Mary Beth Writes

Written / Winter 2014:

I came home from work 3 hours early today.

 Most of the days of the year I like sitting next to a wall of windows that is a front row seat on Racine. But when it’s super-hot or super cold, those 70’s era windows lose the fight with Mother Nature, and the office can become slightly miserable.

I could keep on writing about what we do to cope; lately its long underwear, layers, and a sense of humor. Most days the four of us who casually share the space are not glued to our chairs – we have to go to other parts of the building for significant chunks of our jobs.  Twice a week I work in another site altogether. 

But today was a chair and computer day and by late morning my bones were cold.

 I decided that after a 1:30 work-related thing was done I’d take a couple hours of vacation to come home.  Which is where I now am; it’s lovely warm in here.

Here’s the thing.

Some people cope the way I do. Do what one is supposed to do until one realizes they’ve become too cranky, cold, hot, and/or weird.  Think about it. Consider if there is a way to tone down the discomfort and if so … go for it.

Others always stick to what they are supposed to do. 

Flexibility and Accountability are two buzz words in the modern world. 

Can you count on a person to always do what s/he says she will do?  Remember “I said what I meant and I meant what I said. An elephant’s faithful 100%.”  (Dr. Seuss, Horton Hatches the Egg)

I was raised by a lot of Highly Accountable people. They got up early in the morning, never ate three donuts, worked a productive eight hours each work day except for when they worked more than eight hours.

I have friend and co-workers whom if you ask them to do something and they say yes – they will do it. Always. They’d have to be in the hospital with tubes attached before they’d miss an obligation. If that person had my job, they would have figured out a way to make it through the afternoon.

Heck, I know how to do that.  Put my outdoor scarf over my lap as a lap robe. It helps.

Except I didn’t do that for a variety of important and ridiculous reasons. The main one being I realized it was Very Cold, no one could Argue With That, and therefore, I had a Bonafide and Unimpeachable reason to take the afternoon off from work.

So I did. (I also know where I am in my on-going work load, and it was not going to set anyone else back in their work for me to vamoose out of there.)

If you had known me when I was four-ish and five-ish, you would have seen this coming.  I was the little girl who, every day for two years, told my mom I couldn’t go to school that day because I had a sore throat. According to my mom, some days I DID have a sore throat.  Mostly I found school to be way more work than I had anticipated. It was 3rd grade before I really got the hang of getting up and going there. (Kudos to Mrs. Chisholm who liked kids, laughed a lot, and made learning fun. Bless her memory…)

Have you read about the Stanford Marshmallow Experiment?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_marshmallow_experiment

In the late 60’s and early 70’s researchers conducted an adorable experiment. They put little kids in a room.  Then they put a marshmallow (or cookie, or one piece of candy) on a dish in front of the kid and told the kids s/he could eat it right away. But, if they waited until the researcher returned to the room (about 15 minutes) they could have TWO marshmallows.

The kids who could wait, when followed through their lives, did better on SAT scores, in matters of health, in the aspects of things generally called a successful life.

Do you know me? Do you know that I am a serious marshmallow-iac? Do you know I stay out of Walgreen’s pre-Easter just so that I don’t lose my soul to Peeps? I suspect I could not do the Stanford Marshmallow experiment even now. When we have them in the house, Len has to hide them in the basement behind the power saw. I’m not going to say how I know where he tends to put them.

Human beings are kind of adorable. Some of us can’t walk away from an obligation, even when it’s dumb and we are sick, tired, and old.  If there’s an “ought to do this” attached, these folks are there.

Some of us are like me. Generally reliable.  A good egg. But if there’s a way to slink away to read, cook, write, walk, or just noodle away an afternoon … and nothing too horrible will happen … we’re “gone fishing”.

Accountable and flexible. Both are needed.

Which are you?

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Happy Birthday to Len

11/30/2022 

Today is Len’s birthday. I told him this morning I might write about him but I would let him read whatever I said first. He said not to run it past him, he’d like the surprise of reading it when you all do. Let’s see what I come up with.

1. This is cute. Len was born in Chicago’s Passavant Memorial Hospital which was the grandparent hospital to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital - where two of our grandkids were born.

Stories, Q Club, Us

The photo is not by Len or me, its from I Love Canada on FB. I've seen a sky like that just once. 

11/21/2022

Last week I read two books about young people who left their homes. They experienced some good and too many rough experiences and they couldn’t go back until they figured out how to not be who they used to be. Both novels knocked my socks off.

The People You Keep by Allison Larkin

Covid Diary #979 - Still Paying Attention?

11/17/2022

Yes, it’s been 979 days since Friday the 13th, March 2020, when everything changed.

Last Saturday one of our kids visited for several hours with their kids. It was fun though our kid looked tired. They said they’d taken a Covid test that morning and it was negative. They figured it was the wine and rich foods they’d shared the evening before with friends at the end of a very busy week.

Next Day - What Are You Seeing?

11/9/2022

It was a late night last night, wasn’t it? Len worked at a polling place 6:30 AM until 10:30 PM. He said the actual experience is a lot like working retail (which he has not done since he was 22). Stand up most of the time, pleasantly say the same thing over and over. Wonder if lunch is soon.  

Professional reporters and pundits are talking a lot about “what just happened”, but heck, we are noticing interesting things, too.  Let’s talk about what We The People saw and heard and are watching now.

Here are some things catching my attention.

Election Day

11/8/2022 

So many times I’ve thought things were going to be okay, and then they weren’t. My dad had that heart attack and the kid who was MB back then told herself to not overthink the drama because things always turn out more or less okay. Then the next day he died.

We lost a pregnancy far enough along that we had a name picked out and a crib in which to put that child. For a week I had all the misery and cramps that go with miscarrying and I still thought somehow it was going to work out okay.

That Beep-Beep-Beeping Moment.

In spring Len got a $100 traffic ticket when he turned right at a corner we’ve been turning right at for seven years. However, construction had started and there were orange barrels and cones everywhere – plus a small sign NOT facing the street Len was on, telling drivers to not turn there.

Len went back later that day and took photos. Len called the city to mention that if they posted a sign that actually faced the traffic, the city could save the cost of the cop parked there ticketing drivers.

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