The Ghosts of Pickering Trail

Fascinating article from The Atavist: What happens when you move your children 3000 miles across country to escape the trauma of losing their father, only to later discover your new home has it’s own deathly secrets?

Milliken noticed that the house attracted a strange sort of attention. On Halloween night, she was standing on her front steps when she spotted a group of girls in costumes rounding the sidewalk outside her house.
“That’s where that thing happened,” one girl giggled. The group moved on without stopping for candy.

The story prompts an interesting question: should sellers of property be legally obliged to mention bad things that have happened there?

The Ghosts of Pickering Trail via The Atavist Magazine

You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What?

Carlos and Roby are two ex-convicts with a simple mission: picking up inmates on the day they’re released from prison and guiding them through a changed world:

Eventually, Dale Hammock appeared. Hammock was 65, white, his head shaved completely bald, both arms wrapped in black tattoos. He wore sweat shorts, a white T-shirt, canvas slip-ons and white socks pulled up near his knees. All his clothes were bright and brand-new. As he approached Carlos and Roby, he thrust his chest toward them as far as it would go. Inside, this might have signaled strength and authority, but out here, it looked bizarre, as if he had some kind of back deformity.

You can’t help but feel for the ex-convicts, suddenly cast adrift in the outside world. Having lived a life on the inside for decades, this new reality seems overwhelming, confusing and terrifying:

Roby took a picture on his phone, showed it to Hammock, then zapped it off to the team at Stanford. Hammock was amazed. ‘‘Everything now, you just touch it, and it shows you things?’’ he asked. It was like having breakfast with a time traveler. Was he correct in noticing that men didn’t wear their hair long anymore? Was it true that everyone had stopped using cash? Later, in the restroom, he wrenched the front of the automatic soap dispenser off its base instead of waving his hand under it.

The accompanying New York Times Magazine article is here.

I set out to walk

I’ve never strolled. I never set out to encounter, I set out to walk. I set out to dispel daily depression. Every afternoon I get low-spirited, and one day I discovered the walk. I had some place to go on the Upper East Side, and I lived downtown on 12th Street. I decided to walk on impulse and it was three miles and it took an hour and I thought, “Oh, this is great, I feel so much better.” Lots of people know this, but I never knew it until I just stumbled on it. And then I began to make deliberate use of it. So I am always walking somewhere. I set myself a destination, and then things happen in the street.

Vivian Gormick

And I know the imperfect family life Malick evokes. I know how even good parents sometimes lose their tempers. How children resent what seems to be the unforgivable cruelty of one parent, and the refuge seemingly offered by the other. I know what it is to see your parents having a argument, while you stand invisible on the lawn at dusk and half-hear the words drifting through the open windows. I know the feeling of dread, because when your parents fight, the foundation of your world shakes. I had no siblings, but I know how play can get out of hand and turn into hurt, and how hatred can flare up between two kids, and as quickly evaporate. I know above all how time moves slowly in a time before TV and computers and video games, a time when what you did was go outside every morning and play and dare each other, and mess around with firecrackers or throw bricks at the windows of an empty building, and run away giggling with guilt.