• 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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You’re Still Young That’s Your Fault

Today, Day 20, and we are in the final third of this thirty day challenge. I know some people are cooking. Some are dropping in and out. Others have said fuck it. Wherever you are, if you’re still checking in, start tomorrow. Just see what you can do in ten days, thirty minutes a day. I have been shocked to see the pages accrue with just thirty minutes of work.

This morning, this quote jumped out at me in today’s paper from the writer Hanif Abdurraqib, “I’m not in a band. I didn’t get to be a pro athlete. In the end, I stumbled upon something that I didn’t know was a dream.” Tell me about it. I didn’t get to be a psychoanalyst. I didn’t get to run Paramount.

What didn’t you do?

15 Responses

  1. “What didn’t you do?”

    Ah, jeez, Betsy.

    I didn’t become a scientist, working in a lab, a molecular biologist cracking open the code to life or a cosmologist extending the view of all there is out to the farthest frontiers, a physicist solving the mystery of the tachyon or an anthropologist piecing together the fossilized puzzles of the past.

    I didn’t go to West Point, become an army officer commanding of a rifle platoon or an intelligence specialist analyzing looming and shadowy threats, or a multi-starred general making a major difference in some continental command or advancing to the highest levels of democratic government.

    I didn’t get a journalism degree and become a renowned reporter, or a BFA in studio art or an MFA in writing and win the awards and accolades, or a Ph.D in philosophy and become a professor in tweed, soft-spoken and firm of knowledge and conviction, or get a law degree and defend the most heinous criminals or sue the most heinous corporations and advance to the legislature to fashion laws that would bring justice and freedom to all.

    I didn’t stay with any of the women who loved me as much as they could and I loved as much as I could, until the very last one came along when she and I both were standing firmly in middle age and knew that we had met at the last stop on the love line.

    I didn’t try hard enough, act sufficiently boldly on every occasion calling for such, take proper care of my own life or the lives of others.

    I didn’t go out for the varsity football team.

    How late it is, how late.

  2. I didn’t own a nursery or a flower shop. I didn’t design fabulous landscapes or become a surveyor of land.

    A math teacher? Didn’t do that either.

    I totally dashed the hopes and dreams of Mr. Sherman, my high school guidance counselor, who wouldn’t let me take auto shop but instead gave me a college prep curriculum complete with Calculus, Physics, and five full years of math classes in four years. (I loved the math, btw)

    What I did do was go to Forestry school then join the Navy as a diesel mechanic, worked in a wood shop as a CNC operator, then twenty-three years in a brewery operating packaging equipment.

    I’m not sorry about any of it though, because once you’re a writer, you get to be anything you want to be!

  3. There’s so much I have to go through, and there’s so much I didn’t do. But I know, I know, I love Cat Stevens.

  4. I didn’t ‘t have five children, live at the beach, or become a war photographer. Otherwise, all good!

  5. I didn’t do my homework.

  6. Holy fuck you’ve hit a nerve, Betsy. I didn’t. I didn’t. I didn’t. Creeps in this petty pace. Adjunct this and freelance that doesn’t measure up in the big boys’ world. I’ve raised three kids: signifiies something.

  7. I didn’t run a marathon when I was in good enough shape to do it. But you know, 5 will get you 10 that I could walk 26 miles and stumble the last 365 yards, although I’d guess that only counts if you’re a turtle.

  8. I didn’t create a masterpiece on canvas, or finish the screenplay, and the band only played two of my songs.

    Driving the beautiful back roads of Connecticut a couple of days ago I marveled at the wonder of autumn in these parts and realized that every dream I’ve dreamed, every request I’ve made, every question I’ve asked has come true, been granted, and answered. Wasn’t always the outcome or reply I thought I wanted but it got me here. And where is that?

    I am sitting at my kitchen table, looking out on a landscape carpeted in yellow, orange and lots and lots of brown leaves. The trees are random fence posts, half gray, half sun-bright. Squirrels scurry, a V of geese flew over, hooking on their way south. My little house is warm, the music that fills it is beautiful. My cupboards are full. My family loves me. I do not have to punch a time-clock ever again. What I dreamed and lost (and once regretted) has led to this moment. If we are lucky and fate kisses our existence than it is the way of destiny to lead us home.

    I own the moment. I didn’t paint the masterpiece, or write the music, but I am living the movie with a happy ending.

  9. Teach, wisely choose whom to love, appreciate myself. (But I’m not done yet.)

  10. Is it smug to say I’ve done many things, including an MFA? I just haven’t written a good book yet.

  11. I never made it into flight school with the Air Force or the Navy, didn’t become a test pilot, and never got to rocket into space (before I was 30). But I did test some rocket engine parts, that lifted 12 men off the moon, and I paid for my own private flight training.
    Made a new device (Programmable Function Generator) that could duplicate any wave form, then 10 years later somebody used a PFG to make speech from text. Didn’t see it coming.
    I didn’t get the Nobel Prize for Physics, even though I can explain why the universe appears to be expanding faster.
    I was never part of the free love generation, even when the first pill was available. Married a girl I met at a traffic light in Philadelphia, still together for 53 years.
    Haven’t published the memoir (working on 26 years), but now following Betsy’s 30/30 I might finish it.

  12. I’ve gotten to do so much that the “didn’t do’s” seem more piddly with each year… especially now that I’ve gotten to retire and a college is paying me to keep breathing. Here’s to doing more of what strikes me (not least writing)… here’s to poems and characters that show up and demand to be put on the page.

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