• Bridge Ladies

    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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Ain’t No Valley Low Enough

 

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Do you suffer from depression? Low-grade? Clinical? Bi-polar? Mood-swings? Anxiety? Mixed-state? Are you agitated, angry, paranoid, hostile, passive-aggressive? Do you alienate friends and family, are you bitter, resentful, full of schadenfreude? Do your turn on people who try to help you? TUrn on yourself? Is there a voice or many in your head, a drum, a thrum, a constant stream of nasty as fuck comments?

Are you a writer?

15 Responses

  1. No. I believe that would be Donald Trump.

  2. I guess I could count myself as lucky (?) I’ve never been clinically diagnosed with any of the above. Having said that – yes to all the questions. Meaning, at some point in time, I have been bitter, resentful, anxious, had a mood swing, alienated friends/family and on and on.

    In regards to bitter/resentful…here’s a piece of dirty laundry: my MIL and I had a huge blow up a couple months back – after she showed up over here acting like an ASS. She came on her high horse pissed b/c we forgot to call my FIL on his birthday. We did call – and wished him a happy belated b’day – but that wasn’t good enough. That, among many, many other things she’d evidently stored up for an ass chewing. I’m still seething over her comments.

  3. When I’m out walking, my thoughts meandering, I’m rude to people who want to stop and chitchat. I’m thinking of an image/sentence/scenario and not really interested in hearing about how Fluffy the poodle hasn’t made a stool in three days. Same as when I’m upstairs writing typing on the computer and my daughter bursts in to show me the latest post on her Musically app. Sorry kid, not now, I say without breaking stride. Her hurt cuts me deep, though, and soon the train of thought has stopped at the station and I reach out to her and we watch the clip and usually it is funny — the kid has a weird sense of humor.
    In those instances, I guess I’m a writer.
    My depression I have some control over, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still there. This morning I read about a 16 year old who went into the woods nearby and killed herself. I was sad because she was so young, scarred and alone. Her depression cuts me more than my own.

  4. When I take autism tests and answer with my writer self, I rank very high on the autism scale.

  5. No. But my characters are.

  6. I don’t think I’m clinically depressed, but oh yeah, I’m moody. I just can’t take people’s shit anymore. Never could, but for years I tried.
    I think my smart ass moods help create a bit of edge in my writing, which works for me. That, and a decent sense of humor.

  7. I was formally diagnosed as hypomanic and having severe PTSD by Columbia-Presbyterian neurologists, exacerbating my Parkinson’s/ movement disorders. All of these inform, drive, and in some ways are a gift to my writing. I am late to personal writing (started ten years ago), but I was a technical writer for three decades for complex projects, for Yale and others. My OCD/hypomania made me exacting and thorough, and I learned how to write with clarity.
    The traumas behind my diagnosis have been the focus of much of my writing, but facing those events late in life required a breakdown and rebuild, and the existentialist relationship I have with the world now is a gift to my writing, if not always to the reader. (I have learned to rein in without compromising.) Because I spent decades “in harness,” working 80 hour weeks as a way of running from what happened, I cannot dissemble or disguise anymore. There is an all or nothing aspect to my emotional health, and writing and art are a vital part of my ability to thrive.
    I don’t know what others mean when they say closure or wholeness. I understand the idea, but what i finally faced, re-inhabited, is unbearable. I engage in healing activities—tai chi, artistic expression, gardening, speaking out about abuse—but what happened to me, and to some of us, cannot be healed. Thus your questions—which rely on diagnostic and etiology language familiar to clinicians and educated readers—don’t really apply to severe, sustained trauma. I am not depressed, but I am filled with a grim despair much of the time. I am rarely suicidal, but I don’t want to be here. I stay because I promised my three grown daughters and loved ones that they would “never get the call.”
    My hypomania is in part a radical denial (in me) of ever having the worst aspects of those who hurt me, so I never hurt my children, I say please and thank you, and keep all promises. It’s not noble. It’s because I am, as my siblings are, massively fucked up, and we cope by having spartan standards of right and wrong, of responsibility. This, too, helps my writing in subtle ways, and writing habits directly.
    I am exquisitely attuned to reading others (a survival skill growing up) and detecting deception. My dialogue and character development (in writing) is thus nuanced and finessed.
    No fish in barrels, my writing mentors taught me. I had to find a way to imperfectly forgive (most) of those who hurt me—and so my characters are human. No cartoon villains. This is one of the ways writing saves my life, repairs me, after a fashion.
    I know I write too much here, and bare a lot. So few places offer a venue for thinking though the complex intersections of writing and my personal experience. If I exhaust, or offend, I am sorry.

    • I’d be very surprised if anyone who comes here would prefer you not to share so much. Betsy’s “grand conversation” has helped many, in different ways. True friendships have formed here, healings of various types have been begun or augmented. Laughter and tears have spread and been shared. Some people – I can’t know that for sure, so I’ll change it – At least one person has been ashamed of themselves for things they’ve said here. Well, a crazy person does crazy stuff sometimes, it’s a basic truth.

      And if anyone is uncomfortable about what someone else shares, good! What could be better? Surely we need to be uncomfortable sometimes, how else would we grow beyond those too-comfy boundaries we bullshittingly placed there too long ago, forgetting that there’s more to life than the image of our selves we’d decided was the real one.

  8. I’m a writer. But I only feel like that when I watch the news.

    • I was a constantly suicidal twenty-two-year-old, and I was watching an old movie late one night, and there was a line in it that caused me to write a poem. A very bad poem, but that’s not what matters, I forgive me for much worse writing than that. The line went something like, “Every hour, on the hour, there’s news. And it’s always bad.” I finished writing the poem and decided to stop watching or reading the news. Twenty years later I started again. The stopping helped plenty – the starting again, not so much.

  9. I am Writercus!

  10. Yep, that sounds about right.

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