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Sarah Tomlinson

It’s the New Economy

It’s the new economy. That’s what a friend of mine was recently told. This after being informed that she could continue working for a magazine that had long employed her as a contributing editor. Only, now, they weren’t a print publication anymore. They were online only. And she would be paid almost no money.

All she had to do was write an article a week.

And edit content.

And sell adds.

Which isn’t exactly a winning business strategy, unless their plan is to finally achieve the utter and irrevocable bankruptcy that has eluded them until now. My friend happens to be charming. But have you ever been stuck talking to a writer at a party? They can barely sell you on the fact that they’re a functioning adult who wasn’t raised by wolves. Does this publication really think they can sell a form of advertising that doesn’t seem to have any apparent value?

“Well, theoretically, if anyone did ever visit the site, they would click on your advertisement. Well, no, I’ve never once, ever, clicked on an advertisement on a Web site, either. But. No I’m not crying. No. I’m not.”

I guess this is the world we live in now. A world where less-than-ideal circumstances are solved through inanity, denial, and the need to prey on the patience and good will of others. If that’s the case, I’ve found some great opportunities to make use of this worthy catch-phrase.

Don’t blame me. It’s the new economy.

If I almost swerve into your car because I’m texting while driving, even though Paris Hilton expressly told me not to…You remember that, don’t you? She did that great public service by attending that party to draw attention to this very serious matter. And she maybe, just maybe, showed off yet another fetching new frock while she was at it. Thank you, Paris. And I’m truly sorry to let you down.

But don’t blame me. It’s the new economy.

And if I accidentally tap the back of your car with my car while we’re stopped in traffic. Because I am running so incredibly late on the way to a meeting with Britney Spears’ managers…Because I still can’t shake my idea that taking the time to apply lip gloss is going to allow me to make a better impression than arriving on time for a meeting would. Don’t get too irate. I think they’re called love taps, aren’t they? And when you look in your rear view mirror, don’t be fooled into thinking that I can afford to pay for any damages anyhow. I was only able to buy this car after my last car was totaled, leaving me unable to type for a month and in need of therapy for my acute stress reaction. I had spent all of my own money on…lip gloss.

Don’t blame me. It’s the new economy.

And if my hair somehow manages to look sort of greasy and frizzy at the same time…Because I can totally relate to Frances McDormand’s character inĀ Friends with Money, even though I don’t even have menopause as an excuse. And I sometimes feel like I’m going to weep tears of blood when faced with the prospect of washing my hair yet again. (Didn’t I just wash it last week?) Even worse is after I’ve forced myself to wash it. That’s when I find myself standing in the bathroom. Facing off against myself in the mirror. Knowing that if I was a good girl. A real girl. The kind of girl who could look a man in the eye and say, “I would like you to find me attractive, and want to have sex with me, with enough regularity, and for long enough into the future that you decide to take some advice from Beyonce and do that thing that I can’t say out loud because it will mean everyone within earshot instantly has that song stuck in their head. FOREVER.” If I was that kind of a girl, instead of the kind of non-girl girl that I am, I would pull out my hair dryer (the fancy one that my hairdresser gave me in some sort of bad hair intervention). And my round brush. And I would do something about this snakes’ nest on the top of my head. But if I just can’t bring myself to do it today, and I go out looking like the greasy/frizzy mess that I usually do, don’t blame me. It’s the new economy.

And if you are a man, and I get a little needy. Even though we’ve just met. And you haven’t even had the chance to decide if you like me yet. Let alone whether or not I would aggravate your parents in a good way or a bad way over Thanksgiving dinner. And I’m already expecting you to call me. And take me out. And marry me. And get me pregnant. More than once. And work insanely hard to even begin to afford the number of iPods and iPhones our kids are going to need in their lifetime, let alone college. And accept the fact that I’m probably going to make a pretty lousy wife. Because I’m a writer. And that means I keep odd hours. And I prefer to be alone. And I get moody when my work’s not going well. And I space out when my work is going well, which means I sometimes remove pans from burners, but neglect to turn off those same burners, so there’s this open flame burning in the kitchen for who knows how long. And I’m pretty much totally indifferent to things like dust bunnies, and burnt out light bulbs, and a lack of toilet paper. And I have doctors orders not to consume any sugar, dairy, or grains except for the ones that are as unappetizing as they are impossible to pronounce. Which means I know how to cook kale twenty different ways, none of them with butter, and that’s about it.

Don’t blame me. It’s the new economy.

And if I don’t read books anymore. Even though I just finished writing my second novel. And I honestly believe that each and every one of you will eventually feel compelled to buy it. And consume it with as much delight as if it were a box of Entenmann’s donuts. While I myself will be too busy to read the book you just wrote. Or even to simply sit in your kitchen with you and drink a cup of coffee from the pot you just made. Because all of my time is taken up by readingĀ And sending emails to people I don’t really like because I feel guilty if I don’t. And deleting emails from my inbox and my Blackberry (I timed it the other day, and I literally spent 10 minutes just hitting delete). Don’t blame me. It’s the new economy.

And if I stare at you blankly when you tell me about some major occurrence in your life, like the death of a family member or the gender of your unborn baby. Even though you quite curtly tell me, “I wrote about it on Facebook.” As if I am now a bad friend because I neglected to see that update. Never mind that I am sincerely heartbroken or elated for you. Whichever is appropriate. Right here and right now. In real time. In the flesh. Remember that concept?

Don’t blame me. I was too busy deleting emails from my inbox to be on Facebook today. And besides, it’s the new economy.

And if I don’t want to get a real job that involves fixing things. Or selling things. Or providing services that could somehow actually be useful to people. And instead, I want to get paid money. Preferably in quantities so large that gangster rappers have to make up slang for it. To tell stories. And write jokes. And force you to relive events that were painful, embarrassing and uncomfortable when I lived through them the first time. All with the mission of moving you, inspiring you and making you a better person. (You know you could really use some help from me in these matters, don’t you?) I mean, clearly I’m just the greasy/frizzy haired creator of fender benders and flame-engulfed kitchens to be of great and lasting use to you. Especially if you buy this online ad space I’m offering. I can give you a really great deal on it because no one in the entire world wants it.

Hey, don’t blame me. It’s the new economy.