Mary Beth Writes

Are we feeling the relief? Relief that we can see George Floyd’s face, his profile, that awful image of him under Chauvin’s knee – and feel some accountable closure to such a brazen murder?

I guess at least now, if one is a person of color and an officer kills you, I suppose they can kill you for a minute and still expect to get away with it but nine minutes is too long. Yes, that’s a cynical thing to say. We knew cops were entitled, but it's only in the past few years – because of cellphones – we have seen this entitled violence play out before our eyes.

As is being said so many places – when you put body armor, night sticks, guns, lethal flashlights, debilitating sprays, and tasers on a person and then send them to a situation that needs control – is it logical to expect them to listen, talk, and de-escalate? How many times have we now seen an officer screaming at a person to drop their weapon and the person does and then he’s shot?

I’m glad there were not riots in Minneapolis last night.

I’m glad so many of the reporters and spokespeople are black people. Even a few years ago we would have heard most of this story through white people. The culture around us is changing. Slowly. But its different.

Say her name, too.  Without Darnella Frazier, a 17-year-old with both the courage and the presence of mind to record Derek Chauvin that day, we would not be where we are now.  


Len and I read “Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing” by Lauren Hough. A compelling read and a powerful book.

Here’s a good review:

Hough (huff) was raised in the cult known as the Children of God or The Family. Remember them? Her story is often wrenching to read and take in. The cult becomes a sex cult. Women and girls are punished if they don’t welcome assault, molestation, and sometimes rape. There is sleep deprivation, hunger, abuse, beatings, and endless work. But here’s the thing. She isn’t writing to make you feel sorry for her specific story. She’s writing because her experience, extreme as it is, echoes many of our experiences. Or at least that was Len and I kept saying to each other.

If you were raised inside fearsome ideas of what you could and couldn’t do or of who you were allowed to be, you will hear parts of your story inside her story. You will recall a kid’s internal sense of how easy it would be to become an anathema to the only people they know. Her description of scared alienation is familiar.

Nope, neither Len nor I lived her experiences. Yet she writes eloquently of coming into her adolescence knowing she is gay, trying to figure out where she belongs, trying to make friends, trying to be cool enough to believe in herself. And then, failing at this until well into her 30’s. She learns skills. She gets jobs, has affairs with women, has really tough life experiences resulting from bias, prejudice, injustice, and poverty. Nothing makes her feel at home in the world until she goes back, regards where she came from, looks at the truth and makes some peace with it. This is a book for grownups.

Also, she swears a lot. She’s brilliantly sarcastic and sometimes I laughed out loud. Like when she’s fixing the cable hookups in Dick Cheney’s house. Her supervisor tells her to be careful because of his power. “What’s he going to do, waterboard me?”

The heavy, wild snow today. 

I remember my dad saying, “My father died in an April snowstorm.”

His father was ill with mumps that had swamped his system and turned into pneumonia. My grandmother tried to get a doctor, but they lived in the country and there was an April snowstorm, and a doctor couldn’t get to their farm.

It was 1929. My grandfather was 38 and grandma was 28. My dad was 10 and my uncle was 2.  I sometimes wonder if my dad and uncle were asleep in another room, or if they were present for the drama in their house that night, winds howling outside.

History turns on what happens and who is present and how it is remembered.

The snow is already gone. But here are two photos that Len took.




I didn't grow up in a cult but damn close to one. I caught the tail end of the NPR interview. I do want to scared about what it might bring up. I'll likely read it anyway though. I've processed all of that anyway...I think. :)
Mary Beth's picture

Yes, you will like it and her story will make you respect your own story more. It's odd to look at where one came from and realize how hard one had to work to get out from the worst if it. And then give yourself credit for that.

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My step-grandmother Ricky ate an apple every night. She’d sit on her bed, lean against the headboard, then chomp the apple after which she would remove her false teeth and lay down to sleep.

I haven’t really thought about Ricky in years but this week for no identifiable reason (because we were talking about unsung aspects of our lives?) I dreamed about her. I awoke one morning seeing her face as she stood in her dining room chatting with my mom and me. Ergo, I started thinking about her.

What's Ordinary in Your World?

This train photo is not cribbed from anywhere. It's a Genuine Leonardo. 


Hello and how are you? I am writing less and less as Len and I meander around to doctors, specialists, dentists, and that way-too-early appointment at the endodontist. (So far, we are fine.) The irony being that most of what we are attending to are the side effects of medications prescribed for stuff that didn’t hurt and we didn’t even know we had.

A Quiet Week

The cat in the picture is my daughter's cat, Nancy. Sometimes we all just need a quiet place to slow down and think.


What's going right in your world?


My teeth again. Argh. This past week I’ve had a jaw ache/toothache that got worse instead of better. Today my dentist said I need a crown but also that’s not the thing that is causing the swelling and infection and ache. I now have an Rx for an antibiotic and an appointment for that crown and an appointment with an endodontist to get an Xray worthy of NASA.

Memory & Consequences


To remember hard stories truthfully requires bravery.


The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...



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