• 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 Night Is Yours Alone

Make my day.

Make my day.

I used to have eczema, one of the more stately writer rashes, but I haven’t been writing enough for years to produce a single flake. My other writerly infirmities include fingers stripped of their cuticles with occasional blood, poor eyesight of almost Miltonic magnitude, I don’t go to the bathroom or I go too much, my head throbs, and my hands are hairy. Did I mention that my back hurts? That my tears are very salty? Oceanic. Why shouldn’t writers complain? Everyone hates us? We hate ourselves! All this sensitivity and for what? Giving up Coke Zero and for what? And cigarettes and percodan and Kanye: for what!? Writers beware: your writing sucks and then you die.

What hurts?

59 Responses

  1. It’s psoriasis for me, and the lure of a martini.

    You’re a riot, Betsy. Given that I’m no longer writing, it’s clear your appeal goes beyond Writers and extends to Human Beings.

    • Josephine, the decision to step away from something as consuming as writing, something which you do very well, something hard to do adequately, and impossible to do perfectly must have been difficult indeed. I salute your courage, and wish you well.

  2. As of late, my tummy.

  3. My eyes. Always the eyes.

  4. i have an ache in my ribs on the left. it’s kind of non-specific and i attribute it to the lingering thought i’ve had lately, that i write to be heard, that few people listen; and i wonder if i ache because i have nothing to say even though i want to say something; and then i remember this nursing instructor i had who was such a bully, with her exacting attitude, the daily measurement of my hem from the knee; she smiled and interrupted me when i tried to say something because she enjoyed being mean; and she lost both her breasts to cancer and i couldn’t care less. and when she died and everyone made her out to be a fucking saint, i just thought, she’s dead. and i think i’m an asshole for still thinking that, all these years later.

  5. Eyes, back, neck. The antidote is to be outside, gathering materiel, so that I can go back inside and start slogging into it again.

  6. Intermittent sciatica down my left leg, but I should blame the kids for that one—even as fetuses they did as they pleased without a thought for their poor, staggering mother.

    Writing has placed me in a semi-permanent fugue state—but it only hurts when I shake it off.

  7. Ambition.

  8. Back pain, and I drink too much. But I did just read Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp at the recommendations I found in this blog and I took comfort from that sad book – especially tragic since she then went on to die of lung cancer, so her addictions killed her in the end anyway – that I’m nowhere near anything resembling an alcoholic: good news.

    Your writing sucks and then you die. Or your life sucks and then you die. I think I’ll take option #1.

    • Oh, so glad you discovered Caroline Knapp. Her life was short & sad but her words still inspire. Plus, she was such an intense, eccentric writerly personality. Smart, too. Miss that in books lately.

  9. Dear Betsy,

    I suck as a writer, but you’re slowly and surely bringing out my guts. You are the B!



    Sent from my iPhone

  10. A lot of lives suck, not just writing ones. But all this giving up and living in word-world, I do look outside sometimes and wonder if it’s worth it.

    Most probably not.

  11. I am sorry you are hurting so much. Your writing doesn’t suck, but I know there are times when it is easy to be hypercritical of ourselves. No matter how challenging or depressing my life is today, it is a vast improvement to the abuse I received as a child. When I get depressed, I count my blessings and look at what is good about my life. Yes, my prose will always need improvement, but today it sucks less than it did yesterday. Gotta be proud about that. 🙂 One of the reasons it sucks less is because you bravely put fingers to keypad to put out a fantastic blog.

  12. This afternoon, after listening to AMBER BROWN on tape, my almost 7 year old son said to me, “If you got divorced, I’d want to live with daddy.”

    I’d say it was my heart that’s hurting.

    • As a divorced mom, I’ve learned that when your child trusts you with such comments, they are really trusting you with their hearts.

      • As a child all I wanted to do was live with my father but I would never have dreamed of telling my mother that. I really wish I could have. Perhaps it would have changed things between us.

  13. pain is god’s way of letting us know we’re not dead yet

  14. Walked into B&N today and saw 50 Shades of Porn on the Fiction Bestsellers stand. Right now, my ego hurts because that piece of shit (and its 2 sequels) got published and a multimillion dollar movie deal and I still haven’t got an agent.

  15. Heart for sure.

  16. I am so ready to put down the pen I can’t stand it. And with that chimp sticking a gun in my face I say, go ahead, make MY day.

  17. Getting up at 4 am.

  18. What hurts?
    Not a God-damned thing.

    Who cares if your writing sucks you’re going to die anyway. Writers are over sensitive whiners. I can do 1200 words on bleeding cuticles and get a byline out of it. Give me a word count on constipation and I’ll have you laughing so hard you’ll shit your pants. Does that put food on my table; a can of diet Pepsi maybe, (coke zero…yuck). I am the luckiest bitch alive ‘cause I get to do what I do.

    We just had a death in our family which has brought each and every one of us to our mother-fucking-knees.

    Listen up boys and girls, instead of asking what hurts, you should be asking…what the fuck made you feel good today. I’ll answer first.

    What made me feel good today?
    Not a God-damned thing.

  19. One of my students died this week. 19 yrs old. Death by oncoming train. I spent all day yesterday with a friend deciding what we’ll say at his memorial. Should we read his poems? The poems are so horrific and dark, but they are “him.” Whom will we hurt? Why do we care? We are freakishly glad there’s a memorial at all. Who wants my Book of Mormon tickets, frantically purchased and suddenly available during the funeral?

    • Don’t read about his darkness, read about his light.
      What made YOU want to say anything? Read that, say that. Your not reading for him, you’re reading for every person who shows up to honor his life, no matter how dark and horrific it might have been.

    • What a sad loss; I will keep all of you in my thoughts.One of the most touching moments at my late friend’s memorial was listening to the poem written about her by a fellow professor. When he finished, there was a collective, wavering sigh of grief and happy remembrance.

    • Oh Teri. That hurts. Really, really.

    • Sorry to hear about your student, Teri. And I hope people listen to his poems at the funeral.

    • I read about this on your blog I think? Saw his picture…what a smile. Talk about that and whatever darkness comes from his poems, the light he had within him will overcome it.

    • Sorry Teri. So sorry. I think you can always celebrate the need to be creative, to put the dark to paper. It’s a hopeful impulse, no matter what the outcome is. That those ink marks might reach someone, somehow, someway. Love to you.

  20. Mostly my feelings. For the other shit, there’s healers.

  21. I feel lucky most of the time, but after seeing what has happened to others here, that notion is very strong indeed. May peace and laughter come to live with you.

  22. My head after too much whiskey. My throat after too much weed. My stomach after hot, spicy, fatty food that I should know better not to eat. My asshole (see previous sentence).

  23. Seeing sick, hospitalized children all the time hurts. Seeing their terrified, young parents hurts, too.

    I’m jaded to the rest. And my writing doesn’t suck. Sorry.

  24. What hurts? Looking at my checking account.

  25. Warning: drink lots of water; it will guarantee you rise from your desk. I spent 16 hours working on a final edit for the publisher who gave me two days to get it back to them. No bathroom breaks, no meals. Finally finished, I collapsed onto the floor with severe cramps in both legs that wouldn’t give up. Our community is small. When my husband called 911, all the neighbors with scanners knew.

    • Blood clots are a risk when so much time passes with minimal movement. I hope you’re all right. One of my physiology professors offered tips to students who’d study for hours on end, and it was to wiggle our toes at regular intervals, as the movement directly affected the deeper muscles, which massaged the major arteries in the legs to maintain even bloodflow.

  26. Count me on the everything sucking column today. Compared to those mourning, I think the word sucking speaks to the triviality of what I’ve got this Monday morning. For that I’m grateful.

  27. My gut. From laughing at your post

  28. My non existent day job world. As for writing, writing is a privilege. It shits me to tears when writers complain about writing.

  29. OK OK my writing sucks
    but yours is beautiful❤️

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