Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wandering Stars

I know Michael Stipe was trying to offer solace to the hopeless when he sang in that nasal voice, "Everybody hurts . . . sometimes." If that weren't true, there would be no songs like "Everybody Hurts," and more songs like "Everybody Feels Hunky Fucking Dory." So yeah, at some point in our lives, everybody hurts. That's a fact.

But what's also a fact is that knowing everybody hurts doesn't fucking help you, does it? If everybody had been slammed at a crosswalk by a drunk driver going 50 in a 30 zone, you probably aren't going to say, "Hey, my legs are so fractured they might as well be dust, my spine is broken, and I can see my back without turning my head, but that's OK because everybody hurts sometimes." No, what you'll probably be saying (or screaming) is, "Someone please come shoot me in the fucking face because this pain is so intense I'd rather die than live another minute."

Yeah, I know, your friends are trying to help when they say everyone has had their heart broken. But that isn't the point. The point, which has been made with such a startling clarity through such heart wrenching pain, is that you have made someone first in your heart, that you have let her/him get so close to you that she/he knows more than you about yourself, and that she/him has decided to totally burn you down from the inside out so that there's nothing left to give anyone else. That someone else may have felt something close to this in the past means fuck all to you right now.

And yeah, I know, people get heartbroken, fall in love again, get married or remarry, even those who scream and wail how they will never fall in love again. Those are the ones you hear about.

But we also know there are broken, sad, angry people who actually do not ever fall in love again, who have been torhced and burned too many times that they are merely embers waiting to die out.

And to say you always have a choice which person to be is also bullshit.

Yes, there are men who are born sociopathic, who are charming and debonair and will break a lady's heart without thinking so long as they get the nookie. But most men aren't born that way. Instead, there are men who keep giving all they can in a relationship, and it doesn't change anything. It doesn't change the fact that those men will get played, over and over again, getting used for comfort until the hot thing or the new thing or the I'm finding myself thing comes along. And in the end, getting burned over and over again, there's nothing left to give. And all we hear are complaints about men not wanting to commit, about not giving enough.

We are a nation of kicked dogs, and you wonder why we snarl.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

So Tight

So I'm almost a week into this whole being thirty-three thing. I'm not going to so the standard "oh crap time is inexorably marching me on toward my death boy do I feel old now I'm in my last years of being in my 'early thirties'" bullshit, because there is always someone older who will say, "shut the fuck up you're young you asshole," and that someone older will always be right.

And I've been thinking what exactly to write for my first entry as a thirty-three year old, so much so that I kinda blew past actually writing an entry when I turned thirty-three. I mean, this is really the first birthday that I have nothing to complain about. I'm doing what I want to do (for now). I have someone who loves me (though unfortunately she's still going through her searching for herself phase, but at least I'm gettin' some, yo). And so the only thing that I really want that I don't have is to be a successful writer, which probably won't happen within a single year (I'm over 35,000 words, a little less than halfway through the novel). Well that and the reason why Berkeley / foodiemaniac chick went incommunicado so suddenly after telling me how I was basically Christian Slater and she was Patricia Arquette in True Romance (and trying to figure that out goes more into trying to figure out the female mind, which is as futile as trying to teach a dog not to lick its nuts).

So this entry is more like the agnostic version of a prayer, a wish that before the next birthday, I'm well on my way to becoming interviewed by Entertainment Weekly, featured on Rolling Stones Hot list, a rugged black and white photo of me in a black suit and holding a baseball back slung over my shoulder (that is a reference from the novel) inset in various magazines.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Future Proof

I was drunk googling over the weekend, looking up various former co-workers and seeing where they were in life. Golden Boy left Phuqued Firm, which is saying a lot for how fucked Phuqued Firm is. He was viewed as the lead partner's heir to the thrown, groomed to the mantle of all that was passive/aggressive and psychotic. He's at one of the major insurance defense firms in downtown Los Angeles, a slight setback to my belief in karma. But Phuqued Firm is, well, fucked as usual. They now have a single litigation associate to work between two partners and two counsel.

One of the associates who started the same day as me at BigLaw One is now a partner--only after seven years. He was even lead counsel on a trial. Now that is a true Golden Boy. BigLaw One does not have small clients, and since he was in the intellectual property group, it's not as if the trial was some limited jurisdiction fluff. He's a good guy too, so I don't begrudge him his success. It's lawyers like him that make me pause, take stock of where I am, and wonder where I'm at.

Non-Married Blonde Lawyer is still non-married and blonde, but at a different firm. She's four years younger than me, but she's been listed as a "Super Lawyer" for two years straight. I guess when she said she wouldn't go to any small firms after GigByTheOcean, she didn't mean it.

I had reviewed the attorney lists at the firms I was at, seeing where people I knew ended up, and then, another world opened up to me.

In this other world, on that weekend, at that time, I was in my second floor office in BigLaw Two. The hall lights had already shut themselves off automatically. I had turned my office lights off save for a desk lamp and a corner halogen lamp turned to low. It was two in the morning and my office was dark save for an orange glow. I had a large U-shaped desk, and it was covered with legal research and deposition transcripts.

I was in that two-year grace period where I either made partner, or I shipped out to be come counsel somewhere. This was night number five where I stayed past two in the morning. I was second in command on a matter, so this motion for summary adjudication was mine to fuck up. There were three empty instant noodle styrofoam cups near my keyboard and five empty cans of Coke. I knew this wasn't good for my blood pressure, but it was either my pressure or my job.

When I went to the hospital a year ago, one of the partners had called every single day to find out when I'd return, incredulous that I had to be hospitalized for blood pressure. He had even talked to the managing partner, who politely and almost apologetically informed me of this complaint. I could have mentioned labor law, but why rock the boat. I knew I wouldn't be able to pull the trigger. But luckily, the rainmaking partner seemed to like me, and reigned the other partner in.

So here I was, on a Saturday night, being the good soldier. There is no time. Everything is one single deadline. Once every month, the one day I have off, I buy a twelve pack of Heinekin, a bottle of Jack Daniels, and five liters of water. I finish those off in a single night. I decompress. Then I go back to thirty more days of meeting with clients, deposing witnesses, managing discovery, drafting motions, yelling at opposing counsel, reviewing the work of associates which more often than not I have to redraft from scratch.

At two in the morning, I'm not thinking about the relationships that I've never had. There are other associates, other lawyers, who have significang others and spouses and families. But they met them prior to becoming a lawyer. The associates that are single maybe have random hookups, or if they're female and in corporate, end up dating clients. I'm not jealous or angry at two in the morning. At least, not about relationships. I'm trying to keep awake, to focus on starting to draft this motion. What will put me in a rage are missing documents, or incorrectly inputted facts in the litigation database. That will make me punch the walls, bloodying my knuckes.

This has been my life for four years, when I decided not to leave the law. A total of seven years of eating from vending machines (eating food ordered in takes too long, breaks the work flow), weekends at work, diving into work so that I don't have to think about that creeping loneliness, that malaise.

Outside, the only traffic on the 101 are trucks barrelling into unknown destinations.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Everything In Its Place

It's a cliche. That photograph, actual or imagined, that we all have, that we all look to when things are rough and we need to escape. Everyone's photograph is different. A beach where the sand is sugar white and the water is a cool blue sky. A lone cabin in the woods where the trees are topped with snow. The idea is serenity. The idea is escape.

And yet the photograph, an imagined one, that I keep coming back to isn't a landscape. Nor is it very serene.

It's a photograph of a me, it looks like twenty years from now, looking out the window of a hotel room at night. I'm sitting and I have a glass of scotch in my left hand, held near my lips. I can place myself in this photograph. It's almost 11:00 p.m. The hotel is very nice, but I'm not in a suite. I've just come back from some dinner on yet another tour. I've taken off my tie and my shoes, but my black suit jacket, my white shirt with too much starch, my black dress slacks are still on. I'm uncomfortable in them, but I've kept them on. I have the air conditioning set at arctic. Every once in a while, I'll sip the scotch. I'm being pensive, just looking into the city at night. I can't tell which city it is. San Francisco? Baltimore? I'm not sure how I'm feeling. I'm not sure how I got there, why I'm there.

When things have gotten tough, at work, in my heart, this image keeps coming back to me. It feels like the completion of a mosaic. I have no idea what it means.