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Showing posts from February, 2016

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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 …

A Bit of a Ditz or Where the bleep is my phone?!?

It’s not like I wake up every day in a cold sweat, worried that I might have Alzheimer's. Or that if I'm not actually presenting symptoms right now, I'll be presenting them soon. Sometimes I can go for hours before I grope helplessly for a word and remember I actually have something to worry about. Alzheimer's is the disease that took my mother; frankly, knowing it's often hereditary scares the (fill in the bleep) out of me. It wasn't death that took her, it was her gradual disappearance in the years before she died; day by day, week by week, and month by month, when it was so hard to find the woman I knew, the mother I remembered, inside.

So, despite my husband and my son's insistence that my memory lapses are nothing to worry about, I do worry, and when I misplaced my phone this week, I couldn't help recalling my mother's constant refrain "Where's my purse? Has anyone seen my purse?"

"Has anyone seen my phone?" I asked, ai…

Oscars coming to my house Saturday night

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Can you find George Clooney standing to the right of Stacy Kiebler in their last trip to the Oscars together?
What are you doing Sunday night? Please don't say live-tweeting the Oscars! I know it's what we do in 2015 (and continue to do in 2016) live tweet everything, share our every thought with the world but I won't be doing that. I'm not putting it down—I tried last year and it was an epic fail—I just don't have the capacity to watch and tweet. Even though I reserve the right to insist that as a woman, YES! I can do two things at once, I can multi-task—and bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, I am woman, W-O-M-A-N but maybe it's time to leave the live-tweeting to you crazy kids under 30. Not to be a whiner but arthritic hands don't tend to fly across the tiny telephone screen with any kind of accuracy. I'm always missing the best things—the JLaw stairway fall, Alec Baldwin bungling Idina Menzel's name—as I'm stuck staring at my phone,…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 19: Hammersmith Pub Crawl

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I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Roughly following the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 19.
I’m feeling a bit blue to be leaving Chiswick where the Beatles shot scenes from HELP! at the City Barge and promo videos for Paperback Writer & Rain at Chiswick Houseback in the 1960’s. At the time, I was a half-crazy-in-love-with-Paul, pre-pubescent 12 year old tearing my hair out back in Canada. While I’ve grown up—and old— I’d still love to see Sir Paul upclose and personal (we could compare laugh lines). Not to worry, I’m counting on encountering my favorite Beatle another time on my virtual walk. Because anything can happen on a virtual walk. Like flying first class on Virgin Atlantic with Colin Firth & Daniel Craig for seat mates. McCartney still owns a house …

I’ll drink to that

I’m sick to death of writing about myself. I’m sick to death of my writing. It’s one and the same. I can’t write fiction. I’ve tried. It’s just another story about me, supposedly incognito as a brunette instead of a blonde—a bottle blonde, at that.  That’s this week’s excuse for not carrying on with my story about Derek. But really, do you even know or care who Derek is? Some boyfriend I had when I was twenty? Or was it nineteen? Is there a point? Right now I’m feeling like Richard Harris singing McCarthur’s Park —

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark All the sweet green icing flowing down Someone left the cake out in the rain I don't think that I can take it 'Cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again Oh, no I usually relish disappearing into my girlish headspace, settling back into the mushy comfort of memory but I’m feeling too old and too cranky to even try. The cosmetics company that lured me into thinking I could erase my sixty two years with…

#9.1 Snow Day [memoir]

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# 9.1    Cherry Grove Road, Niagara Falls, Canada





We hopped about quite a bit once we’d arrived in Canada from England via Turkey and Libya. We moved from Montreal to Toronto and finally to Niagara Falls where we first lived in a big old house close to downtown, before we moved to Cherrywood Acres. 


I'm marking this piece  # 9.1 of the “On the Street Where I Lived” stories. It’s a close up view of one day in particular.  


Snow Day

It was only a few miles from our gloomy old house on Ryerson Crescent to our family’s new split level across town in Cherrywood Acres but it could just as easily have been light years away. It was a whole different world out there in the barely built development where the cherry orchards used to be, everything bright and shiny and newer than new. 

We moved to the new neighborhood in the middle of fifth grade, in the middle of winter. I hated Niagara Falls in the winter, when sometimes it got so cold that the falls actually froze, the water turned into ice scul…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 18: HELP! I’m nowhere near Abbey Road

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I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. I'm back on track, following the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 18.
Today I’m heading out from Boston Manor Station,  that beautiful example of art deco architecture, taking an inbound stroll along the Piccadilly Line route. 



Passing South Ealing my plan is to hit Gunnersby Park in Chiswick, where there’s a lake—do all British parks come with lakes? are there ladies of the lakes too?—a history museum, a ‘small mansion’ and several other ‘historically significant buildings’ including a folly or two. 



Follies are those imaginative little structures that don’t do anything except add a magical touch of interest to a garden. From the French for stupidity, a folly suggests some real purpose, but lacks it completely. American gardens h…