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Why Marriage Requires Amnesia – The New York Times

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Marriage is a solution to several problems that creates infinite additional problems. Marriage can cure your loneliness or exacerbate it. Marriage can make you feel a lot stronger than you really are and a lot weaker than you really are. Marriage can feel like a soothing meditation retreat or a dirty tryst or a very long lunch with the most head-splittingly repetitive human who ever walked the face of the earth. Each week is a little different than the last.

After my breakdown, I tell Bill I’m going to need some time to myself. I can’t keep everyone glued together anymore. Bill apologizes. He says traveling has been stressful. He mentions that we’ve been walking a lot, which is hard on his bad knee. He reminds me how he broke his tooth on a piece of hard bread in Melbourne, a story he’s told to every single person we’ve encountered since Melbourne.

“I remember,” I reply, wishing I didn’t.

Marriage requires amnesia, a mute button, a filter on the lens, a damper, some blinders, some bumpers, some ear plugs, a nap. You need to erase these stories, misplace this tape, zoom out, slowly dissolve to black. I start to spend more time in my head. I start to daydream more.

Surviving a marriage requires self-care, time alone, time away, meditation, escape, selfishness. I can’t blame him for being high strung, I tell myself on a walk around the island alone, headphones on, bird poop raining down every few feet. I can’t get mad just because he’s a regular mortal with flaws. When I blame him, I just feel guilty, and then I start to blame myself. But I’m just a regular mortal with flaws, too.

After several nights on the island, Bill and I start to tell the kids to walk back to the hotel room after dinner and use their phones for as long as they want. Then we have a drink and stare at the ocean without them. We talk about each kid’s breakdown of the day: What did the older one hate today? Which decision did the younger one question?

During these talks, I encourage Bill to be more like me: Give up control. Relax. Let these birds make their noises, and they’ll quiet down quickly. When you treat them like they’re doing it wrong, it only gets worse.



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What Will Marianne Williamson Do Next?

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To her, Washington is still essentially business as usual. “D.C. has a lot of good political car mechanics,” she said. “That’s not the problem. The problem is that the car is on the wrong road. The car is heading towards a cliff.”

The week before, the Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel had tweeted a photo of Ms. Williamson and Andrew Yang, onstage at an event for Mr. Yang’s new book. Mr. Weigel quoted Ms. Williamson saying, “We don’t want to be Jill Steins, but in any other country, any other advanced democracy, they have multiple political parties.” The tweet predictably triggered speculation about what, exactly, Ms. Williamson intends to do next.

She may not want to be Jill Stein — the Green Party candidate whose presidential run is often cited as a reason Mr. Trump won — but she also doesn’t want to dismiss Jill Stein. After all, Ms. Williamson said, “we need a viable other. I support any third-party effort that makes a thoughtful, articulate critique of the fundamental flaws in contemporary capitalism and its effects on people and the planet” When she ran for Congress in California, in 2014, it was as an independent.

Ms. Williamson sees the two-party system of today as blighted and controlled by corporate interests. “Republican policies represent a nosedive for our democracy,” she said. “And Democratic policies represent a managed decline.” And yet she also believes that this is the year it will change. “The status quo is unsustainable,” she said. “There is too much human despair out there.”

She is not willing to say whether she’ll run again, and dodged the question over the course of our many conversations. About two weeks ago, when Politico published an article suggesting that President Biden would face a primary challenge from a progressive candidate, “such as former Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner, 2020 presidential candidate Marianne Williamson or millionaire and $18-an-hour minimum wage advocate Joe Sanberg,” Ms. Williamson declined to comment.

James Carville, the longtime Democratic strategist, is skeptical. “She ran before and she didn’t get a lot of votes,” he said. “She’s kind of an interesting person to say the least, but I don’t think politics is her calling. She always struck me as a new age Bernie Bro.”





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A Library the Internet Can’t Get Enough Of

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The library, it should be known, is not in Europe. It doesn’t even exist anymore. But when it did, it was the home library of Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Richard Macksey in Baltimore. (I was his student in 2015 and interviewed him for Literary Hub in 2018.) Dr. Macksey, who passed away in 2019, was a book collector, polyglot and scholar of comparative literature. At Hopkins, he founded one of the country’s first interdisciplinary academic departments and organized the 1966 conference “The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man,” which included the first stateside lectures by the French theorists Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan and Paul de Man.

Dr. Macksey’s book collection clocked in at 51,000 titles, according to his son, Alan, excluding magazines and other ephemera. A decade ago, the most valuable pieces — including first editions of “Moby Dick,” T.S. Eliot’s “Prufrock and Other Observations,” and works by Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley — were moved to a “special collections” room on the Hopkins campus. After Dr. Macksey’s death, a S.W.A.T. team-like group of librarians and conservationists spent three weeks combing through his book-filled, 7,400-square-foot house to select 35,000 volumes to add to the university’s libraries.

Surprise discoveries included an 18th-century Rousseau text with charred covers (found in the kitchen), a “pristine” copy of a rare 1950s exhibition catalog showing Wassily Kandinsky’s paintings, posters from the May 1968 protests when students in Paris occupied the Sorbonne, a hand-drawn Christmas card from the filmmaker John Waters, and the original recordings of the theorists at that 1966 structuralism conference.

“For years, everyone had said ‘there’s got to be recordings of those lectures.’ Well, we finally found the recordings of those lectures. They were hidden in a cabinet behind a bookshelf behind a couch,” said Liz Mengel, associate director of collections and academic services for the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins. Several first editions by 20th-century poets and novelists sat on a shelf in the laundry room.

After the librarians from Hopkins and nearby Loyola Notre Dame were finished selecting their donations, the remaining books were carted away by a dealer, so Dr. Macksey’s son could prepare the house to be sold.



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Their First Date ‘Felt Like Christmas’

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Two weeks after the Scotch party, Mr. Shorter was maneuvering his way onto Ms. Quiles’s calendar. A flirty text dialogue he had initiated the night they met was in full flight. “The reason I asked him to kiss me at Macao is because our chemistry had grown exponentially those two weeks,” Ms. Quiles said.

Once Ms. Quiles was seated at the table — a coveted corner spot that Mr. Short had secured by bribing the maître d’ with a pair of Nikes — and had ordered a cocktail, “I was like, ‘Wow, he gets me,’” she said.

By 2012, neither was interested in dating anybody else. In 2013, Mr. Shorter moved into a condo near Ms. Quiles’s place in Jersey City. To then, he had spent most of his life in the Bronx, where his mother, Deborah Shorter, his grandmother, Sadie Gray, and six aunts had shepherded him through Evander Childs High School and directly into his first job selling sneakers at a local H & Y Sports store.

Two years later, they moved into a new home in Jersey City together. In 2016, she quit her agency job and started POP! By Yaz.

Mr. Shorter, who was by then managing Nike’s boutique business, was her sounding board for ideas. He also provided a backdrop of harmony at home, something Ms. Quiles’s past relationships had lacked. “Very early on, NaVell set the stage for a way of communicating that was respectful,” she said. “We would have conflicts, but we never raised our voices or cursed at each other.”

Past relationships were no longer worth remembering to Mr. Shorter. For him, a future with Ms. Quiles was becoming all that mattered. “I was like, when you know, you know,” he said. “Even food didn’t taste good to me when she wasn’t around.”



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