Mary Beth Writes

We are binge-watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I started last week; Len ambled through the living room at the beginning of Season 2, stood a moment to watch, sat down, and last night we finished season 2 together. Stories are good.

As you know, the show is set in the 1950’s and 60’s. Many of us actual Mid-Centurions remember the actual mid-century. Ladies in hats. Pink and white kitchens. Salmon and aqua living rooms. The total culturally approved subjection of all women to all men.

Oh yeah.

There is a scene in the first episode where Midge goes to bed with her husband. She is very pretty. He falls asleep. She goes to the bathroom, pulls off her false eyelashes, creams the makeup off her face, slathers on nighttime cream, pin curls her hair and then ties that up in a fluffy scarf. Finally, she goes back to bed and falls asleep. Before Joel wakes up in the morning she sneaks back to the bathroom to reverse the routine. She brushes her teeth, “fixes” her face, fluffs her hair and slips back into bed a minute before his alarm goes off. He wakes to his perfectly adorable wife.

So last night I had a dream. In the dream Len and I and a small group of friends had to drive a freight train to a women’s demonstration in Minneapolis. There were only two freight cars and I have no idea what was in them (perhaps cultural expectations?). Somehow the cargo cars accidentally disconnected from the locomotive. And then we lost the locomotive. The freight cars were just parked on train tracks out in some field. Somebody needed to find the engine and bring it back to the parked train.

As is so aggravating about dreams, no one was worried about this situation except me. Len and George Bob wandered off to look for the engine. When they found it, they would have to figure out how to drive it back to the freight cars. When I told this to Len this morning, he interrupted my dream to remark, “Wow, there is no one I would rather figure out how to drive a locomotive with than George.” And then Len lost the rest of my dream because he was imagining driving a train, which shows you gender patterning right there.

However, I was, in my dream, waking up in a Railroad Hotel. You know those old wooden buildings next to old depots where travelers stayed in the Olden Days? Yeah, one of those and it was in terrible condition and I slept awful because I was worried about our freight train.

However, when I woke in the morning I wasn’t in the worst mood. Larry Morkert was extremely irritated at all of us because he had had to spend the night outside in a tent. I explained to him that I thought he had passed away (he did, a few years ago) - and all of us who knew him are laughing now because he was SO good at pretending to be grumpy when he wasn’t. Len and I walked out of the dingy hotel, found our car, were on our way to see about the train when I woke up.

I know many of us don’t remember our dreams.  I think the simple reason Len and I remember them more lately is because we are retired and can wake up at the end of a dream instead of when an alarm goes off. 

What I liked about this dream, in addition to seeing Larry again, was the metaphor/image of a freight train.  We live a half block from a main line between all the freight coming from or going to Chicago from the northern side of everything that is western US and Canada.  Freight trains are heavy, loud, and terrifying as well as spectacularly efficient. With a good freight train system, you can build a nation. 

So why did I dream of a freight train going to a place where women congregate to demand equality and power?

Here’s my take on our nearly worldwide dystopian political split. You know, where the political inclination formerly known as “the right” is too often being overtaken by fascism? 

I think because the ‘entitled imperialist political gentry of yore” cannot stand that women, and people of color, and women of color, are rising in political power. They think something is getting lost when ordinary people rise, have choices, and don't obey.

Remember the real 50’s?  Remember when women vowed to obey husbands at weddings? Remember being taught that our girl bodies were going to be nothing but trouble for our souls to ride around in? (I knew a girl in college who seriously worried about how she would sleep in curlers once she was married.) Remember adults talking trash about leaders who were reaching for human equality?

Man, it wasn’t that long ago. I have a zillion stories and you do, too. It's been a social revolution and it isn't done yet. 

I’m glad we are where we are.  We being those of us not intimidated by equality, plurality, people who act differently than us, choice, other languages, women who win at hard things and men who for so many lovely reasons aren’t always macho. We are the freight train.  Yes, we do get separated from the locomotive of agenda, purpose, clarity, and organization. But, in my dream and heart and mind it is important to remember that what is going on right now IS a powerful freight train. And it is trying to get us to a peace which is not coopting and a creativity of imagination, not the fake creativity of buying and having.

….

 

PS: There really is a big Woman’s March in Washington DC this weekend and also in some other cities, including a rally at South Division HS in Milwaukee. I have previous plans and am probably not going to change them, but in case you can go, there’s more info here. https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchonwash/

If you want to help find the locomotive today, maybe start with donating some money to a feminist cause or campaign.  

Comments

Mary Beth, The women I remember from the 50's were their own people not taking a backseat to anyone. My mother was a school principal, my sister didn't want and didn't go to the school are Dad wanted us to attend, I did what I was told to do and never regretted it. The young women ion my High School I knew wanted to go to college and be have careers, boys were useful toys if they have a car. I graduated from HS in 1956 and went back to the 60th reunion and the women I knew attaindend their goals with or without husbands.
Mary Beth's picture

My mom co-owned and managed, with my dad, our family printing business since long before I was born. She was very determined, smart, and responsible. However, she was accorded much less respect for her contributions then most men were given without anyone thinking about this twice. Women did so much, but they so often did it in spite of society's expectations of support. That's what I was trying to say, though it may have come out that I thought women were doing less.

Good read. You always make me think!

I really enjoyed hearing about your dream! I love when I remember mine. I remember less now that I have a CPAP machine and am sleeping more deeply, and I kind of miss my adventures and seeing people that I don’t get to see in real life!
Mary Beth's picture

I still remember a half dozen dreams from my whole life. Sometimes something will remind me of one of them, I stop and try to recall when I was at this place before - and then remember it was in a dream!

Yes! You have given voice to so many of the thoughts going on in my head. Thank you! I marathon watched "the Marvelous Mrs Maizel," it reminded me of how far we have come in so many ways, and how desperate so many are for us to go back and remain in our "place." Much courage is needed, and grace. Lots of grace. Patricia/Fl
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you. As I am sitting here, just now, a freight train with only two freight cars just went by, very slowly. This is completely unusual, most trains have a hundred cars. Do you think my dream train just saluted us all?

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Cabeza de Vaca & Company: A 500-Year Old Story for Our Time.

I’ve been thinking about Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca for years and I’ve also been thinking about him for a week.

It’s crazy out there in the world right now and people are, I think, kinda sick of each other. Racism, sexism, and classism are the muck we walk through to get to our cars while our climate is turning into flying monkeys. And the rich keep getting richer.

So let me tell you about a guy I admire.

Three Things 9/11/2021

The photo is from a trip to Arizona that Len and I took several years ago. His employer had said he had to take vacation time.  We sat here in our office not knowing where to go or what to do; it came up that fast. We looked up cheap flights from Milwaukee,; Phoenix popped up for $150 round trip. That was how we decided.

Of course, we rented a car and stayed in motels and ate in restaurants so no, it wasn’t a $300 vacation.

Three Things 9/3/2021

1. This morning I was texting with Franc about our heritages. He was born and raised in the Midwest although his ancestors are from Puerto Rico. Being the child of children of a Caribbean Island means he probably has Taino DNA as well as African and European. Heck, he probably has Phoenician and Viking and Pacific Islander because island people and sailors have always thought each other cute.

Three Things 9/2/2021

Regarding Texas: I’m so angry today.

From The Buried: An Archeology of the Egyptian Revolution by Peter Hessler

Hessler is making a case that a significant reason for the failure of Egyptian governments is because citizens are not looking for competent political leaders. They vote for men who lambast the “corruption and immorality” of present leaders. They vote for those who promise a “return to our traditional Islamist values.”

Three Things 8/25/2021

One:

Where did these damn fruit flies come from? I borrowed a 400-page book from the library yesterday and just finished it an hour ago. ONE fruit fly bumped me every twenty minutes through the whole damn tome. I hit at it every time it zipped past but I never zapped it.

I’ll get him (or her?). I put an inch of apple cider vinegar into a glass, covered it with plastic wrap, punched some tiny holes, set it next to our fruit.

Bugs bug me.

Two:

Is it really August already?

I woke up this morning feeling wistful. It’s the third week of August. Where did this summer go?

I have not ridden my bike even once (there are giant construction trucks all over my favorite route). We’ve hardly entertained friends at our Bistro (the apron of the garage that I painted last year). We’ve not traveled other than to see our kids. My six tomato plants are producing an unenergetic number of tomatoes. Didn’t see the Perseids. Didn’t serve umbrella drinks by our pool. Oh wait, we don’t have a pool.

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