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November 24, 2007

30 Seconds of Bliss (in an Otherwise Meaningless Existence)

'Tis the season of giving thanks, or at least the time for decadent consumption and mindless consumerism, so to counteract—I mean, commemorate—this joyous period of the year, I thought I would add my own (necessarily worthless) two cents to the loud din of Thanksgiving-related postings permeating the so-called blogosphere. Now, as we all know, I am nothing if not the stereotypical bourgeoisie ingrate, and as such, rarely find much of anything to be thankful about. And yet, this year, in stark contrast to my usual persuasion, I recognize that I have much to be appreciative of, not the least of which is my status as an impoverished graduate student.

As regular readers would readily attest to, I think that it is no secret that I spent my last six months in San Francisco profoundly unhappy—even for my usual suicidal self. While there are a number of reasons for this lengthy period of depression, ranging from stress at work to a crumbling romantic entanglement, I would venture that most of my discontentment stemmed from uncertainty about the future. In particular, I had arrived at a place in my life where I knew I did not want to be,1 but simultaneously had no clue what I wanted to do next.

In that sense, applying to law school was somewhat of a cop out. If I got in to a top ten school, I would suddenly have direction in my life; if not, I would have to actually figure out what I was doing with my life (besides thinking about ending it daily, of course). I had already taken the LSAT on a whim several years ago, and writing an essay attesting to be a highly motivated individual with goals and direction was no different than writing a blog about being happy: both may be more fantasy than reality, but neither is disingenuous in the sense that somewhere I do wish I was both of those things (happy and with direction).

It would not be until I had fully committed to attending Chicago that I would truly escape the cesspool of existential angst in which I was drowning. Applying to law school to avoid deciding what I wanted to do with my life was a decent strategy, but only if I got into one—and only one—school. Choosing between different schools ended up being perhaps more agonizing than any thing I avoided by applying in the first place, and served only to accelerate my free fall.2

Thinking back to that time in my life, I realize now how distant it all seems despite it having been only six months. I may still not know what the hell I am doing with my life (lawyer, I guess?), nor have any reason to believe I will be any happier when I emerge from graduate school with an even more inflated ego, a piece of paper of dubious value, and $120,000 in debt, but at least now my life has purpose—a raison d'être—for three more years, anyway. And if that's not something to be thankful about, I do not know what is.

1 Here, I mean be in the metaphysical sense. I do not really see my unhappiness as related to my physical location; I love San Francisco.
2 For those inclined to argue that some one of my position in life does not have a right to be unhappy, see this article, and then shut up.


Right on! Given all the choices our generation has with careers these days, and moreover, all the risks associated with not picking the right one, people our age who know exactly what they want to do are either (1) liars, or (2) stupid.

This article is a masterful demonstration of your trademark combination of arrogance and self-loathing. Well done!

So, hold on: is this post about your sex life, or what?


I think you and I need to get back on the track of pursuing get-rich-quick schemes, under the strategy of quantity over quality. Instead of putting all of our eggs in one basket and suffering the consequences of unilateral committment, we should spread our interests/desires and suffer failures of minutae and attrition rather than giant, life-diminishing, existential failures.

Julie, while I could go on about juvenile humor, I have to admit: I laughed. Touché.

Jon, so what you're suggesting is that we delude ourselves into thinking we are achieving something, but in reality, just failing at a slower (and undetectable) rate? Not a bad idea. What's the next (guaranteed to fail, but slowly) scheme?

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