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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 …

Dreaming of France: Picturing Paris


Bonjour! Can you guess where, precisely, this picture was taken? I love the diamond motif on the staircase, and the diamond pattern the lattice-work trellis creates on the wall. I shot the photo in France when we were there last spring, but where exactly? It took me a moment to remember where until I spotted the man tucked beneath the stairs. 

So who was he and what was he doing? He isn’t Harry Potter, I can tell you that. An American tourist? A French student? I’m not sure. What was he doing? Drinking a cup of coffee. Perhaps a Cafe Américain or maybe a cafe au lait. Chances are it was espresso. 

Where? Any guesses? I’m betting some of you more experienced French travelers will be able to pin it down. 


The answer: Starbucks on the Boulevard Saint Michel just down the road from Boulevard Saint Germain. Located quite near our hotel, Cafe de Flore and Deux Magots were both just up the street but on that occasion I just wanted to grab a coffee and take it back to our room. No muss, no fuss. No sitting at a lovely little outdoor cafe to watch all the other tourists go by. Just wanted to kick off my shoes, sit on the bed and look out the window.

I couldn’t resist taking a minute to snap the intriguing design of the place though. Those extra decorative touches behind and above the staircase are what makes Paris so special, even when the setting is that of a very American coffee house. 

I’ve only been to Paris a few times in my life, once when I was a child, again when I was a single woman of twenty in the 1970’s, when I was a single woman of 36 in the 1980’s and earlier this year, at age 64, with my husband Mark for our 25th anniversary. We joke that we wanted to take the trip while we were still mobile enough to enjoy it. We called it was a once in a lifetime adventure but now we both can’t wait to go back. In the meantime we are so grateful we were able to visit and to store so many fond French memories and precious Parisian sights in our memory banks. When we recognize locales in movies or television shows we gleefully—and somewhat smugly—smile at each other. We were there! Believe it or not, the Starbucks on the Boulevard Saint Michel is one of those places.

Posted for Paulita’s Dreaming of France 

Their visas have arrived. Paulita and her husband are moving to France in the New Year! Do you have any exciting plans up your sleeve?

Comments

  1. Sim, I love this picture and your memories of France. It's crazy to think that if we meet someday, it will be in France, and maybe the odds are better that we'll actually meet in France than we would here in the U.S. I've been to a Starbucks in Paris, but it was research for my novel Paris Runaway. It was on Boulevard Sebastopol in the 1st arrondisement.
    Thanks so much for playing along with Dreaming of France. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking the same thing!

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