So I read the Bell Jar when I was in middle school, if I remember correctly. And yes, I was that skinny, stringy-haired nerdy girl whose name you didn’t know and didn’t want to know. I cared about books and not that much else, and even if I did steal the occasional glance at the nicely tanned boys at the pool once the hormones started kicking in, I was never so presumptuous as to expect a glance back.
Now that I am a member of the Bar, I am less skinny, more attractive, and still mostly interested in books. I get left out of a lot of conversations. I suppose it’s my fault. I really could do more to educate myself on lacrosse and the relative benefits of one stupid-ass prep school over another, but that would mean not finishing what I’m reading (currently A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book). And why would I want to do that? It’s not like it’s going to get me anywhere. I didn’t attend the right stupid-ass prep school, and I don’t send my kids to a stupid-ass prep school, ergo, I am never going to be accepted by a group of stupid-ass ex-prep schoolers. Which is what the Bar is.
I am admittedly depressed about this. They don’t tell you, either before or in law school, that your earnings ability as a lawyer will eventually depend entirely on your ability to suck up to well-connected people. When you are already a well-connected person, you have an advantage over someone who, say, earned her ticket to law school on her own academic merits. Nowadays none of what I am any good at matters. Not the fact that I am actually a pretty good litigator, that I’m smart, well spoken, well read, thoughtful, insightful, blah blah blah. What matters is that I am not clinking tumblers with the CEO of Legg Mason and never will be, and I don’t go skeet shooting with the head of the claims department at a major insurer, and I’m not bonking a lawyer who is doing any of those things. No, I’m just working hard. Doesn’t matter. I’m walking the Green Mile.
I find myself thinking, from time to time, about committing suicide in a really spectacular way. No need to get the subpoenas out, do gooders, I’m not going to do it. But I find thinking about it deeply satisfying, and isn’t that special. I like to think about sending a message to my colleagues inside the Bar Jar. I’m not Mark Levy, so personal brand is not going to get me an article in the ABA Journal. It’s going to have to be method, something that just screams, “Hey assholes, look what you’re doing to people!”
Sometimes I think about visiting the chambers of a certain judge and slitting my wrists with a razor blade, under his desk, where he can’t see. Eventually I guess I slump over. I feel bad about the stain I’d leave on the rug, but technically that stain is all I’ve got going for me now. Other times I lean against the window in my office and stare down at the street twenty-something floors below. I could take my law school graduation certificate with me. Hold it up like a parachute, and it’ll buoy me up just like it has in life. But I’m just ranting now. I’m not actually going to do any of those things. I will do what I always do, what all the other lawyers like me do, and there are so many of us, all anonymous, all desperate, all pathetic. I will go to work and sit at my desk for as long as I can stomach the disgust. Then I will go home, get into bed, and wait to do it again tomorrow.