Signs of Life

Good Riddance, 2009

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.

Keanin is the President and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

26 Comments

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 00:04:17

Thanks for the background. Quite interesting and although I still have a job, I feel for you. I would not wish that on anyone and I wish you sincere good luck in the upcoming year.

My wife and I also fell back on my parents after my wife finished school and we moved out of Toronto back to reality, lol. My only advice there is to keep motivated to move forward. Although it was fairly smooth going, the tension did start to become noticable over the six months we stayed there. Something about two grown women living under the same roof with different eras of mindset. Anyway, keep us posted on your job situation and again, good luck!

p.s. are you still looking towards law??

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 01:05:48

You really had me until you wrote that you flipped the bird to W. It still amazes me that some people blame this economic mess solely on George Bush. Wasn't it the American people who spent themselves into this mess? It was Jimmy Carter and Clinton who came up with the wonderful idea of giving mortgages to illegals and the unemployed. George Bush meerly continued what previous adminstrations had started.

Obama's approval rating is lower than any other president at this point in tenure. He will be a one term president who will have only dug America into a deeper hole.

The Liberal media's spin appears to be working ...

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By z jones (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 01:13:36

Obama's approval rating is lower than any other president at this point in tenure. He will be a one term president who will have only dug America into a deeper hole.

The Liberal media's spin appears to be working ...

You know these two bullspit claims are contradictory ...right?

[Comment edited by z jones on 2009-12-30 00:13:50]

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 02:05:44

There's a million reasons to give G.B. the finger.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 03:51:39

Hi Keanin:

I do feel for you and family, in the transition you have and are going through. I am sure you will do well here and doors will open up.

I found this tonight and I am posting, this clip from an the old movie "it's a wondrful life", because today I think it is very relevant.

http://www.commondreams.org/further/2009...

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 07:57:38

z jones,

That's why it was a new paragraph ... new thought/idea.

And if you can sit there and honestly say that no Liberal bias exists in the media, you need to put the pipe down for a bit.

Happy New Year everyone!!

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 09:23:41

I chuckle at people who try to absolve GW from any responsibility for this huge mess. I always see political leaders parading around taking all the credit when things go great.
They deserve just as much 'praise' when things go right down the crapper.

John Maxwell - "everything rises and falls on leadership".

Keanin - Happy New Year to you and your family. I wish you a spectacular 2010!!

[Comment edited by jason on 2009-12-30 08:28:07]

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 10:01:27

Keanin: My father's favourite expression is "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve". It's from Napoleon Hill's "Think and Grow Rich" (it's available on-line).

So to answer your question, is Hamilton the type of city in which one can fulfill dreams, I'd say it's the wrong question. The better question is are you the type of person who can fulfill your dreams.

I've always found the first step to be the hardest. It sounds like you have been living someone else's dreams and have been lucky enough to realize that you didn't love law while you are still young enough to do something else. How wonderful for you to be able to begin again with the support of your wife and family, in a city as vibrant and diverse as Hamilton, in a country as beautiful and accepting as Canada.

I hope you are able to sit down today and tomorrow, to brainstorm, strategize, prioritize, and all the other good things that come with New Year's resolutions. Figure out what your dream actually is and make 2010 the year you and your family start achieving it.

Happy New Year.

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 12:02:08

jason,

Perhaps you're unfamiliar with the political system in the United States. In 2006 the Democrats were elected to the house. This gave them absolute power in voting for and against policy. Funny how the economy started to "go down the crapper" at that point. Please don't forget it was Barney Frank (D) who said Freddie and Fannie was a well run institution which required no restructuring. The Republicans demanded restructuring of the financial system, but the Dems chose to block every attempt.

It's not your fault. You probably read the Toronto Star.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 17:09:02

Is Hamilton the type of city in which one can fulfill dreams?

At the risk of sounding pessimistic about the city I love, I would say yes, as long as your dreams are scaled for a mid-sized, post-industrial city that is still finding its footing. On the plus side, the people who can help you are accessible and open, and when you do find your niche, you'll be getting in on the ground floor of a region with nowhere to go but up.

I can't really help with any contacts in the legal community, but try to make it out to the next art crawl or 'Angry Drinks'. Would be nice to put a face to the name and welcome you to our fair city. Happy New Year to you and yours! May 2010 be your year.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 18:09:38

Look on the bright side, at least we still have socialized medicine here in Canada. In the U.S., health care is so expensive it leads to a lot of unnecessary anger and frustration...

www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH8ynu0jRvY&NR=1

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 19:57:23

a sign of the times, the US economy has been going down the tubes for years. I remember chatting with friends about it's imminent collapse 7, 8 years ago because any idiot could see it developing. I am very familiar with the US political system - they all suck, they all follow almost identical policy and they all go on TV yelling and screaming at each other hoping that Joe Public will actually believe that one of them is better than the other.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted December 30, 2009 at 23:12:26

By A sign of the times ...

Of course it was the peoples fault, no blame on the system itself, that is so corrupt and criminal. It is amazing that you choose to ignore what really is the truth.

You have been assimilated, you are now one of the Borg:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZEJ4OJTg...

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted December 31, 2009 at 00:21:37

@A Smith,

Although I acknowledge both medical systems have their flaws, Canada's system is FAR from perfect. Having to wait 8+ hours in the ER is totally unacceptable and is third-world like. Free health care for those who abuse the system and clog up ER's is a disgrace. Over worked, under paid health care workers is an embarassment. And the list goes on ... I really hope a two-tier health care system is implemented large scale. It already exists and like it or not, it's coming. Let those who can't afford the private system continue to use the public system and those who can afford it, use it. It will save lives and reduce wait times. Some of the biggest oponents to private care have used it ... Paul Martin, Bob Rae and of course, Jean Cretien.


@jason,

The US economy will take decades to fully recover. Blaming Bush for everything is getting old. Obama's in power now and his administration is digging America a hole that our generation won't get out of. Scary to think our largest customer is going completely broke.

@grassroots,

Isn't there a candle light vigil for the homeless going on in Gore Park? Please go to it and stay.

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By grassroots are the way forward (registered) | Posted December 31, 2009 at 02:44:36

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted December 31, 2009 at 11:10:06

Keanin - I look forward to hearing more from you as you settle in Hamilton and find your place here. Already I think you're making some valuable contributions and I hope 2010 is better for you.

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By Irving (anonymous) | Posted January 01, 2010 at 23:53:37

A sign of the times: I don't think it's Jason who lacks familiarity with the U.S. political system. Since when does control of the House constitute "absolute power in voting for or against policy"? And how exactly do you pinpoint 2006 as the point at which the economy went "down the crapper"? Were lending practices hunky dory prior to that? You don't seem to be capable of crafting any coherent points, only drawing false causality from events you don't really understand. For example, you've trotted out the same tired Freddie and Fannie nonsense, conveniently overlooking the fact that over 84% of subprime mortgages in 1986 were handed out by private institutions. Assuming you're capable of extracting your brain from your anal cavity, here's something that will hopefully provide a helpful tug.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/53802.html

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By WRCU2 (registered) - website | Posted January 02, 2010 at 00:38:18

Meredith, highwater and a few others have been very cordial to Mr. Loomis. Still some others have used this opportunity to flame one another yet again.

A sign of the times, what are you so afraid of dude?

A Smith your video inclusion seems to fly in the face of Canadian health care and I wonder why you are dissatisfied to the point of being rude?

Jason and Grassroots, we're all trying our best to face the strain of change. What we need most is a little less of who is to blame and more champions without stain.

Keep the faith Keanin and try not to feel blue, I'm sure someone will eventually hire you.

Happy New Year and I hope you enjoy the show.

[Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2010-01-01 23:40:43]

[Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2010-01-01 23:44:27]

[Comment edited by WRCU2 on 2010-01-01 23:45:47]

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By Dezra Bee (anonymous) | Posted January 02, 2010 at 02:53:18

Hi Keanin!

Keep your head in the clouds! eventually people are going to grow up and see you at the top

welcome to Hamilton!
-LR

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By A sign of the times ... (anonymous) | Posted January 02, 2010 at 12:29:16

@Irving,

I admit, I was being a little dubious when I marked 2006 as the end of the booming US economy. It actually started during the Carter Administration. Jimmy's vision of home ownership for every man and woman, regardless of income, job, residency status, etc. started the slippery slope. No Administration, Republican or Democrat had the balls to change it, fearing public outcry and of course, votes. We are very fortunate in Canada to have such a well regulated financial system that allows lenders to turn down applicants. We are the envy of the world right now. Obama's Administration, with all of its wisdom has passed a bill that ultimately forces lenders to lend money to people who barely qualify.

Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, rejected a Bush Administration and Congressional Republican plan for regulating the mortgage industry in 2003, saying, "These two entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not facing any kind of financial crisis." According to a New York Times article, Frank added, "The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing."

Irving, you might try to cut out the childish name calling and inflammatory remarks. You appear to be a very upset individual who can't stand the fact that this mess isn't completely Bush's fault.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 02, 2010 at 12:50:35

WRCU2 - awesome post! I loved it.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted January 03, 2010 at 10:18:52

Jason - Since you saw this collapse coming you must be awfully wealthy. Everybody else I know who saw it coming, two very smart investors, made off with a ton of money.

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By OracleOfHamilton (registered) | Posted January 03, 2010 at 17:09:10

Hi Keanin Your first priority is to get a job. Any job. Don't be fussy.After that, consider getting a job in Toronto that will utilize your excellent skills. Even if you have to commute, it would be better than languishing in Hamilton which does not have many decent jobs to choose from. Your wife should also get a job - any job - till your family is stabilized. Don't muse about whether in Hamilton one can fufil one's dreams, at this stage. You can do that later once you are more established. I fear that if you take too long in getting started, your entire project may fall off the rails. I have seen that happen before - marriages, family ties, friendships all get strained. I regret to sound so negative or doomsdayish but I think a healthy dose of realism now will pay dividends later. Good luck!

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted January 04, 2010 at 00:55:22

ALthough I agree with Oracle about getting a job. Almost any job anyway, I'm not to sure about the commuting and the wife working. I commuted for awhile, big mistake, cost, time etc.. Now, my wife and I worked out that daycare would totally absorb all her money so.... Anyway, plenty to think about. Do you have any other skills to fall back on?? Carpentry, mechanics, sales, adult film star, etc?? Apparently we are supposed to have at least 3 careers in our lifetime so maybe it's time for a change, lol. Anyway, best of luck.

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By frank (registered) | Posted January 07, 2010 at 13:54:16

Welcome Keanin. Great article and I wish you and your family the best in 2010. Anyone with hope and positive outlook combined with the willingness to do something is an asset to our city. Once again, welcome.

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By Irving (anonymous) | Posted January 13, 2010 at 20:52:03

A sign of the times,

If you were to actually read what I wrote, you would find that I did not call you names. I did, however, state that you have your head inserted in your anal cavity, at least in a metaphorical sense. Your response has validated that assertion. Finally, at what point did I say that the housing debacle was completely Bush's fault? Like most purveyors of contemporary conservatism, you are apparently incapable of debating anything without stuffing words into other people's mouths. It's one reason why an increasingly diminishing number of people take you seriously.

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