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I’ve Been Waiting for this Day Since I was 18 Years Old

Although I’ve fallen off The Office bandwagon the last couple years, I finally caught up and watched the series finale today.  Stanley receives his retirement cake and proclaims “I’ve been waiting for this day since I was 18 years old!!”

That is my life.

I look at the partners, the seasoned lawyers, the gray hairs, and I wonder “how did you make it there?”  How do they make it through year after year of the 4am panicked wake-ups, and the sunny Saturday afternoons spent hunched over the computer, and emergency after confused emergency? How do they make it through without totally losing their minds?

Where does the inspiration come from? How do you stay eager and energized where the reward for all that hard work is an annual week out of town, where there’s no hope of entirely avoiding work, because your job involves deadlines and expectations that are outside of your control, and there’s always an enormous chance that your trip away will have to be called off anyway, for some unexpected work demand.

I’m finishing up year six. This is around the time where people make it or break it. They peel off from the practice or they get driven out or they take some other direction entirely.  Some days I feel proud.  I feel like I’m really starting to get the hang of things, from the legal skills to the business building and all those things in between.  Other days I drag through my exhaustion, unsure how to convince myself that the endless cycles of flight-or-flight are worth it.  The practice does get easier over time.  I sleep most nights now, which is something I could not say a couple years ago.  I am better at estimating the time for completing a particular task.  I can better manage my time and workload. I don’t know how to do every assignment that ends up on my desk, but I’ve more skilled at figuring out how to do the things I don’t know how to do. I tell myself that next year will feel better than this year, and the year after that will feel even better.  That self talk has little meaning, when I’m exhausted right now.

I’m tightly wound, always.  The past two weeks I’ve been wound even more tightly.  A spring, about to pop.  I haven’t run in months, but twice this weekend I went to the gym and ran for nearly a half-hour.  I ran this morning, and if the gym didn’t close early today, I would want to go back tonight and run again.  The stress winds tight in my chest and pulses through me in a low, unshakeable agitation.  The treadmill burns the agitation off.  The quiet is temporary. And by the time the red has receded from my cheeks, I’m wound tightly again, ready for another run.

There’s no dissatisfaction with what I’m doing.  I’m not a creative stifled in a corporate job. I don’t find my work meaningless or soul-sucking.  It’s fascinating most days– learning secrets, examining theories from different angles, piecing together concepts into larger themes, challenging myself to learn entirely new subject areas in short periods of time.  But all of that comes with the overwhelming pressure of the practice.  It’s hard to see that carrot dangling ahead, and sometimes I doubt it is there at all.

Where do you find your motivation?

16

A Working Woman’s Paradox (this time with the comments issue fixed…)

So I posted this same entry below, but somehow disabled the comments and the only way I can figure to fix it is to re-post it. I think this is a topic that merits discussion, and I’m not a fan of comment disabled posts generally, so I welcome your feedback (yes, I even welcome disagreement)

I think and talk so much about being a “working mom” and “work/life balance” that I’m bored of it. Mr. Beez and I had the rare opportunity to grab a workday lunch together on Monday, and I asked him “you’re working all the time, and bouncing around with things at home, how are you not complaining about being burned out?” It turns out he is. Just as much as me. He just keeps his big mouth shut.

I admit it—sometimes I’m jealous of stay at home moms. You can chat my ear off all day about how hard it is to be a parent and keep a house, but it still demands minimal accountability. You don’t get fired for being a mediocre parent or having mountains of unwashed laundry. There’s a lot of stuff to do in keeping a house, but you can spend a day on the couch if you want to. Working involves external accountability. It involves risk. It involves prioritizing and balancing and playing politics. It is hard. Maybe not with all jobs, not every job is hard. But being a litigator is hard. It involves all those things at rapid pace and in an unpredictable environment.

I am thrilled that issues of work-life balance have come to the forefront, and employers and employees alike are focusing on how workers can thrive in the office while also being satisfied in their personal lives. We’re talking about this struggle, and it shows me that I’m not a special snowflake after all. I’m tired of my pity party about how hard it is to do the juggle. And every time I read a new response to something Ann-Marie Slaughter or Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer has said or done, I realize that the work-life struggle is not unique. Not in the least. And if everyone is having the same difficult time, well there really isn’t much to whine there about is there?

Today on Hello Ladies, I read through this infographic.

As I scrolled down, more and more things rang true. Yes, I agree that women often are less likely to take breaks during the workday (It took years for me to convince myself that, as the guys in the office have demonstrated, it really IS ok to go to the gym for a bit during the workday).

But then I hit the bottom portion:
47% of working moms say they would be happier if they didn’t work.
36% of working moms say they resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home with the baby/kids.

I’m sickened by the idea of an entitlement to stay home. If we are to achieve any real balance between the sexes, we need to stop this farcical argument that keeping a house is equally demanding (and beneficial to the family unit) as staying home. Not every person needs to work—income and family responsibilities can be divided in all kinds of different ways. But the idea that women resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home is abhorrent.

So I’m saying it: The idea that women have some birthright to not work and tend to the children and home is absurd and antiquated. And buying into the idea that women somehow deserve to not work undermines the value of those in the workplace who do.

Dear ladies: GET A JOB.
And quit complaining.

Off

A Working Woman’s Paradox

I think and talk so much about being a “working mom” and “work/life balance” that I’m bored of it. Mr. Beez and I had the rare opportunity to grab a workday lunch together on Monday, and I asked him “you’re working all the time, and bouncing around with things at home, how are you not complaining about being burned out?” It turns out he is. Just as much as me. He just keeps his big mouth shut.

I admit it—sometimes I’m jealous of stay at home moms. You can chat my ear off all day about how hard it is to be a parent and keep a house, but it still demands minimal accountability. You don’t get fired for being a mediocre parent or having mountains of unwashed laundry. There’s a lot of stuff to do in keeping a house, but you can spend a day on the couch if you want to. Working involves external accountability. It involves risk. It involves prioritizing and balancing and playing politics. It is hard. Maybe not with all jobs, not every job is hard. But being a litigator is hard. It involves all those things at rapid pace and in an unpredictable environment.

I am thrilled that issues of work-life balance have come to the forefront, and employers and employees alike are focusing on how workers can thrive in the office while also being satisfied in their personal lives. We’re talking about this struggle, and it shows me that I’m not a special snowflake after all. I’m tired of my pity party about how hard it is to do the juggle. And every time I read a new response to something Ann-Marie Slaughter or Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer has said or done, I realize that the work-life struggle is not unique. Not in the least. And if everyone is having the same difficult time, well there really isn’t much to whine there about is there?

Today on Hello Ladies, I read through this infographic.

As I scrolled down, more and more things rang true. Yes, I agree that women often are less likely to take breaks during the workday (It took years for me to convince myself that, as the guys in the office have demonstrated, it really IS ok to go to the gym for a bit during the workday).

But then I hit the bottom portion:
47% of working moms say they would be happier if they didn’t work.
36% of working moms say they resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home with the baby/kids.

I’m sickened by the idea of an entitlement to stay home. If we are to achieve any real balance between the sexes, we need to stop this farcical argument that keeping a house is equally demanding (and beneficial to the family unit) as staying home. Not every person needs to work—income and family responsibilities can be divided in all kinds of different ways. But the idea that women resent their partner for not making enough money for them to stay home is abhorrent.

So I’m saying it: The idea that women have some birthright to not work and tend to the children and home is absurd and antiquated. And buying into the idea that women somehow deserve to not work undermines the value of those in the workplace who do.

Dear ladies: GET A JOB.
And quit complaining.

0

Back to the Real World, for a Moment Anyway

This week was trial week.  The verdict came in yesterday. A verdict for my client.  I was so proud of the result I achieved for them, and even more proud of how I felt when I tried that case.  I had worked hard.  I prepared thoroughly.  When I got in that courtroom, I was ready to go. Trying a case is a lot like taking a big exam.  If you’re not well prepared, it’s frightening.  If you are well prepared, it’s exciting. You just want to get in there and show everyone what you can do.

After the trial came the crash.  Several long days of preparation last week followed by three straight days of the trial RUSH is exhausting.  I did go to work today, but didn’t make it all the way through.  I left a little early, and at home crashed into a nap for several hours.

I start another trial in 11 days.  I’m excited, not stressed. Trial is what this job is about, after all.

2

4:50 am is a thing?

sleepylolcatI don’t know how these doctors and nurses and other people who wake up super early do it.  My alarm goes off at 6 am, and every morning I am full of hate.  Left to my own devices I’d probably wake up around 7:30 or 8, but 6 still feels brutal.  Twice this week I’ve suffered through that ungodly clang at 4:50 am.  Once for a poorly scheduled personal training appointment and once for a terribly scheduled deposition.

The getting up part really isn’t the worst of it.  I woke up fine, got ready and got where I needed to get in a timely fashion.  Then around 7:30 am it all came crashing down.  I spent the rest of the day moaning sleep, I need sleep!

I’m sure early risers go to bed earlier than I do.  Last night we had an event with our synagogue, and I didn’t get to bed until after 11pm.  That made the 4:50 wake up extra terrible.  Some people can function on 4 or 5 hours of sleep. I do much better on, say, 10 hours of sleep.  Not that I get it. But I’d love to.

Sleep has been a big focus of mine lately.  I had an old fashioned check up on Monday and chatted with the doctor about how I’ve been seemingly sick over and over and over since January.  Then I told her about how I’m out the door fairly early in the morning, then have work all day and then often have events in the evening and that doesn’t get me home until like 9 at night most nights.  Well duh, I’m exhausted and more susceptible to being sick and then getting sick.

I’ve officially been ordered by both my husband and my doctor to not stuff my calendar to the gills with this, that and the other thing.  This declaration comes at a good time.  I’ve got a trial I’ve been prepping for, and my work schedule doesn’t allow for me participating in many happy hours, get togethers and dinners anyway.  Til that jury verdict comes in, it’s all prep, practice, rest, repeat.

In other news, SMOKE TAQUERIA for dinner tonight, yesssss!