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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 …

Carry On London: Sending Love and Support

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take 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 We've just finished following the Central Line, took a detour to the Tate Britain. This week we're following the  District Line. Here are the previous days

I can’t really carry on exactly as usual today, not after the terror attack that struck London this week, killing five (including the attacker) and wounding another forty people when he crashed his automobile into a gate at the Palace of Westminster. Among the dead is unarmed policeman Keith Palmer who was stabbed by the attacker, Khalid Masood. Masood was then shot dead by armed British policemen. Yes, in the sensitive area near the House of Parliament, the policemen do carry guns.

The attack is the worst since the 2005 London bombing attacks which killed 52 people and injured another 700. 

While I can’t really carry on exactly as usual, of course London can. And does. It’s in the blood.  The Keep Calm & Carry On message has become very popular lately, popping up on pillows and trays and all kinds of home decor items but for Britishers the words are more than a pithy phrase. The poster atop this page dates back to 1939, designed to boost the country’s morale while in the midst of the blitz.  As one of three children to British parents, it was normal while growing up to have our parents say Carry on London and Chin Up! whenever we were feeling down. The stiff upper lip? It’s practically a physical attribute.

In that spirit I was delighted to learn from Joy, our host for British Isles Friday, that in the wake of the attack, London tube stations have been posting encouraging words meant to comfort grieving passengers.

This is the sign posted at Tower Hill Station, site of our last London walk.

And on the Northern Line

And at Tottenham Court Station 

The attack won’t impact my plans to visit London in May. My husband and I are getting more and more excited as we plot our rough itineraries. How about you? Is a trip to the UK in your future? Does the attack have you rethinking your plans?

Connect with Joy’s British Isles Friday meme.


  1. Very nicely put, Sim. Glad you're dropping in on us in May too.

  2. I'm glad you were able to share these -- seems just right for today's post!


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