Showing posts from June, 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 …

#14: Boys and Black Coffee [memoir]

Painting by Andra Hancock via Andra
I'm writing bits of memoir and putting some of them together under the label On the Street Where I Lived stories. Hoping to get them published in a book someday. This one dates back to the early seventies, I was nineteen, still living with my parents on 14th Street in Santa Monica. (orig posted 12/12/14)

Boys and Black Coffee
The last thing I wanted was a part time job that had anything to do with food. Or uniforms. Not after my stint in the employee cafeteria at my mom's work. Still, somehow I ended up hemming a turquoise uniform to work at the snack bar at the grocery store right across the street from our apartment. The snack bar at Vons—if it had any other name, I never knew it—served up mostly cheeseburgers, milk shakes made with scoops of real ice cream, and deep-fried chicken. Plus a whole lotta coffee, especially to the employees.
I’d see the stock clerks coming, and after working there a couple of weeks, I learned to grab …

Above Ground on the London Underground–Day 34: From Leicester Square to 84 Charing Cross Road

image via
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.  We're following the Piccadilly Line, this is Day 34.

Last week I got a little sentimental about my dad, sharing a photograph of the two of us taken in Hayes, on the outskirts of London when I was a toddler. I'm back on track this week, still at Leicester Square, right in the thick of things, so close to so many points of interest. 

Checking my map I see the National Gallery is just a few minutes away down Charing Cross Road. Charing Cross Road! I can't go anywhere until I see 84 Charing Cross Road, the site made famous in the book 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff, which in turn became a play, then a film starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. If y…

Graduation Day 1971: Throwback Thursday

I dug this one up out of my archives, a two time nominee for a Throwback Thursday. First, because it's about my high school graduation which seems right for the month of June. Second, because it's a piece I was able to place in the Daily Breeze, a Pulitzer Prize-winning local newspaper, in their 15 Minutes column. So called because everyone—even the general public, even introverted writers with social anxiety—could have their 15 minutes of fame if the editor liked their submission. Translation: I didn't get paid but I got to put another publishing credit in my file drawer.My baby boy was two, my mother watched over him while I drove to the newspaper office to have my picture taken. He's twenty three now, and she passed away four years ago. Here's this week's Throwback Thursday bit of memoir, packed with reminders of personal pain for yours truly. 

Class of '71
We were the class of '71 and believed that graduation day really was the threshold. Bold new wor…

That Boy in Bandol: My French Chapter

The Blue Sea by Helen Galloway McNicoll 1829-1915
The following is a collection of six memoir posts I wrote last year over the course of several weeks for Paulita Kincer's Dreaming of Francememe. I'm sharing them again for Dreaming of France, this time putting them all together. This is the first time I've put the pieces in order, documenting a trip my younger sister and I took to Paris and the South of France in the summer of 1973. The summer I was supposed to be backpacking around Europe with my boyfriend Derek, but we broke up when he decided to go with a friend instead. The louse! I know it's a lot to read all at once, maybe break it up, they way I did? Look for the •••••••• 
If I ever do write a book, these posts would make up a big chunk of the French chapter. 

"Pig Alley!" My sister, sitting on the wide windowsill of our hotel room in the Pigalle, was reading from the guidebook we'd consulted to find a cheap place to stay in Paris. We'd neglected…