Despite what has occurred in 2009, I celebrate the new year with a mix of relief, for having survived a tough year, and optimism, because next year surely cannot be any worse.
By Keanin Loomis
Published December 29, 2009
As we come to the end of the year, my family and I have only one thing to say: "Good riddance, 2009."
I am certainly not alone in stating this, but this year has not been a particularly good one for me and my family. However, as we celebrate the holiday season and assess the year that has passed, we may stand bloodied and bruised, but are intact, stronger and smarter.
Thus, I am proud to announce that in the battle of Loomis Family v. 2009, we have overwhelmingly emerged the victors.
Though it seems so long ago, if you can remember the feeling you had in your stomach this time last year, 2009 started off forebodingly with the near collapse of civilization having been possibly (or probably?) only narrowly avoided.
Bear Stearns no longer existed, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and AIG required a sickening bailout. In my profession, a few US law firms, often seen as immune from economic pain, had already dissolved and some had laid off employees.
The only source of optimism at that time was President-Elect Barack Obama's Train Called Hope that roared into Washington, DC. It was a great time to be living in the capital and I was fortunate to be at the Canadian Embassy's inauguration bash, which, being on the Pennsylvania Avenue parade route, was located among the throngs of people breathing the crisp, fresh air.
That day, I experienced a tremendous mixture of ebullience and catharsis (though admittedly not very classy, I flipped the bird to W as he flew overhead on Marine One on his way back to his stage set of a ranch). Though the optimism in Washington, DC has since been extinguished in an exhausting political year, the inauguration would have been the highlight of 2009 if it had not been for the birth of our little girl on Valentine's Day.
Things went quickly downhill from there. After the months of gloom hovering over the powerhouse American law firms, and after repeatedly being told that everything would be done to save our jobs, the partners at my law firm determined in late February that, to save their $1+ million salaries, they had to let attorneys go.
Without regard to how such a decision actually affected loyal employees and their families or what it would do to the morale of my remaining colleagues, the firm big-wigs were forced into action upon finding it a little more difficult to afford the mansion and the beach house.
The layoff itself didn't sting so much. Since becoming a father, I have cared more about my family than fortune, so I had long ago determined that I was on the wrong career path. As well, the release was partially on my own terms, so I felt a tremendous amount of relief and excitement upon receiving the much-needed push to find a more rewarding and suitable career path.
To make everyone, but especially themselves, feel better about their ruthlessness, management at my old firm promised extensive effort to help me land on my feet. However, upon being cast into the worst job market since the Great Depression, I quickly came to realize that no matter what I did, it would be a formidable challenge to reinvent myself in such an environment.
Those law firm offers to access contact networks and stake reputations to help me find a new job eventually proved to be hollow, and I receded from their collective memories with impressive rapidity. Out of sight, out of mind.
The shrewdest thing we did was immediately begin the process of selling our home after the layoff. Even though we loved our piece of the American Dream and the community in which we lived, the mortgage fiasco was greatly affecting us (yes, it happened to relatively intelligent people too).
With no job, few prospects and a yearning to take a risk, our home was going to be an albatross for years to come. Wells Fargo became our Villain of 2009 by putting us through an unnecessary emotional ringer that finally concluded seven exhausting months later.
Evidence supporting my case having thus far been difficult to come by, I have had trouble convincing my wife that losing my job was for the best. After spending practically the whole year aggressively searching for gainful employment, I find myself starting 2010 in a new country and city long after the severance pay has expired.
But despite what has occurred in 2009, I celebrate the new year with a mix of relief, for having survived a tough year, and optimism, because next year surely cannot be any worse.
Now I only have one question: Is Hamilton the type of city in which one can fulfill dreams?
For now, rather than ponder the future, this is the season to celebrate all that is good in our lives.
I wish to give thanks to my beautiful wife for supporting me under difficult circumstances and for preventing our family from becoming unglued. I promise that we will look back on 2009 and recall it fondly as the year our marriage was tested, but strengthened.
This is also the time of year when we are innundated with "Best of the Year" lists. My Heroes for 2009 are my in-laws, who allowed us to move into their basement as we regain our footing. Thus far, it has gone as smoothly as anyone could imagine in no small part due to their incredible generosity, patience and understanding. Thank you.
For me and my family, this year "Happy New Year" is loaded with meaning. I wish everyone a prosperous 2010.
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