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The Sun Interview

Wild Mind

An Interview With Natalie Goldberg

Wild mind is the huge place where we really live. We are always listening to what I call “monkey mind,” which is constantly saying, “I can’t write, I don’t know how, I don’t want to.” But there’s this huge mind that’s available to all of us, where all things — animals, rocks, us — are interconnected and interpenetrated. This is what we have to connect with in order to write.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Living The Writer’s Life

I am on a backpacking trip in Frijoles Canyon, part of Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico. We followed a trail along a stream that cut through pink-and-orange cliffs. In the morning we saw deer — mule deer, I am almost certain that’s what they were — first one, and a little later, two. When they saw us, they didn’t run so much as hop away.


I was to begin teaching in the creative writing program at the University of Southwestern Louisiana. I had just turned forty. It was my first university teaching position. I approached it with longing, excitement, and fear.

This Body

My daughters want to know why I’ve started working out at the Y. I want bigger muscles, I tell them. I want to be stronger. They think this is hilarious: a forty-six-year-old man acting like he’s sixteen.


A Child’s Christmas On State Street

I’m yawning and falling asleep at this Christmas gathering with my in-laws, who are rural folk with red hands and faces, and the green of well-deserved prosperity in the beef market more or less rounds out the picture of Christmas cheer. Toaster-ovens and three-speed power drills are sitting under the tree amid the crumpled wrapping paper, and everyone’s a little bit fatter this evening after eating Mother Flynn’s ham and turkey with all the trimmings. I’ve got a glass of scotch in my hands and will soon be wanting another. When I hand Leo my glass he’ll say, “That sure evaporated quick,” and I’m drunk enough that I’ll be able to say, “Wait till you see what happens to this one!” We all love one another and I’m even willing to forgive the Thank You for Not Smoking sign that Mary Ann hand-lettered and taped up in the mudroom. Mary Ann is my sister-in-law, and she drove Leo out to the well house with her fear of cancer years ago. Sooner or later she’ll drive me back to Chicago, but I’m there in spirit already.

When You Get To A Fork In The Road, You Take It

The summer I met Barbie Dahl I was twenty-three. I wore my hair in a ponytail and had a closet full of designer ripped-in-the-butt jeans. I pierced my left ear three times and changed the studs to diamonds, emeralds, or rubies, depending on the color of my shirt. No woman ever brought up the AIDS test when she leaned against the leather seats of my red Porsche. I could see the Charles River from my bedroom window. I had a fifty-inch TV and an Evian water cooler in my weight room.

Guess Who This Is

Guess who this is. I won’t keep you in suspense. I am that tall dark and handsome ha ha jewelry salesman who got on your bus in Harrisburg PA last Tuesday. The one who asked is the seat next to you taken? You manifested to me in a pleasant way that there might be empty window seats to the rear. That is real nice of you I rejoindered but they are in the smoking section and one thing I do not do is smoke drink gamble or steal my best friends wife. It happens to be the truth practically all the time. When I put your bag up on the rack and you remarked wont you join me that acquiesced my first opinion. I had me a real winner.


There was nowhere else to go except the mall. Guys would drag up and down El Camino in hopped-up cars that used to belong to their mothers. Every one hung out there, smoking grass in the breezeways, kicking their tennies off, drinking beer in their cars. Just waiting for some store manager to nose out and tell you to clear off. You’d move on down, remembering that store. Remembering to rip it off.

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

Readers Write

Whirlwind Romances

When I graduated from high school, my father got me a job as a hatcheck girl in the town’s only Italian restaurant. I sat on a high stool in a walk-in closet, reading movie magazines in the dim light and making skyscrapers with my tips, the dollar bills the roofs of my coin buildings. On Saturday nights it was very busy and I pretended I was working in the wardrobe department on the set of a Hollywood movie. The fur jackets I kept on my lap felt alive between my thighs and their perfumes made me dizzy. I imagined myself strutting down Main Street, past the town hall and fire station, in a black mink coat and high, high red heels. . . . People magazine would name me “the year’s sexiest woman” and my laugh would be as light as a tinkling bell.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.

James Baldwin

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