Mary Beth Writes

Thing One - Eclipse Pix

Yesterday Len got up at 3AM to have enough coffee in him by the time he left the house at 4AM to meet our son at 5AM at Mud Lake (not all who name lakes are poets) which is between Madison and Stoughton. They fished and my son caught a big bass. Took a photo of it and then returned the fish to the lake. I think this is a weird, but I suppose less ultimate than shooting and releasing.

They also watched the sun rise in eclipse. 

Len took this photo of a redwing blackbird who wears the eclipse on her shoulders.


Thing Two - Synchronized Bias

I think old movies with synchronized dancers or swimmers like the June Taylor dancers or Esther William’s swimmers ... are kinda boring. I’m also not intrigued by choreographed crowd scenes in the Fred and Ginger films. I know it is dicey to say one does not appreciate iconic movies of the 20th century, but it’s my truth and I’m living it.

Have you ever thought about how much synchronization there was after WWII? Maybe there is in every generation after a war. After chaos, people like to look at things that appear to make sense.

I was, for example, in the children’s choir in my church. It was the 1950’s and I wore a navy skirt, white shirt, and a red military knife hat. We sang Onward Christian Soldiers as we marched into the church, I kid you not.

Written standards are for orchestrating how others, often girls and women, appear to others. Unwritten standards give one group of people permission to write others off others for not knowing or adhering to those standards.

There’s no reason to not like matching socks and matching furniture and clothing that is lovely and appropriate or whatever else. But we really need to be damn sure we know what we are doing when we mandate matchiness.

Are we enjoying patterns that humans can invent? Or are we pretending we can invent how the world, and the society around us, and our neighbors – should act and look?

Why do we chase uniformity?

I think people who come through trauma have two ways to go.

1. Folks can say “I come from trauma. Loss and grief and feeling not at home in my own life was and is a big part of my story. It affected me and I will never be quite done with and over my story.”

2. Folks can say, “I’m fine. Why are you so morose and insecure and lacking in the skills that I have? Let’s get some order around here. Let’s spend some energy and do things my way. Let’s build my world and then I will be happy, and you will, too, as you become as insightful and important as I am.”

Too many of us spend far too much energy expecting and coercing others into acting the way we think they ought to act. If they don’t do things our way, we call them harsh names and accord them less respect than is the due of every human on earth.

I’ve been thinking again this week about the men and women I worked with who were in jail. And how the first thing people who wanted to support them did – was give them middle class clothing. Or invent a program where they could get a better haircut. Why not start by asking them about their life instead of hurrying them into some apparition of ours?

I’m thinking about kids in the classes I’ve volunteered in the past few years, how many of them dress in ways that are not white middle class and how that catches my attention and I have to think.

I’ve been thinking about January 6th and how many of those men and women wore uniforms they invented incorporating flags and camouflage.

I’m thinking how crazy some folks get if women who are Muslim wear a head scarf. Even though those same people are often the ones yelling at women to dress more modestly. Go figure, huh?

I’m remembering a few outsized dressing gay men I met in my 20’s. They just about blew the top off my head, but as I got to know them, I liked them so much. People who have to come through hard stuff just in order to be themselves, those people became my role models and path clearers.

I’m remembering people I knew who punished their kids for not wearing clothes picked out for them by their parents or grandparents.

I’m thinking of my mom who asked my two little ones what color slippers they would like because she was going to crochet them for them. And when my daughter and my son both said pink, my mom made pink, and they are in the cedar chest now (with holes in the bottom from being worn so much) – my mom’s conviction that kids know what they want and need.

We are in a fast-moving era where some of us are keeping up and others are giving themselves the permission to require conformity and synchronization. This is dangerous and that’s what I’ve been thinking


Thing Three

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.' Andy Warhol

“You’re not the same hobbit who left the shire.” Gandalf





Loved your insights, thanks
Leonard's picture

This certainly doesn't explain everything, but I think there's a connection between enforced uniformity and having a lot of stuff. There were big shortages of stuff during WWII: gas, meat, and consumer goods. The war was won largely through people cooperating and working as efficiently as possible. It became unpatriotic to be an individual. As goods became more available in the Fifties, we still felt the need to conform, but people also started questioning whether it was necessary to be the Organization Man. Now that stuff is plentiful, we are free to push back and seek out different stuff.

Great post. This adds more layers to what I have been thinking about, and pondering.What I see in the name of Conformity: frightening. Btw, your mom rocked. Have a good week end. Patricia

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Quarantine Diary #507 YES #507!

Didn’t I announce back in March that my Quarantine Diary was done?

Argh. Never say never.

I assumed after two vaccines it was okay to meander the world as long as we are mindful of kids and people with fragile immune systems. So put on the mask in public places and don’t be overtly stupid.

Making Memories?

This morning the Washington Post has an article about how we make memories. Interestingly, just because we say we are “making memories” doesn’t mean we are. Most little kids will not start making many memories until they are around age 8. Memories get stuck in our mind if they involve several senses and we are going slow enough to pay attention. If one WANTS to remember something, stop paying attention to everything else that is going on, focus in on the thing you care about using more than one sense. Recall it again later. Deep sleep on it overnight and good luck with that.

Three Things & One Announcement 7/16/2021

Thinking Outside the Box: 

Len once told me this WWII story. The first generation of bomber raids from England to Germany resulted in a terrifying number of bomber planes being shot down. Experts carefully examined the returning planes to create detailed reports of the bullet holes as they tried to understand how to reinforce the planes to make them safer.

Three Things 7/7/2021

Israel’s Health Ministry this week announced that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — one of the world’s most effective shots — was offering only 64 percent protection against infection and symptomatic illness caused by the delta variant.

The vaccine was still highly effective at preventing severe illness and death, the ministry said.

(I read this in the Washington Post, though it’s other places also.)

7/5/2021 Three Things (Don’t miss Highland Mitzi)

Last year was the Covid quarantine so most of us didn’t do very much over the 4th of July holiday.

This year, with half Americans now vaccinated there’s more freedom to do things and be with people.

Three Things (Well, Four) 7/1/2021

Bill Cosby is out of prison on a technicality. The judge said 40-year-old Britney Spear still can’t run her own life. Yesterday 88-year-old war criminal* Donald Rumsfeld died comfortably in his bed.

My gut is twisting. How are you? Power, injustice, and money still row the boat that we’re all on. This nation is playing whack-a-mole with justice, hope, and human rights. It feels ominous. I thought I would just mention this in case you thought it was just you that felt assaulted this morning.


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