Clouded perspectives

Prompt 106 of the Isolation Journals.

This analogy of a cloud that surrounds you during a volatile time reminds me of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The semi-autobiographical novel recounts Plath’s time being treated for a psychiatric mental collapse after an attempted overdose. Towards the end of the novel, the protagonist Esther is released from the hospital after a consultation with her psychiatrist. She likens her negative emotions to a bell jar trapped around her, a decorative accent for a mantle clock or other centerpieces. The jar traps her anxiety and depression, swirling it around her enclosure. Without the assistance of treatment and support of family and friends, she would remain imprisoned in the bell jar and lose her luster and function. The same can be said for the metaphorical clouds that prohibit us. Plath’s novel remains true today and is still insightful despite Plath’s own mental shortcomings at the end of her life.

But lord, the clouds have shifted since then. At the start of The Bell Jar, Esther is participating in a summer program in New York City as part of a fellowship for a young women’s magazine, where her poem was accepted. Esther is from Massachusetts, stays in Northampton at school and Winthrop with family, then admitted to Belmont during her hospital stay (note that some of these details are not given in the novel but inferred based on details and parallels to Plath’s own life). While much of the book is during the summer, and a typical summer would involve a lot of travel like this, this lifestyle is unachievable now. So many artist and writer residencies in elite locations like Manhattan have been cancelled, delayed, or attempted to be held remotely.

Unfortunately, the literary magazine where Plath interned, Mademoiselle, became defunct in 2001, so it’s impossible to know how they would have continued this fellowship program had they lived to see the peak of the novel coronavirus. Many Mademoiselle staff transferred to another Conde Nast imprint, Glamour, after the shutdown, but it is not as focused in literary arts like Mademoiselle was. Conde Nast hosts a few college programs, but none quite the same as Esther’s. I imagine some of their internships and fellowships are being done remotely, and it’s a good thing that a pandemic has happened at a time when remote work is more achievable. The Bell Jar is set in the 1950s, when computers, if they existed, were massive, unaffordable, and had to be shared between several business or intelligence agencies. What would the world have been like if a pandemic hit in the 1950s? I guess we could have conducted work through television, radio, newspapers, letters, phone conference calls, or fax messages (if they were around at the time). Today we have much more options.

Then there’s a buffet. Esther relishes these crabmeat stuffed avocado halves. Buffets are a great way to spread coronavirus, but I do miss them so. On vacation my family and I would eat at a few, often breakfast buffets but sometimes dinner. I can’t wait until we can attend a buffet again.

Then there is the romance. Esther goes to a bar and drinks vodka in New York, and assumes an alias of Betty Higginbotham from Chicago to annoying boys. The bars can’t operate the same way, nor can attempted flirtation.

Finally, maybe the most important aspect of the book, is the hospital stay. Plath stayed at McLean Hospital after her suicide attempt at twenty years old, but yet again, residential opportunities outside of the permanent house is risky for disease. The hospital however, does have several remote programs and research studies, but the question remains… Would they be suitable for patients in a severe collapse such as Esther’s? I guess provided clinicians check in frequently, but how would they monitor patients who may attempt to harm themselves? Esther watches an acquaintance relapse into poor psyche, and I worry for someone like that. I guess they could operate at reduced capacity since we are in Phase 3 in Massachusetts, but how can we be certain patients of the highest need are staying? Mental illness fluctuates intensely.

Evidently, the Covid-19 pandemic and the recession that has preceded it is the cloud that shrouds not just me, but the world. I pray and wish that we can have some sort of semblance of coming-of-age and reconciliation that happens in The Bell Jar. Lately, even the most mundane of vignettes in the book and others in the theme and genre of it seem like fantasies. It is very concerning that we are uncertain when they can become attainable again. How will we ever love romantically again? How will we ever progress our professional accomplishments again, and how will we celebrate them? How will we protect ourselves from our id? We can’t answer these right away. We must wait, and this is agonizing, or at least can be. We are fatigued, but we still must protect ourselves.

We must keep our minds busy and seek to find opportunities wherever and however they may appear. We must use whatever resources possible to stay connected. We must keep the faith.

With perseverance, we can fight and overcome. We will not stay clouded and jarred.

A Better Planet

Prompt 105, Part of the Isolation Journals.

Dystopias are certainly everywhere in the fictitious sphere, but I find utopias to be so bland, and almost more desolate. There’s got to be something to give us drive and ambition in the world. There’s got to be a catch to living in pure harmony.

Eden, Shangri-La, Arcadia…we can’t mimic any of their perfections. Still, it’s true that once our society returns to normal after this wave of disease wanes, it will morph.

I imagine this society will be less focused on everyone making their own individual travel arrangements. We may warm up to carpooling, wish to add more frequent routes to our bus and train cars, because when everyone is squashed in uncomfortably to the highest capacity possible, more germs can spread. If we allow passengers more personal space, they will be happier and healthier. People can’t always afford to get raw red fingers from gripping onto a floppy rubber handle one or two feet above them. They extend their wingspan at points they must relax in order to motivate themselves for their next work day. Because they have to grip so hard to stay balanced on the cart, they cannot do anything else. They could try using their unoccupied hand, but sometimes two are better than one. Just when you think you are at a safe spot in the route where the vehicle will be stopped for enough time to drink coffee, check your wristwatch,  get something out of your bag, apply balm —whoosh— the cart zooms forward.

People will know that things make noise. Life happens and disturbances are inevitable. We’ll still control our surroundings, but not give as much grief to others if things go awry.

Further, our future can establish egalitarian privileges. I’ve mentioned before that my mother and her father both worked in telecom for many decades. For the majority of my grandfather’s tenure, there was only one telecom company: Bell System, founded by telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell. My mother was in the peak of her career in 1982 when Bell broke into “baby Bells,” hyper-regionalized independent companies. There was the New England Telephone Company here, then New England merged with New York’s company to form Nynex, then Nynex merged with the mid-Atlantic company and took on their name, Bell Atlantic, then Bell Atlantic merged with GTE Corporation to form Verizon. At that point, it was a giant even in its infancy as it was no longer regional, but covered a multitude of areas across the US. But because it had a hand almost everywhere, all metropolitans were prioritized. Rural and desolate areas still existed, but because the phone companies had a lot more area to play with, they neglected them.

There have been efforts to address the connectivity gap through grants sponsored by the USDA and other services, and a professor at my university worked on one of these initiatives.  But still, they are sparse. Now that we’ve entered a time when digital readiness is essential to keep the world functioning, I will hope rural areas, ghettos, and projects will be afforded more attention towards accessing landlines, good mobile reception, DSL, and high-speed internet (maybe even fiber optics, though that’s not really likely so soon since even privileged cities such as mine cannot afford the costs of routing such cable systems. It has an entire different wiring than most telecom chords and contains delicate glass shards that conduct solar pulses to transmit signals). Before, Ford, Toyota, and Chrysler groomed rural folks to purchase heavy-duty pickup trucks to travel miles upon miles to and from work. The pickup portion to work the land and move things across distances. With social distancing still around, even in country life driving has lessened. Thus, there will be more demand for these dwellers to have better connections.

Talking in circles

Part of the Isolation Journals, Day 91.

Around and around. I think we’re in good graces again. I explain my rationale, you accept it and realize that we reason differently. Neither of us meant harm. We apologize to one another. We go on again as normal for a while, then it creeps up again. My mistake enters your conscience once more and you lash at me for it. I say sorry again, but I’m unsure if you’ve absorbed it. You still scold me. I explain again why I sinned, but you can’t grasp it. You give up, or you press me to forget you. I don’t want to. I didn’t think you did either. But this time, you blocked me.

Is this on two different social media? You viewed one profile recently, but I’m unsure if I would even know you did if I were blocked. I am too nervous to make amends. I’m too nervous to visit any of your profiles. Why would you do this when we are so far apart? You told me we would stay in touch while you moved away, but for the past month, we haven’t. You told me we’d still be in frequent contact. You told me you weren’t done with me and never would be. Why does that always change? Why do you give up so easily? Friendships are about growing, arguing and changing. But you are scared every time that happens. Debate and strife is bound to happen. Stop disowning everyone at any small vignette. Take it in stride.

I was supportive, attentive, charming, thoughtful, funny…a superstar. Now I’m terrible. I’m rude, selfish, and I let you down. I’m so tired of being one or the other and your attitude being so hot-and-cold. It’s so polar and there are too many extremes and too many mood swings. I was so relieved when I heard this criticism from a mutual friend, but really…should I have been? If you were married, you’d just get divorced. If you were an identity thief, you’d become an informant. If you were in a cult, you could quit. In so many of my other fantastical anxieties I have of new people, there was a simpler path to improvement. But your actual dark side fluctuates, and isn’t as simple as being divorced, testified, or shunned.

But I empathize. I’m no emotional extremist, but I am depressed and anxious, clinically, but not all-encompassingly so. My dark side fluctuates as well. Marilyn Monroe supposedly philosophized “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” I don’t believe you’ve seen my worst, and maybe that’s because I’m such a centrist, unlike the bipolar Marilyn. My nuanced take is, “If you can’t handle me at my worse times, you don’t deserve me at my better times.” And it’s fine if you want to retreat away from me after my worse times until you can regain the energy to see my better times. I’d love to see you again, and I know I can get even better, and you can, too. We can’t completely rid our worse selves, but we can work to weaken them. “For better or worse” is not applied to marriage vows because it’s an exclusive concept towards matrimony, but because this is often a new chapter of life for people and it must be reiterated in all we do. Please don’t give up. I dearly hope you see this.

Fleeting Swarms

Part of the Isolation Journals. Day 38. Prompt by Hedi Jaouad.

Dreaming amid the Covid-19 pandemic has been often. The dreams are too weird. I remember getting emotional and quizzical, but soon after I wake I can’t form any narrative of what happened and why. What’s been more memorable, however, are my lucid or paralysis dreams. I’m not entirely sure how to categorize them.

These dreams happen in my own bedroom, and pretty much exactly how it is currently. This bedroom used to be the master bedroom, but we got an addition on the house, so my parents moved into the new bedroom, my sister and I moved into their previous one, my brother moved into our previous one, and my brother’s previous room has become a strange menagerie of clutter. Some of my sister’s clothing, perfumes, and plushies, an old rocking chair, our dog’s crate… My sister had expressed interest in moving out of our shared room and into that one, but has not fully materialized yet.

But anyway, these dreams are always in my current area. I am not in my previous bedroom ever, the mess in my laundry basket, on my bureaus, among the bed coverings are always the same as usual, aside from a few augmented visions.

It’s also often in the early morning these happen. I’ve usually turned my radio clock’s alarm off by this time and gone slowly drifting back to sleep. I like to listen to the music, discussion, and news of my program, even if I don’t have to worry about any commute or preparing. Is that strange? Maybe the talk on the radio weaves into my dreams, who knows.

I was lying in my bed, and my dog, Maggie, the Jack Russell Terrier, greeted me. She started running around the bed, covering most spots around me. Oh, I suppose I should share her picture too.

Maggie in her sunny spot.

Anyway, the reason she is running is to chase something. I hadn’t realized what it was, but soon, I see its shape, and peak in between the sheet and comforter. It’s a MOUSE, scurrying all across the bed! I start yelling amid my sleep, encouraging Maggie to work on catching that thing. Even though my bedclothes were unwashed for a couple of weeks, I feared mouse droppings or other debris, like its corpse, may bring even more filth.

Eventually, I get so excited I wake myself up. When awake, I see no lumps in between the covers. I don’t even see Maggie. Somehow, that feeling of things running around the bed, utilizing every spot on the mattress my body didn’t occupy, was an illusion.

Later on, I see a connection to my augmented experience to what’s occurring inside my necklace. I’d worn my amber pendant that sleep. I got it for this past Halloween as a substitute for a costume. On this occasion, I decided to do a more traditional, generic autumnal and spooky look, complete with lots of orange and black. Amber was a perfect gemstone due to their orange tint and their spookiness, as it often contains bug carcasses suspended within the stone. I’ve shown a closeup of both myself wearing it and the sales photograph from the listing.

As you can see, there’s a swarm of action within it, much like the situation that unfolded in my delusion. What could these flies and wasps been doing while they were entrapped in that smooth, fluid nectar? Mating, chasing prey, or just commuting? A multitude of vignettes could have been happening, much like a Renaissance portrait. Yet, we’ll never know what would have happened if the nectar hadn’t hardened and solidified them together. Much like how in my quasi-dream, my conscious awakened before I could see the events unfold in the great chase. I’m not sure about the bugs, but if my dream had continued, Maggie definitely would have caught the mouse.

It’s automatic

Part of the Isolation Journals, Day 31. Prompt by Suleika Jaouad.

Bad title. Sorry. This prompt is interesting because there is pretty much no prompt… Hm. I guess it’s nice to have the freedom, but I really like structure. I’ve heard a little of automatic writing but am more familiar with stream of consciousness. Very similar.

The news is always so bleak lately. I saw protesters who wanted to go back to work and groaned because everything is still so uncertain. Massachusetts fortunately isn’t opening up ahead of itself. Coronavirus is still very widespread and the lack of activity in this state reflects it. Lately, every time I see a delivery truck going up the street, I get giddy. Then there will be a package on our doorstep if the truck is there for us. Boring things like toilet paper and soap are so exciting.

As I hear a dog bark, I’m reminded of how hard it is for our dog, Maggie. She is a Jack Russell Terrier who loves to play with other dogs. She usually attends a daycare weekly on Fridays to get her socializing with her species, but since the outbreak, she hasn’t gone. We take her for walks at an empty plaza and often see other dogs walking there. She and the other dogs look at each other excitedly, wanting to play, but they can’t. They transfer too many germs between each other, and they are pets, thus will be petted. We, her humans have even been avoiding petting other dogs, and other dogs can carry germs which we would give to each other. It’s very hard because we do really like other dogs, and we do want Maggie to have a social life, but it’s too risky right now.

I am really hoping this doesn’t ruin her psyche in the long run. I hope she will still be social with other dogs and other people. I’m worried about my brother too, who is finishing up his first year of college online. He liked being on campus and attending chapel hours for credit, but he can’t do any of that now. He was having a hard time transitioning, and he felt lonely often, as I did in college. We told him to be more proactive about socializing, and he was trying for a bit, but then the outbreak happened, and it was no longer as easy to stay in touch with his fellow students.

This post is taking a bleak turn, like a lot of my others, but instead of getting as destitute as I usually get at the conclusion, I’m just going to stop here.

The Isolation Time Capsule

Part of the Isolation Journals, Day 30. Prompt by Suleika Jaouad.

Easiest way to do this exercise seems to be a list, so here are the contents:

  • The cute face masks I bought from Etsy, one with cherries against a navy background and the other with lemons against a white background
  • The Lands’ End shorts with lemons against a white background that is a very close match in pattern with the mask. I may wear them together when the weather gets warmer
  • The face masks our neighbor sewed for us out of old striped neckties
  • The wheat sourdough bread another neighbor baked for us after she bought too much flour
  • The previously abandoned pizza stone my dad now uses weekly
  • A bottle of Freeman anti-stress dead sea minerals clay mask, not because it directly relates to current affairs but because when news broke out back in February that CVS was running out of face masks, this is the type of product I thought they meant
  • A flash drive with several of the video games where I progressed
  • The various bottles of hand sanitizer which my mom scoped kingdom come for
  • The various packs of toilet paper which my mom scoped kingdom come for
  • The herbal teas with immunity support, including ingredients like turmeric, lime, ginger, elderberry, and echinacea
  • The headbands that hold ear-supported face masks further down the face, giving ears a break
  • A tube of lip balm. Normally I wear lipstick daily along with color for my eyes, but often now all I wear is some balm.

My deepest desires

Part of the Isolation Journals, Day 29. Prompt by Maggie Rogers.

Admittedly, I am an honest person, to an extent. I can be private and neglect to disclose some things, but I do believe I am nonetheless truthful. Still, my desires have shifted dramatically in the past month or so. At first, I wanted a job that would get me out of this boring house. While I still want that, I know it might not be attainable. My state is still at its peak in Covid 19, so more places are hiring remotely.

Further, I would really like a paying job in some editorial aspect. I did pitch this one story to several publications, one is interested, but they will not provide compensation, which I don’t always mind as long as my piece garners recognition. However, it has been difficult for me to focus on the topic which I proposed. Part of me is simply lackadaisical from dealing with a constant news cycle of mostly pandemic-related things, though another part of me does want to do it and might even be able to angle the story around our current affairs. I had written a few paragraphs and asked the editor for guidance, but surprisingly, while she writes very eloquent articles in her publication, her email correspondence is very brief and terse.

When considering how I feel today, I want this cloudy, numb mindset to seize. In some instances it had been helpful, as I’ve started to drop these pesky arguments with family much swifter, but often I feel like it’s negating my proactivity. I am behind on my unemployment claims, behind on my work search, behind on the novel I am reading, and behind on the classes I am taking through Coursera. They are two psychology classes I am taking for free to give me some feeling of progress. They are just for my own benefit really, as I am not on the certification track for either. The novel I am reading, by the way, is A Northern Light by Jennifer Connelly, an aspiring teenage journalist who assisted in uncovering a murder at the hotel where she works, based on a real-life crime in 1906.

I definitely wanted some routine, and I am grateful for the Isolation Journals for giving me that. The remainder of my wants will likely come in due time.

It starts with a push

Part of the Isolation Journals, Day 28. Prompt by Ayodele Casel.

Too  often, I get overly comfortable. When I had training wheels on my bike, I was just that. For a while, I didn’t see the demand to get them removed. I enjoyed the extra cushion. Balance was hard for me, why did anyone have to do it?

But after a while, I would see other children on the playgrounds with their two-wheelers. Were they faster? Could they steer the bike at narrower angles? It seemed they could, but partly I thought it was their skill that did these things, not the amount of wheels. I did try to go faster on my training wheels, and I tried to do those itty-bitty twists and turns, but it seemed the frame of my vehicle just wasn’t narrow enough.

At around six years old, I finally got interested in having my training wheels removed. There was a bit of delay in accomplishing this. My parents thought of training me on their own, but instead they enrolled me in some lessons through a pediatric occupational, physical, and speech therapy place where I attended. The woman who ran the group was someone I knew, as I had taken a few OT lessons with her before. She taught us how to fall off the bike first, which my mother believed was a genius method.

I stood upright on the bike, with my legs touching the ground, lifted one leg off the ground, and then pushed it down once again, with a parent or guardian holding my handles if I needed. We’d do this for about ten intervals, then switch over to the other side. This gave me the thing I desired: comfort. In addition, we did the classic pedaling and having a parent or guardian hold your seat upward to assist balance.

After only around three of the four lessons at the practice, I had it figured out, as did a few of the other students. Our therapist was very impressed, and assigned us to swirl around the courtyard independently while she worked with the remaining students who needed some guidance. Before long, I could go just as fast as the other two-wheelers at the park, and could even make those itty-bitty squiggly paths, just like what you’d make while ice-skating.

I got a lot more enjoyment out of bicycling once my training wheels were removed. I covered more ground and went much longer distances. Soon, our parents started to go biking with us at some paths, and we would get our bikes upgraded every couple of years, adding speeds, brakes, and other gadgets. Regrettably, we haven’t been biking in a long while, and it’s a shame. It taught me a lot about the basics of courtesy, athleticism, and balance. Hopefully my family and I will pick up the habit again sometime in the near future.

Thin Places: Peacefield

Part of the Isolation Journals, Day 27. Prompt by Jordan Kisner.

My parents are native Bostonians, but they moved to the small city of Quincy early in their marriage and raised my siblings and I there. It’s about five miles south of Boston. It’s also perhaps just as historically significant as Boston, or perhaps even more. It was the residence of some important families who shaped the American Revolution and early formation of the country: the Adams family, the Hancock family, and the Quincy family, the last of which contains the city’s namesake, Colonel John Quincy, and grandfather to first lady Abigail Adams.

Growing up, my mother would often take my siblings and I to the garden of the Adams family at their mansion in Quincy Center, Peacefield. It began when my sister and I sat in our stroller as tots, and we would continue on when our little brother was born, and  he then alone rode the stroller. It’s always been an impressive, sprawling spot. Neatly trimmed hedges form several pathways to display rows and rows of flowers. While it was and continues to be a rite of passage for Quincy schoolchildren to attend a field trip touring the interior of the mansion, my siblings and I being no exception, there was always something special about the garden.

When the house’s famous founding residents lived there, people’s occupations were vast and varied. John Adams was no different from anyone else of his time. He made a living as a lawyer, farmer, politician, activist, and minister. Of course, legalities, politics, activism, and ministry are much easier to quantify and explain in the history books, but his farming is where he tended a majority of his livelihood. Thus, I always wonder about the lineage of the garden at the house as it is presently. Maybe the flowers were descended from the original flowers John and Abigail grew when they built the house? It would be neat to test it, but I’m unsure how to trace the genealogy of flora, let alone flora from over 200 years ago. Further, while flora has species and genus names, they do not have personal forenames and surnames like people do, so labeling a tree like that would be difficult.

The house was occupied by the family for nearly four generations, and I always wonder how their garden changed over the years. Did Abigail select some blooms and tend to them? I feel as though she would. What were her favorites? There had to have been some more vegetables and fruit when this was first planted, correct? Did they crossbreed and create hybrids? I wonder if when John Quincy Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams became the owners, they made any changes from John and Abigail’s original lineup. When John Quincy and Louisa Catherine left the house to their son and his wife, did they change the lineup once more? When the family finally sold the residence to the National Park Service in 1946, what did the NPS add? Any kind of scents and fragrances that were uncharacteristic of the family to tend?

Whenever my mom would take us on this stroll through the garden, she would pinch off the withered blooms from the plants, “deadheading.” We would put them in our pockets, with the sound of the dried out seeds crinkling as we walked. Hydrangeas, hyacinths, poppies, marigolds, sunflowers, you name it. We’d take it to save and enable these existing flowers to bloom better and look better. We would then add these remains to our own garden at home, crunching them in our fists to break up and spread the seeds. I’d then see the plant sprout, and wonder if this plant’s ancestor had been loved by Abigail and John and their children, and their grandchildren, and so on. Had their ancestor seen bloodshed, Redcoat soldiers raiding homes? Lynchings, tar-and-featherings, and other strange corporal punishment? Was their ancestor plucked for use as a fragrance or herbal remedy? Pressed in a large textbook? Cut as a corsage or boutonniere? How did the Adams family even acquire it? Did they purchase them as saplings or seeds? At a greenhouse? Handed down through relatives, neighbors, and friends?

Often, I am unsure if my own genealogy is noteworthy and famous in any right, but I can at least say there’s a high likelihood that our residential garden is.

Giving it up for Lent

Part of the Isolation Journals, Day 26. Prompt by Priya Parker.

I was raised in Roman Catholicism, and consider myself to still be part of the community today, despite how lapsed my engagement currently is. I remember attending CCD/Faith Formation weekly, and much of the later part of the year was dedicated to discussing Lent and Easter. For several of my early years of Faith Formation, I was part of the Wednesday sessions, which was very fortunate as during those years my class would get to attend a prayer service and receive our ashes for Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent, forty days of resistance before Easter. It’s meant to emulate Jesus’s forty days in the desert where he was tempted by the Devil.

Catholics commonly vow to give something up for Lent, usually a poor habit, or inversely, vow to do a good one more often. One year, I gave up all hard candies, lozenges, and gum. That was an incredibly difficult one, but I did it. Other times I vowed to make my bed more, clean up a little more, cut out crackers, chips, and other temptations. One year I gave up the “Big Three” social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Since that year, I mostly kicked the habit of Twitter and Instagram. I had updated there sporadically since then, but not nearly as much as I had before. I was glad to be rid of that itch to check them, as between the three Twitter and Instagram made me the most unhappy. They were the bigger magnets for jealousy, negativity, and general spite (not that Facebook is entirely immune to that, but I appreciate the allowance to customize what you can view while saving face and maintaining your friends list). This year I attempted to keep in touch with friends more often, as I’ve been out of work and school and it’s been hard to stay in the loop, but with the Covid-19 pandemic I did not get to accomplish this vow to the capacity which I desired.

It’s a little like a New Year’s resolution but with a more digestible period of time, as you have a designated start and end time. More importantly, it’s cutting back instead of fully cutting something out, which is less daunting. I imagine an exercise like this would be helpful even for non-Catholics if they want to change those pesky behaviors.

The grand finale, Easter, has varied over the years. We generally receive a basket of candy and have a feast. Sometimes a brunch, sometimes a dinner. We celebrate the Resurrection and our own willpower and how it emulates that of Christ’s. Finally, we remain steadfast throughout the Easter Octave, awaiting later celebrations like Pentecost and the May crowning and procession of Mary.