Friday, April 24, 2009

Recession: Personal Effects

I was going to write an upbeat post, given that it's Friday, and it looks like it's going to be gorgeous today and through the weekend. There's a lot to look forward to.

But, underlying much optimism is the knowledge that for many people, the world is not looking bright and sunny. I've been reading NPR's Planet Money for several months now as a way of keeping up with what's going on in the economy (in a way that makes sense but doesn't shy away from complexity). A couple of days ago, they posted about the suicide of David Kellerman, CFO of Freddie Mac, and the familicide in Maryland that many now think was linked to mounting debt and financial problems. On my way back from a doctor's appointment yesterday, I listened to a story about these familicides, which are up in the last few months and are almost always up during an economic downturn. Many problems don't reach the level of familicide, and instead financial woes lead to increased incidents of spousal and child abuse.

As I drive around town, I've seen stores shuttered or giant going out of business signs. I've had the experience of going to a store to buy something only to find it out of business, as Anjali wrote about on her own blog. People I know at the college have been laid off. My stepfather was laid off. Parents of kids at my kids' schools have been laid off. I regularly receive email from the college about budget meetings, budget cuts, etc. I feel a huge amount of sympathy for these people. I feel a sense of survivor syndrome given that I quit my own job and we can afford for that to happen. And yet I worry that, at 41, if I needed to get another job, I couldn't. All that doom and gloom and conflicted feelings can be debilitating.

I think that's what's behind some of my blah. Yesterday, I got the letter officially terminating my part-time teaching gig. I, of course, had not expected to continue, so it wasn't like this was necessary. The point of the letter was to make sure I returned my library books and gave up my office and its equipment, etc. Next week is the last week of classes. On the one hand, I've enjoyed teaching this class. I've learned a great deal about myself, about my teaching, and about the subject matter of the course. On the other hand, I'm looking forward to having more time to build my business and to explore other kinds of work. The bad economic situation makes me feel uneasy about that. It makes me think, maybe I should pursue another part-time teaching job just so we have some extra steady income. And then I think, but it takes time to do freelance consulting work and teaching would take away from it. And then I think, but the teaching is related to the consulting work. It's a vicious circle.

The reality is that time will take care of some of these worries one way or another. Either we'll discover we need for me to work or we don't. Either the business will take off or it won't. And then we can make decisions. I'm borrowing trouble, so to speak. And despite some financial worries on my part, I think it's important for me not to have a regular gig for a while. In the weeks just before classes began, I was humming along. Things were good. I need to remember that instead of looking at the worst case scenario.

*someone in my blog world was writing about this the other day and now I can't find it-gah!