Working through war
Are we at war? Because, if so, then I have a valid excuse to miss my deadlines. If not, if this is still an “operation,” then I’m just a procrastinator with a short attention span.
Such are the realities of being a news junky, a passionate defender of Israel, a father of two children in the IDF, and a working stiff who spends most of his day in front of a computer screen with all its Chrome-atic temptations.
I had a particularly busy workweek planned: several high priority clients, all of them demanding articles with deadlines looming ever closer. But then Gaza interceded.
Facebook friends from near and far, parents, grandparents; everyone needed to know right now – are we doing OK? (I like David’s Israelity headline as an answer: shaken, not stirred.) Do we think there will be a ground operation? (Do I look like Ehud Barak?) Do our army kids have any inside information? (If they do, they’re living up to their security clearances and keeping mum.)
I try to focus. I open a new Word document to start an article I’m writing for our sister publication Israel21c about Tonara, a startup that’s developed “interactive sheet music” for iPads. Cool stuff. But there, hovering at the top of my screen, is that seductive Google logo calling “browse me, browse me.”
It will only take a second: a peek at The Muqata (despite the name, actually an excellent aggregator of news on The Situation), or a perusal of the live blogs being run by The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, The Times of Israel. Maybe I’ll check out The New York Times to see what the rest of the world thinks (we can get so insular just reading our own news reports). If I want to be alarmist, Debka is always good for a right-wing panic attack.
No, I must concentrate – it’s writing time now. There’s a time and a place for everything, and with an iPhone and a good Internet connection, you can sneak a news break in the most innocuous of places – waiting while lunch heats up in the microwave; walking the dog (or more accurately, standing near the trash can, checking the phone while the animal sniffs in place); even on the toilet (come on, admit it, you do it too).
I close Google. But email – I can’t defer checking my messages – there might be a new assignment or a corrected copy of an article that’s begging for my eyes. What’s that…another personal missive from a friend in Beersheva? Got to read that. And wait, there’s a Facebook status update with a link from the IDF YouTube site. Must share that with everyone. While I’m at it, must watch all the other IDF videos too – wow, they’re moving this stuff out fast…
If this were a full-fledged war, I could just give in to the attraction and tell my clients that I was dodging rockets so don’t expect too much this week (or next week or the one after that). But if it’s only still an “operation,” then all these distractions are no more than the equivalent of a new client demanding I balance its (admittedly very enticing) needs with those of the others.
Perhaps the most ironic, yet cynically accurate summation of how this neverland of competing calls to attention feels was made by a student in a university class last night, who wrote on Facebook:
Is it wrong to say that I was hoping for another rocket attack during the otherwise completely uneventful Verb Forms in 16th century Mishnaic Hebrew lecture?
I definitely do not want another siren to interrupt my day, but the prospect of bearing down on work while rockets may or not be bearing down on Israel in a war, an operation or whatever this is, is in some ways even more disconcerting.
But then, it got me to write this piece with hardly any distractions at all…