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Showing posts from July, 2015

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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 …

Model Citizens: Think SMALL #BriFri

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I don't know whether to caption this photo They Might Be Giants or Model Citizens. This snap shot of my brother and me was taken at England's Bekonscot Model Village and Railway in the 1950's, but he, at least, was hardly a model citizen. Russ loved to tease me, sneaking up behind me and digging his bony fingers into my ribs crying "It's Mr. Tickle Time". The demonic grin on his face just this side of psychotic. Our little sister was not immune; she was small enough that he could grab her by the ankles and dangle her over the toilet, swinging her back and forth, back and forth, like a pendulum, threatening to dump her into the white porcelain toilet bowl. Other times, while our mother was busy in the kitchen or deep in the pages of a book, he'd wind us up in our heavy Turkish carpets and send us rolling across the living room floor. 
"Mo-o-o-o-m! Make him stop!"It's scary what boredom will drive kids to do!

I was surprised to learn that Bekons…

Storming the Bastille ... it was the summer of '89

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The Bicentennial Parade, Paris. July 14, 1989 [Photo by Rene Burri]
Mindy and I tried to crash course our French historical knowledge but budgeting just a week in Paris that July of '89, we were mostly interested in hitting the Left Bank, the major museums, the cafes. She was a shopper, I wanted to see where the expat gliterati hung out, drinking absinthe, back in the day. We hit the Gallerie Lafayette, Les Deux Magots, Shakespeare & Co. We climbed Notre Dame, took a boat ride along the Seine, saw the Eiffel Tower. We went to a bar where we bought our own drinks. I had a $9 beer; almost half of what I planned to spend on my hotel room. We took the metro to a famous Paris flea market where Mindy bought nothing but I spent $90 on a killer pair of black leather cowboy boots. I must have been out of my mind, I had to schlep those boots in my backpack all across Europe.

As our week in Paris progressed, it was clear this Bastille Day celebration was a very big thing and we were glad,…

Finding the Sweet Spot

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It's that time of year, all eyes on the green grass courts of Wimbledon, and all ears on the horrible mispronunciation of the name by American broadcast journalists.
"Bloody Hell!" That's my dad, rolling over in his grave, shaking his head with disgust, talking to the TV. Which he shouldn't be able to do because he was cremated, but that's how incensed he is:
"Can they not hear the D? There's a 'd' in Wimbledon, mate. Not a bloody 't'. It's Wim-Bull-Dun, not WimbleTon!!"I've never been to Wimbledon; I go back and forth—like a tennis ball—about putting it on my bucket list. I was even in England once during the Wimbledon tourney but I never got closer to it than the screen on my grandmother's television set, watching it with her from her Chorleywood home, her beautiful garden filled with roses and brick pathways and arches that my uncle built himself, through the garden door behind us.

For years I watched the two week tou…