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.

So The Horror Stories Are True…

I have started my life as a document reviewer. Wow. Wow. Wow. 

It really is as horrible as everyone makes it out to be. But way worse. Way way worse. And why? For many reasons really, but mainly because it’s a paper document review-a paper document review with the bulk of the papers dating back to the 70s and 80s. And old documents= old dust. We really do wear gloves and face masks to deal with the massive amounts of dust accompanying these old documents. It’s a very glamorous job. So glamorous in fact that someone even came across a dead, petrified bird in a box on Friday. A fairly typical job hazard for new attorneys, yes? 

Also, the people on the job make me feel even better about the situation. Remember that old Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer claymation movie? If so, do you remember the Island of Misfits from the movie? I work on that island–although it’s not a tropical island locale, it’s a large room in a boring ol’ office building chock full of misfits. Which at least provides for some entertainment. But at the same time it makes me question how I am perceived through others’ eyes…am I too a major social misfit? Probably. Thankfully, I’m assigned a seat by some normalish people so we can be snarky and bitter while we “work” (i.e. go through old dusty papers for 8 hours). 

But, all in all, I am a LOT happier. So, even though it is horrible work and much worse than I ever expected it to be, I am enjoying my life a whole lot more now than I was a few months ago. I  much prefer crappy document review work to working for a jerk who makes life miserable for everyone. A no drama work place means that I can come home and completely forget about the day. A career it is not, but it is not a bad stop-over…as long as I don’t develop black lung from the dust.

Dilemma

I’m packing for the island right now and I’m facing a packing dilemma. Do I really have to wear a suit to an interview in tropical climates? I’m guessing yes, but I really wish the answer was no. I hate wearing the lawyer’s uniform (navy or black suit-nothing flashy or distinguishing at all). 

I think I have to take an open air cab (i.e. sit in the back of a pickup truck) to the interview. In a suit. With heels. There is no doubt that I’m in for a memorable experience.

When Did I Become The Cowardly Lion?

I used to be pretty brave. I’d pretty much do anything and go anywhere-not a problem. The more something scared me, the more I wanted to try it out because I’ve always felt that the best things come from challenging myself and living outside of my comfort zones. However, somewhere along the line, something changed. Somewhere along the line, I’ve become a coward. 

This past week, I was offered an amazing interview, and I knew I had a problem because I was doubting whether I’d be able to accept the job. And the job is pretty amazing. It’s the type of legal work I want to do, on a tropical island. Thankfully, I had people knock some sense into me and in a few days, I will be hopping on a plane to go to that interview.  I never thought that my job search would take me to a tropical island but this could be a life-changing opportunity. In the very least, it will be a mini-vacation to an island. And I was thinking about turning the interview down? And why- because of fear?

They say that recognizing you have a problem is the first step, right?  

This experience has made me notice that I’m living in a pessimistic place right now and I need to work on breaking out of that. I shouldn’t let this economic climate affect me that much. I know that this past year of unemployment and underemployment has taken a real shot to my self-esteem. And this is kind of ridiculous. So much of this year has been dictated by forces outside of my control. I shouldn’t be taking responsibility for the fact that greedy people f-ed things up for everyone, making it impossible to find a decent job. But apparently, I am letting it get to me. Anyhow, I am actively trying to get over this. I need stop being a coward and I need to start believing in myself again. Being on a tropical island should help.

Well, Isn’t That Annoying?

There are three things that I find really annoying about this whole job-search business:

1) Firms that ask you what kind of $ you’re looking for. 

  • This is a no-win situation. If you ask for too much you could price yourself out of a job. If you ask for too little, you undervalue yourself and they may not see you as a worthwhile hire. How the heck do you get around this? Why can’t all firms just man up and give a range for how much they’re willing to pay a new hire? 

2) Firms that want you to pay to interview-even though you’re clearly poor. 

  • So, I’ve opened up my job hunt again.  I’m no longer dead set on staying in the city I’m currently living in.  One of the jobs I’ve applied for is on a tropical island. The job posting said that they’d do a phone interview and then they may do additional interviews in one of two cities, one of which is about a two hour drive for me. The firm has scheduled a phone interview with me (good), but they also want to know if I’d be willing to come to the city that is NOT within driving distance (bad). I really cannot afford to do that. I’ve already paid SO much money to go all over the place for interviews. I just can’t do  it anymore. So, I replied that I could go to the far away city, assuming that they’d foot the bill- or I could meet them in the other city mentioned in the job posting. They wrote back saying that it’s a firm policy not to pay for travel expenses. Well, that’s just great. I can’t wait to pay to fly to an interview for a job I may not get. That’s just fantastic. Because, God knows, if you’re unemployed and looking for work you have SO much money to spend on such things. 

3) Firms that are blatantly taking advantage of lawyers who are out of work. 

  • I hate the ads for all of the private law firms that are seeking unpaid interns. Unpaid interns should only be asked to work at non-profits. For profit firms should get it together, remember what it was like to be a new lawyer, and have a heart and scrape together a salary for someone if they’re going to be working for them. Christ, even minimum wage is better than nothing. 

That’s all. I just needed to get that off my chest.

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.