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The Sun Magazine

The Sun Interview

And A Time For Peace

Kathy Kelly Puts Herself In Harm’s Way To Oppose War

We were about a hundred yards from a presidential palace that had been built for one of Saddam Hussein’s sons. So what we heard was intense and terrifying bombardment. Morning, noon, and night, U.S. planes were bombing not only that palace, but some government buildings close by. Thankfully nothing else around us was hit. Following the bombing, just when we had started to exhale a bit, came the looting, and then the occupation. It was a very dramatic and intense time. Every day that one survived felt like a precious gift.

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

World of Trouble

The place in New Orleans, Louisiana, where I went to give plasma looked like it had recently been a small gro­cery store. I had never given plasma or blood before and had no appre­ciation for the difference. All I knew was that you got eight bucks, which was the going rate for a full day’s labor through Manpower back then, in 1974.

What Feels Like Destiny

When I worked at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., I was sometimes made the after-hours emergency-duty officer. I carried a beeper and a cellphone and a laminated list of important names and phone numbers. There were seven thousand Peace Corps volunteers out there, in the most remote places of the world, and if something bad were to happen to any one of them during the night, something tragic, I would take the call.

The Flood

I am at my neighbor Rachel’s house, because my own house is flooded — or, at least, I think it’s flooded.

It’s difficult to remember the sequence of events that led us here. Everything came so quickly. The first warning was when Perdita called, saying, “I hear they are evacuating people from Phoenicia.” Heavy rains and spring thaw were causing the Esopus River to overflow its banks.


Still Life With Candles And Spanish Guitar

The story goes roughly like this: Girl meets boy in chat room, agrees to meet downtown for coffee. And does, and after three minutes of coffee can see it’s not good. The story goes like such stories do. Girl’s got to ditch boy but can’t simply snub him outright; he’s not for her, but he’s human, and not stupid, either. What’s more, he isn’t ugly, has what you’d call middling good looks, with a kind of weird dark charisma, despite the clothes: he spent eighteen months in the army, was discharged for ambiguous reasons, and still wears mainly khaki. So girl not only suffers the droning self-centered barrage but says well, OK, yes, she’ll join him for dinner, and get this, hops in his minivan in the freezing parking garage (boy has no children, no trade, not even a job), leaving her own car there on level three, trusting the universe to protect her, as it must, asking herself why in God’s name does she do these things that she does.

Readers Write


When I was eleven, I’d ask my mom if I could have coffee. “Certainly not,” she’d reply. “That’s for grown-ups.” But when she slipped out of the room, I’d take a sip and, if there was time, a drag from the cigarette she’d left burning in the ashtray. It was the coffee I wanted most, though. She always whitened it with Milnot canned milk instead of cream. When she went to tend to the washing machine or answer the door, I’d strike, taking two generous slurps, then adding a shot of Milnot to make up the difference. I wondered how I could get more.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


“No one ever understood disaster until it came.”

Josephine Herbst

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