Confessions of a Laid-off Lawyer

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

A Bit Temperamental

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Total Black: $389.73
Total Red: $229,121.20

I spent the entire day working at New World Stages.  I started off the day at The Gazillion Bubble Show in the morning.  Then Avenue Q for the matinée performance.  I had intended to head to the contact attorney position once I finished up at the theatre, but then I got a chance to usher a new show, The Temperamentals, in the evening.  So I took it.  I’ll put those hours in tomorrow that I would have done today.  Glad I saw the Temperamentals tonight.  Got me thinking.

The Temperamentals is a play depicting the history of the one of the earliest groups to shine light on inequality and the unfair treatment and even downright persecution of homosexual people.  The group was called The Mattachine Society and was the brain-child of Harry Hay.  Founded in 1950, the group had quite the uphill battle facing the scourge of Joseph McCarthy.  The five founding members also clashed over non-confrontational tactics versus more conciliatory approaches to effecting social change.  I can’t recall now where or how I heard of Harry Hay and learned gay rights history.  Probably in one of the many books I’ve picked up over the years.  Subsequently, I learned much about my “people’s” history and the struggles and battles fought and lost, and then won, to achieve what perhaps now can be dubbed a begrudging tolerance across much of the nation.  Hate crimes abound, and even getting sexual orientation-based attacks included as a category took battles of their own. But clearly some level of success has been achieved.  A play is a form of high culture and appeals to the more decent members of society.  It’s also a sign of social acceptance of some bare minimum.  Clearly this play could not have been performed—overlook the historical impossibility for a moment—fifty years ago.  Maybe not even thirty years ago.

So what does any of this have to do with my debt or being laid off?  Not much really; not directly I suppose.  I worked this show so that’s one angle.  But really all of today’s performances got me thinking about our trajectory.  The Gazillion Bubble Show reminded me of the innocence and excitement of youth when even something simple as a bubble can stir the imagination and invoke wonder and joy.  Then, as depicted in Avenue Q, we hit late adolescence / early adulthood and find ourselves a bit disillusioned by life and all the crazy challenges and silly mistakes we met with along the way: what’s my purpose in life, why am I here, what do I do with the rest of my life, and on and on.  Then finally, after screwing around for much of our young adulthood, we all meet that fork in the road where we must decide what to do and pick a path and walk down it.  Some of us are called early to a vocation and we pursue it vigorously.  Others struggle for many years, like Hay, trying to fit in and find the place where they belong.  A few of us, like one character in The Temperamentals, can’t face the prospect of growing older and end our lives prematurely.  And there are those among us who make a seismic impact on everyone and everything following in our stead and yet nearly disappear, like Hay, into the ashes of history.  Hopefully all of us find a bit of love along the way.

I went to law school to make a difference.  I wanted to use the strength of the law and the power of logic and philosophy to help enact positive social change in the world.  The selfish side of me wanted a bit of fame and fortune too.  And I wanted my focus to be on equality for sexual minorities, as Hay coined the term sixty years ago.  Isn’t it funny then that until this post I’ve not yet tagged “gay” as a term?  And I haven’t done anything to advance legal equality for LGBT peoples.  To date, my career—including as a contract attorney—has focused exclusively on the business world.

Time for a reassessment.

I didn’t get to see the entire show tonight because as an usher you have other responsibilities, some which took me out of the theatre.  But I’ll watch the entire play soon.  I need it to recharge my batteries and refuel my engine.  I’ve been running on empty for too long now.

And speaking of running on empty, total black is effectively gone.  I sent three hundred dollars to my federal student loan debt.  It’s gone nearly 120 days past due now.  The monthly payments are over a hundred dollars and I just can’t afford it.  I want to bring it current and then see if I can get a deferment.  Total red might also be shooting up by $2,000.  I received a letter in the mail from the IRS today informing me that they “discovered” errors in my 2007 tax return and have in turn bumped up the total amount that I owe.  And added on penalties and interest.  Apparently the payment I made on this discovery wasn’t allocated to it directly because they’re claiming they’ve contacted me now twice without a response.  And so are also charging me interest from then till now.  I need to get a tax attorney already and get assistance clearing all this up.

It’s gotta stop sometime, right?  Or do I need a third job?  I’d take one if I could find one that’ll let me work nights.  Can’t I please just get a short reprieve?  Just one break.  That’s all.  Maybe a large infusion of cash to give me that leg up.  Is that really too much to ask from life?

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