Tales from an economic downturn

An American mother tells how she went from responsible middle class citizen to homeless, jobless, hopeless and wracked by the stress of uncertainty.

Recently I read an article in The New York Times Magazine by Dominique Browning, the former House and Garden magazine editor who lost her job when the magazine folded in 2007. Like "The Bag Lady Papers," a recent memoir by Madoff victim Alexandra Penney (forced to "scale back dramatically" by, among other things, cutting her maid's hours), it was one of those "how I lost everything and discovered what's really important in life" stories the media is so fond of these days. Browning writes vividly of the dislocation and loss unemployment brings, about her grief at selling her "forever" house. But her despair has a silver lining: She took her retirement income and moved to a second house in a coastal Rhode Island town, where she found peace communing with nature, playing Bach on the piano, and enjoying a slower pace of life. By losing everything, she gained happiness.

This is not one of those stories.

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