• 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.
  • Archives

And THis Bird You Cannot Change

This could still be the oxy talking, but I’m fed up with the whole blogging mishegos. People are mean, the stats go up. I clean up my act, the stats plummet. Are stats all you care about? Yes, motherfucker. I can’t see the forest, the trees, the leaves, the vein in the leaves. Am I really working on my “other projects?” Is Vince Passaro really commenting about the asking of questions. Vince, there is only one question. You told me years ago. Plastics. Rosebud. Mergers and Acquisitions. And that angel Al Desetta with the Robert Lowell hairline and the Buddy Holly glasses and the Levis that fit like love in a bottle limned with luminous sex. O Dear Heating Pad! O Beautiful Books! O darling young writer with beauty and gifts beyond reason, long may you wave. You could be doing anything but you are doing this: this.

What are you doing?



92 Responses

  1. Glad I stepped away from a manuscript to read your blog! Oh the trouble with meeting a live person who is so much like one’s @$^* character that now I’m forced to amend fiction to allow snippets of a real person to be “plagiarized” (so to speak) into the plot!

    I agree with the dismay over cyber-snark: life sapping and distracting.

    Nice heating pad – a relief to see no scorch marks.

  2. Obsessing on rejection.

    And the beautiful should disfigure themselves. If they loved us, they would.

    • Or at least break out in a disgusting facial rash now and again.

    • >What are you doing?

      Wondering if you’re okay. Not that there’s anything practical I could do if you weren’t. With everything that’s going on in the world (tsunamis, earthquakes, and a young acquaintance just died in an accident), I’m hypersensitive to potential disasters.

      >And the beautiful should disfigure themselves

      Eventually we get old. That’s not good enough for you?

      Nah, I wasn’t beautiful, just pretty enough to be hated in high school and slightly beyond. Some of the ugly girls aged well, however, so I hope they’re happy.

    • Well, never mind, we are ugly but we have the music. (Leonard Cohen)

  3. I’ve been outdoors taking pictures in my garden. Main object of the lens was Carlton…the cactus (yes, I named the plant).

    Now I’m off to the blogging world to write tomorrow’s post…with some pix of course 😉

  4. Just got my ass kicked on the tennis court by a couple of 30-somethings. My feet hurt, my hips and shoulder hurt, my face is redder than it’s ever been. And now I’m checking e-mail (where your blog popped up) for the last time before I shut it all down and go wash the stink off. I feel old and fat. And not 30.

    • at least you made it to the court. the last thing i swung my racket at was a patio chair cushion to get the cob webs off.

      besides, who wants to go back before 30 and relearn all that crap again?

      • I second that, Amy. Both parts–that you are the bomb for getting out there, Teri–and returning to 30 is not an option.

        Thankfully, chocolate is. (Watch me swing open the cabinet to get some–does that count?)

  5. i’m writing my weekly column about japan because as much as i don’t want to simply say “my thoughts and prayers” blah blah blah, i can’t stop watching it online. i’m trying to find some humanity between my obsessive voyeuristic nature, my inability to grasp the total depth of despair being felt right now by millions of people in a country i’ve only seen on tv, and my fear of how quickly everything can change (or worse, end). i don’t think i can do it in 750 words. (i doubt i could do it in 100k words.)

    i also happen to be watching a one-time-beauty-pageant-winner-now-meth-addict being confronted by her family on intervention and hoping you’re on the mend.
    can you imagine your family choosing to do your intervention on TV?! i wonder if one day there will be stats, “traditional interventions” vs. “media-supplemented interventions” (“Addicts who were confronted while being filmed by a professional film crew were 63 percent less likely to relapse as those who were not given the same prime-time billing.”)

    • distractions. thank god for them.

    • I can’t watch, read or even listen to the news updates from Japan – I’m getting ‘Katrina flashbacks and that’s not good. Beyond the visual misery, know that there is a pervading smell – we called it Katrina Funk – a blend of petro-chemical dankness, epic decay and assorted just “bad” odors filling the air of those cities. That smell will haunt me forever and as I type this I am sobbing.

      Good thoughts and prayers ARE sometimes all that is in our grasps – as is taking a moment to reflect on what-is-important.

      Thanks for giving me a cathartic moment.

  6. Because my blog readers are mostly sweet young moms writing dystopian YA—where they put all their anger, I suppose–I’ve come over here for my fix of Big Bad Boomer snark.

  7. Losing my mind over the fact that I set up a book on Amazon Epub today and it is out there. I know it is self published, but it is still published and people other then the ones I know can read it. I never thought it would as scary of a feeling until I felt it. It is like bungee jumping. I know everything will be okay once the cord hits elasticity, but oh my god I am falling.

  8. edits.

    2 hob nobs and a cup of tea.

  9. “…Levis that fit like love in a bottle limned with luminous sex.”

    literary porn.

  10. “What are you doing?”

    Answering your question to the best of my ability. I come here because it’s better than feeling terribly alone. I come here because I can post without having to care too much. Because nobody here cares what I write, so long as I don’t get too offensive. Because I can pop in and shoot off my keyboard and feel clever or connected or something. Because I don’t really have any friends anymore and I’m scared and I’m going to die and I do not believe I’m going to get all my work done before I go and I do not believe I’m ever going to know, really know, down to the marrow of my bones, if this writerly life has been a better choice than being a mercenary in Africa or a caretaker in a hospice. Because I sit on the porch of my daddy’s house, and all my pretty dreams are torn. Because all I know how to do any longer is get back in the ring, every day, every every day, thousands of days becoming tens of thousands of days, and fight the next round. Because I know there are many worse things to be than what I am, and many worse lives to live than my life, and I am one of the very few fortunate ones. Because my heart could not get more broken if I tore it out, froze it in liquid nitrogen, and dropped it off a tall building.

    Thank you, Betsy, for making this place available. Be well. See you around someday, maybe.

  11. This.

    I’m catching up on the comments from the post I wrote today. And drinking. Because you can’t have one without the other.

  12. Betsy! Feel better!

    Have been applying for jobs and feeling sad for Japanese people.

    Also putting off posting here because of some of the rancor in the territory (not your rancor, by the way).

  13. I’m writing my own stuff, reading and contemplating others’. Not so much about the commenting these days. Nothing personal–your posts are fabulous whether you’re being the Good Witch or the Bad Witch. Often, I just don’t feel like I have much to add. Write whatever comes to you. It’s all good with us. Really.

  14. What I am doing is sneaking around like the whore that I am.

    Also, working off the six glasses of wine I had at workshop.

    I’m in awe of the whole lot of you, you crazy writers.

    And Betsy, trade that plug-in for a good old fashioned hot water bottle. The red rubber type with the screw-in stopper. It leaves the most fabulous sweat marks where your back meets your ass.

  15. See that? Did you SEE that? It went by really fast. Let’s watch in slow motion: Oh DARLING …………. YOUNG ……….. writer with ………..BEAUTY………….. and gifts etc etc etc. Play by play guy: “She really slipped those in there almost invisibly Al. There’s nothing like watching a real pro.” Color guy (i.e., Al): “That sentence was perfectly executed Bob. The balance, the language, that Shakespeare-meets-Jon Lovitz meter she spun it with.The defense never had a chance. She’s been doing that since the late 80s. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about publishing a book and the most important thing after it being luminous, all the coaches will tell you this, is that the author be young and very very good looking. That’s money in the bank right there Bob.”
    And I’m sorry for contributing to the mishegos but you’re on my google reader now and nothing can be done about it. It will pass. Some other shit will come along in life and render the present trivial and yet infuriatingly definitive and irretrievable, as always. Japan is melting down and I look at the stories and I can’t really take a full breath. You know we love you right? You’re like the invisible figure that only each of us can see, at the party, and you’re doing mischief and telling the truth and if we don’t cover it’ll get blamed on us. Like Beetlejuice. Only in Connecticut.

  16. PS And what the fuck is a Liesl Schillinger by the way? They’ve had this woman in the file cabinets there for years now, she was almost invented to do nothing but write those absolutely meaningless word salads that you deplore, rightly, and she has never as fas as I can tell ever ever done anything else. How did they come up with this perfectly functioning novel-reviewing-bot?

    The thing that the publishers and the newspaper and magazine editors hate the most, which makes their jobs challenging, is meaning. Liesl is like a Terminator for meaning.

    Also the author photo looks like an avatar on some online subscription game for heavy masturbators; it’s worse than one of those Marion Ettlinger pics where she makes the author look all shiny as if with a bad bottle tan.

    Don’t get me started.

    • brilliant…both of them

    • Yeah, but what do you really think of Ms. Schillinger. Viewing her resume, I’d have to say she’s paid her dues. As for her looks, I wasn’t aware that was an important ingredient for a reviewer. But what the hey, if it gets you off, have at it.

  17. What am I doing? Writing. Why else am I up at 12:45 am? Blow off the stats, Betsy. You know writers will always have something to say about anything. And the chance to get feisty just revs everybody up. If only I knew what a mishego is.

  18. ML:
    Actually it’s typically spelled mishegas (or even meshugas), but these things are open to interpretatin; (pronounced MISH -ah-goss); it means craziness.

    Meshuga means crazy person; meshugana means the adjective crazy.

    It’s Yiddish. Just a few more years and no one but the Hassidim will use it anymore.

    Next week: how to tell the schlemiel from the schlemazzel

    • Hausenfeffer Incorporated

    • Easy, why wait a week? The shlemiel pees in the shower. The schlemazzel gets out of the shower to pee.

      • The shlemiel slips on the banana peel. The shlemazel gets kicked in the you-know-what’s by the slipping shlemiel. Or as a great unlucky Jewish poet wrote: If I sold candles, the sun would never set. If I sold shrouds, no one would die. That’s a shlemazel.

        Betsy, every post of yours is a gem. Never off target, never plain ordinary. Never doubt yourself. What I’m doing is rewarding myself – finished the first draft of my story, so I’m allowing myself to start blogging.

    • Trust me, Yiddlish is alive and well. I use shmata, schlong, and schnoz daily. And I’m not just talking using them. I’m also talking ’bout the words themselves.

    • Thank you, Vince, for the Yiddish lesson for this midwestern WASP. Meshugana I knew, now I know the root word as well. Could be useful someday, you never know.

  19. Eating. Morning, noon and night. It”s ridiculous. I can hear myself expanding.


  20. Packing to go (in a literal, not a metaphorical sense). I’ve also not been blogging because I want to write about Japan, but can’t quite work that into a snarky editorial post. (Oh there’s a surprise.)

  21. Getting close to finishing a book I’ve been working on for over two years. I’m rushing because I’m so close to the finish line and just want to get there so I can…start editing like crazy, read, reread, rework, redo and then…and then…and then?

    Also putting up some nice pine trim in our bedroom addition. Cutting, trimming, planing, sanding and poly-ing. Been working on the addtion for a couple of years, weekends, evenings mostly, and it’s almost done. So close. When it’s done I know what I’ll have. Good old wood.

    You’ve made many a good writer better, Betsy. Take care.

  22. What am I doing? Obsessing over whether I should correct shmata to <schmata. It feels like the weight of the world is hanging on my fingertips.

  23. Okay, great. Now, I’ve got an italics complex on top of everything.

    Teri, this if for you: It really is a slippery slope.

  24. I am writing, doing school work, spending time with my dog in his last days, thinking, missing Betsy Lerner. This blog is great. Your voice is unique. I wake up and run to my computer to read it. xoxoxoxo

    • I don’t know if you’ll ever receive as pure a look of love as you’ll get from a dying pet, fur softly stroked. Peace.

      • Have to agree with you on that one, Mike.

      • Been there so many times, I can’t think about it without tears forming. And as I have become a caretaker for my 15-year-old puppy, I know another one of those days is coming sooner rather than later…..

        On that sad note…..stay well, Betsy. Please.

  25. Wishing I could work on my own writing when the people who pay my salary demand I finish calculating grades and writing hundreds of report card comments by Thursday.


    • Man, you’re a teacher? That’s the toughest and potentially most exhilarating job in the world. Kudos.

      • It generally rocks, even during report card writing season. It’s also what I write about these days (link via my name). Thanks for the kudos!

    • There’s a special place in heaven, or another similar post-life destination, for good teachers. I hope people thank you for it in this life too. Thank you.

      • Wow! My day sucked and now the sun has come out on this dark New Hampshire winter. Thanks for the thank you. I am lucky; I get thanks at work, too. I’ve worked plenty of places where I never got any, but this school…this school…sigh. What can I say, I got lucky.

  26. I am about to start a totally righteous Kickstarter project so as to hire a director to shoot a book trailer for me. That, and I’m in the process of having an audiobook made for the same novel. More fun I could not have.

    • HA! Checked out your blog. I’m talking about Dante’s Inferno TODAY in 8th grade English. It’s an Inferno sort of day…good luck with your book trailer…

  27. Whatever I’m doing–long hand scribbling a first draft of a second book, wondering if I should breakup with my agent who wants me to water down the darkness of my first, psyching up for an eye operation, checking my hopefully still sober step daughters facebook page, spying and prying into the underside of everything– I put all aside long enough each day to check your blog oh doubting woman.

  28. Betsy, I know you dislike it when people tell you to try something, but seriously, try a magic bag. They are the biz for pain.

    Love the post title – a) that song rocks and I have to turn it up whenever it’s on the car radio b) it would have been perfect for my blog post today, dammit.

    Don’t let the stats (or the meanies) get you down.

  29. I’m uploading the author photo from Blue Angel so I can start commenting here under a psuedonym and really fucking contribute to the mishegoss.

  30. Dealing with a bored cat. Let me out. Oh, it’s cold. No in. Yeah in. Just wanted to say hi. Now let me out. That’s right it’s cold. Play with me. Pet me. Give me food. Not that food. Fish. (No.) Yes. Hey, you forgot me outside but here I am in the window! Meow! I can stare at you without blinking for hours. What are you eating? Give me some of that. Don’t think you’re going to shut me up behind this basement door. I can meow forever. Why did you chase me off? Don’t you love me anymore? Howl! Howl! You don’t really think you can shut the bathroom door before I run in, do you? No, I will not get out. Fine, I’ll just stay out here and scratch the jamb. I think it has something to do with a sense of entitlement after living in a social welfare state. Cats are no longer responsible for themselves either.

  31. Eyeing my glass of amber Makers. Damn this shit’s good. Wondering if the story I’m writing would make a better children’s book. I snuck a peek of my little girl, 4, in her new bed. A tangle of black loose curls framing her pouty little sleeping face, head cradled by a pillow I couldn’t afford really – she liked how ‘poofy’ it felt at the store. She makes me understand the purpose of a philtrum, it defines her upper lip like two towers in a suspension bridge. Makes her beautiful in a way I can’t describe. I don’t want her to grow up so fast, I want her new bed to envelop her forever. Shit, is that a tear? In the sun I’m married, buried (RIP KC).

  32. Something like that.

  33. Writing poetry. Writing two pages a day on two novels. Reading a chic-lit novel. Ready betsy Lerner’s emails.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: