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

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 …

Queen Me

Updated 1/5/2018
With the popularity of The Crown, seasons 1 & 2 streaming on Netflix, I wanted to share my thoughts on Princess Elizabeth.

I havent lived in England for years and years. And years. Basically a very long time. The kind of time you cough into your hand over, trying to hide the exact humungous number of years. Long enough ago that any reasonable person could be forgiven for calling me an American. But beware, should you say anything negative about the UK or Queen Elizabeth, my British roots will start showing and my British blood will start boiling. Ill start flapping my British passport in the air, and put on my best True Brit voice. While Im very much an American, Im British by birth, born in 1953, in —as Im fond of saying and saying—a scene right out of Call the Midwife. Ive got a thing for the Queen from being born so close to her coronation day that my parents gave me Elizabeth for my middle name. Just a few days shy of being named Elizabeth Simone instead of the other way around. A few days days shy of being a Liz versus a Sim. Liz, Lizzie. I dont mind the sound of that.

Growing up in Canada, the Queen's portrait was centered above the blackboard in my elementary school classrooms. I went to Princess Elizabeth Middle School in Niagara Falls, built in 1953 pre-Coronation day: its where I went through puberty, where I went to my first school dances, where I met Laura, one of my best friends to this very day. 
It was 1968, when we moved away, leaving Canada behind for the good ol US of A. Thousands of young American men were coming to Canada and here we were going away. We left the Queen behind too, her royal portrait with its regal looking gown and crown replaced by the picture of LBJ, droopy jowls and all.
We didnt just see him on our classroom walls, we saw him day after day on the Nightly Horror Show they called the news. I preferred the Queen.


Sharing this with Joy Weese Moll for British Isles Friday


  1. Hi Sim - I am blog-hopping from the A-Z and find another expat! I was born in Australia but lived in England from the age of two, so I'm English to all intents and purposes, so that is where we are trying to return to from Tenerife.
    I also have a son living in Ontario, and my name is Elizabeth. I'm known as Lizy or liz.
    Good luck with the rest of the A-Z

  2. Hello there.
    I'm a British expat living in the US for fifteen years now. I had to laugh as I was just watching an episode of Call The Midwife. I was really upset too when my sister told me on the phone I had an American accent...no I cried..cannot be! I think she was just trying to wind me up...knowing how much I dislike the American drawl (lol).
    Thanks for sharing.

    Entrepreneurial Goddess

  3. I always liked those early portraits of the Queen. When I collected stamps I had so many stamps with this portrait on them. Ah, the British Empire where the sun never set.

    I chose Elizabeth as the middle name for my middle daughter.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

  4. I have a friend whose mom is British, been here for years and refuses to trade her green card for citizenship cuz she loves her country so much. It's nice to see people holding on to their cultural heritage.

    Fulfilling Dreams

  5. I miss the portraits of the Queen as well. I grew up in Australia and moved to the U.S at 22. I think a lot of us expats still love the queen no matter how long we have been out of the U.K or its commonwealth nations.

    Sean at His and Her Hobbies

  6. Appreciate all the comments! Had a glitch, didn’t know you were all here!

  7. I always get a kick out of spotting the Queen's portrait in British TV shows and movies. I don't remember presidential portraits as a big part of my childhood. Except Washington. I think I was in a few classrooms where he was on display.


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