Fear Factor

Cottle, Michelle
December 2003
New Republic;12/22/2003, Vol. 229 Issue 25, p38
The author comments on the humbling process of discovering precisely how human you are. Most days, you like to think you've got it more together than these folks. Then, every now and again, something happens to remind you just how deluded you are. While my son seems to be smoothly navigating the transition from womb to Washington, I find myself staggering over a number of unanticipated bumps. It is the overwhelming feeling of vulnerability that a tot brings--vulnerability that, in my case, slides not infrequently into full-blown paranoia. You'd think being back at work and focused on something other than my child for a few hours each day would improve my condition. Wrong. My work-induced paranoia comes from reacquainting myself with the dark and dangerous events ever transpiring beyond the warm and snuggly borders of Babyland. While on leave, I considered it my near-sacred duty to ignore any newspaper, chat show, or political blog threatening to interrupt the bonding process between baby and me. But my vacation from the news is over. I fret about rising mercury levels in his future tuna sandwiches--compliments of the Bushies' latest "reform" of the Clean Air Act. Then there's the Newsweek report on how postwar Iraq is becoming the hot vacation destination for Al Qaeda freaks. And, the Washington Post notes that some three dozen radiological warheads-- ideal for the construction of smallish dirty bombs--have disappeared from the Transdniester Moldovan Republic, a former sliver of the Soviet Union now providing one-stop shopping for global bad guys in search of hard-to-find weapons. Just what my nerves needed.


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