On reaching a milestone

By SKIP MENDLER

We’re headed to Canada.

No, not permanently—it’s just a brief visit to see an aged relative. We’ll be back (the good Lord willing) by the time you see these words. My wife’s great-aunt Pearl lives just over the border, and we haven’t seen her for—well, five years. Five years almost exactly.

Yeah, things were a little different then, back in August 2001.

Remember August 2001? You know, that previous lifetime?

I had almost recovered, I think, from the stresses following the 2000 election debacle, which was incredibly painful for me as an enthusiastic Nader supporter. I had grown weary of defending my right to vote my conscience. Fortunately, most people had also grown weary of the arguments, and were ready to move on to other matters.

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Je suis American

We get off the metro and walk around the corner, not entirely sure where we are heading. It’s been a super-long day and my feet ache. In the distance we see it, more impressive than the pictures.

“It seems so stable,” I say to Katie.

She laughs. “Who says that?”

“What? It just seems very…”

“Stable?” She laughs again.

“Yeah.”

“The Eiffel tower,” she says, her head tilting almost straight up, mouth slightly open.

We sit on the lawn and watch the clouds move past the top.

“It seems like it’s moving, doesn’t it?” I prop my bag under my head and lie back looking up at it.

I’m traveling with my friend Katie, another one of the teaching assistants in Dublin. We arrived in Paris yesterday.

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Flood reality: vision or the lack of it

By FREDERICA LEIGHTON

Since June 2006’s devastating floods affected huge areas of Northeastern Pennsylvania and South Central New York State, local residents live with “flood reality.” Long after news coverage of the disaster has died, daily life continues with FEMA struggles, insurance problems, clean-up burdens, property-loss assessments and flood-related hassles.

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