The Survivors

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“Tom, you have cancer.”


More silence.

Some words change your life forever. These four put a knot in my stomach that didn’t go away for years.


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It is 9 a.m. on a hot Bronx summer morning. I stand behind a thick glass entry door in my apartment building. On the other side of this door, eight brick steps lead up to the street. Alone in the hallway, I silently wait for the camp bus to arrive.

Jumping Off

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“If no one has bodies or faces in heaven, and we’re just energy, how will we recognize each other?”
I sit at my mother’s bedside, listening to her words about death and thinking that this is a funny question.

Peace, At Last

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As some friends and I stood in a circle in my living room, saying goodbye to a man who profoundly touched our lives, I felt a strong wave of old emotion well up. I was his first girlfriend, and it seemed right that this final ceremony should end with me.


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A truly remarkable thing just happened to me: I got back in touch with someone whom I’ve been almost constantly thinking about since I was 11 years old!

Feeling Joy

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“This lump on the right side of your throat is probably nothing,” said my primary care physician. “Most of these nodes are benign. Let’s do an ultrasound, just to be sure.”


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What did this chubby Bronx girl know about a 12-year-old Latin lover? The first day Carlos arrived from the Dominican Republic, he set his eyes on me. He strutted into my junior high school about a month after the term started, and I knew that my life would be changed forever.

Giving Magic

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On July 4, 2001, I was sitting in my friend Dick’s San Francisco living room with a number of our musical friends, jamming and having fun — what we call “playing in the sandbox.”

The Fire Kiss

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When I was a little girl, I remember crawling into my father’s outstretched arms, snuggling in as far as I could go, and planting a ticklish “fire kiss” right in the crook of his neck.


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It’s very hard to walk the half-mile home from school with my knees jammed together.

Step by step, I inch down the street, trying to breathe normally and not hyperventilate.

In a Word: Backpocket Crosswords

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I stood before the audience at Jigsaw Java in Redwood City and asked, “Can anyone give me an eight-letter word?”

“You mean any eight-letter word?”

“Yes. Just pick one — out of the air.”


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In my twenties, I loved Bennett.
We frequented coffee houses and bars around San Francisco. He shared unfamiliar and exhilarating intellectual adventures and suggested far-out books to read. I was off balance and excited, peeking out of my middle-class box. I was high on thinking. Bennett, on the other hand, was high on wine.


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I never knew what to expect on those Sunday trips to Manhattan. I had no choice — another day with Warren! Riding in the back seat of our family car, getting closer and closer, my mind would race: What will he do to me today?


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Walking to school one day in 1968, my boyfriend spun Wynn on her heels. Before he realized it, he had kissed her.

Local Authors Find Time for Deep Thought in a Distracted World

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How does a nonprofessional writer find the quality and quantity of quiet and contemplative time needed to create a meaningful book?

Singing and Dancing for Peace

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“My favorite kinds of songs are those that wake me up in the middle of the night. Then, there are songs that come to me in dreams.”

A Handful of Deliciousness on the Coastside

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“It’s exciting when movie stars and Congresswoman Speier come to the markets, but when I see a family visit for the first time or a little kid eat his first handful of raw peas, that’s the stuff right there!”

Foreword to “Random Acts of Kindness Are Changing the World”

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I’ve always wanted the world to be a beautiful place, filled with gentle and giving souls. I was a teenager in the ’60s, awash in the haze and hope of harmony. I’m 60 now, and I still cling to the possibilities of peace and kindness throughout the world.