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That time I wanted to pass myself off as Joyce Carol Oates #TBT

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I submitted my first piece of writing when I was seventeen, a story about my first job, working at the employee cafeteria at General Telephone where my mother was a dispatcher. Rolling the 20# white bond backed by a sheet of thin blue carbon paper into my Smith Corona, I typed it out slowly, carefully, on a piece of erasable paper—and mailed it off to Cosmopolitan along with a cover letter. Not just to any editor at Cosmo, by the way, I sent it directly to Helen Gurley Brown. 

The piece itself, meant to be comical, was full of clumsy attempts at self-effacing humor.  I strived for a similar tone in the cover letter I addressed to Brown, completely clueless that the high powered editor in chief wasn’t the one reading unsolicited manuscripts. After I signed off I added the following PS. I could have said I was Joyce Carol Oates. What I thought that would accomplish I can’t imagine. That an unsatisfactory submission would get published because of a lame joke? 

No surprise, in the SASE I’d …

Signs of Spring

It must be Spring. The leaves that fell from the tree last fall and landed on the patio have been rained on and rerained on so many times they’ve formed a rich carpet of mulch on the cement that only a shovel will be able to remove. The umbrella that was hanging from the front hall chair has been put away deep in the closet and the empty planter swinging from the shepherd’s hook just beyond our front door is crying out for color. A pair of ducks from the pond across the street, a dazzling green headed male and his mousy brown spouse, have taken up residence on the lawn across from our townhouse. The hills are still so green here in the Conejo that if you squint and block out the freeway exit signs you can almost trick yourself into believing you’re in Ireland on holiday. And at the end of the month, the kids at least, will be on spring break.
Maybe the luck of the Irish has rubbed off on you and you’re off to some exotic locale - far enough away to escape your day to day world as well as the thousands of American college students looking to rip off the heavy cloak of winter - and in some cases, a tad more. For the rest of us who are homebound this spring there’s still plenty to do to celebrate the rites of spring. Tomorrow, a look at some of those ways.

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