Things I Wonder About…
What would happen if, when we paid our taxes each year, 50% of whatever we owed went to the government, but we could allocate the other 50% however we liked? We could check off our priorities on a list of ordinary government services: education, infrastructure, defense, social services, healthcare, etc. You could dedicate 10% of your taxes to one thing, 25% to something else, and 15% to yet another area you want to support. Just kidding about the last. I think in this way, we’d have a country that spent the people’s priorities. by the way, I still think a flat tax rate for all those earning over a certain amount (and ENFORCED, by golly) would be good for everyone. Imagine, you could do your own taxes.
What would the world be like, or the United States be like, if every human being had the RIGHT to basic food, shelter, clothing, education, and healthcare? Would we not save money in the long run? Is it okay for some people (and many of these "people" are children) to sleep in the streets? What could possibly justify that? I like simple, and it seems that it would be simple to say that everyone has a right to the basics. Beyond that … well, you can stay at that level or you can go as far beyond it as you like. It’s like the tax code–once you start splitting hairs about so much of a deduction for this or an allowance for that, we’re soon in some kind of alternate universe where even the experts can’t always decode the code. The bureaucracies necessary to maintain the tax code and the so-called welfare system have grown eyes and limbs and tentacles that boggle the imagination. I think we could save tons of money by simplifying. If you’ve ever had to deal with the social service system, you know what I’m talking about.
My Favorite Quotation
Many years ago, they asked Socrates, "When will justice come to Athens?"
Socrates replied, "Justice will not come to Athens until those who are not injured are as indignant as those who are."
A Few Autobiographical Notes
Born in Texas.
Graduate of St. Catherine University, St. Paul, MN, with a major in French, minors in history, theology, and philosophy.
I’ve been married longer than I have not to David Koskenmaki, an athletic, mountain-loving Finn who runs, hikes, skiis, canoes, kayaks (built his own), bikes, and is either coming off a five-month walk from Mexico to Canada or planning a Grand Canyon rafting trip. When you can get him indoors, he reads voraciously, plays the piano, takes dancing lessons, and is the go-to guy for home repairs. He’s got an inventive mind — thus the holder of 30-some patents, and he’s always into something new. You can tell where he’s been by looking in the garage — an old ice fishing augur, the arrows he made himself for bow-hunting, the snowshoes and cross-country skiis next to the Telemark skiis, the contraption he made so he could cut his own hair. You get the idea. He has never bored me.
The most fun I’ve ever had in my life was being the mother to three rather fascinating individuals. I’m tempted to tell you about them, but in the interests of keeping in their good graces, let’s not and say I did. They have further enriched my life by bringing in some rather wonderful new family members.
I never get enough of spending time in France and Italy, particularly Sicily. After spending two full summers and a year in France during and after college, I returned many times to research the life of Marie Marvingt. My grandparents were born and were married in Camporeale, Sicily, and most of us have spent time in Sicily, visiting contemporary relatives and ancient ruins–also some contemporary ruins and ancient relatives. I once fell into a grave in the local cemetery. Sister Mary took my picture down among the bones.
Philosophy of life? All of us belong to the same family–your loss is my loss, your joy is my joy. And: Cultivating a grateful heart. I once read that the more grateful we are, the more we have to be grateful for. I’m a believer.
Robin Morgan (everyone knows who she is) has a thought-provoking, entertaining, and seriously illuminating radio show at http://www.wmclive.com. You can listen to podcasts with cool people, such as, oh, me. Here we talked about quotations and here we discussed biased language. One of my favorite podcasts is Robin talking with President Jimmy Carter.
Coffee by Matt Koskenmaki
Frequently Asked Questions
How much money do you make writing? Enough. (Katharine Tynan says, "Enough is as good as a feast.")
Why won’t you ever do lunch? May Sarton speaks for me: "Lunches are just not good. They take the heart out of the day and the spaciousness from the morning’s work."
Do you dye your hair? Not yet.
Who are your favorite authors? Rebecca West, George Eliot, Charlotte and Anne Bronte, Sara Paretsky, Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton, Barbara Ehrenreich, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Ellen Goodman, Judith Martin, Erica Jong, Dorothy L. Sayers, Katherine Anne Porter – -and SO many more. You know all of them, but what about… Octavia Butler, Laura Cunningham, Helen Hayes and Carrie Fisher (yes, they both can write well), Kim Hunter, Katherine Butler Hathaway, Kate Ross (read her four books in order), Teresa Funiciello (brilliant book on welfare). This is impossible. To find quotations for some of my books, I’ve read 13,072 books (I keep lists) and many of them are my "favorites." Never mind.
I think we all have enough e-mail. But, nooooo, this is what was in my e-box last week (all from siblings):
Dear Pat, Are there any uses for old panty hose or nylon net hose? I hate to throw them out. Thanks, A Reader
Dear Reader, Old panty hose can be nailed to the inside of your pantry door and used to store bottle lids. Any other questions? Pat
Dear Pat, What should I use the bottle lids for, once I have saved them? Signed, Concerned
Dear Paulouise, My neighbor cuts off old corduroy jeans to make boxer shorts for her son. He’s 29. How does this work? Signed Questioning
Dear Questioning, Tell your neighbor to start off just like she does, cutting off the pants legs. BUT THEN, she sews the cut-off bottoms shut, nails them to the inside of the pantry door, and puts lids in them, large lids from pots and pans. Yours, Patlouise
Dear Louise – It seems in fashion to ask questions about anything so I have one I hope you can answer. One of my secretaries has a pair of shoes she calls either PEZ or KEDS – not sure cause I don’t want her to catch me looking- but one brand is candy and one is a shoe brand. The shoe brand can be bought by the gross- $9.00 for 144 pair. She recently got a new pair and in order to save the wear and tear on the new shoes she wears the 17 year old ones to and from work and puts the new ones on once she gets to her desk. At noon she goes for walk (like everyone else in town) along the river but wears her old ones to save the wear and tear on the new ones. My question is: if she is 57 years old and the old shoes have lasted 17 years what is the life span she can reasonably expect to get out of the new ones with the substitution plan she has employed? Secondly, do you suppose the new shoes will look sharp at the time she dies? Thank you. Yours, AlwaysWantingToKnow in Peoria.
What you didn’t take into account is that all those unused shoes can be nailed to the inside of her pantry to hold small lids, like poptop tabs and pop bottle caps.
I’m putting this section in small print, so as not to encourage the people who wrote letters trying to win books in my last contest.
Madam, I am in the business of exporting bubble gum. When I started, 40 years ago, I only exported to Palau Tioman. It was fairly easy to organize my files as there were only two buyers on that island. I started there as I figured if I got a good foothold I could easily move into Singapore. Anyway, my business has flourished and now I export to over 140 countries! Most of my buyers speak different languages and some even have different alphabets. I have tried organizing them by the type of bubble gum they preferred, but that worked only in the early days. Then I organized them by their latitude. But with so many, that didn’t work either. My nephew wants me to computerize. He says it would make the billing process more organized. However, I am 93 years old and don’t believe in computers. Just look how long the Edsel and the hoola hoop lasted. I have about 400 buyers located in 140 countries. I need some ideas from you on how to organize my business. I have a fairly large budget as there is a 70% profit on bubble gum. My total sales are somewhere between $63,000 and $246,500. My nephew says I would have a more exact number if I would get a computer. But that is not at issue here. I need from you a method to organize my business. Even if I don’t win the contest, call me with your plan for me. Thank you, Waldo Strafarias
Dear Ms. Maggio, I am writing in hopes of winning your contest for the buch (I speak a little German) How To Say It. The kind of letter I find most difficult to write is when I need to tell the person he is stupid but without letting him know that is what I am saying and when I need to say he misunderstood the issue but without letting him know that I feel he misunderstood the issue and when I need to lead him to agree with me but I can’t let him know that I want him to agree with me and when I need his response by tomorrow but I don’t want to appear pushy. I sure hope I win this contest. I have never won a contest. When I grew up my brothers were all faster than I was and had a much faster wit and guile quotient. My sisters were much smarter than me both intellectually and streetwise. Sincerely, Triage Mooncalf
Dear Rosalie Maggio, My situation is a simple one, yet is causing me a great deal of anxiety. I was a small, underfed child. I never did get big and never lifted weights or played sports. I grew up to be a small, skinny man. Did I mention that I have a lisp? Well, I do and that didn’t help my image as a child and hasn’t done me any great favors as an adult. With these shortcomings slapping me around, I spent all my time studying and graduated at the top of my college class and earned my PhD at the age of 18. Things have been sort of okay–no, I have no prospects of marriage–until last month when a nincompoop promoted me to Department Manager. My first official duty is to fire Rocky. Rocky is about 6’4" and weighs around 250 lbs. He is only 31 years old and lives in the gym, pumping iron. God only knows who hired this Cro-Magnon because he lacks even the most basic knowledge of Synchrotron and Cyclotron Radiation. He also has a horrible lisp! Exactly how do I tell this guy that he is fired? Thank you. Howard Litton Ashelybee
The other letters I received were more sober and, yes, I believe they were also more truthful.