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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"Brotherhood" by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr - A Book Review

10/13/2021

“Brotherhood” by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr is the most compelling novel I’ve read this year. I read the first half as if I was reading a book for the first time; it felt as if the writer was expressing a story so powerful he called it fiction just to get it out, to me, to us. 

I skimmed the second half because I was exhausted by the impossible trauma and decisions the characters would need to endure and try to survive.

Let me say right here than many will survive. Not all.

Thanks & Now Let's Do Pups!

10/13/2021

 Thank You!

I sent our collated list of “Ways to Help My Community” to the Third Graders this morning.  Laura has already shared it with them; I just received this from one kid. This was really cool and helpful thank you for coming back to me so quickly well you always respond quickly like all the time and also I like hiring (hearing) from you always make me smile from writing to pictures I love them all.”

3rd graders on Community Building

10/12/2021

... 

I’m just back from volunteering in the third grade.  I’ve done this for five years; Laura Zahn who is this class’s teacher, plus her friend and fellow teacher Mara, have become among my favorite people in Waukesha. 

My Relationship with a Door 10/5/2021

Dear Friends,

I seem to be out of Deep Thoughts lately. Not sure if this is apparent to you but it is to me. This is not exactly a problem but keeps me guessing what in the world I should be writing. Or - since “should” is a sometimes toxic and generally unhelpful word – these days I am not sure what you want to read and I want to write.

So maybe I’ll just write you a quick Dear Friends. Sometimes relationships are just about checking in.

Up North 9/30/2021

Here’s why I’ve not posted anything in nearly two weeks.

Last week Len and I took a trip to Duluth, MN and Ashland, WI. We hiked seven hikes, met new friends, ate too much. (We didn’t eat IN restaurants. We ate take-out dinners while sitting in our car overlooking Chequamegon Bay.) We marinated in the breezy Up North rhythms of woods, streams, rivers, and Lake Superior. 

Then we came home to all that stuff one does up returning; laundry, groceries, and bringing in the Big Dozers to deal with cat litter boxes. 

Cabeza de Vaca & Company: A 500-Year Old Story for Our Time.

I’ve been thinking about Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca for years and I’ve also been thinking about him for a week.

It’s crazy out there in the world right now and people are, I think, kinda sick of each other. Racism, sexism, and classism are the muck we walk through to get to our cars while our climate is turning into flying monkeys. And the rich keep getting richer.

So let me tell you about a guy I admire.

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