The sound of a human voice is what I need most during this pandemic

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The woman’s husband was dead. She’d found him lying on the sofa, colorless and cold. Instantly, she called 911. Then she texted friends, pleading for help. “It made no sense to call,” she said. “My friends never answer their phones.”

No one answered her text either — at least not as immediately as she’d hoped they would. Some never checked their phones during the workday or kept them on ‘silent.’ Others saw her message and intended — but forgot — to read it later. …


But scheduling a swim during pandemic is making me a nervous wreck

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My index finger is poised in the middle of my computer’s mouse pad, my eyes glued to its clock. It is 7:59 a.m. and I have carefully positioned the cursor over the words ‘sign up.’ For the next 60 seconds, I hold my breath and fight the urge to blink, my eyes toggling between the clock and the cursor, which I will click right on the hour, in a desperate attempt to claim a lap lane for the next day’s 8 a.m. swim.

It didn’t use to be…


Risking another heartbreak is the price I’m willing to pay for true love

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“Be careful,” Viola warned. “Remember what happened last time.”

“I know,” I said. “But this guy’s the real deal, I know it,” I said.

“You ‘knew’ it before and look what happened.”

“I thought I knew. I wanted it to be right and talked myself into it. This one is different.”

“They’re all different,” Viola said, sarcastically.

“You could at least be happy for me.”

“I want to be happy for you. I want you to be happy. But as your best friend I feel bound to…


My young adult son’s cross-country move gives me a new perspective on what being a ‘good mom’ means.

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“I’m gonna do it.”

The text from San Francisco reaches me in New York on a bright September morning. After months of agonizing, our son has decided to move there.

I’m not surprised. I’d counseled Ben on the decision. I’d even cheered him on. After all, helping to launch her young adult is what a good mom does. Yet now, standing in the warm autumn sunshine, I am shivering, my guts are twisting, and my eyes, filling. Messages come rapid-fire, and I try focusing on the words — job promotion, the chance of a lifetime, so excited — but my…


I wanted love so much that I missed the warning signs staring me in the face

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“You still haven’t met him in person?” my friend Carol asked about the mysterious man with whom I’d been having a phone relationship.

Ron (not the creep’s real name) first called one night in 1984 in response to an ad I’d placed to form a writers’ group. I was 26 and single. He was 42, with a velvety voice and charming wit. We talked about writing briefly before our conversation took a dozen turns, lasting until 2 a.m. …


My job is not to judge how others parent. It is to do all I can to help my kids — and my dog — succeed.

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We’re waiting on a slow-moving checkout line to pay for groceries when my two-year-old son says, “Mommy, I’m hungry.” It is 5 p.m., ‘arsenic hour’ for most toddlers — and their unfortunate parents — although Ben waits patiently as we inch forward. Then, it happens. He melts down. “Shhh,” I whisper in a futile attempt to calm him. “We’re almost there.” It’s useless. …


My high-maintenance dog shows me what a high-maintenance wife I can be

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The moment I knew I loved my husband was the night we met. I wasn’t looking for romance then because my mother, with whom I had a contentious relationship, was dying. But I couldn’t resist my attraction to Erik. I also couldn’t withhold the warning that given my impending loss, I likely wouldn’t be my best self in the weeks to come. It was a risky move for a first date, but I was too distraught and, at 34, felt too old to waste time on a man…


Could I Find True Love Online?

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Bernie

“Female non-smoking student, 23, passionate writer, swimmer, nature lover seeks non-smoking, athletic male, 25–35, for long walks, deep talks and more.”

In 1981, I placed this ad in the San Francisco Bay Guardian. I was a UC Berkeley junior who yearned for love, didn’t like parties and hated the bar scene. I knew that the “Personals” could be sketchy, but the thought of receiving letters and photos from prospective suitors set my imagination afire with fantasies of finding Mr. Right. Would it be Lester, Louis or Larry? Michael, Marc or Mordechai? Every week, I rifled through responses to my ad…


Another month of pandemic has me rethinking the price of joy.

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“Mom, whatever you do, don’t let George out back. There’s a sick-looking skunk out there.”

My brain heard my son’s warning, but George’s pining at the back door told my heart something else: Our sweet pup needed to go outside. So, I let him.

“MOM! Nooo!” Ben screamed, as George bolted toward the backyard fence, grabbed the stumbling skunk between his teeth, and began crunching it to death. …


Its tranquility and patience inspire my best self.

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Like two jumbo jets coming in low, the great blue herons pass in tandem before my windshield. The day has been tough, the pandemic and its associated deprivations weighing me down, and I am driving somewhere to escape my gloom. Then I see the lithe behemoths languidly descend, their massive wings riding the autumn breeze to a weightless touchdown, and suddenly, I am smiling.

In the midst of an ongoing global public health crisis, environmental devastation, political rancor, social upheaval, and racial injustice, these mammoth birds bring me inexplicable peace. I wish I could summon such peace on my own…

Andrea Kott

Public health writer/editor and author of the memoir, “Salt on a Robin’s Tail: An Unlikely Jewish Journey Through Childhood, Forgiveness, and Hope.”

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