Kiefer and the Virgin

Two quickie updates:

1) Today I went through old insurance policies and came across Kiefer Sutherland’s auto insurance policy from 1990. My brush with fame.  I now know his driving record from 1990. WOW. 

2) I was offered a summer law clerk position in the Virgin Islands. A trial run of sorts so that all involved can decide if it’s a good fit (all meaning me, the firm and the island). I need to get more details, but I’m thinking this could be good news- my way out of a career full of dusty cardboard boxes. It’s not an offer for a forever job yet, but it’s a start. A dust-free start.

No, really, I’m very happy for you…..really

Why is it that sometimes it’s so hard to be genuinely happy for other people? 

I haven’t always had a problem with this. Normally, I can be genuinely happy for the successes of my family and friends. However, ever since I graduated from law school, unemployed and penniless, I’ve had a really hard time talking to people who’ve had better luck than I with securing post-graduation employment. I’ll be completely honest and say many times I don’t feel comfortable talking to some people because I don’t want to ask about how things are going at work because I can’t handle the comparison with my own life. I don’t want to hear people with steady employment in good jobs talking about how much they love love love their life. For some reason, I just can’t get beyond the ego-centric “it’s not fair” mentality when I hear about other people’s successes right now. And this totally isn’t fair because when things start to go right for me, you better believe I want my family and friends to be happy for me.  

This is all so completely selfish. I need to switch it up. I need to flip the switch and start focusing on the positive and remember that no matter what happens, it could be worse. Because it totally could. 

I wonder if this ego-centric self-pity is a normal reaction to this recession based unemployment or if I’m just a rare breed of narcissist?

 

Update: I’ve added two new pages that will help me remember that (1) It could be worse, and (2) I need to focus on the positive. If anyone has suggestions to add to these new pages, let me know! 

Where is the Instruction Manual?

I wish life came with an instruction manual. Things would be SO much easier. 

Now, that I’m comfortably unemployed I have plenty of time to think about things…a lot of time. I have no idea what I’m going to do when my lease is up at the end of August. I’m not sure if I’ll stay in my new city and take a gamble that the economy will turn around and I’ll be able to find a decent legal job eventually, or if I should move back to the state where I went to law school, or if I should move back to the state where I grew up. I have absolutely no idea what to do. 

If I stay in the city, I could just keep squeaking by financially, unable to afford to go out and meet new people-and spend a year lonely and poor. This fear is heightened by the fact that my sister, E, is interviewing for an awesome job opportunity abroad. I could find myself totally alone in this city, which would be horrible if I find myself down and out again like I was this past winter. Having my sister around really helped me stay sane when I was super bummed and stressed out with life. 

On the other hand, I hate giving up on things. I told myself when I moved to the city that I’d give it at least 3 years to see if  I could make the city home.  I know that I haven’t been able to give my life here a fair shot this past year because all sorts of  factors have been working against my ability to really enjoy my life in this new city. But who is to say that if I stay around another year things would get better? They could feasibly get worse. The economy isn’t really projected to make a turn around for another year at least. I know I won’t be able to really enjoy living here until I can find a job that would support me financially-otherwise there is too much stress that goes along with trying to pay the bills. I’m not sure another year would be worth it if things don’t actually start to turn around for the better. 

I could look to move back to the state where I went to law school. I have friends from law school in the area and it would be great to live close to friends again. Plus, the state is cheaper than where I’m living now. The only problem is that the economy there isn’t really that much better. Many of my friends from law school are in less than ideal situations with their jobs and I’d face the same uphill struggle with finding a job there as I do here. I could just find myself unemployed again, but in a different location. 

One thing that I never thought I’d consider but that I’m seriously considering is moving back to my home state. My home state has the worst economy in the country right now. So that’s definitely a negative. Also, most young people move out of the state when they graduate college. So if I ever want to settle down and get married, I’d probably have to marry some really old guy for his money-simply because there are not very many young people in the state anymore. However, I do have family and friends still in the state. I could possibly hang my own shingle and start my own practice. Also, living there is really affordable. I could maybe even live in a house-which I would love love love. I’m absolutely sick of hearing noisy neighbors when I’m trying to go to sleep.

My concern is that I’m not really sure what my motivation is to move back. I’m not sure if I’m enticed to move back because I’m just tired of everything being so difficult and it’s my way of curling up into a ball and giving up, or if I’m enticed because it offers a possibility of positive change.  I’m not sure if I’d be motivated to move back because of fear or because it really would offer me the best chance of having a happy, content life. Who knows.

Thankfully, I still have a few months to play around with this next step.  

I think that part of the reason a lot of law students are having trouble adjusting to life after school is that so many of us are Type A personalities and are big planners. When the economy tanked, it put a roadblock in our way that we hadn’t planned for. We went to school, we studied hard, we  interned, we took part in activities, not because they were fun, but because they would help us land a job after school (I mean, who actually enjoys cite-checking for journals).  The next step was supposed to be getting a job where we could start to get solid work experience and build our resume. The next step was NOT unemployment, temping at inane jobs, being forced to start our own practices, or giving up on law all together. Now so many of us are scrambling-trying desperately to figure out what we’re supposed to do, how we’re supposed to survive this recession, how we’re supposed to use an expensive degree that promised so much but has so far delivered so little. We’re all looking for an instruction manual to tell us “what now”. I think the difficulty comes from realizing that there is no instruction manual.  No one really knows what we should do. It’s all a gamble. Hopefully, I decide to play the right cards.

Excuse Me, Sir. You Should Be Shot.

Some attorneys should be taken out of their cozy offices and put in front of a firing range. Some of the younger generation of esquires, those who actually think it is pretentious to use that term as part of a signature, should be handed pellet guns and told to shoot away. I know a couple of attorneys who should be front and center at the firing range and I know a couple of new attorneys who should be given plenty of ammo for their pellet guns.

For example, my sister, E, is working for an organization comprised of many public interest attorneys. None of them should be shot, they do good work with little recognition (round of applause for them). One of the young attorneys who worked for the organization was wooed away from the org. to work for a small private practice just a few months ago. She left her first permanent position that she was able to find after law school with the promise of a new career at a small practice. However, just a few months later the attorney at her firm lets her go. He gives absolutely no reason. Apparently, he is a bit of a crazy ass. At least she’ll get unemployment insurance.

After hearing this, and dealing with my own crazy experience as a new attorney, I think this may be an epidemic. I think there may be more than a fair share of seasoned attorneys out there with mad crazy social disorders. These attorneys give a bad name to the legal profession. They either make new attorneys who could be AMAZING want to leave the legal profession or give up , or they let new attorneys go without any constructive criticism or feedback as to why they are suddenly a part of the climbing unemployment rate. And yes, amazingness is what I and many other unemployed or underemployed new attorneys have to offer-but socially deviant attorneys are not utilizing our amazingness properly. Shame on them.

These are the attorneys that deserve to be put in front of a firing range. I think they probably tend to work solo, sign off on everything with an esquire after their name, and have many, many articles of clothing with their initials embroidered on somewhere. Beware. I think they may be lurking behind many help wanted ads. They should know that no one wants to work for a crazy ass. If you are one of these attorneys please don’t hire anyone to work for you. Seriously, we’d rather keep looking. However, if you don’t heed to this warning and you do hire some unsuspecting soul and treat them poorly, we’ll see you at the firing range.

**In no way does this post endorse the actual shooting or hurting of seasoned attorneys. I would just like them to feel the same soul-sucking experience they put others through, but since they don’t actually have souls, besides physical pain I’m at a loss for how to retaliate. Any ideas?

I Have Always Depended On The Kindness Of Strangers

If there is to be a silver lining in this recession, it would be that people are feeling a lot more empathy towards strangers. A bleeding heart liberal myself, I really love that people are starting to move away from some of the capitalistic “me, me, me” behavior that is so truly American. I also really love that I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the receiving end of some of these random acts of kindness (aren’t I American).

For instance, a totally random act of kindness happened to me this past Saturday. Friends were in from out-of-state so I met up with them at some bars.  At the end of the night, and a few beers in, it was time to go home. Far away from an easy public transportation route home, and caught in an apparent monsoon, I decided to do what someone facing imminent unemployment should never do. Take a cab home. While in the cab, I decided to have a lengthy cross-town conversation with the driver (alcohol makes me a Chatty Kathy). After telling him all about my current employment situation, and asking him many, many questions about his home country of Morocco, we pulled up to my apartment.  We had just driven clear across town in the pouring rain, I had been asking him questions the whole ride-and some of them were ridiculous questions I’m sure, yet when I handed him my money for the cab fare, he refused to take it! Even though I’m sure I could probably classify as one of the most annoying passengers of the night, he told me that he thought I needed a break. It was so sweet. And obviously I took him up on the offer.

Another really nice thing happened to me where I’d least except it: in the prison that has been my office for the last five months. One of the secretaries that works in my office has been tipped off to the fact that I subsist on food that E buys with her food stamps. This is really not something that bums me out, but this  must have struck a chord with her because almost every time she leaves the office on an errand she’ll come back with some sort of snack for me. It’s not doing wonders for my diet but it’s so nice. I wish I could pay her back somehow before I leave my current position, but I’m not quite sure how to pay her back without spending money. Making a card out of construction paper doesn’t really cut it for twenty-somethings, which is too bad. I make beautiful glitter glue letters.

Anyhow, these experiences have helped me decide that when I become obscenely wealthy in the future from my lotto/sweepstakes earnings, I want to take part in random acts of kindness towards strangers.  Maybe if I win the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes I’ll give that to someone really poor. I’ll already have all sorts of other lotto earnings to get me through. Ok, but in all seriousness, I really think that these poor years of my life will color how I handle money in the future-making me more philanthropic.

I hope that goes for other Americans affected by the recession, too.  Poverty won’t end just because the stock markets start going up again. Hunger won’t disappear just because the housing market starts a bounce back. No matter what happens there will still be people who are down on their luck. The news coverage will just stop showcasing them. Right now, I feel like many Americans empathize so well because there is a kind of mentality that “we’re all in this together”. I hope that the “we” doesn’t turn into “you and me” once the economy recovers. People who are down on their luck will still need a surprise treat to brighten their day, or a free cab ride across the city. I don’t want this recession kindness to just go away once the economy turns around.

Am I a part of some weird Darwinian experiment?

Lately, I’ve been wondering if some sort of evil Darwinian process has been weeding me out of the legal profession. Only the strong survive. Well, I haven’t been feeling so strong lately. In fact, lately I’ve been feeling like the legal profession has decided to chew me up and spit me out. I have been applying to jobs for over a year and a half. I am tired of looking, but what else can I do? I’m getting really worried that I’ll never find the job that I’ve been waiting for. I need to figure out what makes me seem so undesirable as a new associate and fix it asap. Or else….well, I don’t know what I’ll do….I don’t really have a Plan B. 

Almost four years ago, I was excited about starting law school. Now, one year out, I feel as though I’m in the same place I was before I went to law school, but with a whole heck of a lot more debt. I’ve spent the last few months working in the worst possible environment. My boss has been unbearable. The work: oh, how about a long, contentious divorce trial between two really wealthy, spoiled adults. The substance of my job: I’ve spent many days lugging boxes to and fro, filing papers, and doing projects that inevitably are not going to be used for anything. In short, really unfulfilling work that probably could be done by someone who just scraped by and got their GED. Instead, I’ve spent over $100,000 on my education and years of studying to get to this spot smack dab at the bottom of the totem pole. Thankfully, as I noted before, I’ve finally worked up the nerve to put in my two weeks notice. Unfortunately, I’m not leaving this position in the way I had envisioned. I envisioned leaving with a job offer in hand, with the knowledge that a steady paycheck, health insurance and a 401K were just days away. Instead, I’m leaving with the hope and prayer that I’m able to land another super fulfilling temp position. Dare I say that I’m even hoping to find a document review project? Blech. 

The annoying thing is that I really tried to find a solid legal job. I even lowered my standards so much that I interviewed for a position where I’d be doing asbestos defense. I had to lie to the interviewer to tell him that no, I wouldn’t find it hard to do depositions of plaintiffs who are on their death beds due to asbestosis. I’m sure I winced with that lie. It’s both a blessing and a curse that I didn’t get that job. Sure, it would have been a solid paycheck-but that kind of work sounds really awful. The sad thing is that I really wanted that position. Never mind all of the public interest work cluttering up my resume. Apparently, I’m at the point where I’m willing to  help companies screw over the little man. The economy and the lack of a job offer has made me evil. Or desperate. So far the legal profession has shown me that the Darwinian model for the legal profession is: only those without a soul survive.

A Recession Depression

Well, I’ve done it. And by “it”, I mean the most idiotic, irresponsible and financially dangerous thing I’ve ever done. Last Wednesday, during the worst economic recession my generation has ever experienced I decided to put in my two weeks notice at my current temp assignment. The same “temp” assignment I’ve been working on for the last 5 months. The same assignment that has managed to put me into the pits of depression, pushed me into a financial crisis because of the low pay, and made me wake up every morning questioning my decision to be a lawyer. So, I guess you could say that though the decision to give my two weeks notice was indeed the most idiotic, irresponsible and financially dangerous thing I’ve ever done-it was also the one thing I could do to start reclaiming my life, reclaiming my happiness, and hopefully, eventually reclaiming a sense of financial security. We’ll see how it goes. I figure it could go one of two ways: either my decision to leave my current job brings me happiness, an improvement in every facet of my life, and maybe, just maybe,  a real job as an attorney, or in the alternative, I wind up living in a tent city, hanging out with hobos and eating a lot of gruel. Either way-I’m ready for the next chapter of my life. Bring it on.

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