Mary Beth Writes

We had three inches of rain here yesterday. This is what the Fox River by Riverwalk condominiums looks like today.

While I was walking along here, an older woman (says me, ahem…) was standing on her sidewalk with her nervous beagle, looking at the over-its-banks river.

I said something friendly and boring, as one will. She replied that this was the most flooded she’s seen it, although she had only lived in this area for three years. I said I’ve been here four years. And then we both chuckled because the world thinks old ladies stay where they are, but pretty often we don’t.

It’s raining again this afternoon. It’s going to rain tomorrow.

In seminary I learned that when the minister baptizes someone, they cup some water from the font, put it on the victim’s head, and now they have a wet hand. This is the proper moment to flick their hand so that the water hits people in the front row – and then pronounce in serious, ministerial tones, “Remember your baptism and be grateful.” This sounds meaningful and most congregants don’t realize one does this because what else is one going to do, wipe their hands on their pants?

Getting wet when one doesn’t actually want to get wet (it was raining this morning and my glasses were a mess) reminds me of that. When in doubt, be grateful.

One can always switch emotions later in the day.

Last week two of my kids were informed that for the foreseeable future, their jobs are to be performed from home.

Just like that, the way the world works shifted. My kids still have their jobs but they don’t have an office a half hour commute from where they live. No co-workers to say hi to. No kitchenette with a coffee pot and free granola bars. No elevators and parking lots and wondering why your project partner is doing that and why your boss just closed her door and on and on.

This is how it will be for months and maybe forever.

It is serendipitous that both moved last year to homes with an extra room. Neither have kids so both can work pretty conveniently, although both mention that wearing professional outfits every day isn’t happening.

Also, sometimes the pets are distracting.

Len and I belong to our local Unitarian Universalist Association. Last week we got an email from the national office advising congregations to make plans to meet VIRTUALLY for the coming YEAR. Yeah, that was something to take in. The letter was thoughtful and said what we all know. Churches are enclosed spaces heavily sprinkled with older folks (ahem again) – and talking, hugging, and singing are powerful ways to spread the virus.

Our lives are being powerfully impacted. We are looking at a life and lifestyle we never imagined.

I am trying to wrap my head around this. How can Len and I enjoy and be productive and helpful to our friends, family, neighbors? What does a good retirement look like now?

Traveling is iffy. Can we rent a trailer with a bathroom and a kitchen? I never wanted a Winnebago, not even a little one. Do we have to look at this as an option?

For the society around us: What will jobs look like?

I can’t imagine teachers teaching two half classes of sticky kids who can’t remember to social distance, for the foreseeable future - for the salary and disrespect they currently receive. Impossible. To have children doing virtual school from home half the week, in-class socially distant classes the other half of the week? Impossible.

And what does that “solution” do for parents? One third of American families are headed by single parents. If we are sending kids to school half time, are we saying those families get to live in poverty, or the kids are unsupervised half the week?

School are currently the source of social work services, kids’ daily breakfast and lunch, afterschool daycare, and childhood enrichment activities – as well as education. Where is all that going if kids go to real school halftime and virtual school halftime?

School boards and politicians are, absolutely, talking about half week classes next fall. We need a better and long-term solution that starts with the way life happens now, not the way life worked on a farm in 1946.

Daycare? Good lord, how is anyone going to offer daycare in the next two years?

I am writing and writing here and I have no solutions. But I do have good questions, don’t I?

Here is my best idea for someone who wants to makes their fortune in this pandemic.

Invent small rooms with  “clean room” technology that filters viruses out and fresh air in. Put two “suits” in the wall in the middle of this room. You pay money, you go into this divided room with the person you really need a hug from. You each go into one side of the room, walk into the hug suit which meshes up with the hug suit on the other side, and you hug and hug and hug. I'd pay $10 to hug my people.

We are going to a virtual birthday party this coming weekend for our grandson who is turning one. 

Everything is different.

Except for how much we love each other.

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Comments

This all truly makes me crazy. I love your last two sentences. Very true.

Lots of interesting questions. It was so much easier to accept all of this when it seemed it would be over soon. I love the hug room idea. I hope you have a patent on it!

thank you

I picture the movie “The Andromeda Strain“ from the 1970s where the nurse has to climb into a similar suit to feed the baby! That might be an interesting movie to watch. But now that I remember the ending, the virus “just disappears”, so I wonder if You-Know-Who saw this movie and that’s how he became an expert in virology, medicine, etc.!!
Mary Beth's picture

OMG The Andromeda Strain. I think you are right. That's where Trump got his virology expertise.

A friend of mine tells me our current public education system was designed to train the future workers of the industrial revolution, and it hasn't changed much sense. I hope that someone somewhere (who has power) will see this pandemic/it's consequences for the opportunity it is to rethink our entire education system! I don't have the answers either... But I know there are some. We need to get out of this box; realize who our kids really are and what they really need; and figure out a way to keep them safe and happy, even as they learn. I also feel certain technology is not the solution--a tool, sure. I'll give ya that. But it's not the answer!! This is a moment for true reform! Is anyone going to take it?
Mary Beth's picture

People who can think outside the box are so seldom the same people who want to work on committees, run for public office, put up with the BS of politics. Occasionally we get someone who can do both but it's damn rare and they are hampered by all the power-sucking, doing-it-by-rote people around them. So does politics have to change? I 'm not for term limits. I think they kick out the rare ones who actually learn things and ought to be in politics because they know who and how. But how about instead of the stock market as our marker for national prosperity - we invent a moving calculation of the medium income of ALL adults in the nation and no politician can earn more than the national medium figure and no pol can have a net worth greater than the average net worth of all Americans. And after that, we go on with the constitution and laws that we have - and see if they suddenly WORK for average Americans instead of the Oligarchy.

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Quarantine Diary #121 7/13/2020 When we crave a simpler murder ...

Last post we were talking about what stories, books, art, TV, shows, and music works for us now. It’s pretty obvious that living four months in isolation through a pandemic - changes what our spirits want and need. Several people in Friday’s comments said that they are watching British crime shows.

Us, too. Len and I binge-watched Endeavor. Each show is an hour and a half, there are 6-8 shows per season, and there are seven seasons … so far. There will be one more season later this year when its released from England to the US. So yes, pretty invested!

Quarantine Diary #118 7/10/2020 The thing that we don't want that we have.

This week I requested books from the library, picked them up, walked back home, and started reading.

One book is a lawyer/detective book that is 850 pages long. It’s a great read in that American gum-cracking, fast-talking, everyone has an angle kind of way. I was 150 pages in before I accepted I don’t even like gum and I quit it.

Next I started The Women of Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell.  

Quarantine Diary #112 7/3/2020 The View From Here, Now

I just checked the comments on my website. I get a few wacko ones most days that are in Greek or Russian, or are porno invites. I delete them. Part of the shtick when running a website outside the hosted sites.

And here, right here on a Friday evening, is this good comment from one of you, 

Quarantine Diary #108 6/30/2020 Woke Neighbors

I was quietly sitting here, just writing, when I heard yelling. I looked up and there was Modern America Right Here Right Now, in front of my house.

Cops had a car pulled over and were yelling at someone to come out. A black man with dreadlocks got out, hands in air, protesting and arguing to the cops. I couldn’t hear exactly what he was saying, but he was arguing respectfully. I heard his “Sir” several times. He was not swearing that I could hear.

Quarantine Diary #104 6/26/2020 Common Sense

This very small story has been lurking in my mind for decades and I have been thinking about it again, just recently.

One afternoon I overheard my dad complaining to my mom about schoolteachers. I suppose they were having a busy week in the print shop when a teacher from the high school dropped off, late in the day, a print job that needed to be completed in less time than was convenient. I’m guessing it was the school newspaper.

Quarantine Diary #101 6/23/2020 Today the Protest Came to Us

I keep saying Len and I are not going to protests because of Covid.

But then one came to us.

Late yesterday afternoon we heard that Mike Pence and Betsy DeVos would be at a meeting this morning at Saratoga STEM school here in Waukesha. It's three blocks from our house. 

The meeting was to talk about school choice. School choice is when you take taxpayer education funds away from local schools, change neighborhood schools into “choice schools” that will attract kids from outside that neighborhood and then you underfund the neighborhood school that's left.

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