Oh?..so it's THAT guy!

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Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
The thoughts and scribbles of a family man, law student, writer, musician and social media tragic. My life has taken some interesting journeys. My current road is the one I started in 2009 when I began my law degree at age 42 at Charles Darwin University after being diagnosed with anxiety and mild depression. I'm the partner of an amazing woman and father of two beautiful children . It has been a challenging but rewarding journey so far due to the love and support of my family and my close friends. These views are those expressed by me and I would love to share them with you.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Shit's Getting Real

Sometimes it takes a moment of complete clarity to stop and think and breathe and reflect. I’m looking outside on this murky and wet April afternoon, trying to get motivated on some law stuff I need to catch up on. It’s not working too well. I didn’t get up until 12.15pm after another huge set of vivid dreams. The other night involved working at an amazing law library with amazing people and a huge bathroom and last night’s involved a pub and some poker machines and valet parking (don’t ask) and I think that my brain is having a purge of all irrelevant things I’ve been thinking of and witnessed in recent times. My stress levels are ok as they have been for a few years, albeit for the occasional Mick Malthouse style stroke-inducing brain snap, but my thinking levels make me believe that I should take it down a notch.

At that moment of clarity I thought about how far I’ve come in the last few years and all of the changes, adjustments, new relationships  and how far I still have to go with my goals  even though I can see the faint light hovering ahead. But, the planning continues. I cannot stop thinking of scenarios that could occur. Doing a law degree as an adult, husband and father has an abundance of implied pressures and most of them involve your partner and children because they are part of everything you do. They are my inspiration and my obligation and that balance can sometimes get wonky. I am of the belief now that I could be a lawyer one day, even though I thought lawyers were those guys that appeared on American TV shows. For a person who has had an uneasy relationship with his employment history since 1985 (read: work sucks), it would be wonderful to plan out your immediate future with your family on our own terms and by the things you put in place to achieve that.  There are givens in my life. My eldest son has autism and he finishes primary school at the end of 2016. That’s the barometer. I am planning to finish my degree and finish my GDLP by the end of 2015. I know I don’t want to be the William St law firm guy. Does not interest me in the slightest. Maybe an adventure in country Victoria or NSW for a while. Stop thinking. Finish that essay.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Way

I have just calculated that 25% of the year has vanished so far. I always refer to this part of the year as the final part of the spin cycle in the washing machine before daylight saving ends, the arrival of Easter and me and my uni colleagues up to our tits in research and assignments. We all put on a few more kilos, drink more alcohol, gulp more coffee, destroy more chocolate and don't wax as often. I think you're all aware that I've been put through the wringer due to this beautiful and imformative blog of mine for the first couple of months of the year. After seeing the brilliant Catherine Deveny talking and explaining the beauty and majesty of trolls on social media at the Comedy Festival on Sunday night, she just consolidated the first part of the year for me.
Anyway, where were we? Yes, let's talk about law. Yes, I'm still at CDU and still enjoying it, but now and then, I need to read a trashy novel with a box of chocolate chip cookies. Week 4 or 5 of semester is an interesting time. Census was today, so there would be those who are withdrawing from units, withdrawing from uni, withdrawing money from their savings account so they can get a battery recharge on a nice beach. Or just plain withdrawing, getting some tattoos and living in some cabin. In tutorial tonight, there was a bit of the cbfs and that's a given at this time of the year.
I am doing two core units which is manageable, but still brutal. As I've said before, this stuff doesn't come easily to me, so I need to go through things with a fine tooth comb and it is working with Administrative law, but a bit trickier with Corporations Law. Cleaver Greene once said, 'I'm a criminal barrister...I know fuck all about banks'. I take his point. Corporations law is all about arseholes that couldn't help themselves and how they find gaps in the Corps Act that a semi could drive through. Our project is about breach of fiduciary duties and finding a matter, or a 'debacle' as my lecturer calls it . Anyway, the subject is juicy in suit and tie and cocaine-in-a-toilet-cubicle kind of way, but I'm nor quite there with all the language yet.
I was having kittens or that rat that was terrorising the family in Sweden..or Norway..whatever..before Admin law started. I did part of Admin law in Public Law where we looked at Merits review and to quote Cleaver again, it was a case of 'fuck me sideways'. I am studying Judicial Review in this round which is a lot more manageable, but still in some ways bewildering, but you have to keep on top of it and I think I've done that so far. This subject is like one of those things you can't easily explain to the lay person, like that particular rat or the frogs falling out of the sky in 'Magnolia'. The essay element is one of those classic discussions that my lecturer Ken Parish lives for.
I have my study space. I have my whiteboard that tells me what I need to do for the week. I have a picture of me with a barrister's wig on. I have a picture of my kids. I have Triple R on most nights. I have SBS Chill as good textbook reading music. As a musician, I'm a foot-tapper, so the importance of keeping the blood flow going is essential to understanding the principles of ultra vires.
Sometimes, I still wonder how I'm going to finish this degree and what the hell I'm going to do with it. My psychologist once said 'bite size'. No truer two words were spoken.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Good Charlotte 1966-2014

I didn't know much about Charlotte Dawson before today, apart from her well-publicized battle with depression and issues with people on Twitter that wrote some of the most vitriolic things about her and toward her. As a person who has had his mental health issues, I just want to send Charlotte's family and friends my condolensces. 47yo is too young. I will be 47 this year and these things hit home. Seeing these articles and news posts today made me sad.

If there is one thing that I remember about depression is a great little quote from Bandiana boy and later LA rock God, Rick Springfield who in his cracking biography 'Late, Late At Night' said about his lifelong battle with depression, 'It always lurks'.  You can live a normal life, but it can appear in the most unexpected places and times. Thankfully, my psychologist, who I saw for four years gave me some really good tools to recognize when it is lurking and to keep it at bay.

Charlotte had a long battle with this illness and we could argue that her history of being bullied and trolled on social media might have excaserbated her downward spiral, but it also might not have made any difference to the end result. We will never know. She fought very hard for people to be aware of looking after each other on those social media platforms. If there is a legacy that she has left, then this is it. 

As many of you are aware, I love social media. It is my one stop shop for sharing ideas, being supportive of causes, news items, seeing what people are doing, making new friends and getting inspired. It doesn't always work, as it can get nasty and vicious. I've experienced it on a couple of occasions when people can jump into a conversation and spill their hatred on people they don't even know. I'll admit when it happened the first time, I completely misread the situation and lost a friend over it, but kept the troller. When it happened the second time, I was not so forgiving. Big lesson learnt. When things get personal, it is awful.  I recently got called a 'fat, fucking muppet' on a public forum. I have three words for this person. Pot. Kettle. Black. 

Great forums are those with people that have wonderful ideas and debates and most importantly, respectful of each other and their views. It's not that hard. So when people unleash their racist, misogynistic, childish and evil views on your post or your friends' post, get them off. Report them. Delete them. Fuck them off.

If there is one thing I've learnt on social media, people that are arseholes on posts and forums are arseholes in person as well. 

Take care out there, kids..

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Final Word

It hasn't been a great week. I feel like somebody has poured cement into my stomach and I cannot breathe. The line in the sand has been drawn and unfortunately, for many people, I'm on the other side of the line. My honesty and forthrightness have got me into a mess and it is unfortunate that a lot of it has been misconstrued. I don't go out to hurt anyone. I love writing and I love sharing my words with people, but with all social media these days, there is always someone waiting for you with an axe in their hand.  But, in saying that, the truth always prevails. Some of the details of my fictional blog post were based on certain people, but some of the events were fictional. It's up to you to decide what is real. I am not going to talk about the family anymore and I'm not going to explain myself, because people make their own conclusions and I'm comfortable with that.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Summer Semester....is like no other semester


Welcome to 2014! Ok, so it's February already, but we're having a brutal summer weather wise and on top of that, some idiot decided to do a summer intensive subject to get one of the electives out of the way. I had to sit at a computer listening in online to Geoff James' lectures during the Melbourne heatwave where we had over 40 degrees for over four days. Really tested the old brain cells, but eventually I submitted something that resembled an essay on Petroleum Law and even though the word count was way short, the subject was like a leech that was stuck to my neck. Had to get it off and move on. As with all my subjects, I could probably give you a brief rundown on how it all works, but you better be quick because I'll forget it in a week. If you give a shit, here's a link https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9_gNvcuW60DOHE5SE9temhEaTA/edit

So 20 subjects down, 12 to go. I begin the first 2 of my 5 final core subjects in semester one and boy, aren't they a hoot as well. Admin Law and Corps Law. Very yummy.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013...How I Learnt To Let Go...Sort Of..

I've always tried to live by the mantra of 'What's the worst thing that could happen?', albeit not always successfully. I've really tried to apply that to the events of this year, therefore my stress levels were a lot lower than what they were in recent times. What this all means is that I had to let go of some of the baggage I was desperately trying to hold on to, for what reason, I don't know. I'm a thinker, an analyzer, I need to know what's going on, why people act the way they do, at what point the bullshit begins. It's all in a day's work for me. I also realize that there are people who don't care about me, which is ok, or don't care about me anymore, which kind of hurts, but acceptance heals the wound.
In saying all that, I have really wonderful and supportive friends and the great thing is that many of those people have become acquainted with me in the last 2-3 years. They have given me the opportunity to look at life in a different way and to maybe rid myself of the restrictions I thought I had for so long.
The way I go about my life has determined the relationship I have with many of the old acquaintances from my past. Some have changed, some have thrived, but a few have fallen by the wayside. That's life, things happen. I'll always treasure those relationships, but it's time to move on.
I deal with a new year with plenty of anticipation, but always work my way into it. It goes so quick that many things are left behind. That is probably why life forces you to deal with the important stuff.
My children are growing at every moment, my wife has been incredibly strong as always, I have two years to go before this degree is done and the sun rises every day. Music, words and the crisp wind on a cool, sunny day still moves me.
It's great to be alive...and to let go.
Roll on 2014...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Law, Competitiveness and the Beast

In the old days, we were never allowed to ask which political party a friend leaned towards, or which religion they followed.  Then again, if they had kids named Benito and Adolf you could take a wild guess. These days, with social media, you pretty much know where people stand on particular issues and there are advantages and disadvantages with that. There are people who will share beliefs, intimate details, information that can be beneficial, sometimes cringeworthy and posts that are dead giveaways. When it comes to law students on social media, you will see big no-nos like complaints about a lecturer or how boring a tutorial was.  But there is a particular type of information that most of these people will keep to themselves and this is something that I was made aware of when I started my law degree as a mature age student (yes, I hate that term too) a few years ago.

When I went to high school (that was a while ago. Howard Jones and Nik Kershaw were rockin' the charts. Google them) we all did things together and shared information. It was us against 'The Man'.  So when I went back to school like I did to start my degree, I found out one thing that got me curious.

I learnt pretty quickly that some law students are reluctant to divulge their grades or exam marks to each other. This was the first major example of the competitiveness of a law degree. I first experienced this from a student friend after I asked her about a mark in one of my early subjects. She said that she didn't like to 'brag' about her marks, so she never revealed it to me or anyone else as far as I could ascertain. The sceptic in me thought a) she is a brilliant student that doesn't want to brag about her HD. i.e the less smarter students would hate her b) she got a horrible mark and doesn't want anyone to think she sucks at this degree or c) she could not bear the thought of anyone doing better than her. At first I couldn't understand this process, but then I thought about it a bit more a) Humans can be competitive beasts b) Law students can be competitive beasts c) Human law students are a different beast altogether.  Why wasn't I aware of this before? By the way, the answers were c) and c).

I am genuinely not a competitive person. I'm not nasty. As an older student I don't crack it if I get a credit instead of that elusive distinction. If I feel I've tried really hard and did my best, well, it isn't rocket science. Is it a flaw in my character that I'm not competitive person doing a law degree? It might be, but that's only your opinion. I'm older and comfortably realistic in the fact that my opportunities might be limited in getting employment in the more 'traditional' law firm.  So that's probably why it's disturbing, unsettling (and humourous)  that I'm surrounded by certain people who feel that they have to clamber over each other for that elusive law firm internship that might or might not happen. For them, a law degree is a race and a survival of the fittest. Here's me thinking that the joy of studying is an amazing, fulfilling journey of contrasting emotions that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Silly me. This is going to sound strange, but stay with me. The pleasure of this degree on a personal level is the uncompetitiveness of it all.  Apart from the achievement of goals for myself, I like to share information, pass on things that I've learnt and having a certain sense of joy seeing your colleagues do well. We have a group on social media that help each other, that will pass on notes, that will find an obscure English case from 1832 for someone who couldn't, push someone to get that essay done instead of watching Dancing With The Stars and just reassure each other when things aren't going so well, which is a regular occurence. And yes, I'm happy to report that we do share our marks and grades between ourselves.

I have a wife, I have young children, I have a job, I have dreams, I have a life, I have law studies that are part of that life. I feel priveliged to be doing law. There are two sayings which I always abide by: 'Be good to people on the way up because you will certainly meet them on the way down' and 'You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar'

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

It's About That Time...

It's that time of the year where your 46 yo face looks a bit pasty, the kids can't remember who you are, your wife is in love with her Samsung Galaxy more that you and your belly has expanded slightly (well not that slightly). The procrastination levels are at an all time high and the weather starts improving. That little birdy on your shoulder is telling you to go on that shopping spree instead of reading that chapter on Constructive Trusts (haven't read that chapter yet).
 It's almost law exams time.
Yes, all the assessments are done, the spell check and citations have been looked at a million times before you click that submit button. No matter how much people tell you to look after yourself, you ignore them, because hey, I'm a law student. I'm just polishing my stress levels to be prepared for the big, bad world...I'm allowed to look like someone who looks like they've been in solitary confinement with Papillion in Devil's Island.
Thank God I have friends and colleagues at CDU that are so supportive. We all help each other...how do you cite this? Can someone read over this for me? Is everyone ok? Without them, law would comprise of watching LA Law re-runs.
This semester, I have done the unthinkable and am doing 3 subjects. This is not for everyone. It's manageable, but there is always a sinking feeling that one subject is going to suffer, but thankfully, the 3 subjects have rotated with that scenario in mind, so I haven't made any subject lonely for long periods.
Thankfully, my marks have improved significantly as the degree has gone on. That's a good thing because first year was looking a bit dodgy. Will have 190 points after this semester. 130 to go.
The highlights of 2013 so far? HD for Property law essay, HD for Cyber assessment and getting a Torts take home exam from 2 years ago getting re-marked thus changing my grade. (Thank you Danial Kelly).
I need to improve my exam output....especially this year where there is a big focus on it.
I'm still enjoying the degree. I love the big picture law topics which probably tells you where I'm going with this.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reflecting....

Well, hello!! How is everyone?...That's good. It's been a while. It is July 14, 2013 and I'm going through the patch of 'too many sports on overnight' and when my kids are jumping on me at 9.30 to get up, I am a grumpy bastard.
But generally, kids, things are going pretty well. I could lessen my food intake which has stopped me from doing up my shoelaces, but hey, things could be worse. I am officially a 'half way through my law degree' kinda guy. I've been reading some old posts on the blog and it only seemed like yesterday that I was gobsmacked at being accepted at CDU. I had a generally good semester by getting 2 credits for Equity and Property. My essay writing has improved and my exam technique still needs some work. That will be interesting this semester where I'm tackling 1 core and 2 elective subjects (Trusts, Family and Cyber Law) and all the exam marks will be over 60% of the assessment.
Me and my great friend Jessica Sinclair went to the LIV Careers Expo on Thursday night and it was interesting to see a whole bunch of Monash Law types, dressed to the nines. Years ago, going to something like this would have raised my anxiety levels, but these days, nothing. I actually smiled and said to myself, 'that is not me' and 'I cannot and won't compete with these people' and 'corporate law can go and fuck itself'. I felt good. At the same time, I didn't feel out of place and I love being a law student. I sometimes am caught up into which direction I'm going to go and the fact is, I'm not really sure. I just have to keep enjoying what I study. This semester was tough, but I got through it.
Ok...going back to the cricket...
Ciao.