I’m a news junkie, possibly a tragedy junkie. I blame Mom. At a memorable dinner from eons ago, throughout which my two teenage – at the time – daughters sat on the bay window sill laughing hysterically, Mom gave me a questioning look. She’d been all over the map with conversation: insisting on things that were inaccurate, flitting from topic to topic.
“They’re laughing at you Mom,” I told her.
She didn’t skip a beat. “Well,” she said, “did you hear about that young girl with the flesh-eating disease? Gangrene started in her foot, then spread up her leg. I guess the pain was unbearable. Her skin turned black. And then she died.”
My daughters stopped laughing. And chewing, what had tasted delicious: Caesar salad, garlic bread, lasagna.
But this was my life growing up, with a mother tuned into news for its shock value. She was the first to inform me of 9/11, so I initially down-played it. It didn’t take long to realize she’d nailed the historical significance of that one.
And here I am: she’s long gone and I’ve grown an extra appendage called an iPhone, which shocks me by the second with news notifications. I guess I could turn off the notifications? But I want to know! I need to know!
Do I? I reflected on this the other morning, driving home from teaching a Jazzercise class. I’d just been informed of another meth death. It was the second friend to have lost a person to the drug in a couple weeks. I hear you try meth once? You just want to replicate that amazing high, but it forever eludes you. I mentioned this to a gf and she said, yeah, well, people can feel that way about alcohol too. Truth!
I recently read this article from the UK called “Will ditching booze make you happier?” Veronica Valli put it in this unique way: “The red flag is that if you think about drinking more than you think about sandwiches. How often do most people typically think about sandwiches? Twice a week? Three or four times? Never?”
I like Pinot Grigio and sandwiches, sometimes together, but I rarely think about either one. A good sign, I suppose.
With all the chaos and injustice in the world, one can certainly appreciate another person wanting to check out of it all by trying to check into a state of euphoria. Longevity may not be in the cards, but who’s to say living a long life is the goal? It’s my goal, but maybe it’s not for everyone? Although each person should have that option, right? Hence the Pewtin in me wanting to obliterate the actual Pewtin, stat!
The radio channel I had on, CBC 93.5 FM, was doing a talk segment. An interview with a Black male music artist, talking about significant Black songs, like “Strange Fruit”, first recorded by Billie Holiday and “What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye. Songs of injustice. The interview ended and I quickly switched the channel to CNN, for a war update, but instead got comedy! They were talking about the White House Correspondents dinner, which name-sounds-like Striden attended. Did you notice that Grump never attended? Have you noticed that people who can’t laugh at themselves can’t be trusted? It’s kind of like when a dog doesn’t cozy up to a human. It’s a warning.
Anyhoo, I thought, Rita, why are you always listening to news and talk? It’s a beautiful spring day! I pressed SiriusXM channel 359, North Americana, and Blue Rodeo immediately lifted my mood. I sang along. “Trust yourself. And don’t believe in anymore lies.” Ah lies! I can’t handle lies, misinformation, disinformation! Although in later years my father coined this phrase – “Truth is a luxury a liar cannot afford” – I blame Dad for making me a truth junkie.
Singing made me notice spring. Ah. A brilliant yellow shrub. Forsythia! In bloom.
The war? It’s far away. Over there. Aside from donations, what can I do? It’s the injustice that plagues me, drags me down. I expect Lady Justice to take care of things, punish evil, reward good. Like in kids movies. But no one ever said life was fair, and witnessing what’s happening? Lady Justice is either in a coma or taking a ridiculously long nap.
It doesn’t take a lotta digging to determine that Pewtin has jailed and killed enemies, with impunity, since coming to power on December 31, 1999. Yeah, that’s right. Y2K? A nothing burger. But, the KGB Pewtin factor? It’s taken us 22 long years of atrocities to realize that the turn of the century was gonna suck.
Meanwhile, Grump is still out there, talking, endorsing, despite his numerous and obvious illegal hijinks. And then? Upsetting, but not surprising, news recently leaked out of the Supreme Court. Don’t you love how Justice Roberts made the leak the thing, but this is justice, either asleep-at-the-wheel or held hostage by angry white men. Women’s abortion rights in the US are likely toast. George Carlin has a great riff on conservatives and abortion on YouTube, you should check it out. “Boy these conservatives are really something, aren’t they? They’re all in favour of the unborn. They will do anything for the unborn. But once you’re born? (holds up middle finger) You’re on your own.”
No one ever said life was fair. Justice? Hard to come by. Let it go, Rits. You’re in your car, music playing, on a sunny spring morning. I saw a man on the sidewalk, walking toward me, his great long greyish-white beard blowing wild in the wind. No judgement Rits. Your bro sports a long beard. But as I passed him he started screaming, loud and angry. His face glowed as red as the tulips I’d just seen at Sunripe. His arms flailed. I studied him in my side mirror, thinking that he probably carried his whole life in all those bags. What made him so agitated? Meth? Alcohol? Mental health? Injustice?
I told my husband B about it – the changing of the channel, the gift of song leading to the observation of spring in bloom, the jolt of the homeless man’s shouting – when I got home. I placed tulips in a white vase and prepared to tuck in to the hearty omelette he had ready for me. B had soft music playing; he doesn’t care for news. “I was reading something about that the other day,” he said. “Too much news. We’re addicted to suffering.”
Website photo: Lady Justice, held down by angry white men, pulled from Twitter, source unavailable.
We all have our memories of simple, positive, loving, goofy times that can give us some peace in these crazy times. Hanging on to those memories for dear life. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Rita.
Simple times! Ah yes! Such good advice to recall those days while these crazy days are happening! Thx so much Grant 🙏
I hate the news. It depresses me, so I try to avoid it. I guess you really can’t avoid it all, especially when everyone is talking about it. There never seems to be any happy news. I had 4 friends lose their sons to fentanyl, all within a couple of years. So heartbreaking. I can’t imagine losing a child, never mind to something that should never have happened in the first place. My heart goes out to your friends.
I’m so sorry to hear about your friends’ sons and fentanyl. That’s heartbreaking. I think that’s the thing about news – it’s the tragic and controversial that gets attention. Heard a podcast the other day about positive governmental action and it was truly uplifting. More of that please …
I agree withB..too much.news is unhealthy..
As with everything- balance is key.