Randi Kreiss

I’ll be choosing my words even more carefully


Randi is back, but beginning this week, she will appear on the Herald opinion page and online once per month.

I’ll be seeing you, just not every week.
In June, when I wrote, “Column writing through hell and high water,” I told readers I was taking a leave from writing for a few months to help my husband through a serious health issue.
Many of you reached out, with kind words and encouragement. I wasn’t surprised. You’re good people.
My husband is doing well, but everything changes everything, and the time away from a weekly deadline made me realize that this is a good moment to take a step back and switch from writing weekly to writing once a month.

Now, I understand that for some of you this is excellent news. You can reduce your aggravation level and possibly lower your blood pressure. This summer, one of my favorite letters was from a reader who said that everything I wrote made her angry, but she would miss me.
Well, Mary, I’m back.
As I go through my days, I think constantly of columns that need to be written. What I’m happy to let go is the deadline that has been a boundary in my life, week in and week out, for 40 years. When we traveled, I either had to write two or three columns in advance or find Wi-Fi in the wilderness. I’m not complaining; I felt accountable to my readers.
As I wrote three months ago, this hasn’t just been a column; it has been a running memoir of our times. I wrote my heart out after 9/11, grieving with so many readers who lost loved ones in the towers. I scribbled my way through blackouts, epic blizzards, hurricanes and, for three years, the pandemic.
I wrote about how to sleep better and eat better and find friends and keep friends. Sometimes an idea landed on the page full blown, and sometimes it has been a struggle to compose a cogent piece. I spent my 750 words a week in wildly different ways, from warning folks off the road when my son got his license, to welcoming President Ronald Reagan to Congregation Ohr Torah, in North Woodmere, with a bust of his head in chopped liver, to sharing my grief for my darling girl, Zoe the dog, when she passed at 16.
My work has been personal. I have written about my children’s lives, their mitzvahs and their missteps. My breast cancer. My husband’s heart surgeries. I struggled for days trying to find just the right words to honor my parents when they died. In some ways the column has been a running story of all of our lives. After all, don’t we share the same hopes and dreams, worry about the threats to our Mother Earth and yearn for a safer world for our kids?
Many of my columns have suggested or reviewed books, the other love in my life. In return, many of you have pitched books my way that turned out to be thrilling and illuminating.
As politics got nasty and toxic in recent years, I jumped in, wanting to use my 750 words to rally support for our democracy, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and laws that ensure equality for every community and every human being. I think these were words well spent, although at times the backlash has been fierce. That’s what opinion columns are for: to stir the pot, open the debate and disagree without getting too creepy.
I love newspapering. Ink in my veins is how the expression goes. I will write my monthly column going forward with a renewed focus on our democracy. We have the votes to bring sane and serious people into office. Time to close the chapter on book banning in America. Translated, that means supporting equal justice for all as the former president and his cronies face the consequences of their transgressive, mean-spirited time in office.
Last week, David Ignatius, the respected columnist and longtime Biden friend, called for President Biden to withdraw his bid to run in 2024 because he’s too old. I agree; he is old. But there isn’t a qualified, experienced alternative who has the chops to run and win a national election.
Trump is old, too. He is also unfit in mind, body, temperament and demeanor. He has been criminally charged in four indictments. Biden has boosted our democracy and enhanced our reputation around the world. He has robust skills and a natural charm that can’t be learned or bought. His team is working well for America during a treacherous time in our history.
Run, Joe, run.

Copyright 2023 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at randik3@aol.com.