This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.
My father died on Thanksgiving night. As I sat with family and friends over the next few days, my grief and sense of disbelief barely lessened.
Finally, to stave off my sadness, I got busy. My sister had helped my father move into his last apartment, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, when his health began to fail; now, we agreed…
I’ve been feeling my way around Medium, trying to understand its customs and culture since April when I published my first piece. I am a stranger in a strange land, late of the planet Old School. I’ve won awards for my writing. But, here, I am a novice, desperate to grok this community and the landscape it inhabits.
Grok means “to understand,” of course, but Dr. Mahmoud, who might be termed the leading Terran expert on Martians, explains that it also means, “to drink” and “a hundred other English words, words which we think of as antithetical concepts. ‘Grok’ means…
I first used the term “human molting” in 2015 to describe my experience of getting rid of “stuff.” A luxury problem, to be sure. Turns out, it’s still an issue, thanks to COVID.
The whole world is selling and moving to the country, which means we empty nesters have to move on.
The above text from a women in Westchester, a suburb of New York, inspired me to republish this piece. She is thinking of selling, but the idea overwhelms her. Human molting is never easy.
Below is the 2015 version, essentially unchanged. However, I toyed with the title, relocated…
On April 2, a dramatic adaptation of the bestselling novel Blindness opened at the Daryl Roth Theater. It marks the first reopening of a commercial venue, on or off Broadway, since New York City went dark last March 12.
If a performance venue can be tailored to put post-pandemic audiences at ease, that’s reason enough for celebration. Art and theater enrich the universe.
Not so incidentally, the producer and the theater-cleanser in this story happen to be two of my close friends from college. We’ve followed each others’ adult lives and stayed connected since the mid-sixties. …
“It’s Easter,” I say to my partner. Ours is an “interfaith” marriage. “Let’s take a walk to Saint-Sulpice. You can light a candle.”
My partner has a checkered relationship with the religion of her youth. But this is a holiday, and Saint-Sulpice is the second-largest Catholic church in Paris, a 35-minute walk away. I am Jewish, more by tradition than practice. She is from a mostly non-Jewish Central American country. I am American.
Isolated in Paris this year and therefore unable to “have Passover” with our large extended and blended family, last week she offered to sit through a Seder-for-two…
Writing, after all, implies a relationship. Writers “talk” to their readers. They want their attention, even for a few minutes. They want readers to love or at least like them. They hope they’ll come back.
Isn’t that kind of acknowledgment all of us want from our relationships? We want our intimates — partners, parents, sibling, besties — to know us and stick with us. And we want to feel connected to our consequential strangers: bosses and co-workers, shopkeepers and neighbors, fellow dog-lovers and soup-kitchen volunteers. We want to know that we matter. …
I recently heard myself complaining to an old friend, “It’s doesn’t get any easier.” We were talking about the pandemic. But it could have been anything-work, socializing, taking care of yourself. Isn’t everything different and more difficult?
But as the Buddhists say: Don’t argue with reality. Change — whether it's universally disruptive or far less dramatic — always brings challenges. It’s never easy.
As I share at the end of this piece, the pay-off is well worth the price of hard work. First, allow me to use my own life to illustrate.
Pierre, a handyman (not pictured above) works in the Washington, D.C. building I lived for six months before moving to Paris. Between May and November, I saw Pierre maybe three or four times. Still, I miss him.
Pierre did things for me that I couldn’t or didn’t want to do myself. One needs such people in her life. I truly appreciated his presence, scant though it was.
On the relationship continuum that ranges from stranger to soulmate, Pierre is one of my least-close consequential strangers — acquaintances who are neither family nor dear friends. …
Author of 15 books and over 200 articles and posts, here I specialize in short reads — on relationships, social trends and my adventures in Paris.