It's my new favorite word. Paracosm. I learned it today in an op-ed piece by David Brooks, whose take on things political and cultural I sometimes appreciate and with which I, on very occasional occasions, agree. I have some cultural conservative leanings which tend to make me root, if only sotto voce, for the reintroduction of "dead" languages, forced memorization of long stanzas of 19th Century poetry, and the Palmer Method. Neither one of my children can write decipherable longhand. Probably no longer a necessary skill. Nevertheless...

All of which can probably be traced to a paracosmic multiverse of my own, consisting of melding Jane Austen into Miss Marple into Laura Ingalls Wilder. I cite Miss Marple here as a stand-in for Agatha Christie, since it was always St. Mary's Mead in which I wanted to live, not Poirot's London flat.

I have several other paracosms, of course. From time to time, I have lived in Hobbiton, wandered through the Old Forest, ventured into Fangorn, hiked the Misty Mountains, all in the guise of a shieldmaiden of Rohan.

I Married Adventure at the prodigal age of 13 or so, and went on safari to Lake Paradise and across the Serengeti. At the very least, it provided an escape from solitary bedrooms into which, if I wasn't very, very careful, the vampyr would inveigle an invitation. I once had to put masking tape over an illuminated light switch. It glowed red in the dark. I was 21 years old, for cry eye.

I wanted red hair and green eyes like Scarlett O'Hara. I rode . I traveled the Yellow Brick Road. I married .

I graduated from Hogwarts at the ripe old age of 64.

The latest thing in advice on how to live is to live in the Now. But the Now is so fleeting. Here one minute and - whoops, now it's Now again.

I prefer a Paracosm. My Now is layered with them. I still manage to pay bills and do the dishes, but all the time I'm doing that ... lately I'm riding to hounds with Trollope's . Which reminds me - must find out what stopping the earths means. Oh, and pay the cable bill.