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Pedestrian Dreams

On The Virtues Of Walking

I, a girl Jewish from Los Angeles, met Joe Malone, an Irish boy from Brooklyn, in an off-campus Yiddish class in Berkeley in 1962. For our first date, he invited me to a movie. There wasn’t a limo waiting at the door. There wasn’t even a run-down jalopy. We walked the one mile to the movie theater, where we saw The Hustler, starring Paul Newman. Somewhere in the middle of the movie, despite Paul Newman’s handsomeness, I fell in love with Joe Malone. We’ve been married twenty-eight years.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Poor And Poorer: Growing Up In The Projects

The voice coming from the living room did not belong in our house. I peeked around the corner of the stairs and saw two men with guns, one against my mother’s head, one against Fletcher’s. One of the men looked at me. I dashed past them, running out the back door and across the field to get the cops. I hoped that since the men had noticed me, they would spare my parents. Many parents had been shot in the head lately.

Delicate Business

One of my patients recently informed me that she had decided to charge for sex. After many affairs with men who had proven untrustworthy, she was abandoning her search for a genuine relationship.

Fool’s Gold

Why should someone like me worry about the recession as much as I do? I didn’t have any money before it, and I won’t have any money after it. The housing it is now killing me to buy will cost less the next time I have to buy. I have more to gain than to lose.

The Door, The Road, And The Zen Teacher

When I was a sophomore in high school, I took French in room E3. Every day, between second and third periods, I walked down the thronged, noisy corridor and reached out to open the door to E3, a heavy wooden door with a round knob and a narrow window at the top.

Hella Hammid

I’d asked Hella to send me more photographs. Months later she wrote back, apologizing for the delay. “I have looked death squarely in the face most of last year,” she said. “I have cancer but am fighting it with everything I’ve got. This is why I haven’t come up with new work, but I’ll begin again soon.”


Kissing In The Movies

In 1961, Nicaragua and I were still developing, both of us unsure of our desperate passions. I knew nothing of politics. When the U.S. Air Force needed my father to teach Somoza’s pilots to fly, my family moved to Managua. The State Department warned of the dangers: malaria, earthquakes, revolution, poverty, sharks swimming in fresh water. They left something out.

Fifty Guilders

I sat by myself on the train from Copenhagen. In the middle of the night, the door to my compartment opened. A young woman wearing a ponytail, a T-shirt, and a dark blue suit eyed me stretched out on the seat, my gray hair curled over my collar. Then she decided to come in. She heaved her baggage into the overhead rack, shut the door, and stretched out on the opposite seat.

Straight From The Mouth

I didn’t think I’d hear again from my grandmother’s second husband, Uncle Benny, and then he called one Wednesday afternoon, three years after my grandmother had left him. I was stacking money on my bed at the time — ones on the pillow, fives at the foot, and tens in the middle where I could see them easiest. The door had been locked to guard against the intrusion of my father, who might have suspected I was dealing in drugs. That wasn’t the case, but my own business wasn’t on the straight and narrow either.

Readers Write


I debate for months before deciding to subscribe to a magazine. Last year I didn’t have health insurance. Then a friend of mine got sick. Now she owes the hospital more than $10,000. I’m paying for health insurance this year.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


Rather than earn money, it was Thoreau’s idea to reduce his wants so that he would not need to buy anything. As he went around town preaching this ingenious idea, the shopkeepers of Concord hoped he would drop dead.

Richard Armour

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