Friday, April 19, 2013

When the News is More Than Just News

I am a news junkie.  Always have been since I was a little girl.  I can't remember a single evening where my mom and I didn't sit down for dinner and watch the evening local and national news.  I loved reading old Newsweek and Time magazines for fun.  There are certain niche stories that capture my attention which are probably not of much importance to other people.  But then there's the big ones. 

As I navigate my way through a thorny patch of my personal life, I watch the news as I always do.  Which is why, after hitting another patch of rough seas personally, hearing about the bombing in Boston on Monday hit me pretty hard.  Seeing pictures of an 8 year old boy holding a sign pleading for peace, knowing he was killed by ruthless cowards drove me to tears.  Just as they did everyone.  They'll find the people that did this, I told myself.  Though, if I'm being honest, I don't know that I believed that 100%.  They could be out of the country already.  And how do you track down such a human needle in a haystack?  I just had to trust in justice and fate.

Then I heard Pat Summerall died.  Being a Dallas Cowboys fan is at the core of my being.  Pat Summerall was an NFL commentator but he was our guy.  You knew that, no matter how impartial he had to appear to be, he secretly wanted the Cowboys to win.  He was older and it wasn't completely out of the blue but it was another rattle to the cage.  I was glad that he had found sobriety and got to live 20 more years with a clear head, able to help those who sought solace in the bottle just as he had.

Next was ricin-laced letters being mailed to elected officials, including to the White House.  To be completely honest, that story barely pinged my radar.  I heard the guy was an Elvis impersonator which, considering no one was hurt by his actions, seemed like a perfectly good waste of comedy material on a week like this one.  Any other week and we could all roll out memes and hasty Photoshop jobs.  But it's hard to laugh at something so ridiculous when there is so much tragedy swirling around for no apparent reason.

Then came West.  If you had asked me if the week could get any worse than seeing the graphic pictures of a young man with his legs blown off for the crime of attending a marathon to support his girlfriend, I clearly would have said no.  But when the first reports of "fertilizer plant fire in West" started popping up on Twitter, I knew that this week was not the week of false alarms and narrowly averted disasters.  I watched social media morph from jokes about the Czech Stop being okay to seeing the horror of reality slowly wash away the sarcasm.   This was not the week to tempt fate with comedy.

I heard the early estimates about casualties and I prayed they were wrong.  Luckily, they were.  But that doesn't change that people did die and a small town will never be the same.  It also made me incredibly proud to be a Texan, though not by birth.  As corny as it sounds, I knew that when someone in Texas is hurting, there's millions of Texans ready to do what they can to help.  It take the edge off the pain to know that West is currently asking that people donate money if they want to help because they were immediately inundated with supplies and donations.

By last night, like most of you reading this, I was just ready to crawl in bed and hope that either quick Armageddon was finally here or something would turn this whole thing around.  When I woke up, I heard the news of the overnight standoff in Boston and learned that an MIT police officer was killed for merely sitting in his car and being a police officer.  Another transit cop, only a year older than me and father to a 6 month old, was badly wounded.  One of the bombing suspects was dead and the other was on the loose. 

I honestly didn't know if I could take another day of this stuff.  Being a news junkie seemed like the fast track to pure heartbreak at every turn.  I didn't care about the pictures of cats that people posted as antidotes.  I wanted news and I wanted some goddamn good news at that.  So I was glued to the Boston police scanner and to Twitter all day.  At 5pm CST, the Boston police seemed to be waving the white flag.  I put a load of laundry on and braced myself for whatever the next wave of atrocities would be.

Then I heard something on the police scanner.  They were rushing to a boat.  My first thoughts were that the guy was on the water and trying to escape and probably just offed himself.  We wouldn't ever know how this whole terrible chain of events started.  And we still don't know that we will ever find out.  But at 7pm this evening, I was sitting on my couch just listening to the police scanner.  It seemed excruciating to hear the police, wisely, inch up on a suspect who was seriously injured and perhaps armed to the teeth.  If only we could end this week with some glimmer of hope.  If only Boston could sleep easy tonight.  If only we can prove that bad doesn't always win over good.

Then I heard it.  "Suspect captured."  We still have no idea what shape the guy is in or how all this will shake out.  But after this week from hell, the entire country needed to hear something good.  They needed to know that we, as a country, took him in alive and will give him a fair trial because we are cool and democratic and fair like that.  More than anything, we needed something good to happen.  The town of West has the entire state of Texas behind it.  And Willie Nelson, don't forget him.  Boston can hit the bars hard tonight, knowing there are no longer two maniacs on the loose.

Next week will be better.  Let's just forget this one ever happened, ok?

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