Lockdown life and the need for dog food.

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My anxiety woke me up like a jet engine on take-off. Dog Food. Three dogs, only one bag left of Trader Joe’s Chicken and Rice dry food. Sure, if I run out I can substitute another brand, but a house of two parents, two young adult children, one girlfriend, and three dogs with food-change induced diarrhea might be the death of me. My tombstone would read If only she found the dog food.

The night before, Los Angeles’s Mayor had announced the shutdown of all nonessential businesses would begin in the morning. As soon as they were open, I called all the local TJ’s seeing if anyone had the dog food. One store said they had one bag but couldn’t hold it, one store had none. …

This Is Us

Every adoption story is different

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Photo by Artem from Pexels

“If I’d known, I would have raised you. I don’t know if you would’ve had a better life. My parents would have wanted you too. They would have helped.”

My biological father said that to me when I found him two years ago. I was 50 — the same age my birth mother was when she died of colon cancer. She died before I found her. She told no one about me, not even my father.

I was born in 1968 to an unwed woman who did not know she was pregnant. Conventional wisdom assumed my life would be better if a married couple — a doctor and a homemaker who had adopted a boy four years earlier — parented me. …

Weight, popularity, and the haunting wounds of adolescence

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Waldo was the nickname given to me by my high school girlfriends. I wore my hair in an asymmetrical curly bob, blouses buttoned up to the neck, shoulder pads, and long overcoats bought at used clothing stores in Greenwich Village. I aimed for Molly Ringwald and Madonna in a town that aimed for Rush and Van Halen.

I liked Waldo, and my geek chic.

“Well, you know, they don’t really call you Waldo,” said Maggie.*

“What do you mean?” I asked innocently.

“Behind your back they call you Whaledo.”

“What?” I asked, hoping she couldn’t hear the shattering of my heart. …

If I had to do it all again.

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Point Mugu State Park by me.

This week I climbed a mountain and remembered that amidst the suffering and pain and noise of my mind and this world, beauty exists and I know how to find it.

We headed north up PCH, passed the caravans of surfers on the side of the road, passed the way too crowded beaches, passed the plan we had made. We hit Ventura County and Point Mugu and its fog. On the right, there was a sign for a hiking trail at the Point Mugu State Park.

“Let’s do it,” I said as I turned the car, not waiting for my husband to respond. …

Dispatch from my couch, where I’ve been sleeping for 10 days.

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Photo by Yaroslav Danylchenko from Pexels

There’s so much talk about how the pandemic has reminded us of the value of being home, the benefit of fewer cars on the road, the beauty of spending more time with family, the horror of watching loved ones die on FaceTime and the heroism of the doctors and nurses who held that loved one’s hand. Frontline workers are heroes, and we can find meaning in suffering. But I’m not interested in silver linings because silver linings are bullshit. The kid who can’t go to school and whose grandmother died and whose mom was on a ventilator does not live in that silver lining, she lives in a hellscape of historic proportion. …

Don’t judge, we’re in a pandemic.

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The Creative Exchange via Unsplash

I’m not a big pot smoker, or “weed” as the kids call it these days. I smoked a lot in college, but in the thirty years since, I’ve gotten high just a handful of times. But now it’s a pandemic and so, well, yeah, you know.

Thanks to COVID, my 21-year-old daughter and her large shedding puppy moved back home. Bandit is a mutt, but for sure he’s part Labrador Retriever and part Great Pyrenees. According to the internet, that mix “sheds a lot.”

Cool. I hate shedding dogs. Because of that, I’ve only had poodles. But I love my daughter more than I hate shedding, so here we are. There’s dog hair everywhere. The floor, the sofas, our clothes. …

A nest, some chicks, a few dogs, breakfast, and a global pandemic teach this bird hater a lesson.

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Santirat Praeknokkaew for Shutterstock

I don’t like birds. I don’t understand them as pets or hobbies, I’ve never hung a bird feeder in my life and don’t own binoculars. When I met my biological father for the first time and he was a birder I was like, ha! I didn’t get that gene. So no one was as surprised as me by what happened next.

The tree trimmers were leaving when my husband noticed a nest with three chicks on the dining table next to the tree.

What should I do with this?

Up to you. Said the tree trimmer as he got in his truck and drove away. …

I wish I had been told these things when my journey began. 5 Tips for managing the long road ahead.

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Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

I have a Master’s Degree in Social Work; I completed a prestigious post-graduate fellowship at the Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute, and spent more than a decade working with children and adolescents in outpatient and inpatient psychiatric settings. I was good at my job.

I knew shit.

And yet.

When my own children showed signs of depression, anxiety, and ADHD, I wrote them off as age-appropriate fears, teenage angst, immaturity. They’re Scorpios, they’re moody! I didn’t get my daughter help until I read a concerning post she wrote on Tumblr. But even then, I told myself “middle-school”. I didn’t get my son help until he was failing 8th grade. For years I told myself his non-stop motion was “determined athlete”. …

Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People says more about marriage and older women than people realize.

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I loved Sally Rooney’s second novel, Normal People. It is a timeless coming-of-age story about two Irish teenagers navigating class and gender roles, friendship and love. The BBC adapted it for television, it now airs in the U.S. on Hulu.

The show is receiving heaps of praise and criticism. Mostly from younger people, which I understand because it is about two teenagers becoming young adults and I am 52 so not its target audience.

But Normal People is unintentionally a primer on marriage. I have been married for 23 years. …

Gen Z will be the next Greatest Generation.

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In his latest column for the New York Times, The Age Of Coddling Is Over, columnist David Brooks states that the rise in adolescent/young adult suicide is because they have been coddled. His opinion is that we made life too safe for them, thus they cannot cope with hardship.


My children are 21 and 19, Gen Z, born in 1998 and 2000. I raised them in the shadow of 9/11 and the vortex of the Great Recession. We educated them in the age of active shooters and lockdown drills. They watched porn and shared bikini selfies and suffered 24/7 cyber bullying on their smart phones. Don’t forget to volunteer, play a sport, and take that extra A.P. course.


Mindy Stern

got my first network television writing job at 48. it’s never too late, you’re never too old. keep going. lostinadoptionland@gmail.com

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