Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is Obama Perpetuating the Education Bubble?

This is probably too much for me to tackle at this time of night, when I had such a bad day, but I'm going to try and start it.  Please forgive grammatical or spelling errors.  

I like Obama. I voted for him and I don't regret that decision yet.  But there's one thing I hate about him.  His feeling that everyone needs an education. I can't say that I agree.  Everyone is entitled and needs a secondary education.  I agree with that. However, the enlightening experiences of college and graduate school, although wonderful in a Utiopia, are not for everyone. 

He is putting the cart before the horse.   Before he fixes the education system, post-secondary, he needs to rewrite the laws that prevent citizens from discharging student loans in bankruptcy.  The law was changed in either the late eighties or early to mid-90s.  I'm too tired to do the research.  Prior to that, they were dischargeable given certain conditions.  This is how I view the change in the bankruptcy law... I liken it to the bank bailouts which resulted from the sub-prime mortgage crisis. 

Basically, banks--who made stupid decisions to give people mortgages for homes that they cannot afford--were bailed out.  I think that both the banks and people who decided together to buy a home that is beyond them, should suffer the consequences of their decision.  The bank knows as much, if not more, than the mortgagor.  They have their own bank-ordered appraisal and they can decline to extend the mortgage.  But, they decided that giving 400K to a plumber who earns 69K  so that he can purchase a McMansion.  They even played with the payments so that the poor hypothetical plumber thought he could afford it, until he couldn't because interest kicked in... hence, the crisis that we're in. Instead of giving the money to the homeowner to pay back the bank, the government decided to give the money to the banks--insulating them from their own stupid decisions. 

What does this have to do with education?  

Well, the government, by changing the bankruptcy laws as they did, has insulated Sallie Mae and other student loan lenders from liability for their dumb decision to give money to an 18 year old to major in anthropology and other degrees that are unlikely to result in viable employment.  The only difference, in my mind, between the Real Estate Bubble and the Education Bubble is that the government bailout came after the bubble popped for the former and before the for the latter.  But to the same effect.  The education bubble will pop. It's just a matter of time.

In my world, where I rule with my libertarian principles in mind, Sallie Mae and the like would not be insulated and they would be forced to scrutinize the choices of the borrower.  They should be able to say, "Tom, you can't get a loan for 100K to go to 4 years of college at Penn State and major in Education.  You won't make enough to pay it back."  And don't worry about poor Tom because Penn State will be forced to re-evaluate the cost of its programs.  Penn State may decide to price the education you get, based on what your major is.  Otherwise, they may find that their students are unable to get adequate financing to attend.  Maybe Penn State will say that Education Majors from Penn State should only pay $25K for their education given what they are likely to earn as Teachers.  However, Engineers who earn decent money when they get out will have to pay a bit more (probably not 100K).  And maybe Penn State may decide that providing people with a degree in Education is not lucrative and they may discontinue the program.  But what would be so wrong with Colleges gearing themselves towards producing graduates that earn money?  Is that a bad thing?  So, before Obama starts preaching the importance of an education, maybe he ought to look in letting Capitalism do what it's supposed to do and change the bankruptcy law back.

I can't even get into the cruelty of insulating and bailing out huge financial monsters and leaving poor students pursuing empty dreams to fight bad credit and garnishment the rest of their lives.

There is a website that focuses on this very law and it has so many horrid stories about people unable to make money and unable to discharge student loans.  Here's a few of my favorites:


Let me begin by stating that I firmly believe in and support this great country of ours.  I am a first generation American whose parents and grandparents struggled to ensure that I would be given opportunities that they were not afforded in their native homelands.  Opportunity unfortunately has come at a great cost.  I was given the opportunity to attend undergraduate school and I earned a BS as well as going on to become a chiropractor.  The great cost I speak of is the staggering debt my education has put me in.  My loan balance is approximately $180,000.00 which $26,000.00 is interest.  My current monthly loan payment is $950.00.  The aforementioned loans have been consolidated.  I have another student loan that I received from the private sector which totals $18,000.00.  Securing a position in my field of chiropractic has been difficult; to pay my bills I took a position as a NYPD officer.  My NYPD take home is approximately $2000.00 a month.  

I have  been blessed to earn 2 degrees and cursed with student loan debt of 10 years of education.  Our country is truly great; however, it is disheartening and shameful that this great country cannot find a remedy to secure the future of its greatest resource.  That resource would be us.  Every young person with the true desire to contribute positively to our community only to be struck down by a government who drops billions of dollars in to our war chest fighting wars that are not ours, pursuing and fighting phantoms and nuclear threats that are unfounded, who is in bed with the oil nations who will never have our interests (only our purse strings)...  My solution is that the government pay for all undergraduate degrees as our allies on the other side of the pond do and also, forgive a percent of debt based on income and or previous years W2 as well as paying off debt by doing certain approved community service, repayment of loans based on a sliding scale and lowering the interest.  The American Dream is just that a dream.  It is a dream my parents and grandparents believed in and now because of high student loan debt that dream is just something I'll keep in the furthest reaches of my mind because I know I'll never become debt free and our government unfortunately will not help or provide support or solutions.


It had always been my dream to go to film school, and I was ecstatic when I got accepted into my first-choice school.  It was way beyond my ability to pay, and my parents didn't make enough money to give me much financial support.  Despite roughly $15,000 in scholarships and grants from the school, I still needed to borrow about $20,000 a year.  I had been religious about staying out of debt through college -- always paid off all credit card bills, etc, and was sure I could do the same for student loan bills. 

I graduated in 2001... And was living in New York.  When 9/11 happened, I lost all three jobs I had been working.  I searched desperately for new work -- but businesses were shutting down, and no one was hiring.  It was like the Great Depression had hit New York.  No one who had a job would leave their jobs, and people with far more experience than I had also lost their jobs.  I got a brief respite for six months, but interest was accruing.  When I tried to explain the situation, I was told there was nothing they could do.  I started being hounded about my student loans, and was given no cooperation or alternate repayment option when I explained my situation.  If 9/11 doesn't qualify as unforeseen special circumstances, I don't know what does.

My loan has since doubled, from about $60,000 to over $100,000 (this, in just five years).  No one is able to offer any protection, since Sallie Mae is so protected by the law...  There is  no reasoning with them, there are no lawyers who are willing to try to fight them, and there is no governmental help at all, to get even a second look at your case.  They act as judge, jury and executioner.

The government needs to stop taking payouts from Sallie Mae and ignoring who they really work for -- the citizens of this country.


I am also a victim of student loan disaster.  I filed bankruptcy because of illness and unable to maintain a job.  Then I filed for disability later after several surgery, during which time I was not able to contact physicians due to death or geographic disaster and with new laws hospitals and/or doctors offices have a limitation on how long they have to retain medical information.  Therefore, I have not been able to have my loans forgiven.  So I am still fighting to find a way to pay student loans.  I loved going to college (even though I couldn't finish}.  I wanted my kids to go college, and they did, unfortunately, now they are battling to pay extreme amounts of money, because of interests and whatever else.  Just like me no credit, mostly due to student loan reports.  Unless we get lucky and win the lottery or create a successful business. I feel very sad for all of us.  To try so hard to come from the bottom of the social system with pride and yet be destroyed mostly because you wanted more out of life.  I don't wish that the rich fall, because their are some decent rich at the top, however, my dream is that our government would wake up and realize what this county is suppose to stand for and what made it great, starting with morality.  And allow those that want to be apart of a great nation to do so and put forth a honest misson to sincerely help us.  And stop underhanded greedy secret tactics to discredit and hinder the "trying to get up have-nots" out of fear of who might get up and how many.  Either because they want to have and be in control of everything and everyone and their ability to do, be or live in freedom and have the ability to share the power to make positive changes for the less fortunate that want to do all they can to make the world a better place, especially, here, at home in our land of the free and home of the brave.

I am, by no means, saying that these poor souls were irresponsible. I'm not judging them at all. I understand that life happens. But life ought to happen to the lenders as well. Why is all of the risk centered on the shoulders of the borrower for (what should be) an unsecured debt. Lenders ought to be smarter. We may have to sacrifice a decade of college graduates to fix this system. But I'm sure that a college education will once again be attainable and high schools will rise to the occasion by giving their grads skills that they can use in the real world. What do you think?

Monday, September 28, 2009

I won't get out of bed for under $35 (and I hope I don't eat my words).

Met with a nameless parasitic temp agency [credit to Eve] today in the Big City. The guy I met with seemed nice enough: dull, a big lug. Someone who was probably not a great lawyer and fell into the position of temp attorney recruiter by accident. He probably considered himself a headhunter at some point--a kind of urban mercenary. But as the market tumbled, he came to realization that he is simply a temp contract attorney recruiter. He's one step above a leech.

I have met with so many of the temp agencies. I have picked favorites and thrown some other cards away. My favorite temp agencies are ones where there they say key words like: "temp to perm" or "hope" or "market picking up" or "insurance" and sometimes "401k." But today's temp agency is definitely at the bottom of my list. We had a good conversation about my "career" (ha!) and my goals. Then the conversation turned ugly:

"I know temp attorneys that haven't worked for a year. I guess they are too picky on how much they are willing to take hourly. I don't know how they survive."

"The rates have dropped so much. It was $35/hour in the summer and now it's dropped to $26/hour (40 hours-straight time)."

"I think this market isn't going to recover for months, if not years. The longer you can delay starting temp work the better."

"I'm thinking to submit your resume for this large financial institution. It's a corporate environment, which you would like and I know they would like you. But they aren't willing to pay more than $28/hour (40 hours only). But they may hire you if they like you, after 2 years or so." (FYI, this is about 60K a year... and that is IF it lasts a year)

"Well, I realize you think that you aren't interested in a job for $28/hour, but maybe you'll reconsider after a few months (of unemployment). How much is it again? $400? I don't know how you can pay for anything with that."

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm... yah.

He totally deflated my ego. I felt the same way as when I went to Jurassic Park. When I saw Jurassic Park in the theater (a hundred years ago), I was so engrossed in the film that I forgot it wasn't real. I went to the bathroom and was half expecting a raptor to jump through the wall. Then I had to calm myself down and said, "Angel, Dinosaurs aren't real. They don't exist anymore. Relax."

As soon as I got out of that nightmare, I emailed a couple of my contract attorney friends. They made me feel so much better.

Lily wrote:

"Thats a load of crap that agencies feed new temps so they can keep more of your money. His info is 6 mons out of date. About 6 mons ago, the rate bottomed out at 29/30 for some (not all) projects. I never worked for that low, but ppl took it bc of the lack of work. Now, rates have gone up and there is plenty of work and NOONE is paying less than 35. [Nameless state] rates tend to be lower but there also not as many projects. These days, 28 in [nameless state] is unheard of. Stick to your bottom line of $35. They are trying to file you away in the sucker drawer for when a cheap firm calls and they have some poor sucker to take it."

Sucker drawer. I luv that. How does one assume to put a 30 something year old educated women into a sucker drawer, I don't know.

Besides, he underestimates my ability to become anorexic or sleep my life away.. both are better options than working for $28/hour.

And Eve, in her infinite wisdom said: "I think if people accept jobs like that, they're helping to artificially depress the market. Fuck them."

Why don't we take control of our own market and unionize? What's stopping us? Should I start the movement?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Heart Gmail!

I really do. I love it for so many reasons...

1. The Layout... I use the Tea House Layout so I can watch my little critter tend to his Japanese garden through the day and night.

2. Chat.. I'd rather type than talk any day. This has been a great way to keep in touch with friends the world over and tell them how shitty my days have been. Hopefully, it will be a great way to tell them good news, if any materializes.

3. Unlimited Storage-Well almost. I have used 55% of my space and at some point I have to do some major erasing or buy space.

4. The conversation feature. I love that I can hypothetically have a "conversation" trail with potential employers if anyone were to email me back.


I have tons of labels: "Job Related", "Work Related", "Sent Resume", "To Do (Job Related)", "Temp Agency (Call for a Job)" and on and on.
The label feature has enabled me to track just how pathetic my job search has been. So, since I've started this blog, I have applied to 233 jobs. 233 job applications, wherein I have poured my heart and soul into cover letters stressing my abilities, experience and passion for this potential job. Anyone who has looked for a job knows that the most grueling part is the cover letter. I expose my soul to an HR person or a hiring Partner, pleading for a chance to prove my love to them. That I would love this opportunity to be someone and show them what I am made off.

I also have a label for "Rejection". 
I have received 5 rejection letters in total: 
1. SEC 
2. Bayer
3. Geico
4. Rutgers Newark and 
5. Bloomberg. Bloomberg sent me a rejection letter 20 minutes after I applied for the job. Although disappointed, I was impressed with their efficiency.

Am I so low that I'm not worthy of a rejection letter? I almost miss the days when I was graduating from law school and things were done via snail mail and I collected a whole stack of rejection letters that I burned in a bonfire after I received an offer. Where has common courtesy gone? If I spend 45 minutes filling out an application, answering questions about my legal status and creating a thought provoking cover letter, don't I deserve a rejection email. Just saying.... What do you think?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


On my way home from the stolen bike incident, I ran into my new rich friend--the Welder.  He felt bad for me.  He told me that I can remedy mistakes because I'm not too old. He told me to become a Police Officer.  I will consider it. 

I was just trying to save $2.70 a day in bus fare.

Once again... I am attempting to be sensible.  On a daily basis, I spend $2.70 on bus fare and $8.00 on train fare.  Well, I can't very well walk into the city, but I have two feet. I can bike to the train station.  Why waste the $2.70 a day on a bus when I can hop on my trusty, shitty, Schwinn and get the train station and get a little exercise in the meantime.  I'm just trying to be frugal because I'm out of a job.  The days of buses and cabs are over.

Yesterday, after my post office incident, I rode to the train station. I took my time and locked up my bike at the rack, making sure to put the chain through the frame and tire of the bike. I even looked at the surrounding bikes and noted that mine is in the bottom 25% of quality.  My seat hurts my ass... I'm pretty damn sure that no one would want it.  I did read a sign, however, that said that the Police would confiscate my bike if I left it more than 24 hours.  But I wasn't planning on doing that.

So, I get back to the train station late last night.  I had dinner with my friend Lisa and we went to the Borders bookstore to look at magazines.  It was about 10 when I got back. I used my head and thought I shouldn't ride my bike back at night cause I'll be robbed or killed in the dark mean streets of the Hood.  I hitched a cab and dreaded the $8 ride.  But I was trying to do the sensible thing.  

This morning, I take the effing bus to the train station. I tally up in in my head that I'm $9.35 out of pocket for my discretions (not indiscretions, because I was doing the right thing) ... but I think that safety comes first.  Besides, I took my gym clothes and I'll ride my bike back home.... OR SO I THOUGHT.

So, I stop by at the gym on the way back and change out of my suit. I'm grungey and ready to ride. I'm envisioning a ride through the park or the ethnic part of town.  I was thinking about picking up Samosas from the Indians.  

Visions of Samosas were dancing in my head.

On the train, I ran into the Super's son.  We parted ways... I told him, "I'm not riding the bus, I have my bike here... unless it's stolen, ha ha."  I climbed the stairs and walked to the bike rack... and there was a huge space where my bike was supposed to be.  

I circled the rack three times like Muslims circling the Kaaba, with a sense of awe and amazement, that I was doing the "right thing" by saving money... and now I was going to be set back $300 for my effort.   $300 = one student loan payment, $300 = condo maintenance for one month, $300 = food and entertainment cost for a month.  $300 = 1/2 of homeowner's insurance for the year.  FUCK ME.  

And, no, the cops didn't confiscate it.  They were really sweet.  They said that some crackhead probably needed a ride home.

So, once again... NOT spending with reckless abandon, trying to be frugal, trying to exercise... doing the right thing doesn't work out for me in the end.  Not to mention the fact that I live in the hood because I didn't want to buy a place that was too expensive.... 

I should pick up prostitution, alcoholism and drug use and see where that gets me!  I'll probably end up a millionaire with a reality show.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Down with the U.S. Postal Service!!!

The USPS doesn't really want to deliver your mail.  

I have very little these days that makes me happy.  About a month and a half ago, I ordered some facial products for $37.  I need that facial cream.  It will make me happy.  I had it delivered to my office like I typically do... but somehow this stupid company got the wrong address and I sorted it out with them. I told it to deliver to my super's apartment because I'm rarely home (and I'm soon to be fired).

So, I check the web site. I was pleasantly surprised at how advanced the site was (read: it looked like the FedEx website).  I put in my tracking number and found out that they attempted delivery and failed. I wondered how this could be because the Super is always home... along with 20 undocumented relatives that he packs into that apartment.  But when I called the USPS they said I could go to the local post office and show my ID and pick up the package.

I woke up extra early this morning and wore a too tight dress.  I got on my bike and immediately regretted my choice of apparel and/or choice to ride a bike.  I rode over to the post office uncomfortably, dismounted my bike and went in.  There were three people in front of me. I was there at 8:30.  It's a small place.. so I actually witnessed that two of those people were there to do what I was attempting to do.  The first lady was denied because she didn't have the tracking number.. and it was clear that the post office worker had the package and wasn't handing it over.  The other woman didn't have an up-to-date id--but came with her lease and a utility bill.  Alas, this wasn't enough to retrieve her package.  She too left in defeat.

It was my turn.  I walked up to the Postal Gatekeeper and told her my story.  She asked for my id which is up to date.  I live at 125 Smith Avenue and the package was sent to Angel in c/o Super @ 127 Smith Avenue.  125 and 127 share a courtyard and it just so happens that 127 is the building with the Super's Apartment.  She looked at my id and then at the screen and said, "The addresses don't match.  Sorry. I can't give you the package."  What????  But it's my name and it's 2 digits off.. and it was sent to my Super... like 95% of people in my hood (most all don't have doormen) have it delivered (if they are gainfully employed, big IF).  She said she couldn't give it to me.

So what am I to do, oh wise Postal Sphinx of the Ghetto?  She offered re-delivering it.  I said, "About that?  How wasn't it delivered when my Super is home all day long and all of his illegal family members are living there with him???"  She said, "Where is his apartment?"  I told her it was down corridor to the left of the building.  

"OH," she says, "The Post Office Delivery guy won't go down a corridor for safety reason."  So, what she is telling me is that the delivery guy drove up the building.. saw that the Super's apartment is not in the front of the building (what super lives in front of the building?) ... got back in his truck and drove away???? 

Are you kidding me? 

So, once again, I asked the riddler what I am to do?  She said, we can redeliver it to your Super and you can tell him to look out for the truck.  But she can't give me a time.  And he doesn't have windows facing the front of the window.  And come on, that's asking a lot of the man. 
She says, what about to your home.  But I'm never home...  She said, "Well, pick a day that you'll be home."

Perfect.  I'll be home after October 15th cause I'm fired after that.  

"OH NO.... We only hold onto packages for 2 weeks... so."  

"So you're telling me that you guys can't deliver the package to me, don't want to deliver the package to my Super and don't want to give it me at the post office.  Is that correct?"  


I walked out in a huff and said, "FINE!  I'll throw the money away then!"

Yah right, I went back to the office and called the company and screamed at them... as if it's their fault.  I can't throw away $37. I'm fucking unemployed.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm not good with my hands, but I'd rather be a Welder.

Riding the bus with my neighbor to the Train Station, I was bitching like always. I hate being a lawyer, lah-di-dah-di. He feigned sympathy. I pretended not to notice that he didn't care. I didn't actually care if he cared. I just needed to gripe. So, across from us on the bus was a welder in his full-on gear. He couldn't help but hear how miserable I was. He decided to contribute to the misery by sharing with us, his story:

When I was a little boy, I wanted to grow up to be like my papa. No one in my family said I should go to school or stay out of jail, I just knew I wanted to be like my papa and I couldn't do that if I got in trouble. He was a welder and he worked hard his whole life. Now, I'm a welder like my dad was and I'm 53 and 2 years from retirement. I look good for my age. I am fit. I weld bridges in Alaska. I weld boats at dock. I earn $80 an hour and life has been rough--but I think I did okay.

Yah. You did, man. I can feel my 30 something ass spread while you are growing muscles and earning $40 more per hour than my educated self.
Wouldn't life be grand if I ran a daycare and bred puppies. How much does that pay per hour?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What the hell do the Chinese know???

I knew that I wanted to become a lawyer when I was 16 years old. I had a couple of bizarre coincidences that made me think it was my destiny. I used to do Model UN in high school and I was damn good at it. After I kicked ass as a controversial country at a Model UN meet, a couple of unrelated people went out of their way to tell me that I was good on my feet and I should consider becoming an attorney when I grow up.

Later that year, my mom sent me to Congress with a family friend--a congressional staffer. Although I thought his job was a boring as watching paint peel, his description of the role of lobbyists on Capital Hill intrigued me. He said that lobbyists are often lawyers. I thought that life seemed like the life for me.

The final clue came about a month later. I was eating chinese food with a friend and I opened the fortune cookie with eager anticipation. I'm extremely superstitious and I take what those fortune cookies say to heart. So, I cracked it open and I ate a piece of it (cause the fortune doesn't count unless you eat the cookie) and I held my breath as as pulled out the fortune.

It read: "You will be a good Lawyer." NO JOKE. I took the fortune to be a sign and I put myself on a life course to become a lawyer. I even kept the fortune for years and years--as a symbol of my future.

10 years later, I was clerking for a judge and coming to the end of my clerkship and I was heading home with the contents of my desk in a duffle bag. On my desk, I had a picture of my best friend and I and at the bottom of the framed picture was "The Fortune." I lovingly gazed at this fortune during the entire clerkship, longing for the day that I would make appearances in court and zealously advocate for clients. Anyways, I digress. I'm on the train, on the way home from my clerkship with my framed fortune, and I fell asleep. When I woke up, my duffle bag was stolen with my wonderful fortune. I should have taken that as a sign from God. Although, I'm superstitious in every other aspect of my life, I didn't take this bizarre theft to mean anything at all.

Eventually, I did become a litigator and a DAMN good one. I tried cases, argued legal memorandum, won cases against people with far more experience and money than my rinky dink firm and I. I would have continued to be a great attorney if SHIThead bosses and low pay didn't push me to greener pastures. Okay, I needn't remind you, that was a bad move... because going to big law for a cushy position as a Staff Attorney rendered me expendable and did nothing to further my skills in the courtroom. Now, I'm expended, i.e. unemployed.

So, this weekend, I'm having chinese food with my main squeeze. Mind you, I am down on my luck--having been fired on a week before from my comfortable job. So, I'm looking forward to this Goddamn fortune, as if my life and livelihood depends on it. I'm hoping it gives me insight in my future as a contract attorney. Or maybe guidance as to my new business as a solo... I need a good fortune. What does it say? It says, "You are next in line for a promotion in your firm" What the flying fuck does that mean????? I was just fired. At this point, I'm ready to dig a hole to china, just so I can bop a chinese wise man on the head for misleading me the first time around and fucking with me the second.

Just to make the whole incident divinely ironic, my sweetie pie opened his fortune cookie, and it says: "You will do well to expand your business." HA! He is still an employee of big law! What the ef? He has no immediate plans for a business. I'M THE ONE WHO IS UNWITTINGLY GOING SOLO! I should have gotten his, and he should have gotten mine (or he would have liked to)... Or I should take this whole thing as a sign that I made a mistake basing my future, my destiny, on a fortune cookie... a mistake that has lasted nearly 2 decades.

Moral of the story: Don't base your life on Fortune Cookies. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Law School: Don't do it!

So, I was stupid and uninformed and I went to law school.  But thank God, I wasn't the only idiot to make that mistake.  Some people think that God gives us all a mission in life. I definitely have one. I have a duty to tell all naive students not to go to Law School.

Let me break it down for you.  People think Lawyers make money. People hate lawyers, they respect Lawyers.  Whatever your feelings may be.. whether you think they are intellectuals, bloodsuckers, scam artists, ambulance chasers, or crooks....  you probably assume they make money.  WRONG!  My school, let's call it, Princeton School of Law, promised that the average salary of a lawyer graduating from law school was $70K.  That sounded like a lot of money to me at the time. I thought I could count on earning at least $70K.  That's not what happened.  What happens is that a shitload of people earn $40 or $50K, a few people earn (at the time I graduated), $125K and this somehow averages to $70K.  This was before "The Crash."  So things have only gotten worse.  Ha.  Lawyers graduating in May 2009 would be dancing for joy if they found a job earning $50K.  Let's downward modify that to $30K.  

And you can't even tell someone that your earning potential will grow.  If you're a first year associate today, earning $165K--your salary may have been cut down to $145K or $125K.  And you may never become partner.  Actually, you will never become Partner.  That's a myth. It's almost attainable in firms big and small.  So, you have no future in your big firm.  Eventually you're counseled to that effect and you're encouraged to move on.  What will you do?  Ideally, you will move to an in-house counsel job.  But you aren't that lucky.  

So, in all likelihood, you'll do something to give back to society.  I guess you've taken so much that you must be punished.  That's not true of course.  Earning a good living for less than a decade does not warrant punishment.   But you will be punished by earning $40K doing nonprofit work, or devoting yourself to civil service.  Either way, you're not earning a lot of money.  Oh yah, and you have $200K of debt that you PROBABLY didn't pay off because you thought you'd always be living on cloud 9 in big law.  So now you're fucked.  

The other scenario is that you weren't on moot court or law review and you're always trying to pursue to the allusive 6 figure salary.  And you can never save enough because you pitch over $1000 a month to those shitty loans that you pulled out to go to law school.

What should you have done?
You should have taken an entry level job at a company and worked your way up the corporate ladder.  By the time you're 25, when your dumb friends are graduating from law school, you are already earning over $60K without debt.  

It's all about net, not gross.  $60K-$200K law school loans equals not enough money.  $60K free and clear is ideal.  

This is the legal field's dirty little secret.  No one seems to know or consider this when they decide to take the $200K plunge for a law school education.  They just ASSume that this is the responsible thing to do when you graduated from college.  Law Schools aren't going to tell you this.  Because they can't be honest with you and still get you to fork over the money.  We are drowning in lawyers.  There are too many of us and there is certainly not enough money to make sure that we won't all go hungry.  But every day law schools open up and get accreditation from the ABA.  Every year, more and more people sit for the bar... thinking that the hard part is behind them.  It's in front of you folks!  Now that you're strapped with a law school loan that you can't get rid of in bankruptcy, how the hell will you live?

You can live in the hood like me.  I can very honestly say that I don't have more now than I did when I was in law school. I travelled more when I was in law school. I had a car when I was in law school. I had more clothes when I was in law school. I ate at nice restaurants.  Now, I live like a student.  I better get used to it because it's not getting better for people like me.

Maybe someday, Capitalism will do what it's supposed to do and law schools will close for failure to produce happy graduates.  I can only pray.

Drip Drip, Drip Drip, Drip Drip.

So, I work for (the next few weeks anyways) a big firm.  Let's call it Gangster & Dunn.  At GD, we felt stable as Staff Attorneys.  What is a Staff Attorney, you may ask?  It's a dead end position where you do document review or anything else that would be expected from a first or second year associate.  Up until The Crash, we were paid well.  We had decent hours.  Sometimes, we would work late and weekends, but generally, we were happy campers.  But then, people started dropping.  First it was the slackass girl who didn't think she needed to come to the office, or work at all... so we weren't really upset.   All of the SAs thought that she deserved to be fired.  Then... a few weeks later, it was people with questionable hours, or people who had issues with associates.  There was always a reason.  Actually, GD was so good to us that some people were given warnings.  We thought, if you don't get a warning, then there's nothing to fear.  That means you're fine.

But then the firings got a little weird.  How can GD let Lily go when she's a key person on a major case?  How can GD let Bob go when he billed 230 hours every month for the last few months.  Even after Bob was fired, he worked so damn hard for his final month.  Maybe they'll change their minds?  

Then a few weeks or even a month would pass and we would put it out of heads.  We thought they were finished.  I even had a few people in Finance.. my own deepthroat... who told me that GD was so great that we had higher profits than ever.  Surely they would finish with seemingly unnecessary layoffs.

But no, they fired a guy who was there for 5 years and another that was there for 10.  When would the madness stop.

About then is when I got the call. I was out.  And that's fine. I'm single and I will survive.  But they surely wouldn't go on to fire people with children and families.
But then they did.  GD fired people with children.  Where is the mercy?

Anyways, one by one, the SAs are being shot down.  It's just torture.  It's not right. It's not fair.  If they know they are going to disband the program... give us each 6 months to find a job and a nice severance package.  But to have no loyalty to us when we wear the GD emblem proudly on umbrellas and tote bags is just so damn wrong.

I really wish I was born 75 years ago.  There are a couple reasons why.  First of all, maybe I could have avoided that women's lib nonsense which gave women 2 full-time jobs as if one weren't enough.  And maybe I could have landed a job with United Steel, where I would be part of a Union which would fight for my rights. I would start working for them as a secretary at 17 and retire at 50 with a juicy pension.  All without the encumbrance of a student loan for a worthless degree, aka the JD or the Just Dick degree.  It just hurts so much to do your job, to the best of your ability and without question.  And to be let go like a cat that pissed on the couch one to many times.  Free to wander from contract job to contract job like a vagrant.  Isn't life exciting?  Not really. It's just terrifying.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Just put me out of my misery!

Once again, doing everything right bites me in the ass.  
Unlike all of the victims of the subprime crisis... and I do call them victims, I always knew better. I always knew that I need a 30 year fixed mortgage and I also knew that I should be able to afford my home easily.  So rather than buying a $400K studio in the most desirable part of town, I opted for a $150K place in a neighborhood on the edge.  "On the edge" meaning that it's two blocks from the ghetto, but it has potential to improve.  So, happily, I have a beautiful one bedroom which is fully renovated in a less than desirable part of town. I could have done better... but I wanted to do the right thing.  
So... fast forward to today.  I'm fasting.  I decided to make a sacrifice for God so maybe he'll throw me a bone.  I am so afraid of imminent homelessness due to job loss that I found religion.  I don't need God smacking me in the face, so I'm trying to do something for Him. Today was the first day I trekked out to the temp agencies to register in case (in the likelihood) that I don't find a job.  Between that I went to work.  The two offices were on far ends of the City and my office was in the middle. I was pooped, I was drained, I was defeated.  Life as a contract attorney just seems so daunting. So, needless to say, I was a little down and tired and hungry.  I get to my train stop and I get on the bus.  The WRONG bus which, in my starved haze, doesn't become apparent to me until I am in the ghetto.  Ghetto is defined as an area of my town that has two many homeless men with bottles in bags and too many burned out buildings. I finally turn to my neighbor on the bus and I say, "Where the hell am I?"  She tells me that I'm obviously lost.  I don't know what to do, I'm hungry.  To get off the bus and go to the other side of the road and go back to the train station--only to get back on the correct bus is just disturbing to me.  But I decide to get off. I'm wearing an uncomfortable suit and heels from my "interviews" earlier in the day.  As I'm getting up, the bus comes to an abrupt halt. I fall into this young man who proceeds to laugh his ass off of at me.  I make my way of to the front of the bus to ask for a transfer (after all, I'm unemployed) and she tells me she doesn't have one.  At this point, at least in my mind, the WHOLE bus is laughing at me.  Not just laughing, but cackling like clowns at me.  I don't know what to do.  My face turns red and I'm just upset.  I literally run of the bus.  I make my way across the street to the bench for the bus.  I start really feeling badly for myself.  My eyes darting between the homeless men on the stoop, the burned out building, the closed stores and the young girls doing some "booty" dance which is nothing my daughters (if they ever come to fruition will be permitted to do).  I'm imagining being robbed and shot in the face.  I'm scared.  Then, this quasi-homeless looking man approaches me with a small plastic baggie which I can only imagine is crack.  And I ask, "What is that???" and he says, "It's a gold bracelet, do you want to buy it?" and I just burst into tears.... I told him I lost my job and I can't buy anything and I'm lost.  He lays of the sale of merchandise and directs me where to go.  On my way to the proper bus stop that will get me in the vicinity of my condo, several really nice and nosey people ask me what's wrong... and all I can say is that I was laid off.  Anyways.. long story short, 45 minutes later, I gave up on the bus and walked home, all the while being subjected to men in cars yelling things at me, "Hello" and "Do you know English?" and "Do you need a ride?"
Why does this relate to doing everything right, you may ask?  Because I bought a place that is affordable that is so close to the ghetto.  Get it?  Shoot me!  

Monday, September 14, 2009

Why is this happening to me?

So, I was a good girl. I loved school. I loved it so much, that I would cry if I had to miss it.  Even if I were sick.  I remember, as a child, telling my mother that I needed to get home to do my homework.  I excelled in school and this was important to my family.  As the child of immigrants, I understood in the core of my being that getting an education was the way to "make it".  I wouldn't be that girl from the strange foreign family in the lily white suburbs of Metropolis. I would be something one day.  Just stay in school.  A president told me that actually, and it stuck.

So, I was always an honor student.  I didn't have any pressure from my parents--it was all me.  I couldn't stand the idea of a "C".  The biggest insult I could ever hear would be that I was stupid.  I read books like people at the rate that fat people consume food.  Or drunks drink whiskey.  I couldn't get enough of it.  I went on to graduate with honors from College... and I continued on to Law School in due fashion like I had a fire under my ass.  I don't know why I rushed. But I felt compelled to become someone. I was going to be an ATTORNEY.  I would have a title that would scream "educated and respected."  Or so I thought.

I never really concerned myself with boys.  I was told, you have time.  Get your education.  Marriage and children can wait.  Why didn't my biological clock get that message?  So, I rushed through school.  For the very first time in my life, I found school to be a little much to handle. I graduated, but I didn't do wonderfully and I realized that the cards were stacked against me when I graduated.  But I told myself that I didn't need anyone to help me.  Screw career services.  Who needs 'em. I passed the bar and I can make my own way.  Just needed to stay focused.  Men and babies can wait.  Marriage can wait.  It's career that matters.

So, over half a decade later. I find myself in the worst recession nearing the magnitude of the great recession... and I find myself laid off.  And here I go again.  With yet another set back.  A measly savings.  A stupid 401K that was hit so hard with the stock market down turn, that it fell over.   I can't believe I'm here.  I did everything right. I have nothing to show for it.  What does it matter if you have a decent salary if you're stuck with nothing after a couple of years.  Why didn't I just get knocked up again?  At least I'd go home to a baby's smiling face.  I'm not complaining. I do have a couple of things to show for myself. But I just expected so much more.  And I'm not suffering from entitlement.  I just don't know what more I could have done.  My uneducated immigrant parents had a 5 bedroom house, two cars and two kids by the time they were my age. I have nothing... except a large student loan and dismal job prospects.

I'm just mourning the loss of what I never got to have. 

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