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The Sun Magazine

Culture and Society

Vocation

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Little Bird, Little Bird

There are four types of brick. I remember two of them: pavior and stock. Our row house was all brick with ledges near the roof, four stories up. Pigeons liked to make nests there, but it was stupid; the ledges were too shallow, and with the first strong gust of wind their nests blew down. Still, year after year, they did it. Optimists, those pigeons.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Granny

Every morning Granny came to the Center for coffee. She used her wheelchair like a walker, standing behind it and pushing it through Civic Center Plaza and uphill toward the Center, the dog in the seat, stuffed plastic bags bouncing against the chair’s worn wheels. Seeing me, Granny would stop, shake her head, and let out a long breath as if to say, Isn’t this something?

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Salida

At the beginning of my senior year in high school, I was sixteen years old, six foot one, and 155 pounds. I had just gotten my braces off, though no one had noticed yet. In the morning at the breakfast table I studied the box scores in the sports section of the San Diego Union. Then I checked the score of the Vietnam War, presented daily as a body count, ours versus theirs.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Tick Tick Boom

Every few days or so, when his loneliness becomes impossible to bear, Rodrigo leaves his Manhattan high school and goes to Central Park. He wanders off the paved roads and makes his way to the secluded, wooded trails, just a few blocks from the housing project in Harlem where he grew up. There he drifts and waits. He might lean against a tree or roam along a trail. Eventually a man will show up.

Sy Safransky's Notebook

February 2012

I need to cut more pages from my upcoming book, so I’m trying to keep in mind William Faulkner’s advice to writers: “You must kill all your darlings.” No more procrastinating over whether a particular Notebook entry deserves a berth or needs to walk the plank.

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Real Work

My first day was unbearable, much worse than I could have imagined, a textbook lesson in humility. My strength, stamina, and intelligence — in other words, my superiority — ended up not being worth a bent nail. Stepping onto the job site that first day at 6:45 AM, I had no idea what a hod was, even though the word had been embedded in my family lexicon, seared into my unconscious.