I'm reading Anti-Fragile, a book by Nassim Taleb, who also wrote a book called the Black Swan. I haven't read that one, and I'm thinking I should now, although he talks a lot about Black Swans in Anti-Fragile. A Black Swan is a disaster of levels previously unseen. Things like the 2008 financial meltdown, the Fukushima nuclear disaster, or Hurricane Katrina. In most Black Swan cases, people are only prepared for what they have seen, or what lies along the mean of the normal distribution. They don't plan on outliers, even though outliers are what destroy lives.
I thought 2013 was a bad year, because I couldn't do a lot of the things I wanted to do because I had six weddings to be in, which essentially drained my vacation time and my bank account. I am a major opponent of weddings because of that year. Fuck your wedding. But more on topic, I didn't think 2014 could be that bad, but knew that if it was, I could endure it. But I made the mistake in the assumption that 2013 was the worst it could get. 2014 proved to be even worse due in large part to my girlfriend moving in and bringing her horrible attitude at the time with her (that was due almost entirely to her job situation). It was a year fraught with sickness, strife over a troublesome dog that she did not want to let go of, an apartment complex under construction for 7 months, complete with an unbearable drilling and jackhammering into the walls that made sleeping impossible for her, a few near-breakups, and more sickness.
And then when things started to clear up - she got into anesthesia school, we got rid of the dog, they finally finished construction - another Black Swan. She was diagnosed with Meniere's Disease. Something that could be devastating for not only her career but her life. We've been living with it, and managing it, and she got into school. But as the Black Swan principle dictates, the worst is yet to come.
Now she is failing school. If she can't find a way to pull her grades up, the $100,000+ gamble will have gone to the house and I possibility of getting out of debt in a swift few years on good anesthesia pay will have been but a fantasy, and I'll be paying off debt well into my 40s.
This is a lesson I will take with me for the rest of my life. The Black Swan is very real. And the fragility that I have subjected myself to, has made everything so much worse. I took out a $25k Upstart loan last year. I'm already through that money. So I took out a $20k 401(k) loan. That made things even worse. I can't quit my job (or lose it!) because I will owe that money immediately back. On top of it, I've stopped contributing to my retirement fund. Again, fragile.
I'm in such a bad position, and it is mostly because of this high stakes gamble. If she can't pull through, then we are more or less fucked. I still don't know what to do. I don't really have a choice anyway. I am trapped in this fragile nightmare, at the whims of the Black Swan. Yesterday, she got a nail in her tire, which I took into the repair shop, and of course, they didn't have her size. So, to avoid her having to ride with her classmates (she can't stand being around them), I rented her a car. I don't love spending that money, which essentially doubled the cost of the tire, but more so, I didn't opt for the insurance or adding a driver. My Black Swan mind scolded me the entire drive home. A wrecked car, with her driving would be the biggest disaster yet, which is the definition of a Black Swan. Yet I didn't stop to correct it before driving away. And this is how the Black Swan thrives. It preys on those who are not robust or anti-fragile. And so, until I return it hopefully later today, I have to hope that that gamble does not result in a disaster.
And then I have to worry about the bigger impending Black Swan. The fact that she has to get a 91% on her final in order to pass her anesthesia class. We are probably just fucked.