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   

 

More articles by:

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

January 17, 2018
Seiji Yamada
Prevention is the Only Solution: a Hiroshima Native’s View of Nuclear Weapons
Chris Welzenbach
Force of Evil: Abraham Polonsky and Anti-Capitalist Noir
Thomas Klikauer
The Business of Bullshit
Howard Lisnoff
The Atomized and Siloed U.S. Left
Martha Rosenberg
How Big Pharma Infiltrated the Boston Museum of Science
George Wuerthner
The Collaboration Trap
David Swanson
Removing Trump Will Require New Activists
Michael McKinley
Australia and the Wars of the Alliance: United States Strategy
Binoy Kampmark
Macron in China
Cesar Chelala
The Distractor-in-Chief
Ted Rall
Why Trump is Right About Newspaper Libel Laws
Mary Serumaga
Corruption in Uganda: Minister Sam Kutesa and Company May Yet Survive Their Latest Scandal
January 16, 2018
Mark Schuller
What is a “Shithole Country” and Why is Trump So Obsessed With Haiti?
Paul Street
Notes From a “Shithole” Superpower
Louisa Willcox
Keeper of the Flame for Wilderness: Stewart “Brandy” Brandborg
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Sinister Plan to Kill the Iranian “Nukes” Deal
Franklin Lamb
Kafkaesque Impediments to Challenging Iran’s Theocracy
Norman Solomon
Why Senator Cardin is a Fitting Opponent for Chelsea Manning
Fred Gardner
GI Coffeehouses Recalled: a Compliment From General Westmoreland
Brian Terrell
Solidarity from Central Cellblock to Guantanamo
Don Fitz
Bondage Scandal: Looking Beneath the Surface
Rob Seimetz
#Resist Co-opting “Shithole”
Ted Rall
Trump Isn’t Unique
January 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Democrats and the End(s) of Politics
Paul Tritschler
Killing Floor: the Business of Animal Slaughter
Mike Garrity
In Targeting the Lynx, the Trump Administration Defies Facts, Law, and Science Once Again
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Hong Kong Politics: a Never-Ending Farce
Uri Avnery
Bibi’s Son (Or Three Men in a Car)
Dave Lindorff
Yesterday’s ‘Shithole Countries’ Can Become Classy Places Donald, and Vice Versa
Jeff Mackler
Lesser Evil Politics in Alabama
Jonah Raskin
Typewriters Still Smoking? An Interview with Underground Press Maven John McMillan
Jose-Antonio Orosco
Trump’s Comments Recall a Racist Past in Immigration Policy
David Macaray
Everything Seems to Be Going South
Kathy Kelly
41 Hearts Beating in Guantanamo
Weekend Edition
January 12, 2018
Friday - Sunday
George Burchett
Wormwood and a Shocking Secret of War: How Errol Morris Vindicated My Father, Wilfred Burchett
Roberto J. González
Starting Them Young: Is Facebook Hooking Children on Social Media?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Between the Null and the Void
Andrew Levine
Trump After Bannon: What Next?
John Davis
Mud-Slide
Ajamu Baraka
The Responsibility to Protect the World … from the United States
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Stirs the Methane Monster
Paul Street
Lazy Liberals and “the Trump Effect”
Carmen Rodriguez
Trump’s Attack on Salvadoran Migrants
Mike Whitney
Oprah for President, Really?
Francisco Cabanillas
The Hurricane After Maria
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail