So, now that I'm managing editor of SacramentoPress.com, and have a number of writing outlets, and the much-desired "multiple income streams," I may go a bit more personal with the blog. That's what they are, right? (And for you tired of my Hamlet routine regarding content, well...you're not reading anymore anyway...)
This has been SUCH an intense year, macro and micro, and not just for me. Christmas Even has me thinking about how it's affected me, and everyone around me.
For me, navigating the currents of no regular job has been a remarkable series of lessons, and I'm glad I'm learning them, though I'm not such a fan of the process. And I'm one of the lucky ones. I've got time and money to be able to sit at my favorite coffee place and drink and surf and chat and yes, write. My confusion about what to write notwithstanding, I'm a writer, always have been, always will be. And that in itself is a blessing beyond measure. Really. I never, ever forget how lucky I am. (And that's not even counting a great family, friends who ARE family, and a soulmate who gets me even when I don't, and who is a model of calm and groundedness.)
But no steady income - or not ONE steady income - has been a frightening thing at times, and the temptation to find a port in the storm is exceptionally appealing. But at the same time, I find myself resisting what I once thought I couldn't live without: Security. I've gotten THIS far, who's to say I can't go further? I've already been through the fire - now it's just a matter of continuing to dance well on the coals.
Still, security beckons. But that's another story...
I'm thinking beyond myself right now. I just visited a local merchant, an old favorite, and she intoned, at some point, in words to the effect of, "You know, it's all going down next year. Total collapse." Coming just hours after I posted a comment on McClatchy's stock price dipping below a dollar (down from $70 four years ago) on SacramentoPress.com, a few days after I wrote a piece for Bloomberg News about the lawsuits flying between state workers unions and the Governor, The Bee on the table in front of me warning of funding cuts for this and that, my friends' comment was jarring.
Sure, it comes through her prism of the ongoing struggle of any small business, but this is a notion I'm familiar with from the past year, and probably longer: It could all just fall apart. And I've got no real protection, everything could be taken away just like that. And then I'm just...done.
Done? What does that mean? For a generation that grew up in the shadow of the nuclear bomb and the population bomb, with AIDS and global warming following on, the notion of everything just going to hell is overly familiar. We're the apocalypse generation.
And while we've been through previous financial crises, this time feels different. This feels like a disaster. The actual forecasts aren't THAT bad - even 10 percent unemployment is still only one in 10 - but you hear about enough things being the worst "in a generation" or "since World War II," and the mind...goes with it.
And then there are all the friends I have who are leaving jobs - The Bee, specifically, but that's hardly the only place - and they're looking for some security, some encouragement, some hope. They don't k now what's next. They're not sleeping well. Their 401k is way down (forget for a minute that a lot of people don't HAVE 401ks - losing is worse than never having, sometimes.) Things feel desperate.
But despite everything that is happening, I find that I can offer hope. Because despite the sleepless nights, the bill-juggling, and the ongoing glimpses-over-the-precipice, I'm still here, and thriving. I'm managing editor of a promising new venture, I'm a regular stringer for Bloomberg News, and I'm even writing for The Bee occasionally. I do my gig hosting Insight on KXJZ whenever I can - a pleasure that I never saw coming when I left The Bee - and I've got a number of freelance clients. I'm even playing a show with Jackson Griffith on Feb. 18 at Luna's.
And I have a hell of a lot of fun. And I'm being a good son. And a good partner. And I'm even paying down my credit card debt.
So, this meander is, at bottom, to say this: Merry Christmas, everything's going to be alright. Everything is NOT going to collapse, even though it may feel that way. Life will go on, there will be ups and downs and challenges and set backs and amazing, amazing victories. And they will pass, too. And through it all, one can moan and worry and fret, or one can still notice the colors of the trees, the glorious noise that is music, and enjoy, yes, the old cliche: the smile of a child.
And that's what Christmas is to me, a certified ex-Christian: the season of hope. We just passed the darkest night of the year on Sunday, and we partied right through it - happy birthday Jon! Congratulations on getting tenure, Hugh! - and our celebration managed, just like the dances of primitive history, to satisfy the gods and start the days lengthening again.
Soon, the rain - which is gloomy, yes, but remember our drought worries? - will stop, trees will bud, the legislature and governor will get a clue, the market will bottom, and mortgage rates of 5.1% will lure buyers back to houses, and things won't seem so dire. Until next time.
And it is my holiday wish to you, that next time this happens, you remember how bad it was in December 2008, how scary it was, and note that it really wasn't all that bad after all.
It's just life. Live it