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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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Daisy Dukes, Bikinis On Top


I’m at my sister’s vacation house, typing from a hammock on a roof deck. I’m beginning to relax, which is always a little dangerous for me. I’m more of a worker than a relaxer. I’ve only very recently, and only in small doses, been able to tolerate vacations. Instead, I’ve always used vacation as time to write. I’m actually petrified of letting down, coupled with the fact that I generally can’t stand being with people for more that 4-5 hours. Don’t ask me to rent a house with you! I have a one night sleepover limit. Plus, I hate eating new foods, trying new things, and going to new places. Otherwise, I’m a ball of fun. I was once asked for an interview where was  my ideal vacation spot: a twelveplex.

What is your ideal vacation? And does it include writing?

57 Responses

  1. The Stratford Festival in Ontario.

    So many plays, so much shopping, and black swans on the river . . . gorgeous.

  2. I live in vacation idyll, so I stay home to vacation. I can’t sleep anywhere else, I’m a time bomb of stress even on a relaxing getaway, I hate you if you get in the way of my nap time, and you’d better not mess with my kitchen. But I’m lovely besides.

    Summer here is worth it, but unless you are a nut for winter sports, you certainly don’t want to overwinter where I live. But summer? Ah. Summer in New Hampshire is perfection.

    Except for the bugs. But my summer office? It rocks. Save for the flamingoes. http://jessicalahey.com.

  3. You can make it for 4-5 hours with other people? You’ve got me beat. I’m done after two hours, and at three hours, I’m willing to fall down a flight of stairs if it means I can leave. “How did you chip that tooth, Sonje?” “Oh, I threw myself down a flight of stairs so I could leave a party. It was totally worth it.”

  4. Domestic: Someplace I can take the dog. The fella and I went to a dog-friendly B&B up in the Berkshires last month and took her hiking, got lost, got rained on, and it was a blast. If only this were France and we could take her to restaurants, life would be perfect.

    Overseas: Oh god, anywhere. It’s been embarrassingly long and we’re both in need of that psychic reboot that flying over the ocean gives you. Just find me a good pet-sitter and I’m gone gone gone.

    • Domestic: a cabin in Gualala, CA on the high cliffs of the Pacific — we take the dog, food to grill, books, the Scrabble board, and a lotta vino. The ad for the cabin says: any closer to the water and you’d need a boat. We do not see other humans for 12 days.

      Int’l: Paris in early November. Hands down.

    • Oh — and writing, sure. Either full-scale or journal-writing or note-taking. I can’t not.

  5. A cabin somewhere high and cool and remote, electricity but not wifi. Stocked with food and plenty of malbec. And a knee-high stack of books. And my husband. Sounds so simple, but it’s so not.

  6. My ideal vacation would be sitting in this lovely house with this lovely view and this amazing breeze and just a little bit of chemical alteration to my perception.

  7. Typing from a hammock? Did anyone get that photo?

  8. someplace urban with exotic people and spicy food ( plus a well-made bed to sleep in at night and potable water) –

  9. Easy. London for two weeks in a rented flat with Clever Bob, who brings in newspapers and coffee from the corner and we read with only occasional comments back and forth. Then one trip out each day(museum, theatre, walkabout, concert, or a meal), and back with takeaway and read/sleep/telly. During one trip I wrote my daily quota on a yellow tablet each night – in London, at home, wherever, for one year and finished my first novel. But money is tight and work continues, so home is fine for now.

  10. My ideal vacation is one where I don’t have to go anywhere according to any set plan, and I have measureless stretches of time for reading, writing, walking, thinking, and just plumb relaxing.

  11. Cabin in the mountains by the lake, no tv, no wifi, no cell phone service. Cold beer, burgers on the grill and a bunch of old, green, rocking chairs at the rail on the long porch so you can watch nothing happen on the lake. Water taken from a spring and poured into old plastic, half gallon milk jugs. Children left to entertain themselves until they can go in the lake. Children begging that one certain adult they know will always say yes. A week spent in the water with my kids. A sticky life that smells of lake water, firewood smoke, bug spray and suntan lotion.

    Two weeks away. Phew.

  12. Theatre every night in London and then the train to Paris. I’ve done this twice in both directions. Best to go to Paris second because London doesn’t seem as beautiful after Paris. Betsy, you ARE a ball of fun!

  13. The best used to be hot Berlin in summer at my gay mates’ place, not having to be a checked-out female any more, or a mother, or anything. Museums and parks, wild clubs by night, tagging along and occasionally interviewed in an earnest way and expected to inform about my species, then left in peace, the absolute opposite of the rest of the year

  14. Anywhere my kids aren’t.

  15. I enjoy the vacations more after I return than when I’m actually there. I don’t like seafood, but I love the ocean. I live in the mountains with plenty of lakes nearby and I always dream of taking a vacation here–many others do it, why not me?
    When I was younger, I was a traveler and visited nearly all the exotic places I wanted to see — Mexico, Nepal, Morocco, Italy, Oregon and the Black Hills of South Dakota. I traveled by thumb or on the same buses as the locals, ate food I shouldn’t have and took risks traveling with things to smoke and ingest that could have landed me in a very nasty prison cell.
    Nowadays we go to Florida (not yet to DisneyWorld) and camping in Vermont or the Adirondacks. There are some surprises along the way (Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL), but pretty much family oriented and very much sticking to the beaten path. It’s cool, though, and I smile at least as much as I did in the, you know, old days. And for some reason my daughter would really like to go to Hawaii. I’m in.

  16. Sometimes you scare me because you sound just like me. My favorite vacation spot is P-Town in the off season (like late September or October). It’s lovely there, the tourists are gone, and I love drinking in all the artistic energy, from Mailer to Tennessee Williams to Eugene O’Neill.

  17. One ideal vacation: a week on board the space station in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. With books.

  18. Water lapping against rocks. And my laptop.

  19. I’m retired from my music teacher day job. We live in a log home on the Grand River. And we write. What’s this about a vacation?

  20. In the woods, on a trail, away from people. And no working. Maybe a little journaling / note-taking, but nothing serious.

  21. An Internet-free, cellular-free village where I can walk from my small rented hotel room to a small family restaurant serving my favorite foods I have to order in a different tongue from a bar seat in the shade from the sunny tourist-free beach where only fisherman and hungry seagulls hang out. Writing happens because there’s nothing else to do in the village.

  22. We’re smack in the middle of winter in Melbourne, and all I can think about is sun and warmth. Give me a tropical island, preferably like LOST with a smoke monster and some mysteries to solve, not to mention the eye candy. Bliss.

  23. Right now I would like ahotel room or any place where I can have food ordered in and I don’t have to go out. Every vacation I have taken in the past 20 years has been a writing vacation. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if it wasn’t a writing vacation.

  24. This could happen anywhere for me but the order of the day goes like this:
    Run along the beach, shower, breakfast followed by sitting on the beach with my reading and writing. Followed by lunch and more reading and writing! I will socialize with friends and family too! (But not a requirement :o) )

  25. How do people get lives like these? Work. And then I work.

  26. 4 to 5 hours is a marathon. I can’t manage much with other people before conking out.

    Hated the beach as a kid, having grown up on Long Island where it was mandatory and I burned and sweated and nearly drowned once. (My friends were swimming, but I was so tall that my feet touched bottom, a safety net I never relinquished, as I couldn’t swim. Didn’t count on the tide coming in and shifting the sandbar while we were jumping waves.)

    But when I had a baby, she so loved the water that I fell in love with it, too. We began taking her to Cape May, NJ, most summers, and it’s a tranquil, lovely place. You can feel your bones relax as you arrive, and you can park your car and forget about it until you leave. No climbing into a car after a day at the beach with your slimy, sunscreened, sandy body. Small inns and Victorian B&B’s across from the beach. Reading and walks along the beach at night. Gin and tonics in your room. Maybe a few scribbled pages after your kid goes to bed.

  27. Best vacation was 2 wks in Vineyard beach house w a few friends who all love reading. Often went our own ways during the day, dinner together nightly for fresh fish, good wine, great conversation. In general, love traveling and take a couple great books plus paper & pen. Sometimes I write, but mostly explore. Kenya in 2 weeks – can’t wait.

  28. Ideal vacation? Probably a foreign city where I could traipse around for hours, then scuttle back to my bunker (and iMac).

    I’d like my husband there for half the time, so it would be great to include some sort of portal device wherein I could beam him back and forth.

  29. The best part of any vacation for me is the transit between one place and another: airports and planes, railway stations and trains, taxis and riksas. As for destination, I love the ocean, adore almost any place where coconuts grow, with little boys slicing the tops off with machetes so I can sip the cool water inside. Places where draft animals work alongside buses and jackhammers. Lots of people on the streets, loud, aggressive, and friendly. Peace and quiet I can get at home. I want noise, bustle, saturated colors: life cranked up to 11.

  30. You have a fabulous blog! I want to award you with one of my homemade awards: Powerful Woman Writer Award for all the hard work you do!

    I invite you to follow me, if you haven’t already done so, since we have a lot in common, but no pressure. I’m not giving you the award just so you will follow me. You really do deserve it!
    Take care:-)

    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

    P.S.

    I’m also looking to interview published authors (agented, self published, small press, etc.) to find out what they wrote and what the pathway to publishing was like for them.

    Let me know if you are interested in being interviewed and I will send over the questions you can fill out at your leisure. My email address is Guidedhope (at)gmail(dot)com.

  31. All awards links should lead straight to a PayPal account.

  32. looking forward to barcelona for a dashing holiday; quiet cabin with fireplace for relaxing holiday. i write a little during relaxing holidays.

    unless i travel alone then i write lots.

  33. Ahem, just to get back topic and wrap this up, MVY, where I sit now under cobalt skies and still bright light, watching probably the most glorious day of summer turn to night, is the place to vacation. Home to many writers especially in Vineyard Haven, I always bring my work and am often inspired. So writing yes, but serious sessions seem to give way to getting to the beach before the crowds, taking out the boat for a spin, hiking land bank trails, cycling the bike paths, running to Morning Glory Farm and the seemingly endless packing of picnics.

  34. Vacations when I was a kid were nothing but frustration and boredom. Look at the mountain, but no time to climb. Look at the lake, but swimming gets you wet. Look at Grand Canyon, but riding a donkey to the bottom might be dangerous. All I could do was look and dream of making my own plans.
    The thought of being a tourist, peeking at the “natives” like animals in a zoo is disgusting.
    A week in a cabin with friends, even family, even at the beach or in the mountains, feels claustrophobic.
    Best would be time on my farm in Florida, alone, with New England weather and food and clean clothes dropping from the sky. Just write and walk and swim all day,

    • Skipper, my in-laws vacation this way. They do not fly (never!) and have driven to 49 of the 50 states. Heat have they seen? Not all that much. Mountain roads too dangerous. No swimming. Big cities have rapists and thieves. Monuments, too crowded. Must get to the day’s destination motel — and eat supper!! — before dark!

  35. Jesus, woman, I’m sorry, I don’t even know what the word vacation means. I’m guessing that’s a rich kid’s term. Ha! Gotta love it. My supreme ideal of a vacation the enlightenment of the Buddha—no worries. If only life were as real as the stories we read. That’s another story. Anyway, as Idiot Flesh put so aptly, I’ll rest when I’m dead. And no, it doesn’t include writing. I’m so tired of trying to impress people. I’m tired, tired.

    • Anybody who observes a Sabbath is taking a vacation, rich or poor. A vacation is simply a break from work. Betsy works, and hard, so why not have a vacation?

      And the enlightenment of Buddha is not “no worries,” but results in compassion and aid for all those who are unenlightened. It’s not supposed to be a selfish proposition, even though it gives energy to those who practice it. And the stories we read are, in some ways, more real than the lives we live. After we’re all dust, the Bible, the Bhagavad-gita, and Pride and Prejudice will still be alive for many.

    • Get some rest, then. The road is long, and it’s all uphill.

      • Is “get some rest” a polite way of saying, “give it a rest?” And there’s no uphill without a downhill.

  36. Roma: Citta Aperta.
    And writing: always. Handwritten, in notebooks.
    I can’t believe you can do 4-5 hours. I’m ready to jump out of my skin past two. Sequel to Go the Fuck to Sleep: Leave Me the Fuck Alone.

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  38. I was excited to find this site. I wanted to thank you for your time for this particularly fantastic read!! I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and I have you book-marked to look at new stuff on your site.

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