• 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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I Really Don’t Know Life at All


I burned my two most recent diaries this morning, Watched the pages consumed by flame. I did it because I didn’t want anyone to ever see them. There were no big secrets there, just the contours my cruel heart, my peevish dislikes, all the hateful thoughts that cycle through me. It was more difficult than I thought. I had been so certain when I flicked on the lighter. I had been thinking about it for months. Only watching the pages curl and turn to ash felt like a betrayal of my self. I have around 40 boxes filled with diaries and letters. I always hoped to take up smoking again in my old age and read the diaries on the front porch of an assisted living facility.

Have you ever destroyed your work?

9 Responses

  1. I destroy work all the time, but I hold on to pieces that seem insignificant. It’s often quite random.
    One thing I’ve saved is 40 plus years of letters and cards from George.

  2. No.
    1. I am too lazy to keep diaries
    2. My life does not require airbrushing
    3. I shall be returning to a land beyond caring.

  3. Yes, and burning is the preferred method. Sometimes I can still see the words dangling against the orange/red background, ink taking longer to burn than paper.

  4. Dear Betsy—

    I’m a long-time reader/fan of your blog. Your voice is captivating and this latest blog resonated with me.

    My memoir, ASYLUM: A Book of Family Secrets (Mandel Vilar Press) begins with me burning a letter from my father in 1985. I was in my 20s, trying to finish my MFA thesis at Columbia when he left a desperate message asking me to burn a letter he had recently mailed to me. I complied and in many of the events I’ve done for the book, I’m almost always asked why I did it.

    Two reasons — I deeply respected my father and wanted to honor his wishes. I was also terrified that he had sent me a suicide note. He was very unhappy with my mother and had just been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. I’m also asked if I regretted burning the letter. I don’t. It set me on a quest to know my father posthumously, and that quest became ASYLUM.

    All best wishes, Judy

    Judy Bolton-Fasman jbolfas@comcast.net

    Pronouns: she/her/hers


  5. I never destroy anything. I’m such a pack rat. Of course, if I needed any of it, I’d probably never be able to find it. We have a forty foot trailer (of the tractor-trailer variety) on our property half filled with boxes of old papers I can’t bear to part with but likely will never see again.

    When I make it to the home, my kids will be cleaning out the trailer laughing their asses off discovering that I was crazy long before the home ever came into view.

    At that point, after having exhausted everything I’ve had, I’ll sit out on the porch with a frozen strawberry daiquiri and a cigar and I’ll raise a glass to life, fun, and the hereafter.

  6. Yes. I wrote some poetry to old loves and burned them because of a jealous lover who left me anyway. I also destroyed my complaint journals, afraid my husband might read them when I went out of town.

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