School & education related.

today is made of silences and oh, the time between them

Göreme, Turkey: all taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 film with a Nikon F3.

I recently wrote a travel article on Göreme/Cappadocia for OTwo Magazine of the University Observer. The article and my photography can be found on pages 5 and 32:

I’m on the brink of something. Of an epiphany. On the edge of the edge, a couple steps away from leaping.

Being on exchange for only one semester is an intense experience. You’re condensing life-changing events and perspective-challenging friendships into just over a quarter or maybe a third of the year. Since I set foot in Dublin on September 1st, I’ve fallen in and fallen out with people,* involuntarily adopted an increasingly-brave mouse in our kitchen, and played a shitton of hockey. And that’s only the superficial stuff that happens between class ending and night falling. I won’t be the first nor last to have abused my circadian clock and dear old liver, but unlike seemingly everyone else on exchange, I’m actually having a very academically-challenging semester. I decided to take two Masters-level courses (as opposed to all undergrad normal courses) because I’d rather be excited and challenged by my courses, rather than having an easier but far more boring time. On top of this, I’m supposed to be writing my honours dissertation, but nothing is coming out. That’s the problem with choosing a very current, on-point, grey area to write about, I guess. That’s why I chose it. That’s why I’m a masochist.

I think I’m just in a very different place from most people on exchange. The European Erasmus students are mostly here to have fun — party hard, improve English and maybe go to class. They will return to their home universities after this, and student life will continue. Meanwhile, once I’m done here and with my dissertation, I’ll be done with undergrad, finally. I’ll be done. And everything changes. That’s terrifying, albeit exciting and something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time, until it’s just around the corner. It sounds cliché and repetitive but I’m really glad I came to Dublin. This is completely irreplaceable — even the most gutting, bottomless downward spiral of lows.

*Okay, the latter was more a subtle social exit rather than a fall-out, but that reads way better!

Another tease will come along with everything I don’t want






Richard Wilson’s 20:50 at the Saatchi Gallery is my favourite room in London.














London: all taken on Kodak UltraMax 400 film with a Nikon F3.

Tomorrow, I’ll have lived in Dublin for three whole weeks. Not including any holidays I leave the country for, I’ll be in Ireland for 110 days; all up, 155 days away from New Zealand.

Until this year, I have never travelled so much in such a short span of time before. It’s been a jam-packed tumultuous ride. And even though it’s not for very long, I’m glad that I finally have four walls to call  “my room”.

I arrived in London on August 12th, ditched my suitcase, and spent the next three weeks hopping around on a bit of an odd itinerary. Along the way I picked up a cold, which turned into a traveler’s cough through a shitton of second-hand smoke at a music festival, then developed into bronchitis by the time I arrived in Dublin. I caught up with old friends and made new ones. I saw my favourite metal band from ten years ago, and have a newfound obsession with Jamie xx’s In Colour. (I’m digging his new-and-improved live set — so far, no one else has made me dance like that before.)

It’s strange and scary how easily we can make a new place “home” for a while. I had only been to London for a couple of weeks earlier this year, but the city felt so strangely familiar. During my five short days in London, I had developed little routines and habits already. It was sobering to realise that I didn’t hesitate between the train and tube at Liverpool Street station, when all the tourists around me were flipping out their maps and apps, standing in the way. After flitting around Europe, London and my mate’s flat had felt like “home”. And indeed, it will very likely become “home” for a while, probably in the next handful of years or so. It’s just such a strange feeling, to have made “homes” out of so many eclectic places, in such a short space of time.

At the moment it feels like I’m the only exchange student intending on “doing uni”. I have to write my honours dissertation whilst I’m here, and I’d like to do better than barely scrape a pass in my courses. I’m trying to get involved in campus life like I never have before, and I’ve thrown myself into uncomfortable situations that I never would have back home (where is home?!). So far, that has manifested in the form of reading pretty out-there poetry to a group of people at a Lit Soc event, and I also plan on trying out camogie later this week. I had a lengthy and rather intimate chat with a gallery owner whilst perusing art galleries alone, and even befriended a sort-of-lost American on the street, who then bought me a beer.

I have too many rolls of undeveloped film and a backlog of research to tend to. I’m feeling excited but exhausted, displaced and distracted, and utterly, thoroughly alive — yet surreal. This playlist is called “september”, but I’ve had some of these songs on repeat since late-July. It doesn’t encompass the hip hop and dancier aspects of the past month or so, but is otherwise fairly representative of my headspace. I need to learn to be happy and content in little, small ways, without being crippled by the fear of stagnation and complacency. Here’s to trying to keep on trying things.

Volunteering at the Community Law Centre // you’ve got no feeling, I want my blood hotter

Saatchi Gallery, London; taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film with a Nikon F3.

Surprise! Lawyers aren’t all money-hungry sharks and some of us care.

For the past week I’ve been volunteering 9-5 at the community law centre as part of my community placement.* It’s been… a really interesting experience, to say the least. Basically my role is to research and draft legal opinions/advice on specific questions or areas of law that our clients are having problems in. Over the past four days I’ve had to become familiar in all sorts of things, ranging from parenting orders to the effect of family trusts on healthcare subsidies, to Canadian pensions in New Zealand, to the Property Relationships Act. I think tomorrow I need to look into a restraint of trade…

In other words, I’m helping to dish out free legal advice. I’m supervised, but not very closely. And that’s the thing that really gets to me. It also bothered me over summer when I clerked at a major corporate law firm — people are trusting me to get my research right? My word on what the current position of the law is, isn’t really checked?! I do not feel anywhere near qualified enough to be doing this. Which is the other point that terrifies me — I’m in the last year of my degree! Am I ever going to “feel qualified enough” to be doing any of this?

These feelings weren’t so pronounced during my summer clerkship because I was dealing with things that involved a lot of money. Everything was at arm’s length. But now I’m helping people whose lives, families, and often livelihoods are directly at stake. These people qualify for free legal advice because of their financial (and geographical) circumstances. They need our help because they can’t afford to be paying (or paying much) for it. That thought terrifies me, so I’ve been throwing myself at these tasks whole-heartedly all week. But frankly, I’m exhausted. I don’t know how the full-time solicitors do it. Day-in, day-out, also with comparatively little pay.

I feel like half if not more of us go to law school, thinking, hoping, to one day do some “good”. We don’t really have any idea what practical, realistic form that this “good” would manifest itself in, but on some level, we intended it. And sure, we’re in it for the supposed employability of our law degrees, the intellectual challenges, the masochistic buzz you get at realising you’ve written yet another 10-20k words. But I often feel that no one really stops to think about what doing “good” with our law degrees is going to look like.

Those of us who haven’t or couldn’t land a grad position at a “big corporate”** joke about it as being a catch-22 type of blessing in disguise — if you got a job, great; if you didn’t, don’t worry, you get to do something “Good”! There’s a moralistic tinge to all this that I simply couldn’t shake for the longest time. But now that I’m doing something that is undoubtedly “good” in every sense of the word, and is actually directly affecting people in society, I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this at all.

When you’re on the phone to a mother who oozes concern and anxiety over wanting the best for her child, it really wakes you up, even on just five hours’ sleep. When you recognise that someone is basically wasting your time because their silly monetary ventures didn’t go their way, you kind of want to slap them across the face with their stupid debt. You wish you could say, okay, but someone else is in shit, through no fault of their own, they need my time more. When your hourly analysis of self-worth revolves around how viable your, uhh, “creative” interpretation of some statutory provision (you hadn’t heard of until said hour) is… it’s tough.

It’s been a long, rough week but I’ve been glad to do it. I’ve got another full day tomorrow, but I was thinking that I may consider returning to do a few hours here and there, after exams. Maybe. It’s at this point that I wonder — why do people love to hate on lawyers so much? No one seems to quite hate on musicians in the same way. We’re kind of just there for entertainment. No one is expected to be doing any form of “greater good” through the arts. If you can, that’s amazing. If you don’t… well aren’t artistic pursuits quite a selfish, often-introspective venture? But no one ever chastises us for that. So why, society, why do you all view lawyers as money-hungry sharks?

For the record, sure, I have some “plans” based around completing my degree and employment in my immediate future, but I don’t have a grand 5-year/10-year plan. I went into my music degree because I wanted to challenge the crap out of myself and learn a shitton of things, and I went into my law degree for the exact same reasons. I’ve come to realise that I’m definitely in neither worlds for the supposed prestige or perceived glamour, nor am I on a “greater good” crusade. And there is absolutely fucking nothing wrong with that.

*Full disclosure: I’m doing community placement in lieu of a 3,000-word paper, because I’m already writing three other ones this month.
**Second disclosure: okay, I did indeed land a grad position at a “big corporate” firm for next year.

til now I’m doing great, doing well is pretty vague

New Year’s Day 2015; taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film with a Nikon F3.

It’s April Fool’s Day, and I’m writing this post at 4.20 — the irony of this does not escape me.

Where have I been and how did I get here?! For the first time in my life, on paper at least, it would appear that I have all my “ducks in a row”. Since uni wrapped up in November last year, I have completed a summer internship and managed to secure employment for February 2016. During this time, I have also been on 22 flights for a mix of (very little) work and (a shitton of) fun. How did I get here indeeeeed.

Of course, anyone that knows me will know that there’s no rest for the wicked… Let’s just say there are a lot of things in the pipeline.

So it’s taken me a quarter of the year to come back to blogging. I’ve been itching to write about absolutely everything and nothing at all, and ended up writing in many places but here. I think the crux of maintaining this site is that I need to stop thinking about it as “blogging”. Rather, just as writing. Last night, whilst looking for a very particular photo, I accidentally fell into memory lane via an old hard drive. It’s been nine years since I registered, and ten years ago I blogged — much more prolifically — at Terrifying how time has not flown, but simply disappeared. Irrelevantly, I wish I was as cool of a 23 year old as I was a 13 year old!

Anyway, it really got me thinking about why I had found it so easy to blog so frequently and enthusiastically back in the day. The blogosphere has changed a lot since I started blogging over a decade ago, and certainly the vibe of the internet as a whole. The façade of internet anonymity really dissipated when facebook came along, and with the increasing popularity of monetising blogs, they just feel like such work these days (even if you’re not involved in the blog $$ world).

On a personal level, I’ve always struggled with privacy. I’m never particularly particular about anything, and that makes for tough writing and a boring read. But “anonymous” blogging was never quite for me, and my photos are damned well getting attached to my name, so that’s not a viable option. I was recently discussing the issue of creative freedom versus our imminent legal careers with friends, and they pointed out some things that stuck with me. One said, “lawyers have feelings too”, and the other bluntly said I should publicise and continue to take whatever the fuck style of photos I feel like.

Also, I’m going to stop thinking about this as strictly “blogging”-blogging and just throw things in here. I think that will work better.

Without wanting to offend anyone (who am I kidding, I’m sure I will), I’ve realised that the new direction that the blogosphere is going in just doesn’t really suit me. Ten years ago, blogs that offered help/tips/advice on blog-related things were largely to do with the practical side of how to build a blog. Literally, how to build a blog, i.e. coding, graphics, database imports, and in the pre-Wordpress days — manual versus cutenews versus whatever-else-I-can’t-remember-it’s-been-over-a-decade! Now it’s all about “find your niche” and “how to monetise” and “affiliate programmes”… the list goes on. At the heart of this discomfort and tension, really, lies the fact that I simply do and see and think too many things about too many things. So whatever website/blog I own, will ultimately reflect that.

I’ve also finally conceded to myself that I am never going to sit here and blog about my trips. Not in the way that other people do. I will, however, get off my arse and start writing stories and try to scan my films with a bit more urgency. Twenty one rolls are on their way back to me and I cannot wait.

Also here is the happiest sound of a song I have heard in a while, from whence this post derived its title:

three o’clock this morning and we’re playing all the records that we own

I went to Venice maybe twice just a couple of weeks ago, and it feels like such a distant, distant memory now.

In the past week, I have been lucky enough to have celebrated: the engagement of one of my close friends, graduations of seemingly everyone but me, and receiving internship offers from pretty solid law firms for the 2014-15 summer, which is supposed to translate to a graduate position in 2016. Yesterday I played the Div 1 game, winning 5-4, and today’s Div 2A game resulted in a 3-2 win also. Perhaps it’s a little greedy, but I feel all I need for this amazing week to wrap up properly is for West Ham to beat Man City, and for Newcastle to lose…

I feel like I am such a hard person so satisfy. Especially when I’m trying to please myself. I’m often told that I’m overly critical of myself, my work, my efforts, etc. — I guess it’s an inherent trait of a pessimist, but lately the domino effect of life is really taking a toll on me. I’m sure I can’t be the only one that feels like there’s this never-ending list that you check off, in which even successes lead to more work to be done. To point out an obvious example, law school goes something like this: get into law school, get good grades, get into honours, get a summer clerkship, get more good grades, get through honours seminar/dissertation, get through profs, get admitted to the bar…

…and somewhere along there, it’s so terrifyingly easy to forget that any one of those separate things is a notable achievement on its own. It’s just that there is always more to be done, more that could be done, and for someone like me who is somehow ridiculously lazy yet prolific at the same time— well fuck. It’s just a lot of cognizant dissonance. On the one hand I want to have celebratory coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks (beers, beers and more hopefully craft beers), on the other, I’m panicking that upon signing my employment agreement, I’ll need to adhere to the clause where it says my GPA needs to stay up. So now not only will there be the internal pressure (from basic instinct and innate desire?) to do well, but there will also be an external pressure in the form of a legal contract. Good fun.

These photos are actually from the previous time that I was in LA at the end of 2012 — I hadn’t gotten them developed for over a year and a half. Hopefully I’ll see my 2014 films soon, as I’ve dropped them off to be processed.

Taken on Ilford HP5 Plus 400 B/W film with a Nikon F3

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