Roz and Me, Together For The First Time!

She was the only African American at the convent, and I the only Jew, don’t ask me how many years ago. We were not friends. Or enemies either. I have a distinct memory of Roz, tiny, with very carefully groomed hair in a flip, in her uniform which was just like my uniform: a white shirt, a plaid skirt, and when it was required a delphinium blue blazer with a prominent white crucifix on the pocket. I think of that blazer and I sort of cringe;  I, great-granddaughter of a Jewish scholar in a Jesus blazer? Roz, the daughter of a Methodist minister had no problem with the Jesus blazer, and to tell the truth here, I only have the problem in retrospect. Back then it felt perfectly natural, even good. Being a Jew in a small town in Louisiana a thousand years ago was to know you do not fit in. The jacket made me look like I had a chance to.

Mary & Roz

Roslyn was a very well brought up girl. A girl with great composure. I was aware from a distance of her obvious sang-froid. A sang-froid that was required—as the only person of color there at the convent—except, of course, for the janitor, the maids, and the ladies who spooned out the lunch in the cafeteria where I never ate.

I ate at home with my mother, who didn’t have much to do at the time and needed a lunch companion. She picked me up, drove me home and we had the same thing every day: a hamburger patty with a side of frozen mixed vegetables. I slathered mine with hot sauce, a habit I have to this day with food I don’t like.  Mama was always on a diet and because I lived with her so was I.

At the convent, there was no nun of color, or priest of color. Certainly no Jew nun or priest. It was a weird world for both of us. No wonder we looked askance at each other. No wonder we did not reach out our hands and declare ourselves comrades.

Roz was here in LA teaching a workshop on her specialty, Alzheimer’s Care. When she walked in my door last Sunday, we hugged as though we were long lost friends, and in fact she felt exactly like a long lost friend from far away.  Of course we had talked on the phone, we had exchanged a few emails when Lavina came out and she read it and talked me up back in Shreveport. Still, this was something different. This was a true bond. She has told me since then she felt the same way I did last Sunday: friends at first sight!

But not back then.

I think we were afraid, both of us, of contamination.

I wonder too, what my mother, the proud liberal would have done if I had brought Roslyn home to eat dinner and spend the night? I always saw through Atticus Fitch / Gregory Peck,  because my mother was that kind of liberal. One stood up to the racists, one was good to one’s help, in fact my mother sent our housekeeper Aline back to school so she could pass the literacy test to vote. But bringing a person of color home as a girlfriend, God forbid a boyfriend?

All that was behind us, last Sunday, when Roz and I sat on my couch and drank some wine and just schmoosed, about growing up in Shreveport.

My husband was there and they liked each other. And Henry liked Roz too. Henry sat when Roz said, “sit!” He never does that for me except when food is involved. Roz has her own love affair with a poodle named Maxx. She told me she wants me to meet Maxx!

Everything seemed so easy, stuff that used to be so hard. To this day, I cannot abide how hard it was growing up for all of us. The bad old days are over, but are the bad old days really over? Roz and I talked about that too.

My husband, Henry and I drove Roz back to where she was staying with relatives, a ways away from where we live. Roz said, “I should have Uber-ed but I wanted you to see where I lived. I never saw where any of my friends lived growing up.”

I felt like crying when she said that. I feel like crying as I type this.

Back then was a long time ago.

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Elegy On An Old Mac

I bought a new computer today; the day 45 announced he wasn’t going to sign the Paris accord. I don’t think I would have purchased it today, had I known beforehand about this stunningly vicious announcement—though why should I or anybody else be surprised? My husband wrote the White House in upper case: a la 45: BIG MISTAKE. YOU WERE WRONG. And signed his name. Used to be when you wrote the White House, the WH wrote back.

So far, no note from them. Again am I surprised? No.

Mary Marcus, Henry, Laptop

My old Mac was eleven years old. It, my dog and I weighed 135.5 pounds. My new Mac, that I hope to keep just as long, weighs quite a bit less. The three of us weigh in at 129.5. I’m often crossing the country with Henry, the computer and his food, the later two in a backpack, so the new sleek seemingly weightless Mac will be a big improvement. My shoulders are already heaving a sigh of relief.

I wrote several books on my old computer, thousands of emails, participated in many Skype sessions, shopped for all sorts of things on line, did yoga, learned how to cut and paste, in short all the vitals of my little life happened on it. In fact, I started this very blog on my old computer.

Why is so much of my life contained within this sleek silvery box? Similarly why is so much of my life contained within the less sleek oblong that is my phone? I got along very well in life, I think before either one of them were in my life taking up time, giving me this false sense of self importance.

I was thinking of the world the way it looks now when my husband and I went to yoga together at a new hi tech studio that isn’t like any studio I usually go to. We went because we like the teacher and it’s close and even at LA rush hour you can get there in a flash.

Before we went, we checked on line to see if the teacher we liked had a sub. He didn’t. We could do this on our phones or on our computers. But so what? I’ve been doing yoga long enough to remember the days when you could call the studio and ask, “is so and so teaching today” and actually hear a human voice. That human voice, in fact, had a job.

While we were waiting with our mats for class, I noticed an electronic sign above the door, “SHHH! SAVASANA IN SESSION!!!

Sometimes teachers used to come out and shush noisy people who were waiting at the door. It was far more effective. You actually felt shame for disturbing the class that was in session.

Did this electronic world, the one that arose in the eleven years I had my old computer create the world we find ourselves in today? The one where an illiterate nincompoop with a horrible dye job currently reigns?

Yes. And Yes again.

How is it that Huxley saw it?
That Orwell knew about it?
That Bernie Saunders, the polar opposite of this wretched bully had a chance. And that all of us seemed powerless to stop what happened.

Will 2016 be the new 1939?

I don’t want to admit how old I will be in the eleven years I plan to have my new Mac. I’m scared to think how I’ll look. But even more scared to think how the world will look.

May All Beings Everywhere Be Happy and Free from Suffering.

If only we could!!

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