Mary Beth Writes

The photo is a dog watching and thinking. Kind of like me. 

1/31/2022

When someone says “We’re Family” I go on full alert like a prairie dog hearing a whuff of wings overhead.

Entities that claim “We’re Family!” tend to be the companies that pay you less and expect more. Businesses where one or two people act like bosses even when they don’t know what they are talking about. Institutions where they eviscerate your self-esteem and if you call them on that, they tell you they are only looking out for your own good. When a company says, “We’re family!” find out what their family-leave policies are.

When I worked at the jail deputies said they “were family.” I wondered if that’s why incarceration is such a huge dynamic. People raised in dysfunctional families (hello, inmates?) are often used to love equaling any attention at all even when it’s abusive. The constraints, discomforts, and inane expectations inside a jail feel remarkably like family. No one would say that, but watching people interact with the dysfunction was weirdly familiar. (Let the reader beware: This describes a lot of what happens in a jail but not even close to all of it. Racism stalks the halls.) Then, of course, there are the deputies and correctional officers for whom corporal punishment is a logical response to disobedience. Voila, a system that seems to make emotional sense to the people who are in it.

What is it with network news lately? Anchors and reporters claim on their promos, “We are family and we are all in this together.” Really? I thought news was who, what, when, where, why, and how. Not “Come join our family!”

When the sign that welcome you to a town says, “We’re family here!” look for the people who aren’t white.

One of the reasons I like my congregation is that I can’t recall any of us claiming “we’re family.” In my life I have attended six churches for long periods of time. The two that welcomed people with both Sunday morning courtesy and actual efforts to politically side with the poor and oppressed – those congregations didn’t claim to be family. Probably not coincidentally, those churches had more social workers, therapists, and teachers than the other churches. People who have thought hard about their beginnings don’t generally welcome others with “We’re Family!” Cuz that’s some dark humor there.

That’s all. Just felt like reminding us that if an entity invites us to “join their family” – watch for signs of Stockholm syndrome.

Yesterday I listened to The Osterholm Update: Covid-19, Episode 88. I highly recommend this podcast if you, too, wonder when we can go back outside sans hazmat suits (sort of a joke, sort of not).

Osterholm explicates two trends right now. Hospitalizations from Omicron are definitely going downwards. At the same time, deaths are going up. Probably this is because people who were hospitalized weeks ago who hadn’t recovered are now passing away in stunning numbers. More Americans have died of Covid in the past two weeks than died of the flu in the past three years.

Osterholm declared that the vaccinations and booster combo increase chances of not dying from Covid by 99% and then he quoted a fellow physician. “There’s no other disease I’ve ever met that can be addressed this dramatically.”

Osterholm took questions and talked at length about long covid; in case you or people in your world are dealing with this.

Here is an observation he makes that I’ve not really heard about in other places. (Particularly not in the “We Are Family” newscasts)

China has a zero-infection policy. If Covid pops up in a community, they quarantine that entire community for a lengthy period of time. Yes, absolutely, China’s incidences of covid infections and deaths are extremely low compared to the rest of the world

But Omicron is too contagious for this to work. Since November omicron has popped up in 30 Chinese cities. Each time this happened, the neighborhood or city was locked down. Because China has done such a good job of preventing any cases of covid, it’s entire population is super vulnerable to wildly contagious omicron.

What Osterholm says is that lockdown is not a sustainable way forward for China at this point. They are such a major economic force in the world that if they continue to fight omicron with lockdowns, they will bring the world to a very difficult impasse. Including this: many medical ingredients for many (most?) drugs used worldwide, come from China.

If they continue their lock-down, shut-down policies, it’s going to get crazy. Perhaps they will change their covid protocols, but right now this is how they are handling it.

Osterholm didn’t say this following idea, this is just me wondering. I am guessing China might change their protocols two weeks after the Olympics are over. If this happens, you heard it here first. Also, I have read three books about modern China so I’m practically a Sino-expert…

Right now? We have a chance to consider this possible dynamic. If products from China become more difficult to obtain, how will that affect you? My guess is that most of us will be fine, but IMHO it’s seldom too early to worry a little and plan adequately.

Here’s another picture from MB’s Random Photos. Kallistos Ware is an Eastern Orthodox theologian.

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And then this. Good Luck with the Weather this week:  

 

 

Comments

MB, Thanks for your writing, it helps put things in perspective. As I waded through the Osterholm Update this time it reinforced for me the importance of that booster shot to be better armed against this thing. I'm checking in with people that I know are vaccinated to make sure they got the booster. Surprising to me that more than a few that I talked to did not have the booster and weren't sure if they really needed it. Another thought - I am fortunate to have several friends that feel like family to me. Some of them feel more like family than certain members in my actual family. Funny thing about those friends, we never have to claim "we're family" or that "we are all in this together". We just know :)
Mary Beth's picture

Yeah. When Len was so suddenly in the hospital, it's who I called first that told me how my heart sorts out this family thing. My kids of course and then, just a very few others. And the friend I called to take care of the cats, because I knew she would.

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Happy Birthday to Len

11/30/2022 

Today is Len’s birthday. I told him this morning I might write about him but I would let him read whatever I said first. He said not to run it past him, he’d like the surprise of reading it when you all do. Let’s see what I come up with.

1. This is cute. Len was born in Chicago’s Passavant Memorial Hospital which was the grandparent hospital to Northwestern’s Prentice Women’s Hospital - where two of our grandkids were born.

Stories, Q Club, Us

The photo is not by Len or me, its from I Love Canada on FB. I've seen a sky like that just once. 

11/21/2022

Last week I read two books about young people who left their homes. They experienced some good and too many rough experiences and they couldn’t go back until they figured out how to not be who they used to be. Both novels knocked my socks off.

The People You Keep by Allison Larkin

Covid Diary #979 - Still Paying Attention?

11/17/2022

Yes, it’s been 979 days since Friday the 13th, March 2020, when everything changed.

Last Saturday one of our kids visited for several hours with their kids. It was fun though our kid looked tired. They said they’d taken a Covid test that morning and it was negative. They figured it was the wine and rich foods they’d shared the evening before with friends at the end of a very busy week.

Next Day - What Are You Seeing?

11/9/2022

It was a late night last night, wasn’t it? Len worked at a polling place 6:30 AM until 10:30 PM. He said the actual experience is a lot like working retail (which he has not done since he was 22). Stand up most of the time, pleasantly say the same thing over and over. Wonder if lunch is soon.  

Professional reporters and pundits are talking a lot about “what just happened”, but heck, we are noticing interesting things, too.  Let’s talk about what We The People saw and heard and are watching now.

Here are some things catching my attention.

Election Day

11/8/2022 

So many times I’ve thought things were going to be okay, and then they weren’t. My dad had that heart attack and the kid who was MB back then told herself to not overthink the drama because things always turn out more or less okay. Then the next day he died.

We lost a pregnancy far enough along that we had a name picked out and a crib in which to put that child. For a week I had all the misery and cramps that go with miscarrying and I still thought somehow it was going to work out okay.

That Beep-Beep-Beeping Moment.

In spring Len got a $100 traffic ticket when he turned right at a corner we’ve been turning right at for seven years. However, construction had started and there were orange barrels and cones everywhere – plus a small sign NOT facing the street Len was on, telling drivers to not turn there.

Len went back later that day and took photos. Len called the city to mention that if they posted a sign that actually faced the traffic, the city could save the cost of the cop parked there ticketing drivers.

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