I can't wait to be done.
My classes this semester are threefold: a course in evidence which meets twice a week, a course in alternative dispute resolution (the law of arbitration and mediation, combined with practice at the same), and a survey course of asian legal systems. The survey course was a mistake. It's partly the prof's fault: the prof is a nice guy, an aging lawyer who once clerked for Justice Douglas, who loves east asian culture ... but who is unable to organize his thoughts, and whose understanding of American and European political and legal theory and history is so broken that every time he tries to compare asian systems to european systems my response is to wonder, since he got the european legal theory so wrong, if he really understands the asian theory, either. But the bigger problem is the structure: 28 hours of class, 2000 pages of reader, discussing the legal systems of fourteen different countries --- it's too much, too much to cover at anything other than the highest level of banal, pointless generality.
The gain in taking this class is a free night of the week; I'm not sure it's worth it. The night off mid-week is nice, but it's not like J and I do much with the time, and while simply being around is good for our relationship, I'm not sure how much good we're getting out of the night.
Evidence is a class which should be interesting, and sometimes is, but it's also a class where I basically started out behind and have struggled to stay caught up; and, worse, the subject matter is so itnertwined that it's impossible to understand A without understanding B which cannot be understood without understanding A. It's a bit like a foreign language in a way; I assume that at some point it will snap together and all make sense ... or not, and I'll be hosed. The one good thing, I guess, is that there is a woman from the PD's office tagteaming the class; this is bad in that I'm not with it enough to be making a good impression on a potential future coworker, but good in the sense that she's filling in with a lot of real world examples and stories, which increases the value of the lecture; the class blends in some ways into introductory trial practice. Useful skill-building, I suppose, but not necessarily helpful in learning the rules.
Alternative Dispute Resolution is awesome; interesting, dynamic prof and ... mediation is something I think I would enjoy doing, so I'm particularly attentive. That said, the state of arbitration law is totally fucked up; it's basically impossible to get out of arbitration once you've gotten into it, and it's basically impossible for states to provide safeguards to protect you from being put into arbitration without your knowledge. (I'm oversimplifying, of course, but that's close enough for government work). The theory is that we're just honoring the contract, the agreement between the parties; the reality is that arbitration clauses are priviliged above everything else in contract law.
Work is ... work. I'm actually enjoying it more than school; I have a more or less central role in a team, I get to interact with people, I feel like I'm important and like I'm accomplishing something. I'm not sure I care in the end about the stuff we're selling, but I do feel a sense of ownership, and as a result I care that my projects come out as good ones. This isn't an unalloyed good, however; the two projects I'm leading right now both have absurd schedules (which I protested against) and so it's become much harder to find the balance between work and school: work wants more time than it did, and while I can get away with less time for school than I was giving in first year, I can only push so far ... so the result is I get less down time and feel overall more worn out.
The biggest problem with this schedule is loneliness. I'm married, and I have a strong relationship with my husband, but I feel a need for a tribe, not just a relationship. Someone recently described me as someone who loves people, and that's true in a sense: people as individuals I almost always like, I always see something in them which is beautiful and frequently want to know them better s that I can experience that beauty, and am always a little bit hurt when that isn't reflected back at me. When I was younger, I had a hard time with people with whom I just had a distant relationship, because I was always afraid that they were judging me; the radical extreme of not seeing beauty in me, I think ... and i'm much better at that now, and so consequently can strike up short-term friendships of convenience with those with whom I happen to find myself at any given time. This is a radical improvement in my life; and yet ... between work and school I don't have time for anything other than superficial, not-very-close relationships with the people around me who are not my husband; and I have to sustain my need for human interaction on the conversations in irc, in passing interactions with people whom I want to be close to but cannot be, and on the memory of close friendships which have atrophied for lack of time. It's frustrating, and alienating, and at times it causes a deep, aching pain.
I have no right to complain; I chose this path, and I am in general doing well on it; but still sometimes I stumble and scrape my knee, and knees which are scraped bleed no matter how beautiful the horizon or how sturdy the handholds.
I went to a corporate rave last weekend. (I'm being a bit flippant; it was an up-until-4 electronic dance music event organized by local companies which specialize in promoting such things, held in the city's civic auditorium; it's not really corporate in the sense that something run by clear channel would be, but there's also something about it which is antithetical to the underground rave scene of my youth.) It was a great deal of fun; it's fantastic feeling to lose yourself in the crowd and the music, to dance to a beat which echoes in your mind for days after the event, to feel the crush of the crowd and the happy closeness experienced by people who love dancing, dancing with one another. It took me a while to get into it, and the high didn't last nearly as long as the post-coachella high, but it was a great deal of fun anyhow. (Although Fischerspooner, whom I badly wanted to like, was mediocre, and he pissed me off every time he incorrectly referred to the guy coming on after him as 'Dangermouse'. TOTALLY DIFFERENT DJ, dude.)
When the wise man learns of the Tao, he follows it with diligence;
When the common man learns of the Tao, he follows it on occasion;
When the fool learns of the Tao, he laughs aloud.
if there were no laughter it would nto be Tao.
I remarked a few weeks ago that the highest duty of man is to bear witness to the beauty of the world; someone contradicted me with the claim that this is the privilige of modern man. I disagree, but I've been in a mystic mood of late: the world, and everything in it, is suffused with beauty, a resonant splendor that vibrates through everything, living and dead. Look hard enough at any part of it, and there is beauty there, reflecting out from the core, muddled perhaps by the layers of hardness built up around it. It is our duty to see this beauty, to feel it, to allow ourselves to be encompassed by it; that is the role of thinking creatures: to see what is, to describe it, to memorialize it, to understand it.
I see this with varying strength at different times; some months it fades away, and I wander alone, an isolate in the crowd, blind and numb, unable to see, unable to feel. Then at other times it bursts forth, and I am at a loss; communication is hard, the words do not come, and even if they did ... I would not understand such words when I am closed off, so how can I expect the words to communicate anything to those who do not already know what I wish to impart?
Maybe language is futile.
Tonight, I can see the beauty, and I love my fellows, and yet I can also see the distance between them and me, between them and each other; and my joy at the beauty of the world is tinged with sadness at how the world fails to be what it could.
I don't talk much; I no longer feel as connected to this tribe as I did. But I love you anyway.
May you be blessed with much joy and the experience of the beauty of the world.
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