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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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Get Off of My Cloud

 

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When you’re a writer you don’t get to have it all. You might even get less than everyone else. You have to sacrifice to be a writer. Time, socialization, daylight, sunshine, stability, reasonable goals, human embrace, recognition, hope, financial security, beach body, etc. What you do get: anxiety, therapy, skin diseases, self hair-cutting episodes, insomnia, carpal, weight gain, bleeding cuticles, poor dental care, etc. What is sacrifice, in terms of art? Everything? Nothing?

If you had it to do it all over?

14 Responses

  1. Good question. But in the end it really isn’t a choice. I mean I couldn’t get into med school or law school if my life depended on it so… I keep reminding myself of the importance of good marketing,

    which I also suck at.

    Onwards…

    • I agree. Rilke harangues his young poet about writing only if you have no choice, because you can’t not write. But the flip side of that is, as you say, I’m shit at everything but writing.

  2. Absolutely. What’s odd though, I’m pretty sure if my company hadn’t gone bankrupt, there I’d be, sitting in a little gray cubicle playing the IT rat.

    As to sacrifice, you forgot good posture (writer’s slump), eating properly (bring on the Cheetos!) and clean clothes.

  3. If I had it to do over I would have taken more seriously the publishing contract I signed 45 years ago. If I had I would be retiring with fame, fortune and the satisfaction that I achieved the unlikely.
    But:
    I would not be married to the man I am married to, I would not have my children or my grandchildren. Sometimes reality erases regret, and yet, smudges of what would have been remain.

  4. “If you had it to do it all over?”

    I haven’t a shit’s clue. Counterfactuals are nonsensical, but I know, or think I know, that when I say that, I’m blowing smoke, a screen to hide behind.

    The mess I made of my life is my own. It’s mine! You can’t have it! Go make your own.

    There, we got that settled.

    Who would I be if I did it all over? The me I am, mistakes and all, has done some good and even powerful work. No, I’m not bragging. Yes, I am bragging.

    I paid the price I was willing to pay, not knowing what the total would come to. Took out an ARM on my life, with the rate inching ever upwards.

    Sometimes I am heartbroken and stunned unto desolation, wondering how it all could have come to this.

    But then a moment later I know, I got what I asked for. Now, what do I want?

  5. Following your art is tough. Look what happened to Kate Spade yesterday. Looking back doesn’t help me, so I don’t.
    RIP, Kate.

  6. You forget to mention TMJD from teeth clenching. I’m getting really sick of cream of wheat.

  7. This is an existential question. Maybe something’s wrong with me, but my happiest days are huddled over a blank screen searching for le mot juste oblivious to the world around while still in my bathrobe into the waning afternoon with no dinner prospects on the table. But life became a distraction to art. My fault entirely. Yes, I did raise a great family and stayed married through decades of music and madness. But then I succombed to a fake snowbird Boca life. (There is nothing more depressing than a bunch of squished faced women in a vast card room hovered over canasta or mah Jong all day, abolishing time. Not I, thank God). If I could do it over: I’d stay in my bathrobe all day long tearing my hair out pulling words from the sky.

  8. A working class hero, you know what that boils down to. Maybe a few things I’d change, but taking a cue from Carolynn’s entry, if things were different, I might not have the family I have now. I don’t really know if I’ve sacrificed for writing or if I just really made some interesting choices, but I guess time will tell. Right now I don’t have a pot to piss in, so I guess I’ll be out back watering the plants.

  9. We Get Glorious SOLITUDE & Silence, If We Choose. “To Be Alone! That’s When All The Best Ideas Come!”~Tesla. “Don’t Hang Around/’Cause Two’s A Crowd/Get Off My Cloud, Baby.”~Jagger/Richards. “I Don’t Belong To Anyone/I Am Mine.”~Morrissey. Sean X. P.S. From Our Patron Saint, GG: “I VANT TO BE ALONE.”

  10. I would just say no to many, many things. More interesting for me is the concept of sacrifice. I wish I had had something to sacrifice from your lists of sacrifices. What I got from being what I am is your list of what you get. I hate to do this to you yet again, from yet another source, but it is what it is. What came first, the writing or the comical nightmare. I honestly feel very bad for people that kill themselves. They must be in a world of pain I can’t imagine. I always laugh at myself. My life must be god’s little poke in the ribs. It makes no other sense.

  11. I would have followed my lifelong dream far sooner, instead of giving in–post-college–to reality and practicality.

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