Friday, October 2, 2009

The news

This week, I read the NY Times. I mean, the front section with actual news, not simply turning to the arts section for the crossword puzzle. I sat down, and sort of reoriented myself to actual current events. Since Lucy died, I just couldn't read about politics or news. Only tragedy and disaster, when it came into my line of vision. Celebrity deaths. I'd become my grandfather, God rest his soul, who would call me to tell me some choice pulls from the local obits.

"Ang, I'm just calling to tell you that W.'s father died."
"Who died, Pop?"
"W.'s dad."
"Yes, your JV basketball coach."
"Oh, right, W. Did you know that he came to a few games?"
"Why the hell do you think I'm telling you? Did you play one too many games without a helmet?"
"Yes. Yes, I did. How old was he?"
"87. Good guy."
"Yeah. Good long life. Are you going to the funeral, Pop?"
"Hell no. I'm too old for that shit. It is too depressing."

I miss my grandfather.

And there was this weird moment, sitting in the cafe, where it occurred to me that Barack Obama was the president of the United States, as though I missed that the last nine months. Sure, if you sat me in an Emergency Room, flashed a small light into my eyes, took my pulse asked me what year we were in, who was president...I am fairly certain I could answer those questions properly. But still, I'd put on hold the news, politics, life around me that didn't immediately have to do with my life and the death of my child. I sunk into my pit of despair. All this life happened around me, and I didn't read one article about it. I watched the inauguration with the constant refrain in my brain, "Lucy died. Lucy died. Lucy died." I admit, though, I do listen to National Public Radio all day, but absorb nothing. I am famous in our house for turning on the radio to hear the traffic and weather, and I have to listen to it four times before I remember the high today will be 65 and we should avoid the Ben Franklin.

But the newspaper is different. I used to love reading the newspaper. In fact, when I held a real job in the corporate world, part of my job was to read newspapers and magazines looking for information on my industry, my competitors, my company, the fed...I read not only our local paper here in Philly, but also the NY Times, WSJ, Washington Post, the trade journals, and then countless blogs about politics, sports, and pop culture. (Desk jobs are good AND bad.) My daughter's death made me singularly focused on my grief.

Did you know that there are a lot of scary things in the newspaper? Like all this swine flu nonsense. At one point in my life, I could read books on viruses. In fact, I loved books on viruses. A single article reads to me like a manual for the perfect storm of family tragedy. Pregnant women and kids beware. Daddies, are you healthy and robust? That is exactly what the flu looooooooves. CNN headlines seem to be fairly dominated by stories of child abuse, kidnapping, murder of is not surprising that subconsciously I have avoided this exposure to suffering, and surrounded myself with suffering I understand and grief like my own.

But what does it say that I can actually read the paper now? That I can be mildly interested in politics again, at least interested enough to read a piece or two? That I am beginning to reach out again--one hand stretches out of my narcissistic little hole and feels for some grass. "Grunt, that feels pointy and dry. Back in hole."

It feels like progress on one hand, and on the other, it feels like de-evolution. I have protected myself from the hype, the bad vibes, the sniping anger of politics, the danger around every corner. I am moving forward enough to notice an outside world, but not forward enough to not see it as a constant threat to the little stability my life seems to have nine months since my world fell apart. But fear not, today, I read the headlines, and the beginnings of at least a handful of articles, but I spent the most amount of time looking at San.der's estate in the Fashion section.

I am still shallow. Whew.


  1. I used to revel in reading the papers too - and now I don't think I've read a paper cover to cover since before Ezra died. Of course I just rely on my in-house media mogul, otherwise known as my husband :)

  2. Yes, yes, me too. Two years (nearly) gone and I'm still reaching out of my little hole and quickly retreating.
    Oh my, I've just described a hermit crab. I need to go now.
    Have a good day Ang. Hope the grass feels warm and soft today.
    Love linds

  3. I don't know what has happened in the outside world in the past year and a bit. I've can just about dredge up global recession and the election of Obama? Luckily nobody has expected me to be able to keep up one end of a conversation about current affairs recently!

    I have immense trouble realising that it is 2009 and not 2008. For me, it is as if time simply stopped. Or it just felt that way.

    Your grandfather sounds like a very sensible man. I must remember that line. xo

  4. Oh yes, Angie. Me too. I can't seem to take in that "boring but important" stuff anymore, but a tragedy, yep I'm there! Mother loses her child in an earthquake. I'm reading. John Travolta buries a son. I'm reading. Local child killed in car accident. I'm reading. And I'm with Catherine - how is it 2009 already?? When did THAT happen?
    I too had to read many varied newspapers in my old job, scouring for headlines and stories that related to my field, but now the thought of that makes me feel ill. I mean I worked for a superannuation (retirement savings) company. So not important. So not what matters. And to me now, the only thing that really still matters is her death.
    That said though, we still get the paper delivered here each day, and I still flip through every morning. But there is only so much I take in.
    And you're grandfather sounds like my kind of guy. I like his style.

  5. I stopped watching and reading the news a couple of months ago. I am relying on blogs to tell me if anything important happens, but they aren't always reliable.

  6. I think I went the other way, I went through a phase of reading The Guardian cover to cover every day including the boring bits like the technology supplement. I started reading a lot of feminist blogs voraciously, especially ones that had big fights in the comments. I would actively seek out people with opposite political views just to feel very, very angry with them. I think I was looking for drama everywhere so I could focus my rage on something other than my own situation.

    It came from the same impulse as your news avoidance I think, just pointed in a different direction!


What do you think?