I may post some pictures from my trip to Chicago and Indianapolis from last week. I'm still a little scared to look at the photos we took in Chicago. Who doesn't need a weekend to have some fun and not act their age? Mission accomplished. I also got in all my food requirements (and it wasn't easy, let me tell you): Chicago style hot dog, Italian Beef, Gyros, and deep dish pizza. Yeah, one of those was for breakfast, but I digress.
As has become typical, I returned from the Midwest with a sinus infection. I really have to remember to pre-medicate. When I lived there, this season could be pretty miserable. It's all coming back to me now. Anyway, another dehydrated, congested plane trip and then things got worse when I got home (sinus infections are fun that way). Spent the rest of the week in that gray area between being sick and working from home. I split the difference. Called in to a few meetings, checked mail here and there. Yesterday (Sunday), I was finally able to leave the house and go to the grocery store. I felt like freaking Magellan.
I wasn't really even able to read but did have the TV on while I was in and out of consciousness. So I got to hear people drone on about the financial buy-out (OK, one high point was the presidential debate, but other than that, it all sounded the same). I am hoping that Congress can come up with a deal that will allow the taxpayers get their money back and keep the CEOs of companies we bail out from getting those big parachutes (you would think they would be ashamed). Trying to recall my macroeconomics classes. What happens if we don't do the bail-out? Anyway, the news sounded dire and I kept hearing phrases like "the worst since the Great Depression." Yay, fear mongering!
My mom made a good point that since 9-11, the American public can handle this type of thing better because we have already seen the worst we thought could happen. And I agree. Aside from the fact that I have many working years until retirement (and that I have stopped looking at my 401K....it's like not stepping on the scale every day), I guess I am just not at the freak-out point (and by freak out, I mean the emotional point, not that I would start pulling my money out of the bank because that would be nuts). Yesterday, of more importance than wringing my hands over the financial situation was locating a box of the old formula Tylenol Sinus, recommended by 9 out of ten meth heads. So I'm guessing that there are a few things going on:
1) It's matter of priority. Immediate health and safety first. Where's my neti pot?
2) There's a very active presidential campaign going on. And no matter which side you support, you have been told that changes are going to be made. I don't know what that brand of optimism is going to do in the short term but it perhaps can eliminate a sense of hopelessness, depending on how you feel about the candidates, over our long term prospects.
3) What are you going to do? I mean, really. We've been through recessions before. When I graduated from college, I took plenty of other-than-ideal jobs (of the "may I show you to your table?" variety). I know that it is certainly harder on other people than me now. I'm in a much better position that I was then. Much. Part of that has been hard work and part of that has been making good decisions (not getting in over my head on my mortgage and converting my ARM when the time was right). And some of it is good fortune (not banking with some of these institutions that are circling the drain).
4) Maybe we are becoming over-saturated with bad news. If you watch the evening news, you are probably getting hit with enough bad stuff to de-sensitize you to the shock anymore. Frankly, what we see on TV in general becomes more and more ridiculous. It's easier to look past it.
What I notice is many people talking about what's going on but being much calmer about all of this than we would have been ten years ago. The rhetoric isn't stirring up a dust storm like you would think it would. It just seems a little surreal.