Thursday, April 20, 2006

Back Sliding


This week sucked. After not having written for a few days, I wish I had it in me to start this post with something else. Anything else. I also wish that I sounded a tad older than fifteen. But so be it. It's the overriding emotion I'm having at the moment, so it's truth if nothing else. That, and that I'm pissed, but I won't go into that b/c someone doesn't want me sharing my personal life with the blogsphere. Fine.

I'm not even sure why I feel like the week was that bad, because while it was happening I wasn't feeling like it was horrendous. I had to represent an asylum client on Wednesday morning, and in preparation for that interview I had to write a brief. I was up until 3 am on Tuesday night, left the office in a car, crawled into bed at a little past 3, got up at 6 am when my phone, blackberry and alarm clock went off, and then was back in the office at 7 am Wednesday morning. The same guys I saw at 3 am when I left were still there when I came back in the morning.

The interview was disappointing. My client was clearly persecuted by Chinese authorities in Tibet. She provided credible, extremely detailed testimony, and we had prepared a binder full of documentary evidence. Unfortunately, we got a jackass of an interviewer. Why do people work as asylum officers? I just cannot figure it out. Every asylum officer I've had to deal with acts like a total asshole. If you really don't care about refugees, then why would you want a job where you have to listen to them pour their hearts out about everything that they have suffered? The only answer is that you don't like or don't believe refugees, or are anti-immigrant, so you take a job as an asylum officer where you can righteously play the gatekeeper.

The officer treated my client with condescending skepticism. I still haven't been able to put his manner into words. He made my skin crawl. He all but accused her of being a bad mother for sending her children to school in India. Hello? Freak. Hmmmm.... Let me think. If I was being persecuted by a superpower that had occupied my country, burned down all my monasteries, outlawed my religion, made it impossible for my children to learn their language or culture, and made a habit of detaining, imprisoning, beating, torturing, and publicly executing my friends and neighbors, what would I do? Oh, I know. I MIGHT SEND MY CHILDREN TO SAFETY. Asshole.

So the interview did not go as well as I would have hoped. We won't know what happens until a few weeks from now. We've already told her we will continue to fight, but it kills me that she has to wait longer. She's already suffered so much, and now because this guy wants to believe that all refugees are liars, she might have to stay in this limbo status for a little longer. She's alone, has no contact with her children, she hasn't heard from her husband since he fled Tibet, and now she is at the mercy of this jackass. It's completely unfair.

Speaking of Tibet, what is going to happen if the Chinese chose the next Dalai Lama? That is insane. Will the whole religion crumble? If that happens, I think the only way to save it would be for the Tibetans to take a page from China's practices and kidnap the Chinese chose Dalai Lama, brainwash him, and convince him to choose a real Panchen Lama (who will then be able to choose the real Dalai Lama). The only probable with that plan is that it's a complete manipulation of a system that is supposed to work divinely. Either way the Tibetans, and Tibetan Buddhism, is fucked. They are fucked if they let the Chinese Dalai Lama come to power (I'm assuming that Dalai Lama will support China in it's efforts to further crush and destroy the remaining pieces of Tibetan culture), and they are fucked if they kidnap the Chinese Dalai Lama and try to replace him. If they start to manipulate a system that is supposed to be divine, then they risk revealing that there is no system and there is no divinity. It's all an artifice.

I suppose another way they could go is for the present Dalai Lama to choose a different Panchen Lama. The problem with that plan is that it also fucks with the system. The Dalai Lama already chose the Panchen Lama. It's a conundrum. The Dalai Lama has to be planning something with his advisors. Or, maybe the Dalai Lama is not a doubter like myself? Perhaps I simply lack faith? Maybe the Dalai Lama still has faith in the Panchen Lama he chose, and maybe he believes that he, despite being kidnapped and brainwashed by the Chinese, will still somehow elect the real Dalai Lama. Maybe the Dalai Lama is not worried at all? That would make me believe.

But I digress. So the week was not horrendous because I worked on what I enjoy working on, asylum cases. I worked around the clock, I did not sleep, I was exhausted, and I did not have any fun time with Boyfriend, but I still got to do something of value. However, today, at 5 pm, when I was already stressed from work and had had a dull headache since about noon, I accidentally picked up the phone. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. My partner and I were going back and forth checking the web for some information related to our asylum case and she kept calling and I kept picking up the phone. So when the phone rang for the 5th time while I was immersed in reading something on my computer I picked up the phone without looking first to see who it was. Big mistake. Huge. (What movie is that from? Oh my god, I think it's from Pretty Woman. Is that true? Where did that come from?)

Do you know who it was? It was the fucking Dragon Lady. Known also as, The Bitch. Or, She Who Must Not Be Named. Or, Her. Or just, Fucking Bitch. You get the idea. Yes, the female partner that is the worst person I have ever worked for in my entire life. She is the reason I found myself saying the following to my therapist today: "She's a woman and she's a partner, so you know she's the biggest fucking bitch ever." Do you see the dark depths that this woman has pushed to?

Before I started this job it used to make me so angry when people would talk about women in power and make sly remarks about women being bitches as bosses. I even defended Dragon Lady before I realized her true nature. What a foolish, naive little girl I was a year and a half ago. Poor baby. One day over lunch with Prue, before I had had the pleasure of working directly with Dragon Lady, I said to Prue, "This happens all the time to woman who make it and are successful. They're called bitches, while men who are in the same position and act the same way are respected."

Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Guess what I figured out? She does not act the same as the male partners. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there a ton of male partners who are total dicks to work for. However, most of the men I've had to work with are pretty decent. They give you feedback. They say things like thank you. They don't look at you like you are a bug who is doing every single thing wrong while you are standing in from of them trying so very hard to be a duck and just let all the negatively slide off your shoulders and down your back. I know that they benefit from the numbers. There are more men at the top of law firms so it's less likely that you'll work with a male that's a dick. There are less women at the top, so it's more likely that you'll work with a bitch.

However, the numbers do not change the fact this woman is the most miserable excuse for a human being I have ever had the misfortune to encounter. She is a monster. She makes my stomach knot just thinking about her, and the fact that she wants me to do 5,000 things in the next week or so that aren't going to make a damn bit of difference to anyone. Not the case, and not the world. God. Add that she's an unpleasant bitch to that, and it's almost unbearable.

I had been feeling pretty mellow about the job right up until the point where I looked down and saw her name on my phone. I had been thinking that things weren't so bad. I was doing good work that I enjoyed, and I had been thinking that I could stick it out for a while until I found a job I was really excited about. And one that would hire me. These things go in waves, and I was on the I'm not professionally satisfied, but things are not too bad, and I really shouldn't complain, and it would be stupid to give up this paycheck unless I was going to something really great wave.

However, the second I hung up the phone with her all I could think was: I HAVE TO QUIT RIGHT NOW. I JUST HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE. RIGHT NOW.

I love the asylum work, but that's work I'm doing despite my job, oddly enough. What I'm supposed to be doing at the firm is making a lot of partners richer. I just don't have the stomach for it.

The problem is that I've been looking and there do not appear to be any openings. I'm deeply discouraged and I feel like I'm in a holding pattern. I don't know where I'm going to be in 3 months, much less 10 years. I have a lot of ambivalence and I don't feel like I'm moving forward.

It's so ridiculous b/c I'm a fucking lawyer and I'm 30. I was supposed to have everything figured out by now. Instead I have this life that feels so often like at any moment I could just ditch it and run away to travel the world. If you have a life that you feel is ditchable, that's not much of a life now is it?


Tracy said...

Dear Buttercup,

Hang in there! I just know there is a light at the end of this dark tunnel. Feeling like life is ditchable may be a stepping stone to the next big opportunity in your life. You are an intelligent, strong and sensitive person. There is definitely a job out there where you will be of great value and NOT have to deal with the Dragon.

Ally Bean said...

They don't look at you like you are a bug who is doing every single thing wrong while you are standing in from of them trying so very hard to be a duck and just let all the negatively slide off your shoulders and down your back.

I worked as a paralegal once upon a time. You're description of how things work in a law firm rings true to me.

Now that you know for sure that you need to move on, something will come along because you're more focused on finding it.

And as for having it all figured out at 30-- I'm much older than you and I'm here to tell you that no one has it all figured out at any age. Having it figured out is a myth. A pleasant fable.

Like Tracy said, Hang in there. Breathe deeply. And keep your eyes and ears open.

wordnerd said...

Oh Buttercup, I understand you so much more than what these words can convey because I went through very much the same thing...except I was in a government law office and left...very recently.

When I was thinking about leaving...I struggled with the same feelings and also thoguht that there wasn't much out there....and funnily husband went through the same thing too....about a year back...when he left Big Firm X and went to work in politics.

What I came to conclude (and I have far from figured all of it out) is that this "figuring it all out b/c of 30" a myth....think about it....we all know people who are complete fuckups who are 40 and we all know people who have their shit together at 25....and I think that this also ebbs and one has it all together all of the time....NO's not related to's relative to what it is that is going on in your life....everyone makes changes AT SOME POINT and changes are a bit chaotic.

Another thing I came to realize is that it's OK to not know what the hell is going to happen. Again, think about it....I know for me...that the MOST interesting people that I have ever met...are the people who are tried out different things...taken some chances and lived a life less ordinary. Taking chances requires courage but the payoff is so great....

Last of proud of the fact that you have accomplished so much at the age of 30....which is really NOT've probably done an undergrad ..finished your law degree...been called to the bar in a very tough state and practiced a kind of law that most people dream of....I would say...that it's a pretty good start on life...and that if you keep going in the same manner....that you are bound for great things....just have a little faith that you will find your way.

I'm not saying any of this is easy (believe me I'm still working on all of this too)....and I do appologize for this "book" of a comment...but so much of what you are writing about is relevant to me...(well, truthfully...more than relevant....we are the same age, in the same profession, etc...).....these are just some of the thoughts and ideas that are getting me through my transition at the moment.

I haven't got it all figured out yet either....I'm currently on an 18-month leave of absence from the practice and I'm not TOTALLY loving what I am doing...but it's better....and it's giving me time to think about my next move....:*)

Hope all of this helps...

hand in there and try to take a bit of time to chill and relax this weekend...oh and drink some wine too!

Gypsy said...

Life is too short to work for assholes. Keep looking for something else. A better situation IS out there for you, I'm sure of it. Keep your options open, be receptive to new possibilities, and try to focus on the rewarding and worthwhile parts of your current job until you can find something more suitable.

You know I'm with you on the whole "shoulda had this shit figured out by now" stuff. It's not true, but it feels true.

Dutch said...

move to Detroit. have babies. yeaaaaouurgghhhhhwwwoooo!

I am so helpful.

Buttercup said...

Oh Dutch, I never tire of your uber helpful comments. (I do appreciate you leaving a comment though!)