Mary Beth Writes

Last week I had enough to say to write three posts. This week, not so much. This week I cooked and baked things to share with some friends who were having trickier than usual weeks. I wrote letters to the Third Graders. I always enclose some stickers (many from you guys) which are super cute, and I didn’t think any more about this, except, this week, one kid asked for a toy.

A toy? When a whippersnapper asks for a toy, one must cogitate. I found finger puppets online, cut them out, included a couple in each kid’s letter. Finger puppets here. 

I twice tried to exercise at the YMCA but both times fellow exercisers were not wearing masks (while ambling back and forth past the Wear A Mask signs). I gave up on the Y and went for long walks. Experts suspect vaccinated people can transmit the virus – and we are seeing some of our kids this weekend.

I thinned out more old files. I sat a while to remember my cousin who passed away recently. Char and I were each other’s first best friends. Those early years never leave one.

President Biden is competent at his job. Politics will be forever frustrating, and injustice stalks the earth like a colossus. But I no longer feel anxious and irritated 24/7.  I’m waiting to see what happens to the filibuster and then what happens to democracy.

When I was a support person to AODA programs, one of the things I learned was this. “Behind your addiction to substances is your addiction to the way you are used to feeling.  When you started drinking or doing drugs, it was to escape feelings of, probably, unworthiness, depression, guilt, fear, anger. There are a lot of rough feelings to feel, and if your life was arranged in such a way that you mostly felt negative feelings, and then you found escape through substances, well, you have some work to do now, don’t you? After you stop drinking or using, what will you go back to feeling?”

Those classes and seminars were powerful to hear from across the hallway as the counselors taught and I collated their reports.

This might be a good time to notice what your “signature feeling” is - and decide if you are okay with it.  Or if you want to experiment with, you know, feeling satisfied with yourself, or proud, or brave, or competent, or as if you have done enough and can just sit back for five minutes. Do you want to simply like your friends without having opinions about them? Do you want to think about your kids or siblings or cousins without making a list of what you ought to do for them or what they ought to do for you?  

I’m still thinking about Braiding Sweetgrass. (here)  Kimmerer talks about the way our first language and culture set us up for life. American/Western European culture tells us to keep looking at what we can get and do and fix. That Anishinaabe language enables a person to see how parts of nature, of family, of life itself mesh, interweave, and support each other.

Not sure how all these parts fit together. But it seems to me, lately, that sometimes the biggest risk is to slow down and pay attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As usual your post strikes a cord. Pondering many thoughts. Thank you. Patricia
Mary Beth's picture

Thanks for responding, too.

Just got back from Mr. P's house... The spring bulbs that I planted last year as his Xmas gift have been popping out of the ground for two weeks, but nothing like they are today... He's antsy and excited as am I to see the results of my labor... Someone told me this weekend that I'm a nice guy (Not Mr. P)... I think that choosing that as my *signature feeling* works and I can live with that... I was also asked if I would think about opening a restaurant... That doesn't work for me, I cook to show my love for those I surround myself with... Cooking at my age for money doesn't sound like fun to me...
Mary Beth's picture

I like that as a signature feeling. Nice guy. I like that you picked a name for it. I'm going to think about that. And as a person who has done jobs where one stands up all day - I vote with you. Too hard!

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Three Things / Story, Eclipse, Brando

1. I scheduled my Substack story to go out at 8AM this morning. I just looked to see why it didn’t show up and it says it is going to be sent at 8:49 tonight. I’m going to leave it like that. Maybe 9PM on a weekend night is a good time to send short fiction. Let me know if you have an opinion.

2. I read this quote by Marlon Brando who said this early in his career. “I’m not afraid of anything and I don’t love money.”

Even though this is probably not exactly true of me and you, I do love the bravado.

Peace Like a River / Book Report

4/3/2024 She Writes

I just finished reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and I am going to talk about it for a little bit before I forget how profoundly interesting and evocative this book was and is, at least to me.

I get emails from Boswell Bookstore (2559 N Downer Ave in Milwaukee). They host artist events pretty often and Monday evening, April 15th Len and I will be there for the Author Evening with Leif Enger. You can look up more of the details if you are interested. (Tickets are free but you need to reserve them.)

My Grandkids & 'Wandering Stars'

4/1/2024

The past month has been jam-packed. The week in Mineral Point. Len’s two-day seminar in Chicago. Last week we had various grandkids here for three overnighters and yesterday our family came to Easter dinner here in our house which was clean after a week with grandkid overnighters so you know that was a piece of cake. Len smoked two hams (yes, hard to keep them lit) and I made the largest amounts of from-scratch scalloped potatoes plus macaroni and cheese that I have ever made. As in, I grated four pounds of cheese Saturday afternoon. “On Wisconsin.”

Ghost on a Post / Poetry with Third Graders

3/12/2024

This is what I texted to Len this afternoon after I finished the poetry class with third graders. “I’m done and back. The kids were great and I’m a limp washrag, Teaching forty 8-year-olds for 90 minutes is way more energy than Everest.” I then drank half a beer (I NEVER drink in the afternoon) and fell asleep until the Mineral Point afternoon ‘change of shift siren’ shrieked for several minutes. It’s been a full day.

How 2 Write a Poem (3rd grade edition)

3/7/2024

Next week is my Writers Week at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI. I won this when my story “How Crow Got Out of Jail” (Read Here) won first prize in the 2023 Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring contest for short fiction.

Winning that contest motivated me to open my Substack account. So far I’ve published 17 stories and only published once twice. (Who noticed that?)

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