• 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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The Same Old Fears Wish You Were Here

It’s like a pool table after the break the way people distance themselves in an elevator. Perfectly equidistant. If I were a rat and you were a phone. For twenty-two  years I’ve seen the same doctor in the same office building and the doorman never acknowledges me.Today he had a little shower cap on his cap for the rain or threat of rain. Do you have any idea how much I have hated people who talked about the weather. A red headed messenger reminded me of a boy I went out with in college, neither of us being the other’s first choice. Makes for some really abject lovemaking. If you can’t tell, I am my old cheerful self tonight waiting for a manuscript to fall from the sky and kill me.

What are you looking at?

43 Responses

  1. what do you think i’m looking at? i’m looking at your blog. nice fishes.

  2. Looking at my first page and getting pissed off all over again that I can’t get it to falling-from-the-sky-killing.

  3. A music box my grandmother gave me when I was eight
    A bottle of felt glue
    A dirty tea cup
    A wallet sized school photo of my daughter
    Math fact flashcards
    Slime Green nail polish
    Cholesterol lab work
    A dead cordless phone
    3M Command strips
    Post It notes that have been segregated based on color
    A Bic
    2 not winning Powerball tickets
    4 notes stuck to my monitor about 2 different MS
    A calendar with a deadline date boxed out in red

  4. The way my kids are surprised every afternoon they can’t watch TV until homework is done; that they have to eat dinner before snack; that snack isn’t until 8:00; and that at 8:30 every night they have to get ready for bed. All of this as if it hasn’t happened that way every school night since kindergarten. (That’s going on eight years now for the oldest.)

    So I’m looking at kissing up to grandma to send off my brood for the weekend!

  5. My husband’s iPhone. He’s looking up Jill Kelley’s deets, and I’m peering over his shoulder. We want the dirt on this socialite. Hey, Bets, maybe her memoir will be the thing that lands on your desk.

  6. Sordid tales of generals and their mistresses. Paula Broadwell (Charlotte’s very own Hester Prynne) lives in my neighborhood and I can’t look away.

  7. I’m looking at lenses too smudged to see through. Or maybe my eyes won’t stay open . . .

  8. Looking? I can’t focus. Bank balances, legal papers, the voice of my late friend’s husband dramatically describing himself as “the grieving widower” compete with the discomfort of this barely-heated house to distract and exhaust me from any creative thought. I was the witness to an accident involving a man trapped in a little car; the pickup truck never stopped as its driver steered that huge vehicle into and over the car’s hood. Had my meeting ended 30 seconds sooner, that truck would have hit me. Now, when possible, I avoid promptness.

  9. Yellow trees and musky sky out my window. Time for the bus stop run. Back from London and back to work.

  10. I’m looking at my hands and wondering when that happened. Maybe I’ll go against the grain and tell people I’m older. Just like the time the salesman in Nordstrom looked at me kind of funny when I was trying on something, and I told him I had lost 100 lbs. He was all like yay! You look amazing! And I was all thank you! I don’t know why I did that. It’s not nice to screw with people.

  11. I’m looking at crossroads. Toward my left is familiar territory. I know every twist and turn and could run it blindfold without breaking a sweat. Broken, rusty chains obscure the right. There’s a mountain in the far distance and I can just make out the faint echo of Bob Marley’s GET UP STAND UP.

  12. My screen.
    Eyes up…my beautiful kitchen.
    Stand up…my awesome house.

    Tired of fighting the wolves and the promise to cover the student loans. Problem is if WE don’t feed the wolves the entire family becomes a late night meal for the coyotes. We sometimes hear them in the woods at night, bringing the torn remains of someone’s pet to their young. They scream in delight like tortured babies. I’ve named them, They are called Citibank.

    How naive I was to secretly think I could write my way out to toss my pages and kill. I’m left with only one fucking word…

    Eyes down.
    Body down.

    • Hey, Wry, your blog just let me comment.

      The wolves….they came closer to our door almost three years ago, when my binness, bidness, business ate it, ate it, died. It was good while it lasted, and put the youngest through school without loans, and with his cash stash untouched. I got through on a Ho Chi Minh Scholarship and loans, but was able to do better by The Lads, and I’m glad of it.

      To pick a zoological nit, which is probably a mixed metaphor, technically, a nit being an insect egg or a minor point, I must ask- Citibank: wolves, jackals, jackasses, or the bizarre offspring of a goat-fuck?

    • So sorry Wry 😦

  13. I’m looking at my 13-year-old daughter who, for better or worse, is turning into her mother right before my eyes…

  14. A bright screen in a dark room, a lightening sky outside the window. Taped to the top of the monitor is a tin of Nihilist Mints, a sardonic gift from my editor. On the sill rests two glass boats and one of bronze, a mast light, and a bronze bow eye, next to a picture of Hemmingway, from Key West. Below that hangs a framed enlargement of the graphic from my column: In black and white, across the top, “Small Craft Advisor”, and below that, a photo of an old typewriter holding a blank page, sitting atop a nautical chart, next to a tumbler of amber liquid. The tumbler is half full, or half empty. At the bottom, it reads “From The Desk of B. Frank Franklin”. It was done by my editor, JC, who conspired with Lola to give it to me.

    The desk around the monitor is a series of heaps, with books and notes and scraps, a C.I.B decal for my truck, a picture of the Governor Stone in fog, a Lee Valley catalog, and stuff.

    To my left is a four drawer file cabinet of oak, with a weathervane on top of it, and pictures of my grandchilren on the side, smiling and watching me work or loaf. To my right, on shelves sit compasses, Cuban cigars-real ones- and a box of Capaduras from the Dominican Republic, both cherished gifts, almost enough to make me wish I smoked. There are pictures of Lola and The Lads, my Popeye watch, some carvings, a couple of little pterodactyls, reminders of past flights and fights, and a nice brass oil lamp with a tall chimney There is a drawing of an empty birdcage with the door opened, and the caption “Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. 1922-2007”

    Below that sit a couple of gargoyles, some plaques, and a counted cross stitch piece from Lola, which reads

    Organized people are just too lazy to look for things.

    Thanks, Betsy, for reminding me to look around, and look closely.

  15. I’m looking at my underwear drawer. It’s Tuesday–I can’t remember what color that is.

  16. The boulder I pass on my way to work is probably going to be dynamited soon. I look beyond the mail to my manuscript. I’m getting the fuck off the internet in order to enter edits.

  17. A work a day world with no end in sight, a bottle of peroxide minus a cap, 17 striped maple saplings hacked away at the base as if gnawed by a busy beaver. A guitar with no sound and a banjo hanging on the wall by a thread. A pen and paper, the last line: I hated him for hurting my mother. Pencil and open notepad, worm lines indicating rough hewn log rails; figures and numbers, dimensions drawn to fit within a sixteenth of an inch. Maybe I’d settle for an eighth. Frozen lake, but only slightly, hard ground rising with rocks sinking down.
    And in the mirror, fuzzy eyed head in need of a haircut, shave and cold water slap in the face.

  18. I’m looking outside my window at a guy in a suit screaming at a cabbie. The suit’s face is so red he could blow an aneurysm. The cabbie is zen cool before he takes off, leaving the suit in a cloud of exhaust.

  19. Man, these are some scenes.

  20. A bathroom door that says “decafe” in my favorite cafe. The other door says “regular.” I sit back here because it’s the quietest corner, I have my own light and the outlets are conveniently placed, but it’s always nice to see new people come in and try to figure out where to pee.

    • My kids and I used to sit in the movie theater and watch as people walked up the steps, (it had stadium seating), and we’d make bets on how many people would trip going up them. The risers were lower than most steps, new-comers always tripped and regulars…you had to look down and really pay attention. When I think of the spilled popcorn it makes me laugh. Does that make me bad?

  21. Blonde hills of the Santa Cruz mountains.

  22. I’m looking at my little dog, who, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, is looking at me. There seems to be some expectation that I’ll say something commanding and forceful, but mostly it’s “You wanna go outside? You wanna cookie?” I think she’s disappointed with my leadership skills.

  23. It’s a funereal day here in the Pacific Northwest, genuine drizzlefog and tire-hiss, and it reminds me of my youth. I have one eye on the clock because the day job beckons but after two years in hiding, the manuscript is finally taking shape.

  24. In my office…I am looking at my laptop and on it, this blog, a pencil cup without pencils only pens sits to my left, a half empty water bottle…or is it half full today? Flickering lights on my router, stacks of inspiring books, a can of 3M dust remover, my free gift from NY Review of Books – which is a little red address book, my dilapidated copy of Writer’s Digest which withstood the 50+ whacks to kill the wasps, hornets and other critters that flew into the guest bedroom while I was in Mississippi. It’s “The Big Idea” issue – a keeper.

  25. I’m looking at my latest nonfiction story. Wishing I could afford to hire that editor permanently. I’m looking at how much I’ve changed, for the better-er. I’m looking at a bag of Hawaiian Kettle Style Potato chips I know I don’t need–but it’s looking at me back!!!

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