I woke up Sunday morning and realized that the next day was a holiday (Columbus Day). I was ELATED that I had another day before I had to go to work. It changed everything about Sunday, knowing that there was a Monday off!
Then I tried to figure it out. I love my work. I love the office in which I work. We just had an office meeting with a potluck lunch that was amazing. Even the company’s increasing rigid rules are not so on my nerves at the moment.
I have a couple of really interesting cases right now. I actually won a couple of SSI hearings recently, including one from a judge who NEVER rules in my clients’ favor. I just figured out an exciting hook for an appeal of a decision that I knew was wrong, but had been having trouble figuring out how to convey that to the appellate board.
So what could it be? I need to solve this dilemma. I have to find a way to remove this negativity from my everyday life.
Part of it is due to the fact that I’ve been working as a lawyer for 37 years, with a few years off and some part-time gigs when the kids were little. Plus, I worked before that: in high school, in college, and during law school also. I think I’m just plain tired of working!
But it isn’t only that. Another aspect is that I love being home in my house. Even though it’s always in need of cleaning, decluttering, repairs and remodeling, it’s a sanctuary for me. I love a nice afternoon nap with my doggies in my comfy bedroom. I love watching The Price is Right (today the cutest young man won a Porsche!), which I have been watching since I was born, I think. It was always a highlight of snow days for my kids!
There are many things I want to do, but I find that the rigors of the daily rat race sap my energy too much. I want to do more crafts and art. I want to finish up my millions of half-finished knitting projects. I started needlepointing a Peter Rabbit seat cover for a rocking chair before my oldest son was born, 33.5 years ago. It would be good to finish that!
A few weeks ago, I organized all of my pants, which was a big accomplishment and showed me that I do not need to buy any pants for a while! But I am so possessive of those 2 weekend days that I resent having to use even a few hours on tasks like that, although it did make me feel good. This does not make sense. It’s this kind of paralysis — from the resentment at having only 2 weekend days — that keeps me from accomplishing anything at all.
I never thought I would want to retire, especially after I found the perfect job in 1992 (the one I have now). What would I do if I retired? Wouldn’t I miss exercising my brain? Wouldn’t I miss the camaraderie of my gifted colleagues? What about sparring with state officials and judges? This has defined my life for decades! It does concern me. I don’t want to become stagnant, sitting around the house, never wanting to go out even for shopping (thank you Amazon!) and adopting more and more puppies! I can see that happening all too clearly. My mother did not work outside the home and I always wondered how she felt when she woke up each morning. “Oh joy, another day of drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes and doing crossword puzzles.” I really believe that one needs the contrast of some other outside pressure to truly savor the fun leisure times. Quite a few of my former colleagues who have retired volunteer with our organization, probably for just that reason.
Since I turned 62 last summer (which means I could retire and collect Social Security), I have been consumed with the idiocy of continuing to drag myself to work every day. I can’t afford to retire right now, which is a large motivator, but I don’t want to waste precious minutes of my waning lifespan on commuting and dealing with morons (which does indeed come up from time to time in the course of my work). I don’t have a lot of professional goals left to accomplish, because I’ve been fortunate enough to work on some really exciting legal projects. I was part of a team that filed a complex federal class action. I’ve argued a case before the Connecticut Supreme Court, a very scary event but one which immunized me forever against fear (professionally). I’ve written legislation which became law. I’ve testified before the legislature on many occasions. I’ve advocated for policy changes within state agencies. I had the opportunity to teach Yale medical residents about state and federal benefit programs. I got to mentor new lawyers. I’ve written a zillion legal briefs.
What I really want to do now is keep on representing individuals who have been deprived of the justice they deserve, and for whom my participation could make a difference. Clients come my way who are very effective at advocating for themselves but want a lawyer for extra oomph. They don’t need me. Other clients have such unassailable cases that no one could miss the rightness of their cause. They don’t need me either. Other would-be clients think they have a legal problem but upon closer analysis, they don’t. Or there is a legal solution that does not appeal to them. I can’t help those people.
But the others, the ones like Amanda, a homeless pregnant 20-year-old, who had her cash benefits of $350/month terminated because she failed to attend some required meetings at the Department of Labor, are who keep me schlepping in to work. The state mailed notices of these DOL meetings to her. When she didn’t come to the first one, they mailed her another notice, sternly warning her she was risking a penalty. She continued to not show up. But remember I said she was homeless? Where were they mailing those notices? How is it okay to punish someone for not obeying a notice she never got? How is it okay to punish a pregnant woman by cutting off her cash benefits? Is this what we do to other human beings? “We’ll teach you to follow the rules by starving you AND your unborn baby!” Not only that, the state failed to inquire whether Amanda had any learning problems, something they’re required to do before ending benefits, thanks to a lawsuit by legal services lawyers on behalf of people with unidentified disabilities.
So I guess there’s still a reason for me to work, and there’s a lot I haven’t accomplished. Injustice continues, and that is my ultimate motivator.