• 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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It’s a Wonder That You Still Know How to Breathe


Every question every writer has ever asked me about how long they should wait to contact an editor or agent who is considering his work  may now spit in my kasha. And every writer who has asked my advice regarding how to write a cover letter may drop a shovelful of dirt of my grave. I am in Jewish limbo which I believe is like standing on line at Katz’s and not knowing if the pastrami will hold out. Every pore on my face has been scrutinized, every blister on my foot calling out for more torture. One minute I am polishing my acceptance speech and the next I can’t seem to take another step without an infusion of peanut m&m’s.  I’m throwing food from my high chair, I’m trying on clothes in a dressing room that is one hundred degrees and nothing fucking fits, and manically thanking the Starbucks guy working the register as if he were a long lost friend. Please don’t say it’s the journey that counts. Please don’t talk about the “process.” And don’t give me any credit for finishing and getting it out there. What’s so special about special dinners? There is only thing I feel remotely good about is that I’ve started a new project so the screenplay is looking more like a piece of toast with the face of Jesus carved into it.

How sick does it get?

47 Responses

  1. Really sick. You may need some extra therapy for this one babe.

    I’m waiting on something, too and I’ve gone so far as to curse Easter for having the audacity to intrude with it’s 4 day weekend, treading on my need to know. I see your M & Ms and raise you 8 family size bars of Switzerland’s finest chocolate noir.

    On the upside, glad to hear that you are in fine form.

  2. This is how sick: I’m lying in the dentist’s chair with the drill whining away, and I’m telling myself that this filling is part of the process of being PATIENT. Now I’m drooling as I drink my coffee, and trying not to obsessively check my email.

    Good luck Betsy.

  3. Earlier this morning, smiling at a big moon over rippled water, I was wondering how you’re doing, Betsy. Thought about a bunch of people that I miss here, too. It’s really good to hear from you.

    Look at the moon, Betsy. You’ll be fine.

    • Hey Frank, missing Betsy and the bunch too. After the lights went out last night I looked at the moon and thought, what an awesome gift of nature… everything is going to be okay. The squares of moonlight on the carpet were stepping stones to my bed. Had a good night’s sleep and this morning…a post from Betsy. Hey all !

    • Hi, Frank. The winter has been a long one up here and it’s not over yet. Enjoy that southern moon!

      • Hey, Carolyn and Mike. I’ve been around Largo and in the ‘glades, where it went over 90 degrees for a while in February. Coming north, the back roads through the tidal swamps on the gulf made for a special trip, finding places to hide when we come by boat. The sands in the panhandle were blinding at low tide with a north wind; In some places you could have walked out a quarter mile without getting your feet wet.

        Now it’s time to check the gear and fill the larder. By the end of next week we’ll be under sail for about five days, followed by a deadline to write it up. Then comes the other one, a couple of weeks maybe, some big water in a very small boat.

        I can’t wait.

      • God’s speed and safe trip on the big water. Give us a link to the piece when it breaks. Will be thinkin’ about you, big water and the breezes that bring you home.

  4. I’d say now is the time to break out your bionic armor and let the arrows fly. It’s the problem with notority. You are automatically opened to it all. You’re smart, though, and new projects are so good for the soul. And don’t forget us. We love, love, love it when you show up. Gives us a reason to reconnect.

  5. Ebola virus sick. Like, things are spewing out of your eyes, sick. No, worse! It’s like that Whack-a-Mole game where the entire psychological process (sorry!) of every part of your mind pops up. Well, at least all the crappy negative ones.

    Mole 1 – I suck
    Mole 2 – The worlds sucks
    Mole 3 – What the hell were you thinking trying this? (might sound suspiciously like your mother)
    Mole 4 – Maybe I can get a job in the insurance field. Insurance is a nice safe business; the very word implies it.
    Mole 5 – I didn’t quite get chapter 17 right. I knew that dialogue was off!
    Mole 6-infinity…Just more various ways that I suck.

    You just keep whacking, but it never stops.You just keep whacking.

  6. Love the one you’re with—it’s the only way out of that gut twirl.

  7. And one more thing…The below TED talk reminds me of the act of submitting a project. It’s as if you’re saying, “Here. I’m going to be vulnerable to you.” The very word “submit” almost says it all. I am not a fan of vulnerability. Is anyone?

  8. No matter how sick it gets it can always get sicker and will until that special moment… the call, the urine soaked blue stick, the fat envelope, the return, the night out, the fuck, the glass of water, the will-you?, the yes, the never looked back and the welcome.
    Betsy, peanut M&Ms are sad pills, switch to plain; they are mood enhancing fat makers, love em.

    • It’s so sick I had to write the Pollyanna puke I wrote at 9:13 just so I won’t feel so bad about how sick it is. It’s so sick that after losing 92 lbs I ate half a cake last night, I have blue and yellow frosting stains on my pillow.
      How sick is it? I had to look up (sic) today because my editor used it, I read the definition and I still don’t know what the fuck it means.
      Does anybody? Now that’s (sic).

      • You usually use it in a quote when the original author makes a mistake . It means something like “as it was written,” but it really means “the other author made this mistake in the original, I had nothing to do with it”. I like to think of it as an ass-covering abbreviation.

      • it’s short for “sic erat scriptum,” which is latin for “thus it was written.” as independentclause pointed out, it’s used these days to mean “that’s the way the original was written,” when otherwise the error it refers to might be regarded as a typographical or other editing or conceptual error. it shows up in legal documents a lot.

  9. Yes, but how long should one wait?

  10. It gets so sick that you end up huddling over your laptop so paralyzed by doubts you don’t know if you’ll even be able to text a grocery list to your MIL for fear of further rejection and wondering why all the agencies and publishing companies and magazines you haven’t contacted can’t just identify your nascent talent through the power of Googelfu and call you to ask if you have anything they might read.

    And then you hit send because you refuse to admit you’re that person.

    • Oh wow… I am That Person!
      Usually, I wait 2 months and if I hear nothing I assume it’s a No, and move on.
      I’m so sick these days that I’m copping an attitude, going anti-industry and writing a novella, in pen & ink, in a notebook that I’m taking to Paris. M & M’s don’t fill me up. Paris will.

  11. Sick. I think I’ve broken my touchpad for all the refreshing of my inbox. I’m developing fingertip callouses. My ass has fallen asleep. I’ve taken to carrying digital devices into the bathroom so I don’t miss any emails.

    That sick.

  12. How sick does it get?

    Sick as the most twisted relationship you could ever have – with yourself, your laptop, your email. The constant gnawing worry of the dreaded wait.

    But, when you are waiting, there is still hope. At least that’s how I see it.

  13. I no longer care.

    Is that impossibly profound and zen, or the sickest of all?

  14. “How sick does it get?”

    How sick do you want it to get? It’ll get sicker than that. You’ll get sick of how sick it gets. (Oh, you’ll revel in it, too. War stories! Demons defeated! I slipped into the dragon’s lair and made off with the treasure! Look! Hey! Whole Fucking World, hey! Look!)

    It gets as sick as we can get it to get. Why are we not accountants? Or cats?

  15. If it makes you feel any better, this morning I typed a private rant to a friend, which I accidentally posted to my blog, so now I’m getting emails from all over saying basically, “Holy hell, do you know you posted this in public?”

  16. The sickness begins as soon as you press send. And it doesn’t improve with anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, painkillers, gin, or coconut water. Or people who keep asking if you’ve heard anything. We must catch the bullet in our teeth and live life like it’s OK – that this is how it’s meant to be. And forget M & Ms. Try Maltesers. They’re only 11 calories and you can balance them in the air by blowing through a straw. It passes the time.

  17. I’m pretty sure sick is the new normal.

    I’ve made the unilateral decision that 2013 is my year for health, happiness, and failure to fail. I have a hunch that screenplay will hit a sweet spot this year too. xo.

  18. Vomit, bile green, dribbling out the side of catatonic mouth, face down on the barroom floor. Some bad shit and a whiskey headache, double motherfuck that brown liquid. I can see the door but I can’t move. Most everyone steps over me, ignoring the swollen speedbump, but a few step down hard, one or two grinding their heels with teeth clenched pleasure, or something like that. And then a light, a faint distant glow of hope; my faith is rewarded, all that I’m immune to and everything I’m entitled to coming my way. Sudden abrupt departure, floor gone, vertical once more. The police hauling my ass off to jail. Sick with future embarrassment, a night in jail, police blotter in the morning, hard to face the congregation on Sunday, hallelujah and amen!
    Well, shit, feeling this bad means I ain’t dead.

  19. Well, as long as there’s one thing you can feel remotely good about Betsy.

  20. Before I read through all the other comments, I thought this was some type of post-Seder question, i.e.: why is this project different from any other project?

    In the same view, perhaps the root issue is fear that the “afikomen” has either already been located or is really lost? Understandable: I’m worrying that my own latest proposal won’t be unique enough for a certain publisher. Which is unlikely (given the subject) yet I’m full of jitters, too. Obviously, I need more coffee.

    ps – good to read your words & The Tribe’s again.

  21. Oh but it can ALWAYS get sicker. Always.

    Man up Betsy.

  22. You know, Betsy, you could come here and hang with us. I know, we’re sick too, but really, wouldn’t it be good to be in the same ward?

    • I’ve never missed a community as much as I have missed this one. It’s like the gym where we all met burned down. Sure we can meet somewhere else, and occasionally we do, but it’s the sassy custodian who opened the door for us which made the difference. It’d be nice if she opened up the place more, handed out a few towels, a couple bottles of Poland Spring and some balls.
      That’s right the girl has balls.

  23. Ha! I’m sick enough that I think I can just tell people what sic is or how often you can use exclamation points in formal and informal writing. I have fucking rules about this shit. That’s sick.

  24. If you were only waiting for a reply from Liftetime TV I’d say you were putting way too much thought into it but, knowing you, you’re probably in talks with Dreamworks or Tim Burton in which case you’re remarkably sane considering that if it were me I’d be on a bender in the French Quarter, is all I’m saying.

    • You, bah. You sent your stuff to one agent, and signed with her. You’re as bad as Betsy.

      More spittle and grave dirt, please.

      • There you are August. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but let me just say…when Betsy posts a post, I look for you. (or your replies… I should say…) Along with a lot of others out here… i.e. “the tribe…” as someone above put it.

  25. So happy to have a community of fellow sick-os. It’s been a long time (a VERY long time) since I’ve had anything in submission, but reading through your post and all these amazing comments and I’m back in those stomach-churning throes. During the worst of them, I imagined lunch meetings at the recipient’s office where the entertainment was people doing interpretive readings of my work and cackling their heads off, while asking each other who is this deluded half-wit and is English her first language.

  26. No brackets for you, eh? I’m telling you, sports fannery is an exquisite distraction. Soccer, basketball, fucking water polo. Or drive 1,000 miles listening to shitty books on tape. Now THAT’S a journey.

  27. Vladimir & Estragon ain’t got nothin’ on writers. We put it out there and we wait. We eat shit until the caviar arrives. We eat shit until it tastes like caviar. Or by the time it does arrives maybe the caviar tastes like shit. This is the work we chose.

  28. Just last week, I said to my husband: there has to be some specific portion of time that is neither so soon, you become a nag nor so long, you seem to have forgotten about whomever you queried/submitted to. I just can’t figure out what that amount of time is.

    I’m not familiar enough with the publishing biz to know these things. Nor am I comfortable with the fact that every agent and every publisher (every editor, even) makes their own rules. I work in healthcare, dammit! There are very clear, hard rules about pretty much everything. I fucking hate ambiguity.

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