So was I. Check out my latest piece at Drink Me Magazine.com
It's tax time. My accountant is sending loving, nudging reminders that if I'm issuing any 1099's I better do it like yesterday for her.
Seems like a straightforward kind of year, we all lost in 2009.
My friends got laid off. My friends' parents got laid off. Lost houses. Gave away their cars, back to the banks who financed them, then jacked up their interest rates to the maximum legal amounts before Congressional limits hit in February, all after their allotted 32-day period in which they could make a late payment. Credit limits rose to 26% interest all over the country. Food banks had heavy traffic with more than one in four children not having access to enough to eat. And hell, even the Real Housewives of Orange County became concerned about "downsizing" their excess (all while still making critical investments like breast augmentations and rhinoplastic corrections).
For those of us here in San Francisco, it was a tight, scary time. Shifting bill pay priorities. Hitting minimums instead of payments. Small businesses folded all over town. The restaurant industry became a mirror of "Who's In—Who's Out." Auto dealerships shuttered. People purchased at small price points, Target gifts won; luxury items struggled through the holidays with their upper-middle aspirational buyers. We suddenly, very quietly, all wondered whether or not we were upper-middle anymore? And, this is in my booming coastal metropolis.
My loved ones in Michigan meanwhile, march on through their "Single-State Depression." An area with over 10 years of constant, bitter barrage.
I remember the beginning stretch of fiscal fear. Halloween 1999 in Kalamazoo, MI, my bestie Jon dressed in an all-too-true role for he and many of my other labor industry friends as "Pink Slipped." All it took was a bit of black smudge under the eyes, a pink slip in a coat pocket and a flask. Everyone knew what he was at every party we hopped on to. Folks chuckled; it made them a bit uneasy. We knew it was the beginning of more than just the 1-75 corridor of autoworker lay-offs hitting home.
For most of us, we're sitting on less-than-sexy credit scores. Life-long boomers are now forced to examine the thriftiness of their parents' generation, considering the smart lessons of the depression-era survivors. Congress will have to examine how to restructure credit, all while the rest of the country can't gain access to that "buy now, pay later" washer and dryer, cell phone, or God forbid, mortgage payment.
This year of obnoxious recessionista parties has almost been made absurd by trending the "coolness" of chickens in your backyard, or the hip role of potlucks with your crew. Really, let's call it what it is. We're broke. We're overdue for being broke. The United States has lived popularly at a teenage consumptive pace for the last 60 years, at least. Let's just claim broke, my friends.
And then, when your mother calls, seeking resume assistance put that fancy (or in my case, mid-level-fancy) college degree to work and help her define her kick-ass skill sets. Time management, hell yes. She raised six kids, hosted PTA meetings, worked full-time, knew all the coupon special-days at Arby's, and still figured out when the kids were lying and ought to be grounded. Budgeting. Absolutely. Try paying for a prom dress, hockey equipment, new (used) guitar, violin, golf clubs, and summer camp on a paycheck-to-paycheck existence. Conflict mediator: again, six kids, one bathroom, four teenagers. 'Nuff said. List those job certifications she's long forgotten. List those volunteer commitments that really just seemed obligatory. Try to quantify 20 years of loyalty to any given company without sharing what shitbags they were during the termination process. Above all else, remind her how much more she is worth than her hourly rate.
Before high tide
Ice plant on the way to the beach
The tide telling us to head back up to higher ground
Coyote up close & on the hunt for stray tortilla chips
San Francisco, the land of the Power to the Peaceful fest and the Love Parade, still possesses the remains of what America once was on its coasts. A public reminder, Fort Funston is probably my pooch's favorite sniffing and digging doggie hangout. It's totally breathtakingly beautiful, but also gives me the heebie-jeebies the same way that when I'm sitting at a VFW hall with my dad and his buddies, shooting the breeze with him about Vietnam or with other old timers about the Korean War, I really understand how my generation has grown up without a sense of how this country used to operate with its physical reminders of war. I remember fall-out shelter signs in my church basement; a clear memory of WWII that later just turned into the place my class would go to during a tornado drill. Now though, with St. Leo's a long gone landmark, very few places in this country remind me of the wars of the past (or even that we're currently at war).
On Fort Funston's 1.5 miles of gorgeous trail, you really get a sense that you are standing between two old gun batteries. A remnant of fears about protecting our coast after WWI, Fort Funston was built as a prototype for the Nation's borders. It was the example that the rest of the country was aiming to follow by its completion in 1939. By 1951, with the development of the Nike Missile, Fort Funston became one of the now defunct missile sites in a ring around the Bay Area.
It's funny, when you're walking around, carrying a eco-friendly bag of dog poop in one hand, and a large latte from Peet's in the other, it seems so strange to think that this now puppy packed park was once a site of military preparation.
This morning, this little guy landed on my windowsill, a nice omen with pollen-packed legs for a prosperous 2010.