When I was 23 years old, I was looking forward to many things in life. I was about to finish law school, I had accolades and recommendations from my professors. I had the love and approval of my parents. I had some of the best friendships that anyone could hope to ask for. Then in the winter of 2020 I came down with some sort of mystery flu which hit me like a sledgehammer during the final semester of my last year at law school (foreshadowing). I vaguely recall vomiting my breakfast one morning before having to leave for classes that prompted taking 2 weeks off from classes as I recovered from an illness that literally came out of the blue overnight. Upon regaining my health and returning to law school it did not take long before a national crisis came to the public eye - Covid-19 (I'm still not sure if I had Covid that winter or not). So then the last 4 or so weeks of my law school experience were lived remotely, listening to professors through computer screens as I daydreamed of the future. I didn't know exactly at the time what it was I wanted to do with my Juris Doctorate, I just knew I was going to do "something." That attitude had gotten me through just about everything in life - one step at a time, just work your way upwards. It was during this turbulent semester that I took a course on "Trial Advocacy," taught by one of the deans of my law school who so happened to be an accomplished retired Illinois Appellate level judge. A stern no-nonsense woman, my professor (and dean) took it upon herself in this course to teach us how to handle the "real deal" of conducting trials before judges and juries, how to formulate practical legal arguments, how to introduce evidence relevantly, and above all how to craft a believable story that observers could digest and understand. "The law is paramount, but it is how you present it that makes the ultimate difference in the courtroom," I vaguely remember her telling us.
I found this course enthralling. I thought it was fun and intellectually stimulating to compile evidence, create depositions, plot direct and cross examinations, rehearse opening and closing statements, and then watch all of my efforts come together perfectly like a well orchestrated concerto - or like in the A-Team where the "plan came together." It was almost like being in a theater drama course - amazing fun. The fun started to come to an end however at the finale of the semester when we had our final exams (prelude to graduation). The final exam for my Trial Advocacy course was straight-forward: draft and recite a closing argument from memory on the murder case we'd started working on when the Covid Pandemic began. Within the span of 1 day I created a closing argument, merely thinking about what points I'd have to talk about/emphasize, and then the next day presented my closing argument over the phone to the professor I'd come to respect and look to as a model for the justice system. I cannot remember what the hell it was I said, my style thus far had been to improvise my opening and closing arguments without a script or notes - so I don't have what I specifically said written anywhere anymore. However, I will never forget my professor's glowing adoration and commendment on my presentation. "I believe that is the best closing argument I have ever heard as a teacher and as a judge." Mind you, this was coming from a person who could find imperfections within Beethoven's 9th and the Mona Lisa, a true nit-picking perfectionist. No matter where I go in life, I will always remember my professor's approval and support whereever I am.
With finals over, I graduated Law School with honors as the youngest student in my class at 24 years of age, and now the Global Pandemic was in full swing. So fast and rapid was my ascension through the education system, equally rapid was my crashing into the worst episode of "bad timing." I was never good at standardized exam-taking. For whatever reason I've always found multiple choice questioning within them to be ponderous and, for lack of better words, stupid. Now I was to take a standardized exam with a reputation for being "evil" (the Universal BAR Exam, or UBE) remotely via computer. Terrific. A wiser man would probably take this information in hand and practice caution - take extra care to ensure comfort and comprehension over the style of the exam was mastered. Leave nothing to chance. I, a prideful man who'd floated through high school with 28 AP Credits Summa Cum Laude, finished college at Loyola University Magna Cum Laude without having done his reading assignments (true story), and considered most of Law School to be "boring," did not practice any caution. I figured I knew plenty enough to cludge my way through the BAR Exam and get my license. Oops. I quickly realized my error during my first attempt at the BAR Exam when the stupid remote examination program crashed on me twice. I was so uncomfortable with the exam, I was unfamiliar with the language that the graders were looking for, and I was so wildly out of my depth. 3 attempts later (with newfound humility), I finally passed the BAR Exam and had my license in hand. Like the fish escaping the fish tank in Finding Nemo, my question then was "now what?"
So began my hunt for a job... I had no interest in practicing really any area of the law. Property law... is boring. Contract law is ponderous, and more often than not requires a person to "go corporate" in order to make any sort of meaningful living (being an attorney for some company) - something my Blue Liberal blood couldn't stomach. My father was a retired police sergeant and it was criminal law that was the emphasis of my Trial Advocacy course (for which I'd gotten a lot of positive reinforcement), and so I thought perhaps criminal law was the road to go down. Despite having deep respect for criminal defense attorneys, I knew off the bat I could never be one. Even though I knew I'd be representing innocents and potentially freeing them from being wrongly accused of crimes, I also knew I could never find it within myself to defend someone WHO HAD committed crimes. That was a dealbreaker for me. And so I began applying for positions for the remaining option - being an Assistant State's Attorney, a criminal prosecutor. I applied to a few places over the course of 2022, and finally in December 2022 I was hired by the Cook County State's Attorney Office. At 26 I'd finally made it to the point of finishing my education and beginning my career. Hurray! Wonderful! Except it was not. It is a story for another time, but what I witnessed in the 2 months I was working disillusioned me faster than Neo's consumption of the Red Pill.
But what really set me on the course I am on now was that in February of 2023 (exactly one year ago now, as a matter of fact) I contracted Covid-19 from work. Ever since then, I have been embroiled in a maddening fight to overcome Long Covid. Since then I have been physically and cognitively disabled. My short term memory is effectively gone, if not massively diminished. My capacity to tolerate stress is also effectively gone, if not massively diminished. Both of these things have culminated into what my physicians have labeled as "cognitive dysfunction" manifesting in clinical depression. My cognitive dysfunction, the inability to tolerate stress, has also manifested in physical symptoms. I no longer have the energy to live a normal day, to work. I no longer have the strength to be up and active all day. Whenever I am even slightly stressed, I am treated to episodes of "Post Covid Tachycardia Syndrome" where my heart beats disproportionately fast and I feel intense stabbing pain in my chest. I learned the severity of my condition when I tried to return to work in late February and nearly passed out in the courtroom before a judge. I have not been working since. Since I've been ill, I have also had to be fighting my workplace - Cook County. To this day, I am on unpaid leave because they do not believe I in fact had Covid-19, despite what my numerous physicians say.
So here I am now, 27, stuck at home fighting a disease without any clear path forwards. I have had a lot of time to think - maybe too much time to think. I know now that being a practicing attorney is not the path I ever wanted to take in my life. I have not thought enough, I do not believe, to be sure what exactly it is that I want to do with my life. All I do know is that I wish to be more than the footnote of a footnote's footnote. I do not want the primary way that anyone knows I ever existed to be when a newspaper reports that I no longer exist. That being said, I do not want to go down the path of a social media tycoon. I want to contribute to this world. I want to do something so good that people will remember me. I want it to be that when someone mentions my name they will say "oh yes... he was not perfect, but he did do that and that was good." I suppose this sentiment has always been something on my mind. It was my hope that by being an Assistant State's Attorney that I'd be able to jump off from being an ASA to something more fulfilling of my hopes. I have always been passionate about history, and that passion has resonated in an active interest in politics. In my wildest dreams, I'd hoped to be able to run "for something" someday after being an ASA. Now, with my life and my life plans thrown into disarray, I am now reconsidering how I can go about fulfilling those dreams - of doing "something."
This leads me to this piece I am writing here and now. I hate talking about myself, and I despise the act of talking about my problems. In many ways I despise myself for having these problems, and now too for talking about them. However, I need an outlet where there are like-minded individuals to whom I can talk about topics that are important to me. For years (since the 2016 presidential election at least) I've kicked the can down the road of when I would start voicing my opinions on political and historical topics. As a young man of 27 who has more education than he knows what to do with and some experience in the legal jungle, I want to start researching and talking about points that are hot topics in the world: Trump, The Russian Invasion, The US Civil War, Firearm Control (the lack thereof), and etc. So I suppose this is my long winded means of introducing myself (even if only as an incorporeal internet account-holder), stating who I am, and what I hope to do. I hope to be able to share my opinion in a clear, convincing, educated manner, be able to start meaningful conversations, and maybe validate myself and others in a horrible era of uncertainty. It is in this time of uncertainty, for myself as well as for the world, that I am certain of one thing: I cannot stay silent on what troubles me any longer.
If you've read this far into what I have written, thank you. It means the world to me that you would take the time to listen to the ramblings of a guy with too much time on his hands. I hope that I've sparked some interest in your mind that you will want to hear more of what I have to write about in the future. Lastly, Mike, if you are reading this, I am finally doing what you've said since law school. I am finally getting into commentating on political topics.