Law school and an unintentional hiatus

study-by-the-pool

Do you ever find that there are so many things happening to and around you that you just don’t know how to talk about any of them?

Or that there’s one big thing, just one thing, that you’re not ready to talk about yet – and it makes all your other words get stuck in your throat?

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged; to be honest, it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about blogging, too. A lot has happened in the 9 months since I last put fingers to keyboard in the service of this little corner of the Internet. Finally, I think I’m ready to talk.

When I started law school back in June of last year, I was determined that that was going to be the last big change in my life. I’d already left my partner, moved in with my best friend, and booked a big European holiday, and That Was It. I was done with changes, done with making hard choices and struggling with the consequences. Life, of course, had other ideas. I struggled with unemployment. I tried my best to support my friend through her first year of teaching. I stayed in bed until midday, far too many days in a row.

Now I’m back, or I’m getting there. I’ve remembered that I’m valuable, and so are the things I have to say. I’ve remembered that this is my blog, and no-one here is going to judge me for changing my reading habits during my unintentional hiatus. Because that was part of it – I stopped reading, and so I stopped having things to write about. Even now I mostly just read court judgements and textbooks, or spend too much time in the fanfiction corner of Tumblr. But I do what I can, and every couple of days I read another page or two. That’s all any of us can do.

So stay tuned for a return from hiatus. We’ll be back to your regularly scheduled program talking books, studying, and real life in no time.

It’s great to be back.

What, like it’s hard?

legally-blonde

If anyone asks, I usually say that my favourite movie is one of the Marvel franchise – maybe The Avengers, or Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Or The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Or Love Actually, if I’m feeling Christmassy. Or Aladdin, if I’m in a Disney mood. Point is, I have a lot of favourite movies. But if you were to ask me which movie had actually affected me the most? Hands down, Legally Blonde.

Legally Blonde came out when I was eleven years old, too old to want to follow my parents blindly into teaching (though a part of me still believes that I’ll end up in front of a classroom, because teaching’s in my blood), but too young to really know what else I should be pinning my hopes and dreams on. Enter Elle Woods, cute, sassy, smart as hell, and unwilling to let anyone dictate to her what she can and can’t do. From the moment I saw that movie, with it’s dark wood panelling and heavy books and strong moral code – no, you can’t break the bonds of sisterhood! – I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer, and I spent the rest of my adolescence secure in the knowledge that that was what I was going to do.

Now finally, after a couple of roadblocks and a major detour, I’m finally studying law. And honestly? It feels like I’m doing what I was meant to do. All that reading, wading through dense cases and history and pages and pages of legislation, comparing judgements and writing case notes – this is it. This is my calling.

I’ve never cycled back to a dream the way I have with this one, and I’m so glad I did. It’s like when I got my tattoo – the idea existed in the abstract for a long time, so that by the time it materialised in the real world, it was absolutely the right thing to do. It’s made me surer than ever that even if you miss a chance the first time it comes around, if the idea of it keeps bugging you, you have to get out there and create a new chance, and get where you really want to be.

Unhinged

In not-quite two weeks, I’m headed off to Europe for a month. Four weeks, five countries, six or seven cities – I’m so excited. With all this free time I’ve been having, I’ve had plenty of time to plan, to pack, to dream about what I’m going to see and what I’m going to write about.

I love this part of the holiday – the part where you’re planning and dreaming and it’s all excitement and booking flights. It’s a time of hope, almost like the lead-up to Christmas, where everything is joy and anticipation.

It’s terrifying as well, though. I’m in a time of my life where I suddenly have no job, no partner, no money. I have this holiday to look forward to, but after that, it’s just… empty. I have to take a break from my studies because my holiday falls right at a crucial time in trimester. I’ve been putting off properly searching for jobs because I’m not sure it’s worth trying if I’m going away for a month, but the upshot of that is that not only do I have very little to do with my days now, but I also have nothing to fill my days when I get back.

I’ve learned that I’m only a motivated worker when I have someone else enforcing a deadline over my head; isn’t that a terrible feeling. I can’t motivate myself at all, no matter what strategies I try. I called this post Unhinged because that’s how I feel. Unhinged. Adrift. Aimless.

Oh, I have plans for sure. Heaps of things I want to do, pieces I want to write, holiday research I want to do. Plans upon ideas upon inspirations. But how to implement them? Of course, now, when I’m in the midst of writing, it all seems so straightforward. When I’m in the midst of planning it all seems so easy: get up at a reasonable time (early, even!), go for a run, write for a few hours, maybe hit up the library or my favourite coffee shop if I need a change of scenery – but then when my alarm goes off I blink myself awake reluctantly, pull out my phone and wander my way through blogs and AO3 and Tumblr for a few hours, get up somewhere around midday, put off my run because I want to eat breakfast first – you get the picture. And it’s not even that it’s hard – it’s just that I have no pressing motivation, no one to notice if I’m not at my desk, made up and ready to work, at 9am.

I’d make a terrible freelancer. I have no self-discipline.

This blog was always a way to change all that – to cultivate a little self-discipline in my writing, to be writing and creating regularly, to give myself the freedom to write about the things that I love so that I have the motivation to write about the things that I have to – had to – for work. So here I am again, after an embarrassingly long hiatus, to write and create and research and, hopefully, to inject a little structure into my days.

In a little less than two weeks, I’ll be in England. In the meantime, I’ll be posting a little about where I’m going, how I’m planning my trip, what I’m going to pack, and how I’ll put together my outfits while I’m away. Your regularly scheduled programming of Comic Book Mondays, book reviews, and other cultural ponderings will be airing as well.

It’s good to be back.

Not wrong, just unrefined


So I’ve just finished reading Isaac Asimov’s essay ‘The Relativity of Wrong,’ first published not long after I was born in the (northern hemisphere) fall of 1989. In it, he describes all the ways that the theory of the shape of the earth has evolved since the huma race began thinking about it, from flat to spherical to oblate shperoidal to ever so slightly pear-shaped, and discusses how each of these jumps was not a proving wrong of the previous theory, but rather a refining of it. The mathematical differences between each of these jumps are not large at all, and so each theory is more a reflection upon the sophistication of the measuring equipment we had at he time than of any backwater hick mind sets we may have had at the time. 

I kind of feel like this theory on the relativity of wrong – how it was less incorrect to assume that the earth was a proper sphere than to assume that it was flat, because the difference between an oblate spheroid is smaller than that between a flat plain and a sphere – applies to the experience of navigating the world as a grown up. You think a thing, and then as you get more information and learn more about taxes and navigating your job roles and how friendship is still much the same as it was in high school except that everyone pretends they’re above all that shit, you gradually change what and how you think about the thing until you look back at what you thought and say to yourself, How did I ever think that? And that’s how you grow.

Stumble, stumble, trip

Well, this is embarrassing. What was it, six days before the end of August? And then, suddenly, it’s September 4 and I haven’t blogged for over a week, let alone completed my self-imposed blogging challenge.

Although I have to say, this is the best I’ve done on a self-imposed challenge to date.

I think I have the technique all worked out. Get up early, get breakfast, type up a post in fits and starts in between sips of coffee. Spend those little pockets of wasted time brainstorming future posts and planning my publishing schedule. Use a variety of tools, just so I can’t get bored with just one, and understand that most posts turn out waaay better if they’re written in two or more sessions. After that, it’s all about momentum.

One of the few things I remember from my Year 9 General Science class is inertia. Inertia is the force that keeps an object in motion moving, or a stationary object stuck in one place. It’s a physics term, but ever since I first heard it I’ve been applying it to real life.

I happen to find it particularly relevant when talking about exercise and eating well.

Inertia is the thing that compels us to continue with our habits. It’s the thing that keeps me setting my alarm for 6:30 in the morning, even though I might not actually get my ass out of bed until 7am. The thing with inertia is that once you stop, it’s really hard to get moving again, even if it is a gradual thing like hitting the snooze button.

Have you ever played kick-to-kick with a soccer ball? Yeah, in that instance, you have to stop the ball, get control of it, before you can get it going where you want it to go. Most of the time (unless you’re actually a talented sportsperson, which I’m not), if you try to kick the ball straight back, it goes flying wherever it pleases, and gives you a numb ankle, to boot.

I think my analogy is getting away from me, but here’s what I’m trying to say: Sometimes you have to stop, and take stock, and adjust your trajectory. Once you’re headed in the right direction, however, you have to open the throttle and let your inertia take you where it can. Don’t hit the snooze button and let yourself slide gradually to a stop. I did that just last week, and I managed to cut out my favourite part of the day – banging out a blog post in fits and starts, in between sips of coffee.

Historically, I’m very (very) good at letting myself slide to a stop, and when that happens, it’s usually the work of a couple of hours and a block of chocolate to convince myself that the thing I was trying to do wasn’t very important anyway. But I’m starting to think that if something is important enough for you to start, it’s important enough for you to finish. Even if it is just you seeing where it might be able to take you.

Sliding to a stop is just another way we let our fears get the best of us. I’m kinda tired of that happening.

Le mot juste

so-it-goes-fictionandflowers.wordpress.com-kurt-vonnegut-quote

Gustave Flaubert was famous for extolling the virtues of le mot juste – the right word. He slaved for years on each of his novels, agonising over each word and its placement, controlling as much as he could the experience of the reader and what they got out of his works.

Some days it feels like life is a bit like that. Scrabbling for the right words, the right phrasing. Trying to make yourself heard, understood, as much as possible. Trying to control other people’s conceptions of you as much as you can in the space before interpretation.

I met up with a friend today who I haven’t seen in a very long time. We were uni friends, learned a language together, witnessed a revolution together. We’ve both changed so much in the years since we’ve seen one another – and yet while we were together, we reverted back to the selves that we were when we knew each other. We’ve discovered that we have so much more in common now than we did then – and still I find myself feigning interest in her work with her church, in things that I don’t have as much of an interest in, rather than directing the conversation back to Star Trek and Doctor Who and the things I know we both love and could talk about for hours.

I often used to notice that when I went home to stay with my parents, I’d regress into a self that was much more like the one I was as a 17-year-old than who I am now. It’s disconcerting to find that I haven’t grown out of that yet.

You are the beholder

IMG_20140721_202652[1]

Tattoos are a lovely way to reclaim your body.

I read this quote a couple of days ago, and it really stuck with me. I’ve always loved tattoos, and the tattoo I got in July – my first – was a long time in coming. The idea that you can take your body, the thing you’re born with, and turn it into living, breathing art is something that really speaks to me. Immortalising your life on your flesh in a tale that’s bigger than stitches and broken bones and that one time you took a little bit of flesh off your thumb knuckle with a cheese slicer. (Yeah, I did that. It scarred. It makes me feel a bit silly that my most visible scar is from my glorious battle with a cheese slicer, but whatever.)

I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about my body. I never cursed my boobs or my thighs or even my period, just took the changes adolescence gave me with a shrug of acceptance. I like to keep my weight down, sure; I know I feel better if I run 10km a week or play some team sports, but I don’t always make time for that, and that’s okay too. I like good food and chocolate and using fancy products to keep my skin clean, and I’m not about to stress about any of those things. My body isn’t a temple; nor is it a trash can. It’s just my body, and its gets me through life just fine, and like everything else in my life I have dedicated phases and slack phases.

So I guess the reason the above quote stuck with me was because when I read it, it went more like this:

Tattoos are a lovely way to (re)claim your body.

I’ve always been ambivalent towards my body. I’ve never hated it; I’ve never worshiped it. But now there is a small patch of skin on the inside of my wrist that I genuinely adore. I can’t look at my little tattoo without smiling, feeling grounded, feeling the flow of my life coalesce into a gentle black swirl. Perhaps I’m being a little melodramatic, but I can’t bring myself to care. When I look at my tattoo, I see a mark just like any other – a series of choices that led me to that tattoo parlour in Brunswick, and that have influenced every choice I’ve made since.

Put simply, my tattoo is like my cheese slicer scar, only much sexier. It’s a mark on my body that shows where I’ve been; because it was intentional, it also shows where I’m going. I’ve never considered myself to have a particularly good relationship with my body – and I’ve never exercised much agency over my own life. Somehow, this little ampersand on my wrist is causing me to reconsider my approach to both of those things, with mixed and improving results.