When you’re a kid the question of what you want to be when you grow up is fun and relatively simple for most of us. Generally you answer with a big grin and some far fetched idea. For me it was an actress – until I was 13 and then I was going to be a lawyer.
But it feels like the older you get, the more frustrating that question gets, the more pressure there seems to be to have a legitimate and thoughtful answer.
There were times during my undergraduate degree when I waffled on the whole law school idea – though I always came back to it in the end – and times where even if I really wanted law school I just was not convinced I had a chance at being smart enough to get in. And it was around this time that the questions started cropping up again. “So, what do you want to do next?” “What are you going to do with that [a double major in political science and religious studies]?”
And I, like most of my classmates, both hated and dreaded that question in equal measure. Because the truth of the matter was that we weren’t 100% sure what was coming next, and even if we were sure what we wanted to come next that did not mean we would get it. And so my answers, as they tend to do when I’m feeling pressured, got sassy. “Oh, I’m going to solve the problems in the Middle East” I would say, or, “I’m going to save the world. Obviously.”
The same thing has happened now that I’m in law school. Except now the question isn’t asking what I’m going to do with my degree, but what kind of law I want to practice. And my answer isn’t as sassy (yet), but currently it’s something along the lines of “I’m not sure, but based on my classes for next year – the kind that won’t make any money”.
And yes, this is a long winded way of saying what my classes are for next year. So, here they are:
- Family Law
- Mental Health Law
- Business Associations
- Clinical Litigation Practice (which is basically my working in the legal aid clinic)
- Civil Procedure
- Administrative Law
- Immigration and Refugee Law
- Feminist Legal Studies Workshop
- Clinical Litigation Practice
So yeah, I wasn’t exactly kidding when I said the kinds of law that aren’t the big money makers, but I’m so excited and really there is more to life than money.
Things were going just a little too well. That changed.
A couple of weeks ago now I received a Facebook message from my mom’s old boss asking me to call him. When I did he dropped a bomb on me that I definitely did not expect – they had found my mother dead in her apartment.
Within 24 hours I was on a flight to Victoria BC because I had to be there as the next of kin. My friend’s parents paid for the round trip flight using their points even. Everyone both at the school and back in Victoria has been amazingly supportive. I was only able to stay for a week and it was a whirlwind trip – including cleaning out the old apartment, meeting with the funeral directors, holding a small memorial, etc. At this same time we were in the midst of course selection for next year as well. It has been a hectic and chaotic time.
I’m (amazingly) back on track now. I don’t think I’ll need exam deferral (which is good because that would be a real pain with the whole castle thing) even though I’m still a little bit behind where I wish I was. Though, I imagine that’s how a lot of people are thinking at this time since we have our last day of classes on Friday!
My mom and I were always really close – she was a single parent and I her only child so it was always us against the world. I miss her and I always will. With that in mind I thought I would share some of our favourite in jokes here to be preserved.
- “You lost me at DNA” – this started when I was in grade 12 and studying for a biology test. I was explaining how DNA and RNA work (not that I remember any of it now) to her in order to help study. I did well on my test, but she was soon lost.
- “Why can’t you go get pregnant like a normal girl?” – In case it hasn’t been obvious I’m not exactly a wild child. As much as my mother accepted her geeky, fandom obsessed kid sometimes she just wished I was a little less weird. I think this was said for the first time when I was about 18 or 19. Somewhere in there.
- “What’s my password again?” – I definitely got this question too many times to remember when it started. For some reason she was absolutely useless at remembering any of her passwords or emails, etc. Sometimes she would even call me while I was in class and I would call her back, panicking that something was wrong to find out everything/everyone was fine, but she needed her password NOW!
- “You know I’d love you even if you were a lesbian…” – Uhhh thanks mom? I’m not, but it’s good to know you’re not a homophobe I guess.
- “Why didn’t you tell me I dress like a teenager!” – My teenaged cousin came to visit and my mother realized she owned the same clothes. I did tell you mom, I really did.
We were nothing alike in looks or personality in a lot of ways, but we shared a sense of humor that I will always cherish.
Well, okay, I’m not actually capturing anything, but it seemed like a fun title to reveal my summer plans. Which, again, sadly do not involve any capturing, but does involve a castle!
As you may or may not know if you’ve been following this blog, I attend Queen’s University (the Canadian one). One of the really neat things about Queen’s is the fact that it owns a castle in England. Because why not, right?
Queen’s Law offers two summer programs at the castle – International Business Law and Public International Law. I had been hemming and hawing on this one for awhile. But Kali (I imagine you saying) – it’s a castle! In England! You’ll basically be Harry Potter! While these are all very legitimate arguments, the issue was the price tag attached. But, I was talking to one of my 2L friends yesterday and she pointed out that A: I would be taking classes I wanted to take anyway, B: it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, and C: I don’t have any other summer plans.
So, I filled out a bursary application form and handed in my program application this afternoon. It’s all but official, for part of this summer I’m going to be living in a castle in England. 100 points to Slytherin for taking advantage of a first rate opportunity!
And for those who are wondering – I applied for Public International Law. I’m not super interested in business law (which is unfortunate since that’s where all the money is) and I figured taking business law courses in the condensed and intensive format the castle program requires would probably not be the brightest of ideas.
It may not actually be Hogwarts, but it’s probably the closest I’ll ever get.
I’ve been negligent I suppose and I apologize. Second term has been a whirlwind of classes, reading, and the beginnings of our exposure to oral advocacy.
Oral advocacy is not a thing I’m good at. I get super nervous speaking in front of people. Sure, I’m better than I used to be (thank Model UN!), but I definitely still get very nervous. I’ve heard on multiple occasions people say that this seems surprising because apparently I don’t seem that way when I’m speaking normally.
Partially I suspect this is because I don’t feel like I need to impress my friends when we’re just talking normally. Sure, once upon a time I felt more of a need to impress my friends and that’s not to say I don’t care what my friends think of me – because I definitely do – but it’s still less pressure than speaking in front of my professors or even, one day, in court.
So far we’ve had two main oral advocacy exercises – one in Criminal law and a moot (basically a practice court situation, but only the part where you make your argument, not the bit with witnesses and stuff) in my Introduction to Legal Skills (ILS) class.
The Criminal law one was definitely more nerve wracking – that was partially because of the professor being more intimidating and partially because of the subject matter. My criminal law professor is one of the biggest names in Canadian criminal law – he literally wrote the textbook – and the case we were arguing was one about consent in sexual situations. If I never hear my professor say the phrase ‘kinky sex’ ever again it will still be too soon.
The subject matter for my ILS moot was drier – contractual interpretation of an indemnity clause – which was something more comfortable to talk about even if a tad boring. But, honestly, what I think really made the difference was two main things – my comfort with my professor and the fact that myself and my partner did some power poses beforehand.
Power poses are basically just things like putting your hands on your hips (Superwoman pose) or doing the Nixon ‘peace sign hands in the air’ thing, etc. It sounds dumb and honestly I felt a little silly at first, but it does loosen you up and calm you down. Or, at least, it did for me. There’s even a TED Talk about it so that must mean it works!
“You paid the big bucks to be judgmental.”
This was the advice my criminal law professor gave to us the other day. He was trying to make the point that we need to commit ourselves to our answers in the exam setting (and the point was well made), but it makes me laugh anyway.
In my best judgment I’ve got to say that it seems crazy that exam season is already upon us. And I know a lot of people in my year feel the same – we feel like it’s much too soon for us to already be a semester into law school. That feeling of ‘wow, I’m actually in law school’ has mostly faded, but it still pops up from time to time.
I feel like I’m on top of things though. It’s a weird feeling somewhere between stress and zen that I’ve never really had before. It’s possibly because of the curve – that knowledge that it’s really incredibly hard to fail law school, but also very difficult to do very well.
In addition, NaNoWriMo went well. I hit my 50K and actually finished the last book in a trilogy I started years ago. In fact, there seemed to be less NaNo stress this time. Part of that was probably because I was writing familiar characters and a familiar world, and part of it probably came from the fact that I was able to get ahead in my word count because the first week of NaNo coincided with reading break, but a lot of it also came from the fact that I did not have any papers to write so there was no moment of panic in Week 3 when I realized I had 3 weeks to write 4 papers.
All in all things seem to be going smoothly. Even though I still get the odd shock that I’m actually in law school I mostly just feel like I belong.
It’s reading break here. I thought about going home, but the price was just too prohibitive considering the short timeframe. So then I was going to just stay here and do schoolwork and work on my novel for NaNoWriMo all week. But then one of my classmates who comes from Montreal invited me to go spend a couple of days with him. So, I bought a last minute train ticket and took off to the most bilingual city in Canada (fortunately for me since I haven’t taken French since I was 13!).
I find David’s Tea everywhere I go!
Ready for Christmas?
A piece of the Berlin wall!
We got to see a lot of churches.
Chocolate chai cupcake from Cocoa Locale – yum!
Mont Royal Park with my gracious host.
Guess Quebeckers really hate Victoria?
Guess where! Did you guess Notre Dame? You’re right!
L’oritoire (Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal)
The view from the top.
A poster from the library at the University of Montreal.
Le Bar Sans Nom
I think Victoria might have stolen this idea from Montreal – no wonder they don’t like us.
View from the lookout at Mont Royal.
I asked for suggestions of things to do and received a very good suggestion – tea!
Sadly, named for the Queen, not the city.
Just for Rachel!
One thing we can all agree on – the new Hunger Games movie is going to be awesome!
It was an amazing whirlwind of a trip and I am so appreciative to have gotten to go. If it were not for the French thing I could definitely see myself living there. Now back to schoolwork!
Election night came and went and it was a whole lot better for me than last time. Last time I got to sit at home and watch the numbers for the Conservatives tick higher and higher eventually giving them a majority.
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I don’t support the Conservatives. I’m not a card carrying member of any party, but when I choose to vote non-strategically I generally lean NDP. However, I usually vote strategically when it comes to the federal elections. And if paid off.
In case you’re not a Canadian (or even if you are and just don’t care about politics) last night we had a federal election. The Conservatives were dealt what my first year Canadian politics prof once referred to as a Parliamentary spanking. That is to say, the Liberal party swept to a powerful majority. I’m happy. I like Justin Trudeau and while some of the things the Liberals have done (such as supporting the Conservative Bill C-51 (the anti-terrorism act which is essentially just gross Islamophobia)) I definitely do not support, I think this will be a breath of fresh air after the Harper Decade.
So now we’ve got a (relatively) young Prime Minister with ‘nice hair’ – the real question is what he will do next. I’ll be waiting to see.
And, for those looking for some (hilariously presented) information about the recent Canadian election I highly recommend the following clip from John Oliver..