Ambien is a Buy
0 comment Sunday, June 29, 2014 |
I've got CNBC on right now. It's as heartpounding as the movie Jaws. As I watch, Mr. M keeps moving his plastic shark across the tv screen. His prescience he knows not. The cover of this week's Economist is titled "World on Edge" and shows a lone figure on a huge cliff looking down, perhaps deciding whether to jump. When I realized there's nothing I can do to stop this financial 911, I decided I could at least try to understand some of it, get the lingo down, anyway. And who knows? I might get invited to a cocktail party. It could happen.
"It's the Vicks, look at the Vicks!" I kept hearing people screaming on CNBC. WTF? So I looked it up. It's the Chicago Board of Options volatility index, the "VIX," also known as the "fear index." And it was at a record high today, up 25%. No wonder, since we had an 800 point plunge in the DOW this afternoon before we nosed up 400 points. Only 107 stocks rose on the NYSE today, while 3,121 fell. Russia and Brazil suspended trading for a while. European banks are getting "bailed out" too, and Germany's Angela Merkel is eating crow.
But what does the DOW plunge mean to us in our everyday lives, assuming we don't have to cash in our 401ks any time soon? Not sure, but I know it means something. Oil is now going for under $100.00 a barrel, so at least we're getting some relief there. The "experts" say that while the DOW may be bad, the "credit markets" are the real concern, the ones to watch. When our banks can't give us mortgages, home equity loans, lines of credit, car loans, credit card loans, student loans . . . we will start to feel it. Nobody can buy, nobody can sell. This hits home. This, I can understand.
And even though I don't have anything I really need to buy or sell at the moment, I am sure feeling "it." Last week I took Mr. M to get his hair cut and sat with two stone-faced moms. When I checked my blackberry and mentioned the DOW was back up 400 points, you could see the relief on their faces. Indeed the three of us started chatting it up like we were old college friends. It was like I'd whipped out a bottle of wine from my purse and poured them both a drink. Everybody wants to talk about "it."
Yesterday afternoon I went to our local fried chicken favorite to pick up dinner. I debated myself at length about whether to spend another $1.99 on cobbler, went ahead and bought it, and felt guilty as hell about buying anything. This is entirely out of character for me. These are some weird-as-bat-sh-t days.
This morning I met another mom for breakfast at a local diner and the crowd was ominously light. My friend reported that our neighborhood Yahoo message board is flooded with moms trying to find days for their nannies -- can't afford to keep them on full time any more. After that I stopped by my usually-mobbed nail salon and only one other woman was there. Though we were complete strangers, she and I quickly began trading notes on whether Blockbuster was cheaper than Netflix for renting movies, whether DISH was cheaper than Charter for cable. "I've got to start cutting back somewhere," she said. I understand, I said. Me, too.
Instead of idling in the carpool lane, now I'm walking my kid to school in the mornings and walking to pick him up in the afternoons. And walking is a hell of a lot cheaper than what I used to pay my personal trainer (sorry, Julie, you were great, but I ain't got the dough). Normally I've got the AC cranked down to a comfortable 68 degrees while I languish in my flannel pajamas, every lamp in the house turned on. Come over now and you'll think you've walked into a dark sauna; very unsexy boxer shorts and a tank top are now my standard nighttime fare. When food goes bad, like my bananas did on Sunday, I've noticed I'm overreacting more than usual. Even more peculiar, I'm looking to salvage these babies by making banana bread. And I don't even cook. Well, yesterday I didn't, anyway.
In the old days, a few mere months ago, I'd send my sheets off to a local laundry that washed and ironed them beautifully, for next to nothing. Felt like I was Leona Helmsley when I fell into bed, without a care in the world. Not any more. Buying Mr. M's clothes from Hannah Anderson or Mimi Boden? Get out of town! Old Navy, here we come.
But where else can I cut back? Because really, going frugal is about the only thing that gives me psychological relief. We're turning into the Waltons family. No Barnes and Nobles for us these days, we're heading for the library. And popping in DVDs we own and have already watched, instead of renting new movies. Last night it was "Second-Hand Lions" (though let me momentarily digress and say Second-Hand Lions is our #1 family movie and we'd watch it over and over again no matter what). I'm doubling up on errands, not criss-crossing the city any more. But I can't stop getting my hair cut and dyed unless I'm prepared for a complete physical transformation, and I'm totally not. Here in Texas we call it the arrested-blonde-mom-emerges-one-month-later-as-brunette look. Sorry, but no matter what is happening in the markets, I will not look like Darlee Routier in the name of frugality.
And unless there is a gun against my head, I will never, not EVER, buy those horrible cork-screw flourescent light bulbs. I will continue my incandescents-hoarding quest. The flourescents emphasize dark circles. This is a well-known fact. Though I might start looking around for a hair dresser who's a little cheaper.
The internet is overflowing at the moment with articles about how we should cope with "financial anxiety." Most of them caution us to avoid vices like smoking, alcohol, and sleeping pills. One article suggested eating seratonin-releasing foods like tuna, turkey and bananas, and if you're having trouble sleeping, reading a novel before bed. Tuna and a novel? Umm, sorry, health experts. But I respond a lot better to stress with a beer, a big bath and a bowl of macaroni and cheese. In fact, an Ambien and some wine are sounding mighty fine.