Dealing With the Deluge


I didn’t know my son J was in Mexico until he wasn’t. He texted he’d landed safely in Texas and followed this with magnificent photos of Oaxaca’s coast.

I looked at the images and thought of another time he was there. I’d answered my cellphone. One of J’s friends said he’d heard J had been shot. He asked if I knew anything about this. Terrified, I called my son. Had he not answered, I don’t know what I’d have done. Yes, he was robbed. Later, when I tried to sleep, my chest tightened—panic. I knew there’d been a gun. Just knew.

One morning a couple of weeks ago, a friend emailed, “The news is reporting a shooting.” Told me the address was directly across from son H’s house. Immediately, I called H. He said the body was just feet from his sidewalk. He was staring at it as we spoke.

I have an empty nest here. And because I worry so much about the safety of my children, I’d like to move the nest and leave no forwarding address—no news being good.

Here’s the question Dorothy Parker asked when her doorbell rang, “What fresh hell can this be?” Exactly.

Erma and I talk about “fresh hell”—neither wants too much information about our loved ones. Don’t want to hear about a quarrel. Don’t want to know if the grandbaby has the sniffles, a fever.

I’ve become a little calmer about the arrival of my grandson though. I can picture him, an image of J as a baby and then a toddler, hear that little-boy laughter and feel utter joy, but then I think of this world he’s meeting, defined by war, inequality, catastrophic climate change, injustice—and, well, that happiness is interrupted.

An award-worthy worrier, I learned from a champion, my mother, who could have been an Olympic gold medalist in the category of neurosis/neuroses. For so long, our angst was synchronized.

Here’s something unrelated to my children, but it still kept me awake the other night: the 1.3 million jobless Americans who lost unemployment benefits on December 28th and the additional 1.9 million whose benefits will end soon. I lay in bed, wondering about the desperation they must feel.

Imagine not having enough money to buy food or provide shelter for your children.

I read about a woman who said her job is now the search for a job. Was reminded of H’s experience when he was tasked with interviewing prospective employees for a position at his nonprofit. He said, “There were so many overqualified people, so many with PhDs, applying for this part-time position.”

Back to those discussions Erma and I have—about avoiding “fresh hell”. We know it’s impossible. So, we look to dealing with the deluge, even reframing.

Yesterday while driving, I caught a portion of an interview on North Carolina Public Radio’s The State of Things. A young Sudanese man expressed immense gratitude that he was given the opportunity to come to the US to study. Conflicted about his worthiness, he questioned how to embrace the blessings of the resources he found here and realized his responsibility to pay it forward.

He spoke of his war-ravaged country where the ground trembles with bombs and then said the profoundly optimistic: that for your parents to dare to conceive you is an act of defiance against death. I gasped. He’d brushed against my apprehensions. You know, this agonizing over my son’s decision to bring a child into today’s chaos, a child I’ll love with all my heart and worry about.

Maybe I can summon the young man’s words when there’s that familiar encroachment of anxiety or an expectation of “fresh hell”. And I’ll pretend this is effective until I have to pretend no more. Either because I do have hope or the nest has relocated—to an urn. No forwarding address there.

Here’s a gift for you, the interview with Nyuol Tong.

Missy Comley 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 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

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxembourg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving
Joseph Grosso
The Enduring Tragedy: Guatemala’s Bloody Farce
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Imperial Myths: the Enduring Lie of the US’s Origin
Ralph Nader
The Joys of Solitude: a Thanksgiving!

Joseph G. Ramsey
Something to be Thankful For: Struggles, Seeds…and Surprises
Dan Glazebrook
Turkey Shoot: the Rage of the Impotent in Syria
Andrew Stewart
The Odious President Wilson
Colin Todhunter
Corporate Parasites And Economic Plunder: We Need A Genuine Green Revolution
Rajesh Makwana
Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change
Joyce Nelson
Turkey Moved the Border!
Richard Baum
Hillary Clinton’s Meager Proposal to Help Holders of Student Debt
Sam Husseini
A Thanksgiving Day Prayer
November 25, 2015
Jeff Taylor
Bob Dylan and Christian Zionism
Dana E. Abizaid
Provoking Russia
Oliver Tickell
Syria’s Cauldron of Fire: a Downed Russian Jet and the Battle of Two Pipelines
Patrick Cockburn
Trigger Happy: Will Turkey’s Downing of Russian Jet Backfire on NATO?
Robert Fisk
The Soothsayers of Eternal War
Russell Mokhiber
The Coming Boycott of Nike
Ted Rall
Like Father Like Son: George W. Bush Was Bad, His Father May Have Been Worse
Matt Peppe
Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad
Martha Rosenberg
Pfizer Too Big (and Slippery) to Fail
Yorgos Mitralias
Bernie Sanders, Mr. Voutsis and the Truth Commission on Greek Public Debt
Jorge Vilches
Too Big for Fed: Have Central Banks Lost Control?
Sam Husseini
Why Trump is Wrong About Waterboarding — It’s Probably Not What You Think
Binoy Kampmark
The Perils of Certainty: Obama and the Assad Regime
Roger Annis
State of Emergency in Crimea
Soud Sharabani
ISIS in Lebanon: An Interview with Andre Vltchek
Thomas Knapp
NATO: This Deal is a Turkey