Everything You Wanted to Know About Kissing but Were Afraid to Ask

When we kiss, the world drops away. We are warm lips and darting tongues, soft cheeks or stubble, arched necks, wrapped arms, tingling pressure, tenderness and hunger. We drown in a good kiss, suffocate and come up gasping for air and do not care, because such a kiss insists that we are loved and wanted. Our breath intermingles. For the time it takes a cloud to pass the sun, our souls join.

Failing the Test of Purging Oneself

In the hogan I was miserable, not enlightened, felt funky and slimed. All the individual animal and species sins poured out of me, not as catharsis or healing, but as reminder and irritant, and I did not believe in sin. This was not my culture, my ceremony, my victory, my tribe. It was like being put to death slowly and humiliatingly for my presumption.

It’s Alive! Isn’t It?

Organized religions, at least the traditional monotheistic ones, are stingy in assigning a soul (only to humans) and defining its fate (blackened by sin). They bottle up the holy water, decree which acts are sins and which are virtues, box up God in a package of their own design. Why not let divinity spread out and envelop us, until we can see some faint glow of energy even in the inanimate?

The Authentic Imposter

The first woman to paint the official portrait of a U.S. president, Greta Kempton also painted Cabinet officials, governors, senators, the head of the Atomic Energy Commission, two Postmasters General, a Supreme Court justice, several university presidents, and a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. But what would have happened if she had painted a self-portrait?

Thoughts on The End and How We Go On

Dying is something we all do. Saints, film stars, Olympic athletes, con artists. I feel calmer every time another cool friend pulls it off; if all these smart, funny people have managed to die, could it be so awful to share their fate? Yet much of what we call culture is created to deny death, or at least distract us from it.

The Pilgrimage to the King’s Heartbreak Hotel

The real Elvis is American, remember, and America is a consumer society. The desires we project, the stuff we buy—that is what feels real to us. It lets us have any Elvis we want. He left plenty of kitsch in his wake, plenty of pseudo-religion, plenty of Elvis jokes—but he was not, is not, a joke. He lived our contradictions, released our inhibitions, and lost himself in the process.

The Endless Summer

Nineteen sixty-six was the last year of the family outings to Atlantic City. Things were changing. The world was changing. My family was changing. A moment may feel endless but never is. I was a teenager; everything was sharp and awkward.

The Thunder and Gold of Horses Running Free

We have used horses to do our work, fight our battles, race for us, carry us. It is the few that still run wild, though, that send a thrill down our spines. We have no claim on them, yet a long and regrettable history has placed us in a position where we must “manage” them. Now, like newlyweds, we have to learn how to be part of their lives without changing who they are.