I'm trying to chop an onion for dinner and the dog is jumping on the couch, stealing the boys' snacks. The boys are yelling at her, then at each other because one is stealing the other's cars or books or something. I yell at everyone and drag the dog off the couch -- and usually within a minute, we're repeating the scene. The dog is back on the couch, the oil I set to heat up in the pan is burning because the onion still isn't cut up and I've hit my limit. I glance at the clock, snatch up my phone and dial the husband as I angrily hack up the onion.
"YOU BETTER BE HEADING OUT THE DOOR."
I know, before the words are even out of my mouth that this call is worse than pointless. It's not going to fix the fact that I am only one person trying to do a handful of tasks. It isn't going to help the husband get out of the office; it's likely to delay his exit. It's only going to make him angry. But the phone is there and I can't resist the immediacy.
We went to a concert in Orlando, the Old 97's. Unexpectedly, the lead singer, Rhett Miller, who also is a solo artist, ended up opening the show. I tweeted that awesomeness and within seconds heard back from Kate, a fellow Floridian who I met at The Blathering last fall. She was there, too. Not to be cheesy, but in that moment, the world felt very small and friendly.
We chatted about Rhett Miller's hip wiggling, and introduced husbands and friends. (I also touched her pregnant belly -- and then apologized, because hello! inappropriate. Damn twitter makes you feel like you know someone better than you really do.)
The next morning, we showed The Boy and The Lad video on the husband's phone of Old 97's singing one of our favorite family sing-along songs.
The boys are playing in the tub, giggling and giving themselves bubble beards. I watch them through the door as I help the husband put away dishes or pack lunches, but then the tasks are done. Instead of focusing on the boys and their silly stories, I perch in the bathroom doorway, scrolling through twitter and facebook feeds.
The husband does the same in the yard while the boys play ball. After the boys go to bed, he takes the dog out to play fetch. He tosses the ball with one hand while his phone glows in the other.
We live 1,000 miles away from our parents, the boys' grandparents. But the boys know their faces and voices. We skype and do facetime with them. The boys regularly will pick up our phones and try to call their grammy or papaw -- or their cousins or aunt or uncle.
Another night, I'm heading out to meet friends annoyed by something the husband has or hasn't done. Who knows. Marriage is hard. I'm fuming and angry. I dial Michelle's number. Voicemail. I dial Mom's number. Voicemail. I dial my sister. Voicemail. I don't even bother leaving her a message; Lex is a notorious screener of calls. She calls back.
But in that minute before my cell rings, I think about the depressed pioneers of Willa Cather novels.
"You know," I tell my sister, "I've determined that the lack of technology is what drove pioneer women on the plains to suicide or homicide. They were 1,000 miles from home, trying to take care of a family and didn't have any other way of getting out their feelings."
Sometimes I feel like technology is stealing my time, stealing me. I feel as if I spend so much time receiving that I'm not sending out anything meaningful. And, while the immediacy of information and connections is what makes technology amazing, for someone with a quick temper, that immediacy can be a dangerous thing.
But thank goodness for technology that allows me to talk to my mom or my sister or Michelle any time, even if it's just an OMG! today sucks! or YAY! that's great! text. Thank goodness for technology that makes the world smaller for me and my kiddos. Thank goodness for the internet, which let's me Google anything and write this blog that has given me so many friends.
If I can just stick to texts only in the hour before the husband arrives home each night, we might be alright.