• 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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It’s Getting To The Point Where I’m No Fun Anymore

Do you ever wish you could just give up on this whole fucking thing and join the human race? Why do you have to write shit down? Why do you have to set yourself apart and pledge your allegiance to sentences that, like bratty children, didn’t ask to be born?  Why must you pull your pants down, raise your freak flag, let it wave? Why do you have to sit all alone up there in your office while we are playing whist by the fire?  Why can’t you walk down a city street or through a field of thistles and leave it alone? So what it if looks like something else? So what if your life is a perfect metaphor for being an asshole, or an ass wipe, or a door mat? So what if sentences are coiled in your soul. If you could turn the world on with your bile?  Or cross Narcissus with Icarus and watch yourself burn? So what?

Wouldn’t you rather have a life?

91 Responses

  1. Yes.

    But it is a rare moment of wordless renewal when I’m not hearing a crosstalk of Pontificators with their hem-haws and heckles, broadcasting in the brain.

    The Ego sits by the river of thoughts, fishing for something to sell–an old boot? how poignant! How cliched!

    You clear my sinuses like wasabi most days. Thank you.

  2. Never. I spoke to an old high school friend last night. He’s going to the reunion, not me. Our talk was illuminating. Painful for me, but helped me to realize a lot. He gave in and chose the normal life. This is something I would never want. Been there, tried that.

    • Yup– been there tried that don’t even want the tee shirt

      • Actually, I never tried it, was never really tempted. I could’ve gone into my Dad’s business, but it reminds me of that Joni Mitchell lyric: “You gave up all the golden factories…to see…who in the world you might be.”

  3. I just wish I could turn it on and off with a switch.

  4. you pose these questions like there’s a choice involved. like one day i could wake up without the scar that still runs along the bottom of my abdomen from a surgery i had at nine months. (and you thought you knew everything about me already.) like i could stop craving coffee or start wanting vegan anything.

    who says this isn’t a life? i get pizza delivered. i watch movies on netflix. i do what the living do; i just do it in the third person.

  5. Ah, Betsy, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Well, your pretty fucking good. That’s one. And that’s about all the math I have. Being part of the world? Didn’t ask for it, but I gotta deal with it. How fucked up is that? Ever notice most folks have dreams of peace and niceness? Some innate need, I guess. Weird, ’cause you gotta fight for it, in some way. Life. Go figure. As far as being an asshole, what if you didn’t care what the world did and figured the proverbial they had it coming anyway for being an asshole, does that make you, or rather, me, an asshole? I know some people say that is sitting in your own filth, childish, grow-up sort of stuff, but what do people do when they grow up? Shit all over the place. Go figure. A life? I’m in one. Go figure. (Sorry if I sound a little 1960’s western television but I’ve been watching Gunsmoke reruns.) And I just reread This Boys Life. Why is that famous?

  6. I’m living my life. My lives, all of them. And without any of that existential BS. Life in hard copy is sweet.

  7. Of course. But when it’s not an immense and debilitating pain in the ass, it’s the gift of a lifetime and a comfort beyond measure.

    Coraggio. It’s like falling in love again with someone you’ve been married to for an eternity. It’ll be back. Or as CSNY said: Carry on — love is coming.

  8. Sometimes I’ve wished it was a cup I could have let pass my lips. At some point I surrendered and understood that it is my cup, no one else’s, and my place is to drain it until it’s dry, savoring even the dregs.

    But there were times when felt I would have given almost anything to be an army officer or a photojournalist or an actor or the manager of a large establishment or a molecular biologist or a hotshot attorney or a skilled computer programmer, but none of those lives were to be the life I chose to be chosen by. Worse fates have befallen so many–so many! Countless multitudes, even now as we chosen few gather here in our safe enclave, are falling to the left and right of us in desperation, degradation, despair and distress–how could I do anything other than be deeply grateful for what I have been able to be, resist it though so often I tried. I thank the great god every day for not only permitting me to be this foolish child, this strolling player, this tit on a bull, but for demanding of me that this writer being be what I be.

  9. Yes.
    My life when I’m not writing involves being sucked into the advertisements and reality shows I can’t get enough of in order to get away from everything else. I eat until I feel like I’m going to throw up, and don’t know why. I drink well beyond the amount for a healthy heart. Then I beat myself up for not being a size 6. It all becomes stupid.

    Writing makes me want to see the alternate ending. It’s what reading did for me as a child, and still does now. But this is harder. And makes me try to be better at something very, very specific. Just one story that I want to get right and in so doing prove that I can get one thing just right.

    Fail again. Fail better. -Beckett

  10. n—-ot if it means

    miss ing
    rant poem
    like that
    live for the juicy
    such words bring

  11. No going back once you bite the hand that feeds you. It’s nothing but story after that.

  12. Tyger, Tyger, burning bright . . .

    Internal or external, this must be life — I’m living it.

    I’m living several.

  13. Sometimes I fantasize that I would rather have a real life. But then I spend a couple of days there, and come crawling back to my own warm, grimy brain and the constant, not completely unpleasant exercise of chewing stuff.

  14. there is another world, but it is in this one.

    W.B. Yeats

  15. It’s in the writing down that life becomes better- it doesn’t take me away from life, it immerses me more deeply. Moments aren’t fully experienced until I’ve processed them via written word.

    Life sometimes feels like row row row your boat gently down the stream, but when I write, I am able to put the net in the water and catch something.
    Minnows, perhaps, but at least I have something to hold on to.

  16. Been there. Done that. Having a life is overrated. I’d rather write.

  17. 1. No.

    2. Define life.

    3. Those people playing whist going skiing having lunch/dinner seeing the exhibition going to a show sunning at the beach etc are fucking boring and even if they were okay here’s the problem with society: once you join them you can’t get away from them. Go out there; go ahead. YOu’ll end up with a tag around your neck with Name and Institution. The cord holding the tag will promote a sponsor. If you were a fourteen year old metal head you could at least take out some major weapons and start shooting but you don’t have that option. Think: AWP.

    4. My ex-wife when we were breaking up — when I was breaking loose — said to me, after 20-odd years, “I always thought you’d give it up, get a real job.” I said, ” What in fuck’s name ever gave you that idea?”

    4.

  18. My lifelessness is not for lack of trying. I just like staring at a computer.

  19. Betsy, this is a brilliant post because it is true yet not true.

  20. Yes. I would give it up in less than a heartbeat if I could.

  21. I love this post. So true. I try to act normal – even went to a friggin PTA meeting tonight – but I get the feeling everyone can sense my freak flag, flapping wildly overhead even when I try to silence it. It causes me a few problems, but hell, who cares? Wouldn’t have it any other way. My supercool hotbod husband finds my mad & distracted creativity a turn-on. That’s all the life I really need. That and a book contract would do just fine. Getting closer, too. Just landed agent! Fly, freak flag, fly!

  22. No. I want more of it. I want to give up my job, my house, my obligations. They’re the drag.
    I do like to fantasize about being a very rich Italian woman with five beautiful children, though. In my fantasy I don’t have to check their homework.

  23. Mmm, been away and am now caught up chez vous. I guess I’d better check that work inbox now.

  24. To be content with the simple act of breathing? No way. Conflict is what makes me get out of bed in the morning.

  25. If anything else I’d be a musician or a really good carpenter. Either choice would still involve pretty much working alone/ practicing in private, but still creating something for someone else’s enjoyment. In other words, no chance of being normal no matter how you slice it.

  26. Nope. It’d get in the way of my writing.

  27. When I write, at least I get paid to think crazy shit.

  28. We are the human race. Everyone else is commentary.

    This is life perpetuated.

  29. You mean would I rather have health insurance for my wife and son or roll a critical hit in my battle against the lich king?

    There’s no tension between ‘writing’ and ‘normal.’ We’re not extraordinary, we’re just selfish. We don’t ‘have to’ do anything, that’s our shameful secret. That’s why our anthem is the mortifyingly amateurish, ‘I can’t not write.’ We’re like a toxic family unified in our insistence that Grampa never did that to little Susie–except we’re Grampa, and ‘that’ is choosing the lich king over the children every time. We don’t let our freak flag fly, we unfurl it in everyone’s faces then whine about how they don’t understand this terrible burden of elective incontinence.

    • How are we selfish? You’re making a living for your wife and son; that’s not selfish. I have a hobby–the least expensive one I could possibly choose, if hours have no price. I’m entertaining myself. Possibly if I had a house full of whist players, I might feel I was missing out on the fireside camaraderie, but my kids are off doing kid things and my husband is watching South Park reruns. Should I be constructing ships in a bottle instead?

      • I could’ve gone to law school, glasseye; I made $22,000 this year. I’d rather live with a $15,000 deductible, though, and a complete lack of job security. If I can’t afford to send my kid to college, well, at least the world is richer by a couple of My Little Ponies activity books.

        You’re not so bad, though; as least your stuff has a productive use. (Though your site is now demanding a password, which is undermining Anonymous’s suggestion for me.)

        Is there any other kind, Jim? Well, Nathan Bransford. But other than him?

      • Got a hankie? The smutty stories are unprotected. (I get periodically freaked out by what I’ve written and hide them. Small steps.) You must have some sort of radar for knowing when I’ve just been posting worshipful August quotes. If ever you need your ego stroked, I’m your girl.

        And I feel your pain. $22,000 is roughly what I made last year as a photographer, working my ass off for what I can honestly say was an enormous clientele. I have finally been forced back to bureaucratic hell by my family’s unfortunate need for money. New job title: Paper Clip Enforcer.

    • what was that you said about caricature?

    • Nothing worse than a whiny writer. Just ask my wife.

    • is it too early for a drink?

    • Please don’t take this the wrong way, August, but you’re kind of a buzz kill.

    • Okay, we get it, August. You’re irked because you have to bring home the bacon and can’t get it on with the lich king (I googled that btw) as often as you’d like. Of course it’s selfish! We can be drones or we can occasionally want for something more. Taking the time to milk a particularly satisfying sentence onto the page is gonna require an element of self-indulgence. So what? No offense, but it’s hardly in the same basket as what Grampa did to Susie.

    • Wow. August. Lighten up, bubba. Or maybe you just need to get laid…or maybe write something that makes you feel like you got laid. My Grampa just asked us children to pull his little finger…

    • I think Robert Heinlein said it best, ” Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of- but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards. “

  30. For me, what sucks is not the obsessive narration, it’s the reality that no one is listening.

  31. This post just made me chortle. Betsy, you often make my day. Today you made my week. Thank you.

  32. Some people go their whole lives
    without ever writing a single poem.
    Extraordinary people who don’t hesitate
    to cut somebody’s heart or skull open.
    […]
    Why is it so difficult for them to see
    that, without poetry, their lives are effluvial.

    James Tate “Dream On”

  33. Danger lurks in the writing sport as well as in others, like fencing and tennis. One needs to keep the old perspective on living. Writing shouldn’t come first. Breathing, eating, loving come first. If any writing is required, it should be after those. O, I left out laughing. That should come first.

  34. I see it as having access to additional lives instead of just the one.

    I do make an effort to join the living even when I’m deep in a book–ESPECIALLY when I’m deep in a book. I like what Nathan Bransford had to say about it in his Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer:
    http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2009/03/ten-commandments-for-happy-writer.html

    • 1. Enjoy the Present
      2. Maintain Your Integrity
      3. Recognize the Forces That Are Outside Your Control
      4. Don’t Neglect Your Friends and Family
      5. Don’t Quite Your Day Job, Motherfucker
      6. Keep Up With Publishing Industry News
      7. Reach Out to Fellow Writers
      8 Part Your Jealousy at the Door
      9. Be Thankful for What You Have
      10. Keep Writing

  35. some encouragement: it’s not ‘just’ writers that lament living outside the Regular Life. In my day job (design) my fellow designers and I have remarked how we are incapable of just entering a room: we must rearrange the furniture, touch all surfaces and scrutinize e-v-e-r-y construction detail, wall color, surface texture, etc. Then, we debate whether it is ADA compliant…

    People who “draw on the right side of the brain” (as per Betty Edwards’ work) enjoy the world differently that’s all.

    I would rather live with the spark of creativity than exist in the dry heat of a Regular Life.

  36. If by “this whole fucking thing” you mean THIS WHOLE FUCKING THING, then yes. The writing’s not the problem. But you already know that.

  37. It would be easier if “Thou shalt write” had been etched on those tablets from the great beyond.

    Anyhow, what the hell else are we supposed to do in this damned this?

    Save lives, take lives, or cause someone to exclaim, “Ohhhh, that’s goooooood”?

  38. this post just split me clean in half.

    thank you.

  39. Damn, this is good stuff! I want to print them all out and post them at strategic places around my house. I want to add a string of “dittos” and the questions on my blog to be posted tomorrow–Is writing a memoir a long form of poetry? Or is poetry a cryptic way of disclosing your inner self? I think both.

  40. I was driving through a neighborhood and saw an old house with paint peeling off what had to be wood siding. The windowframes though looked to be recently painted mauve. I imagined an old man brooming slush off the driveway and a woman, much younger, standing on the porch giving me a wary eye as I drove by. I wrote a few notes later and wondered what kind of people they’d turn out to be. Thats what I can’t turn off, just hope that the hours spent get validated someday through publication.

  41. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lisa Kilian, sillystoryideas. sillystoryideas said: It’s Getting To The Point Where I’m No Fun Anymore: Do you ever wish you could just give up on this whole fuckin… http://bit.ly/dMCjrV […]

  42. Life is okay, not bad, I’ll take it, I’ll give it, I’ll write about it.

  43. You guys are fucking funny. But sad at the same time. You all write blog responses as if your hard hours of clickity-clicking and clackity-clacking will ever be published and give you a living. As writers, I must assume you are readers yet this blog says go get a job and forget about it. 99.9% of wanna-be writers NEVER get published. So, we’re talking about social media and what being a writer is and if these blog posts are Writings? I’m not confused, I’m just bored and awake and like Betsy. The rest of you are certainly psychologically, and existentially, challenged. Why do you think that is? And Glass-Eye, you can go rot in hell. You phony bitch.

    Life is good, people. Think about it. Why would it exist if it wasn’t good? And then you get into the definition of good and everyone needs to go back to college and it all gets expensive so we fight and the whole things turns round and round. Gives me a living! Definition:Why do you like it and want it?

    • One definition of sad has got to be getting loaded in the middle of the night and going on the internet to be cruel to someone you don’t even know.

      Being psychologically and existentially challenged is being human. Go listen to some REM about everyone hurting sometimes and take a deep breath and be brave.

      • Go try to have a conversation with those assholes. You’re just the low that need to be brought up and pay them for doing you the favor. Find the one thing that terrifies you and beat the living shit out of it. But REM. What a joke. And another thing, which happens to be what I’m working on right now, what is the nature of sadness, Sans popular, well-sold gobbily-goop about it? I ask you.

      • And please don’t regurgitate your tenured college professor’s sleepy dream. I’m willing to argue myself into an embarrassing corner, but you have gone too far, Missy!

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