dal niente

Month: December, 2015

Expanding family

Aside from having been married 2 days ago, [CM] and I are also welcoming a new cat to our family. I’m at he airport now to pick him up.

Too much stuff going on, not enough time to post.

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Getting Married

Tomorrow, [CM] and I will be signing papers… and we will be married!

From the other end of the classroom

When I did law school, it was as a postgraduate degree. I had actually finished an undergrad degree a few years before taking up law school. There were a lot of things that happened in between my undergrad and starting law school– and I think that all those things that led up to being in law school made it a very different experience to what I see of many undergrad students doing law school now.

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When I came to do Australia back in 2011, it was actually more “for a girl” than anything else– law school was a means of getting a visa so that I could stay in the country. [CM] had already been doing med school for half a year, and by that point we had been doing a long distance relationship for about a year. Despite this, I still felt that we had something, and that the 180 degree spin of the globe might be worth it.

In retrospect, it’s not clear to me that I was “sure” that CM and I would “work out”. I think that people who say with certainty that anything can work out are mostly right, but people who say with any certainty that everything will workout are perhaps a bit over confident. Maybe it’s semantics, but I a a lawyer, and these words make a difference.

What I can say with certainty was that I was at a point in my life where, when deciding whether or not I was going to be going to Australia, I could say with some certainty that the rewards were with the risk.

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When I came to Australia, CM and I were pragmatic about a few things. One of these things was that I could not come t Australia “just for her”. The reason being was that if anything ever turned bad in our relationship, it would be an infinite source of guilt tripping if I could simply argue “I came all the way here for you”– there are few things that would weigh as heavily as your partner leaving behind his family, friends, and way of life, after all.

With that decision, it became important for me to find a reason for myself to be in Oz.

That turned out to be law school.

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When I got to college back in about 2000, life was like a cruise. It was apparent that, contrary to what my parents had lead me to believe during my more restricted high school upbringing, that there were many fun things out there, and lots of interesting people my age who I could learn a lot from. Because college was so much fun, my grades as an honour student high schooler dropped to the point where I was on academic probation for most of college. What was supposed to be a two year degree turned into more like 3 or 4 (I can’t even remember) followed by a university undergrad degree that, in the same vein, also took a lot longer than it should have.

Around this time, I was becoming more and more senior in my work in public healthcare. It was reinforcing this cynicism in my head with regards to the idea that education was everything– I was making money after all, and I was comfortable in my life. I had lots of freedom.

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Despite now being a part time university teacher, I still largely think that university education is no nobler than any other profession in a capitalist society. It’s a business by design– and if anything comes out of it that is deserving of any attribution of grace, it is only through exceptional effort on the part of the teacher. For the most part though, teachers are technicians and sales people– they give society what it wants.

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As a result of the commodisation of the educational experience over the years, the work industry and the “work culture” of gen y in general is quite different from that of the past. Not sure I can blame them though.

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By the time I started law school, I had paid a huge price– I had given up the security of about 25 years as a Montrealer. Family. Friends. Job security. Familiarity.

I’m not sure if the price you pay gives you a sense that what you bought needs to be worth it– I think that oftentimes that we make the mistake of thinking that the price we pay means that what we bought must be worth it. This is a problematic way of thinking that leads to disappointment, because nothing has any intrinsic value. We give things value.

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For the 3 or so years that I was doing law school, I gave it a lot of value. I cleaned up my act.

I finished with honours. I spent a lot of time working in legal for non-government organisations. I also spent time on the sides working for legal firms.

I was so desparate for work experience that for a month, I moved to Hong Kong to work for one of the biggest commercial firms there.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I was in law school, I worked really hard. I worked my ass off, in fact– because I had decided that it was going to be important to me.

 

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Fast forward– law school has been over for almost two years now, and I’ve also now finished teaching my first semester of law school. Impressions? Thoughts?

 

First thought: my students are largely (lets say, about 90%) over entitled compared to who I was in law school.

 

Second thought: I have to stop comparing my students to myself, because they’re not me.

Law Students

Although I am a solicitor by trade, it happens to be that the principal solicitor at the firm does some part time teaching at university. In fact, that’s how I got my job– because I was one of her students.

Because she teaches almost every semester, she was really excited to hear that I was being offered a casual teaching position at  a different university. She agreed to give me a day off work per week to teach, which is what I’ve been doing.

 

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I’ve now finished teaching my first semester. The way the subject is arranged is that there is a huge class of about 500+ students that gets a lecture by the course convenor once per week, which is then supplemented by me teaching them in a “tutorial group” of about 30 students for one hour per week. The lecture is for the base theory, whereas the tutorial is meant to be their opportunity to engage with the subject.

Last semester, I was in assigned to 4 tutorial groups, so that means I had about 120 kids under my care.

 

 

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Retrospect to follow in a later post.

Wedding Planning

Wedding planning is a full time job. [CM] will be having a small close group of people over for the official signing of the  marriage certificate, which will be 19 December 2015– but the wedding ceremonies in Sydney and Montreal will be held in September 2016.

Why the gap between the actual legal wedding and the ceremonies you might ask? CM’s parents are buddhist– and apparently, the predictions are that 2016 is a “bad year”, so we have to get the signing done now, or wait until 2017.  Apparently, Buddha is a stickler for black letter contract law, and only cares about when we actually put our signatures on paper.

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Wedding planning– Well, maybe not a full time job. But at least a part time one. CM, thankfully, is over most of the details, and she can delegate work to me.

I am woefully unqualified to make decisions that require any sort of aesthetic sense (which basically covers everything about a wedding) so my main job is… well, I’m not sure what. But it’s a lot of work in a lot of ways.

 

But worth it.

Grief Counselling

We had a grief counsellor come in at work today– a psychotherapist that our boss hired to come in and talk to us about a recent event.

The recent event was that a barrister that I worked closely with commited suicide a couple of weeks ago. Details of how it happened are scant– the rumor going around from others closer to him is that he was super depressed, and at some point just decided to gobble down a bottle of valium.

In his last days, he was working on a case with us– complicated thing with international jurisdiction issues. I don’t think that it was something that was so bad that he had to kill himself, but then again, I don’t know the whole story.

 

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The truth is, my life hasn’t changed that much. It’s not that I wasn’t shocked, but I think that that passed quite quickly, and more than anything, I was a bit wierded out by “what now?” because my coworkers were not taking it as well as I was.

In his last days, he was acting a bit paranoid about legal issues that didn’t matter. I didn’t know him personally that well, but we had spent several dozen hours working on matters in the past. It’s hard for me to say if he was acting out of the ordinary. I’m told he was.

 

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I think the reason why I don’t react to these events very much is because I’ve seen so many people die before in hospitals, and these were people who I had become friends with. I hate to say it, but the more people go, the easier it has gotten for me. I don’t know if that’s normal or not.

 

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People still get rile up about euthansia, because of faith or religion or whatever. But let’s just say that for a moment, if someone is in pain and wants to die, you might consider that it’s alright for them.

 

The strange way that we deal with this situation is that a lot of people would think to themselves, ok, that’s fine– they’ve had a good life, and now they’re making this decision that enough is enough.

Most people would say that their wish to die in these situations is something that you could grant– just pull the plug and let them go.

 

Suicide is, in some strange way,  a different thing when it’s out of the blue– especially when it’s tied to mental health issues.

 

Somehow, there is a distinction between physical illness and mental illness. If someone is physically sick, say with cancer, and in pain, and it’s not going to get better, then for the most part, a fair number of people would say it’s alright. If the person wants to end it, they can do it.

 

So why is it that when someone has a mental illness, and has had enough, we have so much reluctance to accept an end of life decision? Why is it that a physical illness is more legitimate than a mental illness when it comes to justifying this final sort of release from pain?

 

 

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A lot of the talk of death is because of the survivors. As survivors of those who die around us, we notice the holes in our lives (if any). Until the dying die, we also tend to hold on as long as we can– sometimes too long. In large part, this sort of love and want of a shared eternity? It’s a hubris. It is a selfishness.

To take responsibility for the idea, if I wanted someone to live through a lot of pain, it is my selfishness at a misconceived ideal of what the world is like if that person were still in it, while ignoring the fact that that pain might not be reconcilable.