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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

I was chased down the sidewalk by a breathless woman.

“You’re the guy who made me vegetarian!” she announced between gasps.

I didn’t know what she was talking about.

It turned out she’d worked as a paralegal, years before, at Sullivan & Cromwell.  I didn’t feel guilty about not remembering her.  We only toiled together once – a grueling all-nighter preparing for an M&A closing.

We ordered take-out burgers that night, and I opted for a veggie burger.  She asked why I wasn’t eating meat.  At first I played it down – mumbled something like “don’t feel like it.”  Carnivores can grow testy if you fail to consume meat in their presence – they take it as a personal affront.  I’ve learned to tread lightly.

But she persisted, with genuine curiosity, so I told her the truth:

“You don’t have to go there – no one’s asking you too,” I said.  “But if you do go there, you’ll stop eating meat.”

That was it.

Ever since that night, she told me on the sidewalk, she’d been vegetarian.

All it took was going there – well, having someone tell you there was a “there ” to go to, then making the trip.

No, I’m not going to spell out where “there” is – you know perfectly well and I’m not here to preach.  I’m here to talk about consciousness-raising, not vegetarianism.  Specifically, consciousness-raising around alcohol.

You know, alcohol – those lambent elixirs stored in gleaming bottles; the all-American can of beer that pops open to seal friendship and inaugurate cherished memories; the cork shooting from a pricey bottle of champagne to harken in merriment and delight.

Yeah.  Ethanol.  Ethyl alcohol.  Let’s tackle the popular mythology surrounding this stuff. We can start with what I call the Maya Angelou rule.

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I was kidding around with some of the guys at my gym, tossing around the question – would you fight Mike Tyson for $3 million?

One of them joked – I think he heard this on Howard Stern – that he’d fellate Mike Tyson for $3 million. He could spend the first $1 million on mouthwash and retire on the rest.

Then another guy spoke up, a sometime professional heavyweight boxer. (I’m not making this up, he really has boxed, for big money, not too long ago – and has plans to do so again.)

“It’s not worth it. Mike would destroy you. There would be no retirement.”

He went on to explain what he meant. He knew from experience – this guy had been in the ring. You’d have more than bruises – you’d have concussions, brain injuries, damaged bones and joints. You’d never be the same – and it wouldn’t be worth it. You’re better off not having $3 million but appreciating the finer things, like being able to walk and talk and think.

I saw his point.

Biglaw is also not worth it, even for big money. That’s because it, too, destroys you – just like Iron Mike.

A lawyer client, a fifth year at a big firm on the West Coast, mused to me the other day – “This job wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t end up crying alone in my office so much.”

“You mean, it wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t suck?”

“Yeah,” she said. “That’s pretty much it. Imagine doing this for ordinary money. No one would consider doing this for ordinary money.”

No one would consider fighting Mike Tyson for ordinary money, either. And it’s not worth it for $3 million. Big law isn’t even worth it for $160k a year.

Don’t believe it? Allow me to elaborate.

The process begins with sleep deprivation – plain, simple sleep deprivation. Not sleeping. Staying up all night and facing sarcasm if you plan to take the following day off.

One of my clients brought a pillow into work, so she could put her face down on her desk and sleep for an hour at a time. Her officemate saw her, and told her what a good idea it was. Then she brought in a pillow, too. Only at a law firm.

You might not think sleep deprivation is a big deal. Hell, you’re a machine. You don’t need sleep. All-nighters? No sweat.

Sleep deprivation is like binge drinking. There’s a machismo around staying up all night, night after night – like doing ten shots of tequila. You’re tough. Not a problem.

Later, as you puke your guts out and pray for sweet release, you realize you were being an idiot.

Read a few scientific studies on sleep deprivation and you will understand it fries your brain and leaves you an emotional wreck. You can’t think straight, your immune system crashes, you fall apart. As one of my senior associate clients put it, “I thought I was unflappable when I got here. I’m flapped.”

Naturally, if you aren’t sleeping, you’re also not having a life. So relationships dissolve, friendships fade, your pet starts living with your parents. And you start thinking about boinking that guy from the anti-trust group, even if he isn’t much to look at.

Okay. So why is there sleep deprivation at big law firms?

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