• 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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Sooner Or Later It All Gets Real

Thanks to everyone who registered concern about my death trip to the Adirondacks. It turns out the conference took place  where the Vanderbilts used to go and play Little House On the Prairie. Unlike the brilliant Wendy McClure, I have never nursed a back to the land frontier fantasy. Every since I was young, all  I wanted was  to hail a cab.

Needless to say there was much that was beautiful there though I vowed long ago, having grown up in New England, never to mention the “f” word.  I loved the interior decoration consisting primarily of animal skins, moose heads,  and furniture that looked like super-sized Lincoln Logs. The great room had a roaring fireplace and resembled the set of an LL Bean ad, everyone all fleeced up to their pupiks. I loved having a single bed, much easier to pretend that I was a Clutter, and the bathroom down the hall was really clean! There were really just two things that bothered me. One was the striking resemblance between the “caretaker” and Jack Nicholson. And the other was the warning he gave about mice loving to come inside this time of year. To that end, each room was stocked with a large jar — the mouse jar — where you were meant to keep your Cheez  Doodles and Mallomars. Friends, I’m a bad sleeper on a good day. I stared at the fucking jar the whole night. I wrote a novel and a sestina in my head, performed an emergency appendectomy on myself with a manuscript clip,  and had a good cry.

What did you do this weekend? Tell me something good.

36 Responses

  1. Took the train down to NYC and met my sis for her 30th. 🙂 Good time was had by all.

  2. Glad to hear you’re still alive. I went to Lake Placid, had lunch at The Cottage, wore my LL Bean garb, and didn’t hit a deer. All fun.

  3. took my son to a paintball party where he had a great time “shooting everything I could.”

    don’t ask me about my thoughts on that. just don’t i could have an old-fashioned conniption.

  4. Watered the apple trees, cooked Lima bean soup, lunched with my neighbor and read about death, the Cherokee kind, a four stage four soul system in which the leaving of the earthly body is done in stages.

    First the personality goes. The social soul flies out from under the brain bone, the fontanel, once a babys soft spot, the front plate of protection. It’s the place where scalping starts, the taking capturing owning of an enemy.

    Next the inward physiology melts, gone south the liver, secreting yellow bille, black bile, gastric juices. With that mess the souls lassitude begins, and then the blackness deepens, dissolving into further impermance the third soul of blood, located in the heart. That sucking takes a month until all that’s left is bone.

    The soul in the bone takes the longest to leave, to dissolve into crystal the kind used in divinations by the great conjurors, the grand skill, the raven mockers those practitioners of magic from the dark dim past.

    Happy Halloween

  5. Glad you survived! Sounds like a blast. Who gets invited to a hotel with a mouse jar? Fun times.

    Let’s see… I got back from a trip to Mexico hunting narco traffickers (no kidding) to find out that the manuscript for my second novel sucks.

    I will take the mouse jar any day.

  6. Whoa! Namechecked!

    I spent half the weekend in St. Paul speed-dating a bunch of Midwestern booksellers at a trade show and telling them about my butter churns. Then I flew to North Dakota to talk to a group of children’s writers. Something good: I have visited both Dakotas now! Also, the invention of air travel, because I’m not THAT frontier-minded.

  7. I finished editing my manuscript! Yay!

    Now I have to complete the synopsys. Hmphhh

    But I am going to pick up a copy of your new book tomorrow, so I guess that’s good news for you.

  8. Normally this story would have me festering and twitching in horror over the thought of a germ infested rodent getting inside while people sleep. *shudder* That’s seriously nightmare stuff for me. A freaking Mouse Jar? *twitch* Oh Hell no.


    Mallomars. Mmmmm.
    (I know they were only hypothetical Mallomars. Still, the very thought of them…)

    Yeah. So, if there were mallomars hermetically sealed in the (creepy-assed) jar, it might make staying up all night (with the lights on) (where vermin scamper) worthwhile to me.

    I’m glad you survived the drive, the lodging, the appendectomy. And if you survive this parenthetical comment, I wish you a delightful week.

  9. I hooked up with my incredibly hot neighbor who I’ve been lusting after for like half a year. It … was … epic. I’m still expecting to wake up.

  10. At first I saw those twins and thought … Arbus!

    You made it home. Time for a margarita. Or three.

    Hmmm … Once a month my mom and sister and I get our families together and we cook together. This month I made baklava and some bruschetta with soft goat cheese, onion confit, and oven roasted tomatoes.

    My mom has to be closely monitored in the kitchen. She tried to take over the honey-lemon syrup for the baklava, but I elbowed her out of the way and sent her off to chop the veggies for the Greek salad. The last time she was left in charge of the syrup she turned it to caramel.

    I’ve decided my mom’s boyfriend is more like Homer Simpson than Al Bundy, but it’s almost too close to call.

    Saturday I did a couple of shoots and saw the Facebook movie, which was surprisingly good.

    Now I’m watching what they’re trying to call a football game. Giants vs. Bears. It’s ugly. Chicago is down to the third-string QB. They’re dropping like flies.

  11. I spent all of Friday night chaperoning a lock in at my daughter’s middle school. I can now say that I’ve heard a drum line recital at 4:30 a.m.

  12. Glad you made it home in one piece…I think deer mice are really cute little creatures…it’s the animal skins and moose heads that would have freaked me out!

  13. Bartended, slept too little, drank too much.

  14. Glad you’re not dead. So thought you would be.

    I spent the weekend happy I wasn’t at a writer’s conference.

    It’s the little things, ya know.

  15. Paddled down part of the Des Moines river in a canoe. It was chilly, windy, and the river was moving pretty good. Two other paddlers dumped themselves, so had to mount a resue. They were OK, but here’s what I learned. There were two canoes of inexperienced paddlers. We were paying attention to the grandmother/granddaughter pair, but they were fine. It was two men, acting like they knew what they were doing, who really didn’t, and dumped. Moral: ASK next time, “Who’s done this before?”

  16. sold some books and filled in on sunday in the children’s section upstairs, which is frustrating for the parents who come looking for advice for books for 8-year-old boys who are not good readers. I don’t have any not-good readers in my life.

    also watched my colleague sell anna wintour the newest by michael connelly and paul theroux’s death hand. It *is* fashion week in paris, after all.

  17. Read Manhattan Transfer by Dos Passos. Amazing use of the typewriter as another instrument, characters and stories are secondary to rythmn and tempo, all in the naked city.

  18. “What did you do this weekend? Tell me something good.”

    Made love with my wife.

  19. Celebrated the feast of guardian angels on Saturday (Catholic) and then went to the Friends of the Library book sale to buy a ton of books. I spent the rest of the day cooking. We used a dozen eggs and a pound of butter in one day, which should be either illegal or a world record.

  20. yes but you forgot to mention the most terrifying part, the writer who followed you out of the conference and handed you a pile of paper that fell on the ground, an alleged manuscript, without a clip and only a scribble of contact information

  21. Decided to indulge my upper respiratory/sinus infection by lying on the couch all weekend, watching two full seasons of Arrested Development.

  22. I went to the ACW program and managed to make it home in time to kiss my little girl goodnight. Glad you survived the wilderness. Your workshops were very good and I feel like I got something out of the program and still have a long way to go. At times I felt the discussion was monopolized by a vocal few (is that the case at all writers conferences?), but overall you managed to keep us on track and from the comments I heard afterwards, the participants were grateful for your constructive criticism and no nonsense advice. Most importantly, at the end of the day, as the title of the song says, you were able to “Walk On”. Thank you, Betsy.

  23. Drove to Buffalo with my teenaged sons, I talked about the history of early Christianity in Judea, Rome and Alexandria, they talked about girls and told some epic fart jokes. All good.

  24. I flew home after a week at an antique show with my mother. And by antique show, I mean an epic amount of junk laid out beneath miles of tents in the middle of some central Texas cow pastures. I couldn’t even soothe myself by obsessively checking emails on the iPhone, since 3G is an alien concept in Bumfuck. Mom was in raptures, however, so I win at Best Daughter.

    My oldest daughter came home from college for the weekend and picked me up at the airport, then took me for Mexican food, so it got better. We also went to see Easy A. All I can say is: Times change; people don’t. Guys will always be horndogs who’re congratulated and exalted when they get laid, and girls are judged as skanks.

    I could do without the mice, but would love to stay at one of those old Adirondack camps. I like cabs and canoes.

  25. I got my tickets for the Nick Hornby/Ben Folds — Pen/Faulkner thing at the Folger Shakespeare Library in D.C. Except that it’s at the 6th Street Synagogue. When I was typing my billing info into the on-line purchase order, I had to choose a prefix: Miss, Ms., Mr., or Dr. Why is that? The “Dr.”, I mean. Why is that the only job title I could choose from?

    I also figured out that I have about 758 available waking hours until I have to hand in my ms. for my Dec. 1 deadline.

    And I had the tickets sent to Dr. Vivian Swift.

  26. Took a blues dancing workshop, cleaned my house from top to bottom, had many long talks with out of town girlfriends and went shopping. All my reward to myself for getting rid of a bad news boyfriend.

  27. I went to a book-signing party for an 80 year old author. This is her sixth book. She talked about the joy she feels when she gets one sentence or one paragraph “just right”, and how she misses her characters enormously after she finishes a book. Delightful. I kept thinking, please let me be that sharp when I’m 80. Oh, and the wine was good too.

  28. I took flowers and carrots to my sweet horse’s grave. I thought it might be a nice gesture to share the carrots with the other horses but knew Romeo would say “Aw hell, no! Those are my carrots.”

    Thankfully the only heads of animals I saw this weekend had live bodies attached. I still cannot imagine what a headache those longhorn cattle have after a day of holding up horns that span six feet!

  29. Had high tea at the Russian Tea Room with two friends dressed up in hats and early 60s dresses, then went to the Met in our outfits. Took lots of “Mad Men” inspired pics. Next day saw Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (not in my hat and dress, sadly).

  30. Let’s just say that a mouse or two would have been a welcome diversion for me. On the one hand I was plunged into an existential malaise. On the other, the writing group at the retreat went well, aided by liberal borrowings from Tetman’s notes from his classes with Gordon Lish. It made a big impact on a couple of the participants, who happen to be counselors to young adults. Thanks, Tetman!

    • I would hate to see you cry, Betsy. It’s always more heart-wrenching for me when strong people shed tears. I rarely do, but when they come—unbidden, unexpected, and inopportune—they seem to be exactly what I need. I, too, cried in bed this weekend, for my dead mother (who was the bane of my life). It wasn’t pleasant, but it was inevitable and necessary. I just didn’t know it was until it happened. Gave me something to write about. I hope your tears did you some good.

      Sorry for the not-good news, but how can I not share it with you?

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