How to Win at Life, from Some Chick in the Times

I have recently faced my demon (one of my demons?) that is a) my fear of failure, which is actually related to b) my fear of being rejected for the imagined expectations by the socioeconomic class of my upbringing. Yes: I am afraid of failure to meet non-existent expectations. Let me tell you, it makes that dark head space really entertaining.

For those who don’t know, the socioeconomic class in question is the socioeconomic class of doctors and lawyers and Wall Street investment bankers. Functionally, this meant I grew up with the innate social pre-emption that service = lower class = bad. So when I found myself in the service industry—which was fine as a high schooler, less fine but acceptable (and attributable to “taking time”) just after college, and now, at 25, causes me to hedge answers to “what do you do?” by leading with my occasional freelance work, only at the end adding the fact that, 30-40 hours a week, I sling joe. That’s right, nay-sayers. Career barista, right here. And, in case you weren’t clear, I dig it.

Soak THAT one in.

According to some people (like parents, who I am disinclined to believe because it is in their DNA to make me feel better no matter what), these expectations are imagined. But they’re not. They’re not necessarily expressed, certainly not in my household, but they are by my peers to each other, to my peers by their parents and mentors, and by society/”The Media” in every pop culture depiction of twenty-somethings. We are almost always depicted as being gainfully (read: non-service-industry) employed, and if not, in hot pursuit of that happiest of endings.

The fact that these expectations (which I may or may not imagine) make me feel terrible about myself on a daily basis is why this article, forwarded to me by my mother with pure intentions, made me so gosh darned angry.

Read it, and come back.

This girl makes me angry because THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH WHAT I DO. She is modest to the point of self-righteousness, normalizes the misguided expectation that all young people have defined career goals and passions (and, beyond that, know what those are), and is sickeningly optimistic. It’s a guilt trip on everyone who hasn’t done, or “achieved,” what she has. Harsh, perhaps. But really: “My heart has always been in Africa” just screams white guilt to me. Perhaps my daily discussions have just been so racially motivated that that’s all I can see, which might be unfair. Good for her, you know, good for her for knowing she wasn’t doing what she wanted to do, but I have a hard time understanding people like her.

Let me put it this way: I am not sure I trust anyone who, at 22, claims to know what they want to do for the rest of their life, or can claim with sincerity where their heart lies. Or perhaps it is closer to personal offense: that she, of my generation, has chosen to incidentally judge my choices and reinforce my own insecurities: I’m just not good enough.

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One without the other

Tom Robbins apparently has the knack to succinctly and colorfully describe everything I find distasteful about controlling, patriarchal organized religions. Today’s quote:

“For those who would pray but not dance, fast but not feast, baptize but not splash, flog but not fuck, for those who would buy spirit but sell soul, crown Father but deceive Mother, those men found Herod’s Temple a threatening place at vernal equinox and under a harvest moon.”

(Skinny Legs and All, h/t Leah)

Punishment without celebration, male without female, obedience without thought. This phenomenon is a sad truth not unique to a specific time or place, painfully relevant both to ancient history and modern politics. Though the story here is lighthearted, the message is, undoubtedly, not.

Liars!

So they say CAS (the cartel extortion scam) is better for the environment, because they send everything to the law schools electronically so it saves trees.

WELL.

Explain to me, then, why I have to PRINT a transcript request form, MAIL it to my esteemed alma mater, and they have to PRINT my transcript and mail it and the request form back to LSAC?

And why do I have to PRINT a recommendation request form, MAIL it to my recommenders, and they have to mail it back to LSAC?

The only electronic part of this is the report the law schools get at the end.

Wouldn’t it be much better for the world if the WHOLE THING were done electronically?

Your old boys club is engaging in egregious hypocrisy.

LIARS.

LSACscam addendum

Realizing I should further educate myself as to the logistics of applying to law school (since we all know this was pretty last-minute), further research on the LSAC website has led to the revelation that, in addition to the bull**** CAS and application fees, LSAC charges $16 for each school they send your custom-assembled credentials to.

It costs more money to have these hooligans assemble my credentials than, had I done it myself, my time would have been worth. From a purely my-wallet standpoint, the value of my time saved is less than what they value their service at. That is to say, if my time is worth $20/hour, and I’m going to be shelling out $200 to these fools, it would have to be for a job that would take me more than ten hours to complete to make it worth me paying them to do it. Somehow, I don’t think it would take me ten hours to electronically submit a collection of PDFs to, say, six different schools.

I’m sure my economics and logic are both faulty here, and we can throw in that I am (irrelevantly) terrible at statistics, but I don’t like this. I stand by my position that this is a cartel and a scam and they are preying on the weak and easily-coerced. Or perhaps everyone’s time is just worth more than mine and I should develop higher self-worth.

This is a scam.

Dear World,

Never, ever get it into your head that you might want to go to law school.

Here’s why:

1. You have to take the LSAT, which is actually not to terrible, except for the $130 or so price tag. But its horrors are exacerbated by the fact that kids-who-try-too-hard are spending hundreds more dollars and months, if not years, of their lives studying their insecure little tuchases off, which means that even once you shell out the sticker price you are still about to get f***ed because they had nothing better to do.

2. Because the law school admissions process is run by a cartel fondly known as LSAC (law school admissions council), every law school says you have to let them (LSAC) assemble your credentials, with a stupidly-acronymed service-for-purchase CAS (credit assembly service)…for another $124. I mean, come on, I think I am perfectly capable of coordinating a couple documents and sending them to the right place by the right deadline. But no; they’d rather test the depth of my pockets rather than my actual coping-with-the-world skills. F***ers. Look, if you want to be entrepreneurial and try to make money off of kids who are too lazy to assemble their own credentials, fine. But I think it’s akin to extortion to make it mandatory for the rest of us.

Yes, this is a true story.

3. THEN, you have to pay an application fee to each school. Which is pretty much okay, except they run generally about $75, which is high compared to undergrad. But it’s the combined costs of application fees, CAS, LSATs, and the fact that I can’t actually get in to law school because I chose to save my money and my time by not killing myself over my LSAT score that makes this just adding insult to injury.

This whole scheme is morally reprehensible. But the Catch-22 (because there always is one) is that I can’t do anything about it…because I have to use it to get into law school.

F. M. L.

I liked Margin Call.

I am thrilled to report I spent $9 of funemployment money seeing a movie about the financial crisis. I was thinking about seeing Blackthorn, the Butch Cassidy sequel, but decided Margin Call would be more appropriate to the zeitgeist: it was supposed to make me angrier at the world and propel me deeper into my anti-establishment ideologies.

But rather, it made me take a step back and think more deeply about the roots of this movement and some its major influences. It reaffirmed many of my criticisms of our society and my conviction that a portion of the movement is not being entirely honest with itself. (Incidentally, I liked the movie. It tells the story with more sensitivity and complexity than it’s being told otherwise.)

The most honest and expository moment of dialogue in the movie:

“Shit, this is really gonna affect people.”
“Yeah, it’s gonna affect people like me.”
“No, well, real people.”
“Jesus, Seth. Listen, if you really want to do this with your life, you have to believe you’re necessary, and you are. People want to live like this in their cars and their big fucking houses they can’t even pay for. Then you’re necessary. The only reason they all get to continue living like kings is ‘cause we’ve got our fingers on the scales in their favor. I take my hand off, well then the whole world gets really fucking fair really fucking quickly and nobody actually wants that. They say they do but they don’t. They want what we have to give them but they also want to, you know, play innocent and pretend they have no idea where it came from. Well that’s more hypocrisy than I’m willing to swallow so fuck, fuck normal people.”

Like all business, Wall Street operates on the premise of supplying a product for which there is a demand. We wanted, and Wall Street provided. How much can we blame the dealer for the habit?