Often, I run late. I miscalculate how long it will take to finish a task or to park or walk from A to B. Today was no different. Though I’d started the morning with plenty of time to make it to my afternoon meeting, when I needed to leave the house, I was rushing to get my material together, find a quick snack for the car, and secure a Diet Coke.
Alas, once I got to campus, my phone wasn’t in my purse, and I realized I’d left it on top of some boxes in the living room where I’d carefully placed it to remind me to put it in my purse. At first, I had a bit of panic. What if I needed to call someone? (Note: I call grandma every few weeks, and that is it.) More importantly, how would I take pictures? How would I check my email? What if something was required of me? Normally, I have my phone near me at all times. I remember a line from Dare Me, which you should read if you haven’t, about the rivalries among the girls in a cheerleading squad, about the omnipresent cell phones, their hearts in their hands.
I know that many of my students have a real addiction to their cell phones (and they should read this article in Psychology Today.) Maybe my relationship with my iPhone is a simple as that. Not having my phone today, though, relieved me of a burden. I know that the recommendation to turn off electronics is not new or revolutionary, but, after the initial anxiety, knowing that I absolutely could not check my email, at least for the afternoon, allowed me a nice respite from responsibility.
I settled into bed last night, late as usual. Before I had even thought about trying to sleep, I heard a noise that sounded like a gunshot. Norman started barking madly, and I thought about getting out of bed to investigate. But, I would have to put on lots of clothes, I might find myself in danger, and it probably wasn’t a gunshot anyway. I thought about the Kitty Genovese case, famously (and incorrectly, it turns out, used to illustrate the bystander effect). I wondered if some human or animal was bleeding out in my backyard, condemned to perish without me taking action. I decided very uncharitably that I didn’t want to get involved, but I did note that the noise occurred at 2:15 a.m., with a second boom at 2:16. At 2:22, I heard what sounded like large pieces of wood being moved. Even if I wasn’t going to get out of bed, I was prepared to answer questions from police if they showed up today (which they did not). Perhaps I watch too much Law and Order and shows on Investigation Discovery.
So far, it looks like the sounds were not associated with bodily harm to any persons or animals. If I learn more, I will update you.