January 18th, 2006

Well, I said I wanted to quit being anonymous. Be careful what you wish for. But the point of the blog has always been cutting the bullshit and achieving self expression. So may as well get it over with: here’s all the dirty festering backstory that you won’t find in my nice marketable bio on the top of this page.

I grew up in the D.C. area, the first child of upwardly-mobile Baby Boomers who married too young. Bursting with the good intentions of new parents, they sent me to an all-girls school that had mastered the art of categorizing futures based on AP exams and SAT scores (”These students are the successful ones who will go to Harvard. As for the others, well, we tried”). In 1996 I graduated and headed to Dartmouth (chosen because it was more than 6 hours away from D.C., and was one of the few schools that would accept me). College presented four comfortably-sequestered years of perfecting skills such as binge drinking, avoiding responsibility and general slacking. The remainder of my time I spent writing the occasional paper on Chaucer or Robert Lowell and battling a persistent eating disorder picked up in high school.

My senior year, I arose from my cozy stupor, glanced around and said: “Shit, I better come up with something to do once this place spits me out for good.” Campus was flooding with intimidating suits and high-tech cell phones, surefire signs of the looming vultures of corporate recruiting. Soon, most of my eager young friends had been snapped up by investment banks, tech startups or consulting firms. Slightly idealistic, naive and typically risk-averse, I followed the default path to the LSATs and law school. After working as a paralegal for a year, I somehow talked my way into the University of Virginia School of Law, which carried the massive bonus of comparably cheap tuition.

After graduation, I moved to Manhattan, confident and ready to begin my promising legal career. Then, two weeks into bar preparation, I stopped sleeping. No matter the time, the place or the circumstances, I would regularly go three, sometimes four consecutive nights with no sleep. I was diagnosed with chronic insomnia (no shit sherlock) and started seeing specialists, participating in overnight studies, and trying any sleep medication that anyone would prescribe for me. Ambien, trazodone, lorazepam, the list went on. Soon I was taking 4 different kinds of pills every night and washing them down with a few glasses of wine, just to knock myself into a comfortable oblivion that resembled actual rest.

The night before the bar exam, my entire body was consumed with panicked frenzy (like every other bar examinee in the country). I proceeded to go to bed and throughout the night take anywhere from 15 to 20 pills in staggered intervals, desperate to get some sleep. The next morning found me throwing up bile and pools of dissolved medication, and I barely remember staggering through the test. I subsequently (and unsurprisingly) failed the bar.

After waking up from a week of soppy depression, I realized something: It’s incredibly liberating when the worst thing you could possibly imagine happening in your life actually does happen. You pick yourself up from the wreckage, slap on some emotional Band-Aids and stumble on knowing that you lived through it, and could do it again. I realized that the anxiety was all in my head, quit the pills cold turkey (didn’t sleep for almost an entire week while doing so, a personal record), re-took the bar and passed with relative ease.

A few weeks later, I began seeing a sleep specialist with no M.D., meaning he couldn’t just hand me a prescription and send me on my way. He advised me to start writing every night before I go to bed, in a journal, diary, anything. Thus the idea of a blog was born – I would write at night, tell (hopefully) amusing stories, and send the link to my family and friends. I started posting as Opinionista and the effect was instant catharsis – it soon became obvious that I had bottled up so much for so long, always attempting to maintain the illusion of balance and normalcy. Through writing the blog, I realized that I had blundered through the entire law school process feeling like a constant outsider – I never realized how much I truly believed that I didn’t belong where I was.

The rest I suppose is now a matter of public record – the blog got popular, I eventually resigned, and here we all are. I’m no expert on law firms in America. If anything, my story has been a recipe in how not to commence a career. But I do stand behind everything I wrote, and I thank everyone who has read and supported me along the way. This blog has been my own personal exploration, forcing me to confront the fact that I may be trying to squeeze and contort myself into the wrong life. I’d say it’s worth it to do whatever it takes to find something like that out. Even if it means airing your bullshit on the internet.

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