Monday, July 22, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: War Reporter with a Night Light

"It was only after people started shooting at me that I started using a nightlight. I didn't grow up with one; we didn't have reliable electricity in my home town. Back then, if you saw a light, it was a fire and you had to haul ass out of the house. That probably prepared me for a life of covering Sri Lanka and Iraq. And Chicago and Oakland, before you start thinking the foreigners are so violent. I took two bullets to the shoulder in Oakland on a police ride-along. The bullets went right through, like I wasn't even there. I was.

"Whoever had my hospital had owned a nightlight. It was orange, a jack o'lantern, way out of season. It had to have been a kid's. There was something about the orange glow amid the nurses saying it could have been way worse a few inches over here, and the doctor with all his eye contact, and the pain pills. I was profoundly lucky to be alive with that little light.

"I left it, hoped its kid owner would retrieve it. I bought my own on the way home, and plugged it into the bathroom with the door ajar. They made me stay home for two weeks while I became a bigger story than the beat I'd been trying to cover. It was a fog of frustration, of phony friends asking for quotes, of barely being able to leave the apartment. By the time I was clear, I just loved my nightlight. This one was jade.

"It stays home. When I went to cover Egypt last month, it shone on an empty apartment. No nightlights at work, no privilege of safety. Not until I got home. Then I slept with it on. Jade. Green light, go home."


  1. The mind fixates on things like that. This could have been an actual transcript.

  2. So many participants in war (and other violence) DO need a night light (literal and/or metaphorical). Which is a sadness.

  3. We've got to keep a light on somewhere. The world's too dark.


  4. Jai is right. The world is dark - it needs all the light it can get. When my home burned, and I lost everything (including my dog), a friend gave me a huge Scooby Doo stuffed dog. I gazed at it in the room lent me by another friend before sleeping, and it somehow helped in a weird way. When I was twice evacuated out of my city by hurricanes, Scooby went with me to stand guard in my motel room while I ran rare blood to devastated New Orleans. We all need an anchor of light and warmth. Great post.


Counter est. March 2, 2008