July 17, 2020

How to Be Alone

In space, in the ocean, by ourselves, or with others—we’re all just figuring out how to be apart.

Adam Maida

Note: The internet version of this episode contains un-beeped curse words. BEEPED VERSION.



Guest host Bim Adewunmi sits in for Ira Glass and talks to retired NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao about how a space mission compares with living alone in a one-bed apartment on earth. (7 minutes)

Act One

The Unbearable Part

Writer Danielle Evans has been almost completely alone all quarantine — and she’s had time to think about grief, and loneliness and what might come after this pandemic is over. (17 minutes)

A version of this essay first appeared in the Corona Correspondences series at The Sewanee Review.

Act Two

A Notion Apart

Producer Lilly Sullivan used to feel such a strong kinship with “the loneliest creature on earth” that one of her first radio pieces seven years ago was about him. (9 minutes) 

You can read Lilly's 2013 report about this whale. She made it as part of Transom’s Story Workshop. Transom is a website that gives people the tools and inspiration to make their own public radio.

Act Three

The Parent Trap

Producer Nadia Reiman tells the story of one mom and her son stuck someplace with no choice. Until they were presented with one. (14 minutes)

Act Four

Applied Bob Studies

When Sandy Allen fled the people-heavy city back in 2017, they were looking for green space and a chance to learn how to cope with being alone. They had a sort of guide book, though — their Uncle Bob, who’d made a radical decision decades before. (9 minutes)