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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Three Things / Story, Eclipse, Brando

1. I scheduled my Substack story to go out at 8AM this morning. I just looked to see why it didn’t show up and it says it is going to be sent at 8:49 tonight. I’m going to leave it like that. Maybe 9PM on a weekend night is a good time to send short fiction. Let me know if you have an opinion.

2. I read this quote by Marlon Brando who said this early in his career. “I’m not afraid of anything and I don’t love money.”

Even though this is probably not exactly true of me and you, I do love the bravado.

Peace Like a River / Book Report

4/3/2024 She Writes

I just finished reading Peace Like a River by Leif Enger and I am going to talk about it for a little bit before I forget how profoundly interesting and evocative this book was and is, at least to me.

I get emails from Boswell Bookstore (2559 N Downer Ave in Milwaukee). They host artist events pretty often and Monday evening, April 15th Len and I will be there for the Author Evening with Leif Enger. You can look up more of the details if you are interested. (Tickets are free but you need to reserve them.)

My Grandkids & 'Wandering Stars'

4/1/2024

The past month has been jam-packed. The week in Mineral Point. Len’s two-day seminar in Chicago. Last week we had various grandkids here for three overnighters and yesterday our family came to Easter dinner here in our house which was clean after a week with grandkid overnighters so you know that was a piece of cake. Len smoked two hams (yes, hard to keep them lit) and I made the largest amounts of from-scratch scalloped potatoes plus macaroni and cheese that I have ever made. As in, I grated four pounds of cheese Saturday afternoon. “On Wisconsin.”

Ghost on a Post / Poetry with Third Graders

3/12/2024

This is what I texted to Len this afternoon after I finished the poetry class with third graders. “I’m done and back. The kids were great and I’m a limp washrag, Teaching forty 8-year-olds for 90 minutes is way more energy than Everest.” I then drank half a beer (I NEVER drink in the afternoon) and fell asleep until the Mineral Point afternoon ‘change of shift siren’ shrieked for several minutes. It’s been a full day.

How 2 Write a Poem (3rd grade edition)

3/7/2024

Next week is my Writers Week at Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, WI. I won this when my story “How Crow Got Out of Jail” (Read Here) won first prize in the 2023 Wisconsin Writers Association Jade Ring contest for short fiction.

Winning that contest motivated me to open my Substack account. So far I’ve published 17 stories and only published once twice. (Who noticed that?)

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