• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Paper or Plastic

Today, my partners and I met with a company that produces and markets e-books. Yes, yes, yes. Me with my sanitary pads and “I Heart Books” tramp stamp, I ventured down to Tribeca and got a good dose of the future. People, I don’t know about you, but what is it about Power Point Presentations that make me wonder if that borderline personality diagnosis back in ’82 wasn’t right because all I want to do is take hostages and finger paint with bodily fluids. No, no, no. I was well behaved.  I wore a big girl suit, shoes; my nail polish is called “Just Desserts.”  I didn’t doze which I sometimes do because I get up at 4:00. I asked some questions, one of which was responded to with the life affirming, “that’s a good question.”

Seriously, they are producing gorgeous e-books with beautifully produced interviews and other ancillary material. They seem years ahead of most publishers with e-marketing. They have the high octane energy of entrepreneurs looking for their second round of financing. There were white boards and flat screen tv’s and lots of interns in tight jeans and loose jeans and gelled hair. I learned a lot. I’m no longer against ebooks. I just don’t like the sanitary pads you have to read them on. One of my partners admitted that he ordered a Kindle. And you think you know a person.

Since we’ve done this question to death, I want to talk about something totally off topic. How phoney are you? Be honest.

44 Responses

  1. I swear to God I’m not phony at all.

  2. I don’t type anything that wouldn’t sound right coming out of my mouth, I don’t pretend to listen to the best music (I just do), and I couldn’t even stick an adhesive gem to my nose; I got my damned nose pierced. Being phony has to be easier than being real.

  3. Not sure. I try to be me but maybe I’m not there yet.

  4. I’m phony pleasant more often than I care to admit. Now I want to know what color Just Desserts is. I can’t find it on Google.

  5. “How phoney are you? Be honest.”

    Fuck, how am I supposed to know? I’m on the inside, looking out. I do know I check most of my personality at the door of the law office where I earn my daily and do my stealth gathering of bits of life for recycling into works of what may be art (I want them to be art, but I’ve passed through post-modern to whatever lies beyond and no longer believe anything goes).

    It all comes down to survival. I’ll do whatever I need to do to survive. I crossed that bridge decades ago.

    And now I’m going to cross back across another bridge and re-enter the kindling ebook land you seek this evening to escape. The most recent two short stories I’ve had published both appeared in on-line publications. One of these publications was an ezine out of the UK, well and competently put together by a handful of young’uns who knew what they were doing. The other was the annual ezine publication by a college-based litmag here in the States, an otherwise hard-copy publication run by what one would suppose are good-hearted and well-intentioned professors in the heartland who scent the winds of change but are a little out of their depth in the swells of html, doc, and pdf. The point is, either way, the literary publishing world is changing very fast and those of us who do not like it had better be prepared to take some lumps.

    Lastly (I hope), I had an epiphany a week ago this very evening, when a record-breaking rainfall hit my town and my study partially flooded. As I scurried and hurried to move books and bookcases out of the way of water that was literally pouring down the interior walls of the room, it did not escape my attention that the electronic equivalent of my library would fit on–I don’t know how many, since I don’t have any, but it wouldn’t be very many–no more than a handful of easily transported electronic gizmos. The future is presenting itself.

  6. “that’s a good question”

    today, my boss offered me what i thought was caramel coated popcorn, but turned out to be it’s retarded cousin, cinnamon-powdered popcorn. he looked at me nodding, “it’s good, right?”

    i said yes.

    sometimes i tell people i’ve read books that i haven’t just because i think it’s probably a book i should read and figure i know enough about it to fake it. (i know this is an original sin here)

    i recently sent the wedding photo i have hanging above our bed to a photographer i know and asked if she could do a black and white version and photoshop my hair to make it longer. part of me think it would be absolutely hysterical to change my wedding photo hairstyle fourteen years later; another part of me wants to do it because my sister dared me i wouldn’t (“it’s your WEDDING PHOTO! you can’t change it”), but the biggest part of me has always hated my way-too-short haircut that day and cringe everytime i look at the picture.

    i still listen to milli vanilli.

  7. I’m being totally honest when I say that I like the feel of a real physical book, the turning of pages, and the smell of paper and ink. I want to keep those special ones on a shelf where I can see them. I don’t think I will ever buy a Kindle unless books as I know them go the way of the 8 track and there is no choice left.

  8. i post on the internet. i’m fake, phony, a risk imposter.

  9. I’m a phony. Even though I know better, I’m still afraid to die, and everything I do reflects that.

  10. Nah, I’m not afraid to die. I’m afraid to live.

  11. Hope not very. Though I can be different around different people on different days or even hours of the day. When I was depressed I was sometimes openly despondent; other times I tried to mask the depression by being cheery in a forced way. Many many years I didn’t know how to deal with my emotions or communicate very well (I was incredibly stupid in the emotional intelligence department). This I attribute to bouts of depression and to having one parent who barely communicated with me (or anyone, really) and another who communicated a lot. For years I was incredibly anxious, sad, tired, confused, irritated and even though there were depressed people in my family I didn’t know just how depressed I was–until recently, this year in fact, when I started taking 60-80mg of an SRI and finally was able to see an eating disorders therapist (this had never been covered by insurance or otherwise affordable before). Spent much of my life from age 10 trying to help my mom, be her confidant and friend (she was ill from a young age and was hospitalized a bit) and then later my brother attempted suicide and later was diagnosed with atypical bipolar disorder, later still the same diagnosis was made with my dad. For some reason I thought, as the oldest child, that I could fix everyone’s depression and save them. My family was fairly isolated so I had trouble knowing what was “normal” and what was going on. I’d say that what other people would call “phony” I would call clumsy and confused attempts to appear normal and undepressed or not anxious. I am, at age 43, finally beginning to figure things out a bit, I think, and feeling I don’t need to hide so much or be ashamed of my depressive tendencies. Still confused much of the time, still tend to be sad, though have long used humor and music to help me stay awake and engaged and less sad. I’d say when I’ve been “phony” it’s usually been when I’ve been depressed, frightened, confused. I am definitely inconsistent and change my mind a lot. But I try to be kind and true and think I’m getting there, slowly, and, again, with the benefit of a good therapist, medication, salad, exercise, and friends who’ve taken the time and who have had the patience to get to know me (there are few).

  12. Make that SSRI. The Prozac (Fluoxetine) only worked when I upped it from 40 mg a day to 80, by the way. At 80mgs. the compulsive overeating that I started when I was 12 fell away dramatically and completely. Due to negative side-effects, however, I’ve decreased the dosage from 80mg per day to 60. At 60 the occasional binge is still an issue, but I’m working on that. Meditation helps too.

  13. I notice you ask, “How phoney are you?” and not “Are you phoney?” It seems to me the question indicates the answer.

    We do what we have to do, yeah?

  14. Now that I’ve stopped drinking I don’t know what the fuck I am. I told my psychotherapist today he’s far too lenient; that’s he’s being fooled. . We’ll discuss further on Friday.

  15. PS If I can’t have the fine Rapala lure of yesterday perhaps I can have the lure pictured today.

  16. Been thinking about this lately as I’ve reconnected with a lot of people online through Faceboot. Am strongly ambivalent about Faceboot, as I am about many things. Many of the people I’ve reconnected with are people I’ve worked with in the past but never got to know very well, as I tend to keep most co-workers at arm’s length unless they are friendly and encouraging or, well, prickly and direct. I could never figure out how to navigate work as I tended to be too direct and open or too introverted and quiet. In fact, I am extroverted and introverted, depending on a lot of things– this can be confusing for others and for me. Some of these people I met and interacted with 10 or more years ago. I’m guessing they’ve changed since then, as I have. My idea is that people continue to change, in some respects, as they learn new things. Anyway, on Facebook people are often surprised if they experience you in a different way than they did when you met them (and maybe knew them and they you, maybe not). I know one thing: Recently I was lucky enough to befriend and be befriended by some strong, wise and kind women, both on Facebook and off. They tend to ask questions rather than make assumptions, they are passionate about the environment, politics, communities, family, friends, their work and love. They all have a sense of humor(!!!) and are not easily threatened. With these kinds of people I feel least phony. Because I trust them, because they take the time to get to know others, because they are curious, generous and real. Blahdy blahdy. Your questions are too good.

  17. The most important thing is sincerity: when you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

    – From a post card I first saw at age nine

    The feral grace of that card haunts me still.

  18. Phony as they come.

    I tried to live as if life were art, and art is artifice. It’s been a mistake. But the canvas is covered.

  19. Hi, I’m venturing out of my cage and participating (even though I still can’t do Facebook). I figure I have lurked and savored long enough.

    I’m far less phoney than before, if only because I endured a life crisis and turned 40. The combination made me more brazen and impatient with BS. I was always skittish around phoneyness. Now I’m just turned off. Except for when I am phoney, and then I try to enjoy it.

  20. Picture it: Carzycamp, 2008.

    Psych nurse: You know that you have to take a shower everyday, It’s now 7 am, get up and get going.

    Me: You already woke me at 6 to take my blood pressure. You bunch of sadists. First you give me meds to sleep, then you wake me up, then you say I can only have non-caffi…..

    Psych nurse: That’s decaffinated.

    Me: Bitch. I wish I was Zelda; I’d burn this place down.

    Psych Nurse: I’m recording that in your chart.

    Me: Good. Write everything down; I just took a piss. When I leave here I’m getting a copy of my medical records and boy am I going to write a great story.

    Psych nurse: Just about every crazy who comes here says that.

    Me: Yeah, but I’m Jack Nicholson, so there.

  21. I pretend I’m interested when somebody tells me about their kids. Including family.

  22. I’m a complete poser. I even fancy myself a writer.

  23. Anything I write here is now going to sound life affirming, but fuck it.

    Betsy…you make me laugh in awe.

  24. There’s a difference between being phoney,which I hope I’m not, and faking it, which I tend to do quite a bit …

  25. I am so non-phony that my non-phoniness itself must be an act that fools even me.

    But then I am a terrible judge of character and easy to fool.

  26. I’m not sure the average person knows himself well enough to realize if he’s a phony.

  27. I’m only phony when I’m alone.

    As far as gorgeous e-book covers etc: album covers were never replaced with anything approaching the originals. Why should books be any different? And now albums are coming back.

  28. Ditto to what jmjbookblog said up there on #7. And is listening to coworkers ramble on about things u care nothing about with a fake smile phony??? If so, guilty. One day I will just say, “I don’t care, please go away.” One day!

  29. Not even a little bit…which may be the phoniest thing of all.

  30. I’m pretty phoney, day to day, but I think it makes me a better writer. It certainly helps me get by and schmooze at writerly events.

    There’s a reason I hide my creative non-fiction. That’s where all the good dirt is: the authentic me lives there, cleaning his ear with his pinky. I don’t let him out of the attic much, so he’s pale, wan, and hides in the kitchen at parties.

    Years of customer service jobs and now the corporate big-boy day job have helped me cultivate a talkative, extroverted shell that guards the shy boy inside.

    But I can rock a PowerPoint Presentation when I need to. And at least I refuse to use the word “synergy.”

  31. “I’m a reasonably honest man, but I couldn’t get through the day without telling 10 or 20 lies.” Bluntschli, the cowardly soldier in Shaw’s _Arms and the Man_, says something of the kind. Same here.

  32. Betsy, what’s you said about borderline personality disorder? I thought you had mentioned bipolar disorder previously. Sounds as if you’re implying the BPD diagnosis was (mostly) wrong, but I’m curious. Is it in _Food and Loathing_?

  33. I have a Fakebook page in Facebook which is not my real anything.

  34. Sometimes phony gets me through the day. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. I’m a mess, but I put up a good front.

  35. We have a game we sometimes use in meetings called bullshit bingo. Make up a chart of all the corporate power words like synergy, empowered, holistic, etc and mark them off as the presenter uses them in their presentations. When you fill up a line, stand up and yell BINGO !

    People don’t change, they just get more and more like themselves. In my case, I try to strip the phoniness out of my life wherever and whenever I can, unless social niceties demand otherwise. Life’s too short.

    Regarding Kindle, I’m a fellow Luddite, I love paper, but the change will happen no matter what. Just like buggy whips, the music industry, film cameras … Easier and cheaper innovation trumps aesthetics every time, save for the usual niche. The new generation of readers reads 70-80% of Everything right off their laptop or smartphone or iPad … Texting, googling, streaming TV shows, watching movies – why not reading books ? Ten years from now, it won’t even be a question.

  36. I’m not a phony (I had to look up ‘phoney’ it looked wrong, but apparently it can be spelled with or sans “e”)… I prefer to think of myself as a chameleon. And since the colors I can turn are all valid parts of me, it’s not truly being phony.

    If someone asks me if their clothes make their butt look big, I’d be honest with someone I knew truly wanted my opinion, and I’d sled around an answer to someone I think just wants/needs validation that I couldn’t give them without lying.

    I guess everyone is phony at some point.

    And re: e-books, I’m entranced. I will always be surrounded by walls of ‘real’ books, they center me and make me feel more at peace, but for when I travel or am by the pool, etc. I definitely see a future with an e-reader in my life! (I can’t believe the numbers of websites that have FREE e-books).

    If my Civil War novel doesn’t find an agent soon I’m probably going to “kindle it.” My contemporary fiction is being considered by an agent, if that falls through I might try more queries to agents, or just go s

  37. I have found that the more authentic you are, the less interested people are in you.

  38. That is a good question.

  39. This is a really old internet meme (do you get kicked off the comments section for using the word “meme”), but the mention of PowerPoint reminded me of it, so I thought that I would share, for those of us who missed it the first or second time around, the Gettysburg Address as PowerPoint: http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/

  40. In recent years, after way too much genuineness, I’m specializing in the kind of phony in which I don’t spurt out every criticism that occurs to me. I don’t have a lot of friends and I want to keep them. Plus, who am I to judge?

    I adore honesty, frankness, genuineness. I don’t like to be told what’s wrong with me. I figure no one does, unless they ask. And insist.

  41. They tell you not to fall asleep, because that is when the pod people replace you with someone who loves e-books …

    It’s actually fine with me if people want to read e-books. I just dread the time when e-books will be the only choice. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life recharging batteries, or have to wait to find out what happens next in my book because the battery ran out.

    Your question made me realize that when I’m writing fiction, I don’t have to be the slightest bit phony. Maybe that’s why it’s so appealing.

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