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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

A Few Lessons They Won’t Forget

The Disgrace Of Modern Schooling

Twenty-six years ago, having nothing better to do with myself, I tried my hand at teaching. My license certifies me as an instructor of English language and English literature, but that isn’t what I do at all. I don’t teach English, I teach school — and I win awards doing it.

Of Lineage And Love

My father was a machinist. He took me to work and introduced me to everybody as “Number Two Son.” When a machine was down, a light flashed on a board in his tiny office, and he went forth with his tool kit to find the problem. One of his tools was a piece of coat hanger.

Home Is Where

I used to take pride in the places I lived, rundown as they were: the small room in a garage, just big enough for a bed and a desk, where I typed up the first issues of The Sun; the dilapidated old house in the country, with high ceilings and no heat, which I shared with six friends and uncounted dogs and cats; a mattress in the back of the office, when I couldn’t afford a place of my own. Having once lived for a year in a van, I knew what the real luxuries were: a bed to sleep on, a light to read by, a roof to keep me dry. I liked beautiful things, but I understood the difference between living elegantly and living expensively. I could create a mood with hand-me-downs and thrift-shop finds, draping a scarf over a window, watching sunlight decorate a room as it moved from the chair to the bed to my loved one’s sleeping face.

Fiction

The Hardest Of Hands

I see her push away the dinner plate slowly, with the same painstaking attention she uses to hide the letters from her father. She zealously guards his reputation; if I threaten it, she throws a rope around my neck and pulls. Yesterday he was late picking her up. I said softly and to no one, “God, why is that man never on time?”

It Is Summer And I Paint My Toenails Magenta

It is summer. I sit on the balcony and paint my toenails magenta. Last year, I painted them cerise, Peter’s favorite color. The year before, my toes bloomed baby pink in honor of Angela, my daughter. Angela now has her own baby pink child, fresh and demanding. She lives as I do, in a small apartment with crowded walls.

Sonderkommando

I hadn’t thought of my father in at least two years. Being a bad Jew I don’t light yortzheit candles. The truth is harsher than that: I am so frightened by the intensity and mediocrity of my hate for him that I have blocked him out. It’s truly sad.

Beating Off In Mexico

Sometimes I wonder what makes her tick, this mother of mine. Did I make her up whole cloth? What planet did she come from? Did I, as the Buddhists say, choose her specifically in order to rework wrongs from my other lives?

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write

Birthdays

I can’t remember how old I was when Mom and Dad, both city born and bred, gave me the tin barn with dozens of tiny play animals and accessories for my birthday. I can recall the wonder of opening the endless cellophane wrappers and spilling the white, beige, tan, and gray critters onto the kitchen table as I hurried to see them all before leaving for school.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸
Quotations

Sunbeams

How many times have you tried to shield yourself by reading the newspaper, watching television, or just spacing out? That is the $64,000 question: how much have you connected with yourself at all in your whole life?

Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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