Showing posts from May, 2016

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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 …

Irregular Care

I can't help it. Every year when May hits I become obsessed with aging. I find myself a permanent place on the pity pot and I just stay put. I'm turning 63 this week, and it's the end of the world as I know it. Margaret, our staunchly independent neighbor, an elderly widowof 85—a fact she says I should keep to myself because people make so many judgements about age–doesn't obsess over things like aging or waste her time with trivialities out of her control, she just gets on with it. "We only have the one life", she'll say. "We ought to be grateful for it while we're here."

Margaret's husband passed away over twenty five years ago. It's not as though she doesn't think of him—"We used to go to the dances together" she tells me "All I have to do is put on our music and it's like he's right here with me"—but she refuses to mope around living in the past. 

She's organized, efficient, thorough. With twenty…

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 31: From the Ritz to Piccadilly Circus

Piccadilly Circus by Adrian Green
I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the days that came before. I'm currently following the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 31.
Seeing that we've been roughly following the Piccadilly Line since we arrived at Heathrow way back in October, thirty posts ago, I'm practically hyperventilating to see that the actual Piccadilly Circus is the very next stop on our route. It's less than a ten minute walk to the famous landmark!

I'll have to force myself to stop and smell the roses along the way, as in this part of London there seems to be something of interest every few feet! 

First stop: Fortnum and Masons. Fortnum's—as the locals call it—is a high-end department store where the focus is on food, glorious food. While …

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 30: Putting on the Ritz

I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the days that came before. Still following the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 30.

The last time we took a virtual walk in London, we spoke our minds at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner, now we’re going to unpack our high heel sneakers and put on the Ritz. 

Looking down at the lobby of the Ritz Hotel in London 
All images via the Ritz
Built by Cesar Ritz, the creator of the acclaimed Ritz Hotel in Paris, the website for the Ritz Hotel in London doesn’t mince words. 

The world’s greatest hotel, as conceived by the world’s greatest hotelier. For over a century The Ritz London has been the benchmark by which other hotels are measured. A London landmark at 150 Piccadilly, The Ritz has been home to the great and the good, the intelligentsia,…

The first story I ever told [memoir]

My big bro Russell and me. Tripoli, Libya 1957-ish

I told my first story back in the Beatlemania days when I was just discovering boys, and mad for McCartney. I wrote this story about thatstory in 1993, the year my boyo was born and nap time meant writing time for Mommy. We were living by the beach in Redondo, and our small beach town throwaway newspaper published my story that summer. 

At some point I took the story within the story out and published it elsewhere on this blog but here's the whole thing, a tweak here, a tweak there but pretty much the way it first appeared in print.


This is the first story I ever told. I told it when I was thirteen years old and went to April's party alone because my best friend Trixie had to stay home sick. If Trixie had been at the party I wouldn't have thought to tell the story at all; in our team Trixie was always the star attraction. I don't know how I got the gumption to go without her but I did, wearing soft gold-colo…

Smuggled Beer, Stolen Kisses [Memoir—Listen on iTunes and SoundCloud]

The Improv is a fairly famous LA comedy club on Melrose here in L.A. where hundreds—thousands—of comics have sometimes bombed and sometimes soared to new heights on its' stage over the years. I've been to the Improv countless times, but rarely for the laughs.

For me, The Improv belongs to that period in the mid-eighties when I was in the last stages of a long, flagging relationship with an old boyfriend. For once, the nomenclature fits; I was twenty seven when we met, Ben was twenty five years older than me. Hardly a 'boy' friend, some might say. We were living together, fast approaching the suffocating, seven year itch mark, and I was twitchy, longing to find a way out, but lacking the guts to get out. Telling myself staying was the more noble course, that I didn't want to hurt him, that I couldn't leave after everything I'd done to get there, that he deserved better. What a load of crap. I was just a little coward. A passive aggressive whiner.

Instead of br…