Moving On by
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(145 Stories)

Prompted By Turning Points

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John and Patti, 1971, backstage after my Brandeis production of Ruddigore

Patti and John Zussman are among my oldest and dearest friends. So I was pleased and honored when they contacted me, nearly three years ago, to be a beta tester for their new website “MyRetrospect.com”. They explained it was a story-sharing medium for baby-boomers to tell their tales, based on prompts the site would provide. They were shaking out the bugs and needed people (beyond the few alpha testers) to write and help work out the kinks. Having little computer knowledge was a plus, as they anticipated their general user population to be people like me. If I could figure it out, anyone could.

It’s not that I am such a terrific writer. But they know I have lived a life full of ups and downs, have a penchant for story telling, a few brushes with celebrity, and am not afraid to share all the gory details. In fact, sometimes I am the queen of “TMI”. So my brief was to write a minimum of three stories, read at least three others and comment on those, if I felt like it.

Here it is, three years and 125 stories later for me, reading and commenting on hundreds more along the way. I’ve written countless tales on family members, homes, what we wore, ate, listened to, read, watched, politics and so much more. I’ve poured out my feelings and shared and shared. It was therapeutic. I didn’t miss a week (unless the prompt was repeated, and even then, sometimes I would write it again, sharing a different tale, as I am for this last prompt). I found I loved the discipline of writing, finding something (I hope) interesting to say, looking up old photos to enhance the story, looking for meaning in my life.

The last prompt – poems – was dropped, since this site will close on the last day of the month, yet I awoke this morning (confession here: I usually write a few weeks ahead, so “today” is December 15) with a full story ready to go, having thought about it for a week, changed what I would write at least three times, found my entry into the topic and a poem worthy of the topic. I even decided upon a Featured photo (not from my personal photos), but the story about a passionate Pablo Neruda poem won’t be written.

I’ve made friendships through this site. Those will continue. I think I am a better writer, having seen how the pros, whose honor it was for me to read their work, shaped a story. So this is both a sad turning point for me, and a remarkable one, as I leave behind a body of work that makes me proud, and a community that has enriched my life. I offer a great big thank you to Patti and John for pouring their time and treasure into this labor. There are many who are very appreciative of what they did. Now it is time to move on.

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.


Tags: MyRetrospect, sharing stories, TMI, no regrets
Characterizations: moving, right on!, well written

Comments

  1. John Shutkin says:

    Even as a relative latecomer to Retrospect, I am just so appreciative of what John and Patti have done here. And, bloviator that I tend to be, I thought that my enjoyment would come primarily from the chance to write and post my own stories to an undoubtedly adoring audience. I did partake, when the muse or the mood hit me right, but I found that the more interesting part of Retrospect was to read others’ stories and get to know and think about others’ lives in the process.

    And I think of you particularly in this regard, Betsy. You may self-deprecatingly call yourself “the queen of TMI” — great phrase, by the way — but, in truth, what marked you in my mind was your total willingness to address and share the ups and downs of your life and not sugarcoat them in the telling. That sort of honesty is rare and brave. Brava and thank you!!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thank you, John. I, too, have really enjoyed reading others’ writings. As I mentioned, I think my writing benefited by the examples set, and I made good friends (like you) along the way. This has been a wonderful part of my life for three years. At least I know the friendships will continue even if we don’t read each other’s writing on a weekly basis.

  2. I’m so sad that MyRetrospect.com is ending. I have enjoyed reading your stories so much, Betsy. And if I may say so, you have become a better writer through your 125+ stories. I have looked forward to reading your stories each Monday morning, and I’m really going to miss that. I’m grateful that we are friends, knowing that we’ll stay in touch, but it won’t be the same. I’m sending thanks to you for how you gave of yourself to and through this project, and thank you to John and Patti for making this all possible. I’m so disappointed that it’s ending, but I will join you in moving on.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thank you, Steve. Like Patti and John, we’ve known each other a long time, though through these stories, you’ve come to know me much more intimately. Thanks for seeing the improvement. I have honestly tried to be a better writer. You know I love you and we will stay in touch, but not on a weekly basis (except seeing our FB posts) and only occasionally with so much heart.

  3. Suzy says:

    Beautiful final story, Betsy. And I adore your picture of John and Patti in 1971. I will miss reading your stories every week, and getting your comments on mine. Maybe we can keep sending each other stories anyway.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thank you, Suzy. I know that we will stay in touch, via FB and private emails. But without the structure of prompts (ahead of time too, I like to think before I write), I doubt that I would do too much writing. I keep looking on the bright side and thinking that now I will have more time for reading which has been sorely neglected over the past 3 years, for a variety of reasons (in part because of eye problems), but in large part because Retrospect took up such a huge part of my life, both writing (and rewriting and editing), but also reading everyone else’s stories which were fascinating and fun. And I always appreciated your eagle eyes and gentle editor’s notes when you noticed mistakes I’d made!

  4. Alexander says:

    Betsy, I have marveled at the quality, quantity, and honesty of your stories. And you always had the old yellowed photos that fit each story perfectly.
    Best to you,
    Dave L

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thank you, Alexander/Dave L. I don’t think you’ve ever commented before, but no time like the present. Yes, I love my old photos as much as I enjoy story-telling. They can often tell their own story. I have albums full of them! My father and his oldest brother were the photographers for the family, so I come by it naturally.

  5. Thanks, Betsy, for articulating so universally what we all feel about John and Patti, the Retro endeavor, and the community that has sprung up around our shared work. I’m hoping we can find a way, even through a list serv, to stay in touch. As writers and sentient beings, I’m convinced of the importance of our work and the experience we all hold in common in and out of the boomer cadre. So, hey, Betsy… Write on!

  6. You’re the right audience, the right writer, the right friend for this space. I’ve been less engaged, but I’m at the end of Baby Boomer land, too. See you around the blog-sphere or in person one day, again, Betsy — Happy New Year!

  7. John Zussman says:

    OMG that photo! We have enjoyed watching your writing blossom over the years. As long-time friends, we knew some of your stories (though not others), but even then it was fascinating to see them through your eyes. Thank you for your extraordinary contribution to our adventure.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Do you LOVE the photo?! You guys are the best…as I’ve said, I’ve loved being such an active part of your adventure. And I’ve grown so much too. It has been wonderful to find that I can express myself so freely. Thanks for bringing me along.

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