Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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Dana Branscum was the Assistant Editor for The Sun from 1987 to 1990. She lives in Hope, Maine.
This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages.
What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.
Though we haven’t devoted the whole issue to the anniversary, we have allowed the section to grow beyond our original plans. After seeing the pieces, we felt that our readers would enjoy them as much as we did — for the information about the magazine’s history, for the glimpses into the writers’ lives, and (not least) for the quality of the writing.
Some people are able to separate the personal from the political. I know some extremely conservative people who don’t dislike my company or my books. They can tolerate a different view in their lives, but without thinking about it much or respecting it. But the reverse isn’t true. I don’t know very many leftists who could, for example, marry a Republican, or easily cohabit with fascist thinking. I suppose that’s the difference between politics as a sort of hobby and politics as fighting for your life.
Giselle didn’t get up and leave when people started talking about the war. She stayed in the conversation, switched to waving her hands in front of other people’s faces instead of her own. When she listened in on the next table, she leaned over and said Pardonnez-moi before offering a pithy rejoinder to something she’d overheard. These talks were possible because people all around her were thinking, she was thinking, it was understood that everyone was thinking, that everyone should think.
For a long time the whole idea of God is bewildering to a little girl, but in a dreamy and faraway fashion, you know him. Like the moon and the stars across the night’s long distance, you love and fear him.
You and I and every human being I have met in any culture — we have all been conditioned to put a barrier between ourselves and other people, to stay safe. And it is that safety that creates most of the conflicts in the world. It’s that crazy paradoxical situation whereby if I stay safe from you in that way, I can make you the enemy, and we can go to war and kill one another. That kind of safety has to end — especially in this nuclear age. We have to make ourselves unsafe to one another personally and psychologically so that our planet can be safe.
I was flirting more that summer than ever before or since, but I had a dull and temporary job at a convenience store, with the prospect of serious employment in the fall.
It’s like being in Miss Wheeler’s class but wanting to play with the kids in Miss King’s class. The thing is, they go to recess at 10:30 with the fifth graders, while your class goes at 11 with the kindergarteners.