Mary Beth Writes

This photo is of Milwaukee's 'Dancing Grannies'. Some of them were killed and hurt yesterday. 

11/22/2021

Yesterday, as most of you know, a person in a red SUV plowed through the Waukesha Holiday Parade, killing at least 5 people, hurting at least 40. Today downtown Waukesha is cordoned off because the whole damn downtown area is a crime scene. There is evidence to gather, people’s stuff to be removed from sidewalks– blankets and strollers and so much more. There’s blood to be washed away. Schools are closed today. There will be a vigil tonight at 5PM in Cutler Park which is the green space around the library.

Today is November 22. Many of us remember 11/22/63 as the watershed day when Kennedy was shot. The US we lived in before that happened felt different than the US we have lived in since. The way we believed in and trusted our society before it happened is different than the ways we have trust ourselves since.

The last few years have felt brutal, haven’t they? We try to not be alarmist. We recognize that if we feel less trusting and safe in our lives, this is the shadow of what others have experienced and tried to tell us all along. Black people. Asian people. Many, many (all of us?) women. Native Americans. Our friends and citizens and neighbors with brownish skin and/or maybe with accents. Our friends who are not “straight” whatever that even means anymore. This has never been a safe and cozy nation.

The super-rich have always exploited our diversity. As long as politicians and oligarchs and oligarch-owned politicians can keep convincing us that the problem is “those people” – well, they can keep taking our wealth, resources, labor, and the sweetness of the lives of the rest of us. We need to burn the phrase “those people.”

Once again, it feels as if the big tent we are all living in came loose at a corner. A stake blew up and blew away and once again the floor beneath us is heaving.

I have two things to suggest.

1. Support people who support education.

The fastest way to lessen security in a nation is to cut education. This society has decided, more or less by default, that schools are the place we advance society. It’s where we started with anti-segregation. It’s where we do whatever health education we do. It’s where we (used to, sometimes still do) teach home-making skills and how to fix thing skills and physical education. It’s where we feed kids and provide social workers and nurses. It’s where we teach and integrate kids with mental and physical challenges into society. And yet, all these budgets have been cut and cut and cut again.

Remember when we received annual hearing and vision tests in school? Yeah, that used to be a thing. Remember when college kids could pay most of their own college costs with summer jobs and working campus jobs during the year? Back when states subsidized tuition because educated people were considered our best resource? Politicians cut those taxes and thus cut funding for college and now they tell us our kids should avoid education debt and they list the alternatives - none of which include sending our kids to the colleges that they send their kids to. Hmmm?

Support education. Support taxes for education. It’s where the heavy lifting of this society happens.

Work and vote for people who vote for education.

2. Talk. Don’t preach (unless you are a preacher and they pay you for it). But talk to yourself about what you are experiencing. Talk to your partner, your friends, your kids, your cat. People who come through emotional trauma best are the kids and grownups who process what they experienced. Don’t just zip past yesterday if, yesterday, you were blown back by what was happening. Take the time to write or say what your experience was and is.

If you would like to say your story here – please do. Use the comments section. Even if you usually state your name, feel free today to claim anonymity. Say your piece of the story here. What did you hear? What did you see? Were you stuck in one of the lockdowns? Did you spend minutes or hours worrying?

No one has to answer - but if you could use a place to unload where others will care, here we are.

As always, I monitor comments and will delete names or claims not verified.

 

 

 

Comments

I’ve quit listening endlessly about the political travesty we all “get”. I cannot listen anymore to the counts of gunshot victims “last night”. I’m keenly aware of these painful facts and it is killing my spirit. But I am writing letters to politicians who offend me. I send money to organizations and campaigns I support. I help to resettle Afghan refugees who have been terrorized in Afghanistan..and I pray that will not happen here too. I believe there is goodness in many people who don’t know how to proceed because it is so overwhelming. But doing anything is better than standing by, like watching a red van careen through innocent bystanders. That was horrific and I don’t mean to suggest anyone could have stopped that. But so often it is a simple as speaking up, saying hello to a stranger, or writing to a senator. If only we all believed our small efforts could make the difference. It’s been one heckofa week.
Mary Beth's picture

That feeling that what we do as one person isn't enough to make a difference - to me these days - that's what I consider when I say I am a person of faith. Not what religion will save me from hell - but what congregation and what beliefs will keep me doing one small action at a time.

I thought you lived here. Seems trite but not meant as such...... I'm so sorry this and your personal loss. Just sending air hugs and lighting candles. fuck...... Hold on to your family....
Mary Beth's picture

Isn't it crazy that once upon a time these horrific events moved ALL of us for a LONG time - but now we stop and consider if we now anyone in that particular melee.

Thought of you and Len immediately when I saw the the news. I have other friends who lived there, have visited more than once, was shocked that yet another seemingly safe place is not. Is there nowhere safe anymore? I know that for many folks, there has never been anywhere that is safe -- is this what it takes for Americans to understand that. I just started reading Jane Goodall's book about hope -- hoping that it will help me to hope.

I thought of you guys when I heard of this. I cannot imagine, grandmas and small children— death. Your state must be in shock. God Bless You All.

Yesterday afternoon, I was surprised to find myself at a church where my daughter decided to have her children baptized. When I asked her why, she said she wanted them to feel a full part of this community that she has come to value. Community, that I understand completely; my only antidote some days to despair.
Mary Beth's picture

I once preached to my own congregation about why we belong to our church. Maybe you would like to read it. https://www.marybethdanielson.com/content/sermon-why-do-we-attend-church-um-i-cant-remember

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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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