Mary Beth Writes

I’ve been trying and trying to write but it hasn’t happened so this morning I looked at some of my old stuff and found this from ten days after 9/11. Made me remember who we are.

I think the miserable karma of Trump is happening. I hope we will be okay. I’m not sure how talk about the harm he has done and is doing now. 

But we … we are still who we are.

The flowers in the photo were a surprise gift, just yesterday, from a friend.

I have edited it a bit. 

September 21, 2001 Lost in Racine - An Aftermath of Civility

"We know that nations often come together and discover their true strength when some apocalypse has occurred. For some reason we human beings seem to learn best how to love when we're a bit broken, when our plans fall apart, when our myths of our self-sufficiency and goodness and safety are shattered. Apocalypse is meant to bring us to our senses, allowing us a sobering, and usually a painful, glimpse of what is possible in the new life we build from the ashes of the old." From Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris.

I was talking to a friend who works in an office in Chicago. She said, "You know, about half my job seems to be talking on the phone answering the dumb questions asked by clueless people. I'm always professional, though often it's through gritted teeth. But since Tuesday, that has changed. I don't know exactly why, but when I pick up the phone and there's one more stupid question coming at me, I don't care. It doesn't seem like a waste of my time to explain things with great care and genuine civility. I just keep thinking how precious we all are."

Two friends have mentioned that people are driving more courteously. One guy said, "No one has cut me off or flipped me off in a week. People seem more patient, more willing to be polite."

A child who at that time was a BF of my 4th grade daughter called my kid to ask her to help run a lemonade stand and baked good sale on Sunday afternoon. They'd give their proceeds to the Red Cross. 

They made lots of flyers by hand and then passed them out around her neighborhood. The flyers invited people to either donate baked goods or to come to the sale and buy things.

Her mom related this to me later. "Sunday morning so many people, some that I don't even know, turned into our driveway to hand us trays and packages of cupcakes, cookies and muffins."

Three little girls and one little brother decorated a utility table with red, white, and blue streamers. They made a sign that said, "Take what you want, pay what you can."

That afternoon those children raised, I'm not kidding, $373.15. My daughter told me in amazement. "A lady came and bought five cookies. We saw her put a funny looking piece of money in the jar. When H's dad checked it, it was a fifty-dollar bill."

The dad took the rest of the baked goods, along with a kid-made poster explaining the situation, to his job the next day. His fellow office workers bought the rest of the stuff for $250.

I related this story via e-mail to some friends around the country. A neighbor from our first neighborhood in Chicago wrote back that kids in her neighborhood had the same idea. They set their card tables at a busy intersection. In two days, they raised $4000.

"People were opening their windows during red lights to press $20 bills into the kids' hands. The grocery store where they were buying the lemonade found out what they were doing, immediately donated all supplies, then promised that whatever the final total was, they'd match it."

A friend from North Carolina wrote, "I spent Saturday morning delivering furniture to a newly-arrived Hispanic family on the other side of our county. It was really just another one of our Mission projects but the slow trip in a borrowed truck did give time to contemplate relationships. The chasm between the first and third worlds has never been deeper, but it didn't seem like that driving under sparkling Carolina blue skies, delivering furniture from one large home to one small one."

I guess there are two things you can do with an apocalypse. You can let the event itself take over, molding you with terror and hatred. You can fixate on blind revenge. You can let grief and fear roll into your life and never roll back out.

Letting these responses shape us would be understandable. We witnessed true apocalypse. There was nothing moderate about the destruction and loss we suffered.

But look at what so many are choosing. We are choosing life. We are choosing gentleness, generosity, compassion, and forbearance.  

An apocalypse is horrific. After it, we must choose again what we stand for and how we will now live. What I see are people yearning, for a chance to act generously.  






....but oh so fitting to this morning's news. A work day for me today, so no time to catch radio or tv news yet. Can't imagine how these actual dollar revelations will be synthesized by my chosen news sources. I am livid to think some, like the Trumps, can so lavishly live and get a $750 tax bill. I hope the info will help us achieve some solidarity to heal the political wounds caused by this man and his consorts.
Mary Beth's picture

I hope so, too.

Me too. Patricia/Fl

Oh yes, i loved what you wrote then and still love it now. A message worth repeating.
Leonard's picture

When our first instinct was to reach out with love, to try and be of use. It wasn’t to criticize the rescue effort or to blame others for the attack. And it certainly wasn’t to minimize the impact of the attack in order to defend the administration. We need to get back there somehow.

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Quarantine Diary #308 1/15/2021

My life is pretty fine, and I bet yours is, too. Warm place to live. Food to eat. Friends to share and laugh with - even if we have to do it via Zoom.

At the same time, who isn’t feeling anxiety and dread? Will the white supremacist insurrectionist knobs attack the inaugural? Will they screw up state capitols and infrastructure? One lone guy blew up Nashville a mere three weeks ago. What the hell is going on?

Quarantine Diary #307 Brain Names

Remember when there was no autism? Sure, there were kids in our schools who were weirdly able to remember stuff, or were hard to control, or whose emotions triggered at the oddest time. We generally ignored those kids. Those of us who were kind did, anyways. Others bullied. 

Remember the mopey kids in high school who knew too much about depressing art and angsty music and sometimes killed themselves?

Quarantine Diary #306 Hunched Over & Paying Attention

I am going to write some Quarantine Diary entries again. There’s a lot going on and sometimes it helps to hear a small voice as well as the big voices of journalists, pundits, networks, the other public media we follow.

I have had a small headache off and on for days. I worried that I might have contracted Covid, except dang it, I haven’t gone anywhere! And then, thinking about it, I realized I am hunched over my phone much more than usual. These mild on-again, off-again headaches are from eyestrain and weird posture.

Rime and Treason

These photos were taken by Len on Monday in that other time and world that existed before the Trump gorgons mobbed the Capitol. (Gorgons existed in Greek literature. Gorgons are the poisonous siblings with hair of living snakes. Those who beheld them face-to-face turned to stone. Or were killed by being beaten by a fire extinguisher.)

I have been trying to write about that but it is too hard. There is so much that is clear and is informative. You are reading it as much as I am. Blessed be the journalists, right? 

Quarantine Diary #292 New Year's Eve

Many of us feel as if we are in limbo until Biden takes office. I don’t think you need me to say a lot about how long and hard this year has been; we’ve been in this dentist’s chair together.


Did you see how many days quarantine has lasted? 292 days.

So far.

This week I read a remarkable essay. On Natural Landscapes, Metaphorical Living, and Warlpiri Identity, by Barry Lopez. Life is weird. The day after I read it, Mr. Lopez died.

Advent Light Post 12/24/2020

Judy Saunders. Photo of a Rose.

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung,
Of Jesse's lineage coming,
As folks of old have sung.
It came a flower bright
Amid the cold of winter
When half-spent was the night.


Len and I were delivering presents to Chicago yesterday. Social distancing, with masks, but we did it and we saw our kids’ faces and there’s your Christmas, Ma’am.

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