• 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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You Talk Too Much You Never Shut Up

Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me, fuck me. I didn’t touch the screenplay all weekend. I worked instead on what I call “work work.”  Read and edited all weekend. Saw one movie and took two long walks in what was arguably the “perfect fall weekend.” But otherwise, I read. In the hammock, on the patio, on the couch, in my bed. Everywhere I go a trail of manuscript pages and eraser shavings, coffee mugs and Diet Coke cans. I didn’t even read the freakin’ NYT and the cover of the book review is a review of the new Philip Roth by Leah Hager Cohen, whose first two books I edited when I was an editor. I’m saving that for my jammies. What is the point? The point is I preach no excuses and I am full of them. What I should preach is just keep your mouth shut, Lerner, no one wants to hear your excuses.

I would, however, like to hear yours. Especially if they are truly pathetic.

40 Responses

  1. I don’t make another move until I’ve read The Forest for the Trees which should be delivered tomorrow and if it’s not, hissy fit will have a new meaning. We checked out some late 70s Dr. Who DVDs from the library and we only have seven days to watch them. Man were those costumes bad. My rss feed reader kept telling me there was something new to read, but it all turned out to be about John Lennon. Someone kept poking me on Facebook. The cats needed something. I had to do some research using the Would You Rather game book. I had to look at my daughter’s rash because she texted me the photo and wanted my non-medical opinion. We got the new Philip Roth book at the library and I had to look in all the usual places where my husband might hide it. I had to wrestle with First Amendment issues.

  2. I’d make an excuse right now, but I’m too busy trying to figure out how to put off writing tonight. Besides, my kids are fighting over who gets to sit on the new chair in the living room, and I want to sit on the chair, and it’s annoying me too much to come up with a decent excuse for you. Sorry.

  3. My daughter’s piano teacher said, “Congratulations! This is the first time all fall you have given me excuses for not practicing!”

    My (tall) daughter looked down at her and said, “They aren’t excuses. They are reasons.”

  4. When my son was in third grade, he swiped my husband’s ace bandage and an old pair of crutches, and hobbled to school telling everyone he’d broken his foot and couldn’t carry his homework – what with the crutches and all. Later that day, after enlisting his entourage to carry his books around and bring him lunch, he told his teacher his wrist was also too sore to write.

    But he did manage to lurch to the front of the class and deliver a book report in fake German – well enough to fool the teacher. (Not that she seems to have been firing on all cylinders, but still …)

    As you would imagine, that kid can write.

  5. I didn’t do any work this weekend because it was my birthday on Saturday and my anniversary on Sunday, so surely I should be eating high-calorie meals in restaurants and enjoying the beautiful weather rather than doing anything productive, right?

    Also, martinis. Multiple martinis.

  6. Actually, I agree with Connie Schumm’s daughter. 🙂 There are excuses and there are reasons, there is defensiveness and there is explanation. People confuse these over and over again. And so verily I say unto them: Discern! And they say back maybe not as verily: I would but I’m playing Fantasy Football. Why don’t YOU discern? And I say I will tomorrow. Right now I’m chain-eating Skinny Minnie ice cream sandwiches.

    Reading, walking, drinking caffeinated beverages. What else is there, really? Especially on an arguably “perfect fall weekend.”

    Every day I tell myself to keep my mouth shut. And I don’t talk excessively, usually, unless I’ve been home alone for over a year with no one to talk to. As this has been the case for the past year I DO sometimes talk excessively when in the company of what appear to be humans. There are no excuses for this.

    I also practice restraint sometimes, quite often, really. And I try to be entertaining, when I’m not being too earnest. If people are really quiet I tend to talk more and try to draw them out by engaging them, making jokes, asking them about their lives and ideas. If they are still quiet I might talk even more still, as I’m probably bored. Sometimes I carry a megaphone. Just kidding. Well okay, but it’s a *small* megaphone.

    If I have made a mistake and would like to apologize–and sometimes explain why I did whatever stupid thing it was–I have difficulty moving on. Most people don’t care much about understanding and forgiving and all that stuff and I suppose I shouldn’t care much either. But I usually do. Is this what you mean by pathetic? Pathetic is okay with me, as long as there are jokes too, at least occasionally, as long as there is generosity and not *too* much selfishness.

    Everyone is graceful and admirable and awkward and pathetic. Until someone persuades me otherwise, I will go on believing this is true.

    Today the Blue Angels were in town. Today I had paperwork to sort and stuff to recycle, donate and file with my fodder for art projects. Today I talked to my brother who has been depressed and largely without a life for the past 24 years. Today I have no complaints. Today the stereo shorted out, again, when I turned the volume up past 3 or 5, I can’t remember. Today I was told, in a roundabout way: Too much backstory, boring. Today I thought: That’s true. Today I read the Atlantic, Wire, a Sebald book. Today I went to the supermarket, where it is nearly impossible for me to be depressed. A sweet man with a stutter asked me if he could help as I was scanning the shelves for Passion tea. I said yes even though I found what I wanted. He was bored and glad to help, at least I think so. Today a geeky couple in their mid-50s took up the entire cereal aisle and bickered about what to buy. The woman took off in a huff, husband trailing behind her, saying “Hold your horses.” The frat boys in the line next to me asked if the grocery bill could be split three ways. I focused on the mylar balloons hovering above the checkout stand as the Irish-accented woman in front of me asked the cost of every single one of her items that had just been rung up and totaled. Outside I passed a question- mark-shaped woman with gray hair clutching a single bag of groceries to her chest. She wore sparkly dangling ice-blue earrings. I said hello and she smiled. She was wearing coral lipstick. She was so pretty.

  7. I didn’t feel like working, so I didn’t. I watched Atonement, drove to Lake George for lunch, made lasagna, and worked on a jigsaw puzzle.

    • What did you think? I hated that movie.

      • You didn’t ask me, you asked her, but here I am, on hold at the office, some large corporation attempting to amuse me by pouring pop music into my telephone ear. I liked “Atonement,” though I didn’t remember it until I just looked it up. The Dunkirk tracking shot was swell, as was much of the rest of the flick. I never read the book, though.

        Okay, off hold, gotta go.

      • Your boss isn’t a Columbus fan, Tetman? You’re supposed to be out enjoying the weather and colors, not attached to a phone. My opinion of Atonement was formed on an overnight flight but I can’t remember liking a whole lot about it. The ending just made me mad. I understand what they were trying to do but it didn’t work for me. There are many people who would disagree. Maybe I’d feel differently watching it under different circumstances. I decided to stay far away from the book.

  8. There’s no excuse for my excuses, so excuse me please if I recuse them.

    Say, I saw a wonderful film this weekend, twice, on netflix rental, and I loved it so much, I just gotta–

    “Russian Ark.” I first saw it with my son a few years ago, in a little art-house cinema hereabouts. He was blown away, I thought it was pretty impressive.

    I watched it Friday night by myself, and I was blown away.

    I watched it last night with my wife (who is neither my first wife nor the mother of my son), and I was pretty impressed. So was she.

    So I’m plugging for it, if any of you who come to this blog haven’t seen it. It’s a dream on viddy, gorgeous and powerful.

    There’s no excuse for not seeing it.

  9. Ha! I just blogged about my latest excuse–I need a team! Seriously, I need some accountability to get this damn book done.

  10. I worked in the school office the first semester my sophomore year in high school. I stole several pads of Excused Absence Slips, used carbon paper to trace the principal’s signature and blew off classes the next three years.

    Apparently, I plan to live off those validated excuses the rest of my life.

  11. the most pathetic excuse I’ve got is going back to smoking after 48 hours (because of a cough/cold). Tonight: Well, the cough is gone, I’m all better, time to enjoy life again! (Ah, it was good.)

  12. My excuse…I didn’t do the laundry this weekend because there is too much of it.

    Now, I will play “Hunt for Mostly Matching Kid Socks” again tomorrow morning.


  13. I have no excuses for not getting anything done this weekend…but I just had to tell you how much I LOVE that adorable Cola sipping squirrel!!!

  14. My excuse is that I am having depressed disorientation. Except that actually I keep taking these disheartening stabs at the novel. Resulting in more depression and disorientation. Resulting in renewed stabbing at the turgid manuscript. Depression. Stab. Depression. Wtf.

  15. I’m suffering from ptfd. Post traumatic flight syndrome. The transatlantic trip resembled a 7 hour ride up I95 in the spring. We veered, we hit potholes. Metal crashed in the kitchen as seatbelted flight attendants made nervous jokes then grew silent. Everyone was quiet except for 2 twenty something boys deep in the throes of possibility. Passengers practically peed themselves before making a rush on the bathroom about an hour off Ireland, clutching seats and tripping in the aisle. The stench lingered with uneaten, processed food. When the wheels contacted the ground I disembarked with my new found compatriots. I politely thanked the captain while considering falling to my knees and kissing his hands.

  16. I had a pathetic excuse for you, but my dog ate it.

  17. Here’s something I have no excuse for, but I will lay it out and lay myself open to rebuke. Long ago, I learned there was a fellow named John Austin who wrote a paper called “A Plea for Excuses.” I’ve never read it. I found it on-line and offer its link.


    I still haven’t read it. My excuse is that I am presently at the office and the fellow who signs my check wants me to earn at least part of my pay, so I must go. On the way, I’ll e-mail myself a PDF of “A Plea for Excuses,” so at least it will be in the queue.

  18. I cleaned the house. I washed wine glasses. I filled wine glasses. I refinished a table — badly. Which could have been related to the filled wine glasses. I’d have been better off writing.

  19. -dinner with friends
    -then another dinner with friends
    -keeping the new lizards alive
    -keeping the dog shit shoveled off the living room floor from the new puppy
    -walking both dogs endlessly, getting the new one to please please shit and piss outside.
    -coping with the grumpies
    -tuning out from all the yelling and stupid fights the kids get into
    -staring at all the used cars on craigslist
    -playing chess on my cellphone
    -reading the nyt’s in my grumpy state
    -wondering why it rains so fucking much around here
    -thinking for the tenth time how great it would be to write about a presidential candidate that peppered his speeches with lyrics from rap and hip hop songs from Common:
    “You not gon’ respect self, at least respect the heritage
    Affect the lives, the spread of wealth and the merit is
    I realize what I portray day to day, I gotta carry this
    And beats, rhymes and life is where the marriage is
    Had Dreams of Fuckin R&B broads, it came true
    Journalist I wreck, shared the same view
    Picked up a fallen angel on the path that I MC
    Familiar voice, come to find out the angel was me”

    or The Roots & Cody Chesnutt:
    “I don’t beg
    For no rich man
    And I don’t scream, and kick, when his shit don’t fall in my hands, man
    ’cause I know how to still
    Fertilize another against my lover’s will
    I lick the opposition ’cause she don’t take no pill
    Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-no dear
    You’ll be keeping my legend alive
    I push my seed in her push for life
    Its gonna work because I’m pushin’ it right
    If Mary drops my baby girl tonight
    I would name her Rock-N-Roll
    Oh-ooh break it down, break it down, break down beat ”

    -but then of course realizing it was sort of all ready done in the movie with warren beatty

    -following the big google trail over the weekend due to google’s three day tribute to john lennon

    -reading with the kids
    – helping the kids with homework
    -halloween decorations (wife and kids did all of those three while my head was far up my ass doing all the others)

  20. A universal axiom of human behavior: We find a way to do what we REALLY want to do.

  21. I’m sad. And I just discovered 5 seasons of Lost at the public library. I never watched it when it was on. 75 hours of mind melting, anxiety producing television! Yeah! Oh, and after watching up to season 3, I’m not writing anymore. Fuck it. I no longer care. And, I’m sad. Is that an excuse or a condition?

  22. read ‘the incognito lounge and other poems’ by Dennis Johnson.

    sat on the sofa and thought about how complete the collection is and how it forms a poetic story about motels, buses, and substance abuse. under shifting forms of light (fluorescent, neon, cloudy weather).

  23. I was too busy reading about everyone else’s excuses

  24. I drove to Buffalo from Toronto to hear my amazing brother and his band play some blues on his deck while we sat around a bonfire. Stayed overnight and didn’t take advantage of the shopping except for some pillows and a blanket since we forgot to bring some.

    Sunday I cooked a turkey for my college age kids who were home for the weekend, and drove them back this afternoon.

    Came home, organized the recycling, swept the college kid crumbs from the living room floor and ate leftover turkey and potato salad.

    I’m not touching my manuscript because I’m a hair’s breadth close to hearing from an agent. If it’s a no, I’ll shelve the excuses – no – reasons, and take another look at it.

    Or, I’ll pick up the three other half finished manuscripts and get my ass in gear.

  25. Cut yourself some slack, woman. Get your head out of the vice.

  26. I’m beyond excuses. Excuses imply that you care. Excuses signify that you’ve momentarily dropped the thread but will pick it up again. I worry that my thread has broken and the kite has flown beyond the rooftops, so far I can’t see it anymore.

  27. i’d fuck me

  28. i”d fuck me ardillita

  29. aver cuando salimos chikitito

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