Mary Beth Writes


I think today has to be a Three Things. You probably don’t even know I have Three Things scaffolding in my secret writing toolbox of organizational tools, but I do. Sometimes it’s how thoughts present themselves, you know? Things to say, but not for too long.

(Now that I've finished and read what I wrote, I guess this is five things but some days, in our expanding universe, the math just works this way,)

How aware are you that Fat Tuesday is next Tuesday and Valentines Day is also Ash Wednesday? I feel as if there is some kind of joke in here. Maybe Len will know what to say about the confluence of food, love, and mighty sorrow.

Yes, I am remembering Len’s and my first Valentines Day. And that, as you might expect, it ended with humor and some sorrow.


Tomorrow my Substack short story is one I wrote in the early 2000’s. It’s about a lovely young woman in 1940’s Chicago who meets a handsome man. After that they have to figure out how romance and lifelong love works.

My substack is at:

If you subscribe (you can do it free) an email will come to you at 8AM on Saturday mornings with that week’s story.

Yesterday I went to a hand doctor at the huge orthopedic clinic not too far from here.

In 2015 Len and I spent a lot of time house hunting and were viewing approximately our 30th house. We walked outside after less than five minutes in a nice home that was pretty much the clone of the house we were selling in Racine. We were saying that to each other as I leaned to get in the backseat of the car of Megan the Real Estate agent. Right then the ring finger of my right hand spasmed into the bent position. It hurt a little but mostly freaked me out. What fresh hell was this, that my body could do this witchly thing?

Megan casually said, “Oh that’s trigger finger. My mom gets it all the time.”

So I want to tell you right here and right now that if you are ever going to sell or buy a house in my area, we really recommend Megan who has a great deal of real estate savvy plus she can casually diagnose surprising medical symptoms.

The spasm thing didn’t happen again until last fall. That spasm took five hours to uncurl. It happened this past Christmas and that time it took twelve hours to relax. Since then I’ve babied it along.

My doctor referred me to the guy I saw yesterday. What is it about modern doctors and specialists? They look so young I want to give them jump ropes and model rockets. Anyways, he said I have “trigger-lock syndrome.” Oh cool, I despise guns and now I have one embedded in my hand.

He said he would give me a cortisone shot that probably will help for three to six months. Then I can get another one. After that, if it’s still a problem and it probably will be, there is a pretty simple outpatient surgery he can do.

I asked if the shot would hurt. His eyes gleamed back at me. “Yes. But it’s quick.” He was right.

Anyways, I still can’t bend that finger down to the palm of my hand but my hand itself and the other four fingers are back to ordinary and nothing is on the edge of triggering. This is amazing - as if I stopped hitting my head against a wall. I had not realized how great this was going to feel.

The clinic is modern, light filled, organized, and calm. There were at least fifty cars in the parking lot and all of us patients were inside calmly receiving treatments for sore thisses and thats.

I was wondering, looking around at the place, why can’t we airlift this whole damn place into Gaza?

Engineering healthcare for profit and not for need is evil.

Last night Len and I watched Supernova. I looked up movies with Stanley Tucci (love his work) because Len was going to be out for the evening. I had no idea what the movie would be about and, oh dear friends, it broke my heart.

Here is every trigger warning I can offer. If you are not ready to think about what happens when a long, good marriage faces its end, watch something else.

Actors Tucci and Colin Firth play Tusker and Sam who are long married gay partners. Casting straight actors as gay characters is questionable and there are several good essays out there addressing this. For me it worked. This was not a movie about falling in love but about being in love a long time.

I was almost done watching the movie when Len came home. I restarted it so we could watch it together. I’m still in tears but it’s not a tearjerker. The movie explores the spirit that lives in good marriages. When two become one, what happens to that ‘one’?

Len laughed (too) hard when Tusker (who is a writer) criticizes how slowly Sam is driving. Yes, I may also have said to Len, more than once, that he might as well let me out and I’ll jog home. Sam at one point says to Tusker, “Why do we always do it your way?” Aaack! Arrow to my heart. Are all writers so damn particular about everything?

The marriage is powerful because both men are strong and independent characters. They do not want what’s coming but they are both thinking about it; they delve deeply into their own power. Then they share, over time, what they know and what they want to do with the limitations coming straight at them.

Sometimes we need stories to help us figure out how to enter relationships. Other times we need stories that explore how strong characters face the end. There are no dying scenes in this movie, simply characters dealing with their memories and future.

If we are lucky enough to be in or have been in a good relationship, this movie asks us to see the integrity, humor, and power of the life we know and have known.

So I guess that’s it.

Fat Tuesday – Live it up.

Valentines Day – Celebrate love.

Ash Wednesday – Hang on to your spirit in the face of loss and death.









Good blog. My head is to clogged to find anything witty to say. I did laugh at the slow driving. I get it. I do.
Leonard's picture

I liked, "But being sad when something is gone, just means it was great while it was there. right?" It's like sitting in a boat and whining when the fish aren't biting. If you always got a fish, they'd call it 'catching' and not 'fishing.' It's the same way with love. It might not last forever, but there is no mistaking what it is, and how being in love changes who you are. No matter if it's fleeting or past, you can't say you didn't know love. Also, Megan the Real Estate Agent can be found here:

I loved the movie. There was recognition to my own story, and As often happens; through reading books, or watching movies, it allowed me to openly grief, and yearn. Hope the shot helps your hand. Be well, my friend. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

Sometimes i think the scariest place we go, is into our grief. Thanks.

So true

Must be the year for bodily demise! Suddenly my leg was very swollen from knee to ankle, The orthopedic doc took X-rays. I have Arthritis! Bone on bone! And there isn’t anything to do for it. Yes, I loved my cortisone shot too…but it has worn off and now I’m pining away for another ( have to wait three months). I will be scheduling a knee replacement in January!! My doc says… no problem, he does about 350 a year! After research on arthritis, I see many folks prefer to do what they can without surgery. Not me..I don’t like this pain business. I ll try a new knee, thank you. Good luck with your finger! I try to feel gratitude for all the body parts that don’t hurt.
Mary Beth's picture

Exactly, it's that time of our lives when we wake up in the morning and check around for what doesn't hurt and then plan one's day around those parts.

Add new comment


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

The Lies We Live By


Aristotle wrote a lot of important stuff, very little of which I’ve read. But this Aristotelian idea is cool and I don’t know why we are not taught this in high school. It helps untangle the importance of what we read and watch.

Successful & Failed Artists


Last week I finished reading Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard. (I discovered this book via Librarian of Burgos Instagram because I am her fangirl now.)

If you like to read a book that has a recognizable plot of sympathetic characters moving forward through a problem to a solution– you will likely not enjoy this novel. Heck, I’m not sure if I ‘enjoyed’ it.

Animals of Winter


Last week I invited you to submit pictures of animals who are visiting your life these days.

The Republic of False Truths


I set a goal for this year to read one translated modern novel every month. I’ve been following ‘Librarian of Burgos’ on Instagram and this woman keeps hyping and explaining books I’ve never heard of, which intrigues me mightily. I think she might be a reader’s reader. Anyways, she is European, has transcendently luminous skin plus several master’s degrees and a doctorate in history. Sometimes she even recommends books that are not, sadly she says, not yet translated into English. Cracks me up.

Who's In Your Backyard?


It’s been a wowser of a wintery week. We had the deep and blowing snow last Friday which turned into the heavy-as-concrete snow on Saturday which turned into a deep and frozen crust on Sunday - and here we still are. Last week’s snow still limns the trees and branches. A foot of snow still covers every roof. When I walk (why yes, I’m still going out for strolls) it’s a matter of life and limb navigating the jagged piles between sidewalk and street. I do use my “Alpine” walking stick these days.

Change is coming but not today.

Joyriding the Snowstorm


Today was one more day where my to-do list pretty much only had one big project on it which was “Write”. I’ve been working on a short story since the middle of December and here I still am, working on that story. I know more now than I did a month ago about what’s happening in it and I have a lot of written pages but none of them are done pages.

That was today’s sole agenda.

Then it snowed.

Tag Cloud

9/11 17 minutes 500 Words A-Z AARPtaxes AAUW abortion Acadia accident Accountable Advent aging Alaska animals anniversary antibiotics antlers apples appointments Arrows art Ashland August Augustine aunts baby Badlands balance Baldwin Barbara Barkskins Beauty Becky Becoming Esther Berry birthday bistro BLM Blue BookReport books Boxing Day boy scout Bread breakfast BreakfastClub BrokenDays BuyAngry Cabeza de Vaca Cahokia calendars Canada canoe cat romance cats cello Chicago China Choosing Christmas cilantro Cinnabuns circus climate change clouds Clowns clutter Colonialism comet ComfortZone CommonSense community consumerism Cops Corvid-19 Courage Covid-19 Crazy creditreport creosote crime CrimeShows danger DarkRiver death Debate December DecisionFatigue decluttering deer democracy dentist depression Destination Today Detroit Didion disasterprep distraction dogs dollhouse Dreams Duty Easter eBay Echoes Eclipse election EmilyDickinson eschatology Esquipulas exit polls eyes Fable FairTrade family farmer Fata Morgana ferns firealarm Fitness Five Flatbread Flexible flu Food Pantry Fort de Chartres frame Franc FrancGarcia friends frugal FrugalHacks Frugality frustration Ft.Ticonderoga fungi fusion Galena Gannets Garden GarfieldParkConservatory Gaspe genius geode GeorgeFloyd gerrymandering ghosts gifts girls GNTL gorgons goulash GovernorThompsonStatePark Graduation grandkids granola Grief groceries Guadalupe Guatemala gum guns Hair happiness HaveYouEver? hawks healthcare Healthinsurance hearings heart heaven HelleKBerry heroes hike History home HomeRepair Honduras Hope HowCrowGotOutofJail humor hurricane Ice Cream idiosyncrasy igloos impeachment Innkeeper Instincts integrity InternetPrivacy Interview InviteMe2Speak James Baldwin Jan 6 Janus jewelry JoyceAndrews Judy JulianofNorwich Jump justice Karen kites ladder Lady Lamb LangstonHuges LaphamPeak laundry LeeLeeMcKnight lemming Len lies Light Lincoln Little Women LockedOut Loki loneliness LouisArmstrong Love Ludington Macaw macho Manitoulin MargaretFuller Maria Hamilton Marquette marriage Marsden Hartley masks Mayan MayaWorks meme Memories men Middlemarch MilesWallyDiego MindfulChickens Mistakes MLK moon Mother MothersDay mounds mouser movies museums must-haves Mustapha NAMI Nancy Drew Newfoundland New Mexico New York City Nomadland nope observation OBUUC Ocotillo OnaJudge ordinary OscarRomero osprey Outside oximeter Parade mayhem PastorBettyRendon Paul Hessert PDQ Penny persimmon photos Pi Pies pineapples pizza poetry Preaching privacy procrastination Protest QE2 Quern quest Questions Rabbit holes racism reading recipe recipes recommendations Remember RepresentationMatters Reruns responsetoKapenga Retirement rhubarb Ricky rime RitesofPassage romance Rosemary Ruether Roses Roti Ruth SamaritanWoman Sanctuary Sandhillcranes Santuario de Chimayo SaraKurtz SaraRodriguez satellites sci-fi ScottSimon sculpture Seasons Sermon ServantsoftheQuest sewing Shepherd Shontay ShortStory shoulder sick sickness Slower snow Social Security SofritoBandito solstice South Dakota SpaceShuttle spirituality spring square feet St. Louis staining stars stele Stereotypes stories StoryStarts stream monitoring stress SUBSTACK Survival swim Talent taxes teenager thankgsgiving Thanksgiving TheBridge TheMaid ThePerpetualYou therapy ThreeBillBoards Three Thing Three Things ThreeThings TidalBore TimeBeing toddler Tom tortillas Trains travel Traveler Tubing turtle Twilight Bark Tyrone Ukraine Ulysses Grant Umbrella UnrelatedObservations Up North urgency vacation vaccine Valentines vanilla Vietnam vision VivianWokeUpDrowning Vocabulary vole volunteer WalkingAndSeeing Wampanaog war WarsanShire weather weaving Webs wedding whines WhyAttendChurch Wiley Willa WillaCather Wisteria Won! Wonder words Xeriscape Yellowstone Zebra
Ad Promotion