Friday, January 09, 2009

There but for the grace of God go I

I am not still very often. Even when I am physically sitting in one place, my mind is whirring away. It astounds me that I can ask MB "What are you thinking about?" and he can honestly answer, "Nothing." I'm never, ever not thinking about something, and I'm usually thinking about several things at once. In a way, I think this contributes to me being a generally happy-go-lucky person. I'm usually too busy bouncing from one idea to the next, from projects to tasks to daydreams, that I just don't have time to worry about what-ifs. Lately, though, things have been catching up.

This economy scares the shit out of me. We do just this side of all right most months, but definitely could not survive on either income alone. I've been told not to expect a cost-of-living adjustment this year, and I don't make that much to begin with. Of course, I am not going to complain too much, because everyone at my boss's wife's company had to take a 5% pay cut just last week. MB's company supports the auto industry, so you can guess how comfortable that feels at times like these, when automakers are making unhappy headlines seemingly every day. Just yesterday, a friend of mine who is pregnant and in school found out that her husband is getting laid off from his tech job.

While we're here, let's talk about the pregnancy thing. In early December, I had six pregnant friends. Six! The future was full of hope and fat, happy babies. As of last week, I had three pregnant friends, and not one of the other three pregnancies had produced a baby, fat or otherwise. Three respectably healthy girls, my age, with what had appeared to be normal pregnancies, and then all those hopes, just gone. And while I know that it must just be an ugly coincidence, I have started to stare worriedly at my remaining pregnant friends. I send bursts of thought at their babies, sternly admonishing them to stay put (for all the good it did the last three times). It's very sad and very scary and very unsettling.

And while I know that probably we'll be okay, that really all we need is each other, that if we were (please let's not) to lose everything but each other, we'd somehow someday come out the other side, the still moments are starting to be less comforting. Sometimes when the quiet minutes sneak up on me -- while I'm driving, in between the morning bustle of walk, shower, pack lunch, crate dog, find bag, locate keys and the day at work -- or lying in bed in the dark, MB already asleep beside me -- sometimes then I can't stop thinking. I start to worry about jobs. About this house we just bought. About the baby we want to have. About my dad, less than a year from retirement, holding his breath that nothing gets screwed up. About friends' suddenly and seriously ill spouses, siblings, parents, grandparents -- only a few, but a few is too many. About my friends, their jobs, their families, their babies.

In the sunlight, it's easy to flit from one thing to another, forgetting about all the seriousness that's going around. If I avoid the dire headlines and focus on what I'm doing, I can forget how narrow the ledge is that we're all walking these days. But in the quiet times, I sometimes feel like I'm staring down something that's staring right back, reminding me that it's all so goddamn precarious.


  1. Yeah, this is how things are in my head a lot the past couple of years. Between the health stuff and Michigan's economy having been in the tank for so long, it's something that is there constantly in our minds. Nicole and I were talking this AM about how we really fear that Michigan is going to have to revert to being more like a Nebraska state...good for agriculture and some active cities (and, in our case, also a couple of big hospitals and university cities, plus some built-in tourism with the Great Lakes and our national & state forests/parks), but without any real industry and very little office job-y type of work. Good sized cities being few and far between. Educated people who love the state having to relocate out of state to find jobs (already happening in her large, extended family...). It's really scary. This is why I do what I *can* do, like make sure we have enough food to last us for quite a while if one or both lost our jobs, try to keep a good stockpie of savings $, grow my own food, seldom eat out, etc. The "experts" (who tend to be conservative about this stuff anyway!) are estimating 9% unemployment before things get better, but I think it will be higher. And, in my state, it may be a long time before things are "better" by the rest of the nation's standards.

  2. i'm never *not* thinking about anything either, but that tends to make me more of a Debbie Downer. and no, being proven right when you're always worried things will get worse does NOT make me feel better. i wish i could be more happy-go-lucky.

    you're right; things will be ok if we all stick together. but i think it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.