Man, you should see the moon right now, sailing over the eastern sky with its wingman, Jupiter. I’m told an eclipse is scheduled for later, but right now, I’m thinking sleep may get me before the show starts. I saw the moonset this morning on my way back from the gym, so I won’t feel bad about missing it. I’ve seen lunar eclipses before. Best ever: A summer night at Adrianne’s apartment in Fort Wayne, out on the third-floor deck. Warm night, reasonable hour for the show, and it never passed out of sight. Beginning, middle, end, wine, friends. Now that’s an eclipse.
Tonight: Cold. Catch you next time, Moonie.
I read something remarkable today, a conscientious objection to a book that’s been getting the full court press — “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity.” It’s about children who are radically different from the parents who bore them, whether through disability or just difference. I’m not going to read it, having had Andrew Solomon’s earlier book about depression pushed pretty hard down my throat and just couldn’t last through it.
The thing I read today, in Slate, was a rebuke from the mother of a child with Down syndrome, but it’s not like every other similar essay you might have read. Cristina Nehring had her baby against all good sense (although without a prenatal diagnosis) and found her life upended, complicated by the fact her partner ran for the hills two weeks after his daughter’s birth. Nehring is honest enough to regard her life without the usual soft-focus adjectives, and has some rather startling insights:
Wherever she goes, she brings people together—imperiously gesturing to cantankerous couples to sit down together and lifting their palms onto each others’ thighs, reconciling warring classmates by joining their hands, and charming child-leery adults with flirty smiles and studious imitations of their idiosyncrasies. Her gifts are the opposite of my own: Where I am shy, she is bold; where I am good with (known) words, she is good with drama, dance, and music; where I am frightened of groups, she loves them, and the children in her preschool compete hard to sit by her side at lunchtime as the nurses in her hospital petitioned to be assigned to her room.
Am I “cheerily generalizing” as Solomon says of other Down syndrome parents, “from a few accomplishments” of my child? Perhaps I am. But one thing I’ve learned these last four years that possibly Solomon has not: All of our accomplishments are few. All of our accomplishments are minor: my scribblings, his book, the best lines of the best living poets. We embroider away at our tiny tatters of insight as though the world hung on them, when it is chiefly we ourselves who hang on them. Often a dog or cat with none of our advanced skills can offer more comfort to our neighbor than we can. (Think: Would you rather live with Shakespeare or a cute puppy?) Each of us has the ability to give only a little bit of joy to those around us. I would wager Eurydice gives as much as any person alive.
But that’s just the warmup:
It’s when Solomon turns to his own life after hundreds of pages of publicizing the diverse, disabled, and combative lives of others that his unreconstructed conventionality emerges most obviously—and his cowardice. When all is said and done, Solomon mainly wants to bank an A-1 baby. While quickly regretting the “economic privilege” required for the engineering of his perfect offspring, he becomes “extremely deliberate about the egg selection.” Having prepared the ground for his reproductive missions by marrying his partner in a “shot-gun wedding” at the ancestral estate of the late Diana, princess of Wales, Solomon sifts donor profiles, consults attorneys, and flies around the globe to negotiate optimal parenting conditions.
But when the boy is born and needs a not-uncommon 5-minute CT scan, Solomon is ready to flee. Not merely does he panic, but he finds himself “try[ing] hard not to love” his newborn and has visions of “giving him up into [the] care” of an institution. All this within moments of a very small question being raised about the perfection of his child. All this from the author of Far From the Tree.
Awaiting the birth of any child is a strange thing. Solomon’s book is in part predicated on this paradox that, in bringing children into the world, we’re committing to a lifelong relationship with a stranger. I remember trying, and failing, to buy baby clothes when I was pregnant. I couldn’t; it felt too much like clothing an abstraction. “I don’t know her yet,” I told people, and I hope some of them understood. (Fortunately, if you have generous friends, the drawers are generally full by the time the kid hits the ground.) But at the same time, I was committed to playing the hand I was dealt, even if all the cards were still facing down.
It’s really worth a read.
As is this, which raises the question: Why does anyone, anywhere, pay a second’s worth of attention to Donald Trump?
Donald Trump, the real-estate mogul and television personality, has taken aim at two high-profile charity leaders, criticizing them on Twitter for collecting too much in salaries and not spending enough on programs.
The tweets pointed to “reports” about the financial practices of the United States Fund for Unicef and the American Red Cross and have been widely shared by some of Mr. Trump’s 1.9-million followers.
The problem is that the figures are false.
You don’t say.
I’m not so naive as to believe Trump actually does his own tweeting, but I’d think Mr. Yer-Fired could hire a smarter social-media slave.
Speaking of things that aren’t surprising, Florida GOP leaders come clean:
A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.
Finally, a person earning $65,000 a year in Fort Smith, Ark., has more disposable income than a New York City resident earning a quarter mil.
Which sort of wraps up the no-surprise roundup. Hope your Thursday contains no unpleasant ones.