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    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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The Sky Was Yellow and The Sun Was Blue

I pulled out my back yesterday and I write to you from a raft of valium, percocet and ibuprofen pills the size of horse tranquilizers. I am drifting in and out of  consciousness and I am reminded of my twenties. Only now I have shit to do and this actually isn’t any fun. Was it fun then? Not for me, not really. I just wanted out of myself. I never really partied so much as tried to stop my brain’s overdrive. Tried to stop the train I desperately wanted to get off. All those afternoons in my backyard, the Dead blaring on crappy speakers, a frisbee snapped from my wrist floating into an eternity of self loathing suspended for an instant. I spent today drooling on a pillow, a recurring nightmare visited upon me: a faceless person chases me and I can’t call out. A terrible sound escapes from my throat.

Drugs. Dreams.  What does this have to do with anything?

44 Responses

  1. For those of us who remember after school specials, I will attempt not to sound like one.

    Drugs are just a distraction to one’s dreams. Some people dream too big and can’t handle it and they turn to drugs. Others don’t dream at all and figure that drugs will lead to them. But, there is middle ground, you can dream without the drugs.

    Personally, I think that eventually drugs will dowse all dreams.

  2. I’ve been there. I think the drugs stopped me from feeling everything. Especially, the good stuff, which I’ve learned, although still difficult, has better highs.

  3. sorry to hear about your back. do not, repeat, do not have a martini with those drugs!

  4. Fake valium, aka hydrocodone, always gives me scary dreams. I take it as a sign that I should not have my thyroid removed again.

  5. Sorry to hear about your back, Betsy. Heal quickly and well!

    The dog I love. “Scarlet Begonias” not so much. My dad played that song about 500 times when I was a kid. “Tangled Up in Blue” (Dylan for the grasshoppers here) ranked second or maybe “Simple Twist of Fate.”

    Drugs makes me think of de Quincey and Coleridge and opium. Except for a few episodes of heavy drinking in my 20s and 30s–almost always reserved for steeling my nerves before attending parties I didn’t want to go to or dates I was ambivalent about–I’ve steered clear of drugs. Lucidity can be painful, but most of the time I prefer it. When I want escape there is exercise (renewed and newly appreciated recently), being creative, reading, other more engaging ways of altering consciousness without jeopardizing my health. However I do drink wine on Saturday, as much as I like, which usually amounts to two glasses tops (lightweight). And I drink at parties and celebrations if I feel like it.

    Dreams I engage in regularly. Tho there was a dry period of about a year up until about two weeks ago, when they kicked in again and became vivid and colorful.

  6. Drugs have long been the binding straps protecting me from waking dreams that frighten me, dreams that left unrealized slowly turn into nightmares from which there is no awakening, no escape but the annihilation of death.

  7. I don’t drink much and I don’t even like taking painkillers. Does that make me a freak?

    Reality has always been difficult enough without clouding my issues. . .

  8. Friend : Promise me one thing ?

    Me: What ?

    Friend: That you’ll never do drugs?

    Me: Why?

    Friend: Honey I loves ya but if you’re like this without drugs , imagine what you’d be like on drugs! One who thinks they can fly off tall buildings. Promise me-no drugs!

    Me : Okay.
    Until I’m 60.

    i’m 54. SIX YEARS TO GO!

  9. Oh and I’ve been hooked on the food-drug–as I’m reminded by the excellent “plush-style” sumos glasseye dropped. Still fighting the battle, but I’ve written about that here before. Am guardedly optimistic that I’ll continue to get better, as I recently met a marvelous woman who knows the territory well and has helped me find support and treatment. (Still, I always appreciate a good sumo clip.)

  10. You lucky girl. I like Valium. Codeine is better, but, what the hell. Drugs and dreams. I’m sorry about your back. I think the pain of trying to move anyway teaches you a lot of stuff. For instance, when you move, does every fatalistic thought you ever had run through your mind? That happens to me when I get up in the morning, without drugs, unfortunately, and so I “self-talk,” yes I’ve been to book-read therapists, but sometimes they have a point, and when I “self-talk,” telling myself all is well no matter what has happened I seem to have the energy and reason to get up. I don’t know you, of course, though sometimes I write like I do because people are all pretty much the same, I think you can “self-talk” yourself out of your pain. Unless, of course, you like drugs, which I do. Life is a very strange thing and this psychology and pharmacology just doesn’t seem to heal the pain. Go figure. I’m sorry about your back, but, again, good drugs. Maybe you should lie around high and re-think. But, than again, you have kids. I hope your hubby isn’t an asshole. Drugs and dreams; good medicine. Just out of curiosity, ha ha ha, how did you hurt your back? I pulled a ligament from the bone about 15 tears ago and the doctor told me it would never heal. I would just need to strengthen the muscles around it. Blood flows to ligaments, if at all, so slowly the damage is pretty much permanent. So I was told. Anyway, sorry about your back, glad you have a legit reason to do some decent drugs, but now, now, the follow up to Food and Loathing might be born. Please, feel free to call me an idiot and fuck off. I get it. Oh yeah, the dreams! Pay attention As far as trying to run in your twenties, I disagree with your assessment, unless, of course, you’re a pope-like figure and have a direct line to the creator of all this. I don’t think you were trying to get out of your mind for any reason other than you knew, instinctively, that there was more to this life than the guitar solo to stairway (I’m so glad I’m not a girl.) Anyway, now who’s sounds like the pope. But I was there, goddamn-it, I remember. I think you’re hitting the cusp of existential. Maybe your life is changing, once again. Maybe I’m an idiot.. Get well, enjoy if you can.

  11. Betsy, enjoy your brief interlude in Go Ask Alice-ville. There is nothing suckier than back pain, and floating in the fog of Dead tunes and frisbees is a good thing. Much better than the cul-de-sac of doom that accompanies sober back pain.

  12. I was having a recurring nightmare about a ninja. Sounds silly, but it scared the bejesus out of me. It went on for years, flippin’ years, and I’d know from the opening sequence which dream it was.

    When you are having the dream, tell yourself to turn and face the faceless chaser. I had gotten desperate awhile back, and went to the bookstore and read to do it and it worked. The dream starts and you have to turn and go after the person/thing that is going after you. It is so much more difficult than it sounds, but if you can do it, they may stop as mine did. I woke up drenched in sweat, and my heart beating in my throat, but I never had the dream again.

    I only play a dream doctor on tv.

  13. Ice pack for the back; ice pack for the head; sleep and all will be well.

  14. Don’t sleep on your face.

  15. Oh Betsy I feel your pain. I can’t do the heavy painkillers, the brain melt for me is worse than the pain. A few days in the haze might be just the thing. Hope you’re up and kicking ass soon…

    B

  16. “Did you ever smoke,” my eldest asks me last night.

    “Never.”

    Rule #1: Always lie to your children. They need role models.

    Rule #2: When you are suited up on drugs, best to stay mum and in the confines of your own home. You never know what kind of impression you’ll make on the rest of the world.

  17. Post c-section opiates drove me ask the doctor if I could PLEASE give my baby away so I could sleep. Maybe to the nice nurse who helped me get the toilet that one time. Could someone ask her for me?

    And last night, sans drugs, I found an abandoned koala bear in the forest. It had a lot of earwax, which was gross. I had to accept that I would be hard pressed to keep it alive without a good supply of eucalyptus, which does not grow in New Hampshire.

    Get better, Betsy.

  18. Yikes, the back. Hope you feel better soon.

    Crappy speakers the size of small refridgerators. It took me years to get my husband to give up his Yamaha speakers. We weren’t using them and they were just too big to be memorabilia.

  19. Know I’m going to be the wet blanket here but going all natural, a.k.a. health foods, can be a seeming miracle cure. Pharmacopeia is temporary, stopgap and eventually harmful in untold instances. Something to think about when you feel better, soon I hope.

  20. I hope you’re feeling better soon.
    Good old pain pills, they kind of do what they’re supposed to do. They don’t really make you better, they just slow you down and force every part of your body and your mind to focus on the hurt and put out the fire. Coldness enters then, offering along with the fear a glimpse, a fleeting image that is gone too soon to understand.
    Too tired; write it down later.
    Why is it so dark? Oh yeah, those pills.
    The clock says it’s close enough to take another one.

  21. if this weren’t a virtual relationship I’d drop off a pot of my chicken and egg noodle soup (double-strength stock), a box of Saltines, a 2-liter bottle of Diet Schweppes Ginger-Ale, and a referral to a really good medical masseuse and make my doctor husband who knows backs (and is good company to boot) stop by daily to check on you…alternate heat and ice,

  22. Back pain is the worst. Hope you feel better soon.

  23. There were a lot of dogs and an old walk home in my dreams. No drugs, though.

  24. A thrown-out back is the worst. Rest, drugs, feel better. I feel for you. Last summer I threw my back out while washing my hair — and it wasn’t the first time. I am a violent hair washer.

  25. So sorry about your back, Betsy. Feel better soon.

    I had a root canal yesterday and whatever they gave to dull the pain made me have weird dreams. In one, I bought a new double-wide trailer and I was so excited when it was being delivered that I bit my cheek so hard it woke me up. Now that side hurts worse than the root-canal side.

  26. P.S. I have a friend who is really really frugal–cheap would be a better word. He once threw out his back writing a check. No, really. I’m serious.

  27. I was prodigious in my 20s — I remember identifying so hugely with Judith Ivey saying “I am a drug person” in Hurlyburly. Specifically for the dreams, not the escape. Motherhood pulled me out of that one, and now in middle age I’m way too protective of what brain cells I have left. But last night I took a couple of Benadryl (or rather the Walgreens house brand, Wal-Dryl, which makes me think of a power tool for your sinuses, which it pretty much is) and that always gives me nutty dreams. In this case, I was staying with a friend but forgot her apartment number so I went to the neighbors’ place because I thought they were having a party. But all of a sudden everyone pulled up chairs in rows and sat down for an avant-garde production of Waiting for Godot, in which people threw things from the audience à la Rocky Horror.

    Made me miss that part of my 20s. But not, you know, enough.

  28. Sending good thoughts for a fast recovery. And if you start understanding or worse, empathizing with, Charlie Sheen, we are here to save you!

  29. Sorry to hear about your back. Rest , get well.

  30. I hate drugs, but they are sometimes a necessary evil. I wanted a natural birth, for example, but hell, the epidural was a godsend. Here’s hoping for a speedy recovery.

  31. Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

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