• 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.
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If You’re Happy and You KNow It CLap Your Hands

Okay. I did it. Twenty two hours, eight Coke Zeros, four low fat hot dogs, and a million cherry tomatoes (wouldn’t it just be easier  to smoke?): I finished my screenplay. I said I’d do it by the end of the summer or put it on that cold shelf in hell. I fell asleep twice while writing, reorganized my top desk drawer, moved all the pictures in my office to different spots four times, destroyed my baby toes, and got the motherfucking thing done. I’m not looking at it for a few weeks, advice I’ve handily dispensed all my  life and never followed. The desire to start picking at it is titanic. But I’m not doing it. I think I cracked the structure problem, and I may even know what it’s about now. Maybe.  My husband asked me what I’m going to do with it now. All I could lovingly think to reply was that I would shove it up my ass. A little angry? Sure. I mean what is all this for? It’s not like I’m living the dream.

Is anybody? (and try not to say anything hopeful, encouraging or congratulatory because I will only use it to club myself).

52 Responses

  1. Oh my god, never never have a low fat hotdog. You fininished your screenplay! Yee fucking haw!!!!! Seriously! Leave it alone for a few weeks and lie down to rest for a day or five. Cheers, Betsy!

  2. Just remember once it is inserted up there it must cook for several weeks. Heed your words. I’m resisting all references to ass ANALogies.
    You did it girl. You humble me.

  3. OK, Betsy, I won’t congratulate you. Instead, I’ll say I thought of you and Phillip Larkin today when I had an argument with my mother. I always think of you when I fight with my mother. Oi vey, these Jewish mothers. Apparently, they’re not happy unless their sons are fat. The whole family thinks I’m too skinny. I told her I choose to be this way and to stop commenting on my appearance. (They criticized my haircut until I was in my 40’s.) So I hope your screenplay has some of this Jewish angst in it. I always say that Catholic hell happens after you die, but Jewish hell is right now. Have a good few weeks…AWAY from the screenplay!

  4. I’m angry too! I’m not living the dream either! But you finished it. And I don’t want you to get a swelled head or anything (because that’s likely to happen), but that’s a big fucking deal.

    And yes, people told me that when I finished my book, and I still think they’re crazy.

    And if you’re going to have hot dogs, go with the regular ones. Might as well.

  5. It’s all a dream. We are such lucky dreamers, we who congregate here in this clean, well-lighted place.

    • I actually do believe it’s all a dream.

    • Tetman, 3Kings: We run the risk of annoying the shit outta people when we say it’s all a dream. Was Hiroshima a dream? Is Haiti after a hurricane a dream?

      I’ve got other metaphors: it’s all a Monopoly game, a reflection in a funhouse mirror, a stage performance, a movie. Not particularly original, I know. Our lives are no more substantial than the film on a reel, flickering by at 24 fps. But oh, how the light shines through us, how absorbed in the visions we project! And let’s remember that just because there’s no water in a mirage, it doesn’t mean there isn’t real water somewhere else. If we’re thirsty (and we are) we keep searching for water.

  6. I thought finishing it WAS living the dream.

  7. We need dreams with more motorcycles and steampunk unicorns.

  8. What the hell took you so long?

  9. I wonder, Miss B, if it would be okay if I used your finishing your screenplay–or anybody finishing anything, ever–to club my own self. Nobody would mind, right? Gosh, that last leg is a m*therf**ker! I thought I was doing a quick 100-year (that was surely a Freudian mistake, but I’m leaving it) dash and found that I was actually lined up for the flipping marathon and no one told me. Bastards!

    Even though I’m not supposed to say this…Congratulations! (Strangely, I find that it’s actually kinda heartfelt.) That’s a big deal and I wish you all kinds of good things from it. Please forgive my crass congrats and hopefulness. I’ll try not to do it again.

  10. Okay, nothing positive or optimistic…
    You should have gone full out on the hot dog. If finishing a screenplay doesn’t scream “fuck-it-I’m-done!” then really, what is the point?
    (okay and a small whisper of “yes!” not to be mistaken as anything you club yourself with in a moment of self-flaggelation)

  11. Yeah, I’m living the dream – make that the bad dream of watching too many weather reports and hoping all my preparations hold. I ‘get’ the anger, too – I think it’s the emotional reward for too much focused effort.

    But cherry tomatoes? yikes! you have earned at least a peach cobbler.

  12. I soooo understand the anger. I was helping my hubby with a research assignment this half of the semester and 8 weeks was 8 weeks too many. I wanted to do nothing but curse the damn thing once we finished! I am going to be a flipping angry psycho should I finish anything I’m writing!

  13. Dude, just smoke.

  14. Fire up a doob or something. And for the love of god, get a slab of meat worthy of your toil.

    Sweet dreams.

  15. Oh good. Now you can focus all your attention on the presidential race.

  16. I’d love to read it. You know my email. Attach it, if you want. I think I’m a decent editor– I mean, if you don’t mind that I like Steinbeck.

  17. Who’s your agent?

  18. Living the dream? Whenever I’ve heard someone use that expression I’ve gotten the impression he was trying to convince himself of something. So no, I suppose I’m not. But first thing in the mornng I thank the God of my misunderstanding for another day. Often I get something useful done, and I love and am loved. That may not be much of a dream, but it’s a pretty good reality.

  19. About fucking time.

  20. Not living the dream, but still dreaming it, which means I’m not without hope, I guess, though it might just mean I’m delusional.

    Anyway, congrats!

  21. Last night my sister telephoned me to ask, again, why I haven’t sent my writing OUT THERE yet. Didn’t want to tell her that it’s STILL not finished. At least you did it. So, let your screenplay percolate for a while and…ummm, percolate. I need coffee.

    And, really, low fat hot dogs? What’s the point…

    Living the dream. That’s what we’re all doing. Some of us are in the really good part, some not. But let’s not wake up.

  22. Anger can be an effective motivator. But quit with the angst already. Suck it up, man up, butch up, seven-up, pay-up, whatever. Walk it off. Let it rest as you propose. Then review and see if it’s done-and-done in your eyes or needs some zippy-do-dah tinkering to make it shine or something equally acceptable to your critical eye. Then give the kid a nice little slap on the tookus, a peck on the cheek, a whisper of encouragement, and send it out to the cold cruel world. Or you can shove it up your a-hole. The choice is yours.

  23. It depends. Dreams shift and change. Two years ago I dreamed of being able to stay at home and write. Today, I’m doing that. One year ago I dreamed of finishing the first book. Done that. Next, I dreamed of having an agent. Living that – for at least a year anyway. Dreamed I could finish a second book. Check. The most persistent dream is “the offer.” Not living that one yet.

  24. Yay, you.
    I have so many dreams. Some of them I am, indeed, living. Others are more elusive.

  25. What a fabulous hot mess you are. Go get a pedicure.

  26. This is your first screenplay? I remember the sinking feeling of finishing my first, only to realize it was sheer crap, then realize it wasn’t that bad but had holes the size of Battleship and terrible dialogue. I’m starting to believe the advice of working screenwriters, that it takes 5 years and 3 screenplays to begin writing one well. Hang in there, Betsy. I think we’ll all look back at our first screenplays as the darlings we loved who couldn’t. Like looking at baby pictures – cute, but thank Heavens we no longer have to change the diapers.

  27. Ok. Fine. No snaps for you.

    Just some Veuve, popped on the fire escape, with all of us hanging around. Shove it wherever you want and party on!

  28. I know I’m not living the dream, but hopefully I’m done with the nightmare part. I don’t even know how it happened, the end of the nightmare. It might have been when I realized how suddenly life can end, so what’s the point of pissing it away? You did what you set out to do, so fuckity fuck fuck. (That’s kind of meant as a hopefully encouraging congratulations, but certainly not one you hear every day, so good luck finding a fuckity fuck fuck in the club closet).

  29. Betsy, sorry to comment, yet again, but living the dream got me to thinking. My thoughts became too long for another comment so I posted them on my blog in case anyone is interested. Okay, I promise, no more comments here today, the store is closed.

  30. I had a lot of dreams once, but some of them came true…
    The honey’s sometimes bitter when fortune falls on you

  31. You’re not upside down in a Haitian mud ditch. I’d say you are living the dream. We all are. Congratulations on finishing.

  32. I am worried about the baby toes.

  33. Yea! Yay! Or however it’s spelled.

  34. I have trouble with this not saying anything hopeful etc. Since you gave a direct order: So slackarse, all you have to do now is sell it, piece of gâteau ma cherie. Just feels wrong.

  35. The only worry now: Who will you hire to novelize it?

    Congratulations, Betsy!

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