No News Is Good News

People I know have stopped following the news.


I understand. Entirely understand. I’ve quit following the news, too. It was hard to do. In regards to my daily schedule, I am the most predictable human being alive. My family knows exactly what I am doing at any given time of the day, and will be doing tomorrow, and the day after that, and on into infinity or until I die, whichever comes first. Call it OCD if you feel you have to, or the kind of habitual behavior that made Pavlov’s pooches’ drool when they heard a bell ding. Tell me I’m in a rut, if you must … that I have a boring existence, that I’m missing out on life by being so inflexibly regimented. You may call it anything you want. But I will continue to call it the way I like it.

Yes, I chose to be this way. I learned years and years ago, it is the way I get done what I want to get done. Whether it be playing a trombone as well as I wished, meeting a deadline, washing the dishes, getting all those f***ing leaves picked up, putting in a garden, wading through a Thomas Pynchon novel, getting out of bed … whatever … it takes a schedule and the will to stick to it. At least, that’s the way I do it, okay?

And to accomplish my responsibilities as a responsible citizen, I determined even before I owned my own television set that I needed to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to absorbing the news. I didn’t want to be one of those people who walk blithely about, asking the more erudite, “What’s going on?” So I read the newspaper, day after day. I have started each day—going back to when Barbara Walters was on Today—with a morning news show, and I haven’t missed more than a pocket-full of evening news broadcasts since well before Cronkite retired.

But that’s only the skeletal outline of my news intake. In between the bare bones, while I’m writing, or vacuuming, or going to the bathroom, or feeding the fish, or checking my Facebook feed, I pad it out with Chris Matthews, Rachael Maddow, The New Yorker (which is one reason I enjoy going to the bathroom so much) Free Speech TV, Huffington Post, and certainly a daily dose of local from the Boise news bobbles.

That was true, now it’s not. It all came to an end Wednesday morning. (My news intake, not the vacuuming, writing, feeding the fish, checking Facebook, or going to the bathroom—though I am seriously considering dropping the Facebook checking from my routine. It has gotten awfully close to sounding like the news, have you noticed?)

That’s right, since Wednesday last, I have been news-free. Five days! That’s as long as I remember ever being on the wagon. (I’ve maybe dried out three days when we went to the hills. But even then, I could always find a lodge bar with a satellite dish.)

I’m certain you, my kind and thoughtful readers, know what brought this on. Chances are, many of you, too, have stopped following the news since Wednesday—even many of those who were already on anti-depressants. (Tell me, is there enough Prozac in the galaxy to anti-this shit?)

Of course, if you’re like me—by which I mean regimentedly OCD and scheduled into a life-long Pavlovian rut—you now have some big holes in your day to fill, right? We have been forced by the most disheartening of circumstance to go from news junkies to as unaware-as-possible, and with no soft current affairs methadone to let us down easy.

But you, as I, must realize this can’t last. Sooner or later, we’re all going to relapse and go back to the news. You know that, don’t you? We can’t go through the rest of our lives avoiding the daily realities. Avoiding finding out what’s going on. Avoiding learning what’s happening in the world outside our own brains. That would make us as bad as the ignorant f***ing dimwits who voted that rancid asshole into …

… ooooh dear, excuse me.  That’s the last thing I wanted to do, to bring up what we’ve all been trying so hard to put out of mind. I am so sorry. To have worked so hard to not think about it, and then I come along and  …

… okay, okay. But let’s all calm down here and get back talking about our new, revised daily routines, now that we’ve given up on the news. However temporarily.

I would suppose many of you have disappeared into a black hole of binge Netflixing. Not a bad idea. But I suggest staying away from House of Cards, Veep, and Game of Thrones. To close to the sad truth, if you catch my drift.

Oh, and certainly, forget watching The Walking Dead. No point in reminding yourself of how many snarling slabs of brainless meat are shuffling about the countryside, is there?

Some of you may have decided it’s a good time to have another go at those Thomas Pynchon novels you abandon after three or four hundred pages. Have a couple of them on the shelf, myself. You know … for when my legs no longer work.

Still others, no doubt, will be spending a lot more time with those adult coloring books with all the super-intricate designs. Or making origami frogs or goats or whatever. Or going for walks. Or repainting a bed room. Or sitting in the dark, drinking.

Maybe you’ve immersed yourselves in sports, eh? I know there are a lot of Americans who take much comfort from drifting off into a months-long football stupor. Sometimes, I wish I could do that—although I can’t help but feel that sports-induced stupors may have contributed greatly to this present sorry state of affairs.

(By the way, has it occurred to any of you f***ing Cubbies fans out there that what happened last Tuesday is the Karmic price we all have to pay for your precious championship?)

As for myself, I have taken to blowing my leaves into piles. That’s right, I have a lot of leaves left, with more coming. And I find it satisfyingly distracting to spend three … four hours a day blowing those little bastards up into big heaps, which I will worry about disposing of later. This is not the time to run out of leaves to blow, let me tell you. In fact, whenever I make the mistake of getting every last f***ing leaf on my property into one big-ass pile—thereby running the risk of having nothing to occupy my time except memory and reflection and tragic reality—I just kick the crap out of that pile and scatter all the leaves again. Start all over again. That’s what I keep telling myself … Start all over again, Bill. Just start all over.

Not sure I can keep it up for four years, but I’m willing to give it a try.

Oh, and Cubbies fans? … just kidding about that karmic retribution thing. Sort of.

One needs to keep in mind at times like this that feeling like you’re going under is not the same thing as going under …unless you let it happen.


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