Friday, July 22, 2005

The Reality

I'm 38 years old, and I'm quitting a well-compensated job to go to a state law school in the city I live in.

So far, this has been a tremendously odd experience. I think that will continue. Deciding to do this seems to have made me some kind of screen on which people (my friends, my dates, my current and future colleagues, my shrink) feel free to project all kinds of meanings, all kinds of narratives about dreams and change and risk and courage, none of which I feel particularly much.

My job was boring me to death. I'm smart, but I'm also kind of confrontational, and I'm not really happy without a fight. I felt like I was wasting my time. This feels mildly insane to me (because of the financial risk, because I don't want to live like a grad student again, because too much of law seems to be set up along a winner-take-all, freakish overachiever model that I've thoroughly bought out of, because I'm too fucking old for this shit, because being in school is, as my undergraduate thesis adviser put it, "an infantilizing condition," and again, I'm *way* too fucking old for this shit), but at the same time, it feels completely inevitable. That's how most of my friends react. "Law school. Of course. Tell me again, why didn't you do this 15 years ago?"

But law school itself is a screen for a lot of weird stories, like those told by the Mother Hen, my 52-year-old fellow 1L, who wrote something like the following to the 1L message board (paraphrased to protect the guilty):
"I just want to give you all some motherly advice. First year is really really hard. A lot of people drop out. It can destroy marriages! It can destroy lives! You won't all get A's! Run! Run for the hills! Slit your wrists now!"

Yeah, thanks Mom. Tell me again--why I don't live at home?

But still. The grain of truth here is that my fellow students, the 22 year olds and Mother Hen alike, seem to simultaneously fear and crave some kind of dramatic, life-shaping, trial-by-fire experience, and I...just...don't.

It's school, people. Have we not all been to school before?


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