Mary Beth Writes

Lee Lee wrote this as a comment to yesterday’s Quarantine Diary. I asked if I could post it as today’s entry and she said yes. 

To know more about her, you can read this interview she and I did a while back. Right here. 

Lee Lee is currently an editor in this very-cool online feminist project. Needle-Movers 

The first time I read this letter from Lee Lee, I started arguing with her in my head. The second time, I agreed more with her POV. Len and I just sat here discussing how much we do and don’t trust our government and how that influences doing this Quarantine. 

What do you think? Are you being strict or lackadaisical? Are you afraid? Angry? Skeptical? 

Who do you trust?


Submitted by lee lee on March 16, 2020 - 8:48am

What most concerns me about everyone going full-on quarantine is that (I feel) intelligent people have stopped thinking for themselves--checking in with their values, their intuition, and their guts. Rather, we are following orders blindly (often because we have to, but still following nonetheless).

I think back to other crises in our not-so-distant past when the government was "doing what's right for everyone" and, yeah, that didn't go so well. It's hard to find truth & facts in this type of climate, with lay people spouting statistics like they're scientists and scientists giving advice that differs from their colleagues.

It's frustrating that people are so "black and white" in their thinking that we have to enact all-or-nothing policies. So, yeah. I'm grappling with my need to THINK, then act -- and not having enough trustworthy outlets to get information that allows me to think.

I'd like to see more dialogue among intelligent people about the ways in which the government forces us to live according to herd mindset, and less dialogue about all the fun ways in which we can wash our hands. (I already know how to wash my hands!!)

I'd like for us to be able to hold two desires at the same time (wanting to keep others safe + wanting to remain in community are two that come to mind) AND to be able to share that we hold those two desires.

I'd like for there to be more AWARENESS of how debilitating this quarantine is to anyone who basically isn't white & privileged (I am, btw).

I'd like for teachers & parents to show Way More Recognition that learning can take place OFFline. That it often, does, in fact, take place naturally--in the real world--when technology isn't available. When kids are forced to use their brains (something we adults are having trouble doing! Gee, I wonder why...). When kids are "bored." When kids have to get resourceful because their mom/dad is busy right now so please just go away and find something to do...!!

I'd like to see more women pick up the phone to make a call than reserve a "virtual" conference room to still be able to interact with each other. I'd like to see people sharing toilet paper instead of fighting over it. (Wrapped TP, obvi)

I'd like to receive feedback that I'm not the only one who sees the sham behind all the precautions (actually there was a article that made me feel better), and I'd like to feel like I can talk about this with other human beings without being ostracized because I don't blindly follow rules.




Mary Beth's picture

These have been my thoughts, trying to process all this info, and sift thru the hype to find the most probable facts. A hard thing to do, for all of us. My take, at the moment, and the past few days: if we can keep the number of exposures down, we will lower the potential onslaught of high numbers of seriously ill folks, many of whom will need ventilator support. There are only so many vents. If you read between some lines, Italy is having to make some very tough choices - as in who gets our last ventilator? Colds, fevers, aches - no problem. Deal with it. Wash your hands. And lots of people do not know how, or do not do, proper hand-washing. And for the unlucky ones who become really ill, as in with pneumonia, it does become a big deal. So, how can we help decrease the chances of multiple cases impacting the hospitals, at the same span of time? California has reached out to retired RN's to come and work. Licensing may potentially be waved, if they retired in good standing. Which really makes sense, since most that are retired, are seniors....(??) Ventilators won't run themselves. You need Drs, RTs, RNs, pharmacists, XRay techs, radiologists, lab techs... This is the potential medical tsunami that could happen. Our hygiene is better than ever, but so is our close access to our fellow mortals. Cars and planes and ships - oh my! Lots of viruses can be spread before the carrier knows they are sick. It simply makes sense to decrease exposure to others, and others to you. At least until we get a handle on what we are dealing with. We truly have no idea how many people are sick or about to get sick. Or how many will get very sick or how many going to die. Our poor are at great risk, no matter what is done. Close quarters, less access to decent food and clean clothes, etc. It is most definitely our job to help out. This whole scenario could become massively impossible. So, caution seems an easy step. At least the lesser of evils. Hopefully, we will all shrug our shoulders in a few months, and wonder what all the hoopla was about. That could mean that the CDC was wrong (probably not)....or that we all worked together to stay apart - and looked after those impacted by closed schools, lost wages and no insurance. What do we do, when our empirical data is not there? It is strongly suggested that the numbers are much greater than being reported. Government control?? Scary, but can't we all see this administration behind such a move? Testing not available - when China and South Korea and most every other country, seems capable of this. Another government ploy? Definitely, the government closed the barn door after the horses were out. We could protest. We CAN still vote, though how that is being impacted, is anyone's guess. I am relying on information from other countries. And their interventions, quarantines, etc, are matching with our CDC and WHO. We can disagree and be non-compliant, and potentially pay a high price for our independent thinking. Our liberties, or our lives? A bit dramatic, but... I look at all these actions as being the best way to take care of each other. It's got major flaws. No plan is perfect. But 'no plan' is what got us into this mess. In terms of the universities, the students can stay in the dorms, whose dorms ARE their homes.....addressing a comment on and staff is there to carry on, but with less students and therefore less exposure) Jennifer (a retired RN)
Mary Beth's picture

I tried to split this up into paragraphs - the big block of writing is definitely an issue at our end. Len will eventually work on this. In the meantime, I appreciate a person who spent her life working with fragile and ill people - bringing her perspective about being possibly overcautious.

I understand Lee Lee's concern about us becoming mindless order followers, BUT there are times of emergencies when such behavior is necessary. Anyone who has read the mathematical explanation of "exponential" multiplication of infected people and "flattening the curve" should be convinced to take precautions. The people who have explained those rationales are medical personnel and scientists, and not just the ones employed by the government. If in the end it seems like this was all an over-reaction; it may, in fact, be proof that following the advice was the right thing to do. I say this from a position of privilege as a retired person with a (for now) reliable income. As an older American, it makes sense to me to take every possible precaution. I am grateful that it is possible for me to do so, but I am aware that it is a hardship for many others to do so.
Mary Beth's picture

Len and I felt as if Trump WASN'T taking this seriously, so it was easier for us to be damn serious. Which is the logical thinking of people who protested the Vietnam war. One never gets far from their early distrust of people who say "Trust me, I know what you need." I think I may have to watch Five Easy Pieces again soon. Oh Jack ...
Leonard's picture

Probably because the virus is very dangerous, and it's going to take hard work by talented people to find a way through this. There is a line by H.L. Mencken, "To every complex problem, there is a simple answer. And it is wrong?" I am with Lee Lee in not trusting authority, but I think that the landscape of late is different. Something I've noticed is that many people have stopped trusting smart people. I am not saying Trump is dumb, but I am saying that he gave people who didn't do well in school free rein to speak their mind and have their answers stand on an equal footing with experts. That's where you get short, simple answers to problems such as poverty, sexuality, crime and now illness. Many (not all) of these answers come out of bigotry and not facts and analysis. What they share is that they are easy to understand, and they don't threaten the world-view of the people holding them. Silver cream and copper bracelets sound like a nice, fast answer to coronavirus, but what we really need is the courage to make educated judgements about who to trust, and then follow them.

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My step-grandmother Ricky ate an apple every night. She’d sit on her bed, lean against the headboard, then chomp the apple after which she would remove her false teeth and lay down to sleep.

I haven’t really thought about Ricky in years but this week for no identifiable reason (because we were talking about unsung aspects of our lives?) I dreamed about her. I awoke one morning seeing her face as she stood in her dining room chatting with my mom and me. Ergo, I started thinking about her.

What's Ordinary in Your World?

This train photo is not cribbed from anywhere. It's a Genuine Leonardo. 


Hello and how are you? I am writing less and less as Len and I meander around to doctors, specialists, dentists, and that way-too-early appointment at the endodontist. (So far, we are fine.) The irony being that most of what we are attending to are the side effects of medications prescribed for stuff that didn’t hurt and we didn’t even know we had.

A Quiet Week

The cat in the picture is my daughter's cat, Nancy. Sometimes we all just need a quiet place to slow down and think.


What's going right in your world?


My teeth again. Argh. This past week I’ve had a jaw ache/toothache that got worse instead of better. Today my dentist said I need a crown but also that’s not the thing that is causing the swelling and infection and ache. I now have an Rx for an antibiotic and an appointment for that crown and an appointment with an endodontist to get an Xray worthy of NASA.

Memory & Consequences


To remember hard stories truthfully requires bravery.


The picture is our wedding cake, made by my friend Karen, who drove it from Indiana to Chicago on the hottest day of that year. It was in the back seat so their two little boys had to ride in front (remember when kids could ride in front?). They got lost in the city but I didn't know that for years because Karen and her husband start early and had time to get lost and then figure it out. Sometimes wedded bliss is a lot of work. 

The following story and recipe is not about the wedding cake, but it is the photo I have...



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