Showing posts from March, 2019

Pretty French Postcards

Pretty French Postcards My trip to France with Mindy in '89 was very different from my visit with my sister Nancy, sixteen years earlier, when I was twenty and she was just sixteen. When Mindy and I stayed in Paris, we stayed in a newish hôtel in the business district, an area called la Defense. Modern, comfortable, the kind of place that catered to business travelers. We could have been anywhere. Paris, France. Paris, Texas. New York City. What the hôtel lacked in character it made up for in amenities. A real front desk. A fax machine. A bar off the lobby. A bidet. The place that Nancy and I stayed at in the Pigalle had a fading painted number on the crumbling wall outside, a round black bell you pushed so the cranky old concierge, a French woman straight out of a novel, could open up and begrudgingly show you to your room, eyeing you suspiciously all the while. We barely knew what fax machines were in 1973 but if we had, our little no-name hôtel wouldn't have h

A is for Apple: The Special in Special Education

Last year author, Mary Catalina Vergara Egan  a new follower over at Chapter1-Take1 invited me to join in something called the A to Z Challenge.  Here’s how last year’s challenge began for me: Today's letter is A and the whole alphabet theme of the challenge brought me back to my days as a single working woman, subbing in elementary school classrooms in the latter half of the 1980s. Those days came to a screeching halt when the teachers went on strike in May of 1989. A is for Apple Me? A teacher? I couldn't believe that all it took to go from Universal Studios tour guide to card-carrying substitute teacher was a bachelor's degree and a passing grade in the C-Best, California's emergency credential exam. I was pretty damn sure that you had to be a whole lot more qualified, a whole lot smarter than I was for the Los Angeles Unified School District to put you in charge of a classroom full of elementary school kids. But I was wrong. There I was, not one minute of

Drug Store Beauty Queen

Women were burning their bras and sticking up posters proclaiming "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs were fighting it out on the tennis court in the Battle of the Sexes at the same time that Marabel Morgan was advising the females of the species  to greet their husbands at the door with a cocktail in hand, clad in nothing but Saran Wrap. As a young woman of twenty in 1973, working my way through college, it wasn't always easy to know where on the line between those polar opposites to plant one's flag. While I planned to work after graduation—some vaguely formed notion of a writerly job, in publishing perhaps or advertising, I thought, flipping through my glossy copy of Mademoiselle on my break, devouring the ads for Wind Song with as much fervor as I did the magazine's short stories—I assumed at some point I'd fall in love and marry, raise a family. It was what women did. Not to marry wouldn't be a

# 12 Jailbait

Originally published Oct 2014: We were living on Tenth Street in Santa Monica, California when I turned seventeen in 1970, my friend Trixie was visiting from Canada, and boys were on our minds. It's #12 of the On the Street Where I Live stories.  I was a 17-year-old high school senior, he was a 23-year-old Vietnam Vet. Delaney & Bonnie (and Friends) via Delaney & Bonnie Tumblr Jailbait  Jailbait We were sitting on the sand watching the water when they walked by the first time; three long-haired guys who could just as easily be rockers, roadies, or badass bikers, smiling up at us from the shoreline. The one in the middle—I’d already decided he was mine—looked like Cat Stevens or the guy from Delaney and Bonnie or really, any of those musicians who had a beard, mustache, and dark wavy hair skimming their shoulders. From behind my sunglasses, I followed his faded green baggies as they disappeared in the shadows under the pier. Just before they faded to bl

The First Time I Saw Paris

That's me with the glasses and the sensible shoes. Look at the height of my mother's heels!  The first time I saw Paris it was December, 1958 and I was five. The old family photos show that when it wasn't dripping wet, the sky was a dull steely grey. This wasn't Paris when it sizzles, this was Paris when it drizzles. Cold. Miserable. Could it be that it just looks that way because the photos are black and white? Could be, but we had just left Tripoli where the sun blazed all year long; that wintry Parisian nip must have been shocking. Little did I know my parents were about to take me out of the fire into the frying pan, or to be more accurate, out of the fire into the icebox. After several years of living in North Africa, we were on our way to Canada. Canada where we would arrive, by boat, in Halifax, Nova Scotia in the middle of winter. Average temperature: Below freezing. Brrrr, baby, brrrr! But first, that stopover in Paris. My parents dragged us