This week, I bring you the Vermilion Flycatcher. I photographed this bird in Tucson last March while I was there on a lawyer boondoggle (also known as continuing legal education). At the time, I thought I’d photographed a Scarlet Tanager, but I’ve since learned that while the two birds are similar, the Scarlet Tanager doesn’t have the black mask.
Speaking of lawyers, today I’m on Day 15 of my 100-Day-No-Booze Challenge. While that may seem a non-sequitur, once again I learned this week that BigLaw drives me to drink.
The week started out as fairly uneventful. I’m still sleeping the spectacular sleep of the alcohol-free. On Wednesday, at around the 12-day mark, I started feeling a bit zippy. My mood seems to have lifted. As we all know, alcohol is a depressant. What I did not realize, is that it’s a depressant even when you’re not currently under the influence. Either that, or I’m just feeling better because I’m sleeping so well—every single night.
Interestingly, several of my very best drinking pals (i.e., friends) are curious about my 100-Day Challenge. One has even gone so far as to join me. She’s under a lot of stress right now because her boyfriend/fiance/boyfriend/fiance (I think we’ve landed on fiance at the moment) is in treatment for Stage IV NHL. Like me, she tends to manage the stress by numbing it with a vat of red wine. We’re both determined to find a better way of coping. At least for the next 100 days.
So, back to alcoholic lawyers. According to the American Bar Association, as many as one in five lawyers is a problem drinker—twice the national rate. I’m guessing that rate is even higher when it comes to litigators like me. I’ve been working on a case with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake. When you get into that kind of money, it’s almost like dealing with Monopoly money. It becomes a bit difficult to fathom. With regard to this Monopolyesque money, it is my job to come up with legal arguments why my client is entitled to obtain this money from another entity. The client would prefer my legal arguments are successful. I’m under a short deadline within which to identify the arguments and write a coherent brief sufficient to sway a court to grant my motion that the other entity shall give these hundreds of millions of dollars to the client. Sometimes the facts and the law do not support your position. No matter how hard you look, how many cases you read, how much you brainstorm, how you present the facts. Sometimes your case just sucks.
Now, I’m not going to tell you that I’m dealing with one of those sucky cases. Suffice it to say that I had set my sites on a terrific winner of an argument, and was ready to spend the weekend writing a phenomenally persuasive brief. I was almost looking forward to spending my weekend, a weekend when the sun has finally made an appearance, writing the brief. And then late Friday afternoon, I uncovered a tidbit of information that sank my entire argument. Not only did it sink my argument, but it completely wiped out my hard-won enthusiasm.
Friday night (last night), I wanted nothing more than to open a bottle of red and numb my brain. I wanted to bury my complete and utter distaste for my job, if only for one night. I wanted to zone out. Tune out. Check out. Instead, I made myself a dinner of polenta and eggs, watched a tiny bit of tv, read a little, and went to bed. I made it through Day 14.
Here I am now, on Day 15. The brief is not going to write itself. And so far, I’m not going to write it either. But I am on a deadline. It has to be done. And again, the wine is calling my name.
Fuck the brief. I think I’ll go outside and take a walk. Maybe after a walk, I’ll be ready to tackle it. Or maybe I’ll come back and run numbers on my retirement calculator, fantasizing about how long until I can quit BigLaw.