Dear Wigleaf,

Did you know that in Jimmy Carter's famous "malaise" speech, he never actually uttered the word "malaise?" I read that in a book. But I don't think it matters, because in 1979 you could actually feel the mess of the world wriggling through the air, slurping the color out of people, globbing them to the wall like spitballs.

Some synonyms for malaise: doldrums, envervation, unease. See also: gas riots, Iranian revolution, American Airlines Flight 191, disco.

The year Carter never said "malaise" was the same year John Wayne died, and Mary Pickford died, and Darryl Zanuck and Joan Blondell and Peggy Guggenheim and Merle Oberon and Carl Laemmle, Jr., and Jean Seberg and A. Phillip Randolph and Jean Renoir and Charles Mingus all died. Jimmy Carter never said malaise, but he didn't have to because the skies were filled with sad birds, slowly moving away from us.

You know, Wigleaf, it's like catching a cold, the way it feels like 1979 up in here. It's so dreadfully familiar, my head packed with cement and sorrow. I was only a year old back then but my body remembers melancholy, cold and inky and sour.

In 1979, Jimmy Carter was attacked by a swamp rabbit while fishing. Did you know?


Amber Sparks

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Read AS's story, "A History of Heart Disease."

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