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Yesterday, it was reported that the Republic of Ireland had officially entered a recession after two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Then I caught a bit of President Bush’s address to the nation re the current financial crisis that has the potential to cripple the US economy.

Major lender, HBOS, lies in financial ruin, with the potential loss of thousands of jobs.

Today, it was also reported that another major lender, Bradford and Bingley, is closing its mortgage processing centre, to the tune of 370 job losses.

All this after the Northen Rock debacle, earlier this year.

The oil price surge has meant that utility companies in this country have increased their prices by 30%. Our personal food bill has risen by approximately 13% in the last three months, as supermarkets also increase their prices.

The state of the global economy is currently killing my book-reading buzz. I even opted to watch BBC World News the other day, over Smallville. WTF?

I can’t seem to help myself though. I’m worried that sooner or later, this crap is going to affect me more than it has already, and that’s a scary thought for me. I like my life, and I really don’t want it to change. I like buying shoes, bags, and books. I don’t want to have to tighten my belt. I don’t want to have to make the decision to buy three books rather than five, because of the cost. I don’t want to consider buying cheaper brand foods, because all the branded names have hiked up ridiculously in price.

I know these worries are nothing, and may be perceived as being quite shallow, in comparison to what other people may be currently going through, and truly I appreciate that, but I’m still fearful. I think it’s natural to worry about one’s self first isn’t it?

Looking at my business forecast for next year, I’m currently down by 23%, in comparison to the forecast the same time last year.

This means that I’m going to have to work harder. Like I don’t already. Sigh.

I know this blog has been littered with political talk of late, but it’s just hard to escape from the realities of what’s happeniing in our world right now.

TTG’s company has already taken steps to try to mitigate the effects of the crisis by making redundancies, luckily for us, his role is such that it would be foolhardy for his company to get rid of him. For the moment at least.

I can’t help but wonder how you guys are being affected? I hear the doom and gloom on the news, but what has changed in your household as a direct result of the current economic climate?

What are you worrying about?


  • I think it’s natural to worry about one’s self first isn’t it?

    Karen it’s totally natural to worry about one’s self. Who doesn’t?

    What are you worrying about?

    Right now I’m not so much worried as much as being cautious. I don’t think it will really take a toll on me since I don’t work ourside of the home.


  • Emmy
    September 26
    9:38 am

    Short term, the current economical mess means I’m paying more at the gas pump and the grocery store. Because my paycheck isn’t rising at the same percentage, the amount I’m able to spend on discretionary items is decreased. That directly affects local businesses, and I’ve seen quite a few fold lately.

    Many houses in my neighborhood are for sale, several by the banks, meaning foreclosure. Considering that the average price of a single family home here in Hawaii is $650k, most of the middle class are losing houses quick. The housing situation here is unique because it’s a little bitty island chain with limited land available for housing. While there is a 30% increase in houses on the market, the prices have only decreased by 10%.

    Long term…I’m not sure. My 401k has lost so much money that it’s more of a 201k at the moment, but I’ve got a good bit to go til retirement, so maybe by then things will be going better and my retirement fund will be where it needs to be. For people who were planning on retiring in the next year or so, that might have to be postponed.

    Nobody is indispensable, but I’ve been working for my company for 13 years, so I feel fairly secure there. It’s rare for my company to downsize, particularly in my career field.

    For me, I’m basically watching the news and hunkering down and waiting it out. Not much else to be done, besides voting for someone other than McCain.


  • It may seem shallow Karen, but eventually your priorities change. I was the same way. But I have had to make changes because of what the economy is doing. My wife suffers from migraines. She is constantly seeing doctors. My son, after he was born, had a rash of problems. Nothing serious, but because the doctors wanted to stay on top of things, he saw a lot of them. Due to this, rising costs of mortgages/rent, we ended up moving in with my mother-in-law. We hoped to be there only six months. It will be two years in October and we hope to move out by December. And that’s only if all goes well.

    Even with home prices dropping, they are way too expensive for the likes of me. In our area you see as many “For Rent” signs as you do “For Sale” signs. If you don’t have the capital as a landlord, you have to rent these day to afford anything. I want to so badly get out of this house and into our own place, even if just a two bedroom apartment. But like you said, the cost of everything goes up on a weekly basis. Buying food and the meds for my wife are most important to me. I gave up wanting to buy new books and CD’s. Hopefully in a few years I will be able to again.

    The funny thing is that we still feel in trouble, yet are much better off then most Americans. We have gotten rid of half of our “stupid” debt (credit card debt) during this time. My wife will soon be starting a new job. But things are still tight. We keep tightening our belt and find out that it’s not enough.


  • Dorothy Mantooth
    September 26
    10:26 am

    Karen, you’re perfectly justified in thinking of yourself first; as has been said, it’s human nature. Why wouldn’t you?

    Things aren’t really changing for us. We were poor before and we’re poor now.

    One thing I do wish, though (and this is not a comment about you or your post specifically) is that people would stop behaving as though this is the End Times. It’s a recession. Recessions are not good, no. But they also happen with some regularity, and they last a year or two, and we weather them, and things improve.

    I don’t mean to say we shouldn’t be concerned, at all. And I hope I don’t sound unsympathetic to those seriously affected, because I’m not at all. But I do wish the media would stop implying that any second now we’re all going to be out on the street with a tin cup full of pencils.


  • sallahdog
    September 26
    1:34 pm

    my husbands job place went through a round of lay offs recently. He isn’t in danger at the moment, but we don’t count on that.

    For my own business, I buy and rent out properties, for me, business has been good. For several years there, people were buying (even those who probably shouldn’t)… Now I have at least 3 tenants that used to own their homes, that now rent… For years landlords were having to cut their prices to keep their rentals full, now there isn’t that pressure to rent under market value..


  • queenbeetrainer
    September 26
    1:38 pm

    Our family is very fortunate, so I hesitate to complain. Even though my husband makes a very good salary, this year’s raise did not cover this year’s expense increases. For us, not only has the fuel and food costs risen, but utilities, medical expenses and some of the services we currently have. We invest not only in our 401k, but have a stock portfolio for college/retirement; we’re looking at that taking a major hit if this situation doesn’t get rectified. The bottom line is that if things keep going as they are I will either need to find a p/t job to maintain the status quo or cut some of the services we currently use (lawn guy for example), which then perpetuates the problem as small business owners are forced out of business.

    To a certain extent I agree with Dorothy; it’s a time to be concerned but we can’t just shut down. We haven’t sold off our stocks, pulled out our savings, or taken any drastic measures. It’s a time for caution and action, not panic, IMO.


  • Very good point Dorothy. The last recession I lived through was when living at home and having a great paying job. It didn’t effect me. Now, with a son, and medical costs, it does effect me. That is why it means more to me now. But what you said is in fact correct. Like the pounding the stock market had taken. I laugh at those getting worried that it is a sign of doom. I remind them that the DJIA is still over 10,000. It’s not crashing. Just correcting.

    I still try to find things to be happy about each day. No matter what the bottom line is saying. But a long term fix needs to happen. (And I know for a fact that things won’t change overnight.) We are not one of the unfortunates that lost our house due in this rash of foreclosures. I have a good paying job with a company that has more work then they know what to do with. We are still hiring people because we are growing. And as I said, my wife just got a job. But the fact that we can’t afford a house just pisses me off. Even WITHOUT our debt we couldn’t afford it. They went up too high too fast. Health insurance doesn’t cover enough of the costs to stay healthy. Why must people suffer either from their illness or from huge bills because of it? It’s just too much right now. Things need to be adjusted. The cost of living goes up every year. That’s just life. But things are going up too fast right now. They need to level off. I could accept that, knowing that the $3.40 I am paying for a gallon of gas now isn’t going to be $4.40 a month from now.


  • I’m terrified, frankly, but as of yet there hasn’t been much effect on our lives. My best friend and I live together. Of the effects, they’re mostly minor in physical, but great in mental and emotional.

    She has a wonderful job, but has only been there a year and a 1/2, so we both worry greatly about that. As such, even though she’s accrued a good deal of paid vacation time, she doesn’t use it, hoping to show the company she’s needed still. It’s scary.

    We eat out less, order delivery less. Groceries cost more and we find ourselves deciding against her vacation home to New England for Christmas. Little things and big things change, but overall we’re just fine at the moment.

    That’s the scary part. “At the moment” means nothing in an economy that’s teetering on complete ruin. It really scares me so badly I have a permanent knot in my stomach these days. 🙁

    I worry the three books I have releasing in the next six months won’t sell what I need them to. I worry that NY will put a freeze on purchasing new books and my goal to make it to the mainstream will be pushed back. I just worry constantly.


  • We have less play money and we’re cutting back on things we consider luxuries in order to maintain basics like childcare, clothing, utilities, gas (ugh!) and food. And I do mean BASIC clothing, too, not fun clothing, except for those Lego Star Wars Jedi costumes the whole family wants for Halloween :). I believe I’ll be buying beige curtains at Goodwill for fabric and getting out the sewing machine for those. No new toys, no new software, no new books (wah!) or music, no new dvds, no vacations, etc.


  • Well apart from me burying all my share certificates (including HBOS – I invested in banks as a reasonably safe bet, so what do I know?) at the back of the cupboard, relatively little so far. The shares will come around, and like a good little investor, I didn’t invest more than I could afford to lose. Pity everyone didn’t remember that. You hold a portfolio, with varying risk, for a reason. Even people with a mortgage and a savings account have a portfolio.
    It happens. But just as we bet on the good times by letting house prices inflate, smugly sitting on our bricks and mortar nest eggs, by buying ephemera, by enjoying ourselves (it’s a sin! lol) we should have known it would come around.
    I think this started, not because of the sub-prime and all that stuff, but it’s the boy with his finger in the dyke. Someone realised how idiotic it was to lend ten times an income on no collateral and that house prices can’t just keep going up, and they pulled their finger out.
    And a bit of behind the scenes jiggery-pokery. This whole crisis started, I believe, about three years ago when, instead of adjusting the base rates, the financial institutions decided to twiddle a bit, and the twiddling got a bit overloaded.
    Or, to put it another way, the risky investments finally overbalanced the equation. The money under your mattress all went on bets. You bet (or rather, I did) that the shares in HBOS would take a pleasurable hike, and so did a lot of other people, too many for the system to sustain, and the underlying risks (ie that house prices would continue to rise and oil prices would be fixed at a reasonable rate) became undermined.
    Most of our economy is based on oil prices. If you look at what was happening around the world, and is, that is increasingly dicey and until we make the move to nuclear power, which will happen in a few years’ time, we have this.
    And so why didn’t I see this? Sadly, I did, but I was a day late. I intended to sell my shares on a Wednesday, as big financial decisions are usually made on Thursdays, but they pre-empted me and we had a Tuesday. So I have no other choice but to hang on and hope.


  • What are you worrying about?

    Everything…and then I feel bad when I complain because I know it could be much worse.

    If necessary, I can go back to work part time. Nurses are always in demand so if necessary, I’ll start picking up some hours and we’ll be okay.


  • Dawn
    September 26
    2:48 pm

    So far we’ve been lucky here in the UK. My husband and I both have good jobs. The cost of food has risen sharply over the past few months so that I’ve changed from my favourite supermarket to a cheaper one. Gas and electricity has also gone up considerably. We’re paying around £4.24 per gallon for petrol (that’s just under $8 a gallon) and that’s quite cheap now (down from $9 per gallon). We can still afford our daughter’s dance classes (that’s probably my true barometer). I really hope that it doesn’t get to the stage where we have to make serious economies.

    It seems to me that things are tougher in the States than the UK, but I sympathise with anyone who’s really feeling the pinch.


  • Well, in my case, my bank died–we watched the news to see if that wee overdraft we had going was no longer a concern, lol. We’re check to check people at the moment, so those increases in food and gas are nearly crippling to us. Throw in medical for an autistic boy and twin babies needing immunizations every few months… The world is getting pricier every day. Hubby’s in the art field and I’m a writer. Creative jobs are like music programs in school—when it’s time to tighten the belt, that’s where people cut stuff off. It’s a scary time. If I could count properly, I’d think I should have gone into accounting.

    Basically, our thinking is that we’ll work and deal, work and deal, work and deal, doing our best to ride it out. And if the jobs dry up, and the food goes away, we’ll do whatever we have to to keep the kids fed and housed.

    Like I said, scary times.


  • I’ve been worrying for almost a year now. My husband lost his job three weeks before Christmas 2007. He didn’t find a new job until March and it meant we had to leave our nice small town to move to the bourgeoisie over-priced hellhole known as Atlanta. He had to take a pay cut and I haven’t been able to find a job at all. I’m going back to school in the spring because social service jobs are almost impossible to get these days. I’m going into the medical field. Scary concept given that I’m already 44 years old with advanced degrees (and advanced student loans).

    The cost of food and gas means we really don’t do anything for entertainment. Everything here is so expensive: Trip to the zoo is $50. The Children’s Museum is $30. The Aquarium is almost $100. So, I’m stuck here all day with a four-year old with few, if any entertainment options.

    In other ways we were blessed. Given the economy, my husband found new job fairly quickly. We were able to sell our old house in three days, and find a new house in a week. Despite having to buy a much more expensive house we had tons of equity so our payment is roughly the same, though we have a 30 now instead of the 15 we previously had.

    I don’t buy books anymore unless it’s absolutely crucial. Haven’t bought any new clothes for myself in years. I keep hoping to find a job soon, but it’s looking pretty bleak.


  • My spouse was laid off last week from his tech job with a major corporation. Thankfully, the severance package keeps him on the payroll the next two months, so we’re okay “for now”. But the concern is whether he finds another job sooner than later, what with many corporations instituting hiring freezes. As for the “bread and egg” money my royalties bring in, I’m hoping readers will continue to look to books as a means of escape in these trying times.


  • Kimberly Anne
    September 26
    4:40 pm

    My husband and I are doing okay, but we are noticing the jump in all our bills. Our retirement fund is not a pretty sight, but we’ve got a long while until that becomes a serious issue. I realize how lucky we are, and don’t feel right complaining about minor inconveniences when it could be so much worse. But yeah, it pisses me off to scale back my spending.

    What I’m worried about is my family. My brother has three kids and can’t afford a single misstep. My parents don’t know if they can afford to run the heater this winter, and we live in the frozen North, land of lake effect snow. My mother-in-law is canning and preserving like crazy in hopes of cutting her food bill this winter. It’s so scary.


  • Mireya
    September 26
    5:25 pm

    At the moment, we’ve noticed the increase in gas bills and groceries. I don’t drive to work, but there are already talks about an increase in the train fares (I currently pay $203 for a monthly ticket, plus about $70 in subway monthly fares). We have reduced a bit what we spend in “entertainment” and I have substantially reduced the amount of money I spend on books (I used to spend upwards of $200 a month). Even though we don’t have children, NY is not exactly the cheapest place to live. We don’t own our own home (we were waiting until we actually had the means… so that means we will have to wait a bit more). I am not really concerned about my job, though my husband’s is a different story… but it doesn’t make me lose sleep.

    What do I worry about? About the high potential this country has of four more years of the same. Just yesterday, as I was watching the news and saw a certain vice presidential candidate answer four questions from the media at Ground Zero, all that was crossing through my mind was “OMG… she’s Bush with skirts!”

    That thought is what is depressing me.


  • I worry about the prices rising and how we can make ends meet. Food is higher, gas is higher. Here in GA many gas stations don’t have gas to sell. If they do, there is a limit on how much you can get. It has been like this since just before Ike.

    I have looked to options on how to live. I think many people are staying home more not to spend so much on gas. Rent movies instead of going to the theater. My book buying has changed. I buy online instead of going to BAM which is 40 minutes away, or I join the Harlequin Reader Service to get my favorite lines delivered automatically. I used to belong to 2 lines, but I canceled one. I don’t really buy many ebooks anymore. They are as expensive as paperbacks these days.

    And not as much eating out is going on these days–much to the disappointment of my kids who love McDonalds toys.


  • Well, I’ve been living on a shoestring for years, it’s just getting a tad more frayed.

    Which means: there’s not much more I can cut from my budget, so I *am* losing sleep. Yes, it’s cyclical; yes, it’s not the end of the world. But it will be hell to live through for a goodly chunk of the world’s population, many of whom are already having a hellish time.

    (still having a bad day)


  • I honestly haven’t noticed much of a difference in my own household. My husband and I don’t have any new debt (we’re just paying off old debt), we own an inexpensive house with a low mortgage payment, we have no children, and we were already careful with our money. We only have one vehicle (he drives a company vehicle with company gas) and we only fill it up once a week, so the gas prices haven’t been such a big deal.

    We were already living paycheck to paycheck as it was, and have been slowly trying to recover from an 24-month-long financial disaster that started in early 2005 and started improving in early 2007. Economic crisis or not, we’re certainly doing better now than we were during that dark period.

    The only cutback we’ve made has been to give ourselves a dinner budget for weeknights, and we’ve stopped driving to fancy far-away restaurants on weekends in favor of eating locally. The money we save by eating at home and at inexpensive nearby restaurants pretty much makes up for the increase in gas prices and groceries.

    I guess in our case there was some advantage to already being broke.

    The problem with panic over the economy is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people hear that the economy is in trouble, they quit spending, which causes the economy to sag even more.

    The last 10-15 years has been a period of extreme excess, bad decisions, and frivolous spending worldwide. The system just has to correct itself now. It’s a natural cycle which, unfortunately, is made exponentially worse by hysteria.


  • MB (Leah)
    September 26
    8:34 pm

    I feel lucky in that my husband and I are going OK. We don’t have debt except for the mortgage. But we’ve been paying triple the monthly mortgage bill and are two years ahead, so God forbid something happens at least we don’t have to worry about that. And we have really good medical insurance through DH’s company, which is a huge blessing.

    We both have pretty good paying jobs with no fears at the moment of getting laid off, although in my work my salary can fluctuate. We did take a huge hit on the 401K, but that’s happened before and I’m sure it will bounce back before we do retire.

    We manage because we aren’t extravagant people. We don’t spend hardly anything on entertainment. I buy books. DH eats out a lot and I get a latte several days a week, but that’s the extent of non-essential expenditures. We don’t spend any money that we don’t have. And we bought an Insight hybrid car back in 2003 for DH’s commuting which has saved us a lot in gas money.

    We are already living at the base, although if needed, I’m sure we could cut the cable bill down to very basic, get rid of the land phone line, and I could stop buying organic foods, which are really important to me. But we aren’t at that point yet.

    I’ve lived through very lean times in my life and I know I can live off of nothing if needed and it’ll be fine. So while I do worry a bit about the current situation, I can’t complain.

    I more worry about how people are going to eat and have a roof over their heads, especially families with kids. People who are already working hard and it’s just not covering it.


  • Dorothy Mantooth
    September 26
    9:33 pm

    The problem with panic over the economy is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If people hear that the economy is in trouble, they quit spending, which causes the economy to sag even more.

    Exactly, JenB.


  • Sam
    September 26
    10:32 pm

    Our family is still doing o.k. too. We live quite a few miles from town, so we’ve cut down to once every couple of weeks errand runs. We’ve also recently paid off a car loan and almost paid off a 401k loan (just another month or so). We’ll only have a mortgage after that. We may have to use the $$ that used to go to the loans for food/gas instead of college funds and paying down the mortgage.

    If it gets too terrible I’ll have to cut down on books and the gym (my two luxuries).



  • My husband is 62 and was looking forward to retirement. Guess that won’t happen right now. Perhaps next year. Or perhaps when I turn 62 in three years. We have no debt and don’t own a house. Only one car. Probably the biggest expense at the moment is groceries. I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and it’s important that I eat the correct foods. We are very fortunate that we no longer use credit cards. The bit of money I make on my books goes to help my kids survive. My daughter lives in NY–upstate. Last winter her heating bills were $1400 every two months.


  • nat
    September 27
    6:27 am

    We’re closing our family business next week after five years. Here’s the kicker: it’s a DOLLAR store. Theoretically, you’d think a discount store would be the only ones to survive a recession, but no. We haven’t even been able to make rent for six months. Our savings are depleted. And when we close, three other people will be out a job, not to mention the ripple effect that will go through all of our vendors/distributors, etc. etc. We tried our best to hold on til christmas, but when you can’t make enough to keep the power on, what’s the point? Color me bitter.


  • Persephone Green
    September 27
    8:47 am

    For the first time in a decade, management is cutting 15% of the jobs at my father’s white-collar company. 40 out of 250 are going to lose their jobs because the ship is already tightly run and there’s just nowhere else to cut corners.

    2001 was a recession. This is worse. A lot worse.


  • It’s been very bad. I used to put on two new roofs a week, maybe with a few weeks off here and there. This year…I’ve put on only SIX new roofs. SIX.

    I have been saving my money the last couple of years and am living off it. There isn’t much left. So…maybe a third job, besides writing and roofing. The job title have to sound like “WR” so it goes with my blog name, roofer-writer. Just kidding. 😉


  • sallahdog
    September 27
    3:54 pm

    It’s been very bad. I used to put on two new roofs a week, maybe with a few weeks off here and there. This year…I’ve put on only SIX new roofs. SIX

    Wow, you need to come to my neck of the woods. I moved into my house two years ago and we promptly had a hail storm that ruined my wood roof (yeah, hated that roof), This spring we had another horrible hail storm and about half the roofs just done 2 years ago had to be done again (not mine, I guess bumping up to a 50 year roof was a good thing)..

    The roofers haven’t been too hungry here in Kansas city this year… Of course once this hail damage is done, it may be a different story… at least until the next hail storm… which in kansas, seems to be inevitable..


  • Same here, Sallahdog. We’ve had so much hail this year that pretty every house in my neighborhood has a new roof now. We still need to get a roofing company out to inspect ours so we can get the ball rolling with State Farm.

    Gennita, if you guys do any work in Metro Atlanta, we’d love to get an estimate from you. Seriously!


  • Ebony
    September 27
    10:53 pm

    The economic crisis hit middle income America several years ago. It’s just now making its way where it’s affecting the rich folks.

    Technology companies started laying off folks and then rehiring folks paying them less and I know some folks still out of work or with college degrees working at McDonalds just to keep a roof over their heads–well actually some have either had their houses foreclosed on or had to sell at a low price and move into rentals.


  • joanne
    September 27
    11:30 pm

    My employer has cut staff by about 50% over the last year through early retirement packages and layoffs. I work for a newspaper, so we’re hit with the double-whammy of the decline of print media and the bad economy. Our parent company is family-owned and very diversified and I wonder how much longer the owners will hang on to the least profitable piece of their empire. My fellow employees and I are always waiting for that second shoe to drop.

    My father grew up dirt-poor during the Great Depression and my daughters were very close to him before he died last year. He always regaled us with tales of growing up in poverty. My younger daughter, who is in college, is very worried. She has asked me if our life will be like Grandpa’s.

    I’m a divorced single mother of 2 college kids. I do not and never have made a very good living, but we get by. I told my daughter that, since things are much different than they were when my father was a boy, it wouldn’t get that bad. I also told her that it would probably be easier for us, at least psychologically, than for some people because we are used to doing without. We’ve always lived close to the bone. I think, in a way, it would be much harder for those who are used to having disposable income than it would be for those of us who are used to watching our pennies. Then again, we have no cushion to soften the blow should the axe fall.


  • Lynne and Sallahdog, It has crossed my mind to move to Texas and Atlanta ;-). The idea of uprooting (I have a ton of stuff) with six dogs scares the heck out of me, though, because I just know it’s going to be one loooong journey. Also, it took me such a long time to get where I am, to be recognized by the community as a roofer–how many companies in Texas is going to give me that chance?

    Reading everyone’s comments makes me sad. I wish everyone the best and hope their situations improve.


  • shirley
    September 28
    8:56 pm

    I am worrying about all the same things you are, Karen, and then some. I’m worried about my children and grandchildren. Yes, my kids have good paying jobs, they have college educations, but one of them has a job in the financial sector, and when I talk to him, he sounds sick.

    My own monthly expenses, food and gasoline, utilities, have gone up more than twenty five percent in the last eight weeks. Thank god I’m not on a ton of medicines, so I ‘save’ some money that way, but all ready I’ve had to cancel a trip to see my youngest grandkids over Halloween. I’m just not going to be able to afford the fuel costs of a thousand mile trip. And flying is even less a possibility.

    I’ve been trying to find somewhere, some place, where I can cry, so to speak, over the fears and worries I have, but it seems everywhere I turn either no one is taking it seriously or the people are in worse straits than I am (and I don’t think I’ve hit the skids, so to speak, but if things keep going, it might not be far off). Even with all this bad piling up, I still can’t fathom this damn bailout. Another depression would be horrific, but in the end things would hopefully right themselves and I think the US would be better for it. Still having that optimism doesn’t settle my stomach one bit. It’s going to be hell, I feel it in my bones.


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