Mary Beth Writes


 Hmmm. To calculate what # todays's Quarantine Diary is, I ask the internet how many days it’s been since March 13, 2020.

Yesterday it told me #645. Today (a different site) said #647.

The days DO seem longer, don’t they?

Last night Len and I watched a movie that was so amazing that neither of us picked up our phones even once during the whole thing. (What, you don’t scroll during slow parts of a show?)

As far as I can tell, it only streams on Hulu. Good luck with that.

“Derek DelGaudio’s In and Of Itself”.

DelGaudio is a thinker, magician, and card sharp who wrote a one-man show. It’s directed by Frank Oz (there are no Muppets).

DelGaudio uses unusual stories plus some of his own childhood to narrate a montage about identity. His. And ours. I’m not sure how he pulled off all he did. He performed some magic but this movie was not about tricks.

He showed us how well we hide ourselves from others and eventually from ourselves. How we build our sense of who we are in ways that will protect us from the criticism of others – and how we then yearn for magic to reveal to us who we are.

Towards the end of the movie, he does an amazing feat of memory with every person in the audience. By then his New York City audience is quietly leaning forward; you can feel the courage and acceptance in the theater. He has created a space where strangers see and welcome each other.

For more about the movie, click here. 

A partial list of words and phrases I didn’t know when I was young. 

  • Autism
  • Asperger’s
  • Dyslexia
  • ADHD
  • Differently abled
  • Challenged. They were called handicapped by polite people and much worse by casual folks talking fast.
  • Feminism
  • Alcoholism
  • Eating disorders
  • Black, person of color, Hispanic, Latinx, Asian-American, Asian (not oriental)
  • White privilege
  • Breast, vagina, cervix, penis, sex, intercourse, etc. We knew these words but we also knew one could never say them aloud because they were dirty. Women generally suffered and died from “female problems.”
  • Racism – Those cops with dogs and KKK lynchers in the south were racist. The rest of us weren’t.
  • Women’s literature. There was only literature (mostly written by men) and romance novels (featuring women, written by women, about relationships – ergo it was trash).
  • Dysfunction and dysfunctional
  • Domestic violence. I didn’t know it existed, even though that one woman in our church sometimes had bruises and always seemed nervous and apologetic. We had to pray for her husband all the time so that he would get saved by Jesus. (He never did.) Never knew why we all prayed for that guy so much.
  • Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Trans. There were only married couples, old maids, and perverts - though no one ever talked about what the last was about so we thought it would be something so different from ourselves it would be despairing and noticeable. As my friend Dan said to me in 1987, "Hah!" 
  • Sexual assault. There was only rape and it was women’s problem to steer clear of it.

It’s too easy to think we live in a terrible time. Maybe not so much. Many things have changed and are changing. 

What are other words and phrases that explain our lives and experiences, which did not exist earlier in our own lives?

I am clean out of deep thoughts. Hmm.

Here are some handy thoughts about December birthdays and half birthdays.

One of our kids has an almost-Christmas birthday. The year she turned three we bought her a bunch of presents but then I couldn’t figure out how to divvy them up. I solved this by buying Christmas paper, birthday paper, and then hired a neighborhood 12-year-old to wrap everything. I told her to use her own best kid judgment, split the stash as evenly as possible, put them in two piles. The 12-year-old (who is now a clinical social worker) was interested in this project and in whatever too-small amount of cash I paid her to do it. I love 12-year-olds. They can figure out almost anything.

That was our first solution to a Christmas birthday.

The next summer my kid wanted to go to a 3-mornings-per-week day camp with her pals, all of whom were “older women” of 4. One had to BE four before (hah) one could enroll in this city park kid gig. That June we hosted a big backyard birthday party, told our 3.5-year-old she was now four and sent her to camp. After that we hosted birthday parties for her every June until she was ten. 

Len was regaling this old family tale to someone last week. They laughed and said in their family, on one’s half birthday the kid gets a grocery store half cake.

Happy Birthday to all you holiday babies.


I remember when an older friend of mine told people she was “63 and a half”..too funny. I will have to think on the words and phrases I didn’t know when I was young. The funny thing that comes to mind about words is as a 10 year old, thinking that a geode was called a gonad…. Oh my. I have not made that mistake in a long time.

Language, giving things a name, a meaning changes it, doesn't it? Makes it real, and it can be embraced. I would add to your list: menopause, and depression. Have you noticed how we are marketing language, also? Used, is preowned, misrepresent instead of LYING, molest instead of rape or assault, etc you get the picture. Love the birthday story! Patricia

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My step-grandmother Ricky ate an apple every night. She’d sit on her bed, lean against the headboard, then chomp the apple after which she would remove her false teeth and lay down to sleep.

I haven’t really thought about Ricky in years but this week for no identifiable reason (because we were talking about unsung aspects of our lives?) I dreamed about her. I awoke one morning seeing her face as she stood in her dining room chatting with my mom and me. Ergo, I started thinking about her.

What's Ordinary in Your World?

This train photo is not cribbed from anywhere. It's a Genuine Leonardo. 


Hello and how are you? I am writing less and less as Len and I meander around to doctors, specialists, dentists, and that way-too-early appointment at the endodontist. (So far, we are fine.) The irony being that most of what we are attending to are the side effects of medications prescribed for stuff that didn’t hurt and we didn’t even know we had.

A Quiet Week

The cat in the picture is my daughter's cat, Nancy. Sometimes we all just need a quiet place to slow down and think.


What's going right in your world?


My teeth again. Argh. This past week I’ve had a jaw ache/toothache that got worse instead of better. Today my dentist said I need a crown but also that’s not the thing that is causing the swelling and infection and ache. I now have an Rx for an antibiotic and an appointment for that crown and an appointment with an endodontist to get an Xray worthy of NASA.

Memory & Consequences


To remember hard stories truthfully requires bravery.


The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...



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