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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 …

Vacate the Premises


I read a piece not too long ago, bemoaning the fact that the digital age is ruining vacations. The writer, a young man, had been on holiday with his girlfriend, happily posing for pictures until he got a look at them, moments later, scrolling through the photos on her iPhone. Ew?! That's how I look? He'd sucked in his stomach and smiled, confident that the man he felt like inside was the man who appeared on the screen. Wrong. We lie to ourselves but the camera never does, and there he was, revealed in all his glory: flesh still white and while he wouldn't go so far as to say flabby, he didn't look like the college athlete he used to be. His chin, not exactly weak but no one would mistake him for Chris Hemsworth either. The poor guy's vacation was ruined. He said he wished he could have at least enjoyed his one lousy week away from the office with his illusions intact.

Superficial? Sure. But I can relate. I rarely pose for vacation pictures anymore. That's a half-truth. I rarely pose for any pictures anymore and I'm going to be mad as hell if you try to catch me on candid camera. Some things are better left unseen. I'm exaggerating, of course, that stupid thing some of us older women do.

Still, looking through the vacation photos I shot with my iPhone, the ones I like best from our trip to Florida and the Florida Keys, are people free. The reason has less to do with my insecurity about my looks and aging than you might think. I love the idea of traveling but hate the idea of being a tourist. Those photos with people posing, grinning in front of an iconic destination, from the Grand Canyon to Big Ben to the Eiffel Tower leave me a little cold. I get it. You were there. A great memory, and believe me I've got my share of those thrilled to be there shots. Photographically, I'd like you to step aside please, so I can get a good shot at that place, that view, that stunning sunset.



You can find more #AtoZChallenge Posts in the sidebar to the left.
The Key of Blue is one of my favorites.


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