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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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We Smoked The Last One An Hour Ago

Dearest Readers of this Blog: I want to thank the people who comment and the undertow of lurkers for putting up with my peri-meno posts of the last few weeks, whinging about my screenplay and general douchification. I’m beginning to see a way back in. And I really want to thank the person who said make it darker instead of lighter. And while that may not be the way to go, it was good to have someone remind me that the daughter of darkness is not a pussy. Anyway, I just want to say that the wheels are turning, thank you for the  pep talks and the  wrist slaps alike; I’m not going to use this “platform” to dirty any more diapers.

Here’s what I want to talk about tonight. Solitude. I never actually feel alone when I’m writing. It’s every other fucking minute of the day. What about you?

56 Responses

  1. Gosh, I am most alone when I am writing.

  2. Glad about the finding-the-way-back-in.

    I only feel alone when I’m writing. But I like that. I wish I had more solitude. This summer I’m ditching the family and heading out to an undisclosed location where I’ll be able to think in peace.

    And remember, his bowtie is really a camera.

  3. I never feel alone when I’m writing. It’s only when I look up, when the writing is over, and see no one there but the dog…

    Thankfully the dog totally gets it.

    • Teri, I do this all the time — it surprises me when the people in my head aren’t in front of me when I look up from the words.

      Can I borrow your dog? The cat just smirks at me . . .

      • Exactly, Sarah. Don’t you love when you look up and think, Wait. Where am I again? How is it 5 hours later? The good days.

      • Absolutely, except I wish I could lose all sense of time a little earlier so those five hours would end at, say, eleven instead of two am.

      • I, too, am a chronic night writer. Last night it was 1:15 to about 3:30 am. I’m a puff eyed zombie this morning…

    • The dog reclines on my feet, the cat pads extra punctuation marks as she crosses the keyboard, and the female rabbit snorts obscenities at her neutered husband rabbit. The chickens used to make pleasant, happy “bwap” noises in the meadow outside the window, but no more…

  4. I am least alone when writing–it’s like getting warm by a giant fireplace on o a cold day. I wrote a few good pages yesterday morning, finishing about 10. I had to go through the rest of the day feeling great but I couldn’t say why to anybody. They just wouldn’t get it or maybe if I had to explain, it would ruin it.

  5. @Teri, @deborah: Agreed!

    I may sound a little strange here but I never feel alone while writing either. I’m too caught up in what’s going on and following what my characters are up to for that to happen.

  6. First, no apology is necessary where none is requested. Your blog persona is alluring and compelling, or we wouldn’t be here. And don’t worry about the diapers. I was the primary caregiver for my son and changed about three thousand of the things. There’s nothing I could find in a diaper that would faze me now.

    Solitude. Part of why I started writing was because I felt so damned alone. Talking to the dog just wasn’t cutting it anymore. But that was a long time ago. These days, it’s both ways–I both feel alone all the time and never feel alone. There’s nobody else that I see in the flesh and talk with in real time who’s a writer. Most people, I hardly know what to say to them anymore and I don’t much care. There are other, more pressing concerns, the major one of which is writing. I have to be alone to do that. Don’t we all? And at the same time, isn’t it the case that, as you put it, we never actually feel alone when we’re doing it? Part of the magic of writing, iddn’t it? We have to be alone to do it, but when we’re doing it, we couldn’t be less alone. Something Taoist in that, maybe.

  7. *Sigh* A line from my very favorite road trip song, when I am invariably alone—but most comfortably immersed in thought-provoking solitude. Going to play the song right now. Thanks.

  8. I’m least alone when I write: as the voices in my head are chronicled either in the journal or on the screen, it’s a tight little universe of community. Second best to the weekly meetings with my new collaborator: today we sat in a sculpture garden and outlined a plot — laughed so much we scared away several small groups of tourists.

    Solitude, for me, is achieved only on those l-o-n-g, multi-state treks, with the radio/CD stuff off and the cell phone tucked into the glove box.

  9. A ripple from the undertow of lurkers…

    So true. I have three small children, a husband, a dog and a handful of unrelated things always going on at once. I am hardly EVER truly alone. Except when I am writing. And then I don’t feel alone at all. Solitude is my very favorite comfort device.

    Have immensely enjoyed riding your marvelous peri-meno wave with you

  10. Yay peri-meno! It’s cheaper than drugs. But I’m glad to hear you’re finding a way in… those little flashes of light (inspiration, that is — not the hot kind) are everything.

    Whether I feel alone or not has nothing to do with anything I’m doing at the time, but is a totally self-generated, life-situational thing. That’s alone both in the bad sense, disconnected and isolated, and the good sense, self-sufficient and un-harried. If I’m in a good cycle of the latter, then I can also toggle into feeling connected and pleasantly social. If it’s the former, then I’ve got the shit-colored glasses on and it doesn’t matter what the hell I’m doing. I could be in the hot tub with Anton Chekhov and a good bottle of wine and I’d still feel alone.

  11. Totally. When I’m writing, nothing enters my mind, really, but the next words. And when I stop, all the doubts rush in. And because I spend all my time writing, reading, and thinking of writing — there are usually no friends around to make the doubts quiet down. So I write another essay.

  12. Love that song!

    I know my writing has gone off the rails when I’m lonely. It isn’t working and I become aware of the mechanics, the man behind the curtain.

    When the writing is true, in the very simplest sense, there is no loneliness. There is only a desire to get it down before the feeling dissipates, before the knowledge seeps out of the ink. Why yes, I have magical ink, why do you ask?

    I write either way. One is just far, far easier.

  13. More solitude. More. More. More. Give me more. Leave me lying on a futon mattress on the floor, radio on, nothing in the fridge but some squeaky queso blanco and a half can of Bustelo. Go. Check back in six weeks.

  14. Nureyev said he was only happy when he was dancing; and the same can be said for writing. I feel the least lonely when I’m writing–as long as I know that it will be seen someday. There’s nothing to compare with the feeling that I had when I wrote a column in a magazine, knowing that hundreds would soon be seeing it.

    • Who wouldn’t feel happiness just watching Nureyev perform?

      • I chauffeured him once and he invited me to watch his Romeo and Juliet from the wings of the Met. What an exciting performance. He wasn’t pleased with his first act and was in a fowl mood at the first intermission. Big mistake for me to try to talk to him then. But he was very pleased at the end. This was his baudy version of the Prokofiev ballet, well-known in those days.

      • great. now I’m ruined for the rest of the afternoon with mental images of grand jetes!

  15. You are many things. Douchey isn’t one of them. Did someone lay a guilt trip on you?

  16. I feel alone when I write but in the best way possible. It’s when I’m surrounded by people talking about things I don’t care about that I feel the bad kind of loneliness. The one I like, I call the human condition loneliness; the one I don’t like I label as “i’m-better-than-everyone-around-me”. Just kidding…well, kind of.

  17. I feel the loneliest when I’m in an audience of hundreds of people who are clapping. Or when I’m in a mall, or at a parade. Especially at the parade. I wonder, why the fuck do people go to parades?

    Solitude. Oh the humanity. Just having the house to myself, writing, or even the day job type of writing (as long as it doesn’t involve the phone)—that’s bliss. That’s community. Connection.

    Alas, school just ended. Kid and school teacher husband (bless their sweet-yet-blood-filled hearts) will be part of the daily picture. Cameo appearances in my office doorway, occasional requests for staples or Sharpies, X-Boxes yammering in the background. The psychic bigness of it all. No more solitude for moi for three. long. months.

    • Me too. I feel so alone at the mall. Maybe that’s why I hate it.

    • Your first paragraph is reading my mind. If I add places like Costco and Target and airports, I think I’m covered. A mall during the holidays is about all that can trump a parade….

    • Re the parade question: Unless the people on the floats are tossing beads, plush toys, glow-in-the-dark trinkets and/or coconuts, vegetables and shoes, it’s not really a Parade. I rode in my first Mardi Gras Parade this year and it was quite a magical experience!

  18. Loneliness or longing? I ache with longing, but I don’t know what I need. I always have spirit around me so I don’t feel lonely 🙂

  19. Douchification.

    I had no idea that was a real word.

    Your blog is my urban dictionary.

  20. I often feel alone, but rarely lonely. I love my “me” time. Whether I feel alone when writing depends on where I’m doing it. Lately I’ve been writing at work on long night shifts, hard to feel alone with 40 other people in the centre and emergency calls flying around!

  21. Ultimate alone moment: reading my reviews. Whether they are good or bad, nobody gets it.

  22. The darker you go the funnier you’ll find. A lone. All one.

  23. A junkie never feels alone when she has her needle. Yet I keep trying to quit.

  24. Writing is twisting the soul and turning it inside out. Interesting stuff spills out, sometimes cotton candy, sometimes bile, and everything in between. For some reason not everyone appreciates that.

  25. Glad to hear you’re on the mend. Don’t forget to give yourself some credit. Sometimes it takes kvetching to see the light of day.

  26. LOL! I concur. Make it darker. You are one funny woman, Betsy. Keep going.

  27. I feel alone in a really good, connected way while writing. The problem with true pure solitude is that it never stops. I’m happily less solitary nowadays, and although I miss solitude sometimes, I wouldn’t want to live there anymore. What we give up for companionship.

  28. Together when writing, together walking dogs, together on the phone, together with a couple of people. Alone lots of the time. And don’t have God.
    Dark is always a good thing.

  29. No way could I ever feel alone when I’m writing. I’m in another world of my creation and those characters are a lively group and they keep me on my toes looking over their shoulders. I may pull their strings and they dance to my tune, but there are times when they cut and run and I’m running like hell just to keep up. How could I ever feel alone when I’m writing? Half the time I’m out of breath. Talk about a workout.

  30. I write to escape. But I get lonely, so I invent friends with problems I could fix in three pages, but prolong their agony so they’ll stay.

    Do all writers have literary Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome?

  31. I just love Brigitte.

  32. No worries, Betsy. My life can always use more dark.

    And to answer your question, I am writing memoir, so it’s all narcissistic me, me, me, all the time. As counterbalance, the other actors in this WIP are the entire student population of my teaching career. There’s quite a racket going on in my writing mind…so nope, no solitude to be found in the quasi-imaginary middle school classroom of my writing mind.

  33. I’m not sure alone is the right word to describe how I feel when I write. I am immersed in my writing and unaware of anything else around me, sometimes for hours if I’m lucky. Yes, I am writing in solitude, without outside distractions, the stress and strain of life’s turmoil, but I am with my characters, my scene and my story. So, not alone and not lonely. Happy, very happy.

    But, I think your question is more reflective of your current state of mind. Feeling alone in a world where you feel misunderstood while you go through a difficult time. So, hugs for that and hope it smooths out soon.

  34. Loneliness / isolation (sad) v. solitude (nice). Some days, I can do the exact same activities and I feel one way or the other. I remember walking through the Union Square Farmer’s Market one day, which I often love, and feeling so lonely–like I just wasn’t part of / didn’t belong here. As if there was some big party at the market that wasn’t including me. Same feeling sometimes comes at fabulous fashiony parties where I feel I can’t compete. I also feel lonely in airports.

    And I don’t like to see people eating alone. Especially in diners. I know they are probably fine, perhaps even enjoying not having to talk to anyone while they eat a burger or what not, but the image in my mind is: all the loneliness in the world.

    I do not feel lonely when I write. But I do feel lonely when I am reaching out to do business-oriented things like pitch my work. It is what I’ve been thinking about a lot this year–wanting someone to do it for me/take care of me. Which is impractical for adulthood indeed.

    PS-Some of the best comedy comes from the darkest of places. And you are not douchey.

  35. “Solitude is wonderful, so long as somebody drops by once in a while.”

    Luis Bunuel, “My Last Sigh”

  36. Alone and lonely don’t even go together.

  37. A dilemma unresolvable, I can’t stand alone but I have to stand alone to be my true self–an observer.

  38. The comments on this thread illuminate “the writer’s process” in ways that the process thread from the other day did not.

    I dunno, I just got back from lunch–which I did not eat, happy as I am to be able again to fit into my puto pants–and the above is what occurred to me.

    Time to fall face-down onto my keyboard and take a nap. Or pass out from hunger. Whichever. Where did I leave my binky? There it is…

  39. The first time I spoke to a shrink, I think it was about two minutes in, he recommended that I read Solitude by Anthony Storr. It helped.

  40. I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride. It would be annoying and tedious if you were cheerful and perky all the time. Thanks for writing such an entertaining blog!

  41. Dear Betsey, your blog post just missed being an apology. Steer away from those shoals. Fuck sorrow.

  42. Man, I’ve been enjoying these posts…

    Sigh. No more ‘douchification’?

    Re: solitude: Nah. I write in the company of my characters and I tend to get so caught up in their minds and the scenes, I feel busily engaged with ‘people.’ Weird.

  43. You rock, Betsy. And I’m glad you’re feeling better. Love yer blog, chick.

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