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Friday
Sep262008

Sparing A Dime

The bank which holds our mortgage just failed.  This means that instead of owing horrifying amounts of money to an enormous, bloated corporation flushed with foreign money, we now own horrifying amounts of money to a different enormous, bloated corporation flushed with foreign money.

This entire affair has a 9/11 feel to it; there's this terrifying, enormously huge impact-y thing going on, so huge and impact-y that normal life fades to frivolity.  In the event of a catastrophic economic meltdown, who's buying columns about the Bridezillas and clamoring for literary readings and facilitators for writing workshops?  And this TV commercial wants to sell me a gel toe separator, really?  You're concerned with sonic pulse toothbrushes with this going on?  An online poll about which celebrity is the worst pet owner, for serious?  This is what you're talking about?

Perhaps, just as sports became such a national obsession in the 30's, we cling to our distractions because we so desperately need them right now.  Or maybe we're just scrambling about for another circus as the coliseum crumbles around us.  It makes me long for the days of lipstick and Sinbad.  Remember when this election was hilarious?  Last week?

As a child, I was terrified by a book I saw entitled The Great Depression of 1990, and on a subsequent school assignment about stress (we had entire chapters about stress in grade school, there in the 80's, and were also severely warned against eating egg yolks) I wrote, "I'm afraid there will be another Depression."  I'm thinking I was less concerned about economic collapse than I was by my main informant about the Great Depression, which at the time was Annie.  If the stock market crashed, I was headed to an orphanage to scrub floors in a thin, drab dress while Carol Burnett screamed at me.

It's easy to be frightened by all this, because I don't even understand my own mortgage.  All I know is that it's certainly not one of those interest-only thingies, the rate is fixed, the tax-assessed value on the property dropped many thousands of dollars about five minutes after the ink was dry, and that the entire document is in a safe deposit box, thick and jargon-filled and sitting on my head.  I took four years of medieval literature, okay.  I don't know what the answer is.  I can barely comprehend the question.  So I called my mommy.

My mommy remembers World War II, the Cuban Missile crisis, the JFK assassination, race riots, gas lines, stagflation, and New Coke. I minored in history, but was born into a drifting period of it; having focused my studies on the Revolutionary War and the space race, I often wondered what it was like to live in such massively decisive moments.  Did everyone really understand the importance of the Battle of Trenton as it was happening, or was it simply another flash-crisis to wade through?

"Are you scared?" I asked my mother.

She said she wasn't.  Josh The Pilot told me not to worry, too, pointing out that it's a mighty good time for him to to be an essential government employee.  And Julie The Nephews Mama, who actually did take economics courses, isn't scared either.  I suppose I will take my panicking cues from them.

For the moment, however, a repeat of the MTV Video Awards is on.

no deal at:  mbe@drinktothelasses.com

tip the bartender

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Reader Comments (6)

Boy can I relate to this. I made the mistake of reading Gone With The Wind last month (well, listening to it on tape anyway). Big mistake.

There are two distinct periods in GWTW:

BEFORE the war

AFTER the war

and NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING was ever the same after the war. Not the way they lived, ate, raised their children, talked, earned a living, or any other thing about their lives. It was a complete and total dividing line for everyone in the whole country. I wonder if the Depression was like that too. And now I'm wondering if this latest mess is going to be the same thing for us

BEFORE the bailout

AFTER the bailout

I hope not, but it's scary stuff all the same....

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAdrian

It is a HUGELY scary time. I have an account at that same failed bank. I know the financial advisors say "don't worry," but I can't help but feel like a deer in the headlights.

Hard to have confidence right now.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterlynD

Remember the sage words of the Hitchhiker:

DON'T PANIC

Seriously, they are people out there who wants YOU to get scared. Because scared people are easy to control. Cool heads will prevail.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterred pill junkie

I was listening to the local news radio this morning as they made their predictions of DOOOOOM DOOOOM DOOOOM, and realized that making predictions of DOOOM, etc., makes people listen to the radio and hence to their advertisers.

So I lowered my Mortgage Defcon from a 2 back down to a 4. I'm concerned, but I'm relaxed.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterstarnarcosis

Well, if your home has dropped in value, maybe you can refinance your mortgage so you owe less money? I know a handful of people who have been doing that lately to take advantage of the lower interest rates.

Don't panic. Starnacosis is right--everyone's trying to make people afraid, and that's a big contributor to the problem in the first place. A good portion of it's just hype. The worse the powers-that-be say things are going to get, the more you'll be impressed by and thank them when it's not, in fact, that bad.

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterj.s.

MB, try to remember this - even during the Depression millionaires were made. It's all about your outlook and taking some things in stride. You are a talented, intelligent writer, and your star can continue to shine brightly even during inclement weather. Educate yourself on the things you are fearing... that will take the fear out of them. Oh, and don't be calling any more 1-900 numbers - they're expensive! :p

September 26, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKris
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