being present, can't run from the news, despair, layers, multitasking, pile it on, triggers, watching the news, zucchini lasagna
I try not to smart phone too much when I’m with my son. For one, I’m not fully present with him if I’m locked into my screen. Further, when I have my phone, he wants my phone. He knows where I keep the learning apps I’ve downloaded for him, and though we have designated times when he’s allowed to “pay geem” (play game), he thinks he’s getting a treat if he even sees my phone. So I’ll answer calls and texts, but I don’t browse Twitter or play Tetris (I. heart. Tetris.) much when he’s awake.
Until something horrific happens, like a poem is published that appropriates a friend’s sexual assault (not linking, and please don’t ask me to), or a young journalist and cameraman are gunned down on live TV, or yet another child is murdered in Ferguson. Sometimes these things unfold so quickly that to wait for the 6 PM news is to be very far behind. Sometimes, the poem is so inflammatory and sickening, I can’t think of anything else.
So I’m prepping for zucchini lasagna while watching out the kitchen window as Jax plays cars on the screened-in back porch, and my phone is losing its mind. Beeeep (I can’t phonetically render the various iPhone chimes), it calls to me in desperation, insisting I must know about the latest nastiness hurled at my friend, the latest American travesties and tragedies.
I mute my phone and keep mandolin-slicing my farmer’s market zucchini. Later, I will disable notifications. But first, this neat pile of squash.
My phone vibrates on the table. I swear, it gets louder each time. But first, the ricotta, the beaten egg, the various other cheeses.
Jax weaves like a cat between my ankles and I give him a bit of raw “keeny.” Bzzzz.
Finally, I give in. I check Facebook messenger, where two friends ask, have I seen the poem? Have I talked to the person to whom it was directed? Will I write something about it? Can I even believe this shit?, which of course, yes, I can believe it. Ugh.
I spread sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish and it looks, nauseatingly, a bit like blood.
I check Twitter, where the poem situation is quickly devolving into explosive and abusive language. In the background, the 6 PM news is starting.
One layer of zucchini down. I hear Alison Parker’s screams, and some gunfire, and I can’t mute the TV because my hands are messy now.
I smush the cheese mixture into an even layer and tell Jax no, we can’t have ice cream until after supper. Which is running late.
I hear the screaming and gunshots again because I wiped my hands and changed the channel but guess what, this story is everywhere, there’s no escape, and it hits like a bullet that any one of us could go at any time, just while doing our jobs, which, for me, used to be in news. (That’s part of the reason I have trouble unplugging from my phone. I worked for a features department, a design department, and a breaking news department at a newspaper. I got a little addicted to headlines. I still follow dozens of newspapers and media sites, and I still go back to bed for 5 minutes every morning with a cup of coffee and my CNN app. I still brake for CNN push notifications. Old habits…)
No ice cream right now.
More cheese, more chimes, more despair piling on. Why no mention of this murdered black child in the past week’s 6 PMs? Why is my friend suffering this unprovoked attacked? Why would someone open fire on a reporter and cameraperson while they’re doing a business’s 50th anniversary story? I need to sit down a minute.
But I can’t, because supper. I smother the layers in more sauce, sprinkle them with oregano and Parmesan. I slide it into a hell-hot oven.
I sit down on the floor and Jax comes over looking puzzled, gives me a huge wet kiss, and that’s all there really is, right?
I put my phone somewhere I won’t hear it and switch the TV to baseball. I let Jax stand on my feet and we silly-dance. We clean up his cars, then get them all out again, then clean them up again.
Another buzzer. Time to eat.
I’ll look for time to deal with all of this later.