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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 …

Born in Britain

#11 Salisbury Road, Richmond, Surry, UK



Day Two of the A to Z blogging challenge; I'll probably be back to my more lackadaisical posting schedule when this is over but for right now I'm trying to write every day. For newbies I mostly do memoir here, much of it linked by a tenuous connection to the multiple of places I've lived over the years. I'm not telling my personal stories in order because my mind is way too disordered for that; rather as they come to me which is more, how do you say ... willy nilly. I have attempted to map out the route under the heading On the Street Where I Lived Stories. If you're a regular reader this is going to be story #1, the original of those tales. While I can't seem to get close to the correct #11 address, this is Salisbury Road, the street where I lived first of all, the street where I was born.


Born in Britain


My mother said she and my dad had itchy feet, a condition I clearly inherited.While my older brother has responded by living in a small handful of abodes, I've gone for change in a big way. Nothing, it seems, will suffice.

I was born at home in a scene straight out of Call the Midwife because that's how they did it in Britain in the 50's, a midwife sent my father downstairs to the neighbors to boil water and to get him out of my mother's hair. That all happened in 1953, just a few days before Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. I came a few days early so they lost the year's worth of free nappies but I still gained the queenly Elizabeth as my middle name. 


Not so regal was that I was born over a fish and chips shop. While I love the smell of fish and chips, I can't quite imagine being pregnant and loving that smell day in and day out.


At least that's what my mother told me when I was growing up. You know how when you're a kid you're always asking how did you and daddy meet and tell me about the time I was born? Looking back at it now, I've got to wonder how there could be both a fish and chip shop and the neighbor's flat downstairs? Did the neighbors live in the back of the shop? Were my parents friendly enough that the fish and chip shop owners kept them supplied in cod? Does that account for my love of H.Salt Esquire? 


Speaking of fish, something is fishy! I've been googling to get a handle on my birthplace and it's weirdly elusive. My birth certificates clearly states #11 Salisbury Road, Richmond but I can't get any closer to it on map quest or google than the image above. 


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