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Gloomy ruminations

July 11, 2009

So it’s been a while.

I’m still here.

I’m wanting to write again, but there’s not much I can say right now. Work is verboten and there’s not much going on in my life besides work. That’s not to say I’m crazy busy—indeed, my schedule is very manageable. So manageable that I stress out about my hours on a very regular basis. Many of my colleagues are in the same position. Needless to say, the work environment isn’t super right now. ((I had a great April and May, and so did a lot of my colleagues. I think it left us unprepared for a big summer slowdown.)) Given that I’m leaving the firm in a few months to clerk, when I say things are bad, you know they have to be pretty shitty.

It’s more than just the general slowness. It’s the way big firm lawyers react to being slow. We’re risk averse people, we lawyers. Unpredictable workflow causes us to attempt to create some semblance of stability by hoarding work. I say “us” but I don’t mean me. I have no work to hoard. I only get work when it flows downhill and right now, there’s just not a lot coming my way.

This sounds unbelievably gloomy. It’s really not all horrible. I have due course matters that give me a few hours here and there, and some of them are showing signs of life right now. But it’s hard to get back to feeling good about my profession when I’ve been down in the dumps about it for so long. And it really is the profession as a whole, in this particular time. Because I like my firm. I like the people I work with. I love my work, when I have it. Almost every negative thing I can say about my job right now is directly related to the crappy economy and the rational responses of my firm to the downturn. Damn, it sucks to be so logical sometimes—I can’t even sustain genuine anger at my employer because however crappy morale is right now, there’s nothing they can do about it. Legal services have become a luxury and big law associates are the victims.

Today, in an effort to control something, I bought a box of color and did my own hair. I haven’t done my own color in a while—I’ve been having it done by a terrific stylist, who I really like and who does a phenomenal job, but she’s not cheap and I did my own color for so long, and with good results, that I decided to just take that duty back. But I can’t do the lovely, subtle golden highlights I’ve been paying so much for in my bathroom, so I went back to red. And this little exercise of control has thrown me completely out of whack. I guess I didn’t realize how much I liked being sort of blonde, how much that had become part of my identity. And I guess I didn’t realize how risk averse I myself have become, because now I am freaking out at how much darker my hair is—so much so that it will certainly be noticed at work, and possibly commented on by people whose notice I generally try to avoid.

In other words, I have become afraid. A shrinking violet. Nervous. Self-conscious. Insecure. And I really am not any of those things, or wasn’t, until lately. And I don’t like being this way. I think I mostly do a good job of keeping a stiff upper lip and all that, but apparently underneath that stiff lip is a mushy little wimp. Any little change turns that wimp into spaghetti—even, it seems, a positive, taking-control-of-my-own-life kind of change.

The thing is that, even though I’m down and blue and tired and scared, I know when it ends for me–and I am counting the days to my clerkship, let me tell you. The rest of my colleagues probably aren’t so lucky. I know a lot of them feel the same way I do. But there’s no answer for them, no light at the end of the tunnel.

It’s easy to say that we’ll–I’ll–be stronger for having had this experience. It doesn’t make the living of it easy, though.

Categories: just me
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