Mary Beth Writes

We are binge-watching “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I started last week; Len ambled through the living room at the beginning of Season 2, stood a moment to watch, sat down, and last night we finished season 2 together. Stories are good.

As you know, the show is set in the 1950’s and 60’s. Many of us actual Mid-Centurions remember the actual mid-century. Ladies in hats. Pink and white kitchens. Salmon and aqua living rooms. The total culturally approved subjection of all women to all men.

Oh yeah.

There is a scene in the first episode where Midge goes to bed with her husband. She is very pretty. He falls asleep. She goes to the bathroom, pulls off her false eyelashes, creams the makeup off her face, slathers on nighttime cream, pin curls her hair and then ties that up in a fluffy scarf. Finally, she goes back to bed and falls asleep. Before Joel wakes up in the morning she sneaks back to the bathroom to reverse the routine. She brushes her teeth, “fixes” her face, fluffs her hair and slips back into bed a minute before his alarm goes off. He wakes to his perfectly adorable wife.

So last night I had a dream. In the dream Len and I and a small group of friends had to drive a freight train to a women’s demonstration in Minneapolis. There were only two freight cars and I have no idea what was in them (perhaps cultural expectations?). Somehow the cargo cars accidentally disconnected from the locomotive. And then we lost the locomotive. The freight cars were just parked on train tracks out in some field. Somebody needed to find the engine and bring it back to the parked train.

As is so aggravating about dreams, no one was worried about this situation except me. Len and George Bob wandered off to look for the engine. When they found it, they would have to figure out how to drive it back to the freight cars. When I told this to Len this morning, he interrupted my dream to remark, “Wow, there is no one I would rather figure out how to drive a locomotive with than George.” And then Len lost the rest of my dream because he was imagining driving a train, which shows you gender patterning right there.

However, I was, in my dream, waking up in a Railroad Hotel. You know those old wooden buildings next to old depots where travelers stayed in the Olden Days? Yeah, one of those and it was in terrible condition and I slept awful because I was worried about our freight train.

However, when I woke in the morning I wasn’t in the worst mood. Larry Morkert was extremely irritated at all of us because he had had to spend the night outside in a tent. I explained to him that I thought he had passed away (he did, a few years ago) - and all of us who knew him are laughing now because he was SO good at pretending to be grumpy when he wasn’t. Len and I walked out of the dingy hotel, found our car, were on our way to see about the train when I woke up.

I know many of us don’t remember our dreams.  I think the simple reason Len and I remember them more lately is because we are retired and can wake up at the end of a dream instead of when an alarm goes off. 

What I liked about this dream, in addition to seeing Larry again, was the metaphor/image of a freight train.  We live a half block from a main line between all the freight coming from or going to Chicago from the northern side of everything that is western US and Canada.  Freight trains are heavy, loud, and terrifying as well as spectacularly efficient. With a good freight train system, you can build a nation. 

So why did I dream of a freight train going to a place where women congregate to demand equality and power?

Here’s my take on our nearly worldwide dystopian political split. You know, where the political inclination formerly known as “the right” is too often being overtaken by fascism? 

I think because the ‘entitled imperialist political gentry of yore” cannot stand that women, and people of color, and women of color, are rising in political power. They think something is getting lost when ordinary people rise, have choices, and don't obey.

Remember the real 50’s?  Remember when women vowed to obey husbands at weddings? Remember being taught that our girl bodies were going to be nothing but trouble for our souls to ride around in? (I knew a girl in college who seriously worried about how she would sleep in curlers once she was married.) Remember adults talking trash about leaders who were reaching for human equality?

Man, it wasn’t that long ago. I have a zillion stories and you do, too. It's been a social revolution and it isn't done yet. 

I’m glad we are where we are.  We being those of us not intimidated by equality, plurality, people who act differently than us, choice, other languages, women who win at hard things and men who for so many lovely reasons aren’t always macho. We are the freight train.  Yes, we do get separated from the locomotive of agenda, purpose, clarity, and organization. But, in my dream and heart and mind it is important to remember that what is going on right now IS a powerful freight train. And it is trying to get us to a peace which is not coopting and a creativity of imagination, not the fake creativity of buying and having.

….

 

PS: There really is a big Woman’s March in Washington DC this weekend and also in some other cities, including a rally at South Division HS in Milwaukee. I have previous plans and am probably not going to change them, but in case you can go, there’s more info here. https://www.facebook.com/womensmarchonwash/

If you want to help find the locomotive today, maybe start with donating some money to a feminist cause or campaign.  

Comments

Mary Beth, The women I remember from the 50's were their own people not taking a backseat to anyone. My mother was a school principal, my sister didn't want and didn't go to the school are Dad wanted us to attend, I did what I was told to do and never regretted it. The young women ion my High School I knew wanted to go to college and be have careers, boys were useful toys if they have a car. I graduated from HS in 1956 and went back to the 60th reunion and the women I knew attaindend their goals with or without husbands.
Mary Beth's picture

My mom co-owned and managed, with my dad, our family printing business since long before I was born. She was very determined, smart, and responsible. However, she was accorded much less respect for her contributions then most men were given without anyone thinking about this twice. Women did so much, but they so often did it in spite of society's expectations of support. That's what I was trying to say, though it may have come out that I thought women were doing less.

Good read. You always make me think!

I really enjoyed hearing about your dream! I love when I remember mine. I remember less now that I have a CPAP machine and am sleeping more deeply, and I kind of miss my adventures and seeing people that I don’t get to see in real life!
Mary Beth's picture

I still remember a half dozen dreams from my whole life. Sometimes something will remind me of one of them, I stop and try to recall when I was at this place before - and then remember it was in a dream!

Yes! You have given voice to so many of the thoughts going on in my head. Thank you! I marathon watched "the Marvelous Mrs Maizel," it reminded me of how far we have come in so many ways, and how desperate so many are for us to go back and remain in our "place." Much courage is needed, and grace. Lots of grace. Patricia/Fl
Mary Beth's picture

Thank you. As I am sitting here, just now, a freight train with only two freight cars just went by, very slowly. This is completely unusual, most trains have a hundred cars. Do you think my dream train just saluted us all?

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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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