Bitch on the Blog

September 16, 2012

My fate in your hands

Filed under: Fortune — bitchontheblog @ 10:06
Tags: , , ,

Am in state of panic. Well, as much as I ever panic, which is not a lot. In fact, come to think of it: I never panic. Which, sometimes, is part of the problem – not the solution.

Yes, so my horror scope has just informed me that (contrary to my innate character) I should say “yes” to everything that comes my way this week. Even if I can’t see the point. Doors will open. Yeah, well, we all know what happened when Bluebeard went out and forbade one of his many brides to open one particular door. To test her (and maybe her intelligence) he made the challenge so much harder by leaving the key with her. Would she, wouldn’t she? Well, curiosity got many of those little kittens. I am not risk averse but I weigh risk carefully. And mostly I do engage brain.

Anyway the upshot being that I hope during this coming week no one will suggest anything to me. Or, if you do, please do make sure it’s something that I would have said ‘yes’ to anyway. Regardless of the stars.

Thank you.




  1. Stop looking at horror scopes.

    Comment by Looney — September 16, 2012 @ 13:47 | Reply

  2. Switch to numerology. It’s so much more, well, quantifiable. 😉

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — September 16, 2012 @ 18:29 | Reply

    • You are not Tom Cruise’s cousin by any chance, are you?


      Comment by Ursula — September 17, 2012 @ 06:34 | Reply

      • No way, but I have a cousin who looks a little like Tom Cruise…

        Comment by Lorna's Voice — September 17, 2012 @ 19:43 | Reply

  3. Stay out of the metro (tube) Ursula. I can think of many propositions you can get there that you shouldn’t agree to. LOL! On the upside, I’ll be interested to hear what you find happens as a result to being agreeable to whatever comes your way. If it isn’t worthwhile, read comment 1.

    Comment by writingfeemail — September 16, 2012 @ 23:36 | Reply

    • Renee, thanks for your sage advice. I can’t put so much as a foot out of the house, never mind the metro, without being proposed to. Can’t quite decide whether to turn Greta Garbo, the ice queen, and retreat or take up smoking again – elegantly like Lauren Bacall or staccato like Bette Davis.

      I will give this week a go of saying yes. Please stand by with security blanket and fire extinguisher. Help! It’s Monday morning. I have been after my landlord for days. He is Italian (Milano) and deflects my requests to get the hot water fixed with exclamations of “Bella Ursula”. Yeah, well, don’t give me bella. Give me hot water or this is going to turn ugly.


      Comment by Ursula — September 17, 2012 @ 06:31 | Reply

  4. Ursula,

    Well, I am not going to suggest you read what I wrote this week, but I’ve come here to inform you that you are a huge part of what I wrote. I had to, because you should know. If you do decide to spend your time reading it, I hope it opens up happy doors for you, somehow.



    Comment by Priya — September 17, 2012 @ 01:03 | Reply

    • Priya, hi, thought your name sounded familiar. What do you want me to do? Pass you a handkerchief or tell you how it is? Let’s do both. Here is the handkerchief. to wipe your tears. And here is how it is:

      You call me scathing. Indeed. That’s what I am: Scathing. With nothing but any person’s best interest at heart. I have no idea how old you are but if, say, you were my daughter: I’d tell you to stop sniffling. But then no son or daughter of mine would sniffle. Just get on with what you believe in. Since I can’t read your whole back catalogue this minute I know little about your life. Do you write to keep bread on the table, are you of independent means, do you indulge a whim, has anyone (other than the mighty of pen Charles) ever told you …?

      In the wake of your open letter to me I read some of your previous posts to get the measure of the person you are. You mention ‘insecure’. That you appear to be most certainly. Hot tip of the day, Priya, stop thinking of yourself as some hot house delicate orchid in Alaska. Think of yourself as a dandelion. Strong, Not easily, if ever, eradicated. And before any gardeners jump in: Dandelion is not a “weed”. It’s beautiful. A weed defined as ‘a plant in the wrong place’. Think about it.

      Priya, “writers” are thirteen to the dozen. Write because you want to write. Not with an eye on recognition. I smiled when I read that dialogue between you and your father. That’s nothing, Priya. Nothing. At sweet seventeen I’d come home with A* essays and my father (who knows what he is talking about) tore them apart. Tough titty. I tell you. But, by golly, did I learn. Priya, the ‘critic’ is there for a reason: Not to make you feel bad, as you seem to suggest. Erode your confidence. Quite the opposite: Feedback, good or bad, whether in our personal or professional life, we should be grateful for. And listen. As we do to the Echo when we find ourselves in the woods or the mountains.

      Interlude: Let’s look at the comment you wrote above and let me rewrite it for you, to much better effect:

      “Ursula, I wrote an “Open Letter” to you over at my blog. I hope you will do me the courtesy to read it. The door is open. Hugs and Kisses, Priya.” So much more concise. Forget the hugs and kisses if you are not touchy feely. But, for heaven’s sake, don’t keep apologizing for your existence.

      Priya, I am not out to get anyone for the sake of it. You fret too much. As most people do. Think about it, Priya: You say you pour over ever tiny critique. Why? Why? Why? Take a critique on board and work with it. Sure, I could tell you everything you write is marvellous. Would you believe it? Truly believe it? I hope not. Constant affirmation is vacuous, empty, worthless. We all need balance in life. And that means that occasionally a pile of shit will be thrown on one side of our scales. It’s up to you whether you make that shit into useful manure or flush it down the toilet. Or watch it dry.

      I have reread all those comments of mine I left over at Charles’ fateful post. Did you actually read the dialogue between me and Charles? At one point I said “I salute both of you that you are willing to experiment. The ‘dumbing down’ was uncalled for, and I do apologize.” … “And I have nothing but admiration for Priya that she put herself at risk.” …

      I apologized, Priya. Unnoticed by you? Possibly? I admired you. Unnoticed? Possibly?

      You mention ‘sparing’. I am more than happy to be your sparing partner. Not least because I think you need one. But, just like in fencing, once the masks are on, you spar. And it’s not a one way street.

      I am glad you made yourself heard. And I am hearing you. And I will lend you crutches to prop up your self esteem. If you let me.

      Greetings from the “Monster” you have conjured up in your mind,
      I truly hope we will continue the dialogue,

      Comment by Ursula — September 17, 2012 @ 06:10 | Reply

      • I like the word monster, you see. It helps me masquerade as a hero fighting for my selfish, sometimes deeply important, causes. You are monstrous, much like Goliath. I’ll become David yet.

        The fact that I dry my dirty laundry (read my insecurities, not the other monsters in the closet) in the open for people to either help me or laugh at me or scorn me does not make me a sniffling-no-child-of-yours. It just makes me me. To presume that I see myself as a dainty flower I’ve never heard of is, well, presumptuous. Like you, I like to think I am strong. Unlike you, I do not flower (or bristle) my weaknesses or angst or fears. To say that if I openly state that a statement erodes my confidence is whining, is like saying you like to jibe and spar and scathe because, say, you cannot settle with your own angst. Both would be equally presumptuous.

        Every daughter thinks her father knows what he’s talking about. It is good that you remember his unspoken critique because it is always good to remember what people you respect have to tell you. You respect them because you know they know you. No?

        I fret too much, yes. I recently realised that I do, and am working on it. If it shows, the fretting, I must work on that, too! What I do not do is take criticism ungracefully. I like a good critic — not the one who tells me that I am great in a round-about way, but the one who tells me that I am or can be good in spite of all the bad I might incorporate. To say that I like a critic who trashes my work and effort would be being a good, well-behaved girl, and I am not that.

        I did not miss anything you said in your conversation with Charles. What I hoped to find was some sort of a sign, I guess, that I have more than just guts. I dunno. Funnily, when I first read it, I laughed at it simply because it seemed like an impulsive, irresponsible statement. I had enough confidence in my ability. With time, though, when I struggled to finish stories, I realised I was stuck with the phrase ‘dumbing it down’. Would the reader have to dumb herself down to read my stories? I spun around in circles until I reached this stage where a dialogue with you seemed like a good idea. (God help me (your repartee winds me)).

        You mention Kafka in one of the posts you recommended I read ( And also that anyone who writes does not automatically become a writer. Of course not. However, Kafka is not my writer, not someone I read. Just like James Joyce isn’t (you remind me of him). If I am not yours, it does not make me a wannabe, does it? We are both writers, Ursula — you are yours, I am mine.

        P.S. Posting this without re-reading it! My 3-month old daughter has just begun demanding attention. If some portions are left unedited, understand.

        Comment by Priya — September 17, 2012 @ 11:42 | Reply

        • Just saw you very sweetly posted your response on my blog. I think I am going to do the same and paste mine there — for the sake of reading-posterity!

          Comment by Priya — September 17, 2012 @ 11:43 | Reply

          • My my my. You have a three month old daughter. Concentrate on her. ‘Unedited’? I understand. All my emails, blog entries and comments go unedited. They are me. Of the moment. And I will live with the fall-out.

            First things first: You say ‘We are both writers”..You may be a writer. I am not. I just write. Not with an eye on publication or winning approval. Writing to me is like talking. Like breathing. More by reflex than by design.

            Thanks for likening me to James Joyce. Makes me laugh. I too never understood a word the man said. Maybe I should pick up Ulysses and try again. As to Kafka: Let’s just say he is bred in my bone – and I do know that he is an acquired taste. A bit like asparagus when you are age seven, gagging on it.

            I know too little about Goliath and David to be able to answer your assertion. All I know is that Goliath was big, David was little. And in the end – if memory serves me right – David won over Goliath. Except, Priya, between you and me there is no competition. There is nothing you have to prove to me. Neither have I ever felt the need to prove anything to anyone. I don’t do muscle. All I do is ‘word’. And all I hope for is that we sharpen our minds at each other as the knife does when, well, being sharpened. Only the blunt hurt.

            As to my father, a difficult man, yet a man dear to my heart: You totally misunderstand. It wasn’t easy and, yes, at times it would have been good if he had acknowledged my success (not least my essay on Kafka which my teachers deemed worthy of post graduate University merit when I was still only 17) but I learned a valuable lesson from him (when It comes to writing): You know what? The headline should never read: Dog bites man. Oh no: Man bites dog. So much more catching.

            Where were we? Angst. I cannot urge you enough to relax. Enjoy your baby. There will be plenty of time to indulge your other interests.

            You talk about ‘guts’. You wanted to hear that you have some. You do have guts, Priya. Any of us putting ourselves out on here, on the market place of the web, do [have guts]. But having guts means to be able to take the punches too, read between the lines – and just READ. Paying attention. If writing is a navel gazing experience count me out of it. Though I will gaze at your navel if you want me to. I give my time freely. Which is why I waste so much (not in my eyes, but in those of others). Be yourself, Priya. Life is not a competition. And trust others. Even the dreaded Monster that I am in your eyes,


            Comment by Ursula — September 17, 2012 @ 13:47 | Reply

          • Yes, Ursula, there is no competition between you and me. There never was, there never will be! Largely because I do not like to compete (and seems to me you do not like competition either.)

            Let’s carry on with the introductions. My little girl, Bela, is a delight to be with (as must be all children for their parents). I’ve restarted my work recently (I translate from German into English) and find that the few hours I spend without her are onerous, even though they somehow revitalise me. In turn, begin with her is an instant pick-me-up from the ennui of translating boring texts and mundane this-and-that. It is extremely tiring. But very exciting nevertheless.

            That’s it for now.

            P.S. Like yesterday, I am going to post your and my responses on my blog for my readers, too.

            Comment by Priya — September 18, 2012 @ 06:10 | Reply

            • Priya (i looked up the meaning of your name – how very lovely), good to hear from you again, continuing the conversation.

              As to your little Bela: Enjoy her. One moment you hold your babe in arms – in wonderment, the next your son will pick you up like a feather, will have to bend down to kiss you on your forehead. Next week he’ll be 21. 21 wonderful years of my life. My friends – some of whom were not quite as enchanted with motherhood – used to groan: “Yes, yes, yes, Ursula, we know: You love THIS phase too.” And I did. I loved every phase. Still do. Mind you, he made/makes it so very easy for me to be his mother. Most laid back person I have ever known.

              Worst thing, and it takes some getting used to, that the older your children get the less you can – physically – do for them. Other than being there should they or their friends need you. Listening to them. Even at three in the morning. Particularly at three in the morning. Yes, I am still on tap. At all times.

              You translate. Commiserations. It’s tedious. Not least because idioms often don’t translate well. A cultural thing. What one nation understands, imbibed with their mother’s milk as it were, makes little sense in another language. Even if it is just across the channel.

              I will read your ‘back catalogue’. And I am here. Remember: Even at three in the morning. Hell and damnation: Who needs sleep?

              All the best, blowing a little kiss to Bela,


              Comment by Ursula — September 18, 2012 @ 18:01 | Reply

              • Bela’s got your little kiss, Ursula. She is a little like your son. Laid back, patient and giving. I am blessed. I’ve loved every phase in these three months. Let’s see how the rest of the months and years fare. I have a suspicion I’m going to like them, too!

                Translations are tedious, yes. Especially of literature. I didn’t venture into that, although I wanted to.

                I’d be delighted if you read my what you call ‘back catalogue’. Haven’t been to write much except report what’s happening in my life. But that just might make for an interesting reading for all you know!

                Good to know you’re here. Really.


                Comment by Priya — September 19, 2012 @ 15:14 | Reply

  5. Oh the irony! Despite the tongue-in-cheek playful nature of the title, the above discussion does seem to imply and rather justify the notion that we should all be responsible for our own fates. Others may in fact have the ability to influence our thoughts, but ultimately the choices we make, the actions we take, are very much ours – we need to own them. I’d hang around and chat some more, but I need to get a tea leaf reading shortly…

    Comment by Phil — September 17, 2012 @ 13:04 | Reply

    • Tea leaves, my foot. Phil, I’ll read you yours. This minute I am in witch mode stewing some stinking brew. Where are frogs when you need them?


      Comment by Ursula — September 17, 2012 @ 18:28 | Reply

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