Shyster: How Did I Get Here?

I spent eleven years defending crooked politicians and embezzlers.  Amoral and sometimes immoral corporations.  The idle rich and – worst of all – the spoiled children of the idle rich.  My unhappiness with my clients was only exceeded by just how unpleasant it was to do battle with the lawyers on the other side of the table.  And as all of that played out my anxieties about making partner and providing for a growing family were ever-present.

I needed an outlet of some kind, and the closest one was at the bar around the corner from the office where I would spent late afternoons and early evenings with my similarly disaffected colleagues, engaged in a reality-obfuscating revelry.  I was drinking a lot, probably too much, and there is no question that it was the highlight of my day for a few years.

In the office I was miserable.  A procrastinator by nature, I’d tend to put off work until the deadlines started to loom.  During the down time I’d ask myself how I got here.

In late 2006 I was 33-years-old.  I had been practicing law since I was 25, having taken no breaks between college and law school.  I had a two-year-old daughter, a one-year-old son, a wife who had quit her job to raise them, a mortgage and all of the other trappings of the early 21st Century burgher lifestyle.  At no time, however, had I consciously planned any of it.

Things just sort of happened while I wasn’t paying attention.  Law school?  Seems like the thing to do.  Marriage?  Well, it is about time.  Babies?  How nice!  A house in the suburbs?  Seems sensible.  A BMW?  Allow me my one indulgence.  All of it was pleasant enough.  None of it was the result of a plan, let alone a dream.

But I had a dream once. Years before. What had happened to it? Where did it go?

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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