A Trove of History As 1970s Housewives Lived It
Every forgotten magazine collecting dust on a shelf is a tiny window into a bygone moment. In this occasional series, I’ll explore some of them, one glossy bundle at a time. The August 1976 issue of Good Housekeeping is as good a place to begin as any. It’s got Betty Ford! A clip & save guide to home canning! A contest to win your own Benji puppy, just like in the movie!
(Source: The Atlantic)
[anyone lived in a pretty how town]
E. E. Cummings
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn’t he danced his did.
Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn’t they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more
when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone’s any was all to her
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream
stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)
one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was
all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.
Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain
This was sent out on The Listserve tonight, and I wanted to save it because it spoke to me and what I’ve been going through. Check out The Listserve, by the way - it’s a neat idea and I’ve enjoyed most of the emails since I signed up. So many different perspectives, experiences and slices of life.
Grief. I knew I would write about this the day I signed up. Despite the fact that 100% of people die, our culture ignores death or grief. When my father died suddenly at 59, I had no fucking clue how to be in this new world *without* him and *with* grief. At first there were lots of people, cards, flowers. Then everyone went back to their lives… and utter loneliness set in. I felt deserted, but now I understand that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what to do. So here’s some “What to Do’s” post-funeral to about a year later, the darkest time, next you find your friend in grief:
——- Listen ——-
ou can’t fill my void with words. Don’t tell me he’s in a better place, god has a plan, or any other cliché that sounds appropriate but really minimalizes my current, very real experience. He died. And no, this is not like the time your great-aunt died when you were three. Even the true stuff like ‘time heals’ doesn’t feel good to hear yet. You can simply say, “I don’t know what to say” and just be there. We can sit in silence. Or I probably have lots to say as I work through this: all kinds of sad, weird, dark, crazy, angry, contradictory, random stuff. Just be there, listen to me.
——- Reach out ——-
Don’t wait for me to reach out to you. Call me, when I’m lying in the depths of devastation and meaninglessness, it’s easier to answer the phone than to find one, figure out who to dial, actually do it, and hope they will answer. Randomly stop by, and bring a funny movie (and food!). Be prepared to walk away without hurt feelings if I just want to be alone (leave the food). Likely I’ll need the company and the relief. Just the fact you checked in on me makes me a tiny bit less alone. But you have to reach out a lot, and let me say no. Don’t expect me to be ready to share my pain with you when you’re ready to be available to me. I might finally be feeling good for a few precious moments, don’t force me into a conversation about “how I’m doing with all ‘that’” just because you have an extra ten today and want to feel like a good friend.
——- Give ——-
Do the little things for me. I need practical help. Whether I am accepting it or not, my life goes on and I need to eat, fulfill some responsibilities, and take care of myself. The grocery store is unbelievably overwhelming. Why are there seven different kinds of EVERYTHING and which to choose? I can’t. It’s meaningless. Everything is meaningless. Why eat? Deliver me lunches, go grocery shopping for me, come fix me dinner, help me clean my space, take me on walks. I won’t think ask you for these things, but I need them.
It takes time. There’s no correct process or timescale. For me, years have passed and I’m happy and joyful again. I’m forever grateful to the few really good friends who didn’t disappear once the funeral ended. For the rest of my life I’ll miss my dad; what I like best now is reminiscing with family and old friends about him. The stories help him not feel so permanently far away. But he is, he died, and there’s no use ignoring death or minimalizing grief. Talk about it, be there, listen, reach out, give - don’t disappear. Love.
"Henry James characterized her as “magnificently ugly, deliciously hideous.” But James also noted an interesting phenomenon about Eliot’s supposed ugliness: when she began to converse, her expression was one of such tenderness and sympathy that it left her interlocutor with an abiding sense of beauty. “Behold me, literally in love with this great horse-faced bluestocking!” James wrote after his first encounter with her. Many others who met her made similar comments, including Lucy Clifford, a novelist, who said that Eliot did, indeed, look like a horse—“a strange variety of horse that was full of knowledge, and beauty of thought, and mysteries of which the human being had no conception.” Eliot was possessed of a radiant, luminous intelligence that outshone her perceived deficits—that rendered irrelevant the small-minded criticisms of her character and visage to which she was subject for much of her life."
— Wonderful read on George Eliot’s alleged ugliness. Complement with what Eliot teaches us about happiness.
"Scalia V. Ginsburg: Supreme Court Sparring, Put To Music"
He wrote to the justices to ask if he could put their words to music. Scalia and Ginsburg quickly responded that Wang did not need their permission, in view of the First Amendment. But he got their blessing anyway.
“The Trauma of Being Alive”
Grief is not the same for everyone. And it does not always go away. The closest one can find to a consensus about it among today’s therapists is the conviction that the healthiest way to deal with trauma is to lean into it, rather than try to keep it at bay. The reflexive rush to normal is counterproductive. In the attempt to fit in, to be normal, the traumatized person (and this is most of us) feels estranged.
While we are accustomed to thinking of trauma as the inevitable result of a major cataclysm, daily life is filled with endless little traumas. Things break. People hurt our feelings. Ticks carry Lyme disease. Pets die. Friends get sick and even die.