FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Powerless in Baltimore

by MISSY BEATTIE

His sign said: HOMELESS. I pulled the Lesbaru to the curb.  When I handed him two dollars, he said, “Remember, no textin’ and drivin’.”

I said, “Oh, I’ll never drive in Texas.” He laughed.

Should’ve given him another dollar for not saying, “God bless you.”

Cellphone in my lap and his words in my head, I smiled—at the timing. I’ve been confronted recently, almost like an intervention, about my addiction.

I wonder how I’d have survived almost five years of widow world without the link to authentic news, e-pals, and the search engine. I enter my apartment and open the laptop just as I used to power on the TV. Immediately.

In other words, it’s an obsession.

“Mom, get off the computer. Come in here and talk with us.”

And Laura, on the phone with one of our brothers: “She’s on the computer. What else? When we’re out, she’s checking her phone.”

Dr. Mercola recommends tapping my way to equanimity.

The genius children say, “Move to Chapel Hill.”

A reader and e-friend sent this gift. From another: the laugh of the day.

Everybody has a suggestion.

Sunday, I held the New York Times in my hands. It had been a long time.

When we lived in Manhattan, I’d separate the sections, handing Charles the Book Review. I’d squirrel away the Magazine, for its crossword.

We cancelled delivery after moving to Baltimore.

Last Saturday during the daily phone call with Laura, she said, “Watch a movie tonight, a comedy. And, Sunday, the ballgame.”

“What ballgame?”

“Louisville and Duke.”

The TV hadn’t been tested since the children were here last. (I watch movies via Netflix on my… yes, computer.)

Considering Laura’s advice, I searched my queue for a comedy. And when I found nothing appealing, I checked Facebook, the thread, and saw a link to a BBC video, about WikiLeaks and all that damage to the Empire, including Hillary Clinton’s apology performance and John Bolton’s demand that if found guilty, Bradley Manning be……. “KILLED.”

Sunday’s call with Laura: “Did you watch a movie?”

“Yeah.”

“A comedy?”

“Nope.”

I knew she was shaking her head. Because sometimes—okay—almost always, when we’re talking, I take the topic too seriously. Like the narrative about her tree removal. The climber with the saw. Waayy up there in the treetop, sawing, moving, sawing. He unexpectedly walked off the job (after 15 years as a tree climber), saying he’d never climb another tree.

I started in on low wages and insurance.

“Shut up.”

So, after I told Laura I’d seen the BBC film, she secured a promise. That I’d watch Louisville beat the University of Kentucky’s nemesis, Duke. Yes, many Wildcats fans cheer the Cardinals, if the Cats have been eliminated.

Needing ballgame food, I headed to the grocery. That’s when I decided to buy the NYT. And make a rule: On Sundays, no computer-ing.

Leaving, I encountered the homeless man.

Drove home. Okay, just one little email check before (?) the decree’s in place.

After that, I placed the paper on the coffee table. Began to separate the sections. Put the Magazine aside and read op-eds. And tuned to the game. Went in the kitchen and when I returned to the family room, I saw Rick Pitino, wiping his eyes. Kevin Ware. I called Laura. She said CBS probably would replay it. I didn’t say what I was thinking:  “The mainstream media should show war images.”

Instead I put down the phone and parallel processed, turning the pages of the newspaper, thinking about Ware, war, looking through Arts & Leisure, then Sunday Styles with that photo-rama titled “On the Streets.” This week—all men, head turners, many in fabuloso hats, NYC fashion, that NYC WOW, the center of the universe. Maybe I should move back.

But there was no real estate section. Because this paper is the “Washington Edition.”

Not a problem. I could access listings online, the next day, Monday, because of the edict. And the crossword was nearby—a replacement for the obsession, so I wouldn’t read anything political, watch anything political, on the computer. Or check email.

But my friends, my e-pals? A little flip of the lid and I could spend a few minutes with one of them. One who probably had sent (while I was watching that ballgame) a couple of articles.

One more email check. It wouldn’t be a huge infraction, unless, like a drink in the hands of an alcoholic, one led to another and another and another.

“Hello, my name’s Missy and I am powerless over my computer habit. My life has become unmanageable.”

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore. Email: missybeat@gmail.com   

 

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
May 26, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Swamp Politics, Trump Style: “Russiagate” Diverts From the Real White House Scandals
Paul Street
It’s Not Gonna Be Okay: the Nauseating Nothingness of Neoliberal Capitalist and Professional Class Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
The ICEmen Cometh
Ron Jacobs
The Deep State is the State
Pete Dolack
Why Pence Might be Even Worse Than Trump
Patrick Cockburn
We Know What Inspired the Manchester Attack, We Just Won’t Admit It
Thomas Powell
The Dirty Secret of the Korean War
Mark Ashwill
The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position
John Davis
Beyond Hope
Uri Avnery
The Visitation: Trump in Israel
Ralph Nader
The Left/Right Challenge to the Failed “War on Drugs”
Traci Yoder
Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis
Dave Lindorff
Beware the Supporter Scorned: Upstate New York Trump Voters Hit Hard in President’s Proposed 2018 Budget
Daniel Read
“Sickening Cowardice”: Now More Than Ever, Britain’s Theresa May Must be Held to Account on the Plight of Yemen’s Children
Ana Portnoy
Before the Gates: Puerto Rico’s First Bankruptcy Trial
M. Reza Behnam
Rethinking Iran’s Terrorism Designation
Brian Cloughley
Ukraine and the NATO Military Alliance
Josh Hoxie
Pain as a Policy Choice
David Macaray
Stephen Hawking Needs to Keep His Mouth Shut
Ramzy Baroud
Fear as an Obstacle to Peace: Why Are Israelis So Afraid?
Kathleen Wallace
The Bilious Incongruity of Trump’s Toilet
Seth Sandronsky
Temping Now
Alan Barber – Dean Baker
Blue Collar Blues: Manufacturing Falls in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania in April
Jill Richardson
Saving America’s Great Places
Richard Lawless
Are Credit Rating Agencies America’s Secret Fifth Column?
Louis Proyect
Venezuela Reconsidered
Murray Dobbin
The NDP’s Singh and Ashton: Flash Versus Vision
Ron Leighton
Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Anthony Papa
Drug War Victim: Oklahoma’s Larry Yarbrough to be Freed after 23 Years in Prison
Rev. John Dear
A Call to Mobilize the Nation Over the Next 18 Months
Yves Engler
Why Anti-Zionism and Anti-Jewish Prejudice Have to Do With Each Other
Ish Mishra
Political Underworld and Adventure Journalism
Binoy Kampmark
Roger Moore in Bondage
Rob Seimetz
Measuring Manhoods
Edward Curtin
Sorry, You’re Not Invited
Vern Loomis
Winning the Lottery is a State of Mind
Charles R. Larson
Review: Mary V. Dearborn’s “Ernest Hemingway”
David Yearsley
The Ethos of Mayfest
May 25, 2017
Jennifer Matsui
The Rise of the Alt-Center
Michael Hudson
Another Housing Bubble?
Robert Fisk
Trump Meets the New Leader of the Secular World, Pope Francis
John Laforge
Draft Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons Unveiled
Benjamin Dangl
Trump’s Budget Expands War on the Backs of America’s Poor
Alice Donovan
US-Led Air Strikes Killed Record Number of Civilians in Syria
Andrew Moss
The Meaning of Trump’s Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail