Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

Just Your Average Joe Blogging Away His Debt—In One Year or Less

More More More

with 15 comments

Total Black: -$66.34
Total Red: $229,108.48

All day long a non-existent Lady Gaga tune has been going through my head.  An imaginary earworm, if you will.  In that husky voice of hers, she chants “More More More” and sings about all the people pulling at her.  Since this past weekend, I’ve felt the same.  It started with an email from my sister scolding me for not calling my mother.  Credit card companies won’t let up.  Even commenters are getting a bit demanding.  And now the temp job too.  Can you hear her?  More more more . . . .

As I was getting ready for the shift I picked up in Later Night / Early Morning, an email from my sister came arrived.  She wrote, “You better call Mommy, she’s really hurt that you never call her.  Also, there’s an ad for an attorney with experience for around here that you might be interested in.   Let me know if you want the details.”  Obviously “never” is an exaggeration.  But I suppose my mother has been dropping hints or stating flat out that I haven’t called.  I wrote a quick note to her explaining that I had been extremely busy and just haven’t had time to talk because of the hours put in at the contract attorney position and the shifts at the theatre.  I noted that my mother was probably feeling lonely and asked her to try to get her to see what’s going on with me.  To that she responded that I could call her for two minutes every so often and more importantly given how many times she’s bailed me out, it’s not a lot to expect from me.  I didn’t have time to write back because I had to be out the door for the theatre, but something in that response didn’t sit right with me.  Finally I realized that old, familiar guilt feeling creeping back up.  It’s a powerful motivator and one that I thought my mother had abandoned.  I suppose she’s dusted it off and pulled it out of the closet, like an old coat for these dark, wintry months.

I figured out that what I didn’t like about my sister’s email was the linkage between financial assistance and concern for my mother.  Or spun another way, that my mother has a right to a phone call from me because she gave me money.  Once I had time to think it over—nearly the entire day at the theatre when left to myself—I realized that if I subscribed to that view, I’d effectively be sanctioning my mother “paying” me for my time.  In consideration for X amount of money, the undersigned agrees to call Y times per week.  Absolutely not.  And I wanted to sever that linkage immediately.  The odd thing too is that I had spoken with my mother just about a week ago, as I noted in Purpose.  A week really isn’t that long to go by for someone to be enlisting the support of siblings to guilt trip you into not calling and paint you as a bad son.  I tried explaining that to my sister and noted that now that our grandmother had passed, my mother was feeling lonely and a week without a telephone call, when there’s no one around and nothing to do, probably feels like a month.  My hands are tied here for the moment.

People don’t understand the contract attorney life.  My sister thinks I can just step out for a moment and call my mother for two minutes to say hello.  Or maybe she thinks I still have an office.  Most of time contract attorneys sit in a room that looks just like a university computer lab.  Some one sits in front of you, behind, you, on either side of you.  Computers are everywhere.  They haven’t yet found a way to seat someone above and underneath you, but it’ll come. one day  There’s no privacy and you often can’t even have your telephone at the desk  so it’s not like you can just call someone and start a conversation.  Instead, you have to go out into the hallway and try to talk over ten other people’s conversations in the background.  That’s if you can actually step away.  Today, for example, that wasn’t possible.  The firm I’m currently working for called me over to help with making copies for a deposition.  It took nearly six hours straight through.  I didn’t leave that machine for a moment.  No, I take that back, once I walked away to go to the bathroom.  It was a task that had to be completed because the deposition would be happening the next morning.  And the staff attorney who solicited my help was right in the next room, so it wasn’t like I could call while I copied.  I guess my sister would have had me say, “Hold on a second.  I have to call my mommy.”  Forgive the sarcasm but it’s needed for emphasis.  It’s not as if months have gone by without calling my mother.  Two women I work with, both contract attorneys, spend over ten hours a day at the same job and they have small children at home.  Sometimes, they don’t even get to see their children.  They’re out the door in the morning before the children wake and back in the evening after they’ve been put to bed again.  What can I say?  That’s life.  We make choices.  Sometimes.  Sometimes we don’t have a choice.  Getting out of debt is not going to happen without sacrafices.  I’m learning that all too well.  And it means everyone in your life will have to go without a bit.  Sometimes that will mean skipping movie nights.  Sometimes cutting back on snacks.  And sometimes less time to be with you because you’re working so much.  I suppose I could move back in with my mother, take that local job my sister mentioned, and then we’d all be one happily, unmarried family.  Another lonely old gay man and his mother.  Sorry, but that’s not going to be me.

I called her on Sunday evening between shifts at the theatre.  Either she didn’t pick up or she wasn’t home.  If she didn’t pick up then that’s the sort of silliness I don’t want a part of.  I don’t need additional stress right now.  Especially when it’s been a week!  It’s not like months have gone by since I spoke with her.  More more more.  I’m not going to call her out of pity.  She deserves better than that.  And I’m certainly not going to call her because she loaned me money.  That’s repulsive.  I love her.  I’ll be there if something goes wrong.  And I’ll call to check on her or to talk with her, but I will not respond to guilt trips and other attempts at manipulation.  Because that’s all it is: manipulation.  Someone wants a certain result, and they’re trying different ways to make it happen.  It’s not very adult frankly.  It’s akin to a child’s temper tantrum.  I closed the door to mother’s guilt a long time ago and I won’t go back.

This job is also pulling at us.  The remaining contract attorney escaped today back to the temporary staffing agency’s location.  She had been working nearly the entire past two weeks at the firm.  I’m fine with the hours, but frankly, we didn’t sign up for secretarial work and didn’t sign up for trial prep.  We were told we’d be reviewing documents.  Something simple.  And the blessing is that you don’t take that work home with me.  Now instead we’re both helping prepare the firm as they get ready for trial, but helping as secretaries, not as attorneys.  Again.  That’s fine.  We’re getting paid.  But it’s important work that takes time and needs to be done carefully.  Frankly, we should be paid more for doing more than we signed on for.  But no temp would ever say that.  More more more.

And, of course, then there’s the credit card companies.  More more more.  Goes without saying.

And now total black is in the red again.  My attempt to buy beers for the theatre stooges I went out with in Later Night / Early Morning did backfire as I expected.  I knew it would.  I withdrew money that should have stayed in my account and got hit with insufficient funds fees.  And, of course, as Bank of America works it’s evil ways, those purchases that had already been approved got pushed down further on the list and my student loan payment elevated, and so the $20 recurring donation to Coalition For the Homeless that I set up in Change to Spare? will once again cost me $55.  More more more, eh?  Mice and men.  Mice and men.  Mice and men.

But I gotta just let it go and start chanting myself.  More more more.  Money.  Power.  Love. Fame.  Give me it all.  Why not?  Everyone else gets it.

15 Responses

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  1. you expect to get paid more for secretarial work than attorney work? really?

    and call your mother. or at least send her a text with that fancy iphone of yours. seriously, you’d be in a bottomless pit right now if it wasn’t for her. if you had hours and hours to go out with “friends,” you have 10 minutes to call your own mother – who actually gives a damn about you – make her day.


    February 3, 2010 at 12:27

  2. Prince Michael is my roomate. Ignore the demands of that nerd to write your blog. Do your thing – make the money and pay the debt. These people are unemployed and bored – don’t let them pressure you into spending more time on the blog than you can.

    And, yep, call your mom. As annoying as parents are, they get very lonely in old age.


    February 3, 2010 at 17:58

  3. By the way, that thing with your mom, don’t sweat it. Sounds like everyone’s story with their mom – at least mine. I know it doesn’t feel good to hear that she did so much for you and you should too – but she must have been really desperate and lonely to have said that. My mom has done a lot for me and in earlier days she never brought it up – but the older and lonelier she got she began saying it all the time. I kept telling her family should do things for each other not because they expect something in return but just out of love. I am sure both your mother and my mother know that in their hearts – but act out and say things they don’t mean out of sheer loneliness. And by the way there are people who live with their parents or close by and are totally happy and healthy and lead normal adult lives with marriages and families. The myth of a lonley guy/gal with his/her mother is not as frequent as made out in the movies.


    February 3, 2010 at 18:11

  4. No. Of course I don’t “expect” to get paid for secretarial work. The point I was making is that they’re asking us to do more than we were slated for. More work = more money. Technically, the temp agency and I are both loosing out. But I’m not about to ask. Not yet anyway. Not unless they were to ask us to stay on for the trial.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    February 3, 2010 at 22:47

  5. LOL. Too funny. Actually I just included that cite to his comment as a bit of a jab. I thought it funny that I was feeling this way and then his post comes through. Yet another person pulling at me. 😉

    Laid-off Lawyer

    February 3, 2010 at 22:48

  6. I sent my mother a text message around 1pm today. She seems fine. My frustration was that it’s been roughly a week since we last spoke. Her response, and her resort to my sister to try to trigger some reaction, seems exaggerated in relation to the time frame. Had two or three weeks gone by, I could understand. And we’re just coming off the holidays. Only four or so weeks ago. So given the surrounding circumstances, it really annoyed me because the last thing I need is additional pressure.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    February 3, 2010 at 22:51

  7. Yes, I know. You may remember a few weeks ago I wrote that I was going abroad because my dad was ill and may not survive. He did survive but his condition was and is abysmal. I had not seen him in a while – partly because I was busy, stressed/depressed with temping, found his demands for my attention annoying when I was already under so much pressure. Well when I saw him I burst into tears and could not stop crying for days. He had been like that because he was truly sick, lonely and scared and had even developed Parkinson’s and not told me. All I am saying is that sometimes we younger people get so caught up in our own drama we forget there genuine issues in the world, people are really suffering and there are worse things than what is happening to us. Don’t let too much time pass by – I know it hasn’t been that long with your mom – but it was a long time with my dad and I regret each day that I didn’t reach out to him. If I had maybe he would have been stronger mentally and as a result stronger physically. In old age, most of it is just knowing you are not alone and that someone cares. You don’t have to chat for hours – even a two minute conversation every a few days means the world to them, a gift, a card, a funny e-mail. My brother on the other hand did not give a shit earlier and did not give a shit even when he saw him. Maybe it’s a guy thing.


    February 3, 2010 at 23:14

  8. Please learn the difference between lose and loose. They’re totally different words. Lose–can’t find, taken away from you (lost). Ex: don’t lose your keys; you will lose privileges if you do that again. Loose–not tight (adj and adv), to release (verb, loosed). Ex: you have a screw loose; she has loose change; tie the knot in a loose manner, loose the cannons.


    February 4, 2010 at 09:04

  9. Javol Herr Grammar Kommandante.

    I hate when the spelling police and grammar freaks find your website. I know the difference between loose and lose. It’s not like lay and lie or affect and effect. “Loosing out” isn’t a word. Clearly it was a typo.

    Go after the “alot” people and leave mere typo-ists alone.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    February 4, 2010 at 09:12

  10. Hey Laid-Off listen, man, people like us call out for new posts because we really like your blog. I only like about 3-4 blogs out there – and yours is one of them. I am a very discerning reader so you should feel honored that I read and comment on your stuff. Not many people are that lucky.

    Prince Michael III

    February 4, 2010 at 10:04

  11. p.s. don’t stress out though. I am sure I can find soemthing to do in between your posts….

    Prince Michael III

    February 4, 2010 at 10:05

  12. Except you’ve done it before, which suggests it’s more than a mere typo. You’ll sound a lot more intelligent if you use the right word, and as an attorney, that’s a good thing.


    February 4, 2010 at 11:56

  13. Thank you, Your Highness. I do feel special when you deign to visit my pages from your electronic throne room. 😉

    Laid-off Lawyer

    February 4, 2010 at 14:20

  14. You know? I must apologize to you, Anon. And also thank you for bringing this to my attention. I’m not the type to blindly disagree and insist that I’m correct. Instead, I’ll go check to verify that I am. If not, I’ll own up to it.

    I ran a search for “loose” in the search box on the site and looked at instances where I used it. You’re right. Somehow I’ve been inadvertently writing “loose” when I meant “lose.” Not the other way around that I’ve seen. But “loose unemployment” benefits or “loose money” when I clearly meant “lose.” Not sure how that crept in, but I’m glad you helped me uproot it.

    My apologies for the rebuke. Feel free to Kommandante my grammar and spelling any time. I’m all up for betterment.

    Laid-off Lawyer

    February 4, 2010 at 23:48

  15. No problem.


    February 5, 2010 at 09:05

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