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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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If I Can Make It There

It’s official. I move to Brooklyn tomorrow for the month of August. Got the keys. Dropped off a suitcase. Tonight: pack meds and computer, leave a check for the dog walker. I’m not going to set myself up for failure with unrealistic goals. The plan is to finish my screenplay, write my new sitcom, adapt Food & Loathing into a YA (hey, I already have the first sentence), lose 10 pounds, run every day, and invent the next Facebook. (Oh, and agenting. Hello?) Wish me luck!

What does your August look like? What are you getting done?

50 Responses

  1. I wish you perfect words, air conditioning and lots and lots of inspiration. Be kind to yourself, enjoy this wonderful time to focus on your work and your work alone. I hope you will touch base with us from time to time. Please, please, please let us come to a screening. We are riding on your wings babe, fly high.

  2. every time you refer to august on here (tonight and a couple nights ago) i think of your (our?) august and not the month.

    which makes me wonder, what does are august look like?!

  3. Here’s to you, Betsy.

    My August with be absorbed by working on the nonfiction thing with Dick Herman, writing columns, and a couple of other projects. There will be some time on the water if the weather allows.

  4. August is birthday month for me (as it is for Miz Lerner – hope you have a b-day cake on your agenda, too!). In between the celebrating, I will be attending a major art event involving 20 galleries and a wedding; helping my niece move into her dorm room, completing a 3-month seminar, supervising a complicated demolition phase on a house renovation, starting a new Day Job project and sending out more queries while gently nudging the composer who is (supposedly) working on my urban opera score. I’ll take a nap in September.

  5. My August was the tallest boy in Our Lady Help of Christians kindergarten and was blond and imposing. I have two books to finish and I have to try and get my driving license back.

  6. “What does your August look like?”

    Well it sure as hell doesn’t look like yours. My god, whyn’t you beat yourself with a stick while you’re at it? Not to dissuade you from living the dream, but August has only thirty-one days. So good luck and see if you can cut yourself a short slip of slack. You New York people are so crazy.

    “What are you getting done?”

    Lose five pounds (or flee from them when they’re not watching). Get at least one decent night’s sleep, which is about my monthly average. Walk one hundred miles and get somewhere without going anywhere. Unpack a few more boxes of crap and throw some of it away (I’ve recently moved). Maybe find an agent for one of my books. Maybe finish the reviews and rewrites on three more of my books. Maybe get started on turning my Civil War screenplay into my Civil War novel, though I think it’s going to be September before I get started on that. Read a bunch of Hemingway I’ve never read and have ordered from the library because there’s just no excuse for my never having read it. Almost certainly master the ten basic rules of derivation in my logic textbook so I can get past page 41 (disjunctive elimination is a motherfucker and reductio ad absurdum ought to be my motto). Remain employed. Remain married. Watch out for heavy falling objects. Attend the two trials my wife is a defendant in and pay whatever fines or costs the court may decree. Continue watching out for heavy falling objects.

    Despite how fat that paragraph is, it’s all a bunch of little, manageable stuff (even the trials–the trick is to be prepared, show up on time, and say nothing that doesn’t need to be said).

  7. Grab that bull by the horns, Betsy!
    I love the bar you’ve set, and that you continue to challenge yourself despite where you are in your career.
    My August is about not always fighting the headwinds and to type until my fingers bleed.
    I wish I was doing it in someplace as cool as Brooklyn. Go get ’em!

  8. The last two weeks of August are the beginning of the year for me. Teachers’ years go from Seotember to July really…so New Year and new students…teaching American Lit to 11th graders.

    But before that starts up again I will finish painting my house, read as many memoirs as possible (just ordered 16), keep up my blog (livingawritinglife.blogspot.com), and my newest project, which is keeping it real on Twitter (whatever real may be, but look me up @JG_Writer). I can’t say I get the Twitter thing yet, but I’m trying…I do like being connected to so many readers, writers and such.

  9. Today an indie press said it would publish my debut novel, a mystery. My August will see the beginning of preparing it for publication. It will be a super great month therefore.

  10. I stupidly didn’t enroll DD (8) in any camps for August so my month mostly involves not committing murder or suicide or both.

  11. Go Betsy, you borough-hopper you! New digs = all sorts of possibilities. Jealous.

    I’ll be home where my kitchen remodel continues its slow slog. My husband and kid are home since school is a month out still. I’ll shut the door to my office noisily each morning to announce “I’m working!” And then freak out when the contractors use the adjoining bathroom where we’ve temporarily located the coffee maker, microwave and toaster oven. (My fault entirely because I was too cheap to okay a thousand bucks for a porta-potty.)

    I’ll try not to check email, stalk editors and get all anxious because yet another manuscript is circulating the hallowed and empty halls of the houses. (Everyone’s at the Hamptons, right? Or is that just the cliche?)

    And, because I need to think of a way to stop chewing my leg off, I’ll work on the new book I just started, uh, today. It’s working title is Hooker. Three guesses what it’s about.

  12. My youngest kid is coming back from Australia and we are going camping with a bunch of loud Italians in Corsica for two weeks. That means early swims, long breakfasts and afternoons in the shade with almost final corrections of my short stories before I start wrestling with my editor. It will be good. It also means dusty bare feet and a big hat, rosé at night and far too many people talking. Plus miles of washing up.

    All the best in Brooklyn – you might have quiet which I know I won’t.

  13. GO Betsy!

    My August includes sitting on the deck at the family cottage back in my home and native land and soaking up some much needed sun. I’m overdue after the monsoon season over here.

  14. Cheers, Betsy. Here’s to you and Brooklyn. You’ll probably jog right past Franzen every morning, you kids on your morning runs!

    August here means peeling away at paragraphs, and back to Pilates. God I hate working out. It’s also my birthday next week so there will be yellow cake with chocolate icing. Can’t complain.

    • And for finding a Latin tutor. Not one as cool as me, but still. I will send you some fun stuff about those ruins you loved so much…

  15. August, Week 1: VACATION on a real beach.
    August, Weeks 2-4: Same old shit.

  16. August: Wedding prep, second daughter making it legal in Sept. First was married a few months ago. Two weddings in five months, God’s payback for my husband and I eloping.

    Agent hunting, writing and a few dinners on a friends 46 fter putt putting the river and Sound. Hey Frank you’re invited.

    Saw a sailboat yesterday with the biggest stick I’ve ever seen. Reached all the way to heaven, most boats go that far you know. Right Frank.

    • Congratulations on the weddings, and thanks for the invitation, Wry.

      Right about those sticks, too, and it’s important to keep ’em up. I’m staying on the hill today, though. We’re on the front edge of a nasty system from the north, which started with air like syrup. Then came the rain and wind, and the lightning-lots of it-is coming fast. I don’t mind wind and rain, but that stick always makes me think of a lightning rod running through the boat.

      I like being outdoors, but this is an inside day.

  17. I am going to spend August regretting all the shit I was supposed to have done by now and then the guilt will motivate me to get back to work. Is that the Jewish work ethic?

  18. Guest blogging, blogging, twittering, commenting on blogs, launching my Sunday interviews with Jewish writers on MY blog — all because Sept. 7th is the official publication of THE RABBI’S MOTHER, my new mystery, and, yes, I am truly pleased with it.

    Anyhoo, if you know of a Jewish writer out there who would like to do a short interview for my blog, let me know. I’ll ask good questions. Or, I hope I will. Different! Quirky! Original!

  19. Food and Loathing as a YA novel: look at SKINNY by Donna Cooner.

  20. House projects — building new screens for the back porch, finishing an upstairs deck/balcony, putting at least the foundation – posts?- down for the kid’s proposed playhouse, splitting and stacking firewood and going to some waterworld type park with the family. Not as daunting as it sounds, really — a lot of the prliminary work is done, other jobs are slowing down and I might just have some free time. Writing wise, I’m continuing to work on a new beginning for my memoir, easing into the book instead of jumping immediately into the chaos. It seems to be working, almost.
    Tuesdays and Wednesdays are not day camp days, so I get to spend time with my daughter, making up for the working weekends. And in the evenings our family will go for a swim, a walk, to a soccer game/practice, out to listen to music or off in search of the perfect soft ice cream twist cone; hard to beat chocolate and vanilla, but hazelnut/ vanilla is pretty damn good.

  21. Golly, I tried to combine my recently completed essay class with losing 20 pounds, and ended up gaining 10 from the stress. I’m NOT good at feedback, giving or receiving. No more essay classes for me!

  22. It’s all doable, Miss B. It’s a bold move and as my friend Johann is always telling me (gosh, that man yammers on and on)…Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

    I hope your August is magical!

  23. My August has been great. I had my first two-fer day (two NYT articles in two different sections on the same day). An editor called me to ask when she might expect my proposal to hit her desk because she’s “very excited” to see it. School starts in three weeks and I’m getting really anxious to see my students again. Teri Carter publicly announced on her blog that she wants to take Latin, and my children are outside playing with the dog while she chases the chickens and rabbits in the yard. It’s been a great summer.

    Congratulations on the move, Betsy!

  24. I got a big load of nothing planned. French study evasion, croissant gorging, laundry, might do a bit of purging of my already meager possessions in prep for my move to Switzerland in October. I will also contemplate whether to keep on with the arduous task of growing out the pixie scarecut or have a Frenchman named Cedric razor me to near baldness again. Oh yes, it’s a festival of importance and relevance over here.

  25. It is raining here on Martha’s Vineyard and I could not be in a better place. I am on vacation but came to Martha’s Vineyard with a goal, to find my mojo. I am a writer in distress. I have a novel that I am trying to finish, and have run into a cement wall.

    Last week I hopped on a bus not really going anywhere, just needed to soak in the beauty of the trees and beaches to get out of my room, and started talking to the bus driver. This bus driver like most people here are sincerely helpful and friendly. I shared with her that I am a writer with a serious case of writer’s block, after which I apologized for spilling my guts to her when she was only being polite in asking how my day was going.

    Then she told me that I should look up a local writer on the vineyard who is for lack of a better word a writing “guru” and that she hold weekly workshops. I looked her up and this woman is the real deal. I was able to sign up for the workshop and there are about ten other writers like me just pouring our “hearts” out and this is no small feat for how dry my well has been. Not only is it actually pouring here, but the writing is pouring out of me too. This is the best end of July and beginning of August I could have hoped for. Some of you may think I must not get out much but honestly this workshop has turned out to be a love fest of stories, and a life boat in more ways than one. Happy Writing!!!

    • Hey JB, in the acknowledgements of your book don’t forget to thank the bus driver. Write on, write well,

      • Good morning Wry. With the iceberg melting I can now see the thing floating closer and closer. Yeh, she’ll be there for sure. What a tip huh?

        Hey, I loved the image of your boat comment. Something I never tire of looking at on all the ponds at this time of year. There is a feeling of longing when I see them all going off in different directions on the horizon. Too bad I never learned to swim.

        Thanks for the encouraging comment. Enjoy the weddings, I have one son and no sign of a wedding in the future. I would be happy for an elopement at this point. Regards, Josephine.

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