Doing Something is Better Than Not Doing Something

I’m having a tough time getting anything done. I have a crick in my neck. I am not focusing. I had a project that I wanted to make progress on before a meeting later today. I have tasks that perhaps someone would like me to do, but it’s not entirely clear, and since I need to do the project and the meeting, I can’t bring myself to clarify about the tasks. I feel like I should be making some phone calls. The other day, I was listening to the news about shootings at the synagogue, and after yelling curse words at a politician and then sobbing as a rabbi described those two special needs brothers, I got online and made phone calls to potential Tedra Cobb supporters, and it really did help me cope emotionally.

Dinner is in the slow cooker. That’s something, I guess.

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So, I started writing this post at about 2 pm today, and the plan was that I was just going to write about how I was, to put it delicately, losing my shit, because I couldn’t manage to get anything else done, so at least I could whine and moan and get a blog post written. But then I really was losing it, pretty much, and when I typed that making phone calls had made me feel better, I decided that I should probably just do that instead of write. Which is what I did until it was time to head to my meeting.

To explain why my stress level was ratcheted up so high this afternoon, I’ve got to go back to the weekend first. On Friday night, Cute W and M were headed about two hours south for a weekend soccer tournament. They had left sometime after 8 pm so that M could attend a Nisky Friends event at the high school, and they were companionably listening to a podcast, just moments away from their hotel, when the car suddenly hydroplaned, spun 180 degrees, and landed in a ditch. Moments later Cute W called me, told me that they’d been in a car accident but they were both fine, and asked if I could give him the AAA and insurance information because he was discombobulated and it was cold and rainy and they were in a ditch. I said yes and asked them if either of them were injured at all, but by that time my flustered husband had hung up. So I started madly texting the relevant information to him and to M and otherwise restrained myself, just texting that I would love a confirmation that they were both physically okay when he got a moment.

Because, think about it: if someone starts a conversation with, “We’re okay, but we were in a car accident,” what does that mean, really? It’s possible that it could mean “We are really perfectly fine, just a little shaken up,” or it could mean, “I think my wrist is broken and she might need a few stitches, but we’re basically okay,” or it could mean “We are going to get into an ambulance, but I am 90% sure that our injuries aren’t fatal.” I mean, when announcing a car accident, I believe that “we’re okay” tends to mean “no one is dead and death does not appear to be imminent.” So, I felt pretty sure that no one was actively dying. But only, like, pretty sure.

So I sat holding the phone and shivering violently. Because apparently that’s something I do now, when I am super stressed out. I wish that I hadn’t had an opportunity to make this discovery about myself, but that is where we are at the moment. Not too much later, Cute W called and confirmed that they were both entirely uninjured. They would spend quite a bit of time in the back of a trooper’s car before making it to their hotel, and the following day Cute W secured a ride to the first game and learned that our car, while damaged, could effectively transport them where they needed to be for the weekend. However, there was one fatality: M’s phone. It had dropped into the dark and flooded ditch on Friday night, and by Saturday they were able to reclaim its body, but, sadly, not its spirit.

They got through the tournament just fine, with two wins, one tie, and one loss, and Cute W graciously put SnapChat on his phone so that M wouldn’t have to suffer complete electronic isolation. I ordered up a new phone that, unfortunately for M, is not an upgrade in any way. If I named which version of iPhone I purchased for her, you would likely say, “Wow, I didn’t know that they still sold those, ” and I would nod gravely, because they are only sold at a deep discount to the most relentlessly cheap parents around. Still, she is a champ who is sucking it up admirably.

So, of course, the first day in ages that my daughter goes to school without a phone (since her replacement hasn’t been delivered yet), there was a lockdown. Awesome. Just last week a high school student was arrested because of threats to the school, and here was yet another bomb threat. So at about 2 pm I knew that the school was in lockdown, but I had no way to contact M. Instead, I contacted a bunch of random strangers who are registered Democrats and reminded them that tomorrow’s Election Day. Have you heard? Tomorrow is  Election Day. Once again, it was surprisingly therapeutic.

Eventually M got in touch via a friend’s phone, and I spent my meeting distracted, fielding texts from her, other high school parents, the district, and others. I left when it looked likely that I’d be able to pick her up soon, because after, gosh, more than 5 hours of lockdown, she was set loose into the chilly, rainy, and just-fallen-back-into-the-dark night.

Our spirits picked up considerably from there. M was upbeat. It had been a pretty horrible afternoon, but weirdly bonding at the same time. She was in a health class, one of the few classes that has a really motley assortment of students, since it’s required for everyone at some point, and there aren’t Regents vs. honors versions of the same class. One bit of good fortune was that the curriculum was focused on healthy snacks, so they happened to have food with them for their ordeal. One bit of very bad fortune was that they had zero access to a bathroom. M spun this out into a rather entertaining story. Apparently quite a few people really had to pee for a really long time, and they managed to fashion a little “pee corner” with a table standing on end next to a cabinet with a door that, when opened, closed off the corner for some privacy; a trash can; and some spare paper. In theory it would serve its purpose, but the teenagers spent some time crossing their legs and looking at each other, wondering if anyone would be able to endure the humiliation of peeing into a trash can in such close proximity to their peers.

Did I mention that M is a champ who can do an admirable job of sucking it up when necessary? She texted me to announce that she was the first to “christen” the pee corner, to the applause of the rest of her class. At which point the dam broke, and M brought new life to that old saw, “Apres moi, le deluge.”

Make no mistake: this sucks. If anyone is under the impression that those schoolchildren in America who have not yet been shot or witnessed any murders firsthand are unscathed, let me tell you that it’s not true. These drills and lockdowns and the news itself is traumatic. Yes, I know that we had tornado drills and before us there was fear of nuclear annihilation, but these threats are much more pervasive in every day life. Kids get really scared. There was a lockdown at the middle school where a substitute teacher was sobbing. There are children with special needs who are seriously suffering when this stuff happens. It is horrible.

But tonight, I am grateful for my daughter’s safety, and I am weirdly proud of her for choosing to be the first to pee in a trash can.

Just as I finally had M in my sights, my friend called me. Had I heard that the Times Union had rescinded their endorsement of Tedisco because he’s a liar? Why yes, I had. It was amazing. My friend had a stack of fliers to distribute around the neighborhood, could I help? Yes, please! Shortly thereafter, our whole family of four was out with our friend in the chilly, rainy night, spreading the word in support of our friend whom we’d met when she organized a bus trip to our first Women’s March in NYC, Michelle Ostrelich. Cute W and I will be out again first thing in the morning, waving signs at Balltown and Nott Street.

Doing something feels pretty good. And I’ll tell you:  It sure as hell feels better than stress-shivering on the couch while you wait for good news.


  1. Jo Anne Assini

    Oh my! I’m so sorry about all of it. Stress is putting it mildly. You need a massage. Hope things go our way today.

  2. sunny savannah

    WOW! M had a hell of a few days. But, of course she was the first one to pee in the trash can. Pop is quite proud. Talk to you very soon. Love you, dad and mom

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