• 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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May Your Heart Always Be Joyful

I thought about blogging for a year before I tried it. Every time I brought it up, my husband reminded me that it might not be a great idea given my ICP (impulse control problems). It’s been two years,  one month and eight days and I’ve been as quiet as a kitten, as well behaved as a first grade girl in a plaid jumper. And I’m fuckin’ sick of it. I want to break it down. I want to drop it. Stomp it. Eat it. Fuck it. But I can’t. I mean: I can’t. Do you know what I’m talking about? Am I in the audience or am I on the screen? Are  these my hands, folded, waiting for my carton of chocolate milk? I’m sorry, officer, I didn’t know it was a go fuck yourself zone. Pocket book. Pocket book. Sweet pocket book. Your parents are dead. Lower your standards. Raise high the roof beam. Our soup today is lobster bisque. Send it back. I can’t. I can’t. This is what I’m trying to tell you. Can a tiger change her spots? You made your bed, now lie to  me. I want to pull rolls of paper through my body. I wrote you a letter in 1997. Did you sleep with the teacher? Did you eat grilled cheeses? Why can’t you really write?

61 Responses

  1. Be wary of those comments about your lack of impulse control. Is that what folks said to Virginia Woolf? – Don’t write it’s dangerous.

    You’ve no doubt read the Yellow Wall Paper. In my book writing keeps the writer sane. The written word transcends the impulse. Better to write than to act out.

  2. fuck! there is really no good line of letters that makes the screaming sound in my head right now.

    i can’t even show up here without my censor checking in. what if? what if they follow my blog to her blog? what if they think i think that this three-paragraph comment is more important than, you know, what i do when i’m not here? what if they sit down and say, “did you write that???”

    may your heart always be joyful and your tongue not always be tied to the one you serve. b, are you my palm reader?

    • This comment ties in with the reply you left for Princess Sisi. Just remind anyone who has the nerve to follow you across the internet and to question you that it’s like reading a diary.

      Unless, of course, that person is your employer in which case I offer the advice loved by liars and cheats all over the planet. Deny, deny, deny.

  3. It’s being outrageous, being YOURSELF, that makes an audience. But….but….but…..

    I worry about my kids reading what I write on my blog. It’s a problem. If you don’t have kids, or parents, then GO FOR IT!

    • You have to get your mother out of your head even when she’s no longer on the planet. Not so easy. But thanks for the pep talk. It helped.

  4. Ah, just got my Betsy fix and it feels so good. Is it all Hawaiian Punch and chocolate milk with you? What about the hard stuff?

  5. I wonder if that felt good. It’s like a nightcap after being at the grocery store and seeing a 12 pack of Hawaiian Punch and thinking about this blog which reminded me that I got nothing done today which led to me eating Cape Cod Barbecue Potato Chips and three mini Hershey Bars for dinner while watching My Strange Addiction with my daughter. Tonight’s feature: A nineteen year old furry with amazing seamstress skills, and two woman who ate unusual things – one ate sofa cushions and the other ate Comet. Which makes me crave powdered donuts.

  6. This one time I flung the chocolate milk container at the wall. I told a true story on my blog but didn’t name names.

    The worst happened. Turned out the guy who was the antagonist character of my post was cyber-stalking me, who knew? And he was a lawyer, and he shit-sprayed lawyer language in the comments. And I was on vacation, so there it sat, stinking and leaking and dripping, until I got home.

    So when I finally got home I shit-sprayed back like a bratty schoolgirl. In the end, nobody gave a shit anyway, but how I felt was a mixture of BlessMeFather and WheresMyGun. But, yeah, I still felt like I did something wrong. God damn it.

    • ugh…i hate that feeling. i’ve had a few incidents, one i can’t even write about, not yet, that resulted in me tacking the following David Sedaris quote to the cork board above my monitor: “If you read someone else’s diary, you get what you deserve.” (or something like that)

    • ‘shit-sprayed lawyer language…leaking and dripping’…my new favorite verbage. Love.

    • “mixture of BlessMeFather and WheresMyGun”. Love it.

  7. Betsy, I’d love you to stay because I only just found you and you’re my new favorite blogger. But you could take a break. Take a month–post a Gone Fishing sign. People will wait for you. And so what if they don’t?

  8. I hate it when I get stopped in a go fuck yourself zone.

  9. Shit. I did eat grilled cheeses.

  10. I like to write. Publishing is a tough sell, and the variables are so many that it’s a wonder anyone ever gets published. I think your blog is wonderful. It keeps me wondering what drives you, even if I know that, for myself, the joy is in the writing. I publish six short stories a year, and stilll hope to publish my recent novel. Trite: Time will tell.
    Webb

  11. Now, that’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout. Sing it, sister!

    Nah, I love it every day, but today, well…

  12. Now I want chocolate milk. Damn.

  13. Turn your head, now baby just spit me out …

    I kept my pleats pressed my whole life and sat at the end of the lunch table with my knees together, drinking (white) milk through a straw. Who could have possibly been harmed if I’d ever once poured that milk over my french fries? Why not follow the boys out back and smoke a joint? Where’s the virtue in a perfect pleat, anyway? And how could I be harming my children if at some point they realize their mother is a person and not a mom-shaped cardboard cutout?

    Fuck it. The way it works is, I decide what to write. Others decide what to read. There are worse things in life than having to defend yourself. At least it means you put up a fight.

  14. Leaving? Did she say she was leaving? No!

  15. I think this will help with your blogging problem. Your liver is acting up. Take the de-tox tea 3x a day. You’ll feel better. Lay off that chocolate milk.

  16. write it all out in that file marked ‘betsy’s novel’.

    ps my business card says ‘a fucking writer’ underneath my name because i reached THAT POINT. the one where you don’t give a shit.

  17. Unleash the darkness. Otherwise it’ll kill you. And then where will that leave us?

  18. Betsy, it just occurred to me that some people may have started reading this blog because you’re a big-deal agent, but most of us keep reading it because even in your self-loathing, or especially in your self-loathing, you are infallibly:
    kind
    caring
    intelligent
    hilarious
    encouraging
    empathetic
    and
    inspiring, if I may speak for the others. If I may not, then at least you got me to start writing again, and who knows, maybe it’ll blow everybody’s minds someday.

    That said, if a lack of impulse control (or whatever) is getting the better of you, take a break. You don’t owe anybody anything. Be healthy and peaceful.

    What I really want to say is, Physician, heal thyself: really write. Preferably some poetry. Or whatever you want.

    I hope I haven’t overstepped, but I thought I should say something.

  19. I am down with Downith and Tulasi-Priya. Betsy, you are all the above possibly with the addition of amazing and super strong and I- don’t- know- how -you- maintain -the -intensity.
    I did sleep with the teacher….and am about halfway through first draft….

  20. my girl.

  21. Lowfat Chocolate Milk. Be still my heart. As for the tiger changing its spots…it did…into stripes–top sarge stripes with hash marks. Always follow the topkick sargent my career NCO dad told me when he thought I was going to Vietnam as a second louie. He didn’t want me to go. Said it wasn’t a righteous war. I insisted but got washed out on a medical at ROTC summer camp. Got my spots changed then, I did, and someone else took my place. I hope he lived.

  22. You are really writing to this reader every day.

  23. It’s mid-Winter, the most sensory deprived time of year. It makes you desperate. Never make a drastic decision in mid-Winter, anything having to do with your hair, the Peace Corps, or hierlooms/husbands/WIPs that you suddenly can’t stand the sight of. Take Kyler’s advise: Go on a bender. If you want company, let me know.

  24. I was addicted to Query Letters I Love, and when Manager Guy passed on to that black hole in the sky, I suffered withdrawls. Then I found you. Don’t be concerned with the DT’s of others; you need to be selfish. Remember that scene in Cool Hand Luke, where Paul Newman yells, “stop feeding off me”. We are parasites Betsy, save yourself.

  25. You have managed to capture and transmit to the page the actual interworkings of your brain…the ellipses and synapses, equivocations and neurotransmissions, almost as if you’ve peeled back your skull and invited us in. David Foster Wallace is the only other writer I’ve ever seen do it as well. And as we all know how incredibly hard DFW struggled to be in this world. The fact he worked so hard to honestly share that experience with the rest of us is one of the greatest acts of generosity I’ve encountered in my lifetime. You are doing something very similar with this blog. And it is impossible to categorize or quantify or even articulate the net effect of efforts such as yours. Like most great acts of generosity, there is no scale upon which what this blog gives its readers can be measured. All of which is to say please know that your words are reaching (at a deep intracellular level) a vast number of readers. That’s writing.

  26. Best blog post I’ve read today. Keep on cursing an ranting whenever you need to.

  27. Love the post!

  28. “Your parents are dead. Lower your standards.”

    “I’m sorry, officer, I didn’t know it was a go fuck yourself zone.”

    Wei la la. As long as you’re blogging I’ll be coming back for more…

  29. Aw quiet kitten, it must be the low fat chocolate milk that did it. No more of that shit.

  30. Who is that in the more densely populated hemisphere of Blog World, a voice strong and clear, says what she has to say (Listen. This can help.) and wonders about this notion, this preaching to the choir and following a star, a blaze of light before us, night sky cold and blue.

    Every day someone writes something new or something I’ve always known but couldn’t acknowledge until it appears on the screen like springtime, melting snow, a given-up -for-lost ring.

    You’re the vessel and you’re the sea; many of us are swimming, trying to figure out the tide. Don’t know how long this will last, but I’ve enjoyed the ride.

  31. The Back Room, I think it was called. We walked down a long hallway after going through a door you’d have to know already existed to know it was there. Smoky jazz club, back when you could smoke in public, without paranoia and self-righteous judgment. Me there with someone I shouldn’t have been.

    A beautiful round woman singing, sweat stains on her low-cut, blue, polyester dress. Singing the way I had never understood until then, guttural, visceral in a club that had already burned down at least once.

    She took a break, I went to the bathroom, having already consumed my weight in booze. And there she was, over-done, fixing her makeup, embarrassed to be seen out of her context. “You are amazing,” I said, hearing myself slur, so angry for mot being more than a cliche, wanting to tell her she did something onstage, had something amazing so few had.

    Betsy, all this is to say you have that thing, to reach down into some place we’re all terrified of, and make it swing. So to tell you what I wanted to tell her, just thank you. Well done.

  32. All limits were broken in the go fuck yourself zone this week. Impulse control? Oh no. I ripped out the roots where the soft, mushy things hide in the dark. Insanity or sanity, finally? I sit here mute, soaking the deliciousness of the sun slicing through the turmoil of dust moats. I can breathe.

  33. I look forward to reading your blog every day so I hope you keep writing it…but I also hope you carve some time for yourself to write. I stopped writing my personal blog because I only had one or two readers (and got a lot of spam with Russian URLs). Writing blog posts absorbed a lot of my mental space…and that took away from my other writing.

  34. Well, I know the feeling. I want to scream, thrash, squirm, take a shower, give myself the finger in the mirror. I want to run through a wall like one of those cartoon characters when we were little, leaving a me-shaped hole in the wall, me raging, me shamed, me fleeing.
    It’s not enough to not write. I want to not want to write anymore. But…it dogs me, sticks to me like tar paper.
    So. What do I do now, Betsy? Wherever you might be going, leaver a space in the back seat for me. I promise to be good, be nice. I’ll bring my own thermos. And my own sandwich, wrapped in wax paper.

  35. Wow, I just had a crisis of this sort with my own blog. (Mostly because what I was hearing was that a blog must reach people, you must socialize, you must blah blah blah…but! you must say “fuck other people’s opinions” write about what you wanna write.) If you want to write a blog, then write a blog. If you don’t, don’t.

    And what do you want to use your blog for? Maybe you need a diary/journal instead–some place to get all that stuff that’s clogging you outta your head.

    (Normally I don’t toot my own bloggerly horn but the first commenter mentioned Virginia Woolf and if you want to know what to know about ups and downs of that writer she’s my “mentor for the month.” Let me tell ya, your blog post is a totally normal phenomenon.)

  36. Love this. It’s exactly the way I’ve been feeling lately. My blog suddenly started to take off and now it’s– “No, No I can’t do this any more! I’ve already said the good stuff. I have nothing more to say.”

    But the world says “you made your bed, now lie to me.” What a great line.

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