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    Bridge Ladies Sometimes I think a meteor could strike the earth and wipe out mankind with the exception of my mother’s Bridge club — Roz, Bea, Bette, Rhoda, and Jackie — five Jewish octogenarians who continue to gather for lunch and Bridge on Mondays as they have for over fifty years. When I set out to learn about the women behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, and most of all the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Wild Geese That FLy With THe Moon on Their Wing

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I didn’t know David Rakoff well, but that didn’t matter. Whenever I ran into him, always in the Village, he made me feel like a long lost friend. That was just one of his great gifts. And when we promised we would get together, have lunch, in that beautifully insincere New York way, that was okay, too. Because David made you feel so good and laugh so hard in those ten or so minutes that you chatted, you felt this crazy love and inexplicable closeness to someone you later realized you didn’t know all that well. Once, when I asked how his writing was going, he said it like pulling pulling teeth, then his famously arched eyebrow preparing the punchline: out of his dick. I thought he said this spontaneously, just to me. Later, I would learn that this was one of his signature lines. Author, actor, mime, wit, clown, deeply subversive, elegant, and though he would hate to hear me say it because it sounds so pretentious, profound.

This morning I read this article about him and I couldn’t stop crying. He died a year ago, on my birthday. There is no connection in that tragic coincidence. And yet I grasp for anything, astonished that we are mourning him at 47. That his greatest work is being published posthumously.  So when I cry and whimper about how poorly my own work is going, at least for now I will try to remember that I have the opportunity to try harder, that I have life in me, and health. That every mundane task is something I can appreciate, like this morning, doing the laundry, separating the dark from the light.

26 Responses

  1. I still believe that the performance he did on This American Life, talking about his cancer and ending with…well, I don’t want to ruin it…is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldqjM7x6NhE

    • Thanks Jess for the link, our family needed to see this today for reasons I will not expound on and Betsy, I’m washing windows this morning and so fucking thankful that I can.
      God bless the ‘forever’ mind of David Rakoff.

    • thank you, jessica.
      and thank you, betsy.
      you people are wonderful.

      how lovely those moments were.

  2. Today was my dad’s stone unveiling. That is a good thought. I will.

  3. David, fine spirit, thank you.

  4. That’s what life should always about–separating the dark from the light.

  5. I love David Rakoff so much. I watch this little clip about writing all the time when I’m feeling discouraged about my own work. (And also, click the link for the Tumblr of gifts he made for his friends, if you’ve never seen it. Remarkable.) http://bit.ly/1adcrju

  6. Sarcoma’s are nasty.
    So sorry you lost a friend, Betsy. Very sad.

  7. I’ve been grieving the recent loss of a loved one and generally feeling like the world is one cold and shitty place, so this:
    “So when I cry and whimper about how poorly my own work is going, at least for now I will try to remember that I have the opportunity to try harder, that I have life in me, and health.”
    Yeah, I needed that.
    Thanks, Betsy.

  8. What a gift he gave us. A true artist.

  9. I haven’t checked the link yet and feel a bit of an outsider here b/c I didn’t know this writer…but I’ll say this:

    The living always look for the meaning in death, and even if the meaning you find is trivial, it doesn’t matter, it simply shows you cared.

  10. Like Donna, I wasn’t familiar with him. After reading this, and following a couple of the links, I feel like I came to know someone far too late. So sorry for your loss, Betsy–and everyone else’s loss, too.

  11. By the way, this is lovely, especially the end. I love a poetic punch line.

  12. Oh David, here’s to you. And here’s to the dark and the light, and how you can’t always separate the two.

  13. Fraud is one of my favorite comfort reads, which I keep on my bedside table with the David Sedaris.

    I’m so sorry for our loss . . .

  14. Sorry to hear about your friend. Peace.

  15. Some time ago, I painfully learned the importance to make good on those promises to ‘get together soon’. Now, I adjust my calendar for such meetings and look for opportunities to sincerely tell friends and family – even the worker who can be sooo annoying, that I am grateful for them. Loss is truly one of the worst personal experiences. Loss with regrets a long road of difficult introspection – a road where I am still looking for that exit sign.

  16. Betsy, I have read your words and many of David’s over and over, and I must thank you both for reminding me that some tears are a gift.

  17. “… the dark from the light.” Nice, Betsy.

  18. Missing Betsy! Missing, missing, missing! Anybody else checking in here?

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