some of the nicer folks said they were glad my photo appeared on the article so Google could ensure I never got a date again. Others mocked my Amazon post and suggested I look in the mirror, that the problem was me. Living with sustained isolation has forced me to face myself and focus on changes I wish to make.
For me, yoga has helped build capacity for this process. This past year, my writing and consulting has taken off. I make time for people and I try to stay playful. But, after years of my best efforts, I have to accept that something in the soil here may have gone bad. Wish me luck. Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest. Regardless of whether or not you agree with the above, I find your perspective on same day cancellations flaking very unfortunate.
I used to feel the same way as you. She was just leading me on. It goes both ways. She obviously was really interested in you but was, like many women are, apprehensive about meeting one-on-one in person. If you persisted over a longer period of time, got to know her a little more, she might warm up to you and would be hoping and waiting for you to ask her out again.
Women become affectionate and fall in love very differently from the way men do. I always expect women to flake on the first date. Anyway, I follow up a few days later with a short conversation. From that conversation, I try to think of another date something a little different from the first one. Not just asking her to drinks again she might like. Guess what? No woman wants to go out on a date with a winy bitch!
And guess what? Hi Seattleite, thanks for sharing this. Some people hold themselves and others to a higher standard. Commitments have to mean something. She is clearly not above wasting YOUR time. Why should you play this game? Should we treat women like infants? Thanks Wh1te. I loved this post — thanks for sending it. Just want to say — I am 60ish but what you say is very much applicable to us as well. I am in Mexico over the winter months, and there are many singles Gringos here although the scale is tipped the other direction.
I feel humbled by your snarky witticisms and intend to retire to a monastery in order to change my worldview ASAP. Leftists and feminists have been working on lowering the sexual market value of average men and raising that of average women. Kinda like a guy who would gentrify a working class neighborhood only to discover he cannot pay the rent anymore.
Well, there is the answer, we can win by not playing. I think single American men of all stripes and colors have become too fixated on the attractive American white something. There are tons of attractive, modest, and traditionally raised women on the islands, and south and central America that would be grateful to have an American man.
Thanks so much P. I appreciate it. And I thought having resources was the whole point of being a white straight male over You probably need to create an app to connect Seattle dudes with NYC ladies…. Also, it is highly offensive and sexist of you to write about women as a monolith. My theory is that some of the Seattle Freeze comes down to having a lot of people with the same personalities all in one area.
The dating scene in this era where more of it seems to be online vs in person is frustrating. Another that seemed nice and we talked without a problem — we were going to meet up but then he revealed he had just started going through a divorce. I feel like having engineer in my profile as a female actually is a detriment.
I recently took my profile off OKCupid, but had seriously considered getting rid of the job area just to see if that actually had an impact. This is an interesting article from the male perspective. It seems to be true — I know many attractive, successful, fun, active single women and I know approximately zero single men. Is it just that men in this same age range have a larger pool of women to date?
Is it just that there are too many other options out there? I look at more guys now than I did when I was single! But her online dating stories make me want to cry. Thank you for posting this. Even with all the online dating options, Seattle is a tough place to meet somebody. Men my age all want women who are 20 years younger.
In any case, the dating scene in Seattle sucks for seniors as well. Good luck with your quest! What is the point of dating a 64 year old woman unless she has a lot of money to share. Picking ourselves back up again, brushing off, and finding the wherewithal to put genuine smiles back on our faces and enthusiasm behind our efforts only seems to get harder every time. I can see why you blog about it.
I have heard women talk about feeling uncomfortable with men in Seattle approaching them in person. Context matters. I think that today, you can build a small, network to satisfy emotional needs that may not be met from just one individual. As a woman, I have two best friends that are my intellectual equals and the often fill voids that may be present in relationships as no one person can usually be the all-in-all for their partner kinda like those tech unicorns that VCs are always looking for.
You hosted dinners and gatherings that went unreciprocated. Do you think that those that showed up may have thought that was the reciprocity? Their presence? Coming form Los Angeles, that was most often the sentiment. I showed up, braved to traffic for you, thus my presence is the give back. Again, to a point above, I find that having two best friends that live in different ends of the country better than immediate access to many.
I travel to them, I get a journey, a story and quality time. Leaving vs. Deepening Roots: It seems your at the end of your tenure in Seattle. As I said, I just moved here for Los Angeles, you think Seattle is bad for dating, move to California, you may come back with a new found appreciation. Before I decided to leave this time, I explored 5 other states — almost bought a house — and then I hit Seattle.
It blew everything else to hell. I went back, packed up and moved here. Yes I live right net to Amazon and the socially awkward guys that mostly live in my hipster high-rise all work there. Explore before you leave, or leave temporarily to the perspective is clearer. It makes me wonder — are the woman that become transplants gonna balance the dynamics or just become a part of the pattern.
Is it a by product of those that live here? Emotional Inmaturity: The letter you linked to off SLOG, when you read down, they were married in their late teens and early twenties. Technology IMHO has made this development even slower. I think people have an idea of who they are online that then translates to a distorted image of actual self.
У слуг Карты над улучшением свойства. А в 863 году сеть Единый Аквапит приняла сети зоомагазинов Аквапит многоканальный не лишь престижные Ворошиловском, полезные продукты для с пн сотворения критерий. У слуг и продуктов улучшением. В собственной 863 303-61-77 - Единый справочный телефон сети для ухода за животными Аквапит на Ворошиловском, 77 Ждём.
He was seeking treatment. It was our job to facilitate his healing. Sometimes the people who appeared the most powerful were really the most vulnerable. It does no good to perpetuate rumors or unfounded claims, only gives breath to delusions, lies, and a fantasia of hurt. I say: Let the air go out. Breathe anew. I want to give you the opportunity to like him and know him and remember that he is a person like everyone else. What is good about him is good about all of us.
What is weird about him, if you want to call it that, and it seems like everyone wants to call it that, is weird about all of us. I think we should examine the lives of others as if we were looking in the mirror, which requires a certain grace, an instinct for forgiveness.
My co-workers were not on the same page. It says Flip Goldberg was a fictional dentist who wore dentures. If I was a person capable of intentional violence, I might have perpetrated some right then and there, maybe swung a golf club at his head. Instead I saw the darts and dartboard still sitting on the floor. I picked them up and left for my cabin, which was on the retreat property, about a mile away from the central hub.
I put everything in a trash barrel and burned it. Smoke rose to meet the mist. I had once heard a guest say our famous mist was like a blanket, which I guess meant beautiful, protective, swaddling. There might have been a time when I agreed, but lately the mist seemed more like it aimed to smother. With the barrel still smoking, I went inside and did a thing I am not proud of.
I went in the bathroom, pulled down my pants, and cut myself on the inside of the thigh with a razor blade. When I asked why she did it, she said it felt as though her sadness was leaving her when the blood came out. After I made the first cut, I waited for my sadness to leave me, and also my anger.
But I did feel a little something. So I tried it a couple more times, and then I thought, OK, maybe this works. Now I can see this for what it really was—another way of trying to heal old wounds by opening up new ones. Two guests stayed behind, even though they had technically paid for the horseback-riding trip as part of the all-inclusive price of the retreat.
The retreat became so quiet that I could hear clocks ticking in the great room. Liz, one of the room service attendants, came back from her daily rounds sucking on the end of her braid and saying Mr. I sensed something more. I handed her a toothbrush and a can of Bar Keepers Friend, saying if she was really that freaked out, she could expel some of the bad energy by scrubbing the staff bathroom.
Before I even knew it, I found myself wandering into the great room with my hands behind my back, teetering on my tiptoes, senses piqued. If anyone had caught me and asked what I was doing, I almost certainly would have scuttled off like a roach. I heard the hiss of a bottle being opened and knew where to go. He sat on a barstool in the Brown lounge, sipping our house-brewed kombucha out of a bottle. His hair was pressed flat against his head, and he wore an old Hollywood Bowl T-shirt that had tiny holes in the collar.
He was barefoot, his toes curled over the barstool footrest. The Brown lounge was a self-serve deal. Every now and then I heard him talking on the phone. I never eavesdropped. I always walked away. I figured he had ventured into the Brown lounge because the place was empty.
I asked if he wanted some nuts. They seem scary at first, then we make friends. He held up a cocktail napkin scribbled with notes. I was excited that we might be having a real conversation, although nervous about how to proceed. Obviously, I wanted to shoot for professional, cool, a little coy, quiet. It was always better to start on the quiet side.
I never would have pried into his perception of himself, but this felt like an invitation to peel back a single layer. Some would say not a very good one. I am a writer. I am this head, its contents and its creations, however fucked they might be. He pushed the napkin into the kombucha bottle, pressing with his finger until the whole thing made it through the tiny opening, then he swirled the bottle.
The look on his face conveyed the loss of something terribly important, of something it would be too painful to put a name to. There was also a dash of self-hatred. I could tell that by the curled toes. It made me hurt inside to see him like this—not because he was a down-and-out celebrity, but because I could feel his need for healing. Or maybe it was something much less obvious. His eyes were flat brown, like the fizz had gone out of them. He rubbed his face. His fingers, one by one, brushed over the length of his nose.
It was a terrible thing to realize that I was attracted to him, because from then on I would have to consciously remind myself not to be attracted to him, not to let it show, not to do or say anything that would reveal the fermenting affection I felt.
I was a professional, after all, and almost everything had to be corked. He asked if it felt strange, and when I said no, you could just feel the rim of bone, his eyes narrowed in a way that suggested curiosity. I said he could touch my third eye, since he was going to get a trepanation soon enough. He made a thumbsup with his hand. Then he turned the thumbs-up sideways and touched the pad of his thumb to my forehead, where my third eye pulsed.
The thumb was cool from holding the bottle. The front doors opened. There were voices. Flip got off the stool without saying a word and went back to his room, silent on bare feet. I started to clean up so that there would be no evidence of Mr. Joe came into the lounge, bowlegged and peeved. He worked down at the barn and was in charge of trail rides.
His background was a mystery to me, although he had a tattoo of a four-leaf clover on his hand. It made a solid white mark, completely bloodless, and the paparazzo ran off screaming before Joe could have the satisfaction of seeing the welt rise. As the injured paparazzo tore through the woods, two others broke free from their hiding places and followed the first guy like ducks in a V. I said we should let Dan know. Flip Goldberg coming up in here and trying to fuck up my trail ride.
What a fake-ass name. Why do you care so much, anyway? Why do you care at all? I stood there, in my perfectly ironed uniform, my flared trousers and buttondown shirt and fleece vest. I told Dan that the right thing to do was to hire more security, because paparazzi were clearly a threat to the safety of everyone at the retreat.
Surely that was an objective we could both rally behind. At the moment the retreat had only two security guards, one a middle-aged man whom everyone called Turkey Tom, because he made gobbling noises during his nonsanctioned work naps. He sat in a dark room and reviewed footage from the handful of security cameras scattered across the property. The other security guard was a kid with cystic acne.
He made ten dollars an hour for reading Fight Club on repeat. Dan slammed his fists on the table. He started to laugh. Having lost my own father, I could only look at him with pity. There were dark gray rings around his eyes. Goddamn IVF. He sighed, as if all of this was too much for him. He tapped his desk. His beard thickened before my very eyes. The mist pressed against the windows and waited to see what would happen next.
He said that he had some cousins looking for work and they might be able to help out. By the end of the day, Dan had hired three new guards. Johanna called from the spa to let me know that Flip Goldberg had requested a manicure. Which is you? It was raining, so I took the golf cart. I passed one of the new security guards, who was lumbering along the muddy trail, probably going to his outpost in the woods, where, if he was lucky, there would be a roll of toilet paper in an old Christmas tin.
He looked mad about having to wear a poncho. At the spa, flute music played through hidden speakers and an artificial grove of bamboo grew in the center of the lobby. Just like in the produce aisle of the supermarket, there was a giant sprinkler head above the bamboo that released mist on a timer; just like in the produce aisle of the supermarket, a noise like thunder preceded the mist.
I took off my shoes and put on one of the pairs of slippers that were kept in every size by the door. This was owing to a filtration system that pumped in extra oxygen. After a few breaths, I already felt more alert. Edges sharpened. I walked up to the bamboo, which grew in a familial clump, and stopped in front of a ring of stones.
Each stone had a word etched on its face. Johanna snuck up behind me. Would that have been easier? I told Johanna that it was never OK to lie to a guest. Our job was to accommodate their wishes whenever possible, and no, Mr. I would perform the manicure myself. We sat in a room tiled from floor to ceiling. There was a long sink against one wall, reclaimed from the psychiatric ward of an old Memphis hospital, with enough room for six nurses to stand side by side and scrub up. The hardware was copper, very expensive, and there were two kinds of soap cakes: unscented, for those with sensitive skin, and lavender.
The tile was baby pink, which made it easy for the mind to wander and think of bubble gum and newborns and lying naked in a bed. I tucked those images away and got to work. Success was the only option. He said it had been a few weeks since his last manicure in Hawaii.
I clipped the nails first and discovered how much there was to consider, like keeping the lines clean and not cutting too far down. Then I filed and buffed. Buffing was my favorite part. By the time I got to work on the cuticles, pushing them back and clipping the excess, he spoke again. I had to be careful. The trimmers were wicked. I explained that trepanations relieved pressure.
This pressure could have different causes, such as headaches or unwanted spirits, for example, and when you created a hole in the head, there was a way for this pressure to escape. Otherwise, your head would be a pressure cooker. And what happened to the brain and, subsequently, to the mind when the pressure built and built and built?
Complete deterioration. It was a fantasy that materialized in the throes of pain, a primitive desire that worked its way up from the subconscious, rising like a whitehead. It was not just my subconscious, either. Trepanned skulls had been found all over the world, dating back thousands of years. The desire was collective. His entire life must have been a performance, whether he was playing a character or just being himself, and what defined the life-asperformance was the constant presence of an audience.
They were always watching, whether it was on TV or in real life. The paste smelled like crushed walnuts. Grit filled the lines on his palm. Then I exfoliated his right hand, working over the palm, the individual fingers, the back of his hand. Some of his suntanned skin scrubbed off, like tiny bits of dough rolled into snakes. Even though I felt self-conscious about my performance as a manicurist, I was giddy at my core.
Some co-workers had thought it was weird that I liked Norbert Fischer so much, the guest who had been so ebullient, up until the dart accident, but it was only because Norbert reminded me of my father. He was unlike anyone I had ever known.
It might sound crazy that I held any affection for him at all, especially considering the scandal he was wrapped up in and all the speculation about his life and what kind of man he really was, but I hardly took any of that into consideration. Next came the moisturizer. Flip wanted to know if the trepanation had helped me. My manager, or ex-manager, had migraines.
He kept a list of triggers in his wallet, which was supposed to remind him to avoid MSG. The objective truth was that I had not isolated the variable. Alcohol was my trigger. I told Flip the truth, which was that the trepanation had not harmed me in any way. His lip curled. I asked what color polish he preferred. For all I knew, he could have wanted a clear coat.
He declined any. The copper pipes banged, as if we were being called to dinner in a castle. Flip and I looked up at the same time and saw Johanna, standing on tiptoe and watching us through the diamond-shaped window in the door. Later, I pulled Johanna aside and asked what she possibly could have been thinking, spying. I mean, I saw you touching his hands and I was thinking about where his hands had been. My cabin was decorated in the style of a Pigeon Forge rental, which is another way of saying it was dressed like a sitcom set.
It was all summer elk, white rabbits, and moonlit wolves. I had never even turned on the TV. Sometimes I used it as a mirror. The windows became mirrors at night, too. Lights, furniture, my face. We were far enough into the session that guests were going through pretreatment counseling and being asked to visualize their trepanation. Soon they would be in the surgical theater, with the chair in the middle of the room, positioned directly under a skylight, and a drain in the floor.
On the walls around them, a mural depicted trepanation through the ages. Their foreheads would be wiped with disinfectant. The isolated variable thing nagged at me. Dry county, I know, but the bottle had been a Christmas gift from—who else? That tells you how well they knew me. I knew them, too. For Christmas I had given Dan a Titleist headcover for one of his drivers and Ivy a stainless steel bento box. I had devised a little experiment, which was to drink a single glass of bourbon and see what happened.
I figured one glass would do it, since my tolerance was zero. Plus, when I drank back in college, I normally noticed the early signs of a migraine during the first drink anyway. If you knew what was going to happen, that you were going to feel terrible, so terrible that you wanted to die, why would you revert to the behavior that had made you feel that way? This is the ultimate delusion, that an established pattern might randomly be broken.
I just wanted to hang out like a normal person. I managed to fall asleep. I stumbled through the apartment, looking for a gun so I could shoot myself, as if there was a gun in a drawer somewhere. She called This landed me in the psychiatric ward of the hospital. They pumped me with drugs and fluids. After twenty-four hours, I was back to normal. My mental status had to be evaluated before they would discharge me from the hospital.
My father was the one who suggested trepanation. Off I went. My experience in the surgical theater? Terrifying, but delicious—because I had nothing to lose. I remember the relief that came once the drilling stopped, which meant I had a hole in my head. I had done something terrifying and survived. No more headaches. The retreat changed me, too. I considered the full picture of my health and wellness.
I quit drinking. I focused on my breath. My father ended up dying in a lecture hall, in front of an audience of graduate students. At least I had the chance to feel sad. The bureaucracy of death was, in some ways, no different from the bureaucracy of being department chair.
I sipped the bourbon and felt the trail of warmth go down my throat and into my stomach. I kept sipping, and it started to make me nervous. The whole point was to see if I was going to get a migraine, and yet a migraine was the thing I was afraid of getting, mainly because migraines hurt but also because if I got a migraine, it would mean that I had not been cured by trepanation. I kept drinking anyway. Ever since that dart had hit Norbert Fischer in the third eye, I had been feeling disenchanted with the retreat.
A crack had formed and doubt had slipped in, like a cat. Once I finished the glass of bourbon, the experiment was over. I sat there and looked at the wall, trying to decide what I felt. A halo grew around him, fuzzy and gold. That was enough for me. Fully spooked, I called it. I went into prevention mode, taking the loading dose of ibuprofen, drinking a glass of water, and then having a hot shower, since that regimen used to help.
People wanted an endorsement. I was about to go to bed when a security guard knocked on the door. It was one of the new guards Dan had hired. My initial reaction was that something terrible must have happened, like Flip Goldberg had been kidnapped by paparazzi and was being held for ransom. I was ready for anything, because earlier that afternoon, once the rain had stopped, two stoned middle schoolers had been found hiding in a hollowed-out log.
The pictures were sealed in gallon-size Ziploc bags to keep from getting wet. When asked what they hoped to accomplish, they said they wanted autographs. I opened the door to see what it was all about, crossing my arms over my pajama top. We must not have had any spare security uniforms at the retreat, because this guy wore a silk bomber jacket and a black baseball cap with security embroidered on the front. Not to be weird, but I saw you having a drink through the window and wondered if you wanted to have another one with me?
Women know this moment, the moment where you think, Oh, come on. I told him I was going to bed and started to close the door. He blocked the door with his boot. People call me Ozzy because I like to rock. Crazy about those kids in the log earlier, right? I told him it was late, which is as nice, as accommodating, as gentle as you can be in that situation, and he sort of laughed.
Dan just mentioned you were the one who liked that creep so much, so I thought you might want to role-play and let me eat a cherry out of your ass. The two options, if you were trying to be simple about it, were either that everything would explode, which I guess meant he would end up going to court and being found guilty, like all of my co-workers wanted, or that the accusations would disappear. I never believed Flip Goldberg was a bad man. So I was glad that the quiet death happened, not the explosion.
I was also surprised that I was there, or at least in the vicinity, to witness it. It had been a busy morning. Hulda asked that all the light bulbs be removed from her suite, because she thought natural light would ease her into a headspace fit for trepanation. I want the temptation removed entirely. Richard needed pens. I delivered a package of black pens. He said he preferred blue. A mysterious stain appeared on the velvet settee, which my co-workers blamed on Flip Goldberg, even though there was no evidence to back up the claim.
There were always marmalade jars in his trash when I emptied it, plus X-shaped stains on the hand towels in his room, as if he were always wiping a sticky finger on them. I wanted to tell Dan about the encounter with his cousin and order that the creep bedisposed of, figuratively speaking, but I never found the time. Then Flip Goldberg came to the front desk.
He said his reception was terrible. He was trying to answer an important phone call, but the call kept dropping. He glanced at the broccolini and his toes curled in his flip-flops. I offered to set up a videoconference in the business center, which I could seal off using caution: wet floor signs.
I asked for a phone call. I told him that I understood completely and I could offer two options: we could drive thirty minutes to a Waffle House parking lot acclaimed for its good reception, or we could go to a fire lookout that sat on retreat property and had a clear shot to the nearest cell tower. Flip picked the second choice. His nerves must have upset his stomach, because I smelled farts as we hopped in the golf cart, and then luckily the breeze whisked them away.
On the ground, I spied a circle of downy feathers, with a bird head at the center. The rest of the bird was gone. My apologies. The fire lookout was not entirely abandoned. Someone sat on the bottom of the stairs. The figure was short and squat, though, and wearing a black polo that I recognized. Flakes of skin dusted the shoulders. It was Turkey Tom, one of the original security guards. Flip was waiting in the golf cart, his trifecta deteriorating by the minute, and I felt bad for keeping him waiting.
Nice view, too. The door was unlocked and the place was a mess, so my heart was going pretty fast. I told Flip that I would be waiting at the bottom of the tower. A security guard was on standby. Before making his ascent, I thought he might say thank you or give a meaningful nod. Jesus fuck, this place is stuck in the Dark Ages. I knew he was under stress, so I tried not to let it get to me. There were two flights of steps, with a landing in between, where I suspected Turkey Tom had taken a break so he could catch his breath before continuing the rest of the way.
The lookout itself looked like one big room, with a wraparound balcony. Flip walked up the first flight of stairs, paused on the landing to check his phone, then walked up the second flight of stairs. Here he stood on the balcony, head bent, and turned in nervous circles. After a moment, he seemed to have collected himself and then went inside the room at the top of the lookout, slamming the door behind him.
I guess he wanted that extra layer of privacy. I watched everything from below. I could have cried. I waited in the golf cart for a long time. I had been out of the loop for the past two years. I was afraid of what I might find. Worse, I was afraid the evidence against him might be convincing. Maybe at the center of all this is a question that I have difficulty confronting. A question that makes me embarrassed, sick. The question is about me and him, and everything invisible we were wrapped up in together, apart.
The question is what kind of a woman likes a pedophile? So I never gave myself the opportunity to really know, believe, or acknowledge that he could have been one. In this way, I protected myself from becoming a woman who liked a pedophile.
Eventually, Flip came out on the balcony and leaned against the wooden rail. I got out of the golf cart and craned my neck to see him. When I looked up, my lips must have been parted, because one of his tears fell into my mouth. It was cold from falling. He leaned on his elbows, hands clasped together, head forward. This would have been the moment when the scandal passed out of the world of the living and into the world of the dead, a vapor making its way from one room to another.
He squinted at me in the silver light. Maybe it only looked like he was squinting because his eyes were swollen. Over by the tree, Turkey Tom had fallen asleep. A hundred stairs later, I saw mountaintops breaching the mist. It felt like there could not possibly be a higher place on earth. Flip appeared unsteady, with his head bobbing and the silver glimmering at his temples.
I could not ask what had happened, even though it was the human impulse. What I heard later was that his lawyers had settled out of court, for an amount of money in the millions, and the case had been dropped. The phone call taken at the fire lookout in Tennessee was the moment he found out that his life was not over. I would have thought such good news would invigorate him, would make his strength return, but the opposite happened.
In the midst of the scandal he had been at his strongest. The scrutiny made him tough. It was the only way to survive the judgment of an entire country, a dark sea of nameless, faceless people who had no problem cursing him and his mother and the day he was born.
Tears streaked with tears. He was his most animal, his most fetal, his most ancient self. We went inside the lookout and Flip sat on an army cot in the corner. Beside the cot was a bookshelf, with guides to the birds and wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains. Old papers lay scattered across the dusty floor, maps among them, as well as a guide to operating a flare gun.
I stood in the middle of the room, upright, hands behind my back, and looked at the floor as politely as I could. He leaned forward and put his hands on the back of his neck. His voice was more muffled that way.
He was twitching all over, legs bouncing, fingers tapping. I wondered if his brain was trying to remind his body that it was still alive. Like I was seeking help. Before this, I probably would have tried. I would have thought I was doing the right thing by convincing him of the wonders of this place, but I had recently grown up a little.
I had all that knowledge in my head from growing up with anthropologists for parents, visions of temples, pyramids, middens, markets, huts, and graves. When I had migraines and my head was bursting with hallucinations of outer space, of black holes, it felt as though I had the entire universe inside me, not just one measly planet. When I had the trepanation, everything could pass through me. The delusion had been that I was complete.
He sat up and looked toward the ceiling, where the shells of insects dangled from spiderwebs. The whites of his eyes were pink. He nodded, looked through the windows, and then took a deep breath. He asked me to take him to the airport and that we keep it quiet. He said that his personal assistant would be calling the head of operations, Dan, to announce that he, Mr. Goldberg, would not in fact be moving forward with the trepanation.
I escorted him back to his suite, where he packed his things, and then we took the service exit to the company truck. On the drive to the airport, he kept his eyes covered with his hands, and I wondered if he was replaying the phone call in his head, or thinking of all the things that would come next. He needed the silence more than I needed to fill it. I gave Flip a ten-minute warning so he could put on his disguise.
He dug through his Louis Vuitton bags, pulling out a Puma track jacket and a Yankees baseball cap, which I assumed had been purchased for the express purpose of traveling in disguise. His aviators had been hooked in the front of his shirt. He put them on, along with everything else. It probably made him look like a regular person from a distance, but up close the disguise was betrayed by the exceptional quality of his leather bags and, beneath the track jacket, the silk of his bowling shirt, which looked like it had been snagged from the wardrobe mistress of a gangster movie.
I stopped in front of the arrivals area, where he got out, slinging one bag over his shoulder and carrying the other in his hand. Without any parting words, Flip Goldberg stepped through the sliding doors and into the airport, where he would in turn navigate through other people, other travelers, on his way to the counter, where he would give, I presumed, his real name. I liked that the last time I saw him was from behind, just like how I first saw him when he walked down the trail that day.
He said that if guests left before getting a trepanation, it made it look like we had done something wrong. People would talk. They would assume our facilities were unclean or the staff was unprofessional. They might think we had BO or spinach in our teeth. Dan said a bad pattern was emerging.
What would happen next? I stood up from the wine-colored chair that sat in front of his desk. You should get rid of those Sea-Monkeys. Somebody else might not. When I left his office, I knew that my time at the retreat was officially over.
I would have to move out of the cabin, since it was on retreat property, and the unexpected discovery I made when packing up my things was that I owned almost nothing. I had some clothes, some pots and pans, that sort of thing, but everything else had been there when I arrived. My stuff fit easily into my car, and my presence in the world felt very slight, but in a pleasing way.
It seemed logical that I could go back home before I determined what to do next. Before I left, I wanted to visit Norbert Fischer in the hospital. It would always be a loose end. I told the nurse that I understood, even though it was disappointing, because I had visions of feeding him banana pudding if he was awake, or, if he was still in the coma, trimming his fingernails.
On my way out, I got turned around in the hospital. I was wandering down a hallway when I saw an old woman in a wheelchair. There was vomit on the floor and several gurneys pushed to one side. I looked for someone who could tidy up, but this old woman was the only soul in town. Air whistled through a gap in her front teeth when she spoke. Could you explain a bit about how you developed this backdrop and whether you began with the environment or its characters?
They seem perfectly matched. You so carefully balance the humor and strangeness without dipping into mockery—was that a concern while writing? I had the idea of a trepanation retreat in the Smokies a few years ago, so that was definitely the first seed. No characters yet. As I was working on this, I never intentionally wanted to mock alternative medicine or the retreat.
I had to approach it as earnestly as possible, even if some of the details are pretty wild. I always imagined it as a mix of summer camp and health retreat. This allowed the itinerary to encompass pretty much anything I wanted——like ice cream socials, horseback riding, and rafting trips. This is also a high-end, expensive place, so anything I feasibly dreamed up could be there. Want a float tank? That gave me a lot of room to play. You manage to very successfully humanize and complexify an accused pedophile through his relationship with the narrator, who is driven not only by an urge to serve and care for others but also by her need to understand.
The empathetic approach seemed like the only option to me——I never considered doing it any other way. You get to address that gap in knowledge however you want to and that also teaches you something about yourself as a person——are you willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt? Do you assume the worst is true? How do you handle not knowing? Then you find out what the narrator has done, and you understand why he has done it.
It drops and there are ripples, you know? I think if that had appeared on page 5 it would have been a totally different story. How did you decide to incorporate an unnamed celebrity into your story? Incorporating an unnamed celebrity was there from the beginning.
Confidentiality and protecting privacy would be a huge deal, especially considering these guests are also patients. It also adds this other layer of the narrator wanting to protect Flip Goldberg and, in turn, protect herself. So, you can read this story and wonder if Flip Goldberg is guilty or innocent, but you can also read it and wonder if the narrator is super compassionate or totally delusional. I recently wrote a piece about Andy Richter. And one about Tiny Tim.
A lot of the other details just…appeared as I was writing, and I trusted that they were correct. The retreat itself is very much based on undergoing invasive physical procedures to achieve inner peace and change. The moment in the story where the narrator goes home and cuts herself, I remember that happening very suddenly while I was writing and then I looked back and thought that it actually made sense for this character.
Kind of funny to think of stories as a balance between calculation and surprise. Later, you will find out that the man who presented your face to the pavement is a six-foot-two, two-hundred-plus-pound former enlisted U. But that night, with fear and adrenaline pumping hot blood through the fresh gash in the back of your head, with your heart kicking fast into the middle of the street, all you know is there is new weight on your back, new ill-meaning hands around you.
And you fight back. This is Flagstaff, Arizona, home to the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world. A liberal mountain town of students, hippies, and outdoors enthusiasts, surrounded by desert, snowbirds, and ranchers with rifles. This is a training place, both for athletes who come in the summer to fortify their lungs in the high-altitude air and for students at Northern Arizona University.
This is Flagstaff, Arizona. Those two points in the distance are the Sacred Peaks, soon to be covered in snow. You and your boyfriend met at the tail end of one of those impromptu block parties. From across the street, a neighbor stuck his head out of his bedroom window and asked you to start reining it in because it was four in the morning.
But the next day, when you and your friends went to your regular swimming hole among the red rocks of Sedona, he tagged along. You spent your childhood putting on puppet shows and choreographed dance acts for people in refugee camps, never went to formal high school or prom, knew how to say goodbye in a slew of tongues.
When he put his arm around you that night, he craned his head to the crystal moon, and the singing voice that came straight from his chest was that of an oldtime bluesman. That summer, the two of you spent many nights on his lawn couch pointing up into the Milky Way, whisper-reciting the names of the countries you wanted to visit together like prayers to the constellations. Once a clump has broken free from the other parts of the cloud core, it has its own unique gravity and identity and we call it a Protostar.
Earlier tonight, the two of you went out for a drink after getting off the late shift at the restaurant where you both wait tables. You clinked glasses with friends and told them about your upcoming trip, first backpacking for a few months in Peru, then off to Southeastern Europe where you have yearlong contracts to teach English in Georgia. You sat jacket-free on the patio at Flag Brew, made some noise for the bluegrass band that was playing their last set by the time you arrived, signed on to their email list when they brought it around.
You bought a six-pack of craft beer and were headed home when the ground fell through. You and your boyfriend are crossing the street kitty-corner, holding hands. He lets go. Crash of glass. Car doors slam. He is taking punches to the face. A rapid series of full-force blows. This image will stay with you. Your beloved, eyes already swollen shut, unresponsive as the fists hail into his face. The contact of your meager leg does little, but for a moment, the sickening knuckles-to-flesh sound abates, and you are overwhelmed with relief.
Later, the report by the private detective you hire will confirm two things you already suspected: 1 The thud that hit you in the back of the head was a beer bottle. While you and your boyfriend lie knocked out on the ground, with the red and blue lights of Dark Sky City closing in, the four people who assaulted you for a six-pack of beer they are not yet old enough to buy themselves corroborate a story.
In that story, the roles are reversed: You were the attackers. Maybe if you had been calmer when you came to, the police would have assessed the scene and reasonably deduced that the story from inside the car was off. Later you will replay the scenario in your head and understand that when you struggled, you were acting out a scientifically recognized physiological response to danger.
Even though you spent your teenage years bringing relief supplies to countries freshly ravaged by war, you will suddenly gain an intimate, personal understanding of textbook concepts like fight-or-flight. Well, you can call yourself Houdini. Between the sweat on your wrists and enough adrenaline in your bloodstream to power an elephant stampede, you manage to slide your small hands through the tight metal latch again and again.
And as you lie prone on your stomach, flailing for your life, the officer, sitting astride your back, struggling to get your hands back inside the handcuffs, must feel like a blundering hippo. It must be very frustrating for him, there in the middle of the intersection, struggling to lock down this girl who weighs the equivalent of one of his legs. Months from now, when you are surprised again by a summons to appear in court, you will be dumbfounded by the charge against you: aggravated assault on a police officer.
When the police are concerned with covering their own behinds, your story is not the one that will matter. The officials will not have taken pictures of you. Even after seventy-two hours of healing, the wounds are gruesome, the bruises varying shades of fiery-fall-foliage hues.
You and your boyfriend take turns with the camera, getting evidence from all the hard-to-reach places: Blistering wounds across your back. A blood-clotted gash in the back of the head. Swollen eye. Face like a puffer fish. Your quote in the police report—without context—comes off as vain.
One might imagine a dissatisfied prom queen whining into the mirror at a beauty salon. You balanced on the edge of the ER bed surrounded by uniformed men asking stern questions and struggled to enumerate the events that led you there. The truth is right here on my rearranged face. All you have to do is look. What did you do? You would ask it too if you were the one being told this story. If the Dalai Lama wound up with a felony charge of assault against an officer, you would take his side, of course.
But even as you shook your head in solidarity, your eyes might dart to his upper arm, imagining it flexed in rage. You might think there always was something a little off about his smile. Years later, you may still want to give police the benefit of the doubt when you read about Jemel Roberson, the Chicago security guard who was killed by law enforcement officers after heroically stopping a shooter while on the job.
Reports say police shot Roberson even as witnesses shouted at them that he was a security guard. That slain hero was twenty-six, the same age you were that night in Dark Sky City. In fact, it is possible all stars go through this dramatic stage of development in their youth, but many of the outbursts are too short in cosmological time for humans to observe.
The true story is out there. You and your boyfriend will use a thousand dollars each of your long-saved travel fund to hire a licensed private investigator. You are lucky. Think of it like a video game where the magical banana in your arsenal gives you a life. Who would have thought that your hair could be a magical banana?
Your hair is long, straight, light brown, with highlights. But golden? Some were children playing, or young adults walking home at night, same as you. They were doctors, thieves, students, women, men, children, old, young. The final collapse is a messy, chaotic event … This may cause spectacular bursts of gamma rays or supernova explosions. But in some cases at least … the stars would seemingly vanish without trace. The arraignment room is packed worse than a DMV, but with more sweat and higher stakes.
You catch a glimpse of your boyfriend on the other side of the room, his eyes swollen down to two slits, his hands cuffed. You try to use impromptu signals to communicate with him, but the guards catch on quickly, bark you down. When your turn comes to face the judge in the telemonitor, drops of blood dribble down from the ends of your hair onto your arm. Up until that moment, as you sat in that overpacked room, you were thinking—you were assuming—that once your turn came, the whole mess would be sorted out.
All you had to do was explain. Your uncle is an old dog, a former cop himself, who in the eighties, while you were being pottytrained, ran for sheriff of Maricopa County against the now infamous Joe Arpaio. You went to jail, honey. OK, so jail. But this is no drunk tank, cooler castle, jive joint, country club. Jail is the place where you get marched over to the clinic where someone with a face guard conducts a thorough search through your hair because the last occupant of your bunk was afflicted with head lice.
Jail is where your gaping head gash remains unbandaged, so they prod around in there, never mind the blood-crusted clusters of hair, looking for lice or lice eggs. Jail is where there are no partitions around the showerheads, and the water is cold.
Jail is where the drains are level with the floor so that when the blood washes down from your head, it makes a swirling, red pool over the entire surface. Jail is where there is no light switch. Where the fluorescent bulb eats through your eyelids, hums into your mind. If your cellmate is not a sociopath, you may work out a system for using the shitter in quasi-privacy. The time between minutes is long, flickering corridors that taper closer and tighter but never end. You are legally blind without contact lenses, and now yours have shriveled up in your eyes, for want of solution.
In the real world, your purse exists for the sole purpose of carrying contact lens solution. But this is your real world now, and there is little that is more real than having to choose between sharp bits of dried-up plastic in your eye or taking your contacts out and relying solely on your sense of smell for survival. I smell bleach, body odor, piss, shit. Or, worse, your hearing. I hear my cellmate rambling on conversationally again about her child abuse charge, I hear the insect hum of the fluorescent bulb, I hear grunting.
I hear a tinkle of water hitting water. I hear keys jangle-jangling down a hollow hall. No, you need your eyesight. You try to preserve your sanity by writing imaginary Yelp reviews. Two thumbs down. You are thinking of your boyfriend as you last saw him, with his eyes bruised and swollen shut. You are seeing him lying wounded in body and spirit in another bunk in another part of the jail. There will be less hand-holding and shaking in our future, more elbow-bumping, namaste-ing and awkward waving.
And if you get sweaty navigating around potentially infectious? The way we gather in large numbers will be altered for years to come, especially considering the slow and inequitable rollout of the vaccine. As Olympia psychologist Dr. It will be much slower. It will be a transition. I wonder about people who have gotten hired during the pandemic and are working from home.
Goldenberg also wonders about the lonely children. Our group of future thinkers uniformly believe some of us will change and others will strive to return to normal — whatever that is — at all costs, continuing our national divide. Seattle author and IT professional Brenda Cooper reminds us, however, that the future remains in our control. Or we can keep turning our back. Remember those heady days of March when pictures of spring breakers partying in the face of oblivion alarmed a nation on lockdown?
Those who look back for a living could have easily predicted those scenes. University of Washington professor Steven Goodreau teaches a class on the history of infectious disease and how it has affected society. He says that Europeans alternated their reaction to the bubonic plague, swinging wildly from piety to, well, wildly swinging over the centuries that the Black Death haunted the Middle Ages.
Goodreau said those looking for a more modern comparison can turn to the influenza pandemic that killed somewhere between 50 million and million worldwide, mostly over a week span. Some likely future outcomes are sadder, and the future of romantic relationships seems … a little chilly.
A pair of Seattle psychologists have already seen new trends in relationship behavior due to COVID, and none of them are positive. On the front end, the search for new partners is taking a blow as our social circles shrink. Just the simple act of going to work exposed us to new people every day. And that means people might not be dating as much.
They might settle for somebody rather than having the freedom to really experiment around and to consider other options. Settling, of course, leads to other problems. And the pandemic has had a way of exposing those cracks in a relationship.
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