“It is November 1, 1991, the last day of the first part of my life,” Jo Ann Beard writes in her essay, The Fourth State of Matter. The line comes a little after halfway through her essay; the first ten pages of the piece talk about her dying dog, her impending divorce, her home life, the squirrels in her attic, her work. The scenes are rendered in perfect mundanity, completely innocuous in their routine simplicity. How many stories have we heard about a lost love, a dying pet? It is a pain we, as readers, listeners, and spectators, are used to. We follow her journey as best we can, conditioned by years of our own heartbreak and the heartbreak of those closest to us. We offer sympathetic noises and empathy, readying ourselves for what we see coming: the divorce. The death of her dog.