dal niente

Tag: friends

College of Law

super rant to follow.

So today was my first day doing the “Practical Legal Training” stuff– essentially, the last bit of formal schooling I’ll need to do.  Well, not exactly last when I really think about it.  I still have to finish my final papers for my actual postgraduate law degree in tandem.

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After school

[CM] was translating a term for me from Japanese which I came across a few months ago.  The word is “nakama,” and it sums up what I miss about Montreal.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Lately, I feel like I’ve been living things healthier than I had been in the past few months.  There’s more of a balance to things.  This probably has to do with the fact that my degree is almost over, so there is significantly less paper-writing drama going on.

CM has also been out of town for a about a month now doing her electives in Canada.

When she first left, I was in a pretty depressing situation.  Having just returned to our Sydney apartment from a month of madness in Hong Kong doing  the internship, I was suddenly left with a week of vacation before staring summer school.

I lived like a recluse.  I was depressed about not having CM to rely on for many simple things– someone to eat with, someone to chat with, someone to sleep with.  I spent the entire week with my eyes glued to a screen, playing and finishing video games.  I did very little aside from eat, game, and sleep– I even ordered learned how to order my groceries online and have them delivered, so I wouldn’t need to expose myself to the world outside.

-=-==-=-=-=-=-=-

Now things have significantly improved.  My brain has been recalibrated.  I’ve finished one of the summer classes (except for the writing of the final paper).  I’ve lost about 6 kilograms of fat and am now as lean as I’ve ever been, cranking out about 60 km of cycling per week and 8 to  10 hours of judo per week.

I feel fit.  I think a lot of the stress of hong kong was because I could feel my body getting fat.   I didn’t do any exercise while I was there, it was a planned physical vacation to give my injuries time to heal uninterrupted.  But at the same time– just putting away calories?  I think my mind was used to me eating food in certain quantities.  It didnt take into account that I wasn’t burning even a quarter of the energy that I did when I was training.

Anyway, so I’m back in shape.  No recent injuries.  The old injuries are healing, very slowly, but gradually.

Perhaps the big difference though is that I’ve been hanging out with the judo people outside of judo.  I’ve been to a coupe of dinners now, and it’ss been really good to just sit down and talk with people.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

It might sound ridiculous to you.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that I had become a recluse.  It was easy, actually: even when CM and I were in Sydney up until November, I interacted very little with anyone aside from CM.  I was always focused on work and school.  I might get to socialise a bit with [DilligentB], but otherwise, that’s it.

My other studymate, [TheCaptain], has gone completely AWOL.  He’s the type of guy who is as “nice” as they come, but he’s totally unreliable and not particularly loyal.

I know there are a lot of people in my cohort who are interesting and amazing people in many ways– but I never had time for friends.  I spent very little time in the past 3 years making or maintaining close friends because I got here for business– it was a conscious decision to put studies ahead of everything else.  It paid off– I’m more or less lined up for First Class Honours upon graduation.  I have no regrets about trying to be serious about work and studies, even if it meant missing out on almost all the parties, drinks, and bonding time.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Things have changed a bit now though– and my life is becoming more similar to when I got back to Montreal 2.0 when finishing the sting in South Korea.

I’m in a position now where my responsibilities are starting to diminish.  With school almost out of the way, it’s just a matter of maintaining the dilligence for job applications, which is relatively easier than going to class every day.  I have a lot more flex time and a lot more control over my day to day affairs.

It also means that I’ve had more time for people.  I’ve spent it on people, too.  I’ve been hosting weekly dinner parties at the apartment in an effort not just to make some memories, but also to get better at cooking.  I’ve been hanging out with the judo folks.  I’ve been talking to people I haven’t talked to in years– just the other night, I sat down with a couple of colleagues who I haven’t really worked with in over  a year.

Where does the time all go?

It’s so easy to be focused and effective and to gun after what we want in life– it’s also easy to forget that at the end of the day, we don’t want to lose sight of the opportunities for human connection and happiness that those sorts of professional endeavours were originally supposed to get us.

The Internship, Epilogue

This post was originally written a couple of weeks ago, but I forgot to publish it.

As of last friday, I’ve completed the three week internship.

After the internship, there were drinks around the office.  It was a good couple of hours… lots of smiles, lots of laughs.  I can really get used to this, I thought.  Then the five of us interns broke away from the main group to go to Karaoke to celebrate a bit later.

All things considered, the internship was great– despite that it was extremely stressful in many ways, I did get a real taste of what the the work at a big firm is like.  It’s completely different from the pace of the much smaller firm that I worked for in Sydney.  There were many instances where I felt like I was in way over my head, and there were many situations that kept me up later at night because I just felt as if I’d screwed up.

I think that the stress of the situation was worse because the internship is part of an ongoing evaluation process to try and win a training contract with the firm.  If it was any other work situation, where there was no pressure to constantly be overly careful and paranoid about everything one did, it’s not that I would have produced work that was any less good– I would have just done the same quality of work, but without overthinking things as much.

Now that the internship is over, I’ve got about a week left in Hong Kong with [CM] and her family until I head back to Sydney for the January semester to finish my degree.

 

I’m going to miss working at this firm.  I met some really good people there.  Not only did they teach me a lot, but they showed me a whole lot of trust to do hella difficult and challenging work.  It’s the first workplace in a long, long time where not only wasn’t I babied, but big things were expected of me. I think part of the thing that I learned was that in these sorts of places, delegation isn’t just about shoving the menial tasks down the chain of command– in reality, even for the simplest thing, like checking that the numbers add up in a costs agreement or that all the addresses are correct, it’s all important.  A consultant or a partner higher up on the food chain isn’t going to have time to look at those small details, so even the work of an intern needs to be perfect.  They are trusting us with their back.

 

We went to court once to go for a summary default judgment in absence of a defence filed– basically, the other side didn’t defend the allegations of our client, so we were applying to the court to have a default win. I prepared the bulk of the documentation that would ultimately go in the hands of the judge.  The consultant in charge of my work basically had a quick skim and some details explained by the trainee solicitor in charge of my work, and that was that.

I felt, in a sense, like a squire.  But in the good sort of way– in the way that when you watch the real lawyers out there on the floor, talking to the judge and arguing something, you know that the points they are making are points that you put on those papers.

 

I think I’m feeling a bit nostalgic about it, despite that it was only three weeks, because it has been an incredibly packed three weeks.  I knew by the time that I attended the Christmas party, at the end of week one, that I wanted to work for these guys– there’s a definite feeling of family in the way they carry themselves.  I enjoyed working with a lot of these people.  I enjoyed making some friends out of colleagues who were serious about their work– a level of ambition that is I’ve found so often lacking among my classmates. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m starting to get a bit too old for school, and that I need to be back on the workforce again.

 

But who knows if I’ll actually be offered a contract or not– I don’t find out until August which is so far away that my situation might have considerably changed by them.

 

Anyway, the plan now is to go back to Sydney, finish my degree (by the end of February) and start applying for more grad positions.  Hong Kong was great, but it is necessarily just another fire-and-forget missile.  I wonder when I will tire of this lifestyle of shots in the dark with a shotgun, of “spray and pray,” and I hope I don’t tire before I can find a place to work that I can really feel a part of.  Because otherwise?

 

Otherwise, getting to know people, making friends, settling in– all of it just to leave in a month or two? It gets draining.  I don’t want to make new friends anymore. I don’t want to relate to new people.  I want to keep some friends and stay in one place long enough to build some real history, beyond a few drinks. I want to be able to reminisce.

The Internship

I’ve completed week one out of three of the internship so far.

 

It’s been a rollercoaster– but it’s getting more and more fun.  Day one was just a lot of formal training in matters of the office, sort of like a primer on what resources we had at our disposal and who to ask if we needed help.  Day two was where things got difficult– I was thrown into the deep end with my own desk and was almost immediately given tasks to work on.  It was daunting at first. I supposed I should have expected it from the company that gave me the most difficult interviews to date, but the work required an incredible amount of competency and knowledge from day one.  Competency and knowledge that I didn’t already have.

So I spent a lot of time familiarising myself with the area of law to begin with, and then getting things done.  Nobody spoon fed me anything.  I can’t say that I expected spoon feeding, but I guess I expected a bit of legal training that would allow me to take on the jobs more effectively.

The first day that I worked on significant tasks, I felt like I had been a flop– I had based some of my arguments for an advice on caselaw that had very recently been overturned, which lead to a hella lot of confusion about the matter. I felt like I wasn’t doing all that well.  My immediate coworkers often work headphones and seldom spoke to me, probably because of language barrier issues.  I felt quite isolated and alone, knowing that the work assigned to me was expected to be returned sooner than later.

That’s just really the beginning, and I suppose all beginnings are a bit rough.  [DilligentB] asked me a couple of weeks ago if I was feeling anything particular about coming to HK, or finally getting clerkship equivalent work.  At the time, my response was, nope.  Nothing.  It was just another plane, another job.

But at the same time, I told her that I knew that from past experiences, I’d be the person who would definitely get the jitters once I actually started at the new job– I’d be doubting myself, I’d not know who to ask and I’d not know how to do much.  So as much as I can say that the first few days at this internship were pretty rough, it’s on par for the course– this is always me at a new job, and I suspect that this story largely retells itself for everyone in their own circumstances when they try something new.

Now that I’ve gotten a whole week of the work done, I feel quite confident. I’ve been knocking down tasks that I’d never tried before– things which a week ago were impossibly difficult, and simply scary, are now things that I can do.

 

I’ve gotten to know my co-workers a bit better too.  Spending a bit of time with them at the Christmas Party, where I went in drag with the other interns (well, myself and another guy dressed up as Catwomen, while the three female interns dressed up as normal Catwomen), and helping out at a charity christmas event on Saturday (yesterday) gave me the chance to get a lot more comfortable with everyone.

 

I remember thinking, at the Christmas Part– it was observing a tightly knit tribe in it’s natural habitat.  The party did have it’s share of lame events– like a magic show and some pretty terrible singing– but you can tell that if you’d been working there, they were all inside jokes that everyone actually really enjoyed.  It had all the indications of a large family.

After the party I was a bit sad, to be honest– because after having such a great time in just my first week, the reality remains: very few of us will actually be offered training contracts at the end of all this. So all this might pass.  While getting to know all these people has been a privilege, perhaps I’m thinking too deeply into how much I’m going to miss this place if I am not invited to come back to it.

 

It’s been nonstop.  I finished exams less than two weeks ago, moved from the old apartment to the new one, and flew out here to HK to start interning.  Maybe mentally I’m just trying to catch up with everything that’s been going on, and maybe I need to be more positive?

 

Up and Running

System

Given that I have a 6000 word paper due on Wednesday, I figured it was about time that I got my main workdprocessing laptop (the one with the bigger screen, as opposed to my netbook) up and running.  I kind of started reinstalling the OS on this machine a couple of weeks ago, but due to some of those usual sorts of initial problems whenever futzing around with a new distro, things weren’t working perfectly so I just put it off.

 

I finally fixed it all up this morning.  The strange problem was that somehow my var/lib/dpkg/available got corrupted, and it was making it impossible for me to acquire any new pacakages.  It was really strange.  I noticed it when I was trying to apt-get a small package (gparted) which kept on failing.  At first I didn’t think too much about it, and figured “oh, maybe there’s something wrong with the server or something.”  But then when I tried other things, like getting dropbox, or libreoffice, the problem persisted, and I started reading the error messages.  Turns out the “available” file for some very very odd reason had like 1k of garbage characters stuffed in the middle of it.  It read 00/00/00/00 etc etc for several hundred lines– just smack dab right there, for no reason. Naturally, when apt-get was trying to process things, it runs into all these garbage characters and basically threw a hissy fit.  I kind of think it’s related to a plymouth update (damn you, plymouth!) but who knows.  After I gedited the garbage out, things are now working normally.  Touch on wood.

I am now downloading a word processor as we speak, and once that’s done, it’s time to start writing this paper.

 

Judo


On a scale of 1 to 10, I incurred a 3 or 4 level injury yesterday.  1 being a laceration.  9 being something broken. 10 being … I don’t even know what a 10 would be.

While one of the brown belts, [Pan], was teaching me how to block someone’s hips with my hand, my hand was in a not so good position.  Top skip to the end of the story, I basically almost dislocated three fingers at the big knuckles.  It wasn’t his fault, and it wasn’t really my fault, it was just an accident because my hand happened to be in a really bad place (apparently).  So my three fingers got pullet backwards pretty far– my pinky was too short and didn’t get caught, thankfully.

It’s much better today, and the swelling has gone down substantially, but I can’t unscrew the cap off a bottle of milk because I don’t have enough gripping strength, or hold my electric toothbrush because the vibration is really irritating.  The throbbing pain has gone down to about 10% of what it was yesterday.

Thankfully, I have enough strength to type so I can get started on this paper.

 

Final Paper


I really enjoyed the cases that we were reading for the summer class, but I really didn’t enjoy the course itself.  For an international student, taking a 6 credit course like that costs me over 4000 dollars Australian (which is roughly equivalent to American and Canadian dollars).  There were two teachers.  In the mornings from about 9:30 until noon, the teacher would lecture– basically reading off of their notes, with little or no class discussion or any attempt whatsoever to make the ideas easier.  They were basically reading off passages of sumamries they had written for themselves, which would later be integrated into their published book.  And in the afternoons? The students would give presentation after presentation for the entire duration of 1:00PM until 5:30PM.

The fact that every week we had to come up with a 30 minute group presentation meant that we spent basically every week trying to coordinate with our classmates to cobble presentations together.  Of the reading materials, I only handled 1/6th of the total materials for the course, because preparing for my own presentation was so time consuming that I didn’t have time to read anything that the other groups would cover.  

 

The marking  criteria was really vague.  I scored a 92 on the first presentation, a 95 on the second, and an 80 on the third.  The first two presentations, I got the highest grade, but the third? I asked for feedback, and one of the professors said “you didn’t address X, Y, Z” which pissed me off– you expect me to read 30 pages of raw case transcripts and come up with exactly the point that you wanted to make on X, Y, and Z?  How about some guidance on what it is that you want?

The upcoming final paper is divided into 4 questions, each worth 25%, and each section with a maximum of 1500 words.  Question number one essentially asks the student to design the  ideal anti-trust  legal framework.  Oooooooookay.  Why bother with questions 2, 3, and 4 if they’re all going to be related to the pros and cons of anti-trust law anyway?  Why not give us a 6000 word essay on just question number 1, instead of all this other bullshit asking for various levels of focus on the same topic?

Despite that I did overal pretty well with the presentations, the professors basically wrote a book on this subject (global competition law)– so I’m reading this book from cover to cover first before saying anything.  I feel that this is one of those classes where it doesn’t matter how well I write, so much as what I write, and that annoys me.

 

Med School

I’m not a med student, but [CM] is and to be honest, its caught me off guard how much of my life is affected by it.  I was just adding up the amount of time that I spend doing things for us, like groceries, laundries, cleaning, and more recently shopping– things that normally would be done by two people, I usually take on on my own because med school owns her.  I know she’s under a lot of stress.  The hours for her are crazy and the amount of work expected of them is insane– there is no way that they could possibly learn everything that’s on the schedule in the amount of time they’re given, especially since they spend 4 days per week doing rotations in hospital departments.  But she tries, and as a result, is under a constant feeling of falling behind.

Maybe I just have too much free time on my hands.  Given that she’s in school right now and I’m at the end of summer school, maybe I’ll lower my standards when I go back to school and am also busy.  Them we can suffer and be equally oppressed by school and the lack of real quality time together, and we’ll have that in common at least.

Sometimes I just miss CM.  We don’t have time to waste the way that we used to.  Sometimes I just want to lie around in bed with her, but that’s not possible now– every minute is scheduled.  It’s impossible for me to ask for more attention from her, because I know what her schedule is like– there is no space for anything.  But as a boyfriend, aren’t I entitled to the impossible every now and then?  I keep second guessing her time management.

We have a different way of dealing with people and responsiblities though, so it’s not realistic or fair of me to judge her according to my rules.  For example, if someone repeatedly shows up late when I’m going to meet them, I tell them, very directly.  Not malliciously.  But clearly, and unambiguously.  Something like “Don’t be so fucking disrespectful– I took steps to show up early, the least you could do is not show up late” works well when in doubt.  People get unlimited continues with me, but they’re the ones who have to make the step to get back in my good books.  Until then? I manage my aggravations by disabling fucntions and services to people who let me down– because it’s a waste of my time, time that I can spend more gratifyingly doing other things.

 

I had a mentor in first semester who gave me a lot of common sense advice that I thought was quite obvious back in the day.  [Mario] had a lot of good advice.  He wasn’t so good at tutoring me as to the details of getting better grades in specific classes, but he taught me a lot about how to survive in law school.  

 

He told me, quite simply, school is a lot of work. As an international, it’ll be worse.  You’re going to have to work hard, you’re going to have to study– you’re going to have to find that here and there, you’re going to have to decline going out because you need to do readings.  You might even have to give up friends along the way so that you’ll have more time to efficiently spend on things that make you happy.  It’s a tough worldwhere you start trying to calculate how much results you get out of every choice you make in life– but it’s something you’ll need to learn how to do, because this isn’t just school, this is life, and you can’t have everything.

 

Retirement

My dad recentlly came out of retirement to work part time at a bicycle store. He’s building bikes and doing maintenance.  It’s still in the trial stages.  He and my mom are the kinds of people who can’t stand to do nothing.  They just can’t.  They must work.  Their entire lives revolve around work.  

 

My mom has over 3 months of annual vacation, which she has never fully taken as far as I can remember.  She would actually rather work than have a day off.

 

I keep telling myself that I cannot make so many choices and be forced into so many corners that one day I turn out like my parents– unable to enjoy a day off.

Multi

My first bit of work for the Criminal Law collaborative notes is done.  That took a fair amount of time, probably somewhere near ten hours total… but I think it’s decent work.  There are about 3 weeks left until exams.  To be honest, i don’t know if going to class at this point is all that useful– I don’t want to learn more things, I just want to work on what I need to know and practice for the exams.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

Yesterday, classmates of mine participated in the Sydney Half-Marathon.  They took on 21km.  [CM] volunteers with the St-John’s Ambulance group, so even though I wasn’t participating in the marathon, I was up at 4:30 AM so that we could bike out by about 5AM.  Sydney is definately warmer than Montreal, that goes without saying I think– but at 5am, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference.  It was absolutely freezing out there.

I’m not part of St-John’s Ambulance, but I was basically going with CM because she doesn’t feel that confident about biking when it’s pitch black outside.

 

It’s been a while since I’ve worked in healthcare– I was thinking of maybe taking the St-John’s First Aid Certification.  I did one in Montreal a long, long time ago, but I mostly don’t remember it anymore, beyond what I had to do regularly at the hospital for simple things.  It might be nice to do the course– maybe I could save a life?  And working with St-John’s sounds like a lot of fun– although I don’t know where I could possibly fit something like that in my schedule as it is.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Scheduling is always such a chore.

 

I think one of those things I want out of life is immortality. Or at least, I want to decide when i want to kick-off for good.  There’s so much to do and see in the world, but there’s so little time to do it all that we inevitably rush– and that leads to missing a lot of the details that make it all worthwhile.

There was a “Pasta Cookoff” for the marathon team on Saturday, and someone at the gathering asked me why I wasn’t participating.  The basic reason was that I didn’t have enough time to train consistently.  Yeah, I did go on almost weekly runs with [DilligentB], and I’m sure that cycling doesn’t hurt, but my joints weren’t anywhere near the kind of condition they’d need to be to finish a half.

I think people find it rather surprising just how bad my joints really are.  Muscle pain is one thing– that kind of stuff goes away.  But joint pain? That has to do with a whole mess of cartilige and ligaments, and that stuff really doesn’t ‘train’ nearly as easily.

Several weeks ago, I went on a long run with the group, and covered something in the neighborhood of about 12-15km– can’t remember the exact number.  My cardio was okay through the event.  Got a few stitches here and there, but I was able to plow through those just fine.  Energy levels were fine too.  But my knee started giving out, and in compensating, it started to affect my hip.  By the end of the run, it was quite uncomfortable.

 

I find it annoying because I wish that I’d had someone to teach me about sports injuries and all that when I was younger.  I wish that someone would tell me “okay, you need to chill a bit” or that, though a certain amount of injuries are normal in the course of athletics, that some are way more permanent than others.  I try not to let it get me down that I’ve got the rhematological fitness of a 50 year old, and in most cases it’s not an issue– but every now and then, I get engage in an activity where I actually get to a physical limit– it’s a point where the amount of willpower I have exceeds my body’s ability to keep up with it.

I’m not talking about a situation of current fitness, where a limitation can be pushed (eg.: where I will get stronger if I just stick to a routine).  I’m talking about a situation where I am physically limited by the fact that working this particular movement will cause me serious injury if I continue.

 

It’s come up a few times so far– running was the latest exacmple.  Another one though came up from doing ‘overhead’ or ‘corkscrew’ punches on a heavy bag– either the motion hurts my shoulder (and yes, I’m using the correct technique) or the extra bracing sends feedback up to my head.  As [Terminator] hypothesizes, I probably have accumulated damage to my rotator cuff from playing badminton and doing jiu jitsu.  That probably makes sense, because I have difficulty doing my own weight in a bench press or military press– my left arm is actually stronger than my right, because my right shoulder is a weak link.

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

Regardless, like I said, it’s important not to get bogged down too much by what you can’t do, I guess.  There’s still plenty of things I can do, and that I don’t yet know how to do, right?  Focus on that.

 

-=-=-=-=-

Last week, I was finally starting to understand this whole business of slipping punches.  It’s quite cool once you get the hang of it– but of course, how good you are at it is always measured against how good your opponent is at punching you.  It’s something I really want to work on, because, lets be honest, it feels great when your opponent totally whiffs one and you just have big targetting signs all over the openings.

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

I’ve been hearing the stories, post-marathon, from people who were in it.  I really would have liked to be in it.  It’s been  a while since I’ve been in a team event.

Jolt Nights

 

While I was in Katoomba, Australia, I ran across this stuff on the shelves: Jolt Cola.

As far as I noticed, this stuff was taken of the shelves in Montreal.  For those of you not familiar to it, it’s one of the earliest super-caffeineated drinks, becoming mainstream in Montreal way before Red Bull started “extreme” culture and started “giving people wings.”

 -=-=-=-=-=-=-

When I was in high school, there was a long tradition of “Jolt Nights.”  On thursday nights, [PolishStallion] and I used to stay around High School for the hours after school until band practice started at about 7pm.  Usually, we’d go down to the cornershops of Montreal West and buy some Jolt Cola.

 

I’ve never been much of a caffeine person, and to this day, I don’t even drink coffee.  There’s a reason for that– caffeine makes me hyper.  If I have a coffee at 6pm, I can’t sleep until 2 in the morning. You can imagine the effect it would have on me and my metabolism, and my brains, when I was in highschool, at approximately half my current age.

It started off as just PolishStallion and I, but Jolt Nights eventually started spreading to a much larger circle of friends and it is one of the hallmarks of my memories of growing up.

They say that kids do stupid things when they’re bored– and this couldn’t be closer to the truth.  I don’t even know how we came up with half of the activities that we did.

One of them was a game of catch– we played with marbles, basically pitching them back and forth down the length of the empty hallways, seeing if we could score goals on eachother.  We stopped that game when one day the marble hit a door frame near where I was going to intercept it.  The marble cracked into glass shards, and nearly took out my eye.

And then there were “Darksabers.”  With bamboo poles, foam pipe insulation and some electrical tape, we made swords.  I claim credit for this invention, because it was long before I discovered that fantasy roleplaying groups did something similar with full suits of armor.  We did basically the same thing, but minus the armour.  It’s also part of our memories that PolishStallion actually had taken kendo (“way of the sword”) lessons in his youth, and beat the tar out of us.

 

Oh, and lets not forget playing hackey sack on the gym roof– an activity that we abandonned one afternoon because someone’s foot actually went through the aging roof.  Being the sensible people that we were, we all abandonned that hapless friend in the middle of the roof, for fear that the whole thing would come down.  (He got away fine though.)

 

-=-=-=-=-

 

On the whole, “Jolt Nights” falls under the category of experiences, “youthful indiscretions.”  When I look  back at things, there were tons of crazy things we did.  They shaped who I am, that’s to be sure… I guess I’m just thankful that I survived growing up.  Well, if only to be placed where I am now, which is in a position to grow up further I guess.

 

It’s unfortunate that the internet more or less “didn’t exist” back then as we know it today– it would have been cool to have been blogging back then, and to meet a younger version of myself.

Hogwart’s

I’ve got some pretty strange teachers, and they all specialize in some part of Law. Contracts. Foundations of Law. Public Law. We have these classes that are called things like “Defenses to Intentional Torts” which, well, I guess it’s not as cool as “Defenses against the Dark Arts,” but…

I’m falling in with a group of fellow Juris Doctors candidates, and in a cool sort of way, it’s like college all over again: we’re the protagonists, and everyone else is uncool.

Before the Jump

Going to Australia is a big thing for me. I’ve never lived away from my home city for three years before. The process of getting things ready before I go, I think, has been a lot like finding out that you’ve got something terminal– you have a certain amount of time to do everything that you need to do until it just happens, and when it does, you just hope that you leave behind more postive influences on your home.

I have a cousin, [Ls] who is going to be coming to Canada in a few months. She’s a couple of years older than me and is a veteran schoolteacher in Taiwan. She wants to come to Canada to shakes things up a bit– go on the first big adventure of her life. She’s scared though– it’s a huge step, after all. She’ll be leaving behind a good paying, secure and well-respected job, for what? Because she has this feeling that maybe there’s something she should understand about the world and about herself before she does that for another year. She’s quit her job on a feeling that it doesn’t matter what’s after the jump, or exactly the conditions before it– she just needs to make the jump. We come from a family though where you don’t jump whenever you want– in addition to that being dictated by the clan, you’re supposed to ask in which direction, and how high. In the last few weeks here in Montreal, trying to get her connected with Canada has taken up the majority of my unemployed online time, as we do our homework on how she’ll survive in Canada in terms of living arrangements, schooling, work and a social support network. In the end, she’s purchased her ticket to go to British Columbia because she doesn’t have any knowledge of french, and it’ll be a problem if she were to come to Quebec. It’s still a project in the works, but, I’m glad that she asked me for help on the whole idea because I’m glad that she’s doing this for herself.

I have another cousin, [Akatsuki] who lives in Montreal. A few years ago when he was around 20 years old, I gave him a long hard lecture about how he was growing out a few of his fingernails, which, over here, is one of the brands of Asian gangs. A month ago, he told me he was looking for part-time work because he was flunking too many courses at university. He’s on academic probation now and is limited to 2 courses per semester, and probably needs the money because his dad is unemployed and bad with money, and his mom slaves away as a seamstress. I spent a few hours (it doesn’t take much) to help him work on a CV and a cover letter, and last monday, I took his lazy ass out and marched him around downtown to force him to apply at any company I thought was interesting. He is lazy, and, as I told him: “The only reason I volunteered to do this is because I know you’re lazy, and believe me, it’s one thing to not like your teachers, it’s another thing to be a big spender, but it’s simply a problem to be lazy. I’m here to kick your ass.” It wasn’t easy, but I think he feels more confident after we ran through some mock interview questions and found ways to translate his lack of job experience into eagerness and willingess to work/learn.

Within the clan, there’s the normal amount of gossip. But I think that it all misses the point if we say simply that Akatsuki is a lazy kid and who’s family needs to manage their money better. People always talk about changing for the future, but I think that what’s most important is to change ourselves first. Sure: go in baby steps. And maybe this is concusianism speaking, but, perhaps where the change needs to start is in our own lives, and with our own family and friends, before we ride the high horses to fight the big wars?

The thing is, for all my life, I’ve never put in as much effort on the homefront campaigns until recently, which is the point of this post. There are so many things that I always knew I could do to help, to make things better, to effect positive, sustainable change in the way that my clan works.

But I never did much of it.

Not until the Australia project came up. [CM] asks me sometimes why I make such a big deal about it… the fact is, despite that I am going to Australia whole heartedly, leaving Montreal 2.0 is a lot like dying. By the time I next visit… will everyone and everything still be the same?

And if I am to be missed, if I am to miss this place, what part can I say I’ve had in the way things were before I left? How have things grown because of my influence?

WHen I was selling stuff in anticipation of the move, I asked my sister, [Muy], if she knew anyone who wanted the Warthog (my custom commuter road bike). To my surprise a few days later she asked to see if I could adjust the bike so that she could ride it. It’s now a few months later, together with me she’s learned to change flat tires, and other basic bike maintenance. She bikes in the heart of downtown Montreal in the car lanes just like I did, even though just a year ago she was complaining about how much she hated/feared and didn’t understand cycling. To me, she’ll always be a younger sister– but if you consider how much change we’ve had together in the past few months alone, it’s daunting to think of how much she’ll grow up over the next few years.

I guess, my point overal, is that I was always capable of becoming more involved in the lives of those around me. I was always capable of taking on more responsibilities, of helping people to be able to do things better– but it wasn’t until it hit me that, shit, I’m going to be leaving the country for a long time that I started really putting any of those ideas to action.

So what was my excuse? What is anybody’s excuse? Why are we content, until faced with a terminus, to be bystanders? It’s a lesson which I’ve only now just learned because never before in my life have I had so much skill, so much potential, and seen how much I can get done in a few months. I mean… to brag, quite frankly, both of my parents can now use the internet. A few months ago, they still insisted on fixing the VCRs. There are so many things I can do, and I know that now.

In about 6 hours, I’ll be at the Montreal airport, waiting to get on my plane to Vancouver. I’ll then transfer to a plane to Sydney. Thus, this entry marks the last of Montreal 2.0…

See you all in Sydney!

Global Citizens

I was reflecting a bit on the trip to HK/Malaysia just today, because the recent topic of the social theories class has moved on to globalisation.  Now that [CM] is in Australia, all of a sudden a bunch her your friends want to move to Australia, because it seems that it’s a bit tough to get jobs in Canada.  I’m sure the idea that everyone seems to be earning 20$ an hour CAD/AUD for pretty run of the mill jobs doesn’t hurt.

 

But I was wondering: are her friends serious? I was thinking– how many people I know would be willing to move like that.  Most people I know are very “Canadian” or rather, I guess  I’d say, really Montrealer or… well, that’s not fair. It has nothing to do with being a Montreal– more specifically than any tag of geography… they’re really sedentary.

 

I looked back at blogs I wrote from five years ago, and then ten years ago.  The thought of getting out of North America seemed more like a vacation novelty when I was half my current age.  Now?  Now, the world is so different because of a few vacations.

 

And part of it is that I no longer “go for vacations.”  I mean, I take vacations in the sense that I don’t go to work– but when I go to places outside of Montreal, I don’t feel like a tourist.  I feel like a global citizen, if you want to call it that– I feel that I can go anywhere and rather feel that there’s a certain aspect of a sense of home in it, not because of nostalgia which doesn’t exist (since I probably have no memories of a new place, obviously) but more because going to a new place allows me to get in touch with something in me that I couldn’t express in another geographic location.  Does that make sense?

[CM] has been great for me in so many ways.  I love her, really I do, but frankly, the experience of it all feels like it’s beyond that word.  For one thing– she has changed my definition of home.

I have mixed feelings right now about geography.  It may sound a bit sad, but, right now, I feel as if I’m slightly homeless.  Which is a strange feeling to have– considering I’ve moved back to my parents’ place.  This is where I’ve lived for over twenty years– so why doesn’t it feel like home?

Well, to be sure: there is the nostalgia of certain things.  Lighting in our living room is pretty lousy (there are no ceiling lights in it, just some lamps in the corners whose presences change depending on my parents’ mood), but I do like going to the living room after dinner and playing a bit of piano.  I also like scrambling up the stairs on all fours (oh, yes I do!) like how I’ve been doing since I could walk.  My dad was always yelling at me that if I’m jumping around on the stairs, one of these day’s I’d knock my teeth out: that’s why the technique was was invented.

But home now has come to be defined by additional criteria.

Part of being at home is where I can have the freedom to be a total recluse otaku– whether it’s so that I can go to work, and come home and just play until sun-up, fall asleep a few hours and go back to work; or if it’s to go in a cycle of night shifts, day sleeping and afternoon paper-cramming– I liked the freedom of being a slob, so that I could basically focus the minimal amount on life functions, and then channel the rest into a pressing passion.

Part of being at home is having peace and quiet at 9AM, in it so I can cook pancakes in peace, just for myself and [CM].

There are other reasons of course.  But home is no longer a geographic spot.  I’ve found my home in several cities, scattered now across points across the planet.  Ten years ago, I never wondered what the world outside of LaSalle was like.

 

I should extend congratulations, while on this subject.  There was a time when home was South Korea; and while I was there, it was because of people like Zanshin– spending late friday nights soaking in a jimjilbang (public bathhouse), going for some kamjatang afterwards… he’s one of the first global citizens I’ve ever known, before I even had any idea of what the term ‘global’ meant.  

He just announced he’s getting married!

 

What do I take from the idea? Well– life can continue anywhere in the world.  Life happens everywhere, right, so it seems only natural.

 

I wonder what it was like to think about living only in one place– because I can’t remember anymore.  It feels like this is how I was always meant to be.  And despite all the stress that goes with the triage of  fitting all of one’s essentials into a pair of checked luggage bags and a carry on– I’m certain that every plane brings me closer to who I am.