raven: (misc - liberal)
Hey, you guys, I voted! I love voting: I mean, I love teeny-tiny polling stations staffed by genteel old ladies, I love how you walk in and everyone is so pleased to see you, I love how in every general election in my memory it's a cherry-blossom May, and full of promise. It's an illusion, maybe, but it's one I'm happy to buy into, for one day at least.

Politically speaking, I was doing fine until I read this: Welcome to Cameron Land - Johann Hari visits Hammersmith and Fulham, the council area which Cameron claims is the model in miniature for his potential government. It's depressing. (hat-tip: [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong, [livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt.)

Still, we can but wait and see. I plan to stay up as long as I can.

edited to add this article on the BBC about what you can and can't do in a polling station is delightfully cheering. My favourite part:

"We wouldn't want people coming in with overt political clothing," says Mr Tonkin [Westminster's head of admin services]. However it is all about context. "There's a candidate standing in Westminster as a pirate. And if he comes in to vote in a pirate costume as is likely, we won't turn him away. The same goes for any supporters coming to vote as pirates."


in other, better news )

new things

Mar. 15th, 2010 12:16 am
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
I feel much better. The exams on Saturday were, really, a lot, lot better than I was expecting; I mean, I was my usual jittery wreck beforehand, and had had no proper deep sleep but rather a half-lucid dream about one specific statutory instrument (the Company Names (Sensitive Words and Expressions) Regulations 2009, yes, I am concerned for myself, too) and then I went up the hill at half eight (again, on a Saturday) expecting the exam to be awful. But, on the whole, it wasn't that bad; it was a kind paper in a lot of ways, not asking about a lot of things, like, say, personal insolvency, administration and administrative receivership, debt financing, all topics I am not hot on, and it did ask about corporate insolvency, share issue, tax, things that don't actually make me cry. The only real problem I had was time - my last answer was basically "set aside transaction! intent to prefer! no presumption! bad idea!" - and in comparing notes afterwards I realise I made a few silly mistakes about redeemable shares, but on the whole... I hope it went okay. And the afternoon exam had a gift of a tax question, and the rest wasn't too bad. So.

Afterwards I went home through the most perfect day, chilly, bright, full of sun, and felt a little warm walking back in my big coat, and thought strange unaccountable thoughts that maybe someday maybe the spring will come. And then I took the evening train into London, with a rose-coloured sunset going on obligingly all the way there, and went to stay with [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong. Which was very nice, and very restful; last night we drank a lot of gin and watched Little Mosque on the Prairie - which, by the way, I love so much with a love that it is epic. I really do. I like what they're doing politically - a sitcom about Muslim people in a small mostly white town on the Canadian praries! How topical, how knowing, how unexpectedly funny, sweet and kind! But I also like what they're doing for the simpler reason that sometimes they're talking about things Muslims do, but more often they're talking about things brown people do in general. It's a show about funny brown people being authentically funny and brown, and it fills my little heart with love.

And then today we ate a lot of pancakes and watched Up, the newest Pixar creation, which I was utterly charmed by. probably I should cut for spoilers )

I have returned to Oxford's loving embrace, and I have one more week of revision, two more exams, and then actual blessed time off with no work, no studying, no revision, no job-hunting and no applications! Accordingly and therefore, Shim and I have arranged a holiday. I initially wanted to fly somewhere warm, but for budget and time, there wasn't anywhere really attractive; I would like to go to interesting warm places like Morocco or Israel, or indeed Turkey and Syria (which, circumstances allowing, I should get a chance to see with [livejournal.com profile] teh_elb and [livejournal.com profile] proskynesis in the autumn), but nowhere we could do easily and cheaply in the time available. We decided then that we were going to go Ireland. This wasn't really working out. Then we decided, maybe we should go to Iona, the Hebridean island I was named for - but the only way to get there is via Mull, where the public transport links are rubbish. (And I haven't driven in a while and don't want my sudden reintroduction to it to be driving through the Highlands.).

Cue an impulse decision. We're going to Shetland. It will take us four days in transit, about - Oxford to Liverpoool, to Edinburgh, to Aberdeen, to Lerwick - and once we get there, we've rented a cottage for a few days, because bizarrely this was a cheaper option than a B 'n' B. (Well, to be strictly accurate, it's a former navigational signalling station.) Three days in a cottage, probably with drink, buffeted by winds from the north Atlantic, with seals, puffins and otters in the vicinity, further north than Anchorage, Alaska. I really can't wait, and it's all something to do with this feeling of change, like the air is charged with something new; like, my exams are going to be over soon, and then my course, and with the spring and the summer come a new life. I was walking alongside the Thames today with [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong, watching the sun set over the water, thinking about winter and wondering how it ends.

...but. Tomorrow morning I have to do something strange and tomorrow evening I have to do something violent, and in the meantime I have to sit down, take a deep breath and go back to work after the weekend, make a revision timetable, manage my time efficiently, start making effective notes, the usual. I'm watching this space.

Also, the next time I get a chance, I'm going to buy this.
raven: Sabrina Hurley as Natalie with dubious expression and overlay text: "she could no longer pretend he wasn't an idiot" (sports night - natalie)
Oh hai, I hate everything. I do. Yesterday I had an oral exam and today I went to the dentist, in contemplation of tomorrow I have an email titled "ALL DAY FIRE ALARM TESTING FRIDAY 5TH MARCH" and on Saturday four hours of exams.

about the dentist )

about the advocacy exam )

Now I am trying to desperately prepare for my civil litigation paper on Saturday (crim lit prep tomorrow, oh hell) and rewarding myself with bits of Sports Night. Which is so much fun. I tried to get into it a while ago, but my source dried up; this time it's easier and I'm enjoying it so much. Mainly Dana, and mainly mainly Natalie. I love her. She is so awesome.

this is how Natalie is awesome; seriously, this is the best thing to happen to me all week )

It's kind of blurry, but, ohhh. She's so pretty. So awesome, and so pretty, and in "Mary Pat Shelby" I wanted to waaaaaaail in her general direction.

Oh.

Oh, and, because I ought to go away and read about civil litigation and try through willpower to stop my tongue falling out and dancing a calypso on my desk - oh hai, dental anaesthetic - I will just note for the record which stories I wrote for [livejournal.com profile] purimgifts:

an open-door policy, The West Wing, Toby/Andi.
Otherwise known as "ARGH NO PLOT WHERE IS PLOT ARGH". [livejournal.com profile] shimgray came up with it at the eleventh hour, I wrote it in one sitting, but I'm pleased with it, I think.

so many colours it nearly broke my heart, Harry Potter, Parvati, Padma and Hermione.
Okay, so. I did not set out to write a Holi-themed story that would be revealed on Holi. It just sort of... happened. Serendipity and whatnot. But I liked it.

sometimes patient, sometimes kind, Love Actually.
Not something I would have written if my recipient hadn't asked for it, but on the whole I'm glad she did; it's not my best story ever by a long chalk, but it was probably good for me to go through the mill trying to get something good out of very few ideas.

Right. Civil litigation.

Sunday

Feb. 28th, 2010 06:23 pm
raven: stock shot of a wall with "I love you" graffiti (stock - love)
Happy Holi, dear flist. May your days be full of colour and light, regardless of whether you actually do go and dump paint on anybody. (Although I do recommend it, in socially acceptable situations.)

I have not dumped paint on anyone. I have a hangover. I deserve it. Yesterday morning I had my exam, which was... okay. I hope. The main flaw was that I was so tired - the usual problem, lack of sleep, nine am on a Saturday, etc. - and even so, not to begin with, but by the end of it, I was feeling like I'd fallen straight into that mouth-falling-open, too-much-energy-to-think stage, which is not good at any time but especially when you're doing an exam that involves lots of finicky detail and mental arithmetic.

(One thing that did amuse me. You can't leave the room in the first hour or last fifteen minutes of an exam, and I had weighed up the usual balancing act of caffeine-as-stimulant and caffeine-as-diuretic, and gone for the cup of coffee, yes; consequently at 10.31am I put my hand up, was attended by an invigilator and said as neutrally as possible, "Would a toilet break be a possibility?"

The invigilator looked embarrassed, and whispered, "There's a small condition."

I said I was perfectly willing to hand my papers in for two minutes, I understood that she would sign my current page and write "toilet break 10.31am" at the point I was up to, and nevertheless...

"It's not that," she said. "Would you absolutely hate to use the gents?"

Where no woman has gone before, etc. Apparently the other set of toilets is too far from the exam room as the crow flies to be safe from, I don't know, answer sheets falling out of the sky. Luckily there was no one else in there I might have given a fright; on the whole it was quite an anti-climactic experience.)

Anyway, so, I wrote long lists of numbers and hoped they would add up, and didn't cry into my calculator at any point, and eventually emerged into the dreary wet morning feeling rather like I'd been hit by a truck. When I got home my neighbour was playing Hit Me Baby One More Time on repeat, and I went back to bed.

This is not why I have a hangover. I have a hangover because I went to [livejournal.com profile] dr_biscuit's for dinner, and shall we say, for drinking, and had a truly lovely time, and ate a lot of cake, and played Werewolf, which I hadn't played before ([livejournal.com profile] shanith and I were the werewolves and killed everyone with a surprising degree of dispatch), and ate more cake, and watched literal music videos on YouTube, and ate yet more cake. Somehow or other it got to be three in the morning. It was a lot of fun. Shim and I delivered [livejournal.com profile] teh_elb tipsily home and wandered equally tipsily home ourselves.

Today I crawled out of bed at lunchtime, and ran a few errands, and tried to buy Shim a chocolate heart and entirely failed to do so, central Oxford being lacking in this particular commodity, who knew. I actually rather like having an anniversary of February 29th, but it does mean that keeping track of these things is more complicated than it might otherwise be; nevertheless, Shim and I have been together some integer quantity of years. I'm happy. It needs to be said for the record sometimes, doesn't it? I'm happy.

My exams are not over yet by any stretch of the imagination; I have them the next three Saturdays, and right now I am preparing for my advocacy on Wednesday, hurrah. Before I disappear, [livejournal.com profile] purimgifts is open(ing) for business: here are the stories for day 1, and here for day 2. I will do a proper reclist tomorrow, so I can rec complete stories where they're being issued by parts.

Back to work, I guess.

edited to add: I forgot! Lovely anonymous person who sent me the bunch of balloons, thank you very much! An especially nice Holi to you, yes.
raven: (girl!doctor - empires toppling)
Where were we? I was being fail and had a lot of exams. On the subject of the fail.. )

I am not sure, really, what snaps the brain out of this place. But, at any rate, yesterday I felt hideous, and had an awful, long to-do list that included things "learn about civil litigation YES ALL OF IT", and while I managed to register to vote, which was something, I didn't then do anything else productive until about eleven o'clock at night, at which point I wrote my two final [livejournal.com profile] purimgifts stories, [livejournal.com profile] shimgray having come over and bestowed coffee jar, kiss and plot.

And then today, I woke up, took a shower, went to class. Picked up a mock exam paper for later. Had a conversation with an acquaintance while waiting for the tutor to appear, at the end of which we were much closer to being friends. Went home again, did the paper, went out for more coffee. Came back, did another mock paper. Did my ironing. Realised I needed to do another wash. The washing machine flooded and I dealt with it. It is amazing, how much the small competencies of ordinary life don't amaze me, until they do.

I suppose the one final test that your mental health is on the way up is, if you're me, and you're only going to school and to the Co-op for instant coffee, you nevertheless spend a meticulous five minutes in front of the mirror with a small brush and a shimmery green eyeshadow (Scarlet & Crimson; [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong gave it to me for my birthday and I hadn't been in enough of an eyeshadow-buoyant mood to try it until today), and another meticulous five minutes with a cheap and cheerful black eyeliner with silver crystals. I don't think I liked the overall effect - the shimmers in the green eyeshadow are gold and the silver clashed, but the effort of finding this out was cheering all by itself.

(Hi, people who are new to my LJ. Sometimes I don't go on for whole paragraphs about my make-up, but only sometimes. I really like red lipstick. Like, a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. This is basically the only thing you need to know about me; all the rest follows by inductive logic.)

Let us see, what else. So, I wrote my [livejournal.com profile] purimgifts stories. Over the weekend there was Star Trek fic - Engagements - for those who were too busy having exciting weekends to spot it. Er. My first exam is on Saturday and I am intensely grateful to have some of my ability to get out of bed back.

Er. I am reading a lot of Rumpole, which is also cheering; the sell-out act at the Zodiac-that-was - that is to say, a small, formerly cool indie venue on the Cowley Road, claim to fame Radiohead - is Peter Andre, a fact that would horrify me if it weren't so nicely surreal; my tutor has taken to signing off all his emails "Be careful out there", which is sweet if not entirely confidence-inspiring where exams are concerned. My litigation tutor, also my personal tutor, is six feet tall, built like an oak, constitutional historian turned barrister, and gorgeously, unrepentantly Scouse. I love it. He has this habit of putting would-be witnesses at their ease by saying, "Hi, where're you from? Oxford Glasgow Leeds Burnley wherever? Yeah, me too!"

Until he gets to me, says, "Where are you from - oh, shit, I actually am an' all."

Speaking of which! I am returning to said northern shores late March sometime, and Shim and I are Planning A Holiday. He calls it a walking holiday, but I suspect a walking holiday for me would involve a lot of walking and wondering which bit was the holiday, so I would rather call it a public-transport-holiday; but anyway, yes, we plan to set out from Liverpool and take in various bits of Ireland, both the Republic and Northern Ireland, and also some of the Highlands and maybe Iona. It will be an Adventure, yes. I am looking forward to sitting down and planning it properly.

Oh, and! The neighbours who have the very loud sex are moving out in a month. I am overwhelmingly better disposed towards them. Also better disposed to them because, well, I wandered in to the kitchen, and heard the chap teasing his girlfriend for her deep, undying love of Britney Spears, and said, "Aha, is it you who plays 'Hit Me Baby One More Time' on repeat at the same time every morning?"

"Oh my god," she said, tomato-like, "you can hear it, oh my god it must be so loud, I am so sorry."

I waved my hands around and made "it's okay" noises.

"No," she said, "seriously, I had no idea. Do you think I would have done it if I'd known you could hear me?"

A fair point. And they have been much quieter since.

And that is that. First exam on Saturday. Tomorrow I may even go to class again.
raven: image of India on a globe (politics - india)
Today did not begin as what Hawkeye Pierce calls a full rich day - I got out of bed at lunchtime, Shim having lured me out with Peruvian coffee, then I picked up my bike from the shop, I tried a Lush cupcake-flavoured face mask, I went over my business law mock (verdict: if you did some work, you could get a distinction, why don't you do some work), and then settled down to reading about company liquidation.

But things change. I have had two startling pieces of news in the last two hours.

-Firstly. I have received an email from the University of Chicago Law School. They want me to know that they are very impressed with my credentials but have run out of space, thus far, in the LLM programme, and so they are putting me in a standby group (people drop out, people don't get funding, or most amusingly of all, they decide that the overall group lacks geographical and ethnic diversity). I should hear from them again by April about whether or not they want to admit me.

My thoughts on this are mixed. First of all I am not filled with hope about being admitted - I've been waitlisted before, by the UCl Medical School, and they waitlisted me in January 2005 and finally rejected me in May, and on the whole these things don't work out. But on the other hand, the email included the statistics. The law school have already rejected seventy percent of their applicants, just about, and I have spent the last two years doubting myself. Wondering if I am really smart, if maybe I was fine at school but am not cut out for higher education, if maybe I am only pursuing professional training because I am not good enough for academia. And whether or not I am finally admitted, an incredibly good US law school thinks that for its academic Masters programme, I am better than seventy percent of the people who applied. I think I feel good about that.

-Secondly. My mother has returned from India - from Delhi, though recently from Kolkata, Silchar and Bangladesh. She had gone to Bangladesh with my Dadu (who is not my grandfather, actually - he is my mother's father's youngest brother, my biological grandfather having died in the seventies), having acquired visas and permissions with great difficulty, for good reason. My mother's family are Bengalis, Hindus, and ancestrally, they come from what is now Bangladesh. Dadu, then thirteen or fourteen, and the rest of the family, fled over the border in 1947 soon after Partition.

Dadu has wanted to go back for many years. Not for good, he says, but he wanted to see the place again, "before I die". My mother has wanted to make this happen for nearly as long. So, she stayed on long after I and most of the rest of the family had left, and flew to Silchar to see her sister and my cousins, and then on Monday they set out from there to Karimganj, where they planned to cross the border at the Kushiyara River. My mother said, at this point she was ready for anything, but mostly for the place to be like Nilam Bazaar, the village in Assam where the family settled, and where until recently we had a house – impressive, and surrounded by mango trees and coconut palms, but run down, at the end of dirt tracks, and impossibly remote. (I broke my ankle there, once – it took a week before it was looked at. It's a far away place.)

The boat, she said, had the Indian flag on the one side, and the Bangladeshi flag on the other, and once they had got through the lengthy process of immigration – I have never crossed a border by surface! - they went to Sylhet, which, my mother said, she thought was a village. It was in 1947, but now it is a small city, and they rented a car – a Toyota, my mother said, in quiet wonderment – and drove down paved, easy roads that looked like English ones, she said, complete with the same sorts of speed limit signs, looking for another village.

They couldn't find it. Dadu couldn't recognise anything; they stopped and asked someone, and he didn't know what they meant or what they were looking for. My mother had an idea – consult people of Dadu's age. So they stopped at a doctor's surgery with old people in the waiting room – Muslims, my mother said, with dhari and topi - and asked them. The people there told them that they had missed the village, driven past it – but they knew which village. They knew my grandfather's name, and his father's name.

So they went back. And the village when they came to it, was bigger, and Dadu didn't remember it, but they found a house that he thought was the one, and they knocked on the door. The family who lived there invited them in, and gave them tea and food, and said that they were the third people to live in that house since Partition. The first people to live there had taken over the empty space after Dadu and his mother and siblings had fled, and they had sold the house to another family, who had sold it to the current owners. They were very kind, my mother said – another Muslim family, who couldn't do enough for them, showed them around and fed them and made them feel welcome. Dadu said when he saw the house, he knew it was the right place, and said, I was born in this house – but he hadn't been there, he said, for more than sixty years.

And he said to the people who lived there, that my grandmother, my Didibhai, has never been to this place, but she is the bahu of this house – its daughter. And they went outside and cut four coconuts from the palms, and gave them to her, as the gift for the bahu for the house, for her to take away.

They went back to Sylhet and hoped to go home, but apparently you cannot cross the border outside of office hours, and it was past five o'clock and they had to find a guesthouse. Which was perfectly nice, my mother said – she had been picturing the sort of huts you would have left behind, in 1947! - but they hadn't been planning to stay, so none of them had anything to sleep in, or really anything beyond what they were standing up in. And she explained this to the driver, who had a bright idea. He drove them to the local mosque, who lent them four lungi to sleep in, and bought a single tube of toothpaste between them all. It was an adventure, my mother said, and they returned them to the mosque before they left!

And in the morning they went back, and crossed the river to India.

I wish I could have gone. Even though I couldn't, I am so happy that they found the place – that my family comes from somewhere, that in the end Dadu could go home.
raven: Kira wearing a green tunic against a blue background (ds9 - kira in green)
This is going to be a long post. Have some music first. Karine Polwart, whom I discovered recently via [livejournal.com profile] icepixie, has a very lovely voice, and occasionally quite unsettling lyrics: Resolution Road, What Are You Waiting For?.

The good:

-Life continues apace. I am coming up on a strange time; during March, I have no classes Monday to Friday, but exams every Saturday, and a few in the middle - skills-based whatnot, advocacy and other things - which is not at all what I'm used to but perversely I'm sort of looking forward to it. I'm having trouble getting up in the morning these days, so study leave when I can work at 2am if I want to will go down well, and, well, I got my mocks back, most of them, and I'm pleased. They are a scraped commendation (59.5 - civil lit), a proper commendation (business law) and, surprise of all surprises, the exam I didn't prepare for at all - snow and going-to-India conspiring between them - the property exam, I got a highly unexpected high distinction. I feel good about it - like I might do well, not only in my exams, but in practice.

-Property law, yes. I have sudden fears, these days, that I might be a land lawyer when I grow up. I haven't met anyone else who likes it as much as I do, but people must, surely, because there are land lawyers in the world? It's so... I don't know, I don't think any law is tangible but English land law is as close as you can get to it; there's so much history in it, so much tradition, so many things you say, as though reciting chants to hold back your gods - say, "bona fide purchaser for value"[1] twice fast before breakfast; say "freehold interest subject to compulsory first registration", and something happens by magic. But nevertheless it's elegant, internally consistent, intellectually satisfying, and I was worried my liking for land law wouldn't translate to a liking for property practice, but so far so decidedly hoopy.

Anyway. Land law, a good thing in my life. Everyone should have hobbies.

-Deep Space Nine s5 and s6 )

-Something different. There's a man in my class at school, whose initial is not F. Yesterday morning I had a great deal of trouble getting out of bed, and I was cranky when I turned up for criminal litigation, and while I was crankily working through my stack of witness statements, F. was at the next table and he was talking about gay and lesbian people. F. is a devout Christian, which is one thing, and a literalist when it comes to Leviticus, which is quite another; after about ten minutes of listening to him talking about homosexuality being evil, wrong, and a sickness (and, to their credit, the people around him not arguing, but basically trying to shush him), I spoke up and, you know how you have an image of yourself in your head? Someone who is a proud liberal and a proud activist, who says what she thinks and gets her points across with elegant, economical sang-froid?

Yeah, it wasn't like that. I tried not to get upset and told him that I came to my class for purposes of criminal litigation, and there, then, should not have to listen to those things, quite apart from any discussion we might have outside of class. He said he'd got a right to state his opinion, I said not if it upset me in my crim lit class, the tutor returned at that point, case closed for the moment.

Today, I was checking my email during the break when F. came and asked for a word. Okay, I said, warily, what is it.

He said he was sorry. That he'd had no right to speak like that, and he was sorry if what he had said had upset me, and that his views were one thing but he didn't have any right to impose them on me, especially as it was something I found upsetting. He hoped I would forgive him but if not at least I'd know he was sorry.

Bless the man, really.

The bad:

-I am finding it very hard to get up in the mornings, lately. I note this merely for the record at the moment, with the additional note that it's February, I have had two bursts of culture shock in the recent past, and I have exams and academic stress at a greater than normal degree for the time of year. I am going to buy myself a wake-up lamp, and sleep in a little more than I strictly ought.

The ugly indifferent different:

-One of Shim's stranger talents is being able to declaim Kipling to suit all occasions. I have read him, not to the same degree, and while I like his writing, a lot, my thoughts are partly complicated and partly tread the usual aesthetic path of whether I ought to find value in his work, when I know what his views were. The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories aren't, shall we say, entirely representative.

I've started reading him again recently, because I was in India, and it seemed appropriate, and on the whole, I think I would rather read him than not, even if his flashes of racism and his glorification of empire are occasional bad tastes among the good. This is nowhere more evident than in O Beloved Kids, a collection of his letters to his young children, which are full of joys and wordplay and little pen-and-ink drawings and the word "nigger". But I keep reading it, and finding joy in it. I don't know. It was an old moral problem a long time ago, and one of the things I find joy in is how much he loved India, how much that love suffuses every line he wrote about the place, and should you take joy in that, or worry that the India he loved rightfully ceased to exist sixty years ago? I don't know, I don't know. I wish there was at least a starting place with these things - if, for example, the introduction to the letters had not been half-heartedly apologist, but had said outright, Kipling was a racist of his time and a little in his own special way, and this was bad, this was wrong and hurtful, and he was also a Nobel laureate for literature and his writing is full of joy and beauty, and this is good, and the mixture is uneasy but here it is.

I stun myself with my lack of profundity. I shall go and tackle leasehold interests.



[1] Who is also known, in quite formal settings, as "equity's darling", a phrase which delights me unduly.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
So, you know Harry Potter, right? That bit where Ron gets up early and eats some chocolates, that he thinks are meant for him, and actually they aren't meant for him, they're meant for Harry, sort of, they're from Romilda Vane, who is in love with Harry, so they're laced with love potion, so now Ron is in love with Romilda, and Harry has to punch him, and they take him to Slughorn, who gives him the antidote, and a drink of mead, only the mead is meant for Dumbledore, sort of, and it's poisoned, and he, Ron that is, falls to the floor frothing at the mouth until Harry shoves a bezoar down his throat, and the first thing Fred says when he comes round is, "So, all in all, not one of Ron's better birthdays?"

...no, my birthday wasn't that bad.

No, actually, it wasn't bad at all. [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong left me a pile of presents over the weekend, and I opened them at midnight, because I am grown-up, and now I own my very own Tribble (it makes angry noises! and happy noises! but mostly angry noises) and the novelisation of Trials and Tribble-ations, which is adorable and worth the price of admission just for the foreword, by David Gerrold, the writer of "The Trouble With Tribbles", recounting how much fun he had playing a silver-haired redshirt on the Deep Space Nine set. (Oh, how much do I love Deep Space Nine? Thiiiis much.) And [livejournal.com profile] shimgray says he has three installments of presents for me (and one of them is not a book!), but for last night, he gave me a beautifully obscure book about reported ghosts on the Underground.

(He did note, though, that someone being given birthday presents of Star Trek toys and books on the history of underground transit systems usually belongs to a different demographic from me. I said, yes, but, Laura also gave me a ridiculously adorable Scarlet & Crimson eyeshadow kit.

"Yes, well," he said, "in that regard you actually are a unique and special snowflake.")

And [livejournal.com profile] pinkfinity gave me a shot of vodka with lime for my profile (entirely birthday inappropriate, and just what I wanted - thank you very much, dear!), and lots of my friends sent me sweet little notes and messages, my class at school gave me a truly horrific and touching rendition of Happy Birthday with untuned honky-tonk-piano accompaniment, and I hurried home at five to pick up a parcel I thought was an Amazon order, but turned out to be a present from [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma - holographically wrapped Star Trek playing cards! (Her comment: now you can place Kirk and Spock in all kinds of positions! YES. YES, I CAN. Thank you so much, honey.)

So although the day was quite hard, I am loved and valued, yes I am, and besides, the day is getting funnier in retrospect. The forecast was for heavy snow, which sort of transpired and sort of didn't - it snowed, somewhere, high in the atmosphere where the snow was powdery and the air as clear as a bell, and by the time it reached the ground it was wet, heavy, stinging soft ice. I was dressed for advocacy, and because it's my birthday had decided on my most favourite red lipstick, and of course by the time I arrived I looked like a slush-soaked rat.

(And then, entirely failed to effectively prosecute someone by neglecting to mention at any point the fact that the defendant is a VERY BAD MAN.

Okay, I say fail. I actually managed it on the grounds that the defence was even worse than I was.)

And then, due to a series of ridiculous events I ran down to the careers service over lunch and arrived eight minutes late, which isn't generally the end of the world, but it was a fifteen-minute appointment. Sigh. It was helpful, though - to deal with applications to American universities, Oxford have done the obvious thing and got in an actual American, who is just a very reassuring person when it comes to asking things like "oh god if I write that will I sound like a wanker" - and she sent me off today saying, "Go away! Next time I see you, I want it to be because you've got in. Let me know when you do."

...as though it were a given. Which is probably misguided, but sweet. I have now applied to Cornell. One more to go.

And then I sat patiently through two hours of accounts, which I am terrible at, and came home. And here I am. I am trying very hard to remember I am not sad because it-is-my-birthday-and-no-one-loves-me, I am sad because I was sad yesterday and I was sad the day before and I live in about the worst climate in the world for feeling-of-sad, and also my mother called me and that usually does make me feel sad whether or not it's my birthday.

Okay, something happy to finish with. On Saturday, last Saturday, that is, [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong was visiting, and she deemed it administratively my birthday so we went to lunch at Red Star, and [livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt and [livejournal.com profile] vampire_kitten gave me flowers, and [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne showed me her Bra of Rassilon (it's like her Tam O'Shanter of Rassilon, but better), and [livejournal.com profile] dr_biscuit told me again exactly why John Howard resembles a penis in cross-section, because it makes me laugh. And Shim and I went to have dinner with [livejournal.com profile] luminometrice and a whole bunch of other people, and we ate a lot of food, thrashed everyone at Articulate and sat up and played paper games until two in the morning. (Shim wanted to know why I'm good at Articulate; a little thought, and then I remembered what I plan to do for a living.)

(A good paper game: my favourite version of consequences, which involves writing a short scenario/story (e.g. "two old ladies are on a walk when they meet an alligator"), the next person writes down what they think it means, and gives it to the next person to draw, etc. It helps if you have no artistic talent whatsoever; somehow Shim's drawing of two stick figures escaping from a lion became, via liturgical lions and an oversized caterpillar, in my words, "confused people at Tiananmen Square".)

And, besides. What do I want for my birthday that money can buy (i.e., not law school admission, world peace, for Massachusetts not to have just elected a Republican senator and the Incredible Fornicatores next door to stop having sex)? A birthday cake, and maaaaybe another season of Deep Space Nine, and oh, a pretty ruffly cardigan from Anthropologie. That's not a lot, as wishlists go. Life's okay, isn't it.
raven: panel from PhD comics, woman with speech bubble: "Wait a minute... I'm the only female in this class!" (misc - ppe)
I am reading a case called Royal Bank of Scotland v Etridge (2001). It's quite a well-known case, and a fairly interesting one. It goes like this. Say you are married, or civil-partnered, and you live with your partner in a house that you both own. Say you then decide to start a business, and need a loan for the purpose. The bank wants security for the loan, so you offer up the only thing you have - your house. The bank agrees, Land Registry enters the restriction on your title to your property, you get the money.

Then the inevitable happens. The business fails and you default on the loan. In order to get back the money, the bank exercises its power of sale. And you're thrown out of your home - but so is your partner, through no fault of theirs, and they may not even have known that all this was going on, considering all that was required from them was one signature, possibly years before.

The House of Lords was keen to stop this happening, and in this case it set out guidelines for what a lender must do when making a loan of this type. Nothing dramatic - it must satisfy itself that practical implications of the transaction have been set out in a "meaningful way" to the other partner before it proceeds with the loan.

So far, so hoopy. In some ways this is just the sort of common law that appeals to me; there's a problem, the court takes a simple logical action, it fixes it. Very neat, very sensible.

But here's the issue. The wording of the judgement is as follows:

"It is important that a wife (or anyone in a like position) should not charge her interest in the matrimonial home to secure the borrowing of her husband (or anyone in a like position) without fully understanding the nature and effect of the proposed transaction and that the decision is hers, to agree or not to agree."

And later:

"It is important that lenders should feel able to advance money... on the security of the wife's interest in the matrimonial home..."

The textbook, published in 2009, I should add, writes:

"The lender is entitled to proceed on the basis that the solicitor advising the wife has done so properly."

And:

"[If going ahead with the transaction] the solicitor should explain to the wife the purpose for which he (the solicitor) has become involved..."

There's layers and layers of issues below this - at one level it's about undue influence, which suggests it's a tool to stop women being taken advantage of, and at another level it's about introducing transparency.

But the judgement is on the most obvious level, about husbands and wives. It's about how a husband takes out a loan, and doesn't tell his wife; it's about how a wife must have it explained. There's a clear, clear assumption that it will be a man who takes out a business loan, not a woman, and that it will be the wife who needs the situation explaining. The judgement was made in 2001, note: it wasn't Lord Denning in the 1970s getting paternalistic on us, it was made less than ten years ago. It's not a profound point that I'm leading up to here, but nevertheless I want to make it: the sheer and obvious sexism in it is what gets me down. It's not that you have to analyse it carefully to see that it's there, it's just there, waving a little patriarchy flag and wearing a shiny hat.

It was made before the Civil Partnership Act, of course - but that is retroactively implied into it, so there's one blessing, but hmph. Hmph.

memery

Dec. 5th, 2009 01:34 pm
raven: image of white Macbook computer with raven perching on it (misc - raven writes)
I really, really ought to be working right now. Oh, dear. But I got interview questions from [livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt, and it was much more fun answering those:

judicial rulings; philosophers; guilty television pleasures; influences on my writing; a story in six words )


If you would like questions, please comment and say so. eta: and that's a wrap, folks. I don't think I can come up with any more questions!

Lawyering

Dec. 2nd, 2009 10:59 pm
raven: Kira wearing a green tunic against a blue background (ds9 - kira in green)
Reasons why cross-casting is quite great:

"Tell me, Mr. Shuster, is there any reason why you cannot show enough respect to this court to stand up during your examination-in-chief?"

"I'm pregnant with twins, your honour."

(She later noted it was a good thing we were doing this today, and not in two months' time. "Otherwise I wouldn't even fit in the damned box.")

I spent my morning in a disused courtroom in Oxford Town Hall, sitting on the counsel's bench and enjoying myself far more than I thought I would; it doesn't sound all that fun, being told to turn up at nine in the morning for a mock trial when you have a morbid fear of litigation, and then the thrice-damned man who was supposed to be delivering the opening speech never turned up, but somehow it did come out all right. It's a really nice opportunity, getting to do a mock trial in a real courtroom rather than a prefab classroom sparsely furnished with imagination, but I really wasn't in a good place; see above re: nine in the morning, and also what with everything else that has happened to me/that I have happened to this week, I hadn't done much in the way of prep. But I paid attention and then stood up to deliver closing submissions, and it's amazing how the world constricts in moments like that: it's just you and the empty space in front of your voice.

When I sat down again, the judge found for the defendant. Hmph. But nevertheless I got some very nice feedback on it all: I didn't submit my referenced cases to the court (oops), my body language "suggested heading to the Pole in shirt-sleeves", but otherwise, the verdict was "extraordinarily good". I suspect I may be coming around to litigation.

Thank you, all of you, for the lovely comments you left on my post yesterday; I really appreciate your lovely congratulations, just as I've appreciated you cheering me up all the time I have been trying to do this! The training contract is in Cambridge, starting in September 2011, at just the sort of firm I wanted to be at, and I liked them a lot when I first went there. It is a blessing.

I haven't actually seen the letter yet - for some reason the firm chose not to email or call but write, and obviously the letter went to my parents' address, and they, seeing a heavy envelope with a law firm's stamp, couldn't resist. I think it'll all seem a bit more real when I actually see this letter, but in the meantime, I'm still a little flaily and it hasn't quite sunk in yet, but I've started to have little, happy thoughts, like, I'm going to choose where to specialise, and I could maybe get police station accreditation, and I'm going to qualify. I mean, once I'm qualified, no one can ever take it away from me, if all else fails I can get a market stall in Gloucester Green under a "GET YOUR SMALL CLAIMS HERE" sign. I can endorse other people's passport photographs, I'm going to have a real job.

And, I don't know, I will at last, at last, not be a student. I'll have a salary and somewhere to live of my own, I can start a travelling-abroad fund, I can go to [livejournal.com profile] bitchinparty, I can have a house plant. (And love it and adore it and call it George, and mourn it when it dies of overwatering.) I can start to pay off my loans and buy a goddamn garlic press.

And I still have a year with which to go to grad school, if it pans out, and to write fanfic in if it doesn't, and direction in either case. I mean, I still desperately want my LLM, but it's not the end of the world, any more, if it doesn't work out, I've got somewhere to be. I really, really thought this wasn't going to happen for me; this was my fourteenth interview out of fifty-seven applications in three years of applying, and I was... well, you know. I'm still not quite believing it. Thank you all.

!!!

Dec. 1st, 2009 07:30 pm
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
I got a training contract. Ohmygod, I got a training contract, I'm going to be a lawyer, I can do this.
raven: [hello my name is] and a silhouette image of a raven (misc - hello my name is raven)
In reference to the following, [livejournal.com profile] hathy_col writes, "Iona sings songs of the great Tribble hunt. She has a statue in the hall of warriors with a Tribble in one hand and Kirk's head in the other!"

okay, so I was unnecessarily freaked out by the tribble )

Look, it makes happy noises, which are freaky, and then it makes irritated noises, which are freakier. And it's all fuzzy and creepy and whatnot, and then it sort of leaps out at you from wherever someone has it hidden, and, er.

Kapla, I say. Kapla.

London Collectormania was a lot of fun, in the end. It was at the Olympia, on two levels, which as Colleen said, was a vast improvement on previous incarnations, as there was actual space to see everyone and everything, and if you felt like it you could stand at the edge of the upper gallery and look out over costumes and Daleks and brightly coloured mohawks and geeks and the coming of their kingdom of heaven.

[livejournal.com profile] hathy_col and [livejournal.com profile] ann_pan and I drifted around getting into trouble, mostly. Highlights:

-Aforementioned Tribble. So fluffly. So very frightening.

-Gareth David Lloyd, who is adorable but should stop slicking his hair back. He did one panel talk with Kai Owen where he admitted to being in a pantomime in Preston as Prince Charming. (With songs from High School Musical, oh I wish I were kidding.) "None of you are actually going to go and see it, are you?" he asked at one point.

Well, I am home on December 23rd. Colleen and I are finding the phrase "IANTO PANTO" inherently amazing. Um.

-Costumery! There were a lot of Imperial Stormtroopers running around, as usual, and an odd reptilian thing I found very disturbing, and lots of furries. [livejournal.com profile] emerald_embers and I both fell in love with five-year-old Castiel in a very sharp suit and very feathery wings. "I am the angel of the Lord!" D'awwwwww.

-Corsetry! I love how people just assume that goths are into geekery and are usually right, so we spent quite a bit of time at a tiny little corset shop squished between two dealers' tables. Colleen got a beautiful silvery corset, and I considered it, but eventually decided against it; not before the nice woman selling them had laced me into the closest corset to hand and then said blithely, "Oh, no, we can get you into one smaller."

For the record, my waist is not designed to be squished to 22 inches. But it was a very nice corset.

-But my favourite part of it was meeting Rene Auberjonois. When I arrived Colleen and Ann had already got his autograph, and I didn't really want one, so I suggested we just go and talk to him anyway. There was nobody at his table. It seemed logical.

"No," Colleen said.

"Why," I said.

"Because I'm scared I'll open my mouth and 'I NAMED MY CAR AFTER YOU!' will come out!"

I thought this was fair enough. But I went to say hello anyway, and he was very, very, very nice. Nobody mentioned that I suggested Colleen name her car Odo (she actually named it Odo'ital), and nobody's tongue actually fell out.

Speaking of Rene Auberjonois, he is in the first episode of Boston Legal! How did I not know this? There are whole minutes of him, James Spader and William Shatner in the SAME ROOM. BEING LAWYERS. Come on. You are all fired.

Yes, it was a lovely day; in the afternoon I went away for a while to see some of my university friends, and returned in time to help scrape [livejournal.com profile] emerald_embers off the proverbial ceiling and set out into the rain. (And missed George Takei! Which is a great shame, as he was the other person I was very excited about seeing; on the other hand, it would have been Colleen having to stop me from opening my mouth and having "And one day, when you least expect it, I will HAVE SEX WITH YOU!" come out, so perhaps it's just as well.)

Getting home was a logistical nightmare - first there were no trains out of Paddington, and then there were no trains out of Didcot, and then there were no buses, and then there were no taxis, and then it was nearly midnight and I was very bedraggled, but I think it was all worth the rain.

In other news, yesterday I applied to NYU and the University of Chicago for their graduate programmes in legal philosophy. I will tell y'all about this when the old brain has, y'know, processed it.
raven: (girl!doctor - empires toppling)
Dear self: passion fruit daquiris are not a substitute for actual food. Also, you are lucky to have friends who find it endearning and not head-smashingly annoying when you get drunk and are VERY! EMPHATIC! ABOUT! EVERYTHING! (Why I do this, I don't know. Normally I do not have strong opinions about... well, anything.)

On Tuesday, [livejournal.com profile] shimgray and I went to London - mostly, he followed me around Oxford Street looking put-upon, but we did have a lovely lunch in a Mediterranean place which fed us spiced quail with peaches and calamari for the princely sum of £6.95 - and yesterday I ran around like a madwoman trying to make some impact in the to-do list, but mostly I cooed over [livejournal.com profile] sir_rosealot's cats and it all ended at the bottom of a Martini glass anyway. Today, I am wiped out, and not just because of yesterday evening's red-lipstick patent-heels tropical-cocktails extravaganza. Possibly I cannot quite manage nine-in-the-morning to ten-at-night days yet, thank you swine flu, but today I have mostly sat in bed, read a very little about civil procedure and listened to "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug", the Indigo Girls' latest. It is a Thursday dropped out of a weekend - wet, and grey, so the electric lights are too bright, but with something good in it, something peaceful.

A few incidents, all from the last week or so:

-On a very bright and sunny morning, Shim and I had an argument about the fungibility of toothbrushes. (The gentle reader is gently asked not to inquire into the provenance of said argument.) He said they weren't. I said they were. We reached an impasse. He said, they have an intangibile aspect to them, namely possession - that I cannot use your toothbrush, you cannot use mine, they are not fungible.

No, I said, that's not true. If I bought a toothbrush, and left it in a packet in a drawer, and you came to visit without one, I would give it to you without a murmur. It's not an intangibility - it's the verifiable attribute of whether or not the toothbrush has been in someone else's mouth.

So, we agreed, the set of unused toothbrushes are fungible between themselves, and pre-owned toothbrushes are not.

(I've since thought that you need to add another level of rigour to this - you have to define "toothbrush" as "plastic stick with bristles that may be used for cleaning teeth". For people who define tootbrush with other characteristics, e.g. "red", or "electric", or whatnot, fungibility mileage will vary.)

-This week I have been dipping into the collected journalism of Francis Wheen. For those who have not come across him, he is a genial and occasionally very caustic Guardian journalist who writes about all sorts of things, mostly political, and is otherwise remarkable for having accidentally admitted on national radio that he quite fancies Sarah Palin. (I love the News Quiz; for many episodes after they greeted everything he said with, "Yes, Francis, but you fancy Sarah Palin.)

Anyway, I was reading something he had written - caustically, naturally - in the late nineties about Rupert Murdoch. The column basically hoped that he would die on some suburban street somewhere, surrounded by the debris of satellite dishes, so he could be buried where he fell and have on his headstone "si monumentum requiris, circumspice".

It took me a minute to think about it, but I laughed eventually. I like Francis Wheen very much because of the easily difficult way he writes - he draws down allusions and draws out verbal trickery with a practiced disdain for his readers' comprehension level, which I find disingenuous on one level (because, as a self-confessed old-fashioned leftists writing his dispatches from the class war, etc., he nevertheless writes in a way accessible to people who have been elaborately, expensively educated) but satisfying like a crossword clue on another, the way he writes to a trick and then in retrospect you see how it was done.

-As part of the foundation course of the LPC, I had a couple of sessions of something impressively called "professional conduct", but which mostly consisted of doing the set reading and answering a few questions on it. Very schoolgirl, very formulaic. I did the reading and I answered the questions, and I went to class, where there was a quick group discussion on the prep.

One of the questions, paraphrased was as follows: you are acting for a client on a civil, non-contentious matter. In passing, he happens to tell you that some years before he arranged for the murder of a business rival. You know that the murder is still unsolved. What do you do?

I had done the reading. The reading in question is, precisely, rule 4.01 of the Solicitors' Code of Conduct - you and your firm must keep the affairs of clients and former clients confidential, unless certain exceptions apply, and I checked them, and they didn't.

So I wrote "Nothing (see rule 4.01)" and left it at that.

But in the discussion, I was something of a lonely voice; it seemed to flow around what was right, and what was honest, and what duties a lawyer owes to public authorities, and what common sense and intuition dictate.

I didn't quite figure it out until later - why I apparently went for the question differently from everyone else, why I looked in the book and went no further. The answer, I think, is this. Because the code of conduct is complete in itself, it is how lawyers ought to behave; within the closed system of solicitors' practice, it is all there is. And I used to be good at philosophical thought - that was what I loved about it, how you could strip a question down from common sense and other passing inanities and say, here are the rules, here is how logic works, here is the answer. And it may not be "right", but given the premisses, here is our conclusion validly reached.

So my answer, while not common sense at all, was right. And that was why I reached it - because I furtively and guiltily love logic, and that's how I think, damn it, and it took three years to teach me to think like that, and I am proud of it.


...and here is the conclusion, validly reached: I have been intellectually stagnating, and something in the deep water of my brain has changed. I am willing to spend time and effort on arguments over breakfast about toothbrushes; I am finding joy in authors I tried to read in 2008 and put down as too difficult for me just then; I am the odd little girl in my classes. Another part of the LPC, strangely, is accounting and revenue calculation, and while I missed most of the work because of swine flu, the tutors who helped me catch up were kind, reassuring and told me I was smart and quick with figures and I shouldn't worry, I'd get it. I got it. It wasn't easy, but just hard enough for the answers that came out right to please me unduly.

I am doing something about it, on which more anon, perhaps. But I thought it was worth writing down: I have been somewhere else, and I'm ready to go home now.

In other news entirely, a quick-hit for something that needs attention: for [livejournal.com profile] yuletide, a challenge to make forays into Non-English, Non-Western, or Non-youknowwhadimean fandoms. For various reasons I'm not going to participate, but will selfishly bask in the warm glow of everyone else's participation. Quite apart from anything else, the linked posts are interesting reading: worth checking out.

Right. Now, perhaps to do some work.
raven: black and white photograph of Asian woman smiling and clasping her hands (misc - me)
Dear self,

You are not profoundly unemployable. Even if you don't get the job you interviewed for yesterday, and there's a hefty statistical chance you won't (850 applicants, 8 places, etc.), that does not mean that the very first thing your interviewer said to you, after pouring out the coffee and asking about your journey, was, "Well, you have a CV to die for, don't you?"

Definitively yours,

you.

It wasn't the worst experience ever, in other words. Five am really sucks, but it's very nice to be on a train rolling through a pre-dawn landscape be met with a giant, beautifully lit celebratory banner above a station. Dear inhabitants of Leamington Spa: a very happy Diwali to you too.

(Dear Network Rail: a day return from Oxford to Northampton, right. A distance of almost precisely fifty miles. £58.90? Seriously? On top of five am, that was injury on top of injury.)

Today, it's a bright and beautiful morning but I am somewhat out of cope. One of the long-term issues the swine flu has raised has been a series of sharp, piercing headaches that usually result in my taking to my bed at three in the afternoon in manner of heroine of Victorian novel. A lot of running around with GPs has resulted in my being prescribed something called triptan, which has resulted in further running around when it transpired that this is quite difficult to get hold of (also, I originally thought he said tryptophan and had several hours of confusion as to how that would help with a headache).

The GP also notes I am "sensitive to medication" and should maybe split my amitriptyline into two, and Victorian-heroic as that is too, I am feeling very unromantically run-down. I keep trying to stay in bed and let life wash break gently in quiet waves over my head, but this strategy has stopped working for possibly the first time ever. I keep getting up and going to class. The universe doesn't help - I've been playing with Google Calendar the last couple of weeks, and one thing it does, that I may have to stop it doing, is email me every morning with what I have to do that day, complete with locations, times and consequences if I don't do them. When even Google thinks you should go to class, you're out of ideas.

Today, I have to do my first piece of advocacy, which is - let's see - positively terrifying, and tomorrow, I, er, graduate from Oxford, something which is supposed to be a momentous occasion in one's life but keeps slipping out of my head because, well, it's been a year and a half since I left Oxford and I have so much to do it's landed, again unromantically, on the to-do list: things to do Sat, graduate.

Sigh. I think I should maybe go and figure out what I'm going to say to the judge beyond "Good morning, your honour, I represent the Claimant", and maybe then stretch so far as a shower.

(One final, unrelated point: incidentally, you are all fired. Why did no one mention that there was a new Indigo Girls album? Why has no one mentioned this since March? I, er, didn't much like "Despite Our Differences", and I was looking forward to this.

Anyway. "Poseidon and the Bitter Bug". So far I only have one song, but I like it. Back to work.)
raven: Kira wearing a green tunic against a blue background (ds9 - kira in green)
1. Tomorrow, I am off at the crack of dawn for an interview for a training contract. This week's Big Legal Issue is definitely the Carter-Ruck/Trafigura kerfuffle, but I'm not as up on it as I ought to be - can anyone recommend interesting/comprehensive blog posts on the subject? Bonus points if they're written by lawyers and not laypeople, but anything is good.

And, while I spend a quiet afternoon addressing myself about my own good qualities in the mirror (yay, interview preparation; I think I am also going to eat a lot of cake), a meme for occasional distraction, from [livejournal.com profile] absinthe_shadow:

2. The problem with LJ: we all think we are so close, but really, we know nothing about each other. So I want you to ask me something you think you should know about me. Something that should be obvious, but you have no idea about. Ask away.

Right, to work, to work.
raven: Alyson Hannigan as vampire Willow with her fangs out, face shadowed  (buffy - vamp willow)
Sunday: new drug; new drug's interaction with alcohol; new glasses; new orientation of sky in relation to ground; going canoeing on Hinksey Lake. Really, this is the sort of story that ought to end, "And then I woke up in a dumpster in Nantucket".

...I didn't, for the record. It was a lovely, bright, hectic-blue sky sort of a day, one of those days dropped by mistake into September out of June, and while I was helpful and energetic in getting the canoe down into the lake, once I'd got in it without major incident it was a lot easier not to paddle, and be drifted around in large slow circles by the current. Occasionally, the on-the-hour trains to Birmimgham sped by in the background. On the jetty, [livejournal.com profile] luminometrice was knitting and [livejournal.com profile] shimgray was peering over my shoulder at the trashy magazine du jour. It was a very nice day indeed, given a final burnish by several punnets of raspberries in ice-cream.

Life continues... if not well, at least okay. I've stopped applying for jobs. I keep going to school and doing my homework. I'm not particularly taxed by it at present - so far, the ones that look easiest are those that say "bring a calculator". (Apparently I have to learn accounting. Why, I have no idea, but I used to help run a bookshop that had no money. Some skills do stick with you, even if only the noble and proud tradition of looking down at a column of figures, pulling out the till tray, turning it over, watching lint fall to the ground, picking up your pen and making shit up. I suspect my entirely humourless tutor will not find this amusing.)

In fact, this whole week has been a week of small pleasures - little things against a backdrop of a life that is proving quietly, cosily, reassuringly dull. The big excitement at the moment is waiting for the first day where it's chilly enough for a coat; I thought it might have been today, but still not quite, October notwithstanding. This is a strange year on the whole, a summer that was never very enthusiastic but stretches on into red leaves and equinox. In itself, that's a small beauty; days that still have that hint of balmy air, of promise.

Yesterday, I went over to meet [livejournal.com profile] emily_shore's kitten, who is a shy little waif of a cat, with very large eyes and a tail that's far too long for him. In between my attempts to introduce myself - first he scampered, and then he hid behind the refrigerator, and then he deigned to grace me with his presence for whole minutes at a time, and then he decided bubble wrap was more interesting - we were doing the fandom thing, and I enjoyed it; it's not often, actually, that I get the opportunity to discuss these things in a quiet cosy room with no typing required. In particular, we were talking about the various ficathons recently that emphasise queer, female and feminist identity over relationships, and how well this does and doesn't work when you actually try and sit down and write something. (Answer: usually not well. It takes work to hang a plot off an identity, or process, or not hang a plot on it so well it looks like you did.)

As an experiment, I am trying to write a story as a deliberate attempt to do something, where the something is, write a female character's story, and make it about her and not the relationships she's in. The fact I am trying to do something specific, rather than letting the story flow and putting the structure in later, is, I suspect, the reason it is going quite so badly. But I'm trying.

(We also had a brief squee about [livejournal.com profile] yuletide, and lo and behold, today the first whisperings from that quarter were heard. I wondered, while we were sitting in Red Star (a gorgeous and gloriously tacky noodle bar on the Cowley Road), how many people in the world were sitting in cafés and restaurants and gloriously tacky noodle bars the world over having the same conversation, because it is a cliché, but I love that about fandom more than anything else, that it's something created by people who include me and are just like me and is bigger than all of us.)

Today, a friend of mine who reads this and is yet to come up with a suitable pseudonym for herself, and me too, yes, went and ate an excessive quantity of sushi at Edamame (an entirely different kind of restaurant; it is a Japanese place being operated out of someone's front room, and they don't take reservations so the queue always stretches halfway down the street), and we squished around a table and ate our way through broiled eel and sashimi and bundles of nori and sesame seeds, and that was quietly nice, too; I said it above, but nothing happens to me any more, I have no adventures, I do nothing new, and I'm surprisingly okay with that. I like this, this doing nothing in particular with nothing in particular on the horizon, this work that I do in bitesize chunks because it's accounts and revision and read-one-chapter-before-bed. Sometimes Shim makes me dinner; sometimes I do my washing; sometimes I open all my windows and breathe in the first of the cold air and think about buying a new lipstick. The amitriptyline experiment has mostly failed - it worked, well, oh, too well, and I slept deeply like the dead for the three days I was on it, and then I had to stop, because I can't make a habit of skipping lunch in favour of napping under a handy table. On Tuesday I couldn't force my eyes open, and then I couldn't get out of bed, and then it was like there was a gloopy murk seeping through the porous parts of my bones, and then I got out of bed, and then I stumbled into a shower, and then I got dressed and went out and went up the hill to school.

My entirely humourless tutor told me, because I was twenty minutes late, that I was unprofessional, unbelievable; that the whole group lacked the enthusiasm and drive to be solicitors, but in particular, in particular, he could not believe anyone could ever be late, he once fired a student on his first day for it, it was the worst thing you could ever do. And at the time I was angry, but lately I've been thinking, I am older now than I've ever been, I have nothing coming, I may have no job but that means I have no firm to chase me to justify myself, my existence, my teamwork and my communication skills, I have nothing to prove to him or anyone. I can't evoke the sense of freedom that brings, that sudden realisation that you don't have to do anything. I feel so much better than I did.

Perhaps when I'm sleeping better, I'll behave myself again.

School

Sep. 24th, 2009 05:26 pm
raven: Merlin lying on his back, looking up (merlin - upside-down)
In times of stress, I tend to... make a mess.

Today is my fourth day of school, and this is what my floor looks like )Admittedly, I have no idea what any of those bits of paper actually are. I suspect ring binders may be in my future.

Anyway, I don't know what I expected from the LPC, but mostly, it has neither surpassed nor fail to meet my non-existent expectations. Since Monday, I have been Going To Class, Doing Homework, sitting quietly and waiting for my name to be called, doing quiet group work, start over. It's a lot more tiring than it sounds; being out of the house nine to five is one thing, and having a lot of homework is another, but both together is really rather painful. I have discovered, however, a new fun sport: torturing careers advisers. We had one, very solemn, very practical, very worked-in-City, had wisdom to impart, wanted to know if we had any particular issues to talk about.

One girl raised her hand and said, "Global recession?"

"Ah," he said. "I don't think we should over-emphasise..."

"The Law Society says training contracts are so few that people shouldn't even bother with the LPC if it'll lead to debt," she went on.

"There's a hundred applications per place," said someone else.

"Most firms aren't recruiting."

"Our chances are slim to minimal."

"Recovery isn't happening."

"So do you have any advice?"

He blinked for a while. "Um, there was a recession in the mid-eighties, and, um. That improved. You shouldn't... er... write yourselves off."

"How about our debt?"

...and so on. Poor man; I suspect he probably knew that no one in the room had the sorts of problems that can be fixed by re-formatting your CV, but there's such a thing as a small victory.

Other than this, I have nothing in particular to say. There has been new Merlin this week, and also I have not been sleeping, and thus I have been lying in bed plotting a Merlin-and-Arthur accidentally swap bodies epic. Maybe not an epic. Maybe just some sniping and Merlin taking the opportunity to push Arthur into a lake. And then both of them being afraid to wash. And Gwen guessing immediately, and Uther having no idea, and a long philosophical discussion about whether magic rests in the body or in the mind while someone who looks a lot like Arthur turns very slow somersaults in mid-air.

Also, speaking of not sleeping, I have been medically-intervened. My GP, who is very nice, has finally listened to me telling him that no, warm milk does not help, and neither does CBT, help me I need help, etc. He has prescribed me a low dose of amitriptyline, a drug I am wary of for the not-unreasonable reason that last time I was prescribed it the doctor in question wanted me to stop cycling around Oxford. ("Because you might... fall into traffic.") But this time around the dose is much lower, and I hope for better things. Am keeping a sleep diary, something I have always meant to do. Better things.

...that's it, I think. [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong is coming to see me at the weekend, I have a lot of homework to do, it's still September. Still a murky mercurial September at that, one that swings between blunt splashes of cold in the mornings, and warm dusks; yesterday evening had that strange late-summer feeling of heat radiating from the earth, but nevertheless we are in that odd limbo of the last few years, somewhere between Eid and Diwali where no one knows what season it is. I do not approve of autumn, I think; I want hot, cleansing sun or snow. I also want a training contract, a hard-boiled egg and a pony. My life is very hard.

I should go and do some work.

(Oh, and! I keep meaning to mention this. After having a dormant account for a while, I am now using Twitter. (Don't worry; I don't plan to import my tweets.) If you would like to follow me, or would like me to follow you, or would like to tell me whom I should be following, please tell me about it. I'm singlecrow over there.)
raven: Kira wearing a green tunic against a blue background (ds9 - kira in green)
Dear three am: platonic is good but I'd rather be sleeping together. I am at the stage of the old mental cycle where I have to be walking-into-walls exhausted before I'll go to sleep; otherwise, I just lie in bed with my eyes shut worrying about things I can't fix or change, and it's no good for anyone. I'm kind of a wreck right now, actually. I don't miss my pills, but they did have the side-effect of making me sleep. But at the moment I'm sleepwalking through things, getting dressed after four hours of trying, you get it. It's a bit of a reaction, I suppose: I'm proud of having got through a lot of things sucessfully, over the last couple of weeks. The last thing was a second interview for a job (well, I say interview; it was more an assessment day, which are not among my favourite things to do) and I went down to London successfully, did the interview on four hours of sleep and adrenaline, and sat on the station platform afterwards, in the sunshine beneath the shade of hanging flowers, and thought I might just sleep right there on the platform edge and be happy. They even fed me a very nice lunch that I was too nervous to eat, and I got through it. They haven't got back to me yet. We'll see.

This is, oddly enough, the last night I'll spend here for quite some time. It's crept up on me, but tomorrow I am going to Bristol for a couple of weeks - a short placement, followed by a training contract interview - and after that I am going to Oxford for my own graduation ceremony, and after that, term starts. So tonight, in its quiet sleepless mundanity, marks a minor turning-point. On the whole, I'm glad to be going; I have lived at home on and off now since early April - I remember making that decision, I remember taking medical leave, but it seems a very long time ago now - and, perhaps, it's long enough. No, I know it is. There was a day in April by the river when I chose to live through this, and here I am, five months later, and I am living through this. Everything is hard-edged and hard, but I never thought it wouldn't be, and I am living through this.

I will miss [livejournal.com profile] hathy_col, though. We had a nice evening this week watching Deep Space Nine and looking at pictures of conventions past, and it made me happy. We've both been watching a lot of DS9 recently, and I'm going to say again: it's good. It's really, really good. And I love Jadzia Dax and Kira possibly more than is quite healthy, but they are so wonderful. Because of them, nearly every episode passes the Bechdel test, and because of them, you get real plots about strong women doing things worthy of them. Oh, and the details - I love how well-thought-through everything is, so Dax's notions of sex and gender and, indeed, parenthood, are fluid (because they would be, if you'd lived eight lifetimes in eight different bodies), and Kira's Bajoran upbringing influences everything she does, and I love the Jake-and-Nog travellin' show, and how Odo and Quark clearly can't live without each other, and how much Bashir and O'Brien love each other, and did I mention, Dax. Dax, whose spots go all the way down. Yes.

Having got through almost an entire season in two days, I suspect I may be acquiring boxsets in the near future. Alas and alack.

As this is not an overwhelmingly substantial post, I'm going to leave you with two links of very different sorts - firstly, one I have been meaning to post apropos of something for quite some time, and as nothing appropriate has appeared, am now posting apropos of nothing much. From Tehelka: Why Indian Men Are Still Boys. It's perhaps not of much interest to most of you, but for the other Indians on the flist, I would be keen to hear your thoughts. Personally, I love it: I think it gets it, and articulates it in a way I've been trying to, without sounding like a mad NRI harpy. (Which I perhaps do sound like already, without trying either way.) Anyway, yes, I recommend it.

And secondly, a fic rec: The Other Path, by [livejournal.com profile] laleia, Harry Potter. Written for [livejournal.com profile] femgenficathon, this is about Hermione. It's short, it soars, and it makes me smile, and think about why I do what I do with my life.

Now, sleep.
raven: Merlin lying on his back, looking up (merlin - upside-down)
I am a train from King's Cross to Edinburgh, having just had a lovely quick afternoon coffee in the British Library café with [livejournal.com profile] anotherusedpage and sent off happy to the far far north. I do love this journey; I suppose that in some way it's a privilege to live in a country that you can see the whole of in one afternoon. (Quite apart from anything, this train is going to Aberdeen. King's Cross to Aberdeen. Wow.) Livejournal's "detect" function thinks I am in Sweden - er, no. I am in Doncaster. The landscape was London suburbs, then it was rural, trees and houseboats, and now it's getting an industrial cast, with the occasional pylon to break up the verdant tameness of it all. Eventually you can see the sea for long stretches across the border. It makes me happy.

(The other people on the train make me less happy. The guy across from me finds me a great imposition; his very large feet are directly in the place where my very large feet ought to be, and I think he's stolen my biscuits. It is a battle of wills.)

(Also, the couple across the aisle actually are the world's most nauseating people. They have spent the two hours of the journey thus far in an artistic embrace, which has to be carefully sustained against the vagaries of stilleto heels and a moving train. They tilt from point to precarious point like human gyroscopes. I hope it's as uncomfortable as it looks.)

This has been a strange week. By the end, it was gaining rather a mini-pupillage air; I was shadowing a barrister around the Crown Court, and was, admittedly, a little tempted by the Bar. It's the ritual that's tempting, of course; the wigs - which are amazing, incidentally; I never did muster the courage to ask how they stay on - and robes and ceremony, which occasionally play the role that architectural solemnity does in other places (the Old Bailey, for all its venerability, is a little grimy on the inside), that have the appeal. I do wish, actually, that England and Wales had a fused profession, like they do in the US - it would make my life a lot easier. (In the meantime, I will never be anybody's learned friend.) Part of the reason I want to be a lawyer is because I want to be grounded by something: by a tradition, by a profession. Something to be, as well as something to do. I won't ever stop writing. Maybe I'll get a novel published before I die. But I need the day job for there to be peace in my head.

So, yes, after my adventures in the Crown Court, I spent the weekend with [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong and [livejournal.com profile] vampire_kitten, who are their usual selves (Shim called me on Saturday morning; they both looked up, favoured me with identical smiles, and chorused, "Iona, come back to bed...") and we mostly did nothing at all, broken up with watching things. For some reason, I had not previously seen Imagine Me & You, a delightful, slight little romantic comedy about lesbians. It's a joy, everyone should watch it. Also, after some racking-of-brains we figured out that it has a cameo by the very lovely Angel Coulby at the end (Gwen from Merlin, to save anyone else the same brain-racking - she is all smiley and beautiful and really, everyone ought to see it).

This morning, I had an interview for a training contract with a nice City firm who have taken up residence in a converted Georgian house. The interview was... good. Yes, it was. I had prepared the usual questions, why do I want to be a lawyer, why this firm, etc., but wasn't asked any of them. It was an interesting interview, touched on politics, fandom and why it is a good idea to google yourself before any job interview, and it ran 15 minutes over, which I am told is a good sign, and... yes. I think nothing negative or positive, but I keep my fingers crossed. In further news of the career-related, I have another placement and training contract interview with a firm in Bristol in September. I have my fingers crossed about that, too.

(My mother informs me that at home, my postgraduate certificate has arrived. Despite everything - despite the crazy, despite the hideousness, despite enormous amounts of shouting about mitigating circumstances, I passed everything and graduated with commendation. In honour of the academic stage being over, I think it's time to inaugurate a new tag for my lawyerly adventures.)

...reading over, this post seems to be about nothing other than My Legal CareerTM and, er, trees. I do apologise. I have nothing much to do this week and may perhaps have the time to make interesting posts. I'm wondering how this can all be the same day - how this can all be the same life - but I will be in Edinburgh in an hour, where I plan to drape self loopily over Shim, and go gently into the night.

August 2017

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