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    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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I was lost in a valley of pleasure. I was lost in the infinite sea. I was lost, and measure for measure, love spewed from the heart of me.

I know I have a great deal to be grateful for, but I hate this fucking holiday. When people say, have a good holiday, shit, when I say have a good holiday, it always sounds like: try not to kill yourself. It’s funny, but I don’t think I’d be a writer if it weren’t for my family, by which I  mean trying to get away from them. The crawl space under the stairs. The fort behind the house. The high school parking lot. The single in Tooting Bec. The little study painted in baby aspirin orange. The quarry in Rockport. And the fat raccoon who wished me well. Every twelve-plex. Every overcast sky. Every trail littered with leaf rot. Try not to kill yourself. And by that I mean, a happy and healthy to all of you wonderful malcontents and bitchin’ ass writers who show up here every day or from time to time. I am certainly grateful for you.

What are you NOT grateful for?

48 Responses

  1. Every dozen dinner rolls that comes out flat because the damn yeast was old.

    Every moment spent with my kids when I’m already spent.

    Every candle that smells like vanilla cinnamon butter gingerbread cookies.

  2. The fact that I won’t awake in California tomorrow morning. I don’t want to stay; I just want the day.

    That’s what I wanted to say, but it’s not true. I *am* grateful to be here, I just miss the people that help the west coast keep its defiant claim of “home”. [Here you may insert a slightly melancholy smile.]

  3. I am the least greatful for the negative form letters that find their way into my inbox.

  4. that right now, i am actually candy-ing pecans to put on top of a sweet potato dish (i swear; your photo was laughing at me) for people who may or may not show up.

    not to mention that i am the 37 year old daughter of parents who have never hosted their own thanksgiving.

    that this martyrdom bullshit–that i thought i had finally talked all the way through with my therapist by analyzing my relationship with my mom until i didn’t even recognize her anymore–still comes out not to play every freaking carbo-charged holiday.

    thank you so very much for letting me vent. i’ve been moving from my stove to my kitchen island to my fridge in some backward arthur murray dance step rendition and trying my damnedest to stay grateful for it all. i’m losing my grace.

  5. I’m not grateful for people who think the way to “fix” education is to punish the teachers.

    I’m not grateful for the neighbor who keeps helpfully suggesting ways I could make my house look nicer on the outside. I have a job and it’s hard and it pays shit and I have kids and their special needs and I want to write, dammit. I don’t have time to give a crap how my “garden” looks.

    I’m not grateful for health insurance that charges more and covers less.

    I’m not grateful for writers’ conferences that are too far away, cost too much, and are scheduled when I can’t get off from work.

    • Your response is my response. Thank you. As a retired teacher, especially, and a once mother [they are in their thirties], and a writer, who even in retirement has difficulty finding time to write and certainly can’t get to the conferences.

  6. I’m not grateful for yet another paradise being paved nearby.

    I’m grateful for your blog, Betsy!

  7. I am not grateful for that which is grating.

    Nor much for the headache I’ve had all day.

    Oh, bitch bitch bitch. I’m pretty much grateful for pretty much everything. The stuff I bitch about I’m grateful for because it gives me something to bitch about.

  8. Relatives who despise me but make believe they don’t. Come on, be honest or be a great liar. At least they know I love them… But truth is I am a traitor. My heart is not in ungratefulness. No deployments, no foreign lands, no unwanted guests. It’s possible little birds and rodents are going to show up and sing to me while I bake. (The cat will be thankful.)

  9. Not grateful for my shitbag neighbor who leaves his sweet dog out in the cold and doesn’t give it one scrap of affection and I have to scratch his head and tell him what a good boy he is through the fence when nobody’s looking. The dog breaks my heart on a daily basis.

    • That’s so very sad…bless you for caring and giving the little fella some love and affection…can you anonymously report the jerk to the ASPCA?

      • jmj — I have, but the ASPCA won’t intervene unless the animal has no shelter (he has a little plastic igloo thing that he can crawl into, even though he’d rather sleep outside on his blanket, and when it gets really bad the guy puts him in the basement) or if it’s malnutritioned or has injuries. None of the above applies. And New York is one of the few states that don’t have tether laws about how long an animal can be chained outside, sadly.

  10. My life lately.

  11. The immense ability of my family members to disconnect from their humanity, syrupy gratitude lists from slimy people, cold winter mornings, colder corporate interviews, the way that this society seems to be winding down to a pulseless halt…

    I am grateful for writing, people who read, and whatever is inside of me that refuses to cave.

  12. Tooting Bec eh? Wow. Where you from, Betsy?

  13. I am not grateful for flukes.

    I was not genuinely grateful to my grandma, who never wanted to have a substantive conversation – at least how I, in my self-righteous earlier years, defined it.

    I am very grateful for the ability to feel, even if I feel too much at times, and to appreciate your wisdom and love on this blog.

  14. Cry me a river y’all. I’m the one trying to get a mortgage to renovate a wreck in France. A simultaneous root canal and bikini wax would be less painful.

    I am grateful that I am Canadian therefore no Thanksgiving for me this weekend, no travel and no chance of being felt up by a large woman wearing blue rubber gloves.

    I am grateful to Betsy for this post.


  15. I am not grateful for Sundays and holidays.
    I met an agent in the Adirondacks, (RG) after giving him my pitch and query letter, He asked for a full. I’m sure he doesn’t work on Thanksgiving, or Sundays, so I know those are days when there will be no chance of news, good or bad.
    I am ungrateful for my days off, and the Midnight shift; at least when I work Days, I have fourteen hours away from my computer, otherwise I’m checking it twenty times a day.
    And I am ungrateful that we all can’t just fucking get along.
    Oops, I forgot, I might offend someone.
    Remember the Adirondacks?

  16. Thank you thank you thank you Betsy. It is the worst of holidays, the worst of days. I am not grateful for the drunks of my childhood. They came in stumbling waves, like clowns into a Volkswagen. I am not grateful for my parents’ drinking. They are long, long gone now, but I am still not grateful for their fallen bodies, the spilled drinks, the broken glass. I am not grateful for their slurred moans and curses, the violence, the cruelty, the neglect, the squalor, the chaos. I am not grateful for the emotional wreckage from it all.
    The act of thanksgiving? Ok ok ok,,,I’ll buy it. The holiday that is Thanksgiving? I’m not grateful.

  17. I am not grateful for protective measures that don’t really protect, only invade our privacy – read airport scanners – so I’m home alone and my husband is with his family. If I could never fly again I would. I am not grateful for the aches and pains that come with age, but am grateful for the age. I am not grateful that I always live several thousand miles from my family. While I love technology I am not grateful to be of a generation that finds it difficult to navigate it, but can’t live without it. I am not grateful for the high price of just living, but am grateful to be alive.

    And I am grateful for you and your blog. I never miss a day. Your readers are beginning to feel like family, when I read their comments! I wanted to respond to each but settled for Joe because he echoes what I think.

  18. There is water in my basement. I can’t find the problem and can’t afford to fix it. I have no agent for my beloved novel. My nearest and dearest needs a root canal I can’t afford. I am ass deep in debt and sick to death of just about every working relationship I have.

  19. I am not grateful for tract homes with doors that don’t fit, but glad we have four walls around us.

    I am not grateful for orange cones in the road, but relieved to be driving past instead of walking.

    I am not grateful for the turkey, but so happy my mother’s cornbread stuffing will be inside.

    And that she’s around to make it for us.

  20. Not grateful for canned fried onions, marshmallows, chat piles, creamed soup, sinkholes, road rage, cell phones, betrayal, ignorance, power couples from sparsely populated states who think they represent America, non fat soy creamer, parking tickets, electronic ersatz human voices, faux friends, fake news, and false pride.

    Grateful for friendly babies, hopeful beginnings, overdraft protection, heart stents, my loving dog and your blog.

  21. So weird, I’m actually having a random day of gratitude that happens to coincide with the nationally mandated one. I’m sure I’ll return with my whinery and bitchification momentarily.

  22. Grateful for all and everyone. Happy cranberry and stuffing day!

    Tomorrow I will entertain with a delicious list of complaints and indigestifs. Leftovers are always better, right?

  23. That I’m in a foreign country on Thanksgiving. I’m gonna give it my all but it just ain’t the same.

  24. I am not grateful for cell phones, people who get pets then ignore/abuse them, cell phones, arrogance, cell phones, apathy…did I mention cell phones?

  25. I’m not sure I really have the right to be ungrateful for anything in the grand scheme of things but since you asked–I’m not grateful for all of the holiday diet articles everywhere. Let me eat my fucking pie and enjoy it lady mags! I DON’T CARE HOW MANY CALORIES IT HAS! And while I’m at it: those black friday ads: ’cause women be shoppin’ y’all!

    Whoo that felt good!

  26. I’m not grateful for people who leave their cell phones on in church. I wonder how many parents are clueless to the fact that they have damaged their children in ways they will never understand. 😦

  27. I am not Not grateful for anything. After reading your post, I fell to thinking of the books that seduced me to loving books. When I was young, I was alone but communing with some of the best thinkers that people have to offer. My sadness, which eventually created love in me, was that those around me didn’t understand what these lonely losers saw and sought. Today, I’m listening to The Psychedelic Furs, thanks family!, and it’s all coming back to me—fly it to the moon, dear. And other such Not and nonsense that is so lovely. I love it that I hate my family.

  28. I am not grateful for people who apologize for ignoring me then proceed to ignore me all over again. I am grateful I can get this off my chest here. Now I will go and make fruitcakes in peace.

  29. I’m thankful to live in California, 2,000 miles from the family. I sent my brother a text message to say Happy Thanksgiving, and he responded, “Who is this?!”. And that’s how that works.

  30. Fox News Channel.

  31. NOT grateful for:


    Still feeling pretty grateful overall, though.

  32. Not grateful for black friday bollocks. Only wanted a damn carton of milk for the baby. Instead, insane discount rabid crowds. sheesh.
    hey betsy, I used to live in Balham – stone’s throw from Tooting Bec. Good times.

  33. thought you would like this, Betsy:

  34. Ms. Lerner,
    Read and thoroughly enjoyed The Forest for the Trees. A hard-wired proofreader, only found one typo: on p. 272, “Facebook” has three “Os.” Am sure I’m about the seven millionth person to point this out.
    In your experience, does being a writer guarantee certifiable mental illness? I’m one of those child writers, who, nearly 60 years on, is starting to get a little recognition as a garden writer. But I (sort of) manage a day job—my husband and I are professional gardeners—and a (quiet) life in addition to pounding away at the keyboard and juggling a couple of journals without major temper tantrums, angst or demons.
    Just curious.
    P.S.–My husband and I have perfected the holiday thing: we hide out at home all by ourselves.

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