Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Last night before bed I logged in to my Sharebuilder account. I've put money into this account half-heartedly, a little at a time, over the past three years, choosing stocks randomly or because I liked their names--Clean Fuel Technologies and so on. The only one that has done anything is Abbott Labs which I chose because I began browsing at "A" and was already bored by the time I reached the "Ab's." I have never had much over a thousand in the account altogether, and the last time I looked, several months ago, there was about $900. Last night, the total read $564, which means that my stock has lost about 40 percent of its total value. I'm not too broken up over it; I had no plans for the money--wasn't counting on it. But it's still mind-boggling. I cannot conceive how horrified people with 401K and other retirement plans must be these days. We are being spanked by the invisible hand.

Like many if not most children, there were periods of time when I was a child that I stayed with a babysitter during the day. These were mothers themselves who took in a number of small children and kept an eye on them for however many hours each day. As I recall, my babysitters were decent people who fed their charges healthy meals and kept them happy and entertained. I had one babysitter who shared my first and middle name. In addition to the name, I remember nothing about her person but her fingernails, which were a high-gloss, fire-engine red. While I cannot bring her face into mind's view, I have distinct memories of her fingernails tapping down rapidly one after another, again and again, on various hard surfaces: a kitchen counter, the metal lip of the kitchen sink, a coffee table in a TV room. With this image comes Helen Reddy singing, "I am Woman," although I can't be certain that the fingernails and the song actually ever met. Possibly "Reddy" and the red nails occupy the same space in my long-term memory.

This particular babysitter had her parents living with her. The older man and woman must have been occupied elsewhere during the day, since we never saw much of them. Or they may have avoided children. I remember the grandfather in particular, because one day when it rained and we were denied the yard, some of the children, including me, wandered down into the unfinished basement. I recall finding what appeared to me to be a very old man with a beard, sitting on a stool in a corner, painting a picture. Somehow, my memory has run the image together with the story of Rumpelstiltskin--maybe, the grandfather told me the story, or maybe he was painting a scene from the story. Or, maybe, my five-year-old mind combined the parts, adapted the scene: a princess (me? the grandfather?) in a dungeon creating something of beauty and value. The man had a long beard as I recall, like Rumplestiltskin's beard, or like the straw--or like Rapunzel's hair, whatever she has to do with it.

During that year or some other, after the grandmother smacked my little brother on the butt with a wooden spoon, we left that babysitter for another.

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