• 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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THe Killer In Me Is the Killer In You

When I was younger and met people who lived for the weekend, I had a great deal of disdain for them. Or to use a word I only discovered this weekend (in a book): misprision. First, I thought it pathetic that you would spend five days a week dreaming about a fishing pole and a Heineken. But the real reason was I hated weekends. What I hated even more was people asking, “how was your weekend?” For me, my life has been about working. I didn’t really start making the friends I really loved until I was in my thirties. I put everything into my work. I would spend entire weekends editing and be grateful for the engagement. I was a workaholic and I didn’t want a cure.  It was never ambition that fueled me. It was fear of sinking.  Fear of the great  wave. Of my legs entwined in weeds, my cries unheeded. How was your weekend? I read a book about Sylvia Plath and I’m fifty one years old almost. The only thing worse than a weekend is a long weekend.

How do you get up in the morning?

35 Responses

  1. Curiosity killed the cat, but first it got her out of bed.

    ‘Sides, if I don’t get up early enough, I won’t get my hour of writing in before the troops wake up.

    (and what a weird coincidence: I just added “Crime–misprision of a felony” to our local newspaper subject headings this morning, after I looked it up)

  2. Dog kisses. I walk two miles with the dog every morning first thing, and often that’s the very best part of my day — which is not to say that the rest of my day is all that bad. But that’s 40 minutes out of 24 hours when I know everything is going to be OK.

    • Yes. I wake up to the swish-swish-swish of the dog’s tail. Cups of coffee, a long walk with the dog —- which up until two weeks ago was 2 dogs. It’s been hard getting up in the peace and quiet of one. But I’m learning.

      When I was a kid, I dreamed of having a dog sleep at the foot of my bed. I feel like I’ve won the prize.

      When I was in my early 20’s, I woke up wondering who my roommate was sleeping with, who I’d have to deal with in her morning.

      In my late 20’s, I woke up with my pathological liar and waited for him to leave me.

      In my 30’s, I woke up the stepmother of a 15 yr old girl and 9 yr old boy. Who are they, I’d wonder? What do they want from the grocery store? Do they like me? Am I motherly?

      To this day, I still wake up dreading a long weekend. The manufactured holiday. What to do! How to blend in. Where to fit.

      Thank god (who I don’t really believe in) for the dog.

      • Dogs rule. Our golden-doofus wakes me up every morning at 6, jumps up on the bed, big wet nose in the face, chewing on my socks as I try to get ready to take him out. And man, does he ever make you feel welcome when you get home from work. No hidden agenda, no passive aggressive bullshit, just straight-up love.

        What’s all this crap about hating weekends though … ? And does everyone on this blog hate them ? Really ? What the hell ? What’s next to hate ? Kittens? Rainbows ? These are weekends, people. These are days of sleeping in, going for long runs, falling into the pool, huge late breakfasts, making love in the afternoon, snoozing in the sun, drinking cold beers, hot barbecues, watching movies with the kids at night. Screw work for a few days – live life. Not to mention you get to write for a few solid hours at a time instead of trying to squeeze what time you can around getting kids ready for school and earning your daily bread.

      • I’m with you, DJ. I wear a lanyard to work, for god’s sake. What’s to miss?

      • I don’t hate ’em at all. Not that I hate my job, but I love my house, love time to do my own writing, eat cheese, play with the animals, screw around in the jungle I call a yard. MY time. Mine.

        Teri, sorry about your dog. It’s a terrible thing.

        And Averil, heh. I call mine The Yoke of My Servitude.

      • Word. I call mine a choke chain.

  3. Yeah, when you work for yourself, it’s tough. I see “holidays” as annoying intrusions when I can’t reach anyone and get any work done.

    You have to have enough money in the bank to squelch the panic reaction. Then try to have some damn fun!

    On a workday, I get up knowing I have a set amount of $$$ I have to make or the bills will not be paid. It’s my job to solve that problem, every week, month and year. That’s sufficiently motivating, even if not terribly interesting.

  4. Thank you for this. You said something in a recent post that also touched a nerve. Being pressured to have fun. I feel like that a lot. I’m not 100% happy when I work but I’m engaged. When I’m not working i feel like I should be out and it makes me feel more terrible than when I’m working.

  5. I personally hate weekends and would love to spend them holed up with a bunch of books, my laptop, yellow pad, and a classical music station. I also might include lots of walks no mater what the weather and dabble in the garden if in season. Unfortunately, I succumb to all kinds of absurd pressures that I should be doing “something” so I book all these senseless dinner dates, even cook these excellent dinners for people for which I have to clean my house for, shop for food, arrange flowers–the works. I also set up tennis games, play golf and walk with friends. All of which I could totally do without but do just because it’s the weekend…. I can’t wait until the Monday or often it’s Tuesday when everybody goes back to work or school and I can get back to my “stuff” (read writing). What gets me out of bed? It’s the only way to shut off my brain. It can be hell to lie there.

  6. ‘It was fear of sinking. Fear of the great wave. Of my legs entwined in weeds, my cries unheeded.’ Yes. Just yes.

  7. From an early age (about the age of 12, but it may have been 11), I’ve lived my life to write. That hasn’t meant I’ve written every day during the ensuing 40+ years. A large part of what I’ve wanted to write, and have written, is of life, finding the glory in its mundanity, the universal in its particulars. To write of life one has to live a life, and there have been stretches when I have been so immersed in the stream of life, fishing for the rainbow trout I could fry up delectably once I had regained the shore, I did not have the opportunity to write.

    Living for the weekend has never been my life. I started work when I was 14, at a job I worked every day. Later jobs later in my teens left my weekends free, but the weekends were just another time to continue the work of writing and of fishing for those elusive trout–you understand I mean tales, not fish.

    When I was 19 I got about as lucky as a young writer desiring experience could get when I was hired to be a bartender. I spent the next seven years working nearly every weekend, serving intoxicants to the desperate normals who lived for the weekend. My weekends came during the middle of the week; my nights were others’ mornings, and I did not wake to an alarm clock (until I went back to school).

    Bartending (and school) ended and I got married. For six years my wife supported me while I did something resembling writing. By the time that ended, I was 32, divorced, and finally working the 9-5 M-F most wage slaves are beholden to. By then I had developed the habit of writing, compulsively, whenever possible. The weekend was just another time to write. This isn’t to say I had no other life. I still had great stretches of life to live, and still do.

    Now I am married again. I don’t have much social life and I rarely see friends or family, but I do care for my wife and do not much shut myself away from her or exclude her from my life. I’m still a wage slave doing the 9-5 M-F, but I’ve done starving and I prefer to eat. I get up about 4:30 nearly every morning, waking up naturally. I feed the cats, gather some sort of breakfast from the kitchen, and shut myself in the study for a couple hours of writing before I shift into the rest of my day. On weekends the morning writing might go on a little longer, or it might happen at other times of the day, or I might do like I did yesterday and spend seven hours in the study, with a short break for brunch with my wife. I let her know what I’m up to and I make time for her; she lets me make time for myself. And now it is time for bed.

  8. I get up willingly each day, and look forward to what is in store. But I am panicky by bed time. And sometimes I wake up feeling panicky. Wish I could work this out with out chemical support. It would mean the world to me. One thing, when you get this old, you never notice the days of the week. I work as hard on Sunday as any other day. I personally feel I work harder than anyone in the Gulag. But I am prone to bragging.

  9. Slowly and willingly. Of course I have no job…

  10. I know what you mean. Work, in the form of chores, consumed my weekends. Oh, how I dreamed of a washer and dryer! Even to this day, I find myself saying a little prayer of thanks each time I descend my own stairs to clean my dirty trunks.

  11. I’m so not into weekends. Working weekdays and having weekends off just seems so…boring. And I always HATEDDDDDD Sundays when I was a kid because there was nothing to do where I lived and nothing on TV except cricket and repeats of Get Smart. To this day the very sight of cricket makes me want to break the TV.

    Now I work a job with a rotating roster, 4 days on, 4 days off. I’m always happiest when we are working weekends and have the weekdays off. This also happens to be the first job I’ve ever had that I am not miserable in. I actually (don’t tell anyone) look forward to going to work. Even when I have to get up at 4am to go!

  12. Now that it is summer there is no school alarm and silence for a couple of hours in the house. I start by watering my thin tomatoes and ignoring teenager grime.
    I’ve always hated anything regular – friday night drinks, dinners for two, dumb conversations, oh god dinners. I’m fine with piano or a film with my youngest these days.
    I think I’ve already had my wild nights in foreign cities far from here.

  13. I used to hate weekends because I missed being at school with my friends. Now I hate them because the husbands are around and I can’t talk to my friends. The whole notion that family comes first is what oppresses me. I like to have fun. It’s just hard to come by.

    I always work on my school work/writing as much on weekends as I do in weekdays. It’s easier on weekends in many ways because there are no parking places anywhere in town so I can’t leave the house. I am lucky in that I work in a uni so no one asks how was your weekend. No one thinks that way except the kids.

  14. I wake up hopeful and craving coffee. I wake up wanting to write and yet often I work. Weekends tend to come with expectations that can’t be met.

  15. I’m one of those. I live for the weekends when I can put my work persona to bed on Friday and not have to rouse her until Monday morning.

  16. I taught music for 30 years, and I never had week-ends. At one time, I played piano for dance bands Saturday night, and organ for church Sunday morning. Now that I’m retired, I find week-ends much like other days, except I did go to church this past Sunday. After that I went home and finished editing a short story that is due Friday. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

  17. Betsy: I’m new to your list and enjoying your blog. “The only thing worse than a weekend is a long weekend.” Yes, yes, yes. Sundays are are really tough. Thanks for articulating. I have an MFA from Columbia too. Prose fiction, but now I write creative non-fiction and memoir.

    All best,
    Judy

  18. reluctantly. the alarm insists. i’m trying this early morning writing business and it’s working. the house is deliciously quiet and no kids to intrude on my time until 8 a.m. i may have converted, at least for the summer.

  19. Days start early & intense for me: dog responsibilities and contractors that are on job sites by 7:30 AM mean I’m UP at dawn. There’s nothing professional about answering the 7:32am phone call from the carpenters in a groggy voice – but then, I live on 6 or less hours of sleep naturally!

    Weekends are really a conundrum. A legislated attempt to create a respite from the demands of employment, many of the firms I used to work at shamed us into working through the weekends and extra hours during the week (without any additional pay!!) to prove company loyalty and drive for advancement (not that it ever really was attained). Now, self employment means I can skip out on a Wednesday while working 12 hours on Saturday and I have no guilt, no remorse. (This Wednesday, though, I’m installing furniture all afternoon).

    • Shameless bosses should be ashamed of themselves, trying to shame or otherwise finagle people into working for free. I had one do that once, a fellow who wore around his neck on a chain a gold coin that cost more than he paid me in six months. One of my co-workers and I mounted an impromptu strike in response to his sleazy, money-grubbing wormitude. It failed, but we didn’t work for free. In fact, until we found new jobs, we didn’t work at all.

      • It must be a secret rite for certain people: to lose all comprehension of common sense, decency and compassion to maintain that aura of Total Job Focus. I once worked for a firm where the CEO was insisting a meeting not be canceled even though a hurricane was forecast to make landfall at that time. Thankfully, the Board of Trustees intervened.

  20. Weekends mean no frantic nagging to get the kids out the door on time with all the requisite bits “Don’t forget your school bag. Wait! It’s Tuesday/Thursday – you need your violin/guitar… shit, it’s raining/sunny. Where’s the raincoat/sunscreen/jumper/permission slip….” etc.

    Saturday and Sunday mornings = ahhhh…..

  21. I try very hard to work things out so every morning feels similar, even if what I’m doing that day differs. I try to go to bed and get up every day at around the same time, although with troops of teenage boys invading my house at all hours every day this summer, that is not easy. But my husband almost always brings me a cup of tea and then I get up and attend to whatever it is that’s before me that day: law, writing, reading, kids, dog, food, alphabetizing the spice cupboard. The alternative is to feel bullied by the things I’ve chosen to do, which is ridiculous, because I have, after all, chosen to do them.

  22. I’ve been involuntarily retired and that old pressure to make the most of Saturdays and Sundays is gone. Every day feels like the weekend – unstructured, ready to be wasted or worked through. Some days I don’t know how I got up that morning.

  23. Sister, we need to go out to dinner. Give me a call when you get to town.

  24. I think you may have misused the word misprision (had to look it up.) I’m not sure what you meant by that use. Call me stupid, or rather, ignorant. It seems to me what you are writing is a realization and not an intentional act. My dictionary makes misprision seem like an intention. Anyway, Sylvia Plath. That fucking bitch. Trying to kill herself so her husband would take note of her, or, what was her intention? You gotta bring up Virgina Woolf in this conversation. She too succeeded. For what? To change the world? To be heard? I don’t get actions like that. Maybe I don’t like people enough to give a fuck what they think. I’m not sure. But those are very sad stories.

    When I am at work and the folks I work with ask me how my “days-off” were, I tell them I don’t have days-off. I don’t get any further than that for now as I don’t want to lose my job. But I don’t have days-off. Ha! What! Whatever.

    And, Betsy, you’re not helping me in my addiction to your blog. I swear, I plug in every couple of days hoping to god that Betsy will be boring, and I won’t want to comment. I can just put away and stay off the internet. But, no, you always have something that makes sense to me and I have an overwhelming need to squawk. I forgive ya. I’m not gonna say I love ya, but, I will say, in order to answer your question, when I get up in the morning I say, ah, shit. Goddammit. And another day begins: How, oh, how, am I gonna make this a good one? After, of course, I have a good shot of coffee.

    • Addiction’s a bitch, isn’t it, Jeff? Betsy’s the best dealer. First hit’s free, and she’s almost always got what you need.

      Hey, I’m just like you. I tried a little taste, thinking I could put it down whenever I wanted. Now I mainline the shit, two or three–no, fuck it, I’m lying, it’s four or five or goddammit I don’t know, maybe a dozen hits a day and I got trackmarks all up and down my arms and I’m even shooting the shit into my groin, man, it hurts so good. So good. Just a little taste. Just one more taste and I swear I’ll kick it. Just one more. Please. Please don’t make me beg. Please. Aw, Betsy. Aw… naw naw naw naw naw… i’ll be a good boy… please make me well… i promise you anything…

      • Yo! You know your stuff, man. Other than that I hope I see a novel with your name on it, and I hope you can kill the parasites that want to change it into a work that isn’t work at all, but, well, a parasitic outcry.

    • Besides Tetman’s response, I’m not really sure how these comments show up, in what order, the other day I gave you the censored version of a great, modern song. So, emote folks:

      By the way, after all these millennium, it still stands.

      • I forgot what I wanted to write. Oh, yes, thank god for writing, just start a sentence and you’ll remember, now I remember: My girlfriend and I just had an interesting argument about Faulkner. I say he borrowed the phrase the sound and the fury and used it as a title but didn’t back it up, at all! He abused another’s poetry. Faulkner’s book had nothing to do with what Shakespeare meant in using those words. That’s what I say. She says, yes he did. Whatever. Anyway, Tetman. I’m gonna start looking more closely at your stuff. If, for instance, I started my own publishing company, how on earth could you possibly get published by me when you, yikes, I’m sorry, you do like me. Don’t get your hopes up. I’m poor as hell, literally.

        Anyway: Campfire song (and thank god for Betsy, she Must, love what she does.)

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