• 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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You Are My Love and My Life, You Are My Inspiration

I woke up today and felt excited in a vague way. Was it my quarter birthday? Was my favorite spin instructor planning another all Glee ride? And then it occurred to me: official publication date for the revised and updated motherfucker known as The Forest for the Trees.

Okay, I admit it. I love the little fucker. It’s one of the few things I don’t regret in my life. I regret the memoir. I regret C.L. in the twelfth grade. I regret the red and white checked polyester pants my sister referred to as a tablecloth. I regret college, especially freshman year. I regret buying the five pound jar of protein powder at Whole Foods. In fact, I hate that I ever set foot in WF. I regret the Kurt Cobain tattoo on my shoulder, and not just because I won’t be allowed to be buried in a Jewish cemetery since I’m an atheist and want my ashes left in ashtrays all over Beverly Hills.

So, if you don’t own a home copy, a travel copy, and a copy to leave in your kids’ room (the new jacket is excellent for rolling joints on and/or snorting coke), please think about buying a copy and helping put this puppy on the bestseller list. I feel that with a little help, we could easily bump off Outliers, and possibly Patriots and Pinheads. Are you with me?

Last, if you leave a comment, tell me one thing you are ridiculously proud of. Because there’s plenty of time for regrets. Love, me

58 Responses

  1. Betsy,

    I absolutely love your title….the love of my life, my inspiration…. which leads me to the one thing in life I don’t regret which is marrying my husband.

  2. i am ridiculously proud of a column i wrote about being sexually abused at age 5 that was published in my local daily.

    (also, a big fat NOOOOOO on the regretting your memoir. i’m going to get it off my shelf tonight and re-read it again so as to remember why i loved it. not that me loving it will make you not regret it, but still. it was the first book i read that made me feel like less of a freak…not sure if that reads like the compliment i meant it to be.)

  3. Outliers, pinheads, and patriots will probably always be with us. An argument could be made for their necessity being the logical result of their contingency (cf. The Ontological Proof for the Existence of Anything).

    Pride goeth before a fall, and I’m stumbling all the time as it is. Don’t want to fall here and now.

    Congratulations, ma’am, on the publication of your revised and updated motherfucker.

  4. I’m headed to Amazon. A victory for one of us is a victory for all of us. (I’ll check out the memoir while I’m there too)

    I am ridiculously proud of learning enough about computers to sort through the rubble to find your blog. There, enough schmoozing? (I do mean it though…it’s hard to find this many kindred souls in one place).

    I’m also pretty proud of the non-fiction book and magazine credits I amassed during the years when everyone told me it would be easier if I chose to write fiction. I’m even prouder of the two completed fiction manuscripts that now will be wending their way out into this brave new world I’m stepping into.

    I’m also proud of having survived cancer for the second time (Four years out from the first bout; Five days out from the second). Yes. Days.

    When things get you down, always remember that there is ALWAYS something worse that could be happening!

    Bobbye

  5. You should be proud of that book, man. It’s just perfect.
    Me, I’m pretty proud of my gaydar.

  6. I’m ridiculously proud of my dog. Not kidding. We work as a therapy team in a literacy program for children. If not for my calm, patient German shepherd, I would not know what a blessing this program is for all who participate.

  7. Congratulations on the publication today! I hope you have a great time at the She Writes even tomorrow. And if I haven’t sucked up enough in this comment, I just purchased your book.

    Something I’m proud of? The 60 minutes I did on the elliptical this morning so I could have candy corn for supper doesn’t count, does it?

  8. Revised? But I love that book. I especially love looking at the cover on my bookshelf and remembering what my writing life was like when I was reading it for the first time. I too must take it down and explore the inside again.

    I am ridiculously proud of convincing a good Canadian agent that my baby was worth selling. When she convinces a publisher I’ll be ridiculously happy. For now I’ll settle with being ridiculously happy to be tweeting with @BetsyLerner.

  9. I’m most very much ridiculously proud that I have not let the popular world at large, the ultra modern culture that I live in, cage and drug me for my madness. I have to admit that for almost 15 years they had me on the ropes and considering the theory that I might be insane, but now that I went and got myself a university education I know that it was only anger and confusion and that when considering the vast scope of this quick time we have between birth and death I am far more sane than I thought, though I’m a little pissed now. I’ve been running around with my head tucked my ass, for fear, for a very long time, it seems. I have pulled it out. I know it is far from over, but I’m still on my feet and now understand the rhetoric that would even use the word madness. Fuck’em. And sure as fuck I’m not going the way that poor kid Cobain went down. That poor dumb little shit didn’t have time to understand the affect of an artist isn’t felt until long after death, of the artist (now that’s some grammar.) And the torturing blue room of withdrawal eventually ends (sorry, don’t remember the novel the blue room refers to.) Gotta have some nuts and some guts if you’re gonna mess with that shit, it seems. My life, my personal confrontation with existence, is far more interesting than some other human in the same situation telling me I’m O.K. Am I? Gee whiz, thanks. I hate to admit it, and seem to suck up when I’m not, but if I don’t win this guest blogger contest I might spend some of my dwindling food money to see what this girl has to say. I’m about to start selling burritos from my kitchen window. That, I know I’m good at. But anyway, all in all, writing, life, fuck it, just do it. You’re gonna die someday anyway.

  10. I’m jealous that all of you are getting your books before me. But mine’s on its way, so I can start shaking down the mailman tomorrow. Congratulations, Betsy, I can’t wait to read it.

    Something to be proud of? My brain is making that cricket-chirping sound of nada. Good things happen to me, not because of me.

    Now I’m so depressed I need a prescriptive margarita.

  11. Bought your book today via KIndle for the Ipad.

    I am proud of my drawing ability and my lack of bitterness despite reason to be so.

  12. I’m ridiculously proud of my marching band days and the fact that freshman year was the year we played Chicago hits – we didn’t play “Just You n Me” but I did force the whole group to listen to it a lot. >.>

    I regret the second chili dog.

  13. It happened years ago, but I’m still thrilled that I won a plagiarism contest. I worked HARD to put those stolen words together! (But I regret two of those words.)

  14. Happy pub day. It’s amazing how jazzed you are about it, considering all pub days you’ve had in your life. Does this mean you have a warm, smushy center after all?

  15. I’m proud of the blog post I wrote for my company’s intranet home page for National Coming Out Day. So, people. Come out, and be proud.

  16. I have the book right here and I love that TFFTT is updated for the 21st century, because I am all about being current. Except when I wear my Crocs.

    Anyway, I’m ridiculously proud of the fact that I’ve raised two kids by myself and they’re not only normal, but awesome human beings.

  17. I’m ridiculously proud that I’m not saying anything snotty in this thread.

  18. My 4 year old daughter. Everytime she paints these weird little characters that look like floating balloons with faces, lines radiating out to represent hair and little circles on the lips to show the “person” is ready to give a kiss makes me smile with pride. Or when she lets the dog go first when we head outside and then pauses and says, “Ladies first.”. I know it’s corny, but I’m proud as all fuckin’ get out when we’re down by the lake and she tells me it’s time to stop and “look at the difference” because I have no idea what that means, but somehow it makes sense. It feels good to see the world in a different way, even if it’s only watching a kid eating a soft boiled egg after dressing her in nice clothes before going to day care and realising no matter how late I am for work, I’m gonna have to change those clothes before we head out the door. My life’s pretty boring, but I’m kinda proud of that, too.

    • My son is six and this just made my morning. (Sigh inducing kid-memories are possibly interchangeable.) Holy crap, it’s actually the afternoon….

    • It’s not corny – it’s wonderful. I love when kids say things that don’t really make sense but actually make all the sense in the world. When my daughter was 4, if we’d had a bunch of hectic days rushing around, she would sometimes say “Mummy, can we have a plain day today?”

    • I love that. My son once gave me a picture he’d drawn of his granny. Her nostrils were shaped like triangles – because he was looking up, of course.

  19. I’m kind of proud how sparkly the toilet is and how white the whites.

  20. My search for pride has left me with a hangover. Help me.

  21. I’m proud to call Betsy Lerner my agent and pal. Good Job Woman!

  22. I’m proud of the fact that I moved to New York after college even though I didn’t know a soul there. And I don’t regret leaving when I did.

    For me New York was like a really good party: I didn’t want to ruin the whole thing by being the drunk girl who stayed too long.

  23. My copy is getting a little dogheared. I’m off to pick up one for me and another for my friend who aspires to work in publishing. (Ssh, don’t break her heart).

    I’m ridiculously proud of the fact that I used to cut my own hair and dress however I wanted: usually in vintage clothes from the 40s. The photos reveal a tragic, slapdash lad in oversized coats and round John Lennon spectacles, but I had an originality back then. Sure, I blend in better now and scare fewer children, but I was 20 in Texas and completely fearless.

  24. My home baking, but I’m not proud of how much of it I subsequently scarf . . .

    Betsy, have you seen Janet Reid’s post about your little fucker? She calls it “One of the very best books on writing ever”

    Damn. Link is below but I can’t get it to embed.

    http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2010/10/one-of-very-best-books-on-writing-ever.html

    I’m still waiting on my pre-order from Amazon UK – think October 15 is B Day.

  25. Ahh. I see. When you publish a comment the link magically embeds itself.

    I’m ridiculously embarassed about my lack of technical knowledge . . .

  26. I am ridiculously proud of the fact that my nonfiction book was published two days ago. No, not traditionally; I did it myself and it is now on Amazon Kindle. But after writing the sucker; editing it ad nauseam; learning HTML and formatting it; doing the cover photo; etc., etc., etc., I could spit golden nickels (which may be all I earn from it but, oh, how much I’ve learned).

    And, Tena, I’m proud of my dog, too…that’s what my book is about: primarily, man’s best friend.

    And Betsy: You may not care or remember but you had a hand in my self-publishing by telling me the truth; that my type of book would be hard-pressed to find an agent as it was a compilation of columns in a niche market and my platform was minimal. I am truly grateful for that advice for, otherwise, I would be loaded with regrets.

  27. Of my values. The ones lining my life and keeping me upright. And not to have renounced them.

  28. I’m ridiculously proud of the self published childrens book I wrote and illustrated and dedicated to my sister, Patrician Ann, who passed away in 2001.

  29. Pride doesn’t occur. Shame is a constant companion. Regrets, yes–how many pages does this internet thing have?

  30. Of having given the eulogy at my grandpa’s funeral (can that really have been 10 years ago now?). I knew I could do it well and make everyone feel better, and I did. And part of my family which had seen me as just the booksmart nerd saw me through a new lens after that.

    My copy has been pre-ordered for weeks but now I’ll have to wait for about the three weeks it takes for our U.S. supplier to get books to us . . .oh well something to look forward to!

  31. Happy (re)Publication Day, Betsy – two days late (just like a publisher, huh?). I’m ridiculously proud of your book even though I am only the sloppy seconds editor, and also of our friendship that has survived – how many years? – of our various postings in this insane, fickle, still weirdly compelling and occasionally exhilarating business. Thank you for dragging me into the 21st-century forest, dragging my little luddite heels. In your honor I am making this, my very first online comment ever.

  32. I read The Forest For The Trees when it first came out. It’s been the best “little fucker “out there on it’s subject. It’s also the most readable. The book helped me to worry/fear less and enabled me to write more – and with focus. I have a book now and I’m ready to start sending it out. That’s what brought me to your blog yesterday. I wanted to see what new advice you had. I can hardly believe my timing! I’m psyched to see there’s a revised/updated edition to help steer me through the next part of the process. Looking forward to reading and learning in under a minute on Kindle.

    I’m most proud of the personal connections I’ve made in my life but that’s a two-way street. I love my people – and our books!

  33. I’m ridiculously proud that I (presumably) made you laugh over the Dick Van Dyke thing. And if I didn’t, I don’t want to know.

  34. So many things came so easily, so early in my life, I got bored (or scared) and became an underachiever, got bored with that and became an aspiring transcendentalist. Talk about an existential chew toy—I’ll be busy for lifetimes.

    The one thing that didn’t come easily early on was when I won the four-forty meter race in my high school’s intramural games. Being the lazy, bookish sort, I refused to sign up for any events and so Coach signed me up for the race. I got mad and vowed to “show” them. Trained for two weeks (sort of), developed a strategy wherein I pretended to get tired early on, then poured on the juice at the last minute to beat my two competitors across the finish line. Very satisfying beginning—and end—to my competitive (or any kind of) running career.

    The only thing that will make me prouder (this life) is to get a manuscript finished and published.

  35. Betsy, that tattoo won’t stop your brethren (and sethren? sisren? Can you we make up a good all-inclusive word here?) from putting you under six feet of dirt. This is coming from a former practicing rabbi. Kurt Cobain is a pretty innocent tattoo anyway, and we have lots in common. Jews suffer, he suffered, good enough?

    Please don’t choose the crematorium. Enough Jews were forced out of this world that way. Bad associations.

    Now off to pick up the book. Then I’ll be ridiculously proud to have read it.

  36. I bought your book after I spilled hot chocolate all over it in the book store.
    All. over. Everywhere. Down my white shirt. Between my legs. All over my hands. Chocolate everywhere. (It turns out you’re not supposed to drink straight out of the thermos. That’s what the lid is for, silly.)
    I had been drawn back to this teeny weeny bookstore for the sole reason of reading The Forest for the Trees. I’m always hungry for books about writing, but I’m always so disappointed by most of them when the writer themselves are not so great.
    You, Betsy, have a talent of writing in your hands, but I think you also have a hospitality in your heart. Your book combines the two with a really beautiful passion. It speaks to me.
    I could not walk out of that bookstore without that book. You gave me a kick in the pants to start a blog (despite my loathing of them) to keep me writing. It has been keeping me writing. How did you do that? You sneaky..
    Thank you for this book. I bought it for myself, but it kind of feels like a gift. I get all giddy when I open it up!

    Most amazingly, though, I’m actually PROUD that I started a blog! I also like to read them now.

    I am proud to have become the independent, and adventurous person that I have after being raised from my, ehhem,.. mother, who likes to do everything for me.
    “Poor Sarah. She’s so introverted and shy. I should do everything for her, because that makes sense. And I need her to need me.”
    Actually, I do love my mother. She’s encouraging, beautiful, and selfless… She’s just a little needy. Aren’t we all in some ways, though?

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