Bonnie Bernstein, while consuming large amounts of whatever chocolate fat-free ice cream is on sale, pens her stuff on Open Salon, where one can also find pieces published elsewhere in the lower left hand corner. Bonnie is writing a book about a woman in her forties who makes wrong decisions in her search for love and a second baby. Bonnie, a hyper city person living in the burbs, can be found on Facebook and on Twitter @BonnieB_Writer. Follow her; she likes polite stalkers, especially those who bring good karma. Check out her Blogger Space below.
Growing up an hour away via Eastern Airlines from Washington, D.C., living in New York City, I fantasized from my twin bed that I would be reporting political investigative pieces like Robert Redford did as he portrayed Bob Woodward in Watergate. I’d be pecking away those two fingers on a typewriter in a newsroom breaking stories about some politician doing wrong like when Carl Bernstein and Redford, I mean Woodward, did as they collected information from Deep Throat in an underground garage.
But instead of emulating those Nixon days from the previous century that could possibly have given me a bad case of carpal tunnel syndrome and some regular dollars, today there is no swivel chair to pen my stories from. I’m writing my book about a forty something making wrong decisions and essays about midlife screwy choices from the floor.
I am an unemployed, divorced Generation Joneser’ trying to make it, whatever “it” is, by spinning tales about my life. I never intended to do this from blankets on the hard wood. It just happened. As jobs dried up for the supposedly overeducated, overqualified and, I hate to admit it, middle aged, I returned to who I once was, a storyteller.
I spin those memories in a barely lit room with hopes of getting the respect and pay check from a talent first spotted by my seventh grade English teacher, writing about myself. Mr. G was impressed enough by my falling into a rose bush when I was nine months old tale to switch me into a “smarter” class, made up of kids who knew how to throw spit balls even faster. That is, also, where I learned to develop a crush on a bad boy, which would teach me well through my supposed grown-up years as an adult.
After majoring in Queens College‘s campus newspaper, Phoenix, I got a stringer job for an out of town newspaper where I read the National Enquirer instead of watching a mob trial. The presiding judge was not too pleased with how bored I could be concerning page one motions about some multiple murder scene. The gangsters looked like such nice guys.
Disgusted, I got my Mrs. Degree and settled into married life with a baby, a dog and a white picket fence, and, yes, the husband. I worked political campaigns, public relations and, while doing volunteer school lunch duty, had a stint at Toys R Us. Years later, I taught Jewish History to pre-bar and bat mitzvah kids. And then, I began my new single suburban life as a tour guide at a military installation.
Now, jobless, every night when it gets dark outside and I can forget where I am, I layer the floor with quilts to spin those tales of what can happen to a person’s very essence. After the blow-up bed burst like a woman going braless with double D‘s, for two years I could not afford to replace it, the mattress. During that time period I didn’t have the money for a couch. So the dogs, four until recently when one died, and I would curl up on the floor. The little netbook and the canines became my co-workers as I started to get page view gratification on different websites: Babble, Petside, Salon, Open Salon and Modern Love Rejects. When several newspapers, including Newsday, printed my stuff, I realized I was on to something, a career that I left behind years ago with the National Enquirer I forgot in the court room.
The space heater kept going, warding off drafts from my uninsulated and illegal garage apartment and I began to confess some of my life of not being able to get Medicaid, food stamps or the man to love me back. I overshared how it felt to be a non-person, as if I didn’t exist. As the cliché goes, when life gives lemons make some lemonade and, in my situation, write. I felt that I could at least own one thing in my world, my words.
Although because of a good friend, I now have a sofa bed, I feel the only way to write is the way I grew accustomed to, on the floor with a flashlight nearby, just in case there is a blackout. Would I have ever thought back when I was breaking college newspaper stories about the ROTC, Ralph Nader and Meir Kahane, that I would be living this way? I just see it as another story to tell in a chapter of my life.
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