Thursday, October 12, 2006

Romancing the Drink

Did I mention that I am a successful attorney? Now, I understand that success is subjective, but let’s use my definition of success here (being that this is my blog and all). Within the context of my blog, to be successful at one’s job means to be deeply fulfilled and challenged by the work that you do, and also to be appreciated (perhaps not financially, the unavoidable reality of the non-profit world) and recognized by the people/company/clients for whom you do it. By this standard, I am wildly successful.

All of which brings me to this management retreat I am on right now…

I made a LOT of changes in my life when I got out of rehab (which, by the way, I enthusiastically recommend with a straight face to ANYONE WITH A PULSE just because it is so instructive on living life in general).

Before rehab, I traveled constantly for work, I worked around the clock, I was the youngest member of upper-management, I managed two teams of attorneys who had underwear older than me, I didn’t know how to turn down a case or a project, I was writing and presenting at conferences, I was on committees and boards and blah blah blah … And I couldn’t sleep at night without slamming a few shots of Maalox and a bunch of martinis (filthy, up, thank you very much) to wash down a handful of xanax.

So, when they finally let me out of the clink… um, okay, well they didn’t exactly let me out. I pretty much orchestrated a dramatic escape because, well dammit, it had been FIVE months, I didn’t have another 30K to stay on and I was ready to go home! But I digress…

Anyway, my first order of business upon returning to work was to resign from about 40% of my job, which went swimmingly, except that my silver-tongued long-suffering executive director would not countenance my total resignation from management. I was therefore prevailed upon to retain a Stupid Figurehead Title (you’re going to love this: Group Coordinator for Alternative Delivery Mechanisms. Do not ask me to explain) and to continue to oversee a small project that effectively runs itself. In this way, I have all the time I want to concentrate on the work that I really want to do (ask me and I’ll tell you all about it) and also have a life outside of the office, but I have a sleeper of an upper management job and thus am still required to come to these damned management retreats.

Which brings me to the real point on this entire posting: for better or worse, I work in an organization (and a profession for that matter) where the Drinking Culture is King. And when they wheeled the big galvanized tubs full of iced-down Shiner Bock into our meeting room at about 3:00 this afternoon, I REALLY wanted one. I felt, somehow ... left out. Like I was no longer part of the Cool Crowd.

I found myself remembering fondly previous management retreats where we were all toasty by noon, having heated drunken debates about contentious Constitutional issues (how best to sue the shit out of local police for Driving While Mexican arrests, for example) in the early afternoon, drooling lazily on our legal pads during late afternoon power-point presentations, floating the kegs before dinner, and skinny-dipping in the river by nightfall (or maybe that last part was just me).

But, to snap me out of my reverie and back into the reality of what it’s like for me when I drink, I need only recall that just yesterday as I was about to close a (pre-sobriety) case file – I found a dangerously close to malpractice mistake I’d made that I now have to fix. Yikes!

The wreckage of the past is still all around me… Although I hope one day to not be surrounded by reminders of my alcoholism and drug addiction, I do hope that I NEVER FORGET how it really was.

P.S. - I did NOT have a Shiner Bock


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