Sunday, December 12, 2004

I just got off the phone with my nephew, who's a sophomore in college. Today's his birthday, so I called him to wish him well. I think college is turning him into a communist. He thinks making money is wrong unless you do something good with it. He said I'm selfish. I think he's trying to get me to offer to pay his tuition. It's not going to work.

He said he sees his friends who are seniors start to get jobs, as investment bankers or management consultants, or decide to go to law school, and he feels sad for them because they're going to waste their abilities and not do any good for the world. I think he has a lot of growing up to do. It's not all about doing good. Not everyone can do good. Some of us like having nice things. Some of us like being able to pay our bills. Some of us like playing golf. He wants to paint. Not everyone who wants to paint can make a living painting. He thinks anyone who doesn't follow his passion is a bad person, living an unclean life. When he was talking it made my skin crawl that he's even related to me. He doesn't understand that the world doesn't always let you do what you want to do. Sometimes you have to make decisions. There are sacrifices and tradeoffs. You can't always follow your heart. The world isn't like that.

He brought some of his paintings to Thanksgiving. I don't know anything about art, but I know I thought his paintings were terrible. He's going to end up homeless. And he'll deserve it, because he's a bright kid and if he doesn't go do something useful with himself, like become a doctor or a lawyer, he's wasting his mind and he's being stupid. Too many kids are stupid these days. They think they can have ridiculous dreams and make them come true. How many people are making a living as painters these days? How many of them are making as much money as I do? How many of them can strike fear into people's hearts just by picking up the phone? How many of them are making as much money as I do?

It's not all about the money, but the money is society's way of saying that what I do is valuable, and what I do is important. Not everyone can do what I do. Not everyone can get to where I've gotten. Especially without losing his humanity. Most people in my position are real jerks. I'm glad I'm not. I'm glad I haven't turned into one of them. When I was a young associate I saw them and on the one hand envied them, but on the other hand promised myself I'd never be like them. Sometimes I catch myself acting like them, like when I don't hold the elevator door for an associate racing toward me, or I search through people's desk drawers late at night after they've gone home, but sometimes I surprise myself and do good. I remembered my nephew's birthday, after all. So how bad a person can I be?

Clearly you're a saint.

/sarcasm meter turned to 11.
I know a guy who is in law school and thinks he is going to use that education to end poverty and clean the air. He's not. Once he makes his first dollar, he's going to lease out an Audi and start taking tennis lessons.

Values are so funny when the road ahead unclear.

The quality of your writing has declined in the last few months AL. You should take a break for a while. Clinical depression would be the obvious excuse.
First visit to this sight and I'm wondering - are you real? I didn't know fiction could create someone so cold. And if you're wondering, I'm not a communist. I voted for Bush.
This is rediculous, stop worrying about your nephew and worry about yourself. If money is the way that society says what you do is valuable, then you care about society's opinion. Ten years after you're gone, will your legacy remain, will your contribution to the world stand out? I honestly understand how materialistic, selfish people like you contribute to the world, and it is usually a positive contribution, but it is not all that it could be.
I'm not even sure why I'm even writing this, we can all see the fear in your writing. You've asked yourself these questions, but you couldn't answer them, at least not in a manner according to your lifestyle. You shouldn't have to defend yourself to me, and of course you don't, but you should at least seek the self-respect that comes with answering to yourself.
This post is awesome. Hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.
Hehe. He's going to be a painter? That's just funny.

And congrats to being a nice enough person to remember your nephew on his birthday.

Ask him, is it a sin to make money or want to make lots of money. If yes, I think a lot of people would gladly burn in hell. Money makes the difference. Sophomore in college and still this sort of naivety. Like it or not, money makes a hell lot of difference than he cares to think. Make the money first, and if you still feel like it then go make a difference.

"...if he doesn't go do something useful with himself, like become a doctor or a lawyer, he's wasting his mind and he's being stupid." I resent the implication in this statement. The implication that professions in the world can only be put into 3 categories, namely, Doctor, Lawyer and others. The implication that if you fail to make it into the first two categories, you are a failure, a failure that even gets lost in the numbers. I would like to think the world doesn't work this way. Maybe we non-lawyers and non-doctors alike should just content ourselves with being lesser beings.
Now there's the AL I know and love: the cruel irony and sincerity.
I think this is what happened when college started to become available to all at a low price. Too many people cruising through college towards do-nothing degrees with too much spare time swept along on the vapors of the save the world crowd. Well, they'll wake up when mommy and daddy stop paying the bills. Or will they? Too many I see today still have mommy and daddy paying the bills at 30 or 40. Seriously, what the heck justification is there for anyone to spend $40,000+ on a college degree in music or art? And there are hundreds of other majors just as useless. Sure you may sell a small part of your soul to choose a career that will pay the bills, but you can re-earn it everyday when you find some good way to give back whatever excess you do earn later.
AL- I'm curious when you think it might be too late for someone like your nephew to turn it around. I graduated from a top 10 (liberal arts) college and spent about 4 years living and working in New York, blowing tons of cash, partially supported by my parents, at vaguely 'creative' jobs that I had no real intention of keeping long term. Essentially, I amused myself and racked up an enormous amount of credit debt. Jump to four years later: I'm in law school part-time, working full-time for a law firm, my financial picture has stabilized but I'm on loans for school and I understand ALL TOO WELL now about the sacrifices your talking about. But the real question making me fragile is: Did I learn the lessons you're talking about too late (at 25)? College may have poisoned my brain (really it was all the European travelling and hanging out with American ex-pats in Prague) but now I want more than anything to achieve the kind of success you're talking about. Any thoughts?
AL, or anyone, I'm a 2L. Approaching finals and I want to know how much pressure should be on me. I'm going to work at Latham (won't say what office). How bad do my grades have to get to not get a full-time offer b/c of grades?

I am top 10% at 30th-40th ranked school. I only say this b/c things may be different if I was at Stanford. Should I be concerned that I probably am going to get a B- in my final this afternoon? My other grades should be B's at worst, but no better than a B+?
I would advise you to keep your grades up top 30-40 2L. When they go to non-top 10 schools they go to get the best. Atleast try to be in the top quarter of the class.
Your nephew is 19, he'll get over it. When I was in college I was convinced I was going to get my PhD in philosophy (that was my major) and I was going to be the next. . . umm. . who the f knows. Anyway, I wised up, took a year off and went to law school. I then leased an Audi.

My brother just turned 18. Sometimes he makes me crazy with his "logic" and ideals. But then I remember, I had ideals once. Didn't we all.
AL... I'm sure that Picaso's uncle told him the same thing when he started his art career. Afterall, people like you aren't spending enough time on your work if you can actually tell whether a drawing is good.

Aren't you the one who is following your heart's desire? You are following your passion for money.
Why are you so angry, AL?
I have to agree with prior sentiments that you're trying too hard. You weren't able to sell those last two paragraphs.
I think your nephew is maybe having the last laugh AL. I'm a government lawyer, so I rarely breath the rarefied air that celestial beings such as yourself inhale, but recently my wife, the real bread winner in the family, was invited to a Christmas party at her boss's home (which reminds me, AL, please do a rant on Christmas parities).

My wife's boss is married to a Partner at Big Law (the legal text books he drafted occupied a pedestal-no kidding-in the foyer). My wife couldn't remember what he looked like, and although I never met him, I instantly spotted him as the chap, sporting a bow tie, standing on the front porch of his colonial home, next to the "colored" bar tender. Anyway, back to the topic at hand--your nephew the artist.

As we entered the mansion, we joined our gracious hostess in one of those rooms off the foyer that serve no real useful purpose, but could easily house several generations of an immigrant Chinese family in San Francisco, or at least a few starving artists. Our hostess was pointing out her latest "gift" from her spouse, Mr. Bow Tie, which was a painting. The painting was one of several dozen paintings that were displayed throughout the first floor (the second floor was tactfully barricaded with a sculpture, in case, no doubt, someone like myself were to meander into an upstairs bathroom and go through the medicine cabinet).

Anyway, back to the painting. It was a big red splotch-and I mean BIG, like 6 feet by 6 feet--with some other colors in it. Our hostess was explaining that it spoke to her because apparently it was a painting of someone riding a bull, which reminded her of the idyllic childhood, when she would ride the family bull (don't ask). I was about to open my mouth and say something terribly witty about our hostess' bull-riding childhood when my wife, who knows me all too well, elbowed me in the ribs, which reminded me of two things: why I married her, and why I'm now a government lawyer.

But anyway, you and I both know, that this "artwork", which judging by your descriptions of your nephew's paintings, appears to be of similar quality, cost some hapless Big Law client many billable hours. And if I weren't too busy with my own career (for example, my afternoon nap is approaching as I write this), I might embark on my own "painting" career. So perhaps you should encourage your nephew, or even better, invest in him, so that when he starts selling his piece-of-shit paintings at a price that would make you blush, you can be lauhing right along with him.
Hilarious as usual. I see these idealistic kids living off their parents' money and it makes me wonder. Will I let my kids leach off me for years or cut them off? I think the latter. Personal responsibility is a must in this world. And the sooner they figure it out the better. Hey Al, Hope you will be writing about the Firm Christmas party!
Salary as an indication of how useful one is in the world? Are you serious? So Julia Roberts, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck...these people must be doing something 50 times as useful or worthy than what you're doing since they're making exponentially more than you. Yeah. Actors...worthy and useful since they make so much.

Money doesn't say anything about you as a person. I agree, the more of it you have, the happier you will be in life. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking that if you make more, you are contributing more.
My Torts final is today and I am reading this while eating Nutella from the jar. Must get a grip on something other than the spoon.
Two comments:

First, I'm disappointed as I slowly realize this fictional partner parodies himself.

Second, cut through the parody, and there is some truth.
Life is too short to be miserable. Do what makes you happy.
1. Is Anonymous a Queen's student? I just wrote my Torts Exam today. It was my first law final. I was surprised: it was actually quite fun. All that apparently useful information we've been cramming in our heads can be useful.

2. Has anyone seen Changing Lanes (Ben Affleck, Samuel L Jackson)? It was my reward today. Basically, Affleck plays a corporate lawyer who ends up committing fraud, misrepresentation, forgery (and a long laundry list of liable actions that he goes over in a moment of guilty). Each step he gets deeper into the doo-doo. My q: what's your impression of this movie considering you (may) work in a firm similar to the protagonist's firm?
Too many 'bright' kids end up going to Harvard and thinking that they are smarter than they really are. He should be in a community college, anyways. Be an artist, whatever. Only if mommy buys his paintings and hangs them on the refrigerator.

What was the last thing that HE contributed to better society. He's 19 or 20. Does he volunteer his time, or does he donate his money to the local Mexican import-export co-op?
Pretty ugly reflection in the mirror, huh 4:32? Didn't get into medical school either, huh? I understand that you are under some stress. The examination period can be tough time for the slower kids.
"..or I search through people's desk drawers late at night after they've gone home...."

What are you hoping to find? What do you find? This is so sad, funny and human all at the same time.
thank you thank you thank you. AL you are hilarious. I needed a good laugh tonight. thanks for stepping up
I find it entertaining that people have so little to do in life but get mad at your posts or other people's responses. If you don't like what he has to say or how people respond, tough. Deal with it rather than show how horrible a job your parents did of raising you by being too angry or bitter.
Why couldn't I have found this site some time ago? Between the comments and AL I don't know what's more fun to read.

In a nutshell, you're an asshole. I've worked with lawyers for a few years now and there are times when some are unbearable and others are great. It seems as though the one's that have been in the Industry for several years tend to become bigger jerks and the one's that are fresh out of law school tend to be much nicer. Although, there are times when even new associates think they are better than others because they make 120,000 as opposed to someone making 60,000. The funny thing is if that that person making 60,000 worked 60 - 65 hours and made the overtime they'd be making close enough to what the associate is making. Don't forget the associate is just a bitch for those first few years until they become a equity partner (if they are lucky) and then they just become a bitch to everyone else. Granted, I do see your point in terms of making money and receiving the respect of others as opposed to a painter, however having this amount of money doesn't mean that you need to become a rude and selfish individual to fit the status of a rich man. The fact that you kicked out an associate during a meeting with a client should be grounds for you being written up (depending on your firm's practice) or at the least a conversation with one or a few of the main partners at the firm.
"written up"??? what is this, middle school? please go away.
This post clinches it -- this is definitely a fictional parody. The post is just too close to how a "sensitive", artistic, non-wealthy person would believe a wealthy law partner would think and feel. The real thing would be tough enough to laugh the idealistic kid off and just give him some good advice. Self-hatred and self-doubt (which were all over that post) are not general traits of successful people, who tend not to be all that self aware.

And it is possible to make a ton as a painter, a tiny minority do. But in general successful art-world types are so ambitious, driven, and ruthless that they make successful law partners look like cuddly little bunnies.
What's the point of it all? We will all end up in the same place anyway. Death is the great equalizer. Just have fun while you can. If that means making tons of money, and spending it all on yourself then do it. If it means trying to "follow your heart" and "realize your dreams" then do that. Do what you can to be as happy as you can while you can since you will eventually die.
Just dipping into your past posts.

This is either a brillient parody/satire or you are one self-deluded, sorry son of a bitch. I'm betting on the former. No one, absolutely no one outside of a novel could have so little self-awareness. Christ! I hope no one outside of a novel could have so little self-awareness!
I never had ideals. I bought Magic cards for $5 and sold them for $20 in middle school. It's always been about the cash.

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