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Travelers Welcome

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Meltdowns and E! News

by Isabel Sylvan

I worked in real estate when the mortgage meltdown hit.
I wasn’t one of those heartless sales agents that didn’t care.
I worked in the office, handled all the calls, I cared.
Too much I cared.
After a while, I couldn’t leave the house in the morning
without hearing the day’s jobless claims, the foreclosure rates,
hoping over caffeine while I was dressing someone would
tell me I can give them good news.  I could tell the ten people
who called me daily that houses were selling again,
people are working again.  But it never happened.
I became obsessed with the news.
I became the news.
The people I dealt with at work were the news.
Though they never mentioned us individually in their reports,
it was us they were talking about.
Before the crash,
the news was something that happened out there,
happened to other people.  But now, the news was
going to call me six times that day crying and eventually
she would ask me if she should divorce her husband,
though I had never even met her in person.
I wasn’t her real estate agent, just the receptionist.

Two years after the mortgage meltdown I quit my job
in real estate hoping to avoid my own personal meltdown.
But it was too late.
It was unavoidable.
I crashed.
I stopped watching the news.
I was the news.
I ended up in intensive outpatient therapy.  I spent my days
in group therapy with men who attempted suicide, men who
used to be happy, men who used to know who they were
and how the world worked until one day they lost their job,
another day the house, and then finally the wife and kids.
They were rarely mentioned on the news, but the rise
in mental health issues was still thoroughly reported
back when I was still  watching the news.

But I had stopped watching the news.
I had switched to E! News instead.
It was the news that didn’t matter.
I didn’t have to care.
Celebrity personas wouldn’t be calling me later that day crying.
I wasn’t going to see them in therapy after the bankruptcy.
It was the news about no one else, nowhere else.
It was entertaining, but not true.
Fiction doesn’t walk up to you.
Fiction doesn’t need you.
You don’t have to care.
It’s just trying to entertain you.
I still watch a lot of E! News

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