Why I Try to Avoid the News at Times

Okay, so there are really THREE reasons why I avoid the news at times. The first is because frequently the way it is presented is sensationalistic garbage. The second is because I feel too much emotionally about the subject matter. (Like the whole debacle with the SNAP cuts. I just… it is too depressing to think about on so many levels.) But the third reason is what I’m going to talk about today. And it’s this – sometimes I hear or read something, and then get SO FREAKING INTERESTED in it that I want to learn all I can, and that’s a distraction and a luxury that I can’t usually afford these days.

This morning, I had on my local public radio station as I drove around (usually opt for music from home, but something made me switch it on this morning), and I heard this interview on NPR with former Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who was accused of spying for both the US while he was in Iran, and then Iran while living in the US. And my historian-trained (and character-loving) mind just lit up, and I want to research this man and follow the threads of his public life back and delve deep into Iranian history and I just can’t take the time right now. I’ve got an extremely narrow window of getting a ton of personal projects done (including finishing the edits/rewrites on “The Cephalopod Maid” and completely overhauling our office/studio room to allow me to take on the freelance work I’m about to be inundated with), and then I’m going to be almost literally buried in work for a few months at least, with every free moment spent with my son. If I’m good, maybe I can treat myself to a research session this weekend as a reward (and what a huge nerd am I that doing research is a REWARD to myself for being productive?).

I find the entire debacle of US relations with the Middle East and Central and South America from post-WWII onward fascinating, albeit a fascination that leaves me feeling disgusted and dirty by association (even though much of it happened before I was even born). To talk democracy and freedom from one side and then topple democratically-elected leaders in order to set up dictatorships of our own choosing, to destroy infrastructure and education and impoverish entire generations under the guise of blocking Russia and the dirty communists from winning but in what really was a way to protect special interests, and to have much of the information readily available but not generally discussed or even acknowledged by the US population at large… I don’t know. It’s interesting, in a “gets the gears in my mind whirring about the human species” interesting.

And in getting all kinds of fired up, I’ve realized how much I miss the passionate discussions I used to be able to have. In undergrad, I loved the upper level history classes that involved interpreting what we learned about history, which, along with the hours spent in debate with friends (coupled with talking about movies and music and sex and stupid in-jokes and sharing silly things from the internet, of course), meant that I had plenty of opportunities to indulge in the level of discussion that I’m talking about. Post-undergrad, I was able to still get some of this through being part of a writing group for a year that conveniently included many of my friends from undergrad. In my MFA program, we tended to have a tunnel vision on our projects much of the time, but we got plenty of discussions in through and about our projects, and I was able to throw the occasional dinner or themed party. Then we moved back east, and while I’ve made friends, there isn’t that level of depth involved. Now I focus so much on my son, so much on my work, so much on scrabbling to make money, and these are all definitely worthwhile pursuits, but something is lacking. And it’s difficult to admit that life is lacking in any way, but there it is. I miss having friends that are well-read and willing to engage in discussion, that I don’t have to fear will take offense if I get over-passionate and in fact will sometimes wind me up just to watch me go. I miss sitting in a smallish group and having my opinions challenged, and challenging other people’s opinions. I miss the mental stimulation and learning, both about the topics that we’re discussing and the people who are talking with me. I mean, my husband and I DO talk, but after being friends since 2000 and together since 2001, it’s more of a “wow, I learned this” with not a whole lot of discussion because we already know what each other thinks a lot of the time. And while I love having talks with my toddler, the mental stimulation that I crave just isn’t there yet. 😉 There is always the internet, yet I’m enough of a snob to be unsatisfied with online discussions in the long run.

Well, all that is something to consider as we contemplate where we’re moving come fall (hopefully) and as I still weigh in on what I want to do for the next portion of my life career-wise. In the meantime, I have to focus. Expect to see a lot of old art and poems coming up here soon, because I probably won’t have time for anything else. I decided to take the freelance work with the smaller, independently-owned shop rather than the one tied to a major corporation with bad reviews. I’ll be making slightly less money, but I’ll keep my integrity, don’t need to carry the liability insurance, and they’re willing to work around my schedule. Plus, it makes me feel somewhat less like I hold a useless MFA to be utilizing at least some of the skills I learned while in school.

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