Show Notes for Ep. 5 "Two Months into the Pandemic: A Snapshot"

A historical episode of sorts: Mary Anne and Ben talk through the the personal effects that the pandemic and lockdown were having on them and their families, two months in. The two also ruminate on their own familial and cultural health anxieties and how they’ve come into play during these unprecedented times.

Content note for brief discussions of domestic violence and genocide.

Recorded 27 May 2020 / Published 19 April 2021


  • 0:55: Introducing this episode.
  • 3:35: Jewish history of pogroms, expulsion, and health anxiety.
  • 6:15: Ben’s shtetl-focused tabletop RPG Dream Apart, and health issues in the shtetl.
  • 09:00: The evil eye.
  • 11:30: Mary Anne’s relative lack of health anxiety. Also some history of vaccination and disease.
  • 16:05: Masks and messaging around masks, and Mary Anne’s responses to the pandemic.
  • 24:40: Mary Anne’s “I must save the world” complex.
  • 26:35: Ben didn’t feel like there was much he could do.
  • 29:10: Swiss people being told to stay inside.
  • 31:40: The pandemic vs other major crises, such as genocide and global warming.
  • 36:00: Brief intermission, featuring an ad for the Speculative Literature Foundation.
  • 36:35: The consequences of shutting down.
  • 45:30: Different people’s different risk assessments, and Mary Anne feeling the need to leave the house.
  • 49:30: Ben’s situation, in which his wife Esther was at higher risk of transmitting to others, so Ben did the grocery shopping, but was very anxious about it.
  • 54:20: Ben is trying to go easy on himself in terms of productivity.
  • 56:20: Anxiety about going to the store.
  • 58:00: Mary Anne has always had a sense that she wouldn’t live past 50.
  • 1:00:35: Mary Anne’s instinct is to get involved, even if that means exposure to risk. 
  • 1:04:15: Esther saw the psychological toll on Ben, and they started sharing the shopping.
  • 1:05:25: Ben is feeling the acute absence of a lot of in-person supports that he relies on.
  • 1:07:35: Ben’s experiences in Switzerland during the pandemic, and attempts to be gentle with himself.
  • 1:09:30: In a global disaster, it’s OK to acknowledge that you’re not OK; also, the ways in which Zoom doesn’t replace in-person interaction. 
  • 1:14:05: Mary Anne’s summary. 
  • 1:19:25: Ben’s summary.
  • 1:24:45: Credits.

Works Mentioned

Alphabetically by author surname, or by title of work in cases where authorship isn’t simple.

Other Clarifying or Explanatory Links