Thursday, December 18, 2008

Recession Depression

i’m convinced that this recession is the new black or at least the new election, maybe even the new Sarah Palin. it’s become one of those inescapable, overexposed topics that spits in your eye and pisses on your leg all day long. the feeling is similar to the campaign fatigue i had earlier this year, where i would turn on the radio or load up the Times to find endless stories on swing state voters and Katie Couric interviews and Obama’s terrorist ties, now replaced with foreclosures and layoffs and bailouts.

and hey, let’s make sure to examine every angle of this topic and interview an unemployed worker in each of the 50 states to see how they’re handling being out of work, and let’s interview every grandmother who’s lost her retirement in the market crash and is now facing foreclosure. let’s ask her how she’s managing the high blood pressure she can no longer afford medicine for. to balance things out, we can throw in a feel-good story on how you can stretch your pennies by making crafts this christmas instead of buying that flat-screen you really want.

come on, media people. is there no other news happening in the world? aren’t there Nobel prizes being awarded this month or some medical breakthroughs to report? how about just a cat being rescued from a tree or photos of the new baby panda at the zoo? i know journalism is known for its “if it bleeds, it leads” mentality, but when the whole damn news hour is a bloodbath, i begin to wonder why i should get out of bed each morning knowing that my day will be filled with dismembered limbs instead of rainbows.

i know i can just turn the news off, and rest assured that the radio station my alarm wakes me with every morning has now been set to mexican ranchero music rather than NPR. Mo and i have also found an awfully fantastic eighties station that we blast on sunday afternoons as we tool around the house, baking bread in our own uninspired attempt to follow the penny-stretching crowd.

yet i still can’t escape the bad news bears. they were out en masse at my company’s christmas party the other week. they looked a lot like my coworkers and stood huddled in corners, whispering about the bad economy like it was some secret, asking strange questions like, “think this party will have half as many people here next year?” someone even asked me what i would do if i got laid off. “well,” i replied, “this is just my first guess, but i’d probably look for another job.”

i know it’s serious stuff out there, folks, and that grandmas are losing their homes and i might even lose mine if things get really bad (though i would rather sell ass on the corner before i allowed myself to lose my house — not my own ass because i doubt anyone would buy it, but someone else’s ass, as i’ve always thought i would make a good pimp), but i don’t need daily reminders of how much worse things are getting.

if they get much worse, that’s ok. not like i didn’t see it coming. and if i get laid off — and i have no reason to believe that i will — that’s also ok because i’ve been laid off before, twice in a row actually. the first layoff was from the dot-com disaster eToys. it was right after christmas, early 2001 during the days of “dot com death toll” headlines. the CEO, a harvard MBA, called a company-wide meeting to announce that Toys"R"Us had made more money than we did during the holidays, which meant leaving our Aeron chairs, unlimited Snapples and free weekly massages behind because the entire company was folding in a month. i went home and cried that day. a year later, i was laid off from The Hollywood Reporter. i went home and cried some more.

and while i do remember those times sucking immensely, the days of crying and weeks of feeling like a loser, i also remember not having to sell any ass. i remember the world not ending.

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