• 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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How Bout Me Not Blaming You For Everything

When I was an assistant in the sub-rights department at Simon and Schuster, a guy  told me that the only reason to survive in publishing was so that you could eventually fuck over everyone who fucked you over. I knew I was in the right place. A lot of people ask me how I have the time to write with a full time job, teenager, cockapoo, etc.  I usually say something glib like oh, well, I’m manic, la la, or I’m just compulsive,  tra la. But really, I’m in it to fuck the world. I want revenge. I want the last laugh. I want the Oscar. Shit, I’ve got the speech. Thank you fuckers for throwing me out of NYU film school, thank you Professor Pulitzer Prize for making me feel like a piece of shit in your poetry workshop, thank you dad for pissing on my MFA, thank you dry cleaner for destroying my buttons. Thank you for Lithium.  And Lamictal. And Tylenol PM. Thank you for the bicycle messenger and the supply closet. Thank you for no end of ideas, countries named after me, a statue whose gown gathers dirt and is stained with my tears. Thank you.

77 Responses

  1. You know that only works for screenwriters, right? And even then, you get about 12 seconds of revenge before Bill Conti plays your ass off the stage and Harvey Weinstein forgets your name at the Governor’s Ball. But right on. It’s good to have a dream. Mine is running over my literary nemesis in an dark alley behind Toi on Sunset while I’m on my way to the Kodak Theater, personally.

  2. This sounds incredibly balanced and realistic to me. I write against the person who said about a story, “The narrator here — you — is high-minded and unable to connect.”. I lie in wait.

  3. I had to read that three times. Thank you for posting.

  4. Don’t really believe in revenge, though it makes for good stories, movies, etc. Publishing would be dope, tho.

  5. Speaking on unselected and voluntary behalf of all the fuckers, assholes, and dipshits referenced or alluded to in your acceptance speech, you’re welcome.

  6. I’d love to see an acceptance speech where someone thanks her pharmies. How fun!

    If I won an Oscar, I suppose I would thank that evil Frau who strapped me to the chair in the first grade at the English School in Vienna. If I could remember her name. Then I would curtsey and run madly from the stage.

  7. Seems to me, right, seems to me that in order to make your way up the publishing world ladder you have to either have been born with a silver spoon stuck up your rear end or have this hungry drive that would give Jaws the shivers, this need for success that beggars the dreams of your average author, this desire to devour and outstrip all the other editorial assistants, to wreck ruin on all and sundry as you claw your way to the top of the bloody pile.

    Because it’s such a shite industry that you have to be on meds and deluded to last the 15 years it takes to become an editor or whatever.

    I think every editorial assistant that makes it to full time editor should be tagged by the same dudes responsible for knowing where the lions are at all times out in the savanna. Those people are dangerous.

    • Oh, if you only knew how genteel and creative and wonderful it used to be to work in a publishing company! Yes, it used to be assumed you had another source of income (ha!) because the pay was so bad. But it usually just meant you loved books and book people and didn’t mind having nothing left over at the end of the month.

      In came the bureaucrats yelling as if it were a factory, “MORE SHOELACES, FASTER!” Well, we couldn’t make more shoelaces faster. We wanted the one bestseller that would allow the important littler books, the poetry, the literature. They forced us out of that mode, and many of us out of our beloved jobs.

      The end.

      • See, that sounds heart breaking. Not only were you there working your fingers to the bone, reading your way through endless prescription glasses and breaking your back carrying manuscripts, but in the end all that passion and work wasn’t even appreciated. Bah!

        Ah, to be an editor in the 60’s…

  8. I love your little rants.

  9. We do owe a lot to our enemies, especially if they’re our relatives.

  10. I know we’ve only just met but I think I’m a good judge of character and these words? Not your own. Give us back the real Betsy, please. There’s no room for ghostwriters here.

  11. Not buyin’ it. Betsy in it to fuck the world? Not a chance…

    B

  12. Not revenge so much as a ‘remember me? Here I am. I did it.’

  13. No thanks to MetroNorth?

  14. The next time someone asks you how you have time to write, I say that’s what you tell them. Make sure you channel Gary Busey…oh yeah,baby, ask me again.

  15. My only dream of revenge is to refuse a request to deliver the keynote at a graduation for my high school.

    Or perhaps to accept.

    Tough call.

  16. Of course I’m in it for revenge. I build entire books around one or two people who have wronged me. I even use their first names!

    If you’re a novelist and you can’t use your books as a weapon to bring bad people to their knees, where’s the fun in writing them?

    • Thank you. I once wrote a scene in a restaurant using the physical descriptions of my ex and his wife. The character sent her burger back to the kitchen and received a replacement meal containing a saliva sample from each member of the kitchen staff. It goes without saying that she ate that meal …

      Of course it’s childish, but so what? People never recognize unflattering descriptions of themselves anyway. (Also, if you berate my gay son, I will fuck you over, one way or another.)

      • Was it Ann Lamott who said that if you use your ex-boyfriend in your work to give him microscopic genitalia, so he would be less likely to tell the world that the character is based on him?

      • It was totally Anne Lamott. Thought of her too.and I have such plans for the parents of a kid on my son’s hockey team in a book one day…

  17. After that kick-ass acceptance speech, they’d probably ask you to come back to host next year’s show.

  18. God, I love you for this. Who else is brave enough to admit it publicly?

  19. Oh I so I want to think that I’m a better person than to want revenge. But okay I’ll admit there is nothing and I mean nothing better than announcing to folks, (especially the racist ones) who have told me for years that I’d never be a writer and that my novel idea sucked that my book is being published. The look of shock and envy on their faces for me is as sweet and cold as ice cream. I have lived for this time in my life.

  20. wait. the bicycle courier and the supply cupboard?

  21. I don’t know–seems kinda close to sentiments Jared Lee Loughner would hold dear. If anyone sees the world through a tint like the horizon glow of a nearly set sun, it’s me, so my advice is worth about as much as a fart bubble in the bathtub, but losing the hate and keeping the truth just may set ya free.

    • you mean censorship?

    • Oh, Mike D: why stop at the piddlin’ Jared Lee Loughner reference? Why not go for the full Nazi? Ya know, as long as you’re tsk-tsking us for having such unseemly feelings, ya might as well call us out for being Hitler — ya know ya WANT to. Go ahead: Ya know deep down you’re dying to tell us how much better ya are about knowing the truth and all: Do it!

      • Heeheehee. Preaching to the choir? No thanks. I do get on my high horse every now and then and a glob of bile has brought me down to earth more than once. Thanks for illustrating how ridiculous “ya” looks and sounds.

      • The Loughner comparison is a bit of a stretch. But this is true, in many respects: “losing the hate and keeping the truth just may set ya free.” In any case, this is not a truth competition, right?

      • “Ye” is just as short as “ya” and looks better, don’t ye/ya think?

  22. What’s the best training for a writer? According to Hemingway, an unhappy childhood. For me, writing is all about showing those who didn’t believe in me that they are wrong. I’m capable of hard work. I’m capable of being great.

  23. Ditto MO above….

    I enjoyed Ralph Keye’s book A COURAGE TO WRITE. He says that revenge is a powerful motivator for writers, perhaps the most powerful.

  24. I don’t have the patience or obsessive rigour to hold onto resentment that long. I’d rather say ‘Fuck’em then’ when it happens and move on.Of course maybe I just push it all deep down so that I forget it’s even there, in which case hopefully it bubbles up into my consciousness when I write. I deeply miss my dog, Jasper, who taught me much about living in the moment and forgiving others weaknesses. We had to put him down in the fall, I hope he forgives me for that as well

  25. Thank you! Now I have a working title:

    “A Country Named Betsy”

  26. I dream of revenge until I’m victorious. Then I can afford to feel magnanimity and compassion toward those who previously wounded me. But I still won’t invite them to my party. Why would they want to come?

  27. Revenge is like dark chocolate and red wine–it feels good, tastes good, and is good for you. Though my mother would add “in moderation.” Pooh.

  28. I never forgive and I never forget. I write.

  29. What is ‘truth’ Chuck D? Your sunny disposition makes most want to eat Comit. Put your head back in your ass and leave vivian swift alone, she is to brilliant what you are to a barbershop hair – ya hear?
    betsy, how ’bout getting the lead out for the title of your next post?

  30. Among my revenge strategies (and note the “among,”) is my favorite, “Don’t get even, get odd.” Scares the holy shit out of ’em.

  31. The thank you part of this is like the alter ego version of Alanis Morissette’s “Thank You” song…too bad yours couldn’t have been the radio version! 🙂

  32. . . . and thank you Rev. McCurdy for being such a slimey asshole.

  33. You may not go in for acknoledgements, but your shout out to Western pharma makes me want to raise a glass (the one permitted by the doc, that goes best with my psychopharm cocktail) to you and toast our medicate well-beings.

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