Thirty-two haircuts and a solar eclipse

Since April, 2015, I

  • changed my Brita water filter 22 times,

  • spent several months at the beach,

  • had four flu shots,

  • published three novels,

  • tutored my literacy students about 4000 hours,

  • raked, blew, or otherwise herded 23,620,000 leaves—mostly oak,

  • enjoyed four Thanksgiving dinners and weaned myself off Beaujolais Nouveau—horrible stuff!,

  • unpacked and assembled a Christmas tree four times—never could get the star right,

  • saw Jackson Browne three times—all great,

  • had 32 haircuts—each one (inexplicably) a little faster,

  • saw my niece graduate from high school in the shadow of the Tetons,

  • drank 3500 cups of tea, some green some white, mostly black,

  • watched Downton Abbey conclude but discovered A Place to Call Home, (Downton Abbey down under)

  • made about 200 more attempts at the perfect loaf of bread,

  • watched my tennis team make the state tournament—twice,

  • celebrated my wife’s birthday three times, mine three, my son’s three, and my daughter’s four,

  • discovered Tree House Brewery, and Five Churches, and other reputable dispensers of hoppy beverages,

  • lost my last two uncles but caught up with a few cousins—thanks Facebook (yes, a kind word for FB),

  • watched The Weather Channel's Stephanie Abrams at the solar eclipse—as good as seeing it myself,

  • discovered Mr. Robot and The Good Place,

  • experienced Manhattanhenge four times—but only in pictures,

  • bought a car that tells me when I'm about to back into something—or someone,

  • watched Paul Manafort, Jr. receive a 47-month jail sentence.

In 47 months a lot can happen, and my list above covers only an infinitesimal amount. Those who are complaining this morning of Manafort’s light sentence are justified—the judge embarrassed himself and the legal system. But 47 months is a long time to have one’s freedom restricted.


Of course he might serve in a designer prison, and he may serve no time at all, but for me the Manafort trial has always been about guilt. And he will always be—no matter what he does and where he goes—a convicted felon in the eyes of the public. Richard Nixon was never impeached, never tried, never served a second of jail time, but those factors never did a thing to restore his good name. Paul Manafort —Russian asset, willing to sell out his country for personal profit—end of story. And for those of you who lean toward religion and/or literature, whether Manafort ends up in the eighth or ninth circle of hell is a decision for another judge.


Whether we label him a traitor now or 47 months from now makes no appreciable difference.

And if you consider his sentence a setback, a caveat: there will be more setbacks, more disappointments, more vitriolic curses screamed at innocent flat-screens in cozy living rooms everywhere.* The scourge of Donald Trump was a long time coming—his demise may be, in the end, death by a thousand cuts, but we can relish each one of them while the haircuts, concerts, and IPAs continue.


*not in Mississippi, of course

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