• 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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Some Are Dead and Some Are Living

I used to crack the office window and smoke into the cold morning.  Across the way a water tower.  A woman moving inside a building — easy to imagine her more beautiful than I. The stone ledge smudged from so many mornings. It was the part of a lifetime.  Do you miss me? Did I doze? Can you hear me skidding?  Someone took the stones from my father’s grave. Who am I talking to?  The end of the year means nothing, but visits upon me a strange feeling. Long ago, I resolved not to make any resolutions except to distrust people completely. Ha! Will I always be nine years old with my bangs cut unevenly across my forehead? Is there more faith in the world than in a plastic barrette plastered to the head of girl ready for greatness, poised for destruction.

I miss Jim, raconteur extraordinaire.  Ralph is gone, our loyal friend.  Lucy died this time of year. Then Tracy. Then Liz. Some are dead and some are living. My grandmother said you are the captain of your own ship. You are the captain of your own ship. Oh, I am nostalgic. To all my beautiful writers and the books you brought into the world, for little or much. To everyone who opened  a book and turned her beautiful pages. I love all of you who leave comments here, magnificent  breadcrumbs on a lonely trail. Thank you for reading, lurkers too. Have a happy and healthy new year, or in lieu of that:  WRITE YOUR ASS OFF. Love, Betsy

p.s. I’ll be back Monday, January 3.

36 Responses

  1. See you in two weeks! My ass will be still intact, though.

  2. Thank you Betsy. Thank you for this and thank you for ‘The Trees’. You’ve helped me in my journey to believe.

  3. Less head and more heart, I am told. That i will write.

    Thank you. There is no place like this one you have made.

  4. How about more head and less heart? Or at least a balance of the two? Well, Betsy got a little sentimental here. Shucks, Betsy, we love you too.

  5. Have a sweet blogging break. I’ll be waiting for your next post to pop up in my feed reader.

  6. [INT. WARREN]
    Don’t go into Mr. MacGregor’s garden; your father had an accident there; he was put into a pie by Mrs. MacGregor.
    [CUT TO:
    [INT CLOSE UP:] Mrs. MacGregor’s gnarled hands deftly pulling the skin off a rabbit carcass, pink and scarlet tissue, yellowish fat, a disgusting wet tearing sound.
    CUT TO:
    (shaking, wild eyed) Why are you telling us this now, Mother? Why now? On Christmas day so many years later when we though he was lost in the war?
    CUT TO:
    We thought he was lost in the WAR… (sobbing).
    CUT TO:
    (cigarette, drink) Nope. A pie. A fucking pie. (SHE flips from calm to a horrifying Joan Crawford — yet still cuniculur — face)
    CUT TO:
    (Face of rage and madness) You could SMELL it, you could smell it, all through the woods, that fucking whore —
    CUT TO:
    Mother! Mother! Stop it! Stop it!
    Stop it! Stop it!
    Betsy — have a great holiday and an amazing new year.

  7. Have a lovely time off, Betsy!
    (But where will ah go?)
    I’ll miss you in my morning ritual!
    (What will ah do?)

    Frankly, my dear, you could write your ass off !

  8. This is my favorite place to hang out on the interwebs, my favorite series of tubes, the best clean well-lighted place in the ether. Thank you Betsy, thank you Commenters.

    Thank you.

  9. Wow, Betsy. This fills me longing. For what, I don’t know…. ‘it visits upon me a strange feeling.’ Maybe I’m mourning for what could have been. It’s brilliant. A fitting end to the year. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Thanks for teaching me, Betsy.
    And all the rest of ya, too, thank you. (Except that one guy, Bob. What a pain in the ass.)

  11. Thank you, Betsy, for setting out the crayons every day and showing us how good it feels to wander outside the lines.

  12. It’s funny. I don’t think I care if anyone remembers me after I die, other than those I love, but it’s so important to me to remember people who aren’t around anymore (physically) but who touched me with their words and continue to do so long after they stopped writing. Jim Carroll is one of those. Maybe some words are more of the spirit, and they keep spinning themselves forever. Thanks for all the (insert just about any adjective) blogs this year. Happy holidays to everyone!

  13. Thanks to Betsy and all of you daily chatterboxes. My morning coffee wouldn’t be the same without you …

  14. Betsy, this song makes me think of you:

    Here’s to 2011.

  15. I love that picture…

    this is a sad time of year–I miss a lot people…esp my mother..but I listen to the Holly and the Ivy and cry a bit…

    I saw a nice stack of revised FOREST FOR THE TREES while shopping the other day (at Three Lives bookstore in NYC) (:

  16. Merry Happy Betsy and all! Thank you for this place.

  17. I’ll be writing…

  18. All the best to you, too, and to everyone here. Thanks for this refuge, this clearing house of doubt, which we face best by facing it, raising it, singing its praises. Even as it drags down a wind-beaten street only martyrs can embrace.

  19. I’ll think about writing, but mostly, I’ll just be praying to jesusjosephandmary that nobody gives me an extended reach duster again tomorrow.

    man, those “alive” people in my life really do love me, don’t they?

  20. Have a restful blogcation.

    We who are about to write our asses off salute you!

  21. I love you, Betsy. Life is better with you in it. Greetings from Jagannatha Puri.

  22. Betsy,
    Thanks for the fantastic blog. I wish you peace and goodwill but most of all a level mood. Happy, happy, joy, joy…


  23. Man oh Man, sometimes leaving it alone does good. I haven’t read this blog in a while, let’s not compare measures, I’ll win, either way you look at it, but unless I’ve lost my mind again, again with the measure, Betsy is getting better and better. Thanks Betsy, you made my day. And as some of the greats say, don’t look back, it will always be with you.

    • P.S. Yes, write your ass off, unless you need it to sit on, Betsy’s so hard-ass, see, there again, in my take of it she has one, I’m so confused, but never the less if you haven’t seen the movie All My Friends are Funeral Singers, do. I would love to see more movies like that. I would give a few of my hard won green backs to see that kind of art.

  24. Wonderful post, great work!


  25. From a grateful lurker and occasional commenter, thank you Betsy. Definitely plan to write my ass off after this holiday break.


  26. Enjoy your holiday Betsy- thanks for all that you do.

  27. Goodness, you are thanking us?? I thank you, for a year of inspiration. Plus I just finished Just Kids, oh my, thanks for helping make that happen.

  28. Beautiful post Betsy. Hope you are having a nice break.

  29. Hi Betsy, I’m a lurker (thank you for naming us…I really didn’t know what I was) commenting for the first time. So as much as I detest New Year’s resolves too, I resolve to comment more because your blog has given me such enormous inspiration, joie de vivre and not to mention raison d’etre since I started to reading in July…It’s all about giving back, no? Anyways, thank YOU!

  30. Thank You Betsy for keeping me alive! Forrest For The Trees was the best thing that happened to my life. I know we will work together very soon. WIshing you an enchanting New Year! Thank you again for giving so much. Love Daniela.

  31. Honesty. Not many people have this bravery.
    Thank you.

    And for you who approach this season with the same trepidation: This too shall pass.

  32. Betsy, this is my one venture into editing: Who would be best to write a prose epic poem about the spirit of artistry? Who could write a book that is not a how-to-be-an-artist book on art, having lived with, edited, cajoled, reciprocated, with art and artist’s work and may, perhaps, see the spirit of art more than a self-involved artist and who has made it her life to put art into the hands of people; I know you know concept is just as strong in non-fiction as fiction—stories are stories. So, as long as this work, this book, is not a how-to-be-an-artist, to impress your friends and bamboozle your family, or some lame-ass history book about the mundane life of artists and their everyday life, I would buy that book. It would, or could, be a work of art.

    I came up with this idea while I was sitting on the toilet and letting what will be have some peace and looking at the picture of the guy on the cover of the January 13th, 2010 issue of The New York Review of Books. The look in the guy’s eyes says – I could tell you a story. I was already thinking about you because I had just read your blog and was envious of how you can write simple yet beautiful images, which is not easy, and I got to thinking how envious I am that you are able to work with these minds and bodies that create art and have art as their main objective in life, it seems. What a life — not rich, not poor. My point is that a book of experience, beyond monetary gain and respect, would be a book that I would want to read — A book that is not a tell-all book about artists but is a book full of the experience of artistry. That would be readable to me. (I’m probably showing my ignorance right now because I have not read The Forest for the Trees, but I will go on.) This book, which I imagine you can write would be called, A Life among the Living, which, I think, takes artistry beyond success as an artist. So, who has the experience and obvious heart to write a book like this? Betsy. This is, of course, just a thought and my only venture into editing, which will never be witnessed again in public, or polite company, as I have plots to plot, knots to let loose, and mysteries to solve through character.

    Thanks again, Betsy. And as luck will have it, you are now part of my genes: Nice, good stuff.

    P.S. It’s New year’s eve, so please excuse any booze induced slips in coherency. The gist is there. Hey! More and better!

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