• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Everybody’s a Dreamer

Marisa, just in case you're reading this, and I have it on pretty good authority that you're not, I wanted you to know that my new screenplay is written with you in mind as the lead. Just so you know.


I’m going to a movie tonight, so this is going to be brief. Some people have asked why I like Hollywood so much. Here is the corniest answer you’re ever gonna get out of me. When I was a little girl (yes, it’s true, I once was a little girl), my father used to take me to the Forest Theater on Forest Road for Wednesday night “Manager’s Special,” which was a double feature for the price of one movie. In addition, without my mother’s censorious eyes, we had both popcorn and candy. (I’m a Duds girl.) The food and movies fused together into the most perfect form of escape, which is something I have always craved. I’m sure I’ve told you this before, too, but I got kicked out of NYU film school, which is why I landed in publishing, and have served that god for 25 years.

Tell me how you escape.

32 Responses

  1. Prescription drugs, red wine and the occasional explosion of misplaced anger. It used to be books but I’ve hit a rough patch with reading escapism since I started writing. Which, by the way, makes me really sad.

  2. Writing is my escape. I wrote when I was in high school (it wasn’t escapist then, just a dream) but gave it up when I went to college. I was encouraged to trade it in for a more “practical” major. Years later, I started writing again as a form of therapy after my dad died before he was 60. So, now, when I’ve had a bad day or I can’t find the motivation to do my research (which is a little too frequent), I write. In those moments I generally free-write backstory that no one but me will ever see. That way I can completely lose myself in the story and focus on the craft when I can concentrate on it better.

    Hope you enjoy the movie. What are you seeing?

  3. Guitar. I should have been a rock star.

  4. Mike & Ikes, an iced soy latte, and all of the music magazines I can buy at Borders. Rolling Stones, Classic Rock, and my favorite, MOJO. Then I am off to my bedroom with the door shut! No lap tops allow!
    Oh, and my ipod in the dock, cranked!

  5. I find true escape impossible unless I’m alone and isolated from distraction. Can’t decide if I’m just another undiagnosed ADD adult or else an overachiever who feels guilty about simply relaxing. I’ve always needed a getaway place, whether it’s a remote beach or the wooden clothes hamper in my childhood home.

    I wrote a blog post about this a few months ago. Thought it was a decent post when I wrote it, but apparently that rogue kindergartner’s been hacking into blogger too. Ah well, for what it’s worth:


  6. netflix movies

  7. and ice cream

  8. pot, absorbing novels, journaling, coffee, sugar, walks, self-riteous daydreaming.

    Never to sleep with kings
    What else is there?

  10. Escape tactics—-Walking the dog well beyond our neighborhood, hardcopy trash magazines, daily newspapers, celebrity photo sites, googling old boyfriends, perusing thrift stores, library stacks, hardware stores, galleries, museums and card shops, cleaning, reading old appointment calendars for signs, eating dark chocolate, going to malls alone to buy nothing in particular, just to watch people shop, any kind of movie at home or in the theatre and books, the ones stacked on the floor by my side of the bed and the ones in my head.

  11. I also love to go to the movies. I love movie marathons. I can sit all day and watch reruns of my favorite movies.

  12. Getting outside. It’s dislodging food as my main source of escape. Walks, hikes, bikes, gardening, coffee on the patio, sitting on the beach. It all works. Funny I find myself relearning the things I already knew as a kid.

  13. Free from drama and outfitted with a fetish for exactitude (day job: human genetics), I like to deliquesce twice a month in the spatial, auditory, and intellectual fervor of the local opera house(s), where I occasionally see certain productions several times in a single season or strike deals with dark forces in order to gain admittance to the renowned, magical, but ultimately amential summer festival in Bayreuth.

    • Dude, are you trying to say you like the Ring? That’s not escape for me, that’s reality.

      • I fear my unripened soul is not yet worthy of the Ring in its entirety (I prefer Tannhäuser), but a colleague of mine procured two tickets to Twilight of the Gods last summer and now I’m hooked on the “barn.”

        Of course, escapism in Wagner (especially Parsifal) requires one to ignore the insanity (inanity) of the texts, which, for the most part, excruciatingly schlepp their way from simple nonsense to downright obnoxiousness.

        [On another note, the real highlight this year was a production of Britten’s Death in Venice at the Gärtnerplatz Theater: A brainy, modern opera about –what else?– a stifled writer. That is my reailty.]

      • Tannhauser was my first at the Met, and in a way, nothing is better. I still hum “Song to an Evening Star” while watching Venus each night from Washington Square Park these days. But please don’t ignore the texts, especially in the Ring. There’s a lot of good stuff in there, if you can read it on the moniter. For me, it’s just the music of Parsifal; but there are important ideas in the Ring.

      • Kyler, I do dream of someday slipping into the Ring for a week in Bayreuth (it takes 5 days), but for now… I am also fluent in German — which is practical for non-operatic reasons, since I live in Munich. 🙂

  14. I used to escape into drugs and booze. Then I had to escape out of drugs and booze. Now I’m not sure I escape at all. I’m such a crazed extremist, any mode of escape I enjoy quickly becomes a mode of mandatory hell from which I’ve got to escape. “Must exercise every day. Must read widely and well. Must master the culinary arts. Must not miss my favorite show. Must read entire NYer before next week’s arrives.” Suddenly I am depressed?

  15. 80s movies and hamburgers and chocolate. Not all at once though. That level of craaaaaziness would be pushing it too far.

  16. the beach!! 🙂

  17. Daniel, you trippin’ man?

  18. TV: Thank god for Bravo and the Real Housewives. And thank god for wine, which you can slurp while you watch the Real Housewives and then forget what you watched in time for the Marathon reruns and you can watch six hours of New Jersey and Atlanta Housewives all over again.

    And thank god for memories of the Philly Sound on car radios in the summers of the ’70s that can be re-created at home on rainy nights with the right selection of Chi-Lites and Billy Paul CDs. And, of course, wine.

    Your dad sounds like a nice man.

    • So is this what Capricorn women do for fun? I’m meeting so many Cap gals, you wouldn’t believe it. Each time I think of you. (improved relations with the waitress, by the way.)

    • I’m a Capricorn woman who also watches “Real Housewives” and slurps wine. So yes, this is exactly what we do for fun.

      • Geez, maybe it is a Capricorn thing. Housewives is my guiltiest pleasure. I also spend inordinate amounts of time on Craigslist searching for the perfect fill in the blank– right now it’s patio furniture. Whatever I think, at the moment, will make my life complete. They’re both such embaressing, human habits. I try not to be too hard on myself over either.

        But my favorite way to get out of my head, by far, has always been fantasy. Like if I’m running on the treadmill or doing something else equally tedious, I’ll write in my mind every detail of the perfect scenario– they used to be romantic but now they’re almost always professional, typically I am landing the perfect agent, etc. Needless to say (again– because I think I’ve said it now to you maybe, oh, a dozen times) you, Ms. Lerner, are a constant principle in such daydreams.

        I used to have trouble separating fantasy from reality but now I just tell myself God’s imagination is so much bigger and better than my own, and to not get willfull. Incidentally, when I was a kid I used to fantasize that I was Marissa Tomei ala Untamed Hearts. I just loved her.

    • Oh I love Real Housewives. Especially NY and Atlanta. Jersey gives me anxiety because I can’t stop thinking about the debt they’re getting themselves into with their ten bedroom marble houses. With Orange County I’m juts too distracted by the spray tans and the boobs.

  19. red wine. sex. repeat.

  20. I eat.

  21. Sex when it’s available, excercise when it’s not. Both in the same day is the real sweet spot.

  22. Across town, there is a Goodwill outlet. Nothing is sorted, they sell it all for 79 cents a pound. Goods of all kinds are dumped in large blue bins, a dozen bins to a table. The tables are on wheels and they roll them out six, eight, ten at a time. Scavengers of all sorts line up quietly awaiting the arrival of the new tables. When they’re rolled into place, the hunters rush forward; pitching, tossing, digging. Things shatter, rip, snap.

    Still, even when it seems the bins have been picked clean and abandoned– nothing to see here, folks, just rancid Avon bottles and headless Barbies– even then I have found Ojibwa porcupine quill baskets, a leather doll from Greenland, a first edition of The Old Man and the Sea (pristine in its jacket) two Royal Doulton Toby jugs (perfect) and scads of unbroken, unblemished, unchipped Haviland Limoges.

    I have also learned that we spend way too much money on children’s toys and holiday decorations.

    Sometimes I can spend the entire afternoon in this place, each bin a kind of architectural dig. I visit with the guy that only buys brass scrap and the woman who is looking for old photographs. I continue to be horrified by the textbook poachers, who claw at books in search of the revised edition.

    Mostly I just look, and think. Despite the ruckus all around me, I feel entirely serene and relaxed. Except for when my hand closes on a treasure, and then I feel exhilarated.

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