On the precipice of anger

August 3, 2010

There come moments when you’re trying not to be angry.  Convincing yourself there’s no good reason to be angry.  Yet, angry is simmering; angry is just under the surface.  When, in fact, it only takes the slightest provocation to bring angry out to play his dirty angry games.

This is one of those days. This is one of those weeks.

I really don’t want to be angry right now.  Nor do I want to be overwhelmed.  I want merely to be contented or at least minimally annoyed.  I’ll even take moderately annoyed right now. Just not angry.

Keeping a positive attitude is a real challenge right now. I tell myself as well as all the world that I’m doing alright and just trying to focus on the positive. Yet, when it at least feels like the negatives so vastly outweigh the positives, what am I to do to feel better?

Logically, things could certainly be worse. As in,  I could not have a job and no money to get by. I have these things now. So why isn’t my evolutionarily limited psyche able to seamlessly (hell, even roughly) mate logic with emotion? If only I could cast a hook back to three months ago and catch the essence of feeling like a castrated man with no purpose and little to offer… if only as a reminder that hey, you might work for a bitch and feel trapped, but things could certainly be worse.

I suppose the problem is that things could always be worse, but they (at least so far in life) can also always be better. So, rather than focusing on better, I want to focus on okay. Just okay. Because, when someone asks you how you are and you say okay and they ask “just okay?” it’s true that  “just okay” is not such a bad answer. I’ll take just okay. I’ll take less than just okay right now. I was very reasonably managing “life could be better,” “things are tough,” “this is just a means to an end,” etc.  That was manageable. That didn’t make me want to throw something across the room or storm out of the office. That didn’t make me unreasonably hate my decision to go to law school, incur ridiculous amounts of debt, and have a stressed out and shortened life span to show for it.

My therapist told me to try and look at things as they will sooner or later be. He related a story of walking up to his school on the first day and asking himself, “is this really a place I want to go into three times a week for the next three years of my life?”  To him, the answer was somewhat easy, “I’ll be living somewhere and doing something I really want in only a few years so, yes, I want to come here for three years.”

Today, I stand in front of my law firm and stare down the shiny glass doors that admit entrance into a building whose design resulted in some fatcat lawyer’s environmentally friendly orgasm.  And the answer to the question of whether I can picture myself entering those doors for three years is so strongly, emphatically, and unwaveringly “no, I don’t want to enter those ever, not today, not tomorrow,” that I can’t even begin to imagine one, two or three years from now.  Here I am, exactly where I promised myself almost two years ago that I’d never be again. And, but for a wonderful relationship, I’m just as lost as I’ve ever been so lucky to be since the day I emerged from law school into the world of “elite” law firms.

Today, it’s not the lure of the lifestyle and money that originally drove me to big law. Rather, it’s the overwhelming disincentive that is not having a job, not having any money, not having any feelings of professional success which prevents me from leaving. That is, because, there is no market for lawyers right now. There simply is no other job.  None that I can afford.

And, despite the trade from an incentive to a disincentive (as in, this isn’t a choice, you’re simply fucked if you don’t work here), the fact remains that this lifestyle demands more than I feel I can give. All, at the same time that those I work for seem to exist to beat me down as they were when they were junior associates and for no other reason than that. This is not the parent-child “I want my kid to have a better life than I did” mentality at work. This is the “I survived my fraternity hazing so that I can now haze the pledges even more than I was” mentality. Though, I don’t think there is much room in the way for comparison between working continual 12 hour days only to be regaled with criticisms and having your bare ass paddled in front of a few similarly intellectually stunned teenagers. I would imagine that those pimply teenagers survive the latter humiliation far better than the associates in my profession who in such striking numbers resort to substance abuse, a rather unfortunate form of self-medication. Or, the partner at a major law firm who not too long ago shot himself in his office, or maybe the one who jumped in front of a train here in Chicago a few weeks ago.

But yeah, thanks so much for the nice salary. I’ll put that toward airfare to see my fiance for the bare minimum amount of time that is required for a healthy and thriving relationship, and to the exorbitant rent I will pay to live as close to this bastion of career success that is my law firm.  God forbid I can’t get to work in 10 minutes after some self-created “crisis” emerges from thin air. With whatever I have left I can pay for the therapy sessions that my crappy firm medical insurance plan doesn’t quite cover. Thanks for the opportunity. I should continually take the time to thank you for this wonderful situation. Right after I thank the law schools for gouging me out of $140,000.

Looks like I’m over the precipice.

Oh, the naivete of youth and the glamorization of law firm life on television. If only.

And yet, here I am and here I will be. Until I’m not. Come not, though you come not now!

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Tomorrow maybe

August 2, 2010

Sitting. Seething. Trying to write something that comes off as anything better than a blood thirsty rant. Not possible right now?

Remembering not working; the misery, the endless days of nothing… flipping couch cushions before my better half came home.

The cushion on my work chair doesn’t flip and there my ass remains. Endless days of dreadful work but with the nasty boss to go with it. The kind of socially isolated, unkempt, misery projecting boss that has only cats to keep her company.

It’s not hard to understand why.

How long can I last? I breathe through that question without ever an answer.  Through the nose and out the mouth is supposed to calm the nerves.  So they say.

Just another day. Repeat. Here I am without a clue to where I’m going. Here I am and I still can’t believe it. Exactly in the place I at one time hoped I’d never be. Exactly in the place I apparently have to be.

I don’t have to be here. I just don’t know how to not be here right now. That answer eludes me too and no amount of wistful breathing will change that fact. At least not now. But maybe tomorrow. Maybe. That’s all I have. That.

Greedy People

February 11, 2010

I understand the nature of the tough economy. So many people are out of jobs and can only resort to cover letters and resumes after exhausting their personal networks. With that in mind, I recently offered to review some resumes for free on a national career networking website. The response: why won’t you review my cover letter for free as well?

As if my offer to review your resume for free isn’t generous enough; you want me to take an extra hour to go through your cover letter as well?

I’ll never understand it. When you volunteer your time people always end up asking for more.

Do people not have some sort of baseline level of respect for volunteers? Are we seriously supposed to donate all of our time and energy to catering to peoples’ individual needs?

I think not.

I’m certainly not inclined to review that individual’s resume. Why should I? That attitude won’t get you far in business and I certainly fail to understand how it gets you far in life.

“1,000,000 strong for… [insert cause célèbre here]”

February 10, 2010

Facebook. How I choose to love and hate you. The latest? That would be the fifteenth invitation I received today to join “I bet we can find 1,000,000 people that support same-sex marriage,” followed by “1,000,000 strong for same-sex marriage.”*
Stop. Enough already.

First of all, condense your causes. You’re duplicating effort that could otherwise be dedicated to more worthy pursuits. Like writing a letter to your legislature urging the passage of a more comprehensive ENDA bill.

Second, we’ve established that there are millions of people that support same-sex marriage. Do you have plans to mobilize this base of noble supporters? Will your page feature something more worthy than a dressing-down of a homophobic commenter on your message board? Or, is this all just an experiment for you to see how many people join your cause under the guise of nobility?

Third, people need to stop sending me these invites. As if my Facebook news feed is not already inundated with “29 friends joined the cause….”  I don’t need your special invite to prompt me to join the herd.

Finally, I’m glad we can all join hands and rally around our shared Facebook proclamation that we are open-minded, accepting human beings. Yet, last I checked, Facebook causes are powerful not because people join them, but because they serve as a means to direct people toward more powerful action. So, at the very least, transform your cause into one of those success stories. Give people some resources to work with. Go beyond acclamation toward inspired action.

*Of course I support same sex marriage. I don’t support your underwhelming call to “joining.”

Don’t eat next to me; I don’t know you.

February 10, 2010

Today’s representation of an all too often occurrence:

Me, sitting on the bus heading to work. Her, sitting behind me and eating her breakfast. Chewing; gnashing. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.

Come on. It’s bad enough that I have to navigate my way around the trash on the floor, graffiti on the seats, uncovered coughs and sneezes of rude passengers and too loud music. I now need to not only listen to you eat, but smell your sizzling beef burrito*. You’re almost as bad as the folks that clip their nails on the bus and leave their dirty protein remnants on the floor.

Wait ten minutes and eat in your office, home or other socially designated eating area. Buses are for travel. Kitchens are for cooking. Tables are for eating. I don’t care to hear you eat and I don’t care to sit in your crumbs; chances are, neither do most.

Common courtesy should rule the day.

*A meat, I might add, that I do not eat and the smell of which makes me nauseous.

Spell, correctly.

February 10, 2010

I’ve been noticing an increasingly worrisome trend on the internet these days; people are forgetting either how to spell or to check their writing for misspellings. To me, both are inexcusable.

I’m surprised at how heated this topic often becomes in blogs and forums. There are those, such as myself, who are squarely in the spell properly camp while others call out “spelling snobs” as pretentious and insensitive critics of an ever-evolving online style of self expression.

Further, some of the troublesome so-called evolving styles of self expression arise, all too readily, from capitalistic influences. For instance, take the practice of interspersing capitalized letters into phrases that don’t otherwise call for them. This practice, sometimes referred to as CamelCase or medial case, has  a rich history in product marketing (e.g. McDonalds) and has more recently gained traction thanks to companies such as Apple and their trademarked iPod, iPhone and soon to be iPad products.

I simply can’t stand medial case. Why am I now seeing it in Associated Press Headlines? Why am I seeing it used in every day writing on email, Twitter, Facebook and the like? Stop perpetuating this.

Between misspelling, medial case and an increasing trend toward abhorring those “arcane” grammar rules, we’re going to lose sight of proper writing. I already bemoan the gradual loss of cursive writing. Am I soon to bemoan the loss of coherent writing except among the most professional among us?

Words. Don’t underestimate their power. Words have made or broken many a person throughout history. Do our younger generations really want to be known for destroying spelling and grammar?

I’m being melodramatic to accentuate my point. Yet, this is a concern; a serious one.

Employment

February 10, 2010

When I embarked on my three year path to earn my Juris Doctor degree back in 2003, I felt I was entering a prestigious profession. I hoped to join a group of people the likes of which founded this country and afforded equal protection to (most) minorities when the majority decried equality. More importantly, I expected to enter a prosperous and stable profession in which, to use an oft cited maxim, I could “do well while doing good.”

Years later, with my fancy diploma and elite law firm pedigree I find myself serving as a temporary law school career counselor in San Francisco. Big law abandoned me. This, well after I abandoned any notion of loyalty to the firm I worked for, or even the notion that I might someday tolerate the bulk of my work there. When I walked out of that office for the last time I felt a weight lifted off of my shoulders! I was finally free to pursue a life and career that would reward my hard work and drive me to success. The taste of freedom was sweet.

Fast forward to a year later. Nine months of unemployment and the depression, shame and confusion that came with it gave way to the temporary position I now occupy. I get to enjoy helping students that come for advice and support. I get to smile when they land a job and credit my work as part of their success. I like helping them.

Yet, all of the intellectual rigors that I am used to have left me with reckless abandon. Let’s face it. Writing is an art, but I only get to do so much of it with the cover letters and resumes I review. And, talking job search strategy can’t nearly compare to arguing in front of an appeals court on a matter of life and death.

So, here I find myself attempting to re-ignite my passion for writing. Query whether this site actually turns into a blog or remains a personal rant page.

My temporary position ends in exactly a month and I find myself in the same sort of bind I did before I started here. What’s next? Talk of joining a small law firm as a partner excites me but stalled weeks ago. I fervently use my position to get in touch with potential employers in the hope that they will review my resume and see me as the perfect candidate for something, anything, intellectually challenging that comes with a decent salary.  Note: decent means something much different than it did even a year ago.

So, here I sit, in my temporary job. Unsure of the future. And, once more, I find myself confused. All of this hard work. All of this money spent. Fancy degree. And, I still can’t shake this feeling that I’m more than a little bit screwed at the moment.