Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Or COincidentally

My mom calls me not long after my previous post. She explains to me a bad situation her friend is in, and what, in my legal opinion, her friend should do. My legal gut told me several things, and as I'm on the phone with her, I start doing some quick research on the net and give her a preliminary answer.

Basically, I told my mom, her friend should be okay.

After talking to her for about half an hour, she said "Thank you. I'll tell my friend."

Then she added, "After your dad passed away, I feel so much more secure knowing that you're a lawyer."

"Oh," I said, not really knowing how to respond.

"I have taken on some of dad's financial matters after he passed away," she said, "and these guys think they can pull one on me because they think I'm an unsophisticated, immigrant, Yellow widow. But when I tell them my daughter is a lawyer, they back off."

I half-laughed. "Seriously? Just like that?"

"I don't just say it in the beginning. But when I suspect they're up to something, I tell them, 'I know what you're trying to do, and I know that's not right. I know this, because my daughter is a lawyer.' Then they look at me and say, 'Your daughter is a l-l-lll-lawyer??' and I say 'Yes.' Then they back off."

"How funny."

She continued, "So I am grateful that you are a lawyer. And I'm proud of you."

"Oh," I said, again not really knowing how to respond.

So in that brief moment -- when my mom's friend was in a fix and I figured out a quick legal answer to her problem; and my mother dropped the L-bomb on my dad's former business associates and they stopped trying to pull a fast one on her -- I did feel a spark of something. Purpose? Usefulness? A feeling that I'm helping someone deserving?

I don't know. It was small...but it was something.

Good times

Think of the starving people.

In Africa.

In Asia.

In America.

There are lots of starving people. There is a lot of suffering in this world. Yet for some reason, this mantra that I am told to repeat to myself to make myself a more grateful, happier person ... doesn't quite work.

I've been in a funk for a long time. And I can't quite pinpoint why. I have a respectable job. A nice condo. A great boyfriend. And great friends. So I should be happy. I should be happy.

But I feel incredibly unmotivated. And it's not something that goes away or dissipates. I mean, sure, when I buy a new dress or see a funny movie, I'm temporarily perked up. But in the end, I end up feeling so blase. This is beginning to affect specific aspects of my life. Such as work.

I thought maybe it was the job, and that was the source of my ennui, and so I should just change it. But a recent talk with my supervisor showed me otherwise.

My supervisor approached me about a recent project I did for him, and his vast disappointment in its quality. "I know you're not retarded. I know you're bright. So why are you giving me work that looks like it's been drafted by a retard?"

I didn't have an answer.

He continued, "I get the feeling that you just don't care about the cases. You aren't vested in the things we do here. And I thought when we hired you, you wanted to do the cases we do. But when I see your work product, it seems like you have no interest, no concern for the case, and thus you don't put in the effort. What the f?"

What the f indeed. Amidst his litany of complaints about my work and my attitude and my undeserved salary, there was a grain of truth: I didn't really care. And that's why I didn't do my best. And that's why the work product was less than what I could have done. I know I am capable of more. But I just don't feel like exerting the effort towards something I don't care about.

It's like this: There is a tree. And the highest apple on this tree is the sweetest, juiciest, largest apple. But the closer apple, while not as sweet, juicy or large, is edible and fine. At this juncture in my life, I'm content with the edible, fine apple. I know I can get the highest apple on the tree. But why bother when I'm okay with the closer apple?

I confess this is not the best work ethic, certainly not the work ethic of my parents.

There is a certain guilt in my complacency, other than any guilt resulting from the starving people on this planet. As I've said before, I know that my immigrant parents suffered a lot to survive in this country. They did it all so my brother and I could have all the opportunities this country affords. I went to college, I went to law school and I have a solid job. There is that voice inside of me that tells me I am squandering their efforts and all of this opportunity they created for me, because of my complacency.

I know I can be more than what I am. But there is no driving force in my life that propels me towards that.

I am not, and never will be, one of those A-type gunners. The ones who have to be #1. The ones who sit at the front of every class and raise their hand for every question and read ahead so they can be the best. The BEST.

The idea of being a gunner is repellent to me.

What other motivators are there? Power? No interest. Money? I already know that's not the answer to happiness. So what is it?

Right now, it feels like the answer is "nothing." Absolutely nothing. That's why getting out of bed every morning feels like pulling off a band aid every time. That's why I occasionally do subpar work. I feel constantly disconnected from everything in my life, and it's filled with temporary pleasures like hanging with the boyf or friends. Sometimes I feel like I'm walking down the street and it's not me that's walking, but someone else.

I just want something, someone, to pinpoint what the f is going on. I want a purpose, a goal, SOMETHING, that will awaken me from this funk-adelic slumber from my life, so I don't waste all my formative years feeling so blase and so useless.

This all sounds pretty depressing. But I'm not depressed (at least I don't think so). I think I'm just feeling ... disconnected. From life.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Spare change

A lot of people fear change. I think the biggest thing people fear about change is the pessimistic notion that things could always be worse.

The Pessimist reasons: What if you dump your sig other in hopes of finding someone better, and you don't? What if you end up with someone worse? Or you die alone with nothing but regret? What if you changed your job? Your career? The city you live in? The friends you have? You could always end up somewhere more miserable or with people who are more unpleasant.

There is some dysfunctional comfort in living in the familiar, even if it is replete with unhappiness. We keep the toxic friends we have because at least when they flake out on us or disappoint us, it's expected, it's familiar. We stay with our boyfriends or jobs because, while they do have their flaws, they're known flaws, flaws that we've been able to deal with. And, we reason, it's easier to deal with the known than the unknown.

It's this dysfunctional thinking -- this fear, I should say -- that paralyzes us from making a change. And when I say "us" I mean me. The Pessimist's reason does resonate: It could always be worse.

I wonder what usually is the precise moment that crystallizes for us the need for change. Usually, and unfortunately, it's something violent or traumatic. For example, a woman realizes she needs to leave her husband after he hit her. Or an employee realizes he needs to leave after his boss calls him a chink. Does it always have to come to that breaking point? How can we come to that epiphany of change sooner?

It's difficult because the flip side says life is always hard, no job/significant other/friend is perfect, and life is about compromise. If you're searching for something or someone perfect, you'll always be searching. How unhappy does one have to quantitatively be before she decides to change?

I guess everyone has a different standard. In cultures that condone wife-beating, it probably takes an attempted murder to motivate a woman to leave her husband. Or, as in my case, when someone is raised by parents who suffered a lot to just put food on the table and a roof over their heads, it probably takes a horridly abusive work environment to motivate a gal to leave her cushy job.

I suppose the fact that one thinks about it a lot is an answer in itself. And perhaps that's my answer.

A nice thing about change, to which the Pessimist has no retort, is that you're in control. You decide what you want, and the actions you need to take to get there. It is exciting and, most importantly, liberating. And who knows. With some spare change, you may end up with something better. And be happier.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Girls talk.

I think one thing that escapes a great number of men is the fact that girls talk. Guys think that they'll never be discovered, yet they fail to fathom the depth and extent of a girl's ability to gossip.

I have two illustrations:

1. I have two sets of girlfriends. They are connected through me. Both sets of girlfriends were recently introduced to a (single) guy. Not too surprisingly, he started "getting to know" two different girls -- one from each of my sets of girlfriends. Let's call one girl from one set of girlfriends "Girl A", and the other girl from the other set of girlfriends, "Girl B." He's been chatting and hanging out with both Girl A and Girl B, while keeping it a secret from the other girl. I was particularly annoyed by this, because (1) he never told me about it and I heard about it through mutual friends, and (2) dating two girls from connected circles of friends can jeopardize the circles of friends.

Then one day, he made plans with Girl A on Saturday. They had been planning this for a few weeks now. When Girl A contacted him on Thursday to figure out time/place, he replied tersely, "Oh, sorry, I made other plans. Sorry." Just like that. Canceled on her without any real explanation.

Then I'm talking to Girl B, and she's telling me about her upcoming weekend. Then she happens to mention that she and the guy are going out on Saturday.

What a moron. Did he really think he could get away with canceling on Girl A and going out with Girl B without anyone finding out? I was told not to tell Girl B about his canceling on Girl A (Girl A was pretty embarrassed by the truth -- who wouldn't?). But I know. And Girl A knows. And another friend knows.


2. There is a guy friend that I know. While I think he can be a fun guy to hang out with, I would never date him. I also know he would never date me. Still though, he does occasionally semi-flirt with me. One particular time, he jokingly "bragged" about his "size" and how "big" he was.

I had to laugh. LITTLE DID HE KNOW that TWO DIFFERENT GIRLS -- who are complete strangers to each other but both friends with me -- both told me that he was small. Tiny. (Okay I admit it's pretty mean to blog about this, and even if he or either of the girls found and read this entry, they wouldn't have any idea I was blogging about them.) It took every ounce of self-restraint to hold back my laughter and resist saying "That's not what I heard from ___ and ___, Millimeter-Man."

See? I'm so mature. So restrained and mature.

So guys, be careful. Girls talk. A lot.


It's another sunny day, and I wish I could feel content. If only there were a button I could push, tiny liquid I could inject, that could somehow magically alter my perception to that of perpetual optimism...I'd go for it.

Though I do remember reading an article a while ago about how people take anti-depressants just to "cheer up" when they're feeling bummed. They're not even depressed! They just use it recreationally! And doctors prescribe it for this use! I guess I shouldn't be so surprised, given that so many professionals are functioning alcoholics and/or drug-users.

Ah, the things we do to escape.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

So it's been a while.

I've been a bad blogger. i.e., a non-blogger. And it's not that stuff isn't going on. Stuff is going on. I just ... didn't feel inspired to blog about it. Because it was the same shit, different day-type of deal.

I think I've whined, on more than one occasion, about my job as an attorney. And in the last few months or so, I've wondered if maybe this is the right career for me. I handle stress very poorly. If something has screwed up, or is in jeopardy of being screwed up, or may or may not be screwed up, I experience what I believe to be a panic-attack. A palpable pit forms in my stomach and I can't breathe or think normally because the world's about to end. (It never does. Not yet anyways.)

Not to mention the chewing out by my superiors. I can understand their predicament--they hire a peon to make their lives easier and instead of easing their burdens, this peon makes mistakes, asks questions, and does things so slowly. It'd be frustrating. And so when something goes awry or not exactly the way they'd do it, a head is bitten off, usually mine.

Which brings me to several questions:

Am I cut out to be a lawyer? Am I just too goddamn weak, sensitive, anxious to be in this high-intensity profession?

Or is it the firm? My co-workers? Should I just change firms?

Or is it the practice area? Should I change areas?

Or is it the law in general?

Then I wonder, is anyone ever really happy in their job? Or is some agony an indispensable aspect of having a career? Am I being a quitter because I want to leave a job that makes me miserable? Shouldn't I be facing and overcoming adversity, rather than running away from it? Then again, doesn't everyone have a right to be happy? Isn't life too short to spend several years proving your worth to some judgmental voice in your head that says 'no pain, no gain'?

Then I wonder, am I being too picky? There are thousands of people out there who are unemployed, who would give anything to have the job I have, let alone any job. So am I being one of those self-entitled brats who had delusions about what it meant to be a yuppie? As my mom likes to remind me, there are people who have survived concentration camps and child molestation. I don't have it so rough, she says. And truth be told, the job's not all bad, I like the substance of the work that I do, the intellectual exercise of the law -- just not the stress and ego-smashing that accompanies it.

I've contemplated seeing a career counselor about this. Or maybe reading a good career book. I'm not really sure. The only things I know are that (1) I want to be happy, and (2) I'm not happy.
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