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top of the drop
hitting the apex and picking up speed
by adam kraemer (@DryWryBred)

My father called me the other day.

This, in itself, is not news. We talk a lot. However, it did seem to be a good way to open a column, especially since my next few paragraphs have to do with that conversation. Otherwise, you'd be totally in the dark, and I'd have failed without even getting started. Luckily for both of us that didn't happen.

Anyway, in the course of our conversation, the current political and economic climate came up (we're very intellectual, he and I). My family has traditionally been moderate liberals (some less moderate than others), and we both agreed that the current Republican Party has us appalled. And the current Democratic Party has us mostly disappointed. I mentioned that I had been curious, following last week's debt ceiling debacle and the stock market drop that accompanied it, as to what my least favorite economic talking head, Larry Kudlow, had to say about it.

As an aside, I do have less favorite pundits, in general, but since Larry makes a living by saying over and over again that he only cares about a strong market, I wanted to see what his take on a weak market was, especially as it appeared to me that it was, in part, at least, set in motion by the decision of his friends in the GOP to hold the country hostage as previously moderate Republicans fellated their Tea Bagging colleagues while the Democrats bent over, waiting to service them in our own "San Francisco treat" sort of way.

If that last set of images offended you, I apologize, and recommend that you instead focus on the impressive fact that the entire paragraph consisted of only a single sentence. I know I'm impressed.

Regardless, I do have some good news. Mr. Kudlow informed me, via his column on CNBC.com, that not only are we not heading for a double-dip recession, but that the economy is actually strong. Whew. I was worried for a moment. Like that time I logged on to Weather.com to find out when the series of thunderstorms I'd been caught in was supposed to be over, only to find that it was, according to them, not raining.

My father, too, was audibly relieved by this news and immediately invested in Pan Am. He has a terrible broker.

Actually, my dad's reply was that the good news, as far as he saw it, was that we weren't heading back into a recession just yet, but, rather, we were poised, like passengers on a roller coaster, at the top of the drop, any minute now expecting to plunge into the abyss. Admittedly, I've never been on a roller coaster that actually plunged into "the abyss," as it would probably get shut down pretty quickly. Or at least have a significant drop in returning visitors to the amusement park.

I did appreciate the imagery, though, and, yes, it does sometimes appear as though we're all holding our collective breath, waiting for that no-turning-back-now moment, right before the entire coaster erupts in screams and a part of you prays that this isn't the moment you turn into a gruesome statistic.

However, the metaphor (or simile, whatever) didn't sit all that well with me, as I mulled it over post-conversation. For starters, that drop, for those of us who enjoy roller coasters, is joyous. That's why we go on them. Otherwise, we'd be Tilt-a-Whirl people, and you know what they're like. Secondly, unlike the possibility of the floor really falling out of what's left of the economy, you know (at least 99%) that you're going to come out of that drop and the ride's going to keep going for you. But, unless Roald Dahl's gremlins have been hanging around the Six Flags, you're not in any real danger. The Fed cannot guarantee the same thing. And we all know there are any number of gremlins on Capitol Hill.

The concept of that plunge stayed with me, though, and I couldn't, at first, figure out why. Then I sat down to write my month's column (hint: you're reading it right now. Don't ask me how I know that), and it hit me - it's really a better - an happier - analogy for where my life is right now. I feel as though I'm the one at the apex (or zenith) of that first hill, about to shoot down, joyously, as I said, hurtling through that next turn, up that next hill, dropping down again, getting pulled up once more, hitting the loop-the-loop combinations, the corkscrew, maybe even (as I swear Coney Island's Cyclone does) becoming airborne for a moment, before finally coming to rest, safe, sound, and, well, maybe just a little dizzy.

(Is that good writing or what?)

I'm serious, though - I don't think anyone who knows me (and if you're one of my six readers, chances are you do) is under any illusions that I'm settled yet. Some aspects, sure. I like my job. I'm in my apartment in New York for the foreseeable future (especially since I just re-signed my lease). By my birthday, I expect to be at my goal weight and stay there. Those things aside, probably the most positive thing about the other aspects of my life not yet being where I want them to be is that I can still look forward to those things to come.

I'm going to join a band. I'm going to finish my book. I'm going to get a sitcom made. I'm going to buy a plant (no, really, my apartment yearns for one). I'm going to find a girl. Settle down. If I want, I can marry. I'm going to stop quoting Cat Stevens lyrics.

The point is, with the exception of my weight (32 lbs and losing), I've sort of been on pause for a year. I could go into the reasons (some economic, some psychological, one mauve), but they don't really matter. What matters is that I do feel as though I'm on the right track, strapped in, my hands in the car at all times, earrings removed, the clack-clack-clack-clack finally over as I crane my neck to see the real start of the ride. Some might say, "Finally." Hi, Mom. Others might say, "Farfegnugen." I don't know who those people are; I assumed you brought them.

So, yeah, my dad was right. It can be scary being poised at the top, not quite knowing when your speed's going to increase in a matter of seconds from 4 mph to 60 mph (maximum speed of Busch Gardens' Loch Ness Monster), how big the drop is (the now-demolished Hercules at Dorney Park was the tallest wooden coaster, with a drop of 157 ft), or what you might have to do along the way (the Sea Serpent at Fantasy Island in Beach Haven, NJ, can be kind of fun if you're a bit buzzed). But there's anticipation, too - a sense of excitement, of pride, even, in just getting on the ride. And I can't wait.

(I was actually going to end the column there, but I wanted to briefly address those of you who don't like roller coasters or have never been on one. I don't know what to tell you; find your own damned analogy. I'll bet life can also be like the bumper cars. Or the Scrambler. Or a log flume. Or maybe you just like the word "flume." I know I do.)


A native of Elkins Park, PA, Adam Kraemer spends way too much of his time repeating "K-R-A-E..." He moved to New York City in 1998 and earned Master's in Journalism at NYU; don't let his writing fool you. He feels he is best known for saying the things no one is thinking, but afterwards wish they had been. He spends his free time wondering where all his free time goes and why he can never come up with a decent kicker for the ends of his articles.

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