12.29.2008

2008: A year to remember, for mostly bad reasons

On September 11, 2008, I was in New York with my boss, we walked past the Lehman Brothers building on our way to a meeting, and I said, "There's a run on that bank, not a run exactly, but they are teetering on the brink..." -- my boss does not follow finance news as closely as I do, Lehman filed for bankruptcy four days later.

2008 is almost over, for myself (and many others, perhaps) the New Year can't begin soon enough. In 2008 many old certainties crumbled and assumptions once held true were exposed as cruel falsehoods, what once appeared solid, predictable and 'bankable' turned out out to be as ephemeral as melting snow.


All things must pass (Melting Snow) from JG on Vimeo.

Could this clip be a metaphor for?:
  • My long term job prospects
  • The value of my 401k
  • Opportunities in Vermont -- ugly news & rumors swirl of forthcoming layoffs at the state's largest employers, including the state government itself (except for PR flacks serving the governor)
In many ways I have lived a very contrarian economic life: I don't buy things on credit, mostly dislike spending money, and have a deeply ingrained 'the glass is half-empty' perspective on things. As can be imagined, I am not the most fun person to be around, and my lifelong aversion to purchasing new cars with credit may have contributed in a small way to the demise of the Big 3 automakers. But now that the days of reckoning have arrived, it seems that present and future realities are beyond even my gloomiest imaginings, and steps that I took to try and hedge against this situation were not nearly enough.

I can't see what 2009 will bring, but one consequence of the present situation and uncertainty (the one certainty being, that there are few 'conventional' opportunities available) is that I find myself living with a permanent state of queasiness, almost akin to nausea, and that sometimes the very act of unlocking the door to my small and not extravagant condominium (with its mortgage) sometimes sets off a fear reaction in my nervous system, an unpleasant prickly sensation. It's not the most pleasant way to live.

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