Wednesday, March 4, 2015

A Young Lawyer

I rolled into my house sometime late in the evening last night to get some rest. As usual, it took me three or four times longer than I anticipated to get ready for bed. No matter how tired I am and no matter how many or few distractions there are, it always somehow seems to take so much longer to get ready for bed.

I climbed under the covers, telling my Siri command to "wake me up in three hours." It responded, "your alarm is now set for three-thirty A.M."

Three-thirty. A.M.

I didn't really realize how ridiculous this schedule was until I heard the words come out of the i-phone. But I dozed off before I could dwell on it for too long.

I woke up before the alarm ever sounded. About an hour earlier than I had anticipated. And it was the kind of waking up that I knew was going to be long-lasting. I wouldn't fall asleep again. Not for a while, anyway. Too much running through my mind. Too much anxiety.

So I capitalized on the misfortune, pulling on some decent clothes, and heading back to my downtown office.

The streets are quiet at that time. I saw a car or two on my eight-minute drive. I wondered why they were out so late. Or early. I wondered if they wondered why I was out so late or early. I wondered why I was out so late or early.

And before I could finish wondering, I wandered into the building. Took the elevator up the tower to my quiet and dark floor. My office was still the disaster I left it in when I finally escaped a few hours before. There were stacks of files scattered about, and one piece of paper almost comically resting on top of a small plant that had been moved from a table and onto the floor to make extra room for my horizontal organization problems.

I started working. From my windows I could see that the quiet lights of Salt Lake City shone far below. Everyone out there--all of those people across the valley--they were asleep, just like I should have been. Except some of them weren't. Some of them were feeding their baby every two hours. Some of them were up sick with worry because someone didn't come home last night. Some of them were getting ready for or getting home from work, just like they do at that time every day, and not every once in a while like those of us who have the luxury of a typically-nine-to-five. But the rest of those people, they were asleep, ignorant to the problems of the insomniacs-by-necessity.

It was a waste of time to think about that. I got up early so I could work, not so I could wonder about the quiet lights and sleeping folks. I got up early so I could get something done. A deadline that crept up. A challenge that needed addressing. A reputation to prove.

I was a typical young lawyer in that moment, for better or worse. I was a version of myself I haven't seen much since law school, when work/life balance was not a term with which I was familiar. But above all else, I was tired.

I worked until I saw light from the sun make downtown Salt Lake City twinkle and glow. And I kept working, on and on throughout the day, until the deadline came and the moment of reckoning passed. And then I took the elevator back down the tower and into the parking garage.

I climbed into my car and contemplated taking a nap there, because that felt easier than traversing through the eight-minute commute. But the desire for the comforts of my own bed and home won out, and I drove on, listening to Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" on repeat, two and one-half times before I pulled into my long and narrow driveway.

I stepped inside. I wasn't sad or happy. I wasn't satisfied or dissatisfied. I was just tired.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. This is surprisingly intriguing. I enjoy this post a lot.

  2. The beginning of this post reminded me of a line from one of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books: "It is a very funny thing that the sleepier you are, the longer you take about getting to bed." This is very true for me.
    Hope you could get a little more sleep tonight. My husband and I are both "workaholics" and we also need to sort out the work-life balance one of these days.

  3. Nice post. Unrelated but I wanted to tell you that my family just went on a roadtrip and we listened to all of your Porch stories for a couple of hours in the car and it was about the best entertainment we could have found. My kids made us go back and listen to your guatemala story a second time after we got through all the stories. Thanks for the great entertainment!

    1. Where did you find the Porch stories? I'm looking for some listening material while I run.

  4. Beautifully written, and very relatable.

  5. Thanks for posting, Eli. You've reminded me how easy it is to forget that not everyone's living my 6:30-10:30 school-all-day life. This was beautiful. Isn't is silly? Maybe it's because I'm young. Maybe it's because I'm insulated. Maybe it's because I'm human that I forget. Life, that so precious resource, is spent so many different ways. No jealousy towards you today, but awareness and appreciation. Waking up this morning, the words repeated in my head, "seeking out the poorer quarters where the ragged people go, looking for the places only they would know."

  6. I have to share the best thing that has ever happened to you. I DVR'd (is that a word?) the 40th anniversary of SNL special and am finally getting around to finishing it. So anyway, I'm sitting here watching it while browsing on my phone. Because technology. And I kid you not, as soon as I started reading this post, Paul Simon's performance starts. So I decide to go with the moment and see what happened. Magic. Magic happened. Paul Simon basically narrated the feeling you had that night (early morning) through his song. I beg all of America- literally ALL of America- to pull up that performance and play it while reading this post again. I'm telling you, it was the single most amazing thing that has ever happened to you and you will be forever grateful to me, your anonymous reader. You are welcome. Because Paul Simon. And because you're still crazy after all these years.

    1. Woah.

      "Four in the morning
      Crapped out
      Longing my life away
      I'll never worry
      Why should I?
      It's all gonna fade

      Now I sit by my window
      And I watch the cars
      I fear I'll do some damage
      One fine day
      But I would not be convicted
      By a jury of my peers
      Still crazy
      Still crazy
      Still crazy after all these years"

  7. Riiight!?!?! I told you!!!!!

  8. I just remembered why I decided not to go to law school.

  9. I can relate to the feeling of just- tired. I used to be in the wedding industry and, while not the legal profession, the schedule got to be similar. I think my particular low point was one July night, after spending a whole perfect Friday locked inside working on cakes, watching everyone go by my window on their way to the beach, while I continued to work, nonstop, through dinner, through bedtime, through everyone-is-asleep-now. I left the bakery at 1:15 a.m. after contemplating just sleeping on the floor on a bean bag at the shop, and drove 15 minutes home and to my bed. Worried about how early I'd have to start on the 5 wedding cakes that needed finished that weekend, I then spent an HOUR not being able to sleep once I got home, then set my alarm and was BACK at the shop at 5:15 a.m. Not sure how much sleep that was, but really sure not enough. Deadlines with weddings are alarming, because they ARE getting married at 3 p.m., and you WILL be there with that cake. No option to finish it later, sort of finish it, not get it right, or have it not be perfect. Every time.

    That was one of the turning points for me. I closed the bakery in 2012 and took my life back.