Friday, March 20, 2009

We're fated to pretend

The first time I got a New York Times news alert in my e-mail warning of the $160 billion in bonuses AIG would be giving its employees as "retention payment," I shuddered. Over the course of this week, my shuddering has turned to ire. This is one issue that has really gotten my goat, probably because it directly affects me as a taxpayer. When my hard-earned dollars are going to pay someone's million-dollar "bonus" that they probably didn't even deserve in the first place, I get angry.

I don't even know the ins and outs of the entire situation, but hearing that is bound to make any honest, taxpaying citizen at least a little sick to his or her stomach, isn't it? A Washington Post column by Steven Pearlstein today put it an interesting way: Let's stop blaming everyone else around us for this AIG mess and start putting some of the blame on ourselves. After all, it was we who fell for the lures of easy and cheap credit put forth by these schemers. Pearlstein does this explanation better, perhaps, than I give it credit:
"A final point on outrage: We need to save some of it for ourselves. While it was Wall Street that got rich by peddling new ways for Americans to live beyond their means, the decision to do so was ours. It was we who ran up the credit card bills, we who drew down the equity in our homes and we who refused to tax ourselves for the government services we demanded. Wall Street bankers may have been the pushers, but it was we Americans who became addicted to the easy credit." - "Let's Put Down the Pitchforks" by Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post, 3/20/09
I just hope I can get anything back from my taxes this year ...

Darren's job search continues. It was his last day today. He only stayed for a half day. He and others who were laid off were given a lunch at British Beer Works, and then he played a final "Call of Duty" game with his buddies before leaving. The guy from the cube next to his got kind of choked up and hoped they would hang out later. We may all go bike-riding together sometime!

Neel called Darren today and wanted to hang out sometime this weekend. We haven't seen him since last fall, when he and his now-ex-girlfriend drove up from Worcester to meet us in Natick for some Minado and hanging out at the Natick Collection mall. It'd be cool if we could see my dear old Providence roommate/Darren's former coworker again. If only it weren't too cold yet for kayaking!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Be calm. Be brave. It'll be OK

The misery-inducing economic times we live in have hit Darren and me in a way we didn't expect. Last week, Darren found out he was being laid off from his job, which provides the vast majority of our household income. The company had been announcing waves of layoffs for months now, but he seemed pretty confident his department would survive. Unfortunately, he was wrong, as several other people in similar jobs as his were also let go. Our spirits have been affected greatly by this loss, but as Darren's job search gets under way, we retool and refine his resume and he prepares for interviews and schmoozing with potential employers, we get more wrapped up in the potential the future holds for a new job and new opportunities.

The strange thing is that as this company is laying off people right and left -- both at the main office and branch locations -- it is also hiring in areas very similar to Darren's former department. He's networked his way to the hiring manager for those positions, and a group of hirers (including this person) are meeting today to decide on who they want to interview. What once was a rosy outlook, though, has turned gray. Other opportunities have presented themselves as well, so I'm hoping he'll find another job before his 13-week severance runs out. There's a good chance that could happen. We're hoping for the best with fingers crossed.

And sunshine has come to New England! The temperatures have improved only slightly, but it feels nice now that my cabin fever has broken and I'm ready for spring. Last weekend was warm and sunny enough that Darren and I went for a bike ride in the forest near our townhouse. The paved trails were still covered in slush in spots, but it was still enjoyable. Darren tried out the Trek bike we found on the side of the road and fixed up at Adi's Bike World, and it ran wonderfully. The day after that, we walked to Dedham Square and back, about two miles total. Any day now, the temperatures should rise and spring will be in full swing. It's a refreshing, invigorating feeling.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Have you forgotten ... ?

I can't help it; the nostalgia from this Red House Painters song is really affecting me right now ...
I can't let you be
'Cause your beauty won't allow me.
Wrapped in white sheets
like an angel from a bedtime story.
Shut out what they say,
'Cause your friends are fucked-up anyway.
And when they come around,
sometimes you feel up then you feel down.

When we were kids,
We hated things our parents did.
We listened low
to Casey Kasem's radio show.
That's when friends were nice;
to think of them still makes you feel nice.
The smell of grass in spring,
and October leaves cover everything.

Have you forgotten how to love yourself?

I can't believe
all the good things that you do to me.
Sat back in a chair
like a princess from a faraway place.
Nobody's nice;
when you're older, your heart turns to ice.
And shut out what they say;
they're too dumb to mean it anyway.

When we were kids,
we hated things our sisters did.
Backyard summer pools
and Christmases were beautiful.
And the sentiment
of colored-mirror ornaments
and the open drapes
look out on frozen farmhouse landscapes.

Have you forgotten how to love yourself?

- Red House Painters, "Have You Forgotten"

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