• 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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I’m Ready To Go Anywhere

In my memoir Food and Loathing, I wrote about going to temple on the high holy days and seeing a particular woman who was always dressed to the nines. I compared her to Snow White’s evil stepmother, and my mother and I debated whether she had a healthy ego getting dolled up like that or if she suffered from  low self-esteem like us and was compensating. After the book came out, people from our temple read it and knew exactly who I had written about and they’d whisper to me, it’s so-and-s0, right? I’d deny it, say it was a composite of the Woodbridge matrons. Of all the things I could regret writing in that motherfucking book, nothing troubles me as much as my portrayal of that temple lady. I saw her again today. She was as haute as ever. I avoided making eye contact as I do every year. I feel like an asshole because I made fun of her and she was an innocent bystander in my screed. It was an easy laugh. An easy mark. I wish I had handled it better.  Of course, the laugh is finally on me since I’m still sitting here in temple on a day of renewal and hope feeling like a piece of shit in a four year old dress.

Do you regret anything you’ve written?

47 Responses

  1. No.
    Yes; (some) queries.

    • Welcome back, Wry. Hope all went wonderfully.

      • Thanks Frank, glad to be back.
        It was beyond wonderful. Toward the end of the day my daughter said she took a few minutes to just look around and contemplate the day, She said it was ‘perfect’ exactly what she had envisioned. Nice to be able to do that for my daughter and her shiny new husband.
        That’s the last duck in line. Calm waters in my pond for a while; I think a little drifting aimlessly is in order.

  2. I just had an essay accepted and this very minute — all day today — I’m obsessing and parsing every single scene, wondering if I hit any easy and unnecessary marks. Does this ever go away?

  3. If my book ever gets published, I know I’m going to be a bit paranoid. And there is this one story I had published that I hope Adam Sandler doesn’t read. ha ha, just kidding (not really).

  4. »Do you regret anything you’ve written?«

    Yes: everything I’ve ever posted on Facebook. I’ve got probably at least three books’ worth of word count in status updates, snappy comebacks, and assorted rants posted there.

    Of all the awful things I’ve done in life, I feel like God will give me a pass for everything but wasting time.

  5. Yes. I was once called out by the person herself. Yes. Also in fourth grade I made up a really mean song about one of the teacher’s aids who was extremely obese. It was a very popular song at Oakpark Elementary. What is strange is to hear my mother retell that tale with a touch of pride for my creativity–I wonder if she knows how ashamed that story makes me feel?

  6. Decades ago, I composed a rhyme to tease my sister. The stuff of a typical sibling spat, it was nothing remarkable. However my father, a master in the art of teasing, enjoyed it so much he tormented my sister with that 5-line ditty until the last years of his life. A vivid lesson of the power of words, the unintended result still haunts me; my sister and I never discuss that aspect of our family dynamic.

  7. not yet–i’m still regretting the stuff i haven’t written.

  8. “Do you regret anything you’ve written?”

    Only when I’ve written badly, which happens with disconcerting frequency.

  9. fuck yes. pretty much everything.

  10. Yeah. I was flattered into writing a story I didn’t really want to do and the experience stunk on ice—plus, the story was . . . not my best work.

    Luckily, it was for “fun” and didn’t “count,” except for the hit to the ol’ self esteem.

  11. Was looking forward to your yearly temple story, Betsy, and this one didn’t disappoint. I’m afraid I’ll regret what I’m about to continue writing, my new novel tentatively titled Jewish American Prince. How can I disguise my sister, the Freudian Shrink, my mother, the great baker who would give her soul for her children to eat, eat, eat…or my dad and his non-stop TV watching? I’m really afraid I’ll regret this one, and that’s why I can’t seem to write it! Please wait till Halloween to wish me a Happy New Year, I want to tell them. Don’t they know that’s my holiday?

  12. Yeah, one story that was published in a book. I sort of used a friend whose husband managed a hotel, and a famous photographer friend of hers. All as starting points you see. Only I made the husband Ivorian (he was French) and the friend runs off with the (female) photographer.

    They read the story.

  13. Yes. An article I wrote for a newsletter explaining the marriage tax penalty, and how the lack of social benefits like universally paid maternity leave and affordable daycare affect a mother’s income over a lifetime and leave her vulnerable in old age. It was met either with blank stares, or the notion that I was a pompous ass. I really should have written about homemade playdough. The fiction hasn’t hit mainstream yet, so I’m still safe.

  14. Every blog post about loathing I’ve ever written along with the majority of the words in my current WIP.
    And my comments here. Does anyone else hit “send” and regret it immediately?

  15. Herein lies the beauty of fiction & pseudonyms. Plus the fact that my stories are in lit journals, which no one reads.

  16. I regret stories that seemed like a good idea at the time, but look silly or contrived later. What I don’t do, though, is use words as instruments of revenge. There’s enough strife and anger out there without me making a donation; there’s enough out there that piques my curiosity or sense of wonder, humor, or irony too.

  17. Not yet, but I’m working on it.

  18. We write to discover what we know, to make order out of this disordered life. All writing, like all experience, should be used or thought of as a learning opportunity, and we shouldn’t regret anything we’ve written. Publishing is a different matter. Currently I’m a little freaked at the prospect of publishing a memoir I’ve been working on for a number of years. I regret NOTHING about writing the book, it’s clearly my (discovered) truth. Some members of my family likely won’t see it that way. I wish my biggest problem was having to avoid eye contact with some lady in the synagogue.

  19. Yes. A piece I wrote that expounded on a short story about divorce I had written for my recently divorced girlfriend. The first piece was a lot of fun, spaceships and time travel and a character named Yerpop. She loved it. So I wrote a sort of sequel that was all whiney and self indulgent. It made her mad at life and she hated it. The lesson was I should have let well enough alone. This is something I’m still learning.

  20. I haven’t regretting writing anything yet. Then again, none of it has been published. I could be in big trouble someday. But I shouldn’t think about that now, right?

  21. I wrote a piece about my appearance on a reality show. It went viral and now it’s going to be published–not that big a publication credit, but I’m wondering if I’m going to be sued. I’d argue that it doesn’t actually violate my contract–either the show in question doesn’t dictate the audience’s reaction, in which case it’s not about them, or they do use paid shills, in which case it’s not libel, it’s the truth. But they have bigger lawyers than I do…so regret may be coming my way.

  22. Not yet. I wonder more about what I might regret NOT writing.

  23. Yes, but not relative to the novels written (b/c they ain’t published yet ya know), but more in line with day to day communications. I tend to get all excited and whatnot when my agent or the freelance editor reach out to me. The word effusive comes to mind when I think of my emails. I’ve got to learn more about staying pithy. I always feel like such an ingenue when it’s all said and done.

  24. This morning my husband accused me of living life in close third. Where to begin the regret?

  25. I’ve not published anything yet, so it’s not official regret, I suppose. But I seem to have a really good idea and I’m going with it, then the next morning it all seems dumb and I regret it.

    My WIP follows my mom’s childhood and I’ve interviewed all her sisters as well as my mom…I have all kinds of regret in the making.

  26. Yup. Sort of a similar situation, In my first novel there’s a character who looks like a well-known woman in my town. Everyone assumes the character is based on this woman, but she isn’t. No one believes me, including the woman in question. I’m pretty sure there are hurt feelings, but what can I do? The more I deny the connection, the more folks assume I’m lying.

    Other regret: Whatever I wrote in my comment a few weeks ago that prompted you to delete it.

  27. We’re not published yet, but one of our manuscripts tend to veer towards controversial territory. We try to reign each other in as much as possible, but we’re mother and daughter and we tend to think on the same wavelength. We always end up pissing somebody off, so we’re quite used to putting our feet in our mouth.

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