I was reading the Harry Potter series when I was struck down by the flu in late January. I had a cough, minor temperature swings, dream sweats, and I couldn’t leave my bed for anything but the toilet or the easiest meals. Gumbo soup, pre-cooked chicken in bottled vindaloo sauce, hot and sour soup; the nursing skills of my normally destructive dog; Harry Potter, and watching ballet documentaries on my phone entertained me between long naps.

I got tested earlier this week. I didn’t have COVID-19. Only the cough and sweats fit. I could taste spicy food (it helped me…


— a COVID tale

It was Ireland and Scotland that gifted us with Halloween. It is a time of darkness and fear — daylight contracts to less than ten hours a day, and our forebears worried about surviving lean times and sickness in the coming winter. The scrim that separates the living from the dead, and the human from the mites of magic and mischief, is at its threadiest. The Celts of 2,000 years ago, and the Wiccans of every age, call it Samhain (“sow-win”), and it is the celebration of the new year. As befits the new year, there was a bit of…


Once upon a time I was a Stepford Wife in one of the many 12-Step programs for compulsive eating/not eating. I lost 188 pounds. The magic wore off when I ran up against Life.

Me. Age 35, 320 pounds.

But now life is living alone in lockdown, social distancing, the smell of campfires obfuscating the sun, Proud and Boogaloo Boys looking for a reason to shoot off their precious weapons, and the Orange Bobblehead making it hard to imagine we’ll ever stop living in a soap opera.

The Serenity Prayer is looking pretty good right now. …


Letter from a Reader: “My beautiful 15 year old girl who just poured her heart out to me about how fat she thinks she is and how she doesn’t think anyone will ever love her.”

This is the heartbreaking gist of a mother’s seeking help that won’t hurt her daughter’s self-esteem.

For the purposes of this reply, let’s call them Mom and Annie. Further, I believe this question is based on a Psychology Today blog I wrote seven years ago about how to work with your teen who is overweight. Thanks, Mom, for delving so deeply into my past work!


Casual Observations on Social Distancing from a Semi-Agoraphobe

I’m obsessed with numbers. I lived in New York for over thirty years and the situation is so drastic that the first thing I check every morning are its COVID-19 stats. A few hours ago, there were 68,363 confirmed cases in the state, and 1,342 deaths from the virus. Two days ago the death count was 965.

I’m rooting for the home team but I’m also fascinated in that car wreck on the side of the road kind of way.

Now I live in Montana where the virus was a late entry…


It begins, with sugar, originally cultivated in Polynesia and then imported to India. It continues with war, the sixth century Persians leaping on it when they invaded India. Emperor Darius called it “the reed which gives honey without bees,” and by the seventh century, the Persians were fashioning sumptuous confections with their new-found discovery, the first cookies reported in history. They also grew sugar cane and kept the crop a great secret, selling the refined product at an enormous profit.

The next wars to spread sugar into usage were religious. As the Arabs (people from the Arabian Peninsula, Syrian Desert…


Why I Smoke

I was suffering through a terrible depressive episode when a friend advised me to go outside and get some fresh air.

“I will,” I told her. “I need a cigarette.”

She laughed so hard she probably had something coming out of every orifice except maybe her ears. For a day, I was famous with people I’d never met as the conversation made the rounds of her family and neighbors.

But cigarettes are best when I’m on edge. On the edge or after a good cry, a cigarette is divine. It stings a little, giving me that lift…


Dear Ms. Kuffel

I could see that much in the gray of the unopened email and I knew that the news I’d expecting for a month — that I was fired from a freelance publicity gig — had happened.

In threatening legalese is a list of all my failures and a demand for the return of monies paid me as well as a refusal for this month’s fee for which I’d been putting in nine-hour days.

I so, so do not want to complain or justify. Self-justification is one of those character lapses I can control. …


Seventeen months ago he posted a photograph on Facebook of himself kissing a woman on the cheek. It was one of four or five photos of a group of friends having a sunrise picnic. It could have been a fond impulse, one moment in the red light of the desert, 1200 miles away.

But I knew. With a certainty as hard as marble, I knew this weird frelationship — a giddy, open-hearted friendship that began long ago punctuated with occasional sex — was too much for me to carry.

I blocked him on Facebook and waited to see if he…

Frances Kuffel

PASSING FOR THIN, EATING ICE CREAM WITH MY DOG & LOVE SICK (6/6/14). #Socialmedia worker-bee & blogger.

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