Monday, November 24, 2008

Juggling Rocks

A thick tension enshrouds the suburbs. The other night, an otherwise congenial friend of mine attacked my character. Another friend expressed her concern for a mutual friend, who she accidentally caught in tears. I hung up the phone a moment ago, wondering if somehow I had done it again. Somehow, completely by accident, someone felt slighted. Surely, it was nothing, but as I stand in this great cathedral, I see my friendships before me as a stained glass window.

I juggle rocks.

As you can imagine, this feeling led me into a state of introspection. I have been walking through life fairly pleasantly for more than thirty years. I am a reasonably sensitive person. I have been accused of excellent social diplomacy skills. Friends have truly humbled me in the past by their willingness to open up to me, and I can promise you that the smallest shreds of those private conversations will never appear here. Never. Even if you guess right, I promise I cannot tell you. (Anyway, I have a horrible memory.)

What happened?

Although I am well known in my circles as a pop culture idiot, I do my best to stay abreast of the more serious events of our time. I heard the other day that Citibank is laying of 50,000 employees on top of other layoffs. Yes, I heard about the credit crunch, the death spiral of retail sales, the automotive bailout debates, and “Hank and the banks.”
I received the e-mail from President Hockfield of MIT, explaining just how MIT will weather the financial storms. She sent me (and thousands of other alumni) an e-mail telling me things will get worse before they get better. I sigh, and I’m so glad that those employment figures are just figures. Those metrics sit sadly on the desks of economists, in some office, somewhere in a big city.

I am glad that I don’t know anyone losing their job.

Oh, except for Mr. Smith, of course, who was laid off recently. And then there is Mr. Jones, whose company will likely go under. Mr. Davis is in real estate, which I’m sure is doing just fine, right? Then there is the Wallaces who own a small business selling things that people can put off until later. And, since the manufacturing and banking sectors are unlikely to be laying off, those friends are pretty secure too, right? Right?


And I wonder why people are just a little edgy when the only thing everyone can agree on is the fact that things are going to get worse.

But, Mr. Smith, you may not know this, but Mr. Davis is pretty edgy too. And, his wife is upset because she isn’t able to figure out how Johnny is going to get that train set if she has to pay the copays this month and then your insurance is gone in January. She just heard that Santa’s elves are walking out if the pay cuts go through. Mrs. Wallace, please be patient with Mrs. Jones, she didn’t mean to offend you, but she just got off the phone with her husband who had some more bad news. She used up all her reserves telling him that she’d figure it all out and everything would be fine, even though she doesn’t really believe it herself.

And me? I probably look just a little bit comfortable carrying that fancy coffee into preschool with a big smile. I’m smiling because I found a coffee shop gift card in my winter coat from last year. I should have told you. Its that bad memory thing I guess. I have enough for one more. Do you want to split it?

I am not juggling rocks. I am another windowpane refracting the sunshine, even if its merely the reflection off the new fallen snow.

Looking out my window, I see snow glistening, as if to spite those gray winter skies. Pull up a cup of your cheapest joe, my friends, it may be a long winter, but it will be warmer in the company of friends.

And, my dear friends, I promise my next post will be cheerful, maybe even funny in its own Emama sort of way.


Indy said...

Ahhh. You posted it. While I think we have to remember that a lot of people are under stress, it does not excuse being rude or saying rude comments. I hope it wasn't me. Sometimes people are rude or mean and they just don't think. At least there is a little break here and maybe everyone can get themselves together before we hit the holiday season.

enthalpymama said...

Indy - Yes, as you know I wrote this a week ago. You happened to call me when I was writing it, so funny when these things happen.

I am not sure other bloggers are like this, but somehow it needed to get out of my draft box before I can move on to some fun.

So, there it is.

Now that all my medical bills are paid and flex spending up to date, and previously important things have been shredded. I'm ready for some fun guys.

OHmommy said...

My parent's business is so slow that this is the first year we aren't escaping the cold weather for some fun in the sun, after the holidays. Everyone is feeling the stress. You can see it on people's faces.

Great post.

Badass Geek said...

Very thought-provoking. It is true that we're all feeling the stress. My wife and I are having to choose which bills to pay... Not exactly a warm fuzzy feeling to have this time of year.

Anonymous said...

I know many people who are having to seriously tighten their belts and some have lost their jobs. It's obviously a very worrying time.

This year, my gifts will be thoughtful, rather than expensive - I'm making my own cards, using old wallpaper to wrap presents - I could go on, but I'm sure you're doing the same.

Indy said...

You asked about a link to that ad on my blog. It is there in a different color. I will change it to red if I can figure out how to change the link color.